Atheism and the silly goodness competition

The objection most frequently raised by defenders of faith to atheism and atheists is that there can be no morality … Continued

The objection most frequently raised by defenders of faith to atheism and atheists is that there can be no morality without religion. One of the more disturbing recent secularist trends is a compulsion to answer that silly argument, in an effort to prove to the world of faith that we are as capable of goodness as everyone else. This strikes me as the moral and intellectual equivalent of gays feeling obliged to prove that they can be faithful lovers or African-Americans knocking themselves out to show that they are not anti-white racists. Who gave straights, or whites, the right to set themselves up as arbiters of behavior and morality? Why should atheists assign a similar power to religious believers?

I was stunned the first time I was asked, by a right-wing radio talk show host attacking my Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004), what would prevent me from committing murder if I did not believe in God. I answered truthfully, because I had never been asked such a question before, that it had never even occurred to me to murder anyone. I will never respond to such an insulting question again.

People who prefer to describe themselves as humanists rather than atheists–I consider myself both–seem especially taken with the idea that we ought, sometimes literally, to advertise our goodness to the world of believers. The American Humanist Association garnered considerable publicity over the holiday season with its “Be Good For Goodness Sake” posters on buses in cities across the nation. In a strange way, this campaign smacked both of a sense of moral superiority and a sense of inferiority. Do we think that we’re better than religious believers because we are capable of being good without the hope of eternal life or the fear of eternal punishment? Or do we still consider ourselves outcasts in America because it contains a great many stupid people who think that atheists are about to embark on a killing spree because they don’t believe in any divinity?

The newest trend in the unnecessary defense of the goodness of atheists is an effort to use social and cognitive sciences as evidence that religion is unnecessary for basic morality. In the February issue of the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, [Link], Harvard psychology professor Mark Hauser and Finnish scholar Ilkka Pyysiainen scrutinize a number of international studies of moral judgment and conclude that humans’ sense of right and wrong in many situations is independent of religious belief or nonbelief. This strikes me as a valid conclusion of no practical significance, and it is based more on psychological and emotional speculation than science.

All cultures and all religions, for example, have prohibitions against murder but they define murder quite differently. When I said that it never occurred to me to murder anyone, I was not thinking of helping someone with a terminal illnes to die on his own terms–because I do not consider it murder to aid a person with a hopeless prognosis and a sound mind in his wish to end his suffering. But I suspect that my right-wing talk show host would have disagreed. Psychologists may find that sane people, whatever their formal belief system, take a dim view of murder, but that does nothing to resolve disagreements over whether assisted suicide or embryonic stem cell research do in fact constitute murder.

In an article in Free Inquiry magazine, Hauser and the bioethicist Peter Singer published the results of a Web-based study which they called a “moral sense test.” They found no difference in responses of the religious and nonreligious to question asking whether certain acts were morally obligatory, permissible, or forbidden. One of the scenarios was: “You pass by a small child drowning in a shallow pond, and you are the only one around. If you pick up the child, she will survive and your pants will be ruined.” Would rescuing the child in these circumstances be: a) obligatory; (b) permissible; or (c) forbidden? What a surprise that 97 percent said it was obligatory to rescue the child! I think that my radio interlocutor and I would have agreed that it’s a bad thing to ignore a drowning child because you don’t want to get your clothes wet. So what? (Full disclosure: Free Inquiry is published by the Council for Secular Humanism, which is affiliated with the Center for Inquiry, and I am a consultant for the New York City branch of the Center.)

This was not really a scientific study, in that the respondents were volunteers, but it is fascinating that respected scholars find it necessary to use such simpleminded examples to bolster the claim that the nonreligious are just as nice (or naughty, let us not forget) as anyone else. If all moral questions were as conveniently unambiguous as this one, human beings would never have invented not only religion but secular philosophy and civil law.

I certainly see ample evidence that humans–at least as soon as they become aware of the existence of other humans–manifest a kind of empathy that predates maxims like the Golden Rule, which appear in one form or another in all decent ethical systems. Darwin called this the “instinct of sympathy,” which he described as something that cannot be checked “even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.”

But it is equally true that humans are subject to selfish impulses capable of inflicting great evil. And history offers ample evidence that neither religious nor civil law has proved particularly effective at quelling the worst of these impulses. A Hitler, to use another unambiguous example, is unhindered by the laws of God or man and, at some point, has to be removed from the human landscape by brute force. And here is where someone will contend that Hitler did what he did because he was an atheist, and where I could respond that Torquemada did what he did during the Inquisition because he was a Christian. (In fact, the latter’s Christianity is much more certain than the former’s atheism. Every member of the Wehrmacht wore a belt buckle with the motto, “God With Us.”) There are people in every society, subscribing to every sort of belief system, who turn out to be monsters.

All historical arguments over whether secular or religious sociopaths have done more harm are meaningless in a fundamental sense, because the claim to absolute truth–and the certainty that anyone who challenges that truth is a traitor who deserves to be punished–is common to religious and secular totalitarian ideology. Such ideology overwhelms both the naturalistic “instinct of sympathy” and the restrictions, both religious and secular, designed by civilizations to guard against the worst human impulses.

This returns us to the question of why so many atheists are trying, through propaganda or some form of research that may or may not have any validity as science, to prove that they are just as good as the religious. I have no doubt that neuroscience, with its expanding array of tools for brain imaging, will demonstrate one day that the brains of atheists and the religious light up in the same places when they stop to bind up someone else’s wounds and that the brains of those who enjoy violence also light up in the same places while inflicting pain on others. To “prove” this serves the cause of atheism no more than it does religion, because the real question is not whether atheists and believers derive the same psychic or neural gratification from bad or good acts but what leads people within both groups to choose one path over another.

It is time for atheists to stop trying to prove what there is no need to prove: that they are as good as people whose religion began with a father’s willingness to kill his only son at God’s behest or with the crucifixion of a man-God. For goodness sake, let us look to the only real evidence of good and evil in the world–our behavior and its consequences. And I hope I never encounter any people in that 3 percent who would let a child drown in a pond in order to preserve their dry clothes.

About

Susan Jacoby Susan Jacoby is the author of "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism"­ and is completing a secular history of religious conversion.
  • WmarkW

    I think it IS necessary to promote awareness of objective measures of morals simply because we live in a society in which many people don’t believe it.Sam Harris has been arguing recently that we shouldn’t even talk about “atheism” in the same way we don’t talk about non-witches or non-astrologers. That would be true if our society didn’t assume the opposite, such as holding a prayer at a large public meeting.Facts like there being few atheists in prison are an important tool in educating the opposition.

  • MI-Sooner

    When I came ‘out of the closet’ a few years ago there was some turbulence regarding my atheism. But what my friends and family soon noticed was that I hadn’t really changed at all and that I didn’t want to tear down their make-believe world. Our actions speak louder than our words thus I leave most of the intellectual debate on atheism & religousness to those that have the mental capacity and time for determining how many atheists can dance on the head of a crucifix. I still live a moral life, I’m even a member of our corporate ethics committee. Like Susan, I’m tired of the jaded conversations where I’m cornered into proving what I don’t believe. I often respond, “Can you tell me why you don’t know all about Sumo wrestling?” which illustrates the silliness of their inquiry of why I don’t understand their bible -although I lived in Japan for a decade and do like the sport. Perhaps my version of a make-believe world where there is no debate of atheism is about as real as ‘bipartisian’ legislation.

  • rossacpa

    “I certainly see ample evidence that humans–at least as soon as they become aware of the existence of other humans–manifest a kind of empathy that predates maxims like the Golden Rule, which appear in one form or another in all decent ethical systems. Darwin called this the “instinct of sympathy,” which he described as something that cannot be checked “even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.”"I believe the idea tha your blindly fumbling in the dark for is known as “natural law.” Most of us have known about it for a millennium or two, but its nice that you and Pete are catching up.Just for the record, Singer is widely acknowledged as the most immoral ethicist of our age — not sure how much an alliance with him is going to do for you, but you go, girl! Finally, you might want to review the Deist-Christian debates in 18th century English intellectual history, where Berkley, Law, and Butler are generally recognized as answering most effectively the shallow reasoning of the Deist hierarchy. It’ll save the rest of us some boredom if you can skip the usual yada, yada and look for an original argument. That should keep you busy!

  • garethharris

    Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference. – Mark Twain?

  • eraskauskas

    I’m suprised that Susan does not use the Natural Law theory to support her contention that atheists have as great a sense of morality as believers. Could it be because the Natural Law theory, based wholly on reason and nature, was promoted by great Catholic philospers such as Thomas Acquinas and Suraez? With her erudition Susan should take a course in rhetoric where one learns to persuade without offending. Hitchens and Dawkins could sign up for this class also.

  • adelemcdaniel

    Susan Jacoby’s argument is supported by a logical point that to my mind trumps all the other arguments. That an atheist is even able to engage in moral arguments, and that a religious person defends his religion on moral grounds, both prove that the moral statement is the basic premiss of humankind. Religions defend their positions on moral grounds because morally is intrinsic to the human condition. People lacking a moral sense are not called atheists. They are called pyschopaths.

  • paultaylor1

    Atheists have no agent or proxy of, and no direct channel to an ethereal spirit upon which to unload the burdens of their consciences. Which means they take personal blame, maybe even in a grownup way. That is, of course, if they are not pestering other people with their guilts.They have a distinct disadvantage to their religious others. Atheists cannot excuse themselves by simply telling their (F)ather they are sorry. Rather, their absolutions require a some measure of hard, and honest, work.

  • DCAtty

    I see nothing offensive or objectionable in Susan’s essay, even though I consider myself a Christian. But I can’t help but wonder why she was offended by the talk-show host’s question about what keeps atheists from committing murder? Obviously the host was trying to elicit (albeit in a less-than-hospitable manner) an explanation for the logical construct of atheist morality. Christians and other religions can easily support their views logically. Premise: belief in deity and belief that the deity commands certain behavior; reward or punishment follow. Conclusion: life activity should be consistent with premise. Whether some do it for the “reward” or to avoid punishment, or whether they do it for love of the deity, depends on the religion, denomination of religion, and to a lesser extent, personal mindset. But even if you think the premise is flawed, the construct is logical.What is the atheist’s logical construct? The question is not whether atheists are good or evil, but why are they good or evil? Why don’t they feel free to murder whomever they wish? Why isn’t that a logical conclusion for the premise that there is no God? Is the logical construct based on biology (i.e., we’re hard-wired to be “good”)? Something else? Susan assiduously sidesteps the entire issue by arguing that history contains examples of good atheists and evil believers. Fine, but it adds nothing to the question she introduced at the beginning. If her vignette proves anything, it’s that she’s easily offended and doesn’t like to be challenged to explain herself. Which is also fine, but then I would recommend a profession other than the public airing of her views.

  • mwcob

    Perhaps if their leadership could lay off the firey rhetoric by O’Hare, Hitchens et. al. they might find more friends and fewer foes. I’ve read Hitchens’ articles and rather than a defense of atheism, they’re always an attack on religion. People tend to respond to hostility with hostility. News flash! The average Christian? (that includes the Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, etc.) – we don’t really give that much thought to atheism. It’s a small group that really doesn’t show up on our radar – so they can do what they want, but they shouldn’t expect warm hugs from church-goers when they have become defined by the hate-filled diatribes they write about us.

  • mwcob

    One other comment – was it really necessary to race-bait again? Susan – when you make snide comments about whites – you perpetuate the insecurity. When someone is always at fault, pretty soon they give up on trying to play nice. If you want better race relations, bring people together, don’t box them up in nice little stereotypes. Sheesh.

  • Emmetrope

    All cultures and all religions, for example, have prohibitions against murder but they define murder quite differently. When I said that it never occurred to me to murder anyone, I was not thinking of helping someone with a terminal illnes to die on his own terms–because I do not consider it murder to aid a person with a hopeless prognosis and a sound mind in his wish to end his suffering

  • Matthew_DC

    The word “moral” is very hard to define objectively and without reference to theism. It comes with a lot of religious significance attached to it, even if that is now denied. In the purely secular sense, it seems to mean “good”. And what is labelled as “good” can probably be reduced to: 1) what the social consensus believes is “good” and 2) what we personally feel is “good” or conducive to our survival.

  • amm72

    Do we think that we’re better than religious believers because we are capable of being good without the hope of eternal life or the fear of eternal punishment?Well, I don’t think I’m better than someone else is because I disagree with him on matters of religion, no.But if he tells me that the only reason he is good is because he’s terrified of Hell, and that if he weren’t terrified of Hell he would do bad things, then… yes, I do think the grounding of my morals is superior.People who claim that only terror makes them moral creep me out, because they’re basically saying “I’m awful. Someone keep me in check.”I know I am not awful. I know that I want and try to be good, and that I would want and try to be good whether I was proven wrong on the God question or not.

  • adrienne_najjar

    We atheists should never attempt to engage religious morons in any kind of serious discussion. The mere fact that these idiots believe in something that they cannot touch, feel, see or smell is the antithesis of rational humanity. You can trace all the ills of the world to one thing: Religion.Screw them all.

  • amm72

    “No, “moral” describes behavior that alleviates the suffering of others or does not cause suffering for others.”If you’re a Utilitarian or the like. Other ethical theories will say very different things about what’s moral and what isn’t. Read some Kant.Or are you trying to assert without argument that Utilitarian/consequentialist understandings of what morality is are the right ones?

  • MisterGuerilla

    Religion does not seem to prevent their followers from commiting murder (as in the case of War, which is supposedly ‘justified murder’ for whatever reason, the acts are the same). It actually seems to make people MORE murderous since the bible books are formulated that way (breed lots of children, then go to war when you start starving because of overpopulation). An atheist would surely also get caught up in that mob formula as well from not understanding what is going on, or from pure starvation.

  • jasper3

    “The state is the athiest’s church, synagogue, and temple. Who will feed the starving child? The state. Who will care for the sick and the elderly? The state. Who will protect the athiest from the Christian? The state.”Nice strawman, Blasmaic. Unfortunately, and I don’t know why this is so hard to fathom, but all an atheist is is someone who sees no evidence for a deity. Beyond that, it’s as mixed a bag as your likely to find, with libertarians, liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans, etc. etc.But if it makes you feel better to think otherwise, why let facts get in the way?

  • MisterGuerilla

    By saving the human child, that will mean destroying other life-forms. The child will consume about 365 chicken’s lives a year adding up to a possible 29,200 total chickens that will be ‘murdered’ in that human’s lifespan of 80 years. Since humans are destroying the environment, is it wise for the Atheist to ‘be good’ like everyone else is supposedly being ‘good?’ I would think it would be the duty of the Atheist to change society in order to get humanity to stop breeding even though that would be very unpopular and even considered ‘bad.’

  • Cthulhu3

    What fundamental ground does atheism base its ethics upon? If the universe has no purpose and all phenomena are merely the results of time plus chance and blind, purposeless matter and physical forces, I do not see how “pure” atheists can go from this “fact” to “values” (ought’s and ought not’s). I am not denying there are good atheists, but the philosophical position seems to offer little more than “there is no God and the material universe is all there is.” Ok, I’ll concede that point, but what about the existence of the universe mandates any particular moral point of view, moral axiom, or duty? Necessity might dictate our desire to avoid certain consequences, but many people believe they can and do avoid those consequences and go on to do despicable acts. I think all we have left are “communities of solidarity” (a la Richard Rorty) that share languages and cultures and mores, but what makes our Western Enlightenment culture and better or worse than Radical Islam et al.

  • jhr1

    Kant has already dealt brilliantly with this situation. If anyone can top his analysis, I’d like to hear about it.

  • remarkjd

    By the way, although Peter Singer’s question (Are you morally obligated to save a child drowning in a shallow pond even if this would ruin your pants?) seems simple-minded, in other writings he uses this as a springboard to ask questions like: Are you morally obligated to send money to charities that are saving the lives of dying children overseas even if you would have to give up some personal luxuries (e.g. buying a new pair of pants)? To Singer, the two questons are essentially equivalent. If you can save a child’s life, why should it make a difference whether the child is right in front of you or (for example) in Africa? But while 97% of respondents say they feel obligated to save the drowning child, 97% of people don’t send money to reputable charities saving children overseas (e.g., Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, CARE). If we concede that we are obligated to save lives overseas, the next question is: How much money should we give? 5% of our income? 10%? All of our income above a level of bare sustenance? So what seems like a simple-minded question has complex moral ramifications.

  • Schaum

    Misterguerilla:”I would think it would be the duty of the Atheist to change society in order to get humanity to stop breeding even though that would be very unpopular and even considered ‘bad.’”Agreed! And it could only be by heterosexuals (whether atheist or non-atheist) agreement to stop breeding that homosexuality could be eradicated, since homosexuals are created by heterosexuals, not by other homosexuals.

  • danta23

    As a life-long Secular Humanist, I think the best response to the question is not to take offense and bluntly refuse to answer. I suggest using the question as an opportunity to educate, as in, “Just because I don’t believe in God doesn’t mean I don’t have moral beliefs. I believe that all goodness and evil exist within human beings – the rest of the universe is inert and doesn’t care if we live or die, if we are happy or sad. I believe that all people are equal, that each person is a unique and irreplaceable venue for good and evil to be realized. Hence, I believe that murder is evil because it diminishes human experience and shows contempt for the human equality that I hold so dear.”I think one reason Secular Humanism is not as popular as it should be is because we haven’t done a good job of expressing what we DO believe. That’s why I recommend Greg Epstein’s new book “Good Without God”.

  • Freestinker

    Cthulhu3 asks: “What fundamental ground does atheism base its ethics upon?”———–Cthulhu3,None because all atheists do not share a common system of ethics. The only thing all atheists have in common is that none of us has a belief in supernatural beings. That’s it.

  • gene2x

    Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you does not require a belief in a deity. To me it simply means behaving in a manner that respects the rights of others and treat them as you would wish to be treated. As I prefer not to be killed, robbed or disrespected, that is how I try to treat the rest of the world. It’s as simple as acting on the good manners that our mothers taught us. Manners and laws that societies create are the lubricants that keep those societies from coming apart at the seams. My preference is to live in a society and culture that respects each individuals right to live their lives as they wish. Just don’t try to shove your beliefs down my throat, I’ll do the same, and we’ll all get along just fine.

  • Rongoklunk

    Wonderful essay Ms Jacoby. Of course only the religious believe that nonbelievers are bad and immoral people. Maybe it’s because many religious people are restrained from cruel and immoral behaviour because they think that God is watching their every move from somewhere up in the sky, and could mean they won’t go to Heaven if they’re caught being naughty.But their religion didn’t stop those hundreds (perhaps thousands) of priests from raping all those children though – did it? Is it because these priests don’t REALLY believe anyone’s watching them from above, or is it because they think they can explain themselves to God when they’re dead?Personally I believe that many priests know as well as I do that there is no god. But it’s a comfortable living, and there’s unlimited access to little children.

  • Cthulhu3

    Danta23,The way you state it reveals an dilemma for the atheist position in one way. You say: “I suggest using the question as an opportunity to educate, as in, ‘Just because I don’t believe in God doesn’t mean I don’t have moral beliefs.’” Then your moral beliefs are just that–beliefs–and are as groundless as religious beliefs, likewise an internal a capacity of being human given the context of your statement that you “believe that all goodness and evil exist within human beings – the rest of the universe is inert and doesn’t care if we live or die.”Countering one person’s belief with another’s doesn’t help your argument, it weakens it.Also I am troubled by this reponse: “As a life-long Secular Humanist, I think the best response to the question is not to take offense and bluntly refuse to answer.”Well, if you are certain that your position is correct, couldn’t you come up with some compelling summation, reason, or statement? I mean, to bluntly refuse to answer is like a Creationist being asked to explain evolutionary evidence and giving no answer to a “damned atheist.” If your viewpoint is correct or superior to your questioners, shouldn’t you be able to express it and enlighten the great unwashed masses?I don’t have all the answers, I admit, but there are so many holes in the atheist position that it seems that agnosticism is really more intellectually honest.

  • jhr1

    People, people, people, give it up. It’s been covered. Read Kant, it’s been done. It’s settled. If anyone has topped his analysis, refer us all to that person. The article and the comments are useless.

  • MisterGuerilla

    Posted by: Schaum: Agreed! And it could only be by heterosexuals (whether atheist or non-atheist) agreement to stop breeding that homosexuality could be eradicated, since homosexuals are created by heterosexuals, not by other homosexuals.

  • Cthulhu3

    Freestinker,Thanks for the answer. So atheism is no better than any other position in its ability to provide ethical or moral guidance, because all it requires is non-belief in supernatural beings? That doesn’t really offer much to counter religious or theistic based philosophical claims. How vapid.

  • FRIENDENEMY

    I think people ask this question because they haven’t met any humanists or atheists and are ignorant of the answer. They have already been provided the answer that we are not moral people.I say we educate anyone curious enough to ask where our morality comes from. Why be angry or offended by someone’s ignorance of it?Humanist’s and atheist’s, by our silence, let the religious make up any tale of how we behave.More than anything, we should live as our principles demand and set the example of a good, honest, aware life.

  • crewsin

    Susan: What gives anyone a sense of morality? How is it derived? How do we know the line is not straight if the master carpenter does not instill in the human psyche a sense of right and wrong behavior? CS Lewis in Mere Christianity has nailed the question of God’s existence so emphatically that further discussion is useless.

  • Cthulhu3

    Susan,Not only does your statement contain a misspelling, it should be “Wehrmacht”, but you didn’t check your history. The Wehrmacht preexisted the Nazi forces and the uniform piece, Gott mitt uns, was carried over from the German imperial army days, long before the Nazi’s rise. You are trying to tie two things together, Hitler and a belief in God, and you are stretching historical facts and connections to do it. I thought you were a defender of reason who doesn’t play loose with historical facts to make her point?JohnJacoby: “(In fact, the latter’s Christianity is much more certain than the former’s atheism. Every member of the Wermacht wore a belt buckle with the motto, “God With Us.”)

  • Freestinker

    Cthulhu3 wrote: “Thanks for the answer. So atheism is no better than any other position in its ability to provide ethical or moral guidance, because all it requires is non-belief in supernatural beings? That doesn’t really offer much to counter religious or theistic based philosophical claims. How vapid.”———–Cthulhu3,That’s correct but what’s really vapid is to expect to glean any sort of ethical system solely from an absence of belief in the supernatural.The religious claims about atheism are correct. Atheism by itself offers no moral compass at all because it’s not supposed to. That’s not to say atheists don’t have morals. Every atheist most certainly does. It just means we don’t base them on the absence of belief.

  • aswnylaw

    Atheists shouldn’t assign the title of “arbiters of behavior and morality” to religious believers, but to the Word of God as revealed to us in the Bible.How do you define what is “good” if you do not have a standard by which to measure? Without God, man will “reason himself to hell”. If you don’t believe that is the case, pick up a history book and read about some of the atrocities that have been justified by either humanism acting in the “common good” and moral relevance.

  • progressivePragmatic

    Despite the fact that the murder question Ms. Jacoby recounts is ignorant, it still deserves an honest answer from any atheist. Religionists will not like the answers they get, of course, since there are so many possibilities (from self-preservation to a sense of community/species solidarity). No one likes to be told that what they saw as a binary, right and wrong, question is really multiple choice with hundreds of possible responses. Every chance an atheist has to challenge such binary thinking is worth taking.

  • Freestinker

    aswnylaw wrote: “How do you define what is “good” if you do not have a standard by which to measure?”—————aswnylaw,Atheists also have standards by which to measure good and evil but just like Christians, we don’t all agree on what those standards are.

  • mightysparrow

    I agree with most of friendenemy’s suggestion that there is a real need for atheists to explain to most people that we are not without a solid, rich sense of right and wrong. We simply can’t live freely in a world where people assume that atheists are immoral, because they are so narrow-minded that they assume the worst about us and our behavior.As friendenemy said, “humanist’s and atheist’s, by our silence, let the religious make up any tale of how we behave.” We should not allow the many bigoted people out there to use their own anti-atheist propaganda to try to eliminate our belief-systems and marginalize us.

  • mightysparrow

    “Jacoby’s central problem is that Statism is the religion of the athiest. While others view murder as a sin and a crime, the athiest views it as only a crime. Hence, the highest moral authority for the athiest is the state — Statism. Except for the assertion that Dawkins has a religious point of view, the above is all nonsense. Atheists do not worship the state or see the state as the arbiter of right and wrong– that’s an outrageous lie. Moreover, soviet or China-style anti-religious statism is a different phenomenon than an individual person’s atheism. You can’t accuse me of being against religion when it comes to the choices of other people- that’s just a bigoted lie. The atheists I know in person are compassionate toward others, including others’ religious beliefs.

  • Ken16

    There is no question that those who claim to be atheists believe in morality and act morally. The question is not whether people can believe and practice morality without religion. The question that Ms. Jacoby misunderstands, is what warrant exists for atheism to evaluate, or even discuss morality?A logically consistent and coherent atheism is reductively ontological, that is, it necessarily confines itself to what merely is. There is no logical way to get to a “should be” from what simply “is.” To deny the very idea of transcendence, is to deny the existence of transcendent criteria for making moral evaluations. If the existence of a transcendental morality is denied, all talk of morality devolves to a discussion of personal preferences. No warrant can be offered for privileging any personal preference over another. The irony of a Dawkins or Hitchens “putting God in the dock” for His perceived moral failures exposes the critical failure of atheism. In practice, atheists sucha s Dawkins or hitchens are not atheists at all. They are autotheists, elevating their own moral reasoning as absolute and transcendent, a code under which they would indict the God of the Bible.Atheists unwittingly cede their atheism when they attempt to discuss morality. They must import moral categories from some system of thought that, unlike atheism, admits of a transcendal realm.

  • mightysparrow

    “News flash! The average Christian? (that includes the Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, etc.) – we don’t really give that much thought to atheism. It’s a small group that really doesn’t show up on our radar – so they can do what they want, but they shouldn’t expect warm hugs from church-goers when they have become defined by the hate-filled diatribes they write about us.”This is hate-motivated nonsense. Why should Hitchens, and a few others’ attacks on religious people be generalized to all other atheists? That is like assuming that all Christians are child-molesters, based on what some members of the clergy have done. Bigoted nonsense that doesn’t speak very well for the morals of those who look for these stupid excuses to hate people who are different.

  • chatard

    Susan Jacoby refuses to answer questions….because she is insulted…..an because she is an atheist and doesn’t have to answer questions….and because Quinn and Meacham have turned their “On Faith” column into a forum for atheists and anti-American Christian ranters. Go figure.

  • mightysparrow

    Ken16 said: Ken: you’re missing the point. Atheists are not claiming that atheism is a complete moral system for living one’s life. They are simply trying to point out to theists that theists are also elevating their own moral reasoning as absolute and transcendent, a code by which they would indict all who do not share their personal religious beliefs. So, your criticism of atheism applies also to all varieties of theism, according to the view of all who do not believe in the particular creed that one believes comes from a “higher power.”

  • Carstonio

    Another issue is that it’s possible for gods or transcendent beings to exist who are NOT moral authorities or who did NOT create the human moral sense. Perhaps gods exist who are indifferent to morality or unaware of morality’s existence. Or perhaps such beings aren’t even aware of humanity’s existence.

  • Schaum

    3.Adolph Hitler, and most of the Third Reich’s hierarchy, were roman catholics. 90% of German civilians were christers, divided pretty evenly among protestants and roman catholics.Ted Bundy was a good student at Woodrow Wilson High School, in Tacoma, and was active in the local Methodist church, serving as vice-president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. He was involved with a local troop of the Boy Scouts of America. He killed between 30-100 women.

  • skipsailing28

    this is egregious:the attempt to minimize the assault on religion in America would be laughable if the atheists had any sense of humor.Come now, the atheists have earned their unsavory reputation. Heck, there is a group that is working to prevent the production of a stamp honoring Mother Theresa. That’s just plain small.Liberals have relied on certain epithets to end conversations that make them uncomfy. In the above case the chose magic word is “bigot” but that’s probably because “racist” wouldn’t work quite as well!Kinda too bad that this sort of discussion ending magic no longer works in America. We must have conversations about race and religion even if the liberals don’t enjoy them.In addition, the godless left is facing a new fact of life: people of religion are fighting back! The usual tricks won’t work now. I doubt that the left is up to the debate or the fight but hey, as they say in the school yard: they started it.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    BlasmaicA few corrections: Statism is your made up “ism.” The state is modern government; it exists; it happened; we have inherited it from history; it is here to stay. The only way that reverence for the state is remotely religious is in unreasoning patriotism, and nationalism which is a conservative Christianity, isnt’ it?The state does not seek to run all religioun out of every aspect of life. There are churches, churches, churches, everywhere, and there is religion, religion, religion, everywhere, all over the place; your problem is then, not that there is no relgion, but that religion does not control literally EVERYTHING. But if it did, which religion would it be? One that you approved of? More than likely, not.Likewise, you have made up another “ism” with evolutionism. Evolution is science; there is no evolutionism; it is not taught in any public schools that I have ever heard of, but only mentioned in Biology class, because a biology student would be considered ignorant without some basic information about evolution. You can be ignornat if you want to be, and probably be perfectly happy, but do not expect the goal of school to be ignorance.It is the consensus of science that evolution is true and truth is what schools should seek to teach. The subject of atheism or God is irrelevant what should be taught in science class.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Matthew_DC “… what is labelled as “good” can probably be reduced to: 1) what the social consensus believes is “good” and 2) what we personally feel is “good” or conducive to our survival. “That makes alot of sense; thanks!

  • apspa1

    PewResearch, June 26, 2007A contributor here said the state (government) is the atheist’s church. If so, the above poll would seem to contradict that.If the death penalty is a function of the state then, according to those who say atheists “pray to the state”, the majority of support for it would come from the atheists (secularists). But the poll shows the opposite.There have been many such polls concerning life and death policies including the willingness to go to war. It more often than not shows believers more supportive of state sponsored killings (death penalty, wars and assassinations) than do atheists.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Why does calling it religious make it fundamental? If God said “thou shalt not kill,” why is that a more fundamental rule against murder, than if it is merely a rule of law that people agree with?Why, if Jesus said, “love your neighbor” is that more fundamental than if you just DO love your neighbors? If the Bible says that God separated the night from the day, how do you understand any better about anything, by having heard this saying?If the Bible says that a man lying with another man is an abomination, then how does that give a fundamental justification to the mistreatment of gay people? Even if something displeased God, maybe God could be wrong; maybe God should try to get along more genially; maybe God could learn something from Man. Is that blasphemy? Why? It is only a suggestion, and a wondering thought. After all, I am not the one who believes that God is so unreasonable.Religious people gain very little over atheists, by believing in God. Everything is the same; the same sun; the same air; the same ground; it is only their feeling that they know more; but it is only a feeling, because they do not know more. They do not know why something is moral and something else is not moral. We acquire our standards or morality from the previous generation, from our parents, teachers, and personal care-givers. And this inheritance is taken to our hearts, some of which are good, and some of which are bad. If someone has a good heart, he cannot say why; it is not because Jesus told him to have a good heart; because right there sitting next to him in the church pew, is a fellow Christian with a dark and rotten heart. So again, I would like to ask, why is a rule or commandmant from God a fundamental principle? Is it wrong to wonder and to ask this question?

  • jhr1

    People, people, people, give it up. It’s been covered. Read Kant, it’s been done. It’s settled. If anyone has topped his analysis, refer us all to that person. The article and the comments are useless.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    The thing that works best in the world is science.And why does it work?No one knows.How can it be justified and defined? how can scientific consensus just form, itself, without government control, without rules, ungoverned, but just happening?No one can say; no one can put their finger on it.Nevertheless, on such a flimsy foundation, it is the thing that works best in the world.In order for personal morlaity to have any validity, why do religious people insist on laying out the fundamentals, before there can be any understanding? Only God says it should be this way, and if God never said it, then how can anyone know what way it should be?Oh, it just be, that is the answer.

  • Susan_Jacoby

    Thanks for the correction of the Wehrmacht misspelling. That “God With Us” was on the belt buckle of the German army before the Nazis, however, does not negate the point I am making. Hitler’s approporiation of both Christian and pagan symbolism is well-known. And the basic point I made was that anyone who considers himself in possession of absolute truth is, in fact, practicing totalitarian religion. That is what monotheistic religion is: an absolute truth claim.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Jhr1Did Kant say anything like this?In the local landscape of personal experience, people inherit, and subsequently form, their moral beliefs from their parents, care-givers, and teachers and from the culture of their time and place. And they just live according to these principles; for the most part, they do not require a rigorous moral justififiation for belieing what is right and what is wrong because that is a philoosphical question, seeking to find out a greater meaning of life, beyond the local landscape of physical experieince. But most people are not philosophers and do not worry about it; it is moot.Atheists, for the most part, do not commit murder for the same reason that Christians do not; basically no reason, they just don’t. Except, rarely, sometimes, they both do.

  • YEAL9

    “From the beginning of the Papacy, until the present time, it is estimated by credible historians that more than 50,000,000, men and women have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy charged against them by Papal authority of the Holy Inquisition, which lasted for 605 years.”The credible historians are???

  • jhr1

    Daniel, No Kant proposed a construct called the “Universal You”. The essential argument is that we are all in this together and immoral or unethical behavior is bad for all of us, and therefore for each individual as well. Real simplistic and incomplete, but that in a nutshell is what his massive work was about.

  • curtb

    Members of the very Christian “pro-life” movement not only committed murder in their “knowledge” of what “God” wants, they used mass justification for it, as in, these people were murderers themselves, God wanted them dead. Sounds pretty vigilante to me, but if you wrap it up in God and some non-existent scriptural passage, it’s just religion excusing murder, and there’s nothing new in that, it’s been done for centuries. Pick your religion, there’s nobody like God to justify the worst behavior. Pro-lifers, pedophile priests, Islamic terror, India’s caste system, there’s nothing that God can’t excuse.

  • YEAL9

    Off topic but since the subject was brought up:”Biology and sexual orientation is the subject of research into the role of biology in the development of human sexual orientation. No simple, single cause for sexual orientation has been conclusively demonstrated, but research suggests that it is by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences,[1] with biological factors involving a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment.[2] Biological factors which may be related to the development of a heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual orientation include genes, prenatal hormones, and brain structure.”"A recent study suggests linkage between a mother’s genetic make-up and homosexuality of her sons. Women have two X chromosomes, one of which is “switched off”. The inactivation of the X chromosome occurs randomly throughout the embryo, resulting in cells that are mosaic with respect to which chromosome is active. In some cases though, it appears that this switching off can occur in a non-random fashion. Bocklandt et al. (2006) reported that, in mothers of homosexual men, the number of women with extreme skewing of X chromosome inactivation is significantly higher than in mothers without gay sons. Thirteen percent of mothers with one gay son, and 23% of mothers with two gay sons showed extreme skewing, compared to 4% percent of mothers without gay sons.[17]“”In 2004, Italian researchers conducted a study of about 4,600 people who were the relatives of 98 homosexual and 100 heterosexual men. Female relatives of the homosexual men tended to have more offspring than those of the heterosexual men. Female relatives of the homosexual men on their mother’s side tended to have more offspring than those on the father’s side. The researchers concluded that there was genetic material being passed down on the X chromosome which both promotes fertility in the mother and homosexuality in her male offspring. The connections discovered, would explain about 20% of the cases studied, indicating that this is a highly significant but not the sole genetic factor determining sexual orientation.[21].”"Blanchard and Klassen (1997) reported that each older brother increases the odds of a man being gay by 33%.[18][19] This is now “one of the most reliable epidemiological variables ever identified in the study of sexual orientation.”[20] To explain this finding, it has been proposed that male fetuses provoke a maternal immune reaction that becomes stronger with each successive male fetus. Male fetuses produce HY antigens which are “almost certainly involved in the sexual differentiation of vertebrates.” It is this antigen which maternal H-Y antibodies are proposed to both react to and ‘remember’. Successive male fetuses are then attacked by H-Y antibodies which somehow decrease the ability of H-Y antigens to perform their usual function in brain masculinisation.[18]See Wikipedia for the specific references.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Susan,

  • apspa1

    “If God said “thou shalt not kill,” why is that a more fundamental rule against murder, than if it is merely a rule of law that people agree with?”"Why, if Jesus said, “love your neighbor” is that more fundamental than if you just DO love your neighbors?”Those two statements made here point to a fundamental problem within this debate.First, it is only said by others that “God said” or “Jesus said” this that or the other. There is hard evidence that either of them ever said anything. Only hearsay.Second, Christian religion is but the monotheist version of the polytheist traditions of Paganism. Including stories about the crucifixion, the resurrection, Lazarus, the commandments (without,of course, those dealing with honoring and obeying one god), etc.Given that Christians today refer to Pagans as heathens and non-believers, as they do atheists, their claim to moral righteousness lacks credulity when it is seen they, as they make that claim, reject the very basis of their belief system.It would seem they should first strive to define their true identity before they pass judgment on the rest of humanity.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I would like ask again, what about a fundamental belief makes it fundamental? Because God said so? That is what makes it fundamental? But what if you disagree? God will throw you in the Lake of Fire? But what if you dont’ believe in the Lake of Fire? Why is the mere assumption of a God ordered rule more authoratiative than thinking it out for oneself in a way that really makes more sense? Because it is not really God telling us all of the God made rules; it is people telling us. So if an atheist has some ideas about morlaity that God did not dictate, why is that not as real or fundamental as people who say what God’s rules are?Why are God’s rules God’s rules? Who says so?

  • Schaum

    2.Rev. S. S. Schmucker, D.D., Professor of Theology in the Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Published by Gould and Newman. 1838: “Need I speak to you of the thirty years’ war in Germany, which was mainly instigated by the Jesuits, in order to deprive the Protestants of the right of free religious worship, secured to them by the treaty of Augsburg? Or of the Irish rebellion, of the inhuman butchery of about fifteen millions of Indians in South America, Mexico and Cuba, by the Spanish papists? In short, it is calculated by authentic historians, that papal Rome has shed the blood of sixty-eight millions of the human race in order to establish her unfounded claims to religious dominion” —–(citing Dr. Brownlee’s “Popery an enemy to civil liberty”, p. 105). “Plea for the West” by Lyman Beecher (Cincinnati, Truman and Smith, 1835), pp. 130-131: “And let me ask again, whether the Catholic religion, in its union with the state, has proved itself so unambitious, meek, and unaspiring so feeble, and easy to be entreated, as to justify-a proud, contempt of its avowed purpose and systematic movements to secure an ascendancy in this nation? It is accidental that in alliance with despotic governments, it has swayed a sceptre of iron, for ten centuries over nearly one-third of; the population of, the globe, and by a death of violence is estimated to have swept from ‘the’ earth about sixty-eight millions of its inhabitants, and holds now in darkness and bondage nearly half the civilized world.

  • Schaum

    3.And later in the same work, “The best writers enumerate fifty millions of Christians destroyed by fire, and the sword, and the inquisition; and fifteen millions of natives of the American continent and islands; and three millions of Moors in Europe, and one million and a half of Jews. Now, here are sixty-nine millions and five hundred thousands of human beings, murdered by “the woman of the Roman hills, who was drunk with the blood of the saints.” And this horrid list does not include those of her own subjects, who fell in the crusades in Asia, and in her wars against European Christians, and in South America!” — page 97.Walter M. Montano, a former Catholic priest, asserts in his book, Behind the Purple Curtain that it has been estimated that fifty million people died for their faith during the twelve hundred years of the Dark Ages. (Citing Walter M. Montano, Behind the Purple Curtain, Cowman Publications, 1950, page 91.)”This great antichristian power robbed the church of its gospel light and plunged the world into the Dark Ages. It put to death and thus took away the lives of from fifty to one hundred millions of the saints of the Most High.” — Bunch, Taylor, The Book of Daniel, 1950, p. 170.There is a great deal more, but I think this material will keep your lips moving for a while.

  • Schaum

    1.OK…here goes.Also see:Amador de los Rios

  • US-conscience

    First of all, you have the Christian religion all wrong. No one claims it makes us better than anyone else, quite the contrary, we realize that we are not good, we are morally depraved which is why we ( and all people ) lie, steal, lust, covet, dishonor our parents and worship ourselves above anything else. We are not good ! we are sinners ! Which is why the good news of the Gospel is such good news and makes sense. ( Christians dont get to heaven because their good, but because even though we are bad, we are forgiven by a good God, that way He gets all the credit, not us ) Secondly – the whole argument comes down to moral absolutes. If there is no law giver ( God ) then everything good or bad is simply a matter of opinion. What might be immoral behavior to one person is moral to another. Everyone will do what is right in their own eyes. This leads to chaos.

  • Billy1932

    There is no question that religion is a necessity to moral behavior.Examples:

  • skipsailing28

    such fun.Here’s an answer for danielinthelionsden:It seems that atheists have a blind spot when it comes to simple faith. Christians are christians because they chose to believe in Christ. It is simple, but not easy.Faith is an important part of the entire religious experience. So faithful people claim things as fundamental to their faith. See?That person schaum is on the wrong track. You can’t disprove the existence of god by pointing to bad things that people have done in God’s name. Nor can you disprove God’s existence by reciting the crimes of those who profess faith and fail. In all those cases the behaviors being discussed are those of PEOPLE not God. The fact that someone says he’s a Christian and even attends services and still commits a heinous crime doesn’t mean that God is non existent or that religion is a failure. We have free will. Those of us who believe recognize that we do so out of choice. We also recognize that the tenets of the faith form behavioral guidelines. We can chose our behavior. We’re free.

  • PSolus

    “What would prevent a person from committing murder if that person did not believe in god?”The same thing that would prevent a person from committing murder if that person did believe in god.Nothing.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    skipsailing28Then why are atheists so bad, for saying, freely what they believe and why?

  • Schaum

    Mary Cunningham, Ever Virgin Mother of Blather, is a roman catholic christer. She would, of course, resist exposure to the light of day of the rottenness of the roman catholic christer religion. Nevertheless, despite her breast beating and hand wringing, the facts are there for all to see. roman catholicism is a loathsome disease which should be eradicated from the earth. And its adherents are equally diseased with delusion. Blessed Mary is, sadly, no exception.

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:”What would prevent a person from committing murder if that person did not believe in god?”What about simple respect for life? Does anyone hold a copyright on that?

  • Rongoklunk

    Schaum, your response to Mary C was awesome, and made very interesting reading. Whow. Danke.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    But what is it that causes the absoluteness in a moral absolute? Is it because God has said it? But did God say it? I never heard God say anything? Isn’t it men so what is morally absolute, and they do it in the name of God? That is not the same at all as God saying it directly. I think that people who believe they have found moral absolutes live under and illusion, and it is up to them to explain why they are not living under and illusion.

  • Schaum

    Skipsailing28:”That person schaum is on the wrong track. You can’t disprove the existence of god by pointing to bad things that people have done in God’s name.”It is you who are on the wrong track, Skippy. Atheists do not, cannot, have not attempted to, disprove the existence of god. We ONLY say that failure of god-believers to prove the existence of god is sufficient reason not to accept their beliefs as anything more that myth. Is that a hard concept for you to grasp?What is done in “gods name” has nothing to do with anything.

  • US-conscience

    No one is good, not atheists, not theists.

  • PSolus

    “What about simple respect for life?”Well… What about simple respect for life?”Does anyone hold a copyright on that?”Your question does not make sense; copyright applies only to original works.

  • Schaum

    Skipsailing28:”We also recognize that the tenets of the faith form behavioral guidelines. We can chose our behavior.”I’ve no idea what this is called on your planet. On this one, it is called a logical contradiction.

  • Schaum

    Psolus:”Your question does not make sense; copyright applies only to original works.”No. Copyright applies only to works which have been copyrighted FIRST, regardless of whether they are origina.

  • jfv123

    Many people wonder where do we and other people draw lines for different types of behavior and why they decide the line is in one place rather than another.It’s fairly natural that people who believe that god created people for a purpose are curious about other people who believe we are all random products of evolution who have happened by accident. If an atheist/evolutonist eats some randomly evolved creatures, why not others? Is it simply a matter of taste or health, or does something else drive menu choices? Theists differ depending on religion about which creatures not to eat and why. PETA activists say not to eat any creature. They draw a line that is consistent with all of us being randomly evolved creatures, and randomly evolved creatures shouldn’t eat one another. Some athiests eat some, but not all randomly evolved creatures. Atheists must have a reason for their decisions, but it’s not really clear to theists what the reasons are for treating some randomly evolved creatures differently than others. This does cause concerns when athiests get hungry.Likewise, if as stated in the Declaration of Independence, we derive our inalienable rights from the Creator, do people who don’t believe in a Creator believe others have inalienable rights? If so, why? Where do these rights come from. Remember, Jefferson was saying they came from something greater than government and that we could discern what these rights are. If Jefferson didn’t know about evolution, was he wrong about inalienable rights? How could he know wht these rights were when he wasn’t aware iof the evolutionary process. Was he jus a good guesser? Is a randon process of evolutionary changes (some scientists call them mistakes) the source of our inalienable rights that is bigger than government and bigger than the will of all the randomly evolved people? It seems like it would take something really really big to outweigh government and the will of the people. Jefferson had an answer for what that was. It’s a basic principle of our political system, government can’t take away rights, because rights are given by the Creator, not by government. People who believe this wonder about whether people who don’t are too beholden to government. If evolution is what drives things, and if as science says, evolution is a series of random changes, some people worry that doesn’t provide such a firm basis for inalienable rights. That causes some poltical insecurity.These aren’t answers, but they thngs people wonder about.Athiests may have reasonable answers for these questions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t reasonable for other people to wonder about them.That leaves it for athiests to decide whether to explain their belief systems to others or not.

  • PSolus

    “Copyright applies only to works which have been copyrighted FIRST…”As opposed to works that have been copyrighted SECOND, or THIRD?

  • Schaum

    JFV123:”That leaves it for athiests to decide whether to explain their belief systems to others or not.”Until and unless you can understand the basics — that “atheists” (a christer invention) have no belief system; they merely believe that god-believers have failed to prove the existence of god — I’d suggest that you keep your mouth shut and your eyes open.

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:Evidently you know nothing about the concept of copyright. It is given to, and applied to, ONLY that work which is copyrighted first, regardless of whether it is the original work. There is no such thing as a second copyright and a third copyright for the same work. Basically, its first-come, first-served.

  • emonty

    Schaum:As a ‘christer’, and worse yet, a Roamn Catholic christer to boot, I would agree with you that the history of the Church has many ‘loathsome’ episodes in it. To say otherwise would be ignoring much hisotry, and especially recent history. There is no moral or ethical way to explain away the child abuse or the coverup. Many Catholics, including this one, are disgusted.I for one, agree with Susan that NOBODY has a monopoly on ‘goodness’ and I keep an especially close eye on my wallet when people whol loudly proclaim their ‘goodness’ are around.Now we will always disagree on my faith, but we do agree on the idea of your right to believe what you want, and my right to do the same, ends with shoving it down someone’s throat.I think we also agreed last week, that I have a sense of humor!

  • emonty

    Schaum,I think we would also agree that I can’t type worth a lick!

  • Schaum

    Psolus:Let me explain it simply. You invent calculus, but you neglect to copyright it. I invent an identical matrix, which I choose to call calculus. I copyright it immediately. Therefore I have the copyright on calculus, regardless of the fact that you invented it first. You get no SECOND COPYRIGHT.

  • Schaum

    EMONTY:Yes, you have a great sense of humor. You are one of the few here who does.

  • love2much SE

    You don’t kill because God created you in his good image. He is the Father of your consciences and He created you. Now wether you beleive this or not is not relevant nor does it change the fact that God is real and he created you in his goodness to do Good things. That’s the part you guys always miss. Just because you don’t have faith does not mean that faith and God are not real. God is goodness. There is no goodness for goodness sake. Man did not know what goodness was until God said it was good or this was bad – morality did not evolve, morality was put into us in creation. When he created you in his image you were created with his goodness. Same with marriage, man takes a wife, engages in the convenant of marriage because God said it’s is not good for man to be alone. the idea of marriage did not evolvoe from or with man, the idea of Goodness did not evolve from or with man – like many of you think we evolved.We did not evolve (what happen did we just stop evolving then). No. We were created in the image of a Good God who is real, who loves us wether we beleive in him or not and who we will see face to face one day — all of us – wether you beleive in him or not, doesn’t matter -HE IS that HE IS. And he made you to be good and he loves you enough to give you free will to be bad as well.I’m sorry the right wing gets it very twisted not an accurate representation of God by any means but I always like to say this to the atheist – remember just because You don’t beleive in God, doesn’t mean he is not real or that there is no GOD.You guys can try and seperate him for everything – being good for goodness sake etc etc. It really doesn’t matter – it does not change the truth – WE have the capacity to be good because of God’s sake. Simple. Man did not create nor did he have a clue what it was until God told him – spoke it to his spirit, created him in his Image.I do have a question for you – why do you hate God so much?

  • garoth

    Really a silly article. It is always appropriate to ask where te center of a person’s ethics lie. All religions have a set of theological statements that undergird thei ethics. Most other philosophies also have some center, out of which an ethics comes. Athiests have nothing to prove, other than that they are capabl of rational thought, as (we hope) others are as well. I certainly believe that this is generally the case. The question is, then, what lies at the core of one’s ethics? Some may believe that it’s all about me – and so to hell with the kid in the pond. I remember, wen I was doing my internship in Wisconsin, he story of a woman who got caught in a blizzard, and went door to door, trying to get help. No one answered, even though everyone was home. She almost froze to death (lost som toes and fingers, as I remembered). So not everyone – even the religious – hold a benign ethics. The question is always valid – what is the center of your ethical response? If not “God says so,” then what?

  • Schaum

    LOVE2MUCH:”I do have a question for you – why do you hate God so much?”Why do you make such an ass of yourself? Atheists — I assume it is us you are addressing — do not hate god. We hate delusion. Since you are unable to prove your assertion that there is a god, we decline to follow you into that delusion. Its as simple as that. Prove god’s existence, and we will follow you instantly. Is that too much for you to do?

  • PSolus

    Schaum,Evidently you know nothing about the concept of sarcasm.Oh, you are also mistaken about copyright law.

  • PSolus

    “Let me explain it simply.”Do you really have a choice?

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:”Oh, you are also mistaken about copyright law.”Prove it.As for sarcasm, which usually makes a point: yours doesn’t.

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:”Let me explain it simply.”"Do you really have a choice?”Not when explaining your deficiencies.

  • emonty

    Oops! Students coming in; I think we will talk about ‘copyright’ law.

  • love2much SE

    You don’t kill because God created you in his good image. He is the Father of your consciences and He created you. Now wether you beleive this or not is not relevant nor does it change the fact that God is real and he created you in his goodness to do Good things. That’s the part you guys always miss. Just because you don’t have faith does not mean that faith and God are not real. God is goodness. There is no goodness for goodness sake. Man did not know what goodness was until God said it was good or this was bad – morality did not evolve, morality was put into us in creation. When he created you in his image you were created with his goodness. Same with marriage, man takes a wife, engages in the convenant of marriage because God said it’s is not good for man to be alone. the idea of marriage did not evolvoe from or with man, the idea of Goodness did not evolve from or with man – like many of you think we evolved.We did not evolve (what happen did we just stop evolving then). No. We were created in the image of a Good God who is real, who loves us wether we beleive in him or not and who we will see face to face one day — all of us – wether you beleive in him or not, doesn’t matter -HE IS that HE IS. And he made you to be good and he loves you enough to give you free will to be bad as well.I’m sorry the right wing gets it very twisted not an accurate representation of God by any means but I always like to say this to the atheist – remember just because You don’t beleive in God, doesn’t mean he is not real or that there is no GOD.You guys can try and seperate him for everything – being good for goodness sake etc etc. It really doesn’t matter – it does not change the truth – WE have the capacity to be good because we were created in his goodness and for his sake. WE ARE HIS — your unbelief does not change that. Simple.Man did not create nor did he have a clue what it was until God told him – spoke it to his spirit, created him in his Image.I do have a question for atheist – why do you hate God so much? He hasn’t done anything but love you. I know you like to say well if there was a GOd why did this happen or that? But what we do to each other is man’s doing not God’s? He loves you, he’s real, he is Good and because he is good you are too.

  • PSolus

    “Not when explaining your deficiencies.”Prove it.

  • captn_ahab

    Ms. Jacoby writes:”It is time for atheists to stop trying to prove what there is no need to prove: that they are as good as people whose religion began with a father’s willingness to kill his only son at God’s behest….”It is surprising that such a sophisticated secular thinker makes such a simple statement, uninformed by history or anthropology. The story of the binding of Isaac demonstrated that a God of ethics would never allow the sacrifice of a child.In this historical period, child sacrifice was common and often required by the pagan gods of the surrounding communities. However, Abraham’s God would not allow the blade to touch the child, despite God’s earlier request. This was something new, and a profoundly different morality for the time. It was an advance in moral thinking during the Bronze Age.I think Ms. Jacoby missed much of the history and implications of the story.I wonder why….

  • Schaum

    EMONTY:”Oops! Students coming in; I think we will talk about ‘copyright’ law.”If you/he want. I worked in the copyright section of the music division of the Library of Congress for two years. I’ll be happy to discuss copyright law with anyone who wants.

  • PSolus

    “As for sarcasm, which usually makes a point: yours doesn’t.”Prove it.

  • teoc2

    the existence of God is independent of religion, religious teaching/tracts or religious “leaders”.the non-existence of God is independent of atheism, atheistic teaching/tracts or atheistic “leaders”.what will science do when it discovers irrefutable evidence that existence is truly super natural?Jacoby in a previous column claims a lack of evidence of the super natural including understanding of space and time is proof of the non-existence of God.and yet the existence of parallel universes and matter existing simultaneously in two different place has been “proved” by physics

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS, you moron.Even grade school math students know you cannot prove a negative.

  • Freestinker

    US-conscience wrote: “Secondly – the whole argument comes down to moral absolutes. If there is no law giver ( God ) then everything good or bad is simply a matter of opinion. What might be immoral behavior to one person is moral to another. Everyone will do what is right in their own eyes. This leads to chaos.” ——-US-conscience,How is the situation you describe any different under your god’s laws? You religionists can’t even agree among yourselves as to what they mean. If your moral code is so infallible, why can’t you all ever agree? Each of you has a different interpretation so the effect is the same. As you said, “Everyone will do what is right in their own eyes.” … based on their interpretation of their gods’ laws. So, in practice, your god’s moral laws are just as relative and just as arbitrary as any atheist’s set of morals.

  • PSolus

    “If you/he want. I worked in the copyright section of the music division of the Library of Congress for two years. I’ll be happy to discuss copyright law with anyone who wants.”Discuss what would happen if some one attempted to copyright simple respect for life.

  • Carstonio

    Jfv123, the “Creator” reference in the Declaration is generic enough that doesn’t have to be interpreted to as meaning a conscious agency. (The whole document shows that the capitalization rules were different in that era.) Hypothetically, “Creator” could be interpreted as a metaphor for natural forces. Either way, the concept of inalienable rights doesn’t require a conscious agency.Describing a non-agency origin for humanity as an “accident” unnecessarily puts a negative spin on that possibility. Whatever the origin of humanity, the question of morality shouldn’t depend on that origin being anything in particular. Arguing otherwise amounts to arguing that it’s necessarily to believe in a thing regardless of its factual accuracy. Also, a non-agency origin for humanity isn’t automatically or necessarily atheistic. One can believe in gods that are not creators.

  • PSolus

    “Even grade school math students know you cannot prove a negative.”Prove it.

  • Schaum

    Captn_Ahab:”The story of the binding of Isaac demonstrated that a God of ethics would never allow the sacrifice of a child.”A “god” of “ethics” would never have asked one he loved to be willing to sacrifice his child as a “test”.

  • Schaum

    CARSTONIO:Very good post! Compliments.

  • Schaum

    Psolus:”Even grade school math students know you cannot prove a negative.”Prove it.”Don’t need to. It is a rule of logic. Oh — you may never have heard of it.

  • Freestinker

    TEOC2 asks: “what will science do when it discovers irrefutable evidence that existence is truly super natural?”————-TEOC2,Science only deals with the natural so if science ever discovers that existence is super-natural, Science will cease to exist as we know it!You can’t be serious?

  • Navin1

    It seems that SJ and I agree. It is not group membership that allows or disallows moral learning. It does not depend if you believe in god or don’t whether you care for your fellow human being.But it is the ideology of one truth, one way, the mono-ideological construct that justifies hate. And that mono-ideological construct can occur if a person believe in the bible, the koran, or any other finite representation of the way it should be (even a book on evolution). It would be evident, then, that those of us wanting a more peaceful world would support enthusiastically a poly-ideology. You want to believe in this god, ok, you want to believe in that, ok, you don’t want to believe in a god, ok… But once you start telling people that they can’t believe in a god, can’t believe in this god, or that god,… you propagate that mono-ideological construct that underlies hate and the evidence points to your own hatefulness, perhaps even lack of ego integrity that needs a sharp mirror.hariaum

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:”Discuss what would happen if some one attempted to copyright simple respect for life.”Provided the applicant submitted two identical copies of his specifications of his theory on “respect for life” AND that no one else had previously copyrighted such a specification for the theory of “respect of life”, he would have his copyright registered, giving him legal ownership of the theory of “respect of life”…assuming he sent in the required registration fee, which in my time at the copyright office was $20. I suspect is is substantially more now.

  • PSolus

    “Provided the applicant submitted two identical copies of his specifications of his theory on “respect for life” AND that no one else had previously copyrighted such a specification for the theory of “respect of life”, he would have his copyright registered, giving him legal ownership of the theory of “respect of life”…assuming he sent in the required registration fee, which in my time at the copyright office was $20. I suspect is is substantially more now.”So, how would this prevent a person from committing murder?And, can you prove it?

  • garoth

    By the way, sorry for all the typos – my computer isn’t worth snot.

  • Navin1

    Definition of delusion:# (psychology) an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary# A delusion, in everyday language, is a fixed belief that is either false, fanciful, or derived from deception. …In order for the belief in god to be a delusion, there would have to be solid proof that god does not exist (that it is false…). Or proof that belief in god is false (again pointing to proof that god does not exist). As an atheist that is not interested in proving the existence or non-existence of god, the use of the word delusion to describe the theist places the burden of proof of the fallacy of the belief on the atheist. Not the other way around. As to the argument that a negative can not be proved, I have already given a counter example (proposition: I am not dead. Argument: I am writing this blog, I must be alive to write this blog. Conclusion: I am not dead is proved). On the other hand, if one has a belief that logic disallows the proof of a negative, that delusion will persist even in the setting of the counter example. Definitions that are unquestionable are simply faith. But if we accept that negatives can not be proven, then the atheist (that can not prove the non-existence of god) has a BELIEF in a negative that can not be proven – faith.The honest atheist would be the one that says: I do not know if god exists or not and will live my life based on my beliefs / interpretations of the evidence before me. The step of calling the theist delusional is mono-ideological nonsense of an intolerant mind that has closed itself to evidence for the sake of preserving its own prized belief system.hariaum

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:”So, how would this prevent a person from committing murder?And, can you prove it?”Don’t need to. Never made that claim.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    The Binding of Isaac was meant to end for all time human sacrifice to deities.A different sort of G-d, demonic, unforgiving, hater of humans, arises with the NT, which implicates humanity in the sacrifice of a man-god to atone for the “unforgivable” (to a very different god from that of Abraham) “sins” of Adam and Eve.The Adam and Eve myth is etiological, explanatory. There is nothing to forgive. The ways to heal the world are spelled out.As a number of scholars have pointed out the Jesus myth is a throwback to pre-Judaic times (pre-Tanakh times).

  • AxelDC

    The idea that God creates morality discounts the innate ability for empathy that humans possess. I don’t need God to tell me that it’s cruel to mistreat animals, that it’s wise to help the poor, that it’s kind to help out disaster victims. My ability to put myself in the place of a cat, a poor mother or an earthquake victim let’s me experience enough of their pain to want to alleviate it.Anyone who commits charitable acts out of fear of God is infantile. Anyone who obeys the law for fear of punishment is not a truly virtuous person. The ability to empathize, which is exogenous to religious belief, allows us to create a better world for humanity.

  • PSolus

    “Don’t need to. Never made that claim.”Prove it.

  • Schaum

    Psolus:”Don’t need to. Never made that claim.”Prove it.”Prove that I never claimed something?? Uh…no. You prove that I did.

  • Susan_Jacoby

    To Farnaz–I can’t respond to many posts on “The Spirited Atheist” thread, because there are so many more of them. But thanks for posting the link to the column on the Baha’i. That the story of Abraham and Isaac was meant to replace human sacrifice with animal sacrifice seems to me much less important than the fact that Abraham was prepared to go right ahead and kill his son if God commanded it. The intervention of God renders the story meaningless as a commentary on the dignity of man. Obedience and reliance on divine authority is the real message of this foundational religious story. It’s always interesting to see your posts.

  • spidermean2

    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps. 14:1)It is easy to spot a fool coz fools don’t believe in God. If one truly study the word “evolution”, the word won’t exist if there is no inherent intelligence with it. Evolving means it needs a set of intelligent rules to enable it to stand or continue to exist. An “evolving building” would crumble if it does not follow some form of an intelligent set of rules. As the “evolving” building add more weight, it also means that an intelligent redesign like reinforced columns, beams and footings should follow. Evolving means some form of INTELLIGENT counter-actions is needed for every slight changes.The FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God. This is so true since atheists believe in evolution without intelligence. It appears that the one can’t exist without the other. Evolution (micro) and THE PRESENCE OF INTELLIGENCE always GO TOGETHER AND ARE INSEPARABLE.Wow, this is another case to prove the stupidity of ATHEISTS AND EVOLUTIONISTS.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Susan,Actually, that post was not particularly intended for you, but thanks very much for your reply.At the time the Binding was transcribed, human sacrifice was still occurring in the region. The intent of the ancient tale was to say that the willingness to commit to God in this way was Sufficient.Whatever one thinks of this, it surely pales before the visciously reconceived god of the NT. That god understood the behaviors of Adam and Eve to be sinful, so sinful in fact that only a human sacrifice could atone for them because they were unforgivable by the diety.This sacrificing god, who gave rise to the world’s salvific religions implicated all humanity in the death of his incarnated self, ushered in essentialism and its horrific consequences in endless scapegoating throughout history.We all have the blood of christ on our hands, etc. Far too much has been written on this horror and its consequences for justice for me to have to revisit it at length now. NO One Died for our sins. We sin. And sin. And sin. As the great Strongly recommend, Roesemary Reuther, Faith and Fratricide.Farnaz

  • Schaum

    Psolus:Prove it.

  • PSolus

    “You prove that I did.”I never claimed you did.Can you prove that I did?If you have not yet learned the siliness of your ways by now, you never will.And, no, I can’t prove that, but you can.

  • Alex511

    fr yeal9:>…For a very good analysis of body counts due to atrociticies commented by humans against humans see …Add the murder of Matthew Shepard by two homophobic thugs to that list, and the murder in Sacramento CA of Satinder Singh by a homophobic Ukranian “Christian” man who then skipped the country and is STILL a international fugitive. This happened in approximately 2007.

  • spidermean2

    On the issue that atheists can be dangerous people, YES they are by virtue of their STUPIDITY. Stupidity is the main driver for any form of crime. Looking at history, atheists and practitioners of false religions like Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism. liberal Protestantism are a murderous lot. You can easily spot a false religion coz they support a non intelligent form of evolution.Micro evolution is science but not macro like the Darwinian Evolution.

  • PSolus

    Schaum,”Prove it.”I don’t have to; you just did.And, no, I can’t prove it.And, I can’t that I can’t.

  • spidermean2

    “what would prevent me (Jacoby, an atheists) from committing murder if I did not believe in God.”?We can rephrase this statement into “what would prevent a fool from committing murder?”That makes it easier to answer. One way is to revamp their idiotic science to lessen their stupidity.

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:Perpetually five minutes late, and a dollar short.

  • spidermean2

    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps. 14:1)It is easy to spot a fool coz fools don’t believe in God. If one truly study the word “evolution”, the word won’t exist if there is no inherent intelligence with it. Evolving means it needs a set of intelligent rules to enable it to stand or continue to exist. An “evolving building” would crumble if it does not follow some form of an intelligent set of rules. As the “evolving” building add more weight, it also means that an intelligent redesign like reinforced columns, beams and footings should follow. Evolving means some form of INTELLIGENT counter-actions is needed for every slight changes.The FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God. This is so true since atheists believe in evolution without intelligence. It appears that the one can’t exist without the other. Evolution (micro) and THE PRESENCE OF INTELLIGENCE always GO TOGETHER AND ARE INSEPARABLE.Wow, this is another case to prove the stupidity of ATHEISTS AND EVOLUTIONISTS.

  • daniel12

    Part two.Let me explain the problem by a well known commonplace especially on the liberal side of the political spectrum of today. The commonplace that if we stoop to terrorist tactics or even if we execute certain prisoners in our incarceration system “we will be turned into them”. That is so patently riduculous, so contradicted by the march of civilization–the constant upholding of laws–that it hardly bears speaking of. Sure at times hurting people has “turned us into them”, but overall the opposite has occurred: We were delivered from them, arrived at morality by destroying them.So called morality has arisen by a process of man ruthlessly taming himself. Even paleontologists have spoken of the increasing gracilization of the human skull. To be clear, although the religious world has no monopoly on morality the non-religious, scientific world, the atheistic world, must recognize (and putting aside the problem of the relativity of evil without God) that the progress of civilization has depended and apparently will continue to depend on man continuing to risk “turning into them” because that is the only path of being “free of them”.It gets worse. In the non-religious world, the atheistic world–the world of biology and not religion–not even the innocent can be saved. In fact they must perish along with those society declares guilty. Biology, human evolution, has clearly demonstrated that what man is now is a creature that has arisen by the price of all previous types and alternatives of himself having perished. Not just the guilty must go but the innocent if the human race wants to evolve further. This is occurring right before our eyes as the more educated get all the rewards in society, are preferred to the lesser…beings.

  • daniel12

    Part one.Can one be moral without a belief in God?Obviously one can be moral without a belief in God. Some people must be doing so at this moment. But atheists, of all people,–of all people because they should be insightful if anybody–seem to not recognize the problems that arise in the moral sphere without the concept of God. First we can ask how it is morality and reason have arisen–let alone are expected to improve–when supposedly there is not the slightest bit of reason and morality at the foundation of existence. Atheists like to counter that morality and reason have existed despite God being a delusion, but it is one thing to think a God is behind morality and reason and another that nothing is behind such.Of course if no God exists atheists must admit that morality is relative–in fact by biology admit that there are many ways in which an animal can act, which means our current moral sense is not assured for any length of time at all–but this is not even getting to the problem which can easily be articulated.

  • AnnieDC

    I’ve never understood why some religious people can’t fathom an philosphy of ethics that isn’t based on God’s laws– a term I use as shorthand; feel free to insert your preferred synonym.Many people are sentient and empathetic, and understand, either objectively or intuitively, that people are social animals who function in cooperation with others to, at a minimum, survive. Many of us truly believe that we are all pretty much equal , and our behavior is a manifestation of that. We understand that violent, abusive, selfish, cruel, dismissive, or just plain unfair acts are hurtful to the recipients, as well as simply being unproductive. We empathize, and so we feel badly if we cause others to feel badly. The phrasing of the Golden Rule may have it’s source in some religious text (or so I assume, although I don’t really know or care) but the idea, regardless of the source, is a very pragmatic one. Like many other religious prescriptions and/or proscriptions. it deals with the fact that a society is best when its population is happy, productive, thriving — and when its members can trust their co-habitants. My question to any religious person is this: Do you REALLY only avoid stealing, raping, fighting, lying, and cheating because God said to? Like, you really want to do some/all of those things, but just resist because that’s what your God wants? Can you really see no other reason to avoid such behavior? If so, that is very odd, and very sad.

  • PSolus

    “Perpetually five minutes late, and a dollar short.”Prove it.

  • emonty

    AnnieDC Commenting about your posting about ehtics systems -OUTSTANDING! As a person of deep religious faith I can, nevertheless understand exactly where you are coming from.Actually, when I think about my own spirituality and graduate work in that area, I realize very little of my faith has to do with following “God’s rules” or any others. I believed murder, rape, etc. was wrong when I had little faith, and I still think those things are wrong.In answer to your question to any religious person, this religious person would answer a firm ‘no’. I would go farther and suggest that a faith that is only based on ‘law’ has very shallow roots.Strange to say for a ‘christer’ but the ‘non-christers’ seem to be making a lot of sense and I am grateful for it.

  • Schaum

    PSOLUS:”"Perpetually five minutes late, and a dollar short.”"Prove it.”You beat me too it.

  • spidermean2

    AnnieDC wrote “Many people are sentient and empathetic, and understand, either objectively or intuitively, that people are social animals who function in cooperation with others”.Wrong presumptions lead to wrong conclusion. Social animals like lions kill.There are many “experiments” where societies don’t believe in God. They were called the killing fields in Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea, Cuba, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, etc.I know some people who are atheists and some are even communists. They are so different with the Christians I know. Their hearts are full of bitterness and I find them very dangerous. Yes they are friendly and nice people but deep inside, they are very bitter.

  • spidermean2

    And I find that the source of their bitterness is the fact that they’ve been duped into STUPIDITY.VERY NICE PEOPLE BUT VERY STUPID.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    What does it mean to say that God created moral absolutes? What does it mean to say that God enables man to know goodness and to experience good and to be good?Isn’t this really just a sort of fanciful, magical thinking? Isn’t it a lazy and apathetic attitude, which discourages thoughtful curiosity?A person doesn’t have to be thoughtful and curious to be happy. But if someone is thoughtful and curious, then what is the harm in that?

  • Schaum

    Daniel12:”Can one be moral without a belief in God?”Does having a belief in god make one moral? Can one BE moral with a belief in your god?”Obviously one can be moral without a belief in God.”Why is this obvious? To whom? Please qualify.” Some people must be doing so at this moment.Why? Is this opinion or fact?”But atheists, of all people,–of all people because they should be insightful if anybody–seem to not recognize the problems that arise in the moral sphere without the concept of God.”What are these “problems” that arise? Who defined them? Does anyone agree with you that they are problems? Is this more unsupported opinion?”First we can ask how it is morality and reason have arisen–let alone are expected to improve–…”Who asks this? Why do morality and reason need improvement? Who has these expectations? Can you offer cites, evidence, proof?”when supposedly there is not the slightest bit of reason and morality at the foundation of existence. What is the genesis of this supposition? Where does it appear? Who stated it?”Atheists like to counter that morality and reason have existed despite God being a delusion, but it is one thing to think a God is behind morality and reason and another that nothing is behind such.”What atheist has claimed that there is nothing behind “morality” and “reason” Can you define those terms?”Of course if no God exists atheists must admit that morality is relative–in fact by biology admit that there are many ways in which an animal can act,…”Qualify this claim, please, with evidence and proof. I am an “atheist” in the eyes of god-myth believers, and I make no such admission. Please list those who do. Are you suggesting that animals are incapable of moral acts? Is not a mother cat, who nurses an orphaned dog pup, behaving in a moral way?”…which means our current moral sense is not assured for any length of time at all–but this is not even getting to the problem which can easily be articulated.”Is it possible/desirable for a “current” “moral sense” to be assured for any period of time? Why?

  • blasmaic

    GIMPINo insult taken by me from your post. I’ve re-read what I posted earlier and I’m very satisfied that I conveyed the essential points in the space alloted. I’ll have to be content with what I can produce given the resources that I have.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    AnnieDC What you describe is what I call “having a good heart.” I do not feel the need to define this term “a good heart;” I think the simple words describe it, simply.A lot of Christians have a good heart. But I do not believe that it is Christianity that causes their good hearts. And there are atheists who also have a good heart. In fact, there is nothing really to say what causes it, probably a complex of many, many things, but not any absolute moral law that God has proclaimed.

  • Schaum

    Daniel12:” We were delivered from them, arrived at morality by destroying them.”Certainly the Nazis would agree with you. I think you are insane, however.”So called morality…”So called morality? Do you have evidence that what is called morality is, in fact, not?”has arisen by a process of man ruthlessly taming himself.”This sounds like more unsubstantiated opinion. What is your proof?” Even paleontologists have spoken of the increasing gracilization of the human skull.”And these paleontologists to which you refer would be….??? To be clear, although the religious world has no monopoly on morality the non-religious, scientific world, the atheistic world, must recognize (and putting aside the problem of the relativity of evil without God) that the progress of civilization has depended and apparently will continue to depend on man continuing to risk “turning into them” because that is the only path of being “free of them”.Absurd conjecture, irrational assertions, and as usual your unsupported/unproven opinion.”It gets worse. In the non-religious world, the atheistic world–the world of biology and not religion–not even the innocent can be saved.”Saved from what? The wrath of your unproven, irrational, illogically conceived god? Ok. I can live with that. “In fact they must perish along with those society declares guilty.”At this point, you have become so sophomorically absurd that you loose any shred of credibility that you might have had. You are an idiot. I’m going to go trim my dog’s nails.

  • Schaum

    Spidermean2:”Their hearts are full of bitterness and I find them very dangerous.”No human heart is so full of bitterness than yours…and I find you deluded and incompetent, making you very dangerous.

  • PSolus

    “You beat me too it.”I’m rubber and you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

  • spidermean2

    God is perfection. Only idiots or those with bitter hearts can hate perfection.Hating evil or stupidity is not bitterness. It’s called SANITY.

  • spidermean2

    I need to repost this so the stupidity of a godless macro evolution can see the stupidity of their science.”The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps. 14:1)It is easy to spot a fool coz fools don’t believe in God. If one truly study the word “evolution”, the word won’t exist if there is no inherent intelligence with it. Evolving means it needs a set of intelligent rules to enable it to stand or continue to exist. An “evolving building” would crumble if it does not follow some form of an intelligent set of rules. As the “evolving” building add more weight, it also means that an intelligent redesign like reinforced columns, beams and footings should follow. Evolving means some form of INTELLIGENT counter-actions is needed for every slight changes.The FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God. This is so true since atheists believe in evolution without intelligence. It appears that the one can’t exist without the other. Evolution (micro) and THE PRESENCE OF INTELLIGENCE always GO TOGETHER AND ARE INSEPARABLE.Wow, this is another case to prove the stupidity of ATHEISTS AND EVOLUTIONISTS.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Daniel 12I am not trying to be sly to trick you. This is what I really think. I had a hard time, actually making coherent remarks on what you wrote, so I will just throw it all out there, possibly in several disconnected posts.First of all, atheists DO have a concept of God. Without a concept of God, you could not have a word for God, and without a word for God, you could not say, “I do not believe in God.” An atheist is someone who does not believe in God, not someone who has no concept of God.Second, … you said …”If we subscribe to modern science we have a vision of no morality protecting anyone from the fact of evolution, that all man is must continually perish for the sake of a superior human species. Unless of course we dislike that project.”No one subscribes to science. Science forms the trinity of modern thought, together with philosophy, and religion. It is impossilbe for a person to have a realistic vision of the world without knowing a good bit about science. There is nothing really controversial about science; there are just people who don’t care about a realistic vision, and those that do. And you seem to touch on the fact that “all man must continually perish.” Suffering is a fact of life. That the innocent suffer as much as the guilty is a fact of life. That is how it is. Why are we alert and conscious? So that we can avoid danger. If there were no danger, we would be dull, and dopey. What is it that makes us feel love for others? It is worry; worry about some danger that may befall them; without danger, there would be no worry, no concern, no love.But these ideas are not peculiar to any particular belief system, nor science, nor to evolution; it is just how it is; it is how this mosaic world we inhabit and are a part of is laid out.If “no concept” of God makes you feel uneasy and poses a difficult moral problem, that is irrelevant. God exists, or does not exist, not according to how good or how bad it makes you feel, and not according to how the anwser may confuse you or balance you, but merely according to how it really turns out to be, whatever that may be.

  • thebump

    The authoress writes: “I will never respond to such an insulting question again.”Now, there’s a reasoned argument for you! So there. Because I said so. I’m not listening! I’m not listening! Na-na-na-na-na!Just when you think the authoress could not possibly embarrass herself further, she stumbles into new depths of inanity.

  • johnturkal1

    I know this is simplistic. However I don’t believe any atheists have been involved in the problems of Northern Ireland. Both sides would claim to be Christian and happily claim to have a good heart, except for the other side. American Christians and atheists were responsible for segration and worse for economic reasons This entire discussion is silly. The old 60′s motto is more appropriate. “If you can walk the walk, you can talk the talk.”

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Spidermean,How are you? I’m glad you liked the Taylor poem. I think he is a much neglected writer. He was a minister you know; none of his poems were published during his lifetime. His elegy on the death of his infant son is one that has stayed with me through the years.At all events, I’ve been thinking about your post. It seems to me the issue originates with a prime mover since almost everything “follows laws, rules, etc.,” if we are to accept the metaphysics of science.Also, I was wondering if, at some point, you could explain what faith has given to YOU, to you specifically, what peace, understanding it has brought you. I envision you as fairly young, was wondering if you had been raised in a Christian household, had a conversion experience.Regards,

  • spidermean2

    Hi farnaz,Thanks for that Taylor poem. Im glad that you’re giving some thought to my posts. I was born in a Christian church. Yes, I had a conversion experience. My own stupidity lead me to knowing Jesus after years of searching. When before he doesn’t seem real to me, after my conversion, He has become so real.It’s different when somebody talks about your relative that you haven’t met as compared to being introduced to him in person and know him personally. The difference can be likened to the difference between a false religion and a true one.Being “introduced” to God is the greatest gift a man can have. Yes, I still struggle to be a good person but the fact that you were introduced to the Creator of the universe is a very satisfying experience.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Daniel 12The fact of evolution is morally neutral. To link human ethics and morality to the natural processes of evolution is purely arbitrary. There is nothing in evolution that should make it apply to human morality, and there is no reason why human morality should be patterned after evolution.Beyond that, it is difficult to understand what you meant.

  • spidermean2

    I must add it was not a “fairy tale” and happy close encounter. It’s more like an absentee father whom you never knew who just arrived to beat you coz you have done wrong but the fact that he hit you coz he loves you is a nice experience.The feeling of being loved by the Creator is more powerful than the pain caused by the rod.

  • rossacpa

    I think atheists’ capacity for a consistent ethical life worthy of human existence is roughly the capacity of teenagers to stay sober when their parents leave on a three-day weekend leaving a well-stocked liquor cabinet, a frig full of beer, and permission to invite over any friends they want. If the kids are still sober and the house still standing, then Mom and Dad aren’t out of the driveway yet.We may fondly view ourselves as noble beings who would become our best selves if we were only left to figure it out alone. Any history student can tell you it just ain’t so.Religious morality is not about doing the right thing; it’s about coping and thriving after you have done your worst.

  • daniel12

    Part four.They actually have us existing (their mind’s eye of society without God) in a world not at all far removed from the morality of religion! In fact they have it that we will be better, less likely to steal, murder and so on–when biology shows that not even the most innocent people really have any claim to existence over anyone else! Biology simply asks that the most fit human go on to eventually result in a superior human species!Morality becomes relative in the atheist’s world and in fact becomes superseded by questions of human fitness, what types of humans are most likely to lead us to a superior human species. And such humans may or may not be moral as we like to think of the word. Atheists have really thought not the slightest of morality without God. Their morality without God is essentially the same old morality which existed in religious ages but this time without the concept of God.But we can see by basic biology and the history of civilizations that things will become much different. A whole new set of moral problems. Hell, the threat of a new morality which has never been seen before. But atheists have us most definitely–they are sure of it–becoming just…nicer human beings without God. What proof they have for that is a good question. But let us not ask them for proof of anything. They are the advanced minds and are the only ones apparently that can phrase questions of proof. We must be silent and accept them at their word.

  • daniel12

    Part three.Never mind that the history of human existence shows precisely the opposite truth: That dealing harshly with those perceived to be immoral results in precisely being “free of them” and not “turned into them”. Civilization is perhaps founded upon no stronger truth than that. Read a history book. The world of the atheist being scientific, dedicated to truth, must more and more recognize this truth. Atheism if scientifically bolstered is far from left wing bleeding heart liberalism. And it gets even worse. What does biology, a favorite science of atheists which they never tire of throwing into the faces of the creationists reveal? The answer is simple: Not even the innocent have any real moral hope in the atheistic world. Biology reveals that man evolved, that he changed from a primitive ancestor, really a primate not much different from a chimpanzee and that he today, as he is, has not the slightest claim to having his existence continued whether he is as innocent as can be or not.Biology demonstrates that if man progresses along the lines of evolution he must accept even the most innocent examples of himself perishing–needing to perish–because otherwise a superior species of human does not come into existence and man just drags along until extinction for lack of being adaptable. Biology, atheism, puts us in a totally different world of morality than atheists would have us believe.

  • spidermean2

    As I’ve said, godless Darwinian evolution is a farce. The word evolution and intelligence always go hand in hand and are INSEPARABLE.Evolution (micro) is a very complex and intelligent process and only idiots think that evolution can exist without intelligence.If one makes an evolving device, it means it’s a VERY INTELLIGENT device. Up to now, nobody has ever made an evolving device coz it is almost close to impossible. Actually, not even close. It’s simply impossible.Even micro Evolution is not not a full-fledged evolution perse.If one can make a device that can talk in any language if you expose it to people around the world that in itself would be a true evolution. But that kind of device cannot be made. It’s simply impossible.You guys are stupid if you think that a godless evolution is even possible.

  • daniel12

    Part two.A problem of logic in that last paragraph. But it gets worse. Atheists in their world of morality without God must recognize the very science they never tire of throwing into the faces of the religious. I mean the evidence of biology which says that regardless of whether man believes in God the biological record shows morality to be not only relative, but often starkly so what with animals demonstrating a wealth of behaviors far beyond (whether in the direction of up or down) human morality.The atheist’s world of morality is a world in which the most various types of morality have a plausible demand on human existence. And it gets even worse. Atheists seem utterly ignorant of the history of civilization insofar as they are atheistic and left wing. A commonplace of the left wing today is that dealing harshly with those we perceive to be immoral, such as terrorists or those having committed capital crimes, “turns us into them”.

  • daniel12

    Part one.Can a person be moral without a belief in God?

  • vinceporter

    Atheists should stop reasoning with believers. One might as well talk to a baked potato.

  • captn_ahab

    Ms. Jacoby writes:”The intervention of God renders the story meaningless as a commentary on the dignity of man. Obedience and reliance on divine authority is the real message of this foundational religious story.”Again Ms. Jacoby misses the point. In a Bronze Age world, with little moral compass, the God of Abraham demonstrates that, in this world, a divine moral guidance may be necessary to modulate the destructive human impulses that themselves demean human dignity. A transcendent moral authority in Abraham’s God, not seen in previous human imagination or previously imagined gods, provides a moral guidance for humans that may shape the moral compass of Western humans into the future.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:Thanks for the link. A scottie won best of something at last year’s show…not best of show, that went to a 10-year old Spaniel. Maybe it was best of breed. I don’t remember. Anyway, Sebastian will never win! He’s too stubborn.

  • Schaum

    VincePorter:”Atheists should stop reasoning with believers. One might as well talk to a baked potato.”In the case of Daniel12 and Spidermean (with his obsession about beatings — which could explain a lot)its more like half-baked potatoes.But you are right: reasoning with believers is a contradiction in terms. Believers have irrational, unreasoned faith in a mythical god, so reasoning with them is impossible. Thank god for science.

  • rossacpa

    VicentPorter:Exactly what in subsequent human history since the Ages of Reason and Scientific Positivism would commend a sole reliance on our rational abilities? the French Revolution and the subsequent wars in Europe? The devastation visited on men, women and children in the Industrial Revolution? Modern slavery? Colonialism? World War I or WWII. The additional hundreds of millions that died for the “rationalism” of Communism? The fact that any of 50 odd coutries can now blow up the planet with atomic weapons without even asking for objections?Human rationalism has increased our comfort and given us reasons to believe that we are superior to almost anyone anywhere in any time period. But I suggest it is difficult if not impossible to make a single cogent claim the the essence of the human person has advanced since the 18th century because of your vaunted rationalism.

  • rossacpa

    Schaum:Let me once again ask the question to which your party seems not have a satisfactory answer: How is atheism any less a faith statement than the theist conviction that God exists? It seems to me that the agnostic is the only one that can claim to make a factual statement: I do not know if there is God. That is a statement with which one cannot argue.But to say there is no God entails a statement of conviction, not of fact. You cannot offer anymore conclusive evidence of your belief in atheism than I can for my faith in God. You make yourself look silly when you do not acknowledge that fact. While it is certain one of us is wrong, neither of us can presently determine which one.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Spidermean,Thanks for your reply. I’ve read about religious experiences and know two people who have had them. For one, the event was transformative, but he will never tell me about it.The other was not terribly dramatic. It involved a Muslim friend of mine, an academic. She is observant, but I’ve never been quite sure what it all means to her. She does not, for instance, believe in an afterlife.However, she was once caught up in the middle of something terrible. In Islamabad, where she lives, she was standing her ground against a pack of fundamentalists. Her life was not in danger but her career and mental health were. Nevertheless, she could not back down; she didn’t and doesn’t have it in her.She tried prayer, relaxation, meditation, etc. One day, she just walked outside and sat down under a beautiful tree. She spoke from her heart and said, “God, I give this to you. This is too much for me. I cannot carry this burden. I give this to you.”When she rose, she felt light, felt the burden relieved. The peace remained with her throughout the ordeal, which she did see through. She ended victoriously.There have been other ordeals such as this for her, but no repeat of that unburdening.

  • Schaum

    ROSSACPA:Let me once again ask the question to which your party seems not have a satisfactory answer: How is atheism any less a faith statement than the theist conviction that God exists?”Then let me ONCE MORE explain, and for the last time, that “atheism” is a construct of superstitious christers. In fact, “atheism” does not exist. In fact, atheism in not a faith statement of anything. There is nothing to believe, much less have “faith” in. Your comments actually make you look silly.christers make a positive posit: god exists. They fail to prove, or even to give credible evidence, that god does, in fact, exist. In view of the christer’s inability to prove the existence of god, their posit fails. I do not need to “prove” that god does NOT exist. The christers inability to prove their posit means that “it is not the case that god exists…UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THEY CAN PROVE THAT HE DOES. WHEN THEY DO PROVE HE EXISTS, I’LL BE IN LINE TO SIGN UP. Is that simple enough?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Carstonio, you write:——————————Further, there is the Talmud, which followed shortly after, the work of Judah haNasi, etc., all of which is quite clear on this point.The human-sacrificing, unforgiving NT deity is another matter altogether. I posted on It below. That deity knew not Joseph (or Abraham), as it were.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,Those dogs look so happy, yet a friend tells me that theirs are not a good lives. Sebastian is best in show in his owner’s life. Probably more than enough!

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:They look happy because they are responding to anticipated treats from their handlers.Yes, I have heard horror stories about their lives. There is a hell of a lot of money at stake in dog shows, and jealousy, and intense competition. But worse than that is the lives of greyhounds who are kept as racing dogs. They are starved, forced into active training (they are, by nature, couch potatoes). And when their exhausting career lives are over, they frequently end up at pounds, because their owners don’t want to care for a non-revenue-earning dog. They are sad creatures. My sister is planning to adopt one shortly.

  • captn_ahab

    Cartsonio writes:”How did you come up with that interpretation of the Sacrifice of Isaac? It would make sense if the sacrifice was entirely Abraham’s idea and the god or the angel stopped him.”What nonsense. When all the priests of all the gods around you are demanding child sacrifice for placation of those gods, and your God stays it, even when the human is willing to placate his God with such a sacrifice, you’ve got some new moral order emerging there, my friend.Whether that God is real or not doesn’t matter in the Bronze Age. In the context of the Bronze Age, being faithful to God after the binding of Isaac, now does not require child sacrifice. Abraham’s

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum:Still looking for the root of all goodness….

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Still looking for the root of all goodness….”Its pistachios.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum:

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    If God has created moral absolutes, what does that mean? What is a moral absolute? Is it a thing? Is it a force? Is it a law of nature? Does it have characteristics like color or momentum or effect of any kind? How does the absolute quality of it work?Or is it merely an assertion made with a forceful voice, or with a forceful gramatical flair? and attributed to God, in some non-specific way, such as by saying, “it is written…” who says it it is written? a man? and who wrote it? a man?What about a moral absolute makes it absolute? Is the threat of punishment what makes it absolute? So along with this sense of a moral absolute, there must also be a real sense of coercion and punishment, which also has some sort of absolute quality about it? So where is free will in all of this? There really isn’t any, is there?The moral absolute consists in no more than an arbitrary set of rules that theologians say that God says are the rules we must obey, or else. To question the purpose for the rules is heresy; to seek to understand the rules is apostasy; to disagree with the rules is blasphemy. To believe in this quasi-force of moral absolutes, and of its consequent system of punishments, is to make God absurdly small; God is little more than a big man; is this concept of God really that much more than God as a stone idol?Christians are proud of their concept of moral absolutes, and they like to belittle atheists for lacking moral absolutes. But, what is the difference? A Christian or religious vision of moral absolutes is an illusion; everyone can see this, but them.

  • rossacpa

    Shaum wrote “There is nothing to believe …” I rest my case. Your statement rests upon an assumption that no one can prove and no one can disprove. By the rules of logic, it cannot be a fact. Call it an assumption or another term if it makes you feel better, but it is not something you can prove and therefore not a fact. Your resistance indicates you are less comfortable in your faith than you might want to concede.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    FarnazI have never given it alot of thought until lately, but now I am starting to realize that rich people, at least, very rich people seem very peculiar and strange. There is something about great wealth that is corrupting. More and more, the very rich seem to me, pitiful, somehow ruined, for living a good and happy life. At least that is what I tell myself, but, I actually do believe it.So, I am really writing because of what you said about the “root of all goodness.”That is a good question which I have never heard before. So? What is the root of all goodness?Maybe some people would like to say …

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi DITLD,So? What is the root of all goodness? Maybe some people would like to say…

  • Schaum

    ROSSACPA:”Your statement rests upon an assumption that no one can prove and no one can disprove. By the rules of logic, it cannot be a fact. Call it an assumption or another term if it makes you feel better,”You are very slow-witted. You have no “case”. I have made no assumptions. I have stated that no one has proven the existence of god. I have not stated that no one ever will prove the existence. By the laws of logic, the statement “there is a god” has an opposite posit:”it is not the case there is a god.” Failure to prove “there is a god” validates the opposite posit, until such time as there is proof for the positive posit. If you knew anything about logic, you’d know that negative posits cannot be proven. I don’t have to have proof of god’s non-existence in order not to believe the unproven posit that “god exists.”I really have no interest in yet another discussion about the application of logic and reason to an illogical and unreasonable superstition about an unproven god, with yet another neophyte. You are perfectly free to indulge your delusion to your heart’s content.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:In the same vein as the assertion that there is no such thing as altruism, perhaps the “root” of goodness is the personal benefit that accrues to the doer of good.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:Meant to add: After all, doing good things to receive the “blessings” and “rewards” from god is pretty much the foundation of evangelical “Prosperity Theology”. And there is, of course, karma to consider…

  • onofrio

    Danielinthelionsden,Thee:Its image begins as a perfect circle, diameter of seven palms, drawn with dew on moondust, placed atop a tangential baseline exactly two sevenths of the circumference in length.For goodness to proceed, a line of a length identical to that of the baseline must be drawn so as to cut the circle on its lower right arc, with one end touching the baseline and the other extending directly toward the circle’s centre. Once the circle is cut thus, the first baseline is to be erased.From this root proceeds the quartering of the disk, the sun’s tears, the fall of fishes’ scales, and the completion of the eye, into which the sharp stars are knit in myriads.

  • Brad_81

    “I will never respond to such an insulting question again.”Why were you insulted Susan? If there is no standard of right and wrong, how were you treated below this standard in such a way to be insulted? You and the interviewer obviously had different ethical positions, but why is yours better than theirs?If (as many humanists do) you believe ethics have evolved into us for a common advancement, then dosent that simply make ethics a big game theory exercise: “How do I co-operate enough in order to advance with the herd, but defect at the right time to advance further myself so that my (genes/ wealth/ power/ influence) survive to the next generation?” In that case, you should not be any more insulted by the host than you would be by a maths formula, or a biological reaction.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi ONofrio,The question on the root of all goodness is mine. Schaum has given two answers thus far, one of which is pistachios. I suspect that pistachios play a huge role, although the precise nature is mysterious.I think figs, chocolate with raisins and walnuts, and puppies play a role. Love is good, but it is not the root of all goodness.The sky is good, and so are many words, particularly in combination, but they are not good.That which I like or think is nice is good, but it is not good.Deep respect for the otherness of things, nature, people…one ethicist thinks so. Mebbe…

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,Dunno about Karma. Too many thugs escape, at least in this life, which is my focus, in the short and long run.

  • Brad_81

    Schaum Writes:Don’t set yourself up as the arbiter of Logic by carefully crafting your definitions. As a logician you should know that logicians can posit a false A, and then without breaking the laws of logic declare an absurd B to be true because A is false. Behind any logic there must always be evidence searched for to support what is posited.What is to stop me using your identical argument with the same logical force in this way:”I have not stated that no one ever will prove the self-creation. By the laws of logic, the statement “The Universe created itself” has an opposite posit:”it is not the case the universe created itself.” Failure to prove “The Universe created itself” validates the opposite posit, until such time as there is proof for the positive posit. If you knew anything about logic, you’d know that negative posits cannot be proven. I don’t have to have proof of the universe’s non self creation in order not to believe the unproven posit that “the universe created itself.”Stop playing linguistic games,applying them to mathematical formula, and using that to insult people. Look at the evidence (from both sides, not just your favourite).

  • onofrio

    Farnaz, you’re making too much sense.I would venture seriously that the root of goodness may have something to do with the embrace of one’s individual extinction.

  • onofrio

    Finding and losing I in Thou, mebbe?

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,”Dunno about Karma.”I concur. Potentially another opiate; justice sedated, not sated. I suspect that souls are not recycled, though perhaps Soul exacts its own equilibrium, deep in the mystery. Pass the opium.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,”When I confront a human being as my You and speak the basic I-You to him, then he is no thing among things nor does he consist of things.”In German, it is “Ich und du,” not thou. They all were heavily influenced by Franz Rosenzweig….

  • bpai_99

    I treat others with respect and kindness because I think that is right and because that is how I would like to be treated, not because I am trying to buy my way into Heaven.

  • bpai_99

    Comment: Spidermean2 is a living refutation of evolution, being the stupidest person I have ever yet seen express what passes for thought.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,I thought Levinas was lurking there behind your remarks. Always happy to read the readable, me. Thanks for the recommendation; I shall attempt it :^)As for Thou, I like the sound, though aware that du is a you more dearly near, dear.

  • daniel12

    That last sentence in last post should read (toward the end of the sentence) “…we are incapable of incorporating….”

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Brad_81 Susan was insulted by a question designed to be insulting. And you are using your religous belief and your belief in God to prove that what she said she felt was not really what she should have felt. Your argument is ridiculous; your system of belief cannot allow for simple good manners, nor for remorse in a simple social misstep; so what good is it to anybody in dealing with anything more complex?This bad attitude is EXACTLY what is wrong with religion, and it is EXACTLY why atheists react to religion with hostility.What about THAT don’t you get?

  • barferio

    the christianists complain that there can be no system of morality that is not absolute, and provided by their god. Their god in particular, nobody else’s.It’s like their argument for creationism, they way they think on this issue. Everything has to have a cause, and that cause is their god. You ask what caused their god and they get that dumb deer-in-the-headlights look on their face.So what made their god moral?They claim their absolute system of morality is based on an entirely imaginary creature invented by primitive iron-age barbarians.They can’t imagine morality based on anything else, so they imagine this god and base it on that. Transitive fantasies. Utterly pathetic.

  • barferio

    daniel12, before anybody claimed the existence of a god there was nobody who claimed it didn’t exist.Nobody tried to prove a lack of god, nobody had to.Your extraordinary claim that there is a god, and the christian god in particular, is the first claim.Prove that claim. we do not have to prove there isn’t a god. And remember the difference between the word “infer” and “proof.” we can infer from your lack of proof that your claim is invalid. It does not prove your claim invalid, but the onus of proof lies on you and your kind making the claim.You know the score. Prove unicorns don’t exist, prove the incredible hulk isn’t responsible for earthquakes. None of these things make sense, and without the suppression of reason required by your gods faiths you would be able to see your god is equally ridiculous.

  • US-conscience

    Science has shown that the Universe had a “beginning”, a starting point. They tend to call it “a big bang”, but there is something else Science has shown us, and that is that “out of nothing, nothing comes” (in fact if there was ever a time when “Nothing” existed, then “nothing” would exist today. ) and that things at rest tend to stay at rest. So, what made “nothing”, on a particular tuesday afternoon, explode into everything? For every effect, there has to be a cause. At the risk of infinite regression, there has to be a “FIRST CAUSE” . For there to be a material, imminent universe to exist, there had to be a transendant, immaterial first cause. I worship the Transcendent Uncaused Immaterial First cause of the Material Universe. We’re celebrate His birthday on Dec. 25th

  • barferio

    At the risk of infinite regression, there has to be a “FIRST CAUSE” First, that is a premise, not a conclusion. And what’s wrong with infinite regression anyway?And lastly, what is it with this worship business? Are you believers too cowardly to go through life without these fantatsies?

  • Schaum

    Brad81:”Stop playing linguistic games,applying them to mathematical formula, and using that to insult people. Look at the evidence (from both sides, not just your favourite).”You assume facts not in evidence, and make a presuppositions that fail: I do not believe that a linguistic game is involved in uncovering facts, or disproving unprovable “logic”. You assume that I do not look at evidence from more than my side. You do not prove your assumption. I have been both christer (in multi-denominational settings) and non-believer.

  • Schaum

    Barferio:”And lastly, what is it with this worship business? Are you believers too cowardly to go through life without these fantatsies?”I think the answer is “yes”. My experience with and as a christer suggests to me that the ultimate fear most christers feel is the fear of not existing. Their god and jesusgod provide them, with blood sacrifices no less, with the “assurance” of surviving death. That is all they need — the assurance that, at the end, there will be no end, but eternal existence.Fantasies is definitely the word.

  • rohitcuny

    For every effect, there has to be a cause. At the risk of infinite regression, there has to be a “FIRST CAUSE” . For there to be a material, imminent universe to exist, there had to be a transendant, immaterial first cause. There are some arguments which justify religiosity, but the arguments which identify religiosity with Christianity are a bit weak. Why not worship Brahma whom Hindus identify with the Transcendent Uncaused Immaterial First cause? Hindus do not celebrate the birthday of Brahma for the simple reason that they realize that Brahma, as the creator, could not have been born. I am not trying to convert you and I am not a worshipper of Brahma but you have to admit that his claim to be Transcendent Uncaused Immaterial First cause are a lot stronger than those of Jesus (whom I admire, but only as a wise man).

  • edbyronadams

    It is foolish. There is no way they can adequately compensate for the body count of the explicitly atheist communist regimes in recent history.

  • therev1

    Jacoby’s usual article full of straw men and ad hominem. You’d think a humanist would know better than to use such illogic, but wait, humanists are no more ethical nor smarter than us feeble minded faith pushers. On Faith? Seriously? It is unethical for someone without faith to comment on those who profess it. The usual waste of space from Jacoby.

  • persiflage

    ‘In the spring 2009 edition of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Molecular geneticist Georgia Purdom and astrophysicist Jason Lisle put up a spirited creationist defense on the same grounds by declaring that while “most evolutionists adhere to a moral code and believe in right and wrong,” they “have no rational reason for this position.”’Apparently they skipped undergraduate classes in psychology and learning theory – and how belief systems, moral codes, emotions, reinforcement, and behavior all work together in order to yield a properly socialized human. There is so much wrong with the presumptions of the creationist position, that it has taken libraries full of research material to successfully refute these ancient beliefs – and still they continue because they ‘feel good’, as other religious posters bravely concede. Once again, this business of attributing acceptable moral conduct, meaning, and purpose exclusively to homo religiosus is as farfetched for the PhD as it is for the man on the street. To do so ignores vast areas of available information that by nature causes considerable belief system conflict. Does logic and the powers of retiocination only need to capitulate to the superstitions of religion for true contentment? And who enjoys all that inner conflict?? Better to make the case for creationism……

  • barferio

    It is foolish. There is no way they can adequately compensate for the body count of the explicitly atheist communist regimes in recent history.This is a remarkably stupid thing to say. These so-called explicitly atheist communist regimes did their killing in the name of communism, not atheism. They worshiped communism, they wanted to replace the religious control of everybody with communist control.You’re one of those christianists who don’t understand that atheism is not an “ism”, it is a not-ism, not theism. It is “not something”, not a something.These communists exerted the same kind of mind control that you religionists want. They were far more like you than any atheist posting here today.

  • US-conscience

    Jesus (whom I admire, but only as a wise man).A wise man ? One who said “before Abraham was, I AM” who said “I am the truth and I am the light and I am the way”. who said “no one comes to the Father but by me”. who said “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely for MY NAMES SAKE” either this man was a nut case ( not a wise man ) or he was who he claimed to be: the Messiah.also: He existed from everlasting to everlasting ( thats another way of saying eternally ) – the day Jesus was born was the day he became incarnate ( in flesh ) Emmanuel ( God with us ).

  • Susan_Jacoby

    Farnaz–I’d appreciate it if you’d post your recommendations for future essay topics again here. I missed your earlier post. As I mentioned, there are so many comments on this new thread that I just can’t get to them all. Thanks.

  • spidermean2

    rohitcun wrote “Suppose the rest of your arguments are accepted. What justifies you in identifying “Transcendent Uncaused Immaterial First cause” with Jesus? Jesus was BORN and the Transcendent Uncaused Immaterial First cause could not have been born.” Jesus said the following :He performed miracles which no other being has done like turning water into wine; multiplication of fishes and bread; resurrecting the dead and resurrecting from the dead.If one is not convinced, he also made prophecies in which future generations like us is about to witness.Only a fool cannot see the deity of Jesus.These idiots present evolution as their defense but lo and behold, even the term evolution means that there is an inherent INTELLIGENCE for it to function.

  • Schaum

    Barferio:”daniel12, before anybody claimed the existence of a god there was nobody who claimed it didn’t exist.”Nobody tried to prove a lack of god, nobody had to.”Your extraordinary claim that there is a god, and the christian god in particular, is the first claim.Prove that claim. we do not have to prove there isn’t a god.”……”You know the score. Prove unicorns don’t exist, prove the incredible hulk isn’t responsible for earthquakes. None of these things make sense, and without the suppression of reason required by your gods faiths you would be able to see your god is equally ridiculous.”Do you have any idea how many times, or by how many people, or on how many threads all this has been explained to him? He doesn’t get it, because he CAN’T get it. He can only deal in the irrational assumptions and presuppositions he has been spoonfed since he was a child. He is unable to use reason and logic, and can only make broad and unproven assumptions.Making lots of broad assumptions about who atheists are and what they believe allows Daniel12 to comfortably relegate atheists to a pre-defined and pre-dismissed category, without the troubling inconvenience of rational thought. He sees no need to inquire about their actual beliefs if their actual beliefs don’t matter, and their actual beliefs won’t matter if they are simply playing a pre-defined role in his religious ideology.Though not as obvious as when people go so far as to demonize another group, this sort of pre-categorization is still a form of dehumanization. It effectively undermines his insistence that he only wants to “understand the atheist’s point of view.” In truth, it’s more likely that he simply is searching for validation of what he has been taught. He has been repeatedly told there is no such thing as atheism, and rather than “believing” anything, atheists have merely chosen to “disbelieve” the godmyths until they are proven. He processes everything he is told through a perceptual filter, changing everything that he is told, until it looks comfortably like what he was told to expect from atheists. He is, thereby, once again relieved of the burdens of logic, reason, and rational thought. One can almost hear him sighing in that relief.

  • Schaum

    Spiderstupid:”If one is not convinced, he also made prophecies in which future generations like us is about to witness.”So did Nostradamus. Hey, maybe jesusgod has already come a second time, this time as Nostradamus. Wow.

  • YEAL9

    “For every effect, there has to be a cause. At the risk of infinite regression, there has to be a “FIRST CAUSE” . For there to be a material, imminent universe to exist, there had to be a transendant, immaterial first cause. “Or the universe could simply recycle itself in a never-ending expansion-shrinking/collapsing process.

  • spidermean2

    Schum,Nostradamus make predictions based on what is fed to him by some “medium”. In spite of that, there are lots of misses. He also can’t turn water into blue water coz I doubt if he knew how to make dyes. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God”It’s so easy to spot a fool. You guys are lousy defenders of your stupid doctrine.

  • US-conscience

    Hey Schwammy, Nastradamus !!! Really ?OK. He made many vague “predictions” that maybe a few out of thousands have possibly come true, in a vague way.Now the Bible, the only “holy book” in existance that is filled with specific, detailed prophecies, all of which ( 100 % ) have all come true ( with the exception of those prophecies regarding the end of time or the 2nd coming of Christ ) Just regarding the birth and life of Jesus there are 160 specific prophecies that where fulfilled. Its interesting that before the dead sea scrolls where discovered the popular argument against these fulfilled prophecies by Jew’s, Muslim’s and atheist’s were that they were all added after the fact, somewhere in the first 2 or 3 centuries after the crucifixion. Enter the dead sea scrolls: every prediction was there dating back from 150 b.c. Mathamaticians have calculated that for even 12 of those predictions to come true, the odds where equal to filling the state of Texas with quarters 2 ft. deep and having one quarter with an “X” on it, then blindfolding someone, spinning them around and pushing them out into the state and for them to wander around and then upon first try picking the quarter with the X on it. And that was just for 12 !!!

  • Schaum

    CARSTONIO:”We don’t have the knowledge to say what may have taken place before the Big Bang.Nor the knowledge to say how many times the Big Bang may have occurred in this, or other potential, universe(s).Yeal’s suggestion that the universe(s) may be constantly expanding and contracting to start over again, is a fascinating one, and one that many physicists take as seriously credible.

  • Schaum

    Spiderstupid:”It’s so easy to spot a fool.”At last you have said something true, and it is particularly easy to identify the fool who suggests there is a ‘doctrine’ to atheism… an “ism” which doesn’t even exist!

  • US-conscience

    FH1231 – its interesting that you brought up the Nazi’s….In World War IIGerman troops invaded Europe and took over country after country. The Nazi’s set up their own governments and made their own laws and did whatever they felt was right in their own eyes, and as we all know, they did some pretty heinous things. Their view of right and wrong was kind of skewed!When the war ended and the rightful governments regained control of their countries, they took those same Nazi’s and put them on trial. They were judged individually for every act they had committed based on the laws that had already been established in that country. Something very similar is about to happen.You see right now you are living according your own laws, your own created ideas of right and wrong, good and bad. But one day soon, a KING is going to return and He is going to judge each person individually, based on the Eternal Laws that He has already established. God has appointed a day in which He will Judge the world in Righteousness and has commanded each person to repent.

  • skipsailing28

    wow is that guy schaum angry or what?I read two of his comments directed at me and neither made any sense. I’m hardly surprised

  • FRIENDENEMY

    For me, as a Humanist, every day is judgement day.

  • Schaum

    Skipsailing28:From the quality of your posts, I think it is difficult for you to make sense of anything.Angry? Yes, perpetually angry with myths, lies, fairy-gods, and other unproven idiocies that keep people encumbered with superstition.

  • spidermean2

    Schum,Let me repeat it. “The fool hath said in his heart that there is no God ” (Ps 14:1)It’s easy to spot a fool coz fools proclaim that there is no God. That is what the Bible said and science proves that it is so true.Here is the science that supports that claim. Evolution can only function if there is an inherent intelligence in it. Only a fool believes in evolution without intelligence present.What more is there to prove that you guys are truly fools?

  • rossacpa

    Spidey: Remember that not all of the Christian creed can be accessed by logical thought alone. Certainly creation evidences the creator everywhere; his fingerprints are on everything we see.Bur matters of the Creed rely on revelation. This is particularly true of what we believe about the person of Jesus. A note further down takes issue with the claim that Jesus is an infinite, eternal, necessary being because of his human birth. The person is probably totally ignorant of the doctrine of the hypostatic union of the two natures in the one person of Jesus, and is rooted in a lacking reception in the gift of faith, and a dirth of knowledge in Aristotelian philosophy. It is in this context that we must present the Faith to a secular peers.Schaum: Bertrand Russell, an English atheist philosopher of the early 20th century made great strides in logic and the philosophy of mathematics. After you have mastered a freshman text of predicate logic, you might benefit by reading Russell. In the meantime, recognize that logic cannot be adapted to your subjectivist, relativistic notions of how you would like it to work. When I prove that Statement A is false, I also prove the Statement ~A is true. But when I cannot prove that Statement A is true of false, then I cannot prove the Statement ~A is true or false.

  • Schaum

    Read

  • Freestinker

    US-Conscience claimed: “They tend to call it “a big bang”, but there is something else Science has shown us, and that is that “out of nothing, nothing comes” (in fact if there was ever a time when “Nothing” existed, then “nothing” would exist today. ) and that things at rest tend to stay at rest. So, what made “nothing”, on a particular tuesday afternoon, explode into everything? “————US-Conscience,Your argument contradicts itself! Since as you say, “out of nothing, nothing comes” then the universe could not have come from nothing. Therefore the only logical conclusion is that the universe has always existed.Science has shown us that the universe, as we know it today, began with the Big Bang but there is no scientific evidence that proves that something (the universe) came from nothing. As far as science knows, the universe has always existed in some shape or form. Evidently, the universe itself may very well be the uncaused first cause, as you put it. What evidence do you have that your “Transcendent Uncaused Immaterial First cause of the Material Universe” is anything other than the actual material universe itself?

  • Schaum

    ROSSACPA:If you would take an one-semester course in elementary logic, you would realize that I have made nothing “fit” my “theories”. christers posit the existence of god. Their failure to prove gods existence means, LOGICALLY, that we may infer that it is not the case that god exists. That is simple, basic logic. No smoke, no mirrors, none of your presuppositions and assuming facts not in evidence…like I’ve not read Bertrand Russell. You must be new here, or you would recall that I have frequently made reference to him. But that would interfere with your presuppositions and delusions, I imagine.Read Anderson, Lepper, and Ross, “Perseverance of Social Theories: The Role of Explanation in the Persistence of Discredited Information,” wherein they prove that people will continue to hold beliefs even after they are thoroughly discredited.If you have any genuine interest in logic and reason, which does not seem to be the case, I suggest that you read Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”, in which he exhaustively deals with the logical structure of propositions and the nature of logical inference.

  • buckminsterj

    Edbyronadams wrote: “It is foolish. There is no way they can adequately compensate for the body count of the explicitly atheist communist regimes in recent history.”The “explicitly atheist communists regimes” to which Edbyronadams refers, as pointed out by Hitchens and countless others, are much nearer in ideology to religionists than to rational non-believers. One of the few differences between fundamentalist Christians and, say, North Koreans, is that the former call their infallible supernatural leader “god,” while the latter call him “Kim Jong Il.” Unlike non-believers, these two groups refuse to examine any law handed down by (their respective) Dear Leader, regardless of evidence or independent moral justification. Whether religious or political, such unexamined ideology is precisely what atheists find so worrisome and infuriating.

  • US-conscience

    Freestinker – keep thinking about it !

  • Schaum

    Spiderstupid:Repeat it until you collapse in exhaustion — mere repetition of an unproven posit does not make it proven.The lack of proof for the existence of god does not imply the absence of a creator. There is a vast difference between “god” and “creator”…except, of course, in the deluded thinking of christers.

  • US-conscience

    hey schwamm, I’m feeling left out, why dont you ever reply to my posts ? here – i will repost one, maybe you could say something interesting about it.Nastradamus !!! Really ?OK. He made many vague “predictions” that maybe a few out of thousands have possibly come true, in a vague way.Now the Bible, the only “holy book” in existance that is filled with specific, detailed prophecies, all of which ( 100 % ) have all come true ( with the exception of those prophecies regarding the end of time or the 2nd coming of Christ ) Just regarding the birth and life of Jesus there are 160 specific prophecies that where fulfilled. Its interesting that before the dead sea scrolls where discovered the popular argument against these fulfilled prophecies by Jew’s, Muslim’s and atheist’s were that they were all added after the fact, somewhere in the first 2 or 3 centuries after the crucifixion. Enter the dead sea scrolls: every prediction was there dating back from 150 b.c.

  • Schaum

    BuckminsterJ:”The “explicitly atheist communists regimes” to which Edbyronadams refers, as pointed out by Hitchens and countless others, are much nearer in ideology to religionists than to rational non-believers. One of the few differences between fundamentalist Christians and, say, North Koreans, is that the former call their infallible supernatural leader “god,” while the latter call him “Kim Jong Il.”Exactly. What edbyronadams consistently and persistently fails to take into account is that while MOST communists do not believe in god, MOST “atheists” in fact are not communists. But equating the two does seem to suit their delusional constructs.

  • Schaum

    To clarify:”their delusional constructs” should read “the christers delusional constructs”.

  • spidermean2

    The fact remains that for a Big Bang to form into any kind of brain like that of insects, fishes, animals or humans or a pretty flower, there needs to be a Maker of them all. The probability of their formation without a Creator is ZERO PERCENT. Whether we like it or not, that is SCIENCE.And for evolution to function, there must be an inherent INTELLIGENCE with it.Everything points to a Creator and to deny it just proves the idiocy of the person.

  • FRIENDENEMY

    What is the probability of the Creator’s Creator?

  • Schaum

    US-Conscience:I decline to respond to your rantings probably for the same reason that others seem to ignore you: you present no new thoughts, ideas, or insights, and frequently seem as irrational as Spiderstupid — though possibly not so obsessive-compulsive. And your spelling is godawful, which tends to turn me off. So I ignore you. My call.

  • AnnieDC

    RE: Spidermean’s replay to my post — AnnieDC wrote “Many people are sentient and empathetic, and understand, either objectively or intuitively, that people are social animals who function in cooperation with others”.Wrong presumptions lead to wrong conclusion. Social animals like lions kill. “Spidermean, you’re absolutely rignt. Indeed they do. However, that is in no way responsive to anything I wrote. Feel free to read my original post — in its entirely — again.You also said – “There are many “experiments” where societies don’t believe in God. They were called the killing fields in Vietnam, Cambodia, ., etc.” Well, that is also true. It also has nothing to do with my post. But, I might add, we all can make a comparable list where just as many deaths were caused in the name of a god.The big picture question for this entire chain distills to “Can one have an ethical system without a belief in a god?” And one of the things I’m finding problematic with many of the postings is that so many writers are treating things as if they are absolutes.Thats neither accurate or productive. Some people have what most of us would consider ethics, some don’t. The mere fact that SOME non-religious people do horrible thing does not mean that ALL non-religious people will. The fact that SOME religious people behave well doesn’t mean that ALL do.One can have a mainstream ethical system without a belief in a god. One can believe in a god and be evil. And the opposite of both of those statements is also true.And, I still maintain that any religious person who would still be “good” even if their god was indifferent to that behavior truly does know that an ethical system can exist without imposition from above.If you behave well just because God tells you to, you don’t really have ethics — you’re just good at mindlessly following rules.

  • Freestinker

    US-Conscience,What evidence do you have that your “Transcendent Uncaused Immaterial First cause of the Material Universe” is anything other than the actual material universe itself?

  • buckminsterj

    Or a Creator’s Creator’s Creator?

  • US-conscience

    freestinker: because according to current scientific evidence, the Universe had a starting point. A beginning. Shwamm – I often find that when people dont have anything to say, they often “choose” not to say anything.

  • spidermean2

    AnnieDC wrote “One can have a mainstream ethical system without a belief in a god. “History proves that it’s not possible. Decay happens slowly. When all the structural columns are fully decayed, the building (society) will collapse (burn). As prophesied, very soon this world will collapse.

  • emonty

    ” The usual waste of space from Jacoby.” ?Sometimes I agree with Susan Jacoby; sometimes I do not. However, her writing is anything but a waste of space which perhaps explains why so many people respond to her and to each other each time she writes.

  • Schaum

    2.Is it true that if there were no god, no one would ground their actions in the right moral considerations? We can imagine that the god-believer would insist that this one is true. Sure, lots of people do ground their actions in other, non-god considerations, and they also behave in what appears to be a morally decent manner. But in fact, says the theist, none of their actions are based on the right considerations. He might insist that if there were no god, there would be no sense of morality in humanity, or humanity would have never developed an awareness of a moral dimension in their lives, or our natures would be radically different. god is responsible for our capacity to act in moral ways, so if there were no god, there would be nothing like morality at all. And then this moral capacity, that can’t be explained any other way is employed as evidence for the existence of god. The god-believer might try to go deep here and insist that even though many moral systems like Aristotle’s or Mill’s make no explicit appeal to god, if it hadn’t been for god endowing humanity with a capacity for moral action or a moral sense, Aristotle and Mill would have had nothing in human behavior to theorize about. They wouldn’t have even been aware of any moral dimension to our lives. But this argument also seems to beg the question, and it’s very hard to see how one might defend it, particularly since we have some plausible alternative accounts of how morality arose in humanity. Evolutionary biologists have given

  • Freestinker

    “freestinker: because according to current scientific evidence, the Universe had a starting point. A beginning.”—————US-Conscience,You 1st claimed that “out of nothing, nothing comes”. Now you say the universe came from nothing? Which is it?Where’s the evidence that proves the “beginning” of the universe (as we know it today) came from nothing? Hint: There isn’t any! If you still claim that “out of nothing, nothing comes” then the universe must have always existed because it could not have come from nothing but then you claim (without any evidence) that the universe did come from nothing! Which is it? You can’t have it both ways!

  • Schaum

    3.It’s possible that the capacity for moral behavior that we find in ourselves came from god, but the god-believer needs to argue that that’s the only possible source it could have come from. And that much stronger claim is very hard to give a plausible argument for. Thus, whatever christers mean by the claim that ‘you can’t be moral without God’, it can’t be right. Some of the things that sentence might mean are obviously false, and other interpretations fall into circularity or have to argue for some claims that can’t fit with the facts.

  • Schaum

    1.There are a lot of confusions embedded in these comments, coming from both sides. It is necessary to be clear about what the claim might mean and sort out some ambiguities. The first ambiguity concerns whether the claim is to be taken in an epistemological sense or an ontological sense. That is, do they mean that if a person doesn’t believe in God, they won’t be moral, or that if God does not exist, then morality could not exist? The second ambiguity concerns what “be moral,” means in this context. Does it mean ‘to act in a morally decent, law abiding manner’, or does it mean ‘to ground moral decisions on the “right” moral considerations’? There are several different ways to interpret the sentence. At the risk of being tedious, let’s deal with them one by one. Is it true that unless a person believes in god/jesusgod, they won’t act in a morally decent, law abiding manner? No. There are a billion or so Buddhists on the planet, and several hundred million atheists, just for starters, who do not believe in any sort of divine being, but it would be absurd to suggest that none of them act in a morally decent, law abiding manner. Is it true that unless a person believes in god, he will not/cannott ground his moral decisions in the right moral considerations? Again, this can’t be true either. Kant, Mill, Rawls, Aristotle, and many respectable and plausible moral theories, give accounts of how moral decisions should be grounded without any requirement for the actor to believe in god. If the someone wishes to defend this claim, then they will need to argue that none of the widely respected, studied, and emulated moral theories that have been developed in history are right and that no acts that are done in accordance with them are moral. That seems like an extraordinary and implausible position to take. It seems that at least one of these must be at least as plausible as divine command theory. In fact, the vast majority of expert moral philosophers have taken them all to be superior theories.

  • Schaum

    US-Conscience:”Shwamm – I often find that when people dont have anything to say, they often “choose” not to say anything.”It might be prudent for you to be guided by that finding.

  • spidermean2

    Schum wrote “(There’s) a large body of evidence now that indicates that evolution built us, along with lots of other species, to be moral. “How many times should atheists be told that evolution can’t exist without an inherent INTELLIGENCE with it.Time to wake up guys.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    What we know of the world, we know through observation, not logic. Therefore, there is no logical argument than can prove that God exists, because even if it is logically proven, he still might not exist. Where did creation come from? Of course it must have been from a Creator. But isn’t that a circular argument, since existence is referred to as “Creation” instead of the world, or instead of existence?Where did existence come from? Or what causes all to be? Of course, the answer is, that it has always been. But that is a circular argument, too.There is no answer; and there can be no answer. For as intelligent as we are, we are not intelligent enough to figure out why, much less understand why all this is here. What a fruitless waste of time arguing over it.Our minds wonder on this stuff. Religion is a way of pressing the off button, so that we can stop wondering. It does not give any realistic answers, but merely puts a barrier to further questioning.

  • captn_ahab

    Cartsonio wrote:”When all the priests of all the gods around you are demanding child sacrifice for placation of those godsThe story does not exist outside of its historical and antropological context. It is speaking to people who lived at a time (late Bronze Age/Iron Age) when the cultural practices surrounding them would have been well known. There were no casual readers in the late Bronze Age and Iron Age. There were people embedded in a cultural context that affected their everyday lives. Apparently according to scholars, it was not obvious to the people surrounding the ancient Israelites, that child sacrifice was not honky dory. When the one God tells you it is not OK, that sends a really strong message. One that is harder to disobey in the long run.”Imagine how the story would have turned out if Abraham had refused to go through with the sacrifice. He could have told the god, “Wipe out my existence if you want, but I won’t slaughter my son. If you want him dead, do it yourself.”Your resolution of the story would have had a far weaker moral impact on the tribal society it was supposed to teach. One man telling God to do the killing himself has no long term moral consequences, because it is only the transcendence and power of the Deity that would cause a moral shift in the social order of a late Bronze Age Middle Eastern society. It is the force of this social change that has long range effect on moral thniking. Again you take the story out of its historical and social context, and when you take such a narrow focus you are deprived of understanding how it could change moral understanding in the region and ultimately in the West.

  • spidermean2

    Darwinian Evolution is now a conquered foe. Atheists should find another fictional science to defend their stupidity.Darwinian Evolution is now crushed due to the fact that true evolution and intelligence are two faces of one coin. They are inseparable.

  • rossacpa

    Schaum: When you speak of reading Ludwig Wittgenstein, do you mean the earlier or older work, because with your expertise you know that Wittgenstein’s later works repudiated much of his early work.I know this was an oversight on your part, but you neglected to state whether you accept the logical principal that proving that Statement A is false, I also prove the Statement ~A is true. But when I cannot prove that Statement A is true of false, then I cannot prove the Statement ~A is true or false.

  • Schaum

    Spiderstupid:”How many times should atheists be told that evolution can’t exist without an inherent INTELLIGENCE with it.”Only once — when you come up with proof.

  • Schaum

    2.We can also understand this attack on disbelief as an example of the more general mistake of applying a sliding scale of proof. When we encounter an idea, we tend to form rapid reactions to it, many of which are thought to happen beneath our conscious awareness. Psychologists have shown that the gears of belief formation are set into motion long before the subject is even aware of what is going on — in one study the gap was 7 seconds. So, if our immediate reaction is a positive one, we are prone to much more forgiving with reasons or justifications that are given in favor of it. As long as a speaker or writer is drawing a conclusion you agree with—as long as he or she appears to be on your side—then they can do no wrong. But if we are averse to the conclusion they are drawing, then we bring a high degree of scrutiny to bear on every inferential move they make. We jump on the slightest appearance of mistake and draw the satisfied conclusion that they are mistaken—“See, I knew it all along. What he’s suggesting is outrageous.” I would suggest that it’s not just the serious god-believers criticizing atheists who are guilty of playing this “fixed” game of cards. Its just as often the case that a self-professed agnostic is guilty of stacking the deck. This critic of atheism doesn’t subscribe to the religious excesses of the hard-core believer. But he thinks that the atheist is just as guilty of going to extremes that the evidence cannot support. But for many agnostics, the high standard of justification that

  • Schaum

    3.The atheist has been subjected to a great deal of this inconsistency. In “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”, Daniel Dennett gives an example of a believer and a non-believer playing tennis. When the believer serves, he lowers the net on his own behalf. The beauty of faith after all is that it doesn’t play by any rules of reason. It’s virtue is abandoning the dictates of reason and evidence. But when the non-believer tries to return the serve and challenge some preposterous claim, suddenly then net is raised high, making it nearly impossible to successfully return the volley. It gets even worse when two believers get together to play and exchange ideas, Dennett says. Philosophical theology amounts to “intellectual tennis without a net at all.” But, god-believers and christers are entitled to cherish their delusions.

  • Schaum

    1.When the christer objects on the grounds that the justification for non-belief doesn’t achieve deductive certainty—“You can’t prove atheism! How can you be so sure? You’re being unreasonable”– he has invoked an artificially high epistemological standard of justification that creates a much broader set of problems not confined to atheism. If one must achieve deductive proof in order to be justified in believing any claim, then not being able to justify atheism is the least of one’s worries. This high standard of justification undermines the vast majority of what people believe and normally consider to be justified. It generates a broad, pernicious skepticism against far more than religious and irreligious beliefs. Mackie says, “It will not be sufficient to criticize each argument on its own by saying that it does not prove the intended conclusion, that is, does not put it beyond all doubt. That follows at once from the admission that the argument is non-deductive, and it is absurd to try to confine our knowledge and belief to matters which are conclusively established by sound deductive arguments. The demand for certainty will inevitably be disappointed, leaving skepticism in command of almost every issue.” (The Miracle of Theism, 7) If the atheist is unjustified for lacking proof, then so are the beliefs that planes fly, fish swim, air contains oxygen, electrons exist, or the Cubs are baseball players, not robots. This criticism presents a problem for everyone, believer and non-believers alike. If we are to take it seriously at all (we shouldn’t), then the challenge is not just the atheist’s to answer because the general problem of

  • buckminsterj

    Wait, is the point of the Abraham story that “child secrifice is not hunky dory”? I thought the tale was intended to convey the necessity of obeying god, even if his will is both cruel and stupid . . . in other words, another strike against unyielding religious faith. Am I wrong about that?

  • persiflage

    ‘Darwinian Evolution is now a conquered foe. Atheists should find another fictional science to defend their stupidity.’Like I said, there may indeed be alternate universes…..looks like we have a visitor from one such, and a surly one at that. On a more clinical note – obsessive reiteration is not a sign of emotional health in this dimension.

  • Schaum

    ROSSACPA:”When you speak of reading Ludwig Wittgenstein, do you mean the earlier or older work…”Reading for comprehension is usually a good idea. I did not speak of reading Wittgenstein’s “works”, whether old or new. I spoke of only ONE work — the “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”. Pay attention. Stop obfuscating.It was in his posthumously published “Philosophical Investigations” that he retracted some of what he wrote in Tractatus. Nevertheless, it remains a standard of required reading in many colleges and universities, in introductory philosophy and logic classes.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:”On a more clinical note – obsessive reiteration is not a sign of emotional health in this dimension.”True — and no one in our dimension has ever accused Spiderstupid of possessing any degree of emotional health.

  • emonty

    Schaum,My hat is off to you and some of the others. I don’t have the academic background to follow the discussion but I think it is great that others do. My reading list is growing!

  • Schaum

    5.10. Refraining mutually from injury, exploitation, and putting one’s will on a par with others, may lead to a certain degree of good conduct among individuals. But to make it a fundamental principle of society is a will to the denial of life, a principle of dissolution and decay. (Nietzsche)Some christers imagine it is a serious blow against atheism and evolutionary accounts of human origins that they cannot explain morality. The problem is that in many regards, evolutionary theory does explain morality. But even if moral behavior were a mystery from an evolutionary standpoint (it isn’t), we still wouldn’t have any grounds to prefer a divine explanation for moral behavior. Adding god to the discussion just doesn’t do any explanatory work for us in helping us understand what is right and wrong, what the human moral conscience is, or what we ought to do. We will all encounter challenging, morally complex situations. And in order to get through them, we will have to think about the reasons we have for various actions. And we will have to decide which reasons are better and which are worse. Thinking that god commands something is a delusion that won’t help us decide if it really is morally good to do that. That is, no one can escape the burden of responsibility for their actions. And the only tools we have for solving those dilemmas are our powers of reasoning.

  • Schaum

    4. 4. Eudaimonia, or flourishing, for humanity can only be achieved by acquiring virtue with regard to that which sets us apart, or our capacity to guide our own behavior by reason. Fulfillment can be achieved by living well according to this essential nature over the span of a whole life. (Aristotle)5. Act according to that principle that will promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number.(Mill)6. Only have aversion for those things that are in your control If you are averse to sickness, or death, or poverty, you will be wretched. . . .If you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your possession. (Epictetus)7. “Man first of all is the being who hurls himself toward a future and who is conscious of imagining himself as being in the future. Man is at the start a plan which is aware of itself, rather than a patch of moss, a piece of garbage, or a cauliflower; nothing exists prior to this plan; there is nothing in heaven; man will be what he will have planned to be.” (Sartre)8. It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly. (Epicurus)9. Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others. And social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that : a) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society b) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity (Rawls)

  • Schaum

    2.Socrates clearly illustrated in the “Euthyphro” that whatever god commands, the question of whether that commandment is the morally right thing to do is a completely separate matter. Deciding either to do what god commands (because you are free) itself is a decision that concludes “What god commands is good.” And that is a moral decision that must be made on the basis of grounds other than the mere fact that god commanded it. Can evolutionary theory tell us what we ought to do? Not really. It can tell us what we are and how we are built. It can tell us what sorts of behaviors are favorable to survival, and so on. But whether you ought to do any of the things that you are built to do is a separate question. One needs must have some better reasons to do it than the mere fact that we are biologically inclined to do some things rather than others. Biology may have endowed us with inclinations that themselves are immoral. This is the infamous is-ought problem. But the mistake is thinking that this problem is confined only to naturalized accounts of ethics. The is-ought problem is everyone’s challenge, especially for those who imagine morality comes from god. Imagining that god wants us to do certain things doesn’t tell us that we OUGHT to do it, either. First, the diversity of religious views and the countless instances of doctrinal in-fighting over every moral and religious question makes it abundantly apparent that there are no clear answers about what god wants us to do, especially among the people who are most convinced that we should do what god commands. Second, even if someone (mistakenly) concludes that god

  • Schaum

    1. ‘Darwinian Evolution is now a conquered foe.’ What absolute rubbish! The standard christer rant is that morality cannot be explained by evolution. christers repeat this claim, with no proof of course, without looking at the evidence. The first problem is that their claim is confused about several different distinctions. To iterate those distinctions:Can the theory of evolution give us an account of how natural selection might have worked on humans (and other animals) to endow them with a moral sense? Yes. Ever since Darwin, people have put forward ideas about how evolutionary forces could have selected for certain kinds of cognitive constitution in early hominids, over others. The answer will depends upon what is meant by “moral sense”. Can the theory of natural selection make us want to be better, more moral people? No. The theory is neutral in this regard. It just tells us what we are. But the process of natural selection does appear to have left us with some very strong desires to be better, more “moral” people. So evolution has made us want to be “moral”. But it has also made us favor foods that have very high calorie densities. In the wild, nuts with their high fat content are an important find when food is scarce. But I shouldn’t be following that same preference by ordering another slice of calorie rich cheesecake. But can divine command theory make us want to be better, more moral people? No, it can’t. What believing that god/jesusgod commands X and forbids Y can do, especially if it is coupled with a threat of punishment (death) or the promise of reward, is to provide some incentive to engage in more behaviors that appear to be moral. But acting for the sake of reward or out of a fear of punishment isn’t

  • Schaum

    EMONTY:”My reading list is growing!”Good for you. Check with Farnaz for suggestions. She has read everything! And while teaching at university, to boot! When I was teaching, when arriving home at the end of a day, reading was the last thing I wanted to do.

  • rossacpa

    Schaum: Not sure I’m the one obfuscating. I do know that you still have not addressed the following logical rule: state whether you accept the logical principal that proving that Statement A is false, I also prove the Statement ~A is true. But when I cannot prove that Statement A is true of false, then I cannot prove the Statement ~A is true or false.By the way, it would be more intellectually honest to cite the web site from which you cutting and pasting the summaries of various schools of ethical thought.

  • Freestinker

    “… that proving that Statement A is false, I also prove the Statement ~A is true. But when I cannot prove that Statement A is true of false, then I cannot prove the Statement ~A is true or false.”————ROSSACPA,Agreed but please tell us which claim (A) of Shaum’s do you disgree with?What Shaum statement is (A) in your example?

  • wpjunk

    There is another aspect to this. Sure, I agree with Susan Jacoby that trying to compete with Christians in doing charity sets them up as arbiters of behavior and morality to some extent. If that’s the only reason to identify with atheism when we do charity, it is not worth it.However, that’s not the only reason we should do so. It’s not the only reason Chrsitians do so either. There’s a reason why so many charities exist with the word “Christian” or other religious reference in them. It’s great advertising. People associate Christians with charity because of the Christian’s successful marketing campaign to establish that association.

  • Schaum

    ROSSACPA:”By the way, it would be more intellectually honest to cite the web site from which you cutting and pasting the summaries of various schools of ethical thought.”Ummmmm…..I think I’ll let you do that.

  • Schaum

    Atheists MUST be deeply concerned with religion, because of the profound impact that it has on all our lives. If the religious, christers in particular, were content to quietly entertain themselves with their antiquated fairytales and delusions, religion would hardly be an issue. But that isn’t the case.We live in a country which, according to the Treaty of Tripoli, “…is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” Yet it is unlawful for me, because I am an atheist, to hold public office or to testify in trials in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and that bastion of clear-thinking, Arkansas.I live in a country where George Bush Sr. publicly stated that he does not consider atheists to be citizens.I live in a country where policy decisions that affect the rights and lives of my friends and family, such as stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, are based on Bronze Age ideas and mores – influenced in very great part by the pope through his US bishops.I live in a world where people are murdered daily for belief in a fictitious god.Atheists MUST be concerned with religion because the theists have forced us to be. When god-believers and christers ask why atheists are so concerned about religion, the only necessary answer is: “Look at yourselves and see what you have done.”

  • Schaum

    Barferio:That is a very funny link, B. Thanks.I think, though, that a much more revealing understanding of Spiderstupid can be gained by paying attention to his many references to “beating” by a father-figure of some type…

  • Schaum

    … to say nothing of his many protestations about homosexuality.Seriously troubled boy.

  • AnnieDC

    re: WP Junk’s post – “Atheist charity addresses both points. It makes people more aware that we atheists exist, and does so in a positive light. It also satisfies some of that emotional need that drives people to religion. Wether you do charity in private or publically, it still helps society as a whole. However, doing it publically as an atheist also helps break many of the negative stereotypes that atheists have to endure. It makes atheism something that you can get behind emotionally as well as rationally.”————Well, in a very pragmatic, PR kinda way, you’re right. But this gets pretty weird pretty quickly. One thing about many atheists (well, all of the ones I know, but I don’t want to overstate it) is that we DON”T define ourselves by the absence of a belief in a god. We define ourselves by what we do believe, which is unrelated to the concept of an god. Theists may get a lot of their self-identification from their belief in their god. Fine, that’s their privilege. But I pretty much don’t think about it at all until I’m confronted with some problem or issue caused by a person of faith who feels the need to impose their philosophies, or the manifestations of their philosophies, on me. Then I have to decide how to deal with it, but the problem isn’t inherently mine, as it wouldn’t be there if others weren’t assuming they were right and I should go along.I don’t focus on the absence of a god in defining myself or in making my decisions any more than I focus on the absence of unicorns. The idea of promoting good in the name of atheism so others will understand that atheists can be good is very convoluted and just perpetuates that odd belief by the faithful that “No God” is the center of some sort of of philosophical system. The point isn’t that we’re focusing on “No God,” it’s that we’re focusing on other things entirely.Earlier in this chain one of the religious posters asked “why do you hate God so much? ” I don’t hate God. How could I hate something that I don’t think exists? Does that poster hate leprechauns?Just like with feminism, I think that a lot of it is complicated by the semantics. “Feminist” sounds like someone who is biased towards women. “Equalist” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but something like that would really more accurately define the conventional feminist philosophy. Same with this issue. ATHEIST sounds like it’s in opposition to the concept of a god, or that something is lacking. But I think that for most atheists, it’s really just that god is a concept not included in our world view — we don’t “hate” God; we really don’t think about him/her/it too much. That’s why I prefer “humanist” or “secular humanist” because it more accurately defines what I DO believe. I find it awkward to be defined by the absence of a particular optional belief.

  • Schaum

    AnnieDC:”ATHEIST sounds like it’s in opposition to the concept of a god, or that something is lacking.”Thats exactly why christers invented the word.

  • AnnieDC

    Well, except they didn’t. It’s a perfectly standard English prefix that signifies “the absence of” — apolitical, atypical, amoral, asexual, etc. Unfortunately, it’s often heard in connection with/opposition to a concept that sounds inherently positive, so the gut reaction is that it SOUNDS like it means something bad, regardless of the actual definition of the specific word in question.Silly as it seems, a new word might help, even if it means the same thing as the old one.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    Schaum: if facts fail you, try abusing the fact finder. It works (here at least).And here I thought atheists were supposed to be rational! I call you on a stupid statement and you ‘refute’ it by resorting to this: Mary Cunningham Ever Virgin Mother of Blather, is a roman catholic christer. She would, of course, resist exposure to the light of day of the rottenness of the roman catholic christer religion. Nevertheless, despite her breast beating and hand wringing, the facts are there for all to see. roman catholicism is a loathsome disease which should be eradicated from the earth. And its adherents are equally diseased with delusion. Blessed Mary is, sadly, no exception.But it won’t work Schaum. I tell you 50,000,000 deaths is a dumb statement and you respond to a fact by screaming abuse. But the number will still be small, and despite all your histrionics you’ll still be wrong. All you have done is add bad behaviour to bad thinking. Come to think of it, that sums up a Now, take the last word, abuse away, and call in the rest of your cohorts for reinforcement. I don’t much care as I won’t read it and, in any case, I am finished here.

  • Schaum

    Mary_Cunningham:”I don’t much care as I won’t read it and, in any case, I am finished here.”Blessed Mary, like your namesake, you were finished elsewhere and very long ago.

  • Schaum

    Mary_Cunningham: “I tell you 50,000,000 deaths is a dumb statement and you respond to a fact by screaming abuse.”I find your denial of the number of deaths at the hand of papists is a dumb statement and abusive of reality. And, if you’ll scroll a bit farther down, I cited chapter and verse of respected historians, where I got that number? Are you a historian? Are you even respected? Doesn’t appear so from this vantage point.

  • Schaum

    AnnieDC:”Silly as it seems, a new word might help, even if it means the same thing as the old one.”Actually, the term atheism originated from the Greek word (atheos), meaning “without gods”, which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshiped by the majority in favor of lesser known/popular gods. The word appears in the greek version of the new testament, with definitely narrow, negative connotations, and is applied to those who do not adopt the christer religion. While it is true that “atheist/atheism” is found earlier than the christer usage, its intentions, meaning and thrust were much less narrow, and much less damning than the christer adoption/adaptation of the word.

  • spidermean2

    Spidermean2 wrote “How many times should atheists be told that evolution can’t exist without an inherent INTELLIGENCE with it.”Schum wrote “Only once — when you come up with proof.”——–I’m not so sure any proof would work if common sense is not present to the observer.The word evolution, scientifically speaking, is a very complex matter. When a fertilized egg forms into a baby and grows into an adult, that is a true demonstration of evolution science (the true evolution and not the fake Darwinian doctrine). For the process to take place, it should revolve around a very INTELLIGENT algorithm. No proof is needed to understand the above statement. Just a simple common sense will suffice.

  • emonty

    Schaum”Now, take the last word, abuse away, and call in the rest of your cohorts for reinforcement.”If I agree with you from time to time, and disagree from time to time, and I am a ‘christer’ can I still qualify for the ‘cohort’?

  • Schaum

    Spiderstupid:”I’m not so sure any proof would work if common sense is not present to the observer.”A copout. As usual, you have no proof. And, in your case, your readers are more likely to be persuaded to your cause if, rather than common sense, they possess limitless superstition.

  • Schaum

    Emonty:Sure. Cohorts are welcome, but not necessary.You have to take Mary Cunningham with a grain of salt. Notice that she said my number of 50,000,000 was ‘stupid and wrong’…even though I supplied three, I think, pages of citations, complete with page numbers, from published historians and professors, which not only supported the number of 50,000,000, but in a few instances claimed larger numbers…yet she offered not one citation, not one thread of proven fact that the number is wrong. Mary is a politically correct papist revisionist. She gets herself into a lot of similar untenable positions on most every site she posts on, gets her tail feathers set ablaze, storms off vowing never to return….yet always does, as soon as she has extinguished the fire in her tail section. Our own peaceful,calm, well-educated Farnaz has even mowed her down a few times, and she always goes through the same histrionics. Nobody really pays her any attention anymore. And she is the primary reason that I just don’t give a damn what other people think. If they can’t deal in facts and proof, I don’t have time for them.

  • spidermean2

    If one drops a certain liquid to the water and water turns to blue, common sense dictates that the transformation was caused by the applied liquid.If my hand evolve to have 6 fingers, common sense dictates that simultaneous with it is the INTELLIGENCE needed how the bones will be formed, the nerves, the muscles, the blood vessels, and a controller part in the brain. For a transformation to work and function, common sense dictates that simultaneous counter-actions should form to support the said transformation. If a building evolves to be tall, simultaneous with it is the INTELLIGENCE to support that transformation like sturdier columns, beams and wider footing. Any transformation without an INTELLIGENT simultaneous “counter-action” is doomed to fail and won’t work.For evolution to work, inherent with it must be INTELLIGENCE to back it up.COMMON SENSE. Sadly atheists lack one.

  • Schaum

    3.In reality, despite their many claims of “faith”, christers and god-believers have nothing to feel “confident” about. Why does one need “faith” if one has truth and facts for support? Christers love to take strong positional stances because it “feels good, righteous” –however, it does not follow that a strong stance is necessarily correct. To be correct, you must have provable facts to back you up. So, why feel good in taking a strong stance when you have no real objective facts to back it up? Faith, in fact, is only needed when one LACKS truth, facts, and proof.It may indeed make christers and god-believers “feel good” to be absolutists with no evidence or facts to support them, but I wonder how often “warm/fuzzy happy feelings” are actually related to truth. How can one really be confident of, or give credibility to, a faith based on zero empirical evidence? Such a ‘believer’ seems to me to be more a pathetic dupe than anything else, so why propose that science is the institution with the problem? Because people want easy answers they don’t have to work for or think about much, and which gives them assurance of not really dying and not being.For these people, science is an atheistic/anti-christer pursuit. Atheists have no reason to be threatened by people like this – just annoyed with their delusions – to which, of course, they are entitled.

  • Schaum

    2.There are several good reasons why science is not a religion or faith:(1) Religion presumes more than science, since it assumes the existence of entities or a non-physical realm about which science remains skeptical or silent, given that whatever science cannot examine and test, it remains neutral about. (2) Religion has too many articles of faith science does not need: in science, what explains, with fewer commitments to unsubstantiated speculation or unobservables, and none to emotions, is better than what explains with more.(3) Religion has a built-in faith-based immunity to criticism and scrutiny which science rejects; the scientific method and attitude require a perpetual, skeptical

  • Schaum

    1.The truth is that a number of scientists do not accept Big Bang Theory, yet do accept that the origin and the complexity of the cosmos need explaining. Similarly, many scientists are ambivalent about Darwinian Evolution and consider it possible that many (maybe even all) complex life forms emerge without any natural selection operating whatsoever. These guys accept that life begets life –and that sometimes it is possible that non-life produces life. They propose alternative explanations for life that either diminish the scope of natural selection as a creative force, nor supplants it with another natural (chemical, physical, probabilistic) process.What science observes of the world is that there are curious phenomena needing explaining. There appear to be law-like regularities in nature or curious organisms behaving in ways sometimes conducive to survival and sometimes not; they occasionally accept explanations of these provisionally — based on observable, testable, imperfect evidence. Christers seem to agree superficially with this attitude, but, where they part company from science is in their purely faith-based belief (wholly without empirical evidence) that not only are such things describable by observation and inference, such things are only fully explicable by reference to at least one intelligent, super-powerful, supernatural creator-being or force whose existence they do not doubt, but cannot prove.In science, every article of faith is subject to doubt and only accepted conditioned on and constrained by empirical evidence. But most articles of faith in religion are never doubted, each is unconditionally believed and none are constrained by any evidentiary limits whatsoever. Faith overrides “reasonable doubt” in religion,, when in fact it is nothing more than wishful thinking. Faith licenses the religious to accept what appears impossible: miracles, healings, epiphanies etc. In science, faith is the enemy of reasons for accepting. Reasonable doubt is sought out—no scientist wants to accept what might be false or better accounted for by a more accurate theory. Christers claim ‘miracles are inexplicable, thus a mysterious

  • spidermean2

    Schum wrote “Religion never rejects or corrects its foundational beliefs, but science often does—this is the source of its honesty and its usefulness. “It’s time for science to correct itself. Ooops, wrong statement. Darwinian evolution is not science but a jumble of fantastic fairy tales.If one drops a certain liquid to the water and water turns to blue, common sense dictates that the transformation was caused by the applied liquid.If my hand evolve to have 6 fingers, common sense dictates that simultaneous with it is the INTELLIGENCE needed how the bones will be formed, the nerves, the muscles, the blood vessels, and a controller part in the brain. For a transformation to work and function, common sense dictates that simultaneous counter-actions should form to support the said transformation. If a building evolves to be tall, simultaneous with it is the INTELLIGENCE to support that transformation like sturdier columns, beams and wider footing. Any transformation without an INTELLIGENT simultaneous “counter-action” is doomed to fail and won’t work.For evolution to work, inherent with it must be INTELLIGENCE to back it up.COMMON SENSE. Sadly atheists lack one.

  • cornbread_r2

    Just regarding the birth and life of Jesus there are 160 specific prophecies that where fulfilled. Posted by: US-conscience | February 17, 2010 10:55 AM If the stories in the NT had been written

  • bpai_99

    I’m more than tired of religious people claiming that “atheist regimes” were responsible for more deaths/mass murders in history, especially in the 20th century.Hitler was a baptized Roman Catholic, and Stalin was a Jesuit who at age 14 was accepted by a seminary to begin training for the priesthood. Admittedly, Mao was not religious. If you want to argue body counts, however, the historical consensus is that Hitler and Stalin were responsible for more deaths than Mao.

  • bpai_99

    Is US-conscience for real? Is there anyone truly that stupid in this modern age?I’m convinced he’s an atheist just having fun by throwing out ridiculous arguments to get a rise out of others. Nobody is that clueless.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Onofrio wrote:”‘What is the root of all goodness?’Its image begins as a perfect circle, diameter of seven palms, drawn with dew on moondust, placed atop a tangential baseline exactly two sevenths of the circumference in length.For goodness to proceed, a line of a length identical to that of the baseline must be drawn so as to cut the circle on its lower right arc, with one end touching the baseline and the other extending directly toward the circle’s centre. Once the circle is cut thus, the first baseline is to be erased.From this root proceeds the quartering of the disk, the sun’s tears, the fall of fishes’ scales, and the completion of the eye, into which the sharp stars are knit in myriads.”I was hoping for something a little more thoughtful, creative, and original…. but seriously …This is wonderifically flabberfounding. It reminded me of something all day; but what??It reminded me of the Crystal Egg by H G Wells, which I read more than 40 years ago.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Spidermean2 Observation trumps what logically ought to be.

  • barferio

    When climate scientists want to test their model, they go back into the past (as far as they can), input the data available, then test it for some time not as far in the past – a future date for the original data, though not in this future we’re in.This is how the bible’s prophesies work as well. The people writing the NT did so with full awareness of the prophesies made, and considering they were the few with sufficient education understand what they were doing – they refactored their model to include these data.The believers today are a curious bunch too, when you look at them. They point out the timeline of the dead sea scrolls, its date verified by carbon-14 (scientific) dating methods, and insert this into their arguments.Yet along comes this shroud of turn thing, scientific dating places it somewhere in the 13th-14th century: Nowhere is the science-denying nature of the believer more apparent than in their denial of this.These children need to believe there are no morals outside their religion. They never grew up, never developed the morals of an adult. They are still afraid of the spanking, and further afraid of those who are *not* afraid of that spanking.

  • tbarksdl

    Pardon my intrusion in this particular forum, but some issues are so important, in my opinion, as to justify cross-posting. Post editor Jo-Ann Armao’s article today in PostPartisan is so revolting in its revelations about the warped sense of values that has come to suffuse the Post, it justifies wide notice. Here is my letter to the editor submitted today:The most incredible, but not surprising, thing about Jo-Ann Armao’s PostPartisan article on February 18 about how she invited Marion Barry to the White House correspondents’ dinner is the admission by a high-level Washington Post doyen that the Post panders to politicians, no matter how incompetent, corrupt, and totally lacking in morality that they may be. The wide-eyed innocence with which Ms. Armao discusses inviting this despicable reprobate to a White House dinner is breathtaking.Imagine if a Washington Post editor around 1960 recounted, with not one iota of shame or remorse, inviting a Southern race-baiting politician to a White House dinner. Imagine a WaPo editor telling us how he had invited a religious figure like the Reverend Jim Jones or David Koresh to a White House dinner. There is something so pathetically sick here, it defies human imagination.

  • Schaum

    7.I think the point is made…all those other bogus supernatural entities teach us something: they justify the atheist’s skepticism about the likelihood that any other supernatural claim of a god will turn out to be true, particularly in the absence of fact-based proof. It’s possible, of course, that supporting proof might be found in the future. It’s also possible that magic will be proven real, or that there are goblins. But atheists should demand impressive evidence to push us away from that skepticism. Mere possibility is not the equivalent of proof. At this time in history, there is no more reason to assume the christer god is real than any of the other 499. But…everyone is entitled to his delusions.

  • Schaum

    5.On the basis of what is known, I think it is reasonable to conclude that spooky, magical, or supernatural explanations have never been the best account of what’s true in the world. A good part of our reasons for thinking so are all of the cases where they have failed. The past has clearly shown that supernatural and spiritual explanations of reality are just barking up the wrong tree. They just never pan out. This means that there is an enormous burden of proof to be met by anyone claiming that some supernatural or spiritual entity is real, in the light of all of these similar claims that have turned out to be untrue; this makes it reasonable to conclude that no such beings, forces, or phenomena are real, and to disbelieve them until evidence proves they are fact. If all of those supernatural entities and forces from the past have never been proven to be real, is it not reasonable to apply the same truth-criteria, and reasoning, to the gods that are familiar to us, like the unproven, unseen, incommunicative christer god? If there are enough similarities between the christer god and the other 499 listed, and between the role that those 499 played for their believers and the role that the christer god plays for its believers, then the same grounds for rejection for lack of proven evidence of existence should apply.

  • Schaum

    6.Attis-Greece-1200 BC Mithra-Persia-1200 BCDionysus-Greece-500 BC

  • Schaum

    4.I am assuming that of these claims are as obviously true to everyone as to me, but if you believe that your wearing a Raiders jersey while watching tv in Hackensack brought about their winning the game in Pittsburg, nothing is going to make sense to you. Most are likely, I think, to agree that at least a large majority of these claims are true. From that, I think we can draw some general inferences It would appear that in the overwhelming majority of cases, when people have subscribed to some sort of magical, supernatural, spiritual, paranormal, or god-believing account of what is real, we have found another better natural explanation; one that wasn’t anthropomorphic, and that doesn’t invoke mysterious magical forces or gods.

  • Schaum

    3.Ms Eliade describes Puluga, the Sky God of the people of the Andaman Islands:“Puluga is the Supreme Being; he is thought of very anthropomorphically, but he dwells in the sky and his voice is the thunder, the wind his breath; hurricanes are the sign of his anger, for he sends thunderbolts to punish all those who infringe his commandments. Puluga knows everything, but only knows men’s thoughts during the day. . . He created himself a wife and they have children. He lives in the sky near the sun (feminine) and the moon (masculine), with their children the stars. When Puluga sleeps there is a drought. When it is raining the god has come down to earth and is looking for food. Puluga created the world, and the first man, Tomo. Mankind multiplied and had to disperse, and after the death of Tomo grew ever more forgetful of its creator. One day Puluga got angry and a flood covered the whole earth and destroyed mankind: only four people escaped. Puluga had mercy on them, but men still remained recalcitrant. . . “

  • Schaum

    1Courtesy of “Patterns in Comparative Religion”, by Mircea Eliade, and without her permission, I offer here her list of 500 dead gods. (Actually, she is incorrect: the list has only 499 dead gods. One – Ogoun — she listed and counted twice.) These non-existent gods were gathered by her from a wide range of cultures: Aa, Aah, Abil Addu, Addu, Adeona, Adjassou-Linguetor, Adjinakou, Adya Houn’tò, Agassou, Agé, Agwé, Ahijah, Ahti, Aizen Myō-ō, Ajisukitakahikone, Ak Ana, Aken , Aker , Äkräs, Aku, Allatu, Altjira, Amano-Iwato, Ame-no-Koyane, Am-heh, Amihan, Amon-Re, Amun, Amurru, Anapel, Anath, Andjety, Anhur, Anit, Anu, Anubis, Anzambe, Apsu, Arianrod, Ash , Ashtoreth, Assur, Astarte, Aten, Atum, Ayida-Weddo, Ayizan, Azaka Medeh, Azaka-Tonnerre, Azumi-no-isora, Baal, Bacalou, Badessy, Bagadjimbiri, Bahloo, Baiame, Bakunawa, Bamapana, Banaitja, Ba-Pef, Baron Cimetière, Baron La Croix, Baron Samedi, Barraiya, Bata , Bathala, Bau, Beltis, Beltu, Belus, Bernardo Carpio, Bes, Biame, Biamie, Bilé, Bimbeal, Binbeal, Boli Shah, Bossou Ashadeh, Budai, Budai, Bugady Musun, Bugid Y Aiba, Bunjil, Bunjil, Cai Shen, Ceros, Chenti-cheti, Chi You, Chimata-No-Kami, Chun Kwan, Cihang Zhenren, City god, Clermeil, Congo (loa), Consus, Cronos, Cunina, Dagan, Dagda, Dagon, Daikokuten, Damballa, Dan Petro, Dan Wédo, Daramulum, Dauke, Dea Dia, Dhakhan, Diable Tonnere, Diana of Ephesus, Diejuste, Dimmer, Dinclinsin, Dragon King, Dragon King of the East Sea, Duamutef, Dumu-zi-abzu, Dzingbe, Ea, Ebisu, Edulia, Efile Mokulu, El, Elali, Elder Zhang Guo, Elum, Engurra, Enki, Enma, En-Mersi, Enurestu, Erlang Shen, Erzulie, Ezili Dantor, Fan Kuai, Fei Lian, Feng Bo, Four sons of Horus, Fu Lu Shou, Fu Xi, Fūjin, Fukurokuju, Furrina, Futsunushi, Gargomitch, Gasan lil, Gasan-abzu, Goibniu, Gong Gong, Govannon, Gran Maître, Grand Bois, Guan Yu, Guangchengzi, Gunfled, Gwydion, Hachiman, Hadad, Hakudo Maru, Han Xiang, Hapi, Hapy, Heka , Hemen, Hermanubis, Hermes , Heryshaf, Hoderi, Hongjun Laozu, Hoori, Horus, Houyi, Huang Feihu, Hung Shing, Iah, Ibong Adarna, Iho, Iku-Turso, Ilat, Ilmatar, Ilmatar, Imhotep, Imset, Iron-Crutch Li, Isis, Istar, Isum, Iuno Lucina, Izanagi, Jade Emperor, Jar’Edo Wens, Ji Gong, Julana, Jumala, Jupiter, Juroujin, Kaawan, Kagu-tsuchi, Kalfu, Kalma, Kara Khan, Karakarook, Karei, Kari, Karora, Kerridwen, Khaltesh-Anki, Khepri, Khnum,

  • Schaum

    Carstonio:”While you have excellent points, I emphasize that this type of skepticism is NOT exclusive to atheism.”Most certainly not, and I hope I have not written in such a way that inferences of exclusivity can be made.

  • grashnak

    Hey US-Conscience:Wow, have you ever taken the hook, line and sinker. You do realize that the books you claim have a 100% accuracy in predicting things were available to the people who, not having been actually present for the life of jesus, were writing his story decades or centuries later.Not hard to write up the life of any obscure individual so as to match up with ancient prophecies. Just write fiction.

  • captn_ahab

    The religious impulse extends beyond the mere reinforcement of moral strictures. It provides community, community reinforcement of commonly held values, transcendent meaning for life passages, holidays to mark the passage of time with meanings supposed to transcend the material and mundane, and a shared cultural history and anchor for the adherents. As with any human construction, religion, science, or secularism are subject to corruption, misuse, and cruelty. Let the atheists celebrate in their own way, and let everyone be happy.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:”Regarding Eliade – anything he has written…”Really…I always thought he was a she. Live and learn.

  • rick_desper

    “But I can’t help but wonder why she was offended by the talk-show host’s question about what keeps atheists from committing murder?”Perhaps you should make an effort to familiarize yourself with the social mores of a polite society. The question Ms. Jacoby was asked was rude. It implied disrespect for her philosophy.You can test this theory in the following way. Go to your local police station, fire house, football stadium, or wherever. And ask all of the fathers that you mean why is it that they do not rape their daughters.Get back to us when with relative percentages of the following:a) dispassionate discussions of moralityb) punches to the faceMy guess is that you’ll get more of b) than a). That’s how our discourse works. Any attempt to portray it otherwise is either utterly naive or, more likely, simply disingenuous.

  • rick_desper

    should be “ask all the fathers that you meet”, obviously.

  • WmarkW

    “I was stunned the first time I was asked, by a right-wing radio talk show host attacking my Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004), what would prevent me from committing murder if I did not believe in God. I answered truthfully, because I had never been asked such a question before, that it had never even occurred to me to murder anyone. I will never respond to such an insulting question again.”I think this could have been a teachable moment for the interviewer. Ask him whether he would go out and murder someone if you could prove to him that God didn’t exist. Despite their fiery rhetoric about sin, most Christians really know that people are better than that.

  • YEAL9

    Are these good rules of humankind behavior simply commonsense expressions of how to properly behave with or without deities? Such expressions have been going on since humankind began to express itself.Some words of wisdom? from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_atheism”Some believe that a moral sense does not depend on religious belief. The Dalai Lama has said that compassion and affection are human values independent of religion: “We need these human values. I call these secular ethics, secular beliefs. There’s no relationship with any particular religion. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins have proposed that our morality is a result of our evolutionary history. He proposes that the Moral Zeitgeist helps describe how morality evolves from biological and cultural origins and evolves with time.”

  • onofrio

    Schaum,Thee, re Horus:”Horus-Egypt-3000 BCWhat’s your source for this? This ain’t the Horus I know.

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:Much of it came from a Canadian website: Also see 46 comparisons at: Where have you been? Missed seeing you. Comparison of some life events of Horus and Jesus:

  • onofrio

    Hi Schaum, Indeed Horus Christ in several ways, but it’s not quite as clear-cut as the prevalhaiti list makes out. I’d also take Acharya’s interpretations with more-than-a-pinch of salt. But perhaps I am too tangled up in snobbish erudition.So here’s a bit of flakiness to balance things out:Thee:Their truth is not that of the established fact, but of the well-wrought poem. One does not believe IN them, one makes believe with them. And the latter is not necessarily as childish as it seems.I do not believe in Sobek as if he were a logarithm, a clock, or a item of dogma. Yet I can say I have encountered him, in those places where the croc still rules supreme. In him is concentrated the primal power through which this world was formed, the sheer might of nature. He doesn’t need us to have faith in him; he is obdurately THERE. We can perceive, or not. Gods ain’t always God. Overly silly-subtle? Bien sûr!As for the moon, it may be the sun’s brother, sister, wife, or simply the other eye of a cosmic bird. And plenty else besides: the scythe of time; a rabbit’s hole; a slice of cheese; a reservoir of stolen semen…Facts – no. Real – yes, that small part of reality that we conjure with.Otherwise said: Sobek is a croc(k) :^)

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”Gods ain’t always God. Overly silly-subtle? Bien sûr!”Hardly!I’ve encountered six intellects on OnFaith that I respect: (in no particular order) Farnaz, Persiflage, Onofrio, DanielInTheLionsDen, Arminius (with whom I am frequently at odds), Timmy2, and Susan Jacoby — on whose posts I very rarely comment because they rarely ever need comment. If you have the time to say something to me, I have the time to listen!

  • onofrio

    Schaum,cont’d from previous:I’ve been rather dull and hasty here; it’s only a crude overview. To begin communicating Egyptian religion as I have encountered it in the original language is extremely difficult. It’s like a sort of alien chemistry, wherein gods are not so much distinct personalities as chemical compounds in complex interaction. I’m not suggesting that Christianity has necessarily, consciously purloined its Christology directly from Egyptian sources. What I would suggest is that Christian claims to divinely ordained originality are shown to be highly dubitable in the light of Egyptian parallels. Furthermore, the affinity of Egyptian and Christian beliefs calls into question the claim that the trinitarian Christ perfectly fulfils Jewish Scripture. As I’ve said afore, Ramesses the Great would find it a lot easier to accept a Trinity than would Moses, to whom the Lord spoke. A story that may amuse you: I once discussed these and other Egyptian foregrounds with a convinced Christian believer who had expressed an interest. As we were parting, this ostensibly intelligent, educated man summarised the whole exchange with the remark: “Yes, Satan has been counterfeiting the things of God for a long time.”

  • onofrio

    Schaum,An honour indeed, to be placed among such threadly worthies. Thank you, Schaum :^)Some Egyptian foreground for aspects of Christianity (which you may well already know):From early dynastic times (c.3100-2700 BC), Horus was the great cosmic deity par excellence (his name means “the distant one” or “the one above”) and the oldest titles of the pharaohs show that they were thought to be Horus’ earthly incarnation: *God with us*, so to speak. From the Old Kingdom (a.k.a. Pyramid Age, c.2700-2200 BC) kingly co-optation of the sun-cult increased, and the king was thought to be the bodily son of the sun, Re, quite literally the *Son of God*. After death, the pharaoh was thought to ascend to the sky, ultimately to be united with his heavenly father. From the Middle Kingdom (c.2000-1750 BC) we have the idea that humans are made in the image of the creator god, and that the king is meant to be the creator’s deputy on earth – a man burdened with the cares of his human herd: *the Good Shepherd*.Also in the New Kingdom, triads become the typical grouping (usually father-mother-son) of local numina, and in the royal tombs something very close to an all-male, genuinely perichoretic trinity develops: Re, Osiris, and the King. The latter is of particular interest to me, and I have researched in some detail one of the compositions that expresses this notion.cont’d

  • onofrio

    Persiflage, old soul, that is the house for me, certes! May Sobek continue to guard you from all merdy crocks, and bless you croc-wise.I salute.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio!Thank Non, you’re back. In vain have I sought a series of your past posts on the connections betwixt and between Christianity and the ancient Egyptian.Anything more you could add would in-debt me, additional debt to follow.

  • onofrio

    Hi Farnaz,I’m considering how to address more specifically the Horus-Christ link raised by Schaum. Concision, concision…Of late, have been contending again with homegrown Hell-is-Good Calvinians. These folk have Oxford cred, love poetry, are subtle and articulate about many things. And still they insist on Jesus-or-burn. I’m not sure why, but it frightens me…

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Onofrio,”I’m considering how to address more specifically the Horus-Christ link raised by Schaum. Concision, concision…”Yes, please. By all means, do continue when you can.Farnaz

  • ukba

    Consider this interesting scenario of brother and sister presented by social and moral psychologist Jonathan haidt. “Julie and Mark are brother and sister. They are traveling together in France on summer vacation from college. One night they are staying alone in a cabin near the beach. They decide that it would be interesting and fun if they tried making love. At the very least, it would be a new experience for each of them. Julie was already taking birth control pills, but Mark uses a condom too, just to be safe. They both enjoy making love, but they decide never to do it again. They keep that night as a special secret, which makes them feel even closer to each other. What do you think about that; was it OK for them to make love?”In his book ‘the blank slate’ Steven Pinker writes regarding the story: “Most people declare that what Julie and Mark did was wrong, and then they grope for reasons WHY it was wrong. … Eventually many of the respondents admit, “I don’t know, I can’t explain it, I just know it’s wrong.” Haidt call this “moral dumbfounding.”It would be really interesting to find out how atheists and theists would answer the question posed by Haidt and if there are any differences in their moral reasoning. Maybe we should all take a survey to find out. Atheist might reason that since no one was hurt what Julie and Mark did was okay; or would their answers be similar to how the rest of the population view this moral dilemma?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Schaum, Onofrio, DITLD, Arminius, et al,What a wonderfully learned thread! Persiflage, yes Eliade….the Eternal Return.Very fond of Padraic Colum, as poet, Joyce biographer, anti-nazi, anti-antisemite.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Addressed you in earlier post, but forgot to include you in salutation. Lo siento.Farnaz

  • spidermean2

    This needs to be repeated again and again. It would be like soap in the midst of dirt.It’s time for science to correct itself. Ooops, wrong statement. Darwinian evolution is not science but a jumble of fantastic fairy tales.If one drops a certain liquid to the water and water turns to blue, common sense dictates that the transformation was caused by the applied liquid.If my hand evolve to have 6 fingers, common sense dictates that simultaneous with it is the INTELLIGENCE needed how the bones will be formed, the nerves, the muscles, the blood vessels, and a controller part in the brain. For a transformation to work and function, common sense dictates that simultaneous counter-actions should form to support the said transformation. If a building evolves to be tall, simultaneous with it is the INTELLIGENCE to support that transformation like sturdier columns, beams and wider footing. Any transformation without an INTELLIGENT simultaneous “counter-action” is doomed to fail and won’t work.For evolution to work, inherent with it must be INTELLIGENCE to back it up.COMMON SENSE. Sadly atheists lack one.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,A quotation for your Oxford educated Calvinist friends:”I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”– Mark Twain “Oh, why should the shattermyth have to be a crumplehope and a dampenglee?”–Thurber

  • dominicr

    There is no god and I believe that most Christians secretly know it. They grasp onto religion because they fear death and uncertainly and the stigma from their peers and family. The sooner Jesus gets put into the same category as Zeus and the sacred bull, the better we will all be.

  • dominicr

    There is no god and I believe that most Christians secretly know it. They grasp onto religion because they fear death and uncertainly and the stigma from their peers and family. The sooner Jesus gets put into the same category as Zeus and the sacred bull, the better we will all be.

  • dominicr

    There is no god and I believe that most Christians secretly know it. They grasp onto religion because they fear death and uncertainly and the stigma from their peers and family. The sooner Jesus gets put into the same category as Zeus and the sacred bull, the better we will all be.

  • Schaum

    Spiderstupid:”For evolution to work, inherent with it must be INTELLIGENCE to back it up.”My suggestion is that you not attempt solid foods until you have learned to digest pablum. An argument that began with Hume, says that the likelihood that the ordered universe was created by intelligence is very low. In general, instances of biologically or mechanically caused generation without intelligence are far more common than instances of creation from intelligence. The probability that something generated by a biological or mechanical cause will exhibit order is quite high. Among those things that are designed, the probability that they exhibit order may be quite high, but that is not the same as asserting that among the things that exhibit order the probability that they were designed is high. Among dogs, the incidence of fur may be high, but it is not true that among furred things the incidence of dogs is high. Furthermore, intelligent design and careful planning very frequently produces disorder—war, industrial pollution, insecticides, global warming, and so on.This explains your continuing failure to prove the existence of god.You lose again.

  • RCBII

    With all due respect to the author… humanism is about doing good, so it makes sense for humanists to trumpet good works.The truth is that atheism is not a moral philosophy. Humanism is.

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