Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Faith and Morality

A member of the studio audience asked the following question a few days ago:

I'm really curious about this: What do atheists say to other atheists who have differing moral values?

TGP gave a fitting response:

Are you really asking this question in the comments thread of an atheist ethics blog?

With nearly 1600 posts and nearly 20,000 comments - mostly from atheists - it should not be at all difficult to discover what atheists say to each other on matters of morality. And it is quite clearly NOT what the anti-atheist bigots like to pretend to themselves and claim to others what atheists say.

Yet, that question brings up a question in response.

What does a theist say to somebody whose moral values differ from his own?

Here, I am particularly concerned with those theists who hold that religion is a matter of faith. It is not subject to proof or to reason. Instead, some divine revelation of one sort or another is supposed to spring forth onto the mind causing the person who experiences it to judge this or that religion to be correct.

The problem is, two people who suffer from divine revelation can come to believe in two different gods or, just as easily, two different interpretations of the demands of the same god. Scriptures are so filled with contradiction and ambiguities that a person can easily find in them what he or she wants to find.

Now, the consequence is two people, each stricken with absolute certainty that theirs is the flawlessly perfect interpretation of divine will on account of some mystical experience, who are in crucial disagreement over some relevant moral fact.

Like, one person believes that this area of land was given to them by their God - while another group of people held that the land was given to them instead.

Or Person 1 holds that anybody who should question his interpretation of scripture shall be put to death - while Person 2 believes exactly the same thing about his interpretation.

Let is not ignore what is actually going on in these cases. As I have written before, people do not get their morality from God. They assign their morality to God. When a person has such a mystical experience, it does not come with a set of moral revelations. Rather, the agent himself builds his moral sentiments into his mystical experience. This allows him to take his own sentiments and options and give them divine origin.

This is a very common and easy way for people, in effect, to turn themselves into Gods. Suddenly, their morality is not their own opinion based on beliefs handed down to them from the previous generation combined with his or her own observations - subject to all sorts of human flaws. Instead, it is the divine word of an imagined super-being that is all knowing and who could not possibly be mistaken. When people take their own sentiments and prejudices and assign them to a god, they can give those attitudes a certainty that is beyond question.

They can even go so far - as some have in human history - as to say, "Anybody who dares to disagree with me . . . um . . . I mean . . . with God . . . shall be put to death." And they act on that new ultimately arrogant sentiment.

So, what does such a theist then say to those whose values differ from their own?

We see the answer in a whole set of slaughters that are described in various religious text.

We see it in history, in the Crusades and Inquisitions of European history. We see it in the capture of Jerusalem where the Christian soldiers slaughtered the whole population of Muslims who had been contaminating the holy city with their presence for centuries.

We see it in the 30 Years War which all but depopulated whole sections of Europe. One religious faction would enter a village dominated by another religious faction, herd all of the villagers into the church, lock them in, then set the church on fire. The fact that some of the villagers (claimed to be) followers of the same religion as the attackers often did not deter those attackers. They would kill everybody, and trust to their god to sort the heretics from the faithful in the afterlife.

We see it in the bloody English civil wars between Catholics and Protestants of the same era - in the religious purges that drove so many people out of Europe to seek a new start in America.

For those who know history, those people did not come to America to seek religious freedom. They came to America so that they can leave a situation in which they were too weak to impose their religious dogma on others, to create a new city in the wilderness where they had the numbers and the power to becomes the dictators of what is correct in matters of religion.

We continue to see the effects today of different groups 'discussing' matters of religion that each hold to be beyond the matter of reason an evidence and, thus, not subject to debate. We saw it on 9/11, and we have seen it over and over again since then.

These are the signs of what one religious person says to another whose values differ from their own - particularly for those religions that hold that religion is a matter of faith and divile revelation and, as such, cannot be demonstrated or argued for in any way.

If you cannot persuade people by reason and argument, if you cannot offer anything in the way of proof that you are right and they are wrong, then the only form of persuasion that is left is brought about by sword, or gun, or bomb.

I am not saying that religion is necessarily like this. Nor am I saying that all religion is, in fact, like this. The world contains a rich variety of religious beliefs, including those that hold matters of religion are private and matters of morality must be settled by that which can be demonstrated across all religions.

Nor am I saying that atheists are immune from the arrogance and certainty that make people prone to violence against those who disagree with them. I fear that those who hold that religion is the root of all violence will blind themselves to the fact that it is arrogance, not religion, that makes it easy for people to pick up weapons and kill those who disagree. Atheism does not come with any built-in immunity from arrogance. Communists and anarchists lacking a belief in God have not lacked the ability to carry out atrocities.

There are people who hold that a secular argument backed by reason must sit at the root of all matters of social or government policy - that they cannot be based on this group's or that group's personal articles of faith without opening society up to the violence of religious civil war (if the religious factions have equal power) or religious oppression (if one religious faction is more powerful than all others).

Yet, these moral truths that transcend religion - that allow the members of one religious faction to live in peace with others who do not share their values or their specific interpretations of scripture - are just as available to the atheist as they are to the theist.

In fact, the atheist is in a better position with respect to these moral truths that transcend religion and allow peace among different factions, because the atheist will never experience conflict between those moral truths and his or her religious beliefs.

There is no article of faith for those moral truths that transcend across religions to contradict.

What do atheists say to other atheists who have differing moral values? Well, what do (or should) theists say to other theists who do not share their specific religious prescriptions?

50 comments:

TGP said...

When theists disagree the options are:
1. Fight! (Might makes right and vice versa)
2. Agree to disagree. (It's OK for you to be wrong. That's what hell is for.)

When atheists disagree the options are:
1. Fight! (Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the gun.)
2. Agree to disagree. (It's OK for you to like Milli Vanilli. Really, even if they're silly.)
3. Let science do the work. (You say X and I say Y. Let's devise appropriate experiments and determine an evidence-based solution. If I'm wrong, this experiment should falsify my hypothesis.)

The way I see it, theism doesn't allow the use of option #3 because evidence gets trumped by belief, leaving only options #1 and #2.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Technically that is not true.

First, there is the possibility of a theist who holds that the laws of morality can be discovered just like the laws of physics. The Enlightenment philosophers (e.g., John Locke) were quite certain that a God existed but also believed that we can apply reason to nature and come up with moral laws. They wrote their moral and political philosophy substantially without any recourse to scripture (though they did slip from time to time).

Second, there are theists who believe that there is a God and that the evidence supports their position. I believe they are mistaken. However, it is not proof that another agent is not using Option 3 simply because I do not think that the evidence supports their conclusion. Two atheists debating different theories with respect to Option 3 could also easily come to two seperate conclusions. It could even be the case that both of them are wrong (just as two people arguing reason-based theology would be wrong).

So, theism itself does not rule out Option 3.

However, there are many specific religious doctrines that do rule it out, and can be criticized for the consequences of doing so.

TGP said...

Damn Option #3, making me refine my overly simplified theory in the face of sound logic...grumble, grumble...

Reflecting on your comment, I think I should have left the first paragraph out and replaced 'atheists' with 'humans.' I'm not terribly well versed in philosophy, but "God revealed through the natural world" seems to be a combination of #3 and #2.

There's also #4. Convert. I think that it might be better considered a sub-option of #1, though.

I don't think that either party "being wrong" necessarily invalidates any option. The options are "ways humans can TRY to resolve differences" not "ways that always work."

John Doe said...

First, Alonzo, it's funny how you go back hundreds of years for examples of bad acts by Christians. The atheists in charge of China and the Soviet Union killed hundreds of millions, while those old wars probably didn't even kill a million (I'm guessing at the numbers, but you get my point).

Second, I guess my question should have been, "OK, when you are reasoning with an atheist, and he rejects your premises, your logic, and your conclusions, and chooses a different morality than yours, THEN what do you say to him?" For instance, when he says, "Nah, Alonzo, I reject your stupid notion of doing what is good for the majority. To hell with them, I enjoy stealing and raping the land. I want your stuff and your woman. Since we are all animals, and we are all going to die and turn to dust, I'm doing whatever the hell I want when I want it and to hell with your 'ethics'!"

With a person who genuinely believes that the Bible contains God's word, you can appeal to the Bible. You can show him what it says, if the Bible has something applicable to say about a matter, and try to reason with him that way. But you have a standard that is bigger than any one man. The man's actions either conform or do not conform to God's standards. There is an objective standard (such that it can be identified) and anybody can see for themselves whether any particular action measures up or not.

With atheism, it's every man for himself. If somebody does not happen to agree with Alonzo, oh, well. Alonzo's fancy reasoning just did not convince him, but Alonzo can't really say that the other person is wrong, he can only say that that person does not agree with Alonzo.

This is why governments sometimes dislike Christians. Christians hold that there is a higher power than government. Governments prefer to do whatever they want and not to be accountable, and they want their citizens to be sheeple, doing what the government says, when the government says it.

p.s. you are full of B.S. when you say that "people do not get their morality from God. They assign their morality to God." That just shows your ignorance. I can't speak for other religions, but Christians do get their morality from God. Personally, I'd prefer to go around raping, killing and pillaging. It sounds like fun. If I "assigned my morality to God" I'd probably be Viking and a believer in Oden. Instead, I believe that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and that he has certain moral precepts that he demands that I follow, and I (try) tailor my actions to his precepts.

And you sound juvenile when you claim that the Bible is full of contradictions. You really sound like a child talking about something that he does not understand, for instance a child talking about marriage. "Marriage must really suck, because my parents fight. And I don't know how Daddy can stand sleeping with Mommy--girls are sooo icky." The kid THINKS he knows what he is talking about, and it makes so much sense from his uninformed perspective.

John Doe said...

TGP, you have this corrupt view of how "theists" view of science. Can't speak for all "theists" but mainstream Christianity believes that God instituted all of the laws of nature and of the universe. Christians don't run from science. They revel in it. Because there is a Creator, there is also a design, if only we can use science to detect it. From the lowliest sub-particles to the most vast expanses of the universe. Science is the study of what God has wrought.

Sure, sometimes Christians mistakenly believe that the Bible says something and they refuse to believe science. But atheists are likewise prone to have idiotic beliefs. In those instances, it is the individual Christian or the individual institution that is wrong. But you are grossly mistaken if you believe that all Christians all the time disbelieve science. That's like me saying that all atheists are communists. It just ain't so. Almost universally Christians accept science, when science really proves something.

Now, many Christians are extremely skeptical of scientists, and especially non-believer scientists. They (we) don't trust their motives, their intellect, their reasoning skills. I sincerely believe that many scientists allow what they want to be true to color their reasoning and analytical skills. I've seen it happen too often in the legal arena. You literally can find a scientist for almost any side of any issue. Scientists want we mortals to believe that they only follow the facts and logic and all reach the same conclusion, THE TRUTH. But it just ain't so. If I am the first to break it to ya, I apologize in advance. There is no Easter Bunny either.

CybrgnX said...

John Doe-most of what you said can be applied to most religious groups I've studied in history, and is still done today. Your atheist that says he rejects your morals and like to rape,etc is also a silly argument, as the religious do that as well and do it for their g0d.
For myself morality is easy. ask one question "does it harm others", i.e. murder, then it is wrong!period. And and I mean real people so DON'T get started with the abortion thing, a fetus is a parasite with potential and is NOT an unborn child.
Most of the 'morality' of religion is pure BS and can be ignored, i.e. gays are an abomination.
If no one is being physically harmed then for the most part it is OK by me. No one can really be psychically harmed without being retrained usually by punishment or restraint, which would fit the rule of harming someone.
All other 'rules' are society and group based agreement on activity, i.e.driving fast is 'wrong' in a fashion so if I'm 'caught' doing it then I must pay the price, but it is NOT immoral.
So if someone said to me 'X' is 'wrong' I would then ask 'who is harmed' if no one is then I will ignore his statement. This is a general statement specifics are handled from this point and judged as needed.

Anonymous said...

May I invoke Godwin's Law early and pose a question specifically to John Doe (but open to all)?

My question: Should we consider the murders of people in German concentration camps during the WWII era as morally good if we believe that they all were the will of God?

John Doe said...

anonymous, I'm sure you must think that you are making a point with your last comment, but it is lost on me. I'm pretty sure that you should ask the atheists about killing people--they are the experts at it.

CybrgnX, I have no quarle with your morality. Just admit that it is a morality that you happen to believe in. And when you condemn others for their chosen morality, because it doesn't square with your version, you are being just as narrow minded as people such as you accuse Christians of being when they reject your version of morality.

And to follow your morality a bit further, I guess you have no problems with beastiality, so long as the animal likes it, and nobody gets hurt. Same with pedophiles, so long as "it doesn't harm anyone." And necrophelia--the corpse sure ain't gonna "harmed."

You prolly have this smug know it all view that your morality is so enlightened, but I think history teaches us that as a civilization's morality devolves into a whatever-feels-good-do-it system of morality, it inevitably leads to the degradation of civilization over the long haul. Strong civilizations have strong marriages, and strong families, and strong morals. You can already see the degradation of our society since the lessoning of morals and the lessoning of constrainsts against sex out of wedlock. More single family homes, more poverty, more crime, and even more single parent families in a vicious cycle. The leading cause of crime is children growing up in single parent homes. [That's not a slam on single parents, they are doing the best that they can, but are in an impossible situation.]

And let's explore your own view of morality, "does it harm others?" Prostitution "harms others." Homosexuality "harms others." STDs, AIDS and HIV, shorter life expectancy. Homosexuals make up about 2% of the population in the USA, and yet they make up an inordinate amount of the total persons living with HIV/AIDS in America.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [MSM stands for men who have sex with men]:

"AIDS has been diagnosed for more than half a million MSM. Over 300,000 MSM with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic."

"MSM made up more than two thirds (68%) of all men living with HIV in 2005, even though only about 5% to 7% of men in the United States reported having sex with other men."

"In a 2005 study of 5 large US cities, 46% of African American MSM were HIV-positive."

Yeah, about that "does it harm others" standard of yours... Cheers

supersage400 said...

"Second, I guess my question should have been, "OK, when you are reasoning with an atheist, and he rejects your premises, your logic, and your conclusions, and chooses a different morality than yours, THEN what do you say to him?" For instance, when he says, "Nah, Alonzo, I reject your stupid notion of doing what is good for the majority. To hell with them, I enjoy stealing and raping the land. I want your stuff and your woman. Since we are all animals, and we are all going to die and turn to dust, I'm doing whatever the hell I want when I want it and to hell with your 'ethics'!"

Y'know, I don't see why you think this is a problem only for atheists. Even if, as a theist, you tell some other theist that the bible says they're morally wrong and reason with him based on that only, they could still simply say, "So what? Who cares! I'm going to do what I want when I want it and to hell with your 'ethics'!"

Andy said...

John Doe,

You say that God's commands cause an act to be right or wrong. Why should we follow God's commands though? Is it because he is bigger than us and can enforce them? Then that means if God were to command rape, we should follow that too.

If you say because he is morally perfect, then what does that mean? If he were to command rape and stealing, would he still be morally perfect?

Sure, one can see whether a man's act lives up to God's standards but that doesn't answer why we should care.

So, all that can be said is that the act does not live up to God's standard, not that the act is wrong.

Eneasz said...

I'm probably going to regret this, but I'll take the bait.

The atheists in charge of China and the Soviet Union killed hundreds of millions

If you're going to count those deaths because the rulers of the country were atheists (instead of the killing being motivated by atheism), then you also have to count the deaths caused by rulers who are religious (instead of motivated by religion). As the overwhelming majority of rulers in history have been religious, I think you'll find the numbers are against. But it's a pointless number anyway because it doesn't relate to anything at all.

it's funny how you go back hundreds of years for examples of bad acts by Christians.

The Catholic church is RIGHT NOW spreading AIDS in Africa by discouraging condom-use through lies.

For instance, when he says, "Nah, Alonzo, I reject your stupid notion of doing what is good for the majority

As supersage said, theists have this exact some problem. Protestants in Northern Ireland reject the Catholic's claims about what God says when they blow up cafes, and vica versa. If God actually showed up to enforce his morality then you'd have a point, but he doesn't.

With a person who genuinely believes that the Bible contains God's word, you can appeal to the Bible.

To stop him from raping and murdering? Obviously you've never read your bible. Num 31:17-18

Personally, I'd prefer to go around raping, killing and pillaging.

Yes... it shows.

And you sound juvenile when you claim that the Bible is full of contradictions.

Again, you make it very obvious you've never read your bible. Perhaps you should take the time to do that before making claims about it?

John Doe said...

Eneasz, intellectual lightweight is thy name. Here, let's strain at a gnat. They "weren't motivated by atheism", it just so happens that they were atheists and that tens of millions died. (Those who died are still dead, but whew, at least they weren't "motivated by atheism" when they killed or allowed those tens of millions to die.) You. Moron.

The Catholic Church is "spreading AIDS" because they teach not to use a condom. First, I am not Catholic. Second, I don't agree with your premise, that they are teaching not to use condoms. Oh, wait! They teach abstinence, which IS 100% effective if followed. But because immoral people such as yourself won't follow their teachings, somehow it is their fault when immoral people catch diseases. BRILLIANT "logic."

"It shows." Did I catch a hint of moralizing? Are you saying that it is somehow "wrong" to go around raping and pillaging? Whatever happened to you idiots and your moral relativity? You mean pedophiles and necrophiliacs really are immoral. Oh, shit! Maybe we are closer to each others' way of thinking than you like to let on!

p.s. Dumbphuck, I've forgotten more about the bible than you'll ever know.

NAL said...

John Doe:

Science is the study of what God has wrought.

So, God wrought evolution? God wrought common descent?

Piero said...

John Doe:

Since you showed no restraint in calling Eneasz a moron, I offer no apologies for calling you a nitwit. Unlike you, however, I have arguments.

First, you obviously did not understand that evil deeds carried out by atheist rulers are irrelevant unless they did them because they were atheists. In simpler words (that even you should be able to understand): a religious war is fought over religious issues, and uncountable atrocities have been committed in the name of one or other religious conviction. No such wars have been fought nor such atrocities committed in the name of atheism. Get it? No? OK, maybe your first-grade teacher could help you...

Second, the fact that you are not a Catholic is irrelevant. Eneasz's point was that religious faith is not a reliable moral compass, as shown by the fact that believers can do horrible things.

Third, abstinence is not a plausible option. Maybe in your case it is, since you've exposed yourself as a world-class wanker, but we cannot extrapolate your example to everybody else. Besides, abstinence smacks of blasphemy: after all, who are we to tamper with God's perfect creation? If He gave me a penis, wouldn't it be sinful of me not to use it as intended?

Fourth, if sexual reproduction is immoral (as you appear to claim in your inane post), then I'm sorry to break the news to you, but your mother was either a slut or the Virgin Mary.

Fifth, yes, you did catch a hint of moralizing. For a start, moral relativism does not mean "anything goes", except in the minds of ignoramuses such as you. Further, moral relativism and desire utilitarianism are wholly unrelated.

All in all, your performance has been quite dismal. Maybe your next post will show some improvement, but I won't hold my breath.

supersage400 said...

"Whatever happened to you idiots and your moral relativity? You mean pedophiles and necrophiliacs really are immoral."

Could it be that you've been posting on this blog all this time and you haven't any clue about the great deal of Alonzo's writing that explicitly disagrees with moral relativism? I would've thought the title of the blog "Atheist Ethicist" would have at the very least been enough to let you know that moral relativism is not advocated here. I'm surprised. I underestimated your ignorance, good sir, and for that, I apologize.

Eneasz said...

John Doe - I've not seen a fail of such proportions in a long time. I'll let your comment speak for itself.

Jeigh said...

OH OK, so homosexuality "does harm to others" because...homesexuals are solely responsible for spreading HIV. Gotcha.

So what about my long-term gay relationship where HIV isnt even in the picture? How is our wonderfully loving & healthy best-friend partnership hurting anyone?

And what about the woman who unknowingly gets an infected blood transfusion, and then spreads it to her husband?
And what about the gazillion non-gay people infected in Africa?

anton said...

Hi Gang,

AIDS has created a convenient smoke screen for all the STD's that thrive in the population at large, including a "whole lot of Christians" who, I guess, are relieved when they hear they have an STD that it isn't the BIG one so they can look at their "indiscretions" as not being "that bad" . . . some would call it a "comfortable comparative"!

And, when it comes to religious killing, the second largest genocide in the history of man was the European Christians slaughtering the North American natives -- more than 22 million! Our only problem is that those same "God fearing historians" wrote the history texts used in US American schools! Indian wars? You have got to be kidding!!!!
.

TGP said...

John Doe,

Of course, there's no Easter Bunny. It follows logically from an evidence-based naturalistic worldview which finds no evidence of the supernatural.

There's also no Santa, Tooth Fairy, Odin, Zeus, Marduk, Allah, or Jesus.

Regarding my corrupt views: In a theistic worldview, everything eventually has to come down to "God did it," or it's not theistic, is it? That's where an atheist keeps digging. Some theists dig deeper than others.

John Doe said...

Supersage, you are correct when Christians get to the final empasse there is nothing left to say. That has happened on various issues. Certain Christians believe that the Bible commands them to be pacifists, the rest don't.

But the difference is that Christians come to the discussion with a certain set of core beliefs. By very definition, Christians believe certain things. Human life has great value, and thus murder is evil. Certain actions are morally wrong (e.g., theft, adultery). Granted, Christians fail to live up to their ideals (because nobody is perfect). And much evil done by so-called Christians is because it is not an exclusive club. Anybody can join just by claiming to be a Christian. Hell, even you can.

On the other hand, atheists do not come to the discussion with any particular set of core beliefs. Alphonzo claims that what is moral depends upon what is best for the majority, but the next atheist totally rejects that and says whatever is best for me is moral, screw everybody else. Alphonzo claims to use logic to arrive at his well thought out positions, but the next atheist can reject his so-called logic and construct his own morality. It would seem (to this outsider) that atheists are more likely to reach the point of stark disagreement than Christians.

John Doe said...

Andy, you have constructed a nonsensical hypothetical question. Might as well ask "What if black is white, and up is down?" But while we are at it, isn't it funny how God's morality as expressed in the Bible just happens to conform with the thinking of what most of civilization (Islam excluded) most of the time happens to believe is moral and just? Why should you listen to what God says? You most assuredly shouldn't. I didn't when I was an atheist. Hope that works out for you in eternity... ;)

NAL, yup, to the extent that evolution occurs, God wrought it. Certain "evolution" obviously occurs within species. See, e.g., the difference between Shetland Ponies and Clydesdales, and between Great Danes and Chiguaguas. I'm not sold on "common descent" but to the extent that it is true, it is based upon principles that God instituted.

Piero, Eneasz' "logic" as well as yours is flawed. Atheist rulers killed millions BECAUSE they were atheists. They came to the conclusions that it was morally permissible to kill millions because 1) there is no God; 2) all humans are merely animals; 3) there is therefore no reason not to kill them than to kill rodents and grasshoppers. The flawed premises that atheists begin their thought process lead inexorably to the deaths of millions. They might not have said, "Hey, because I'm an atheist I'm going to kill millions." But by virtue of the fact that they were atheists, they accepted (more or less) the above "logic." True Christians would never have bought into that "logic."

The so-called Christian rulers who conducted religious wars demonstrably can be shown to have acted contrary to the dictates of the Bible in most instances. In other words, they acted as they did not because they were Christians but because they were not true Christians, or they misunderstood the Bible. In contrast, those so-called Moslem extremists are the ones who actually are following the dictates of the Koran. They kill and subjugate BECAUSE of what the Koran teaches. Moderate and liberal Muslims don't follow suit because they don't take the Koran literally.

You are still incorrect in your premise--the Catholic Church does not cause AIDS. Don't kid yourself, fag boy, abstinence IS a viable alternative, until marriage. Sure, nobody would have a jerk such as you, but for the vast majority it is not that difficult to find a worthy life-time partner of the opposite sex.

Jeigh, certainly monogamous long-term homosexual relationships are less harmful to the participants than those who have multiple partners. But that does not affect my view that homosexual actions are morally wrong. I'm just using somebody else's "logic" at arriving at their so-called morality to show that they do not follow their own "logic" (if it does no "harm" to others it is OK)as applied to homosexuals.

But since you brought it up, what about all the other heterosexuals in Africa who have caught AIDS? Well, now that you mention it, if those idiots would follow God's laws and not run around having sex with multiple partners they would not be at risk of contracting the disease. Funny how God's plan for humans--single monogamous marriage between two partners of the opposite sex also keeps people the safest from VD and AIDS. The mythical monogamous long-term relationships between homosexual partners also happen to be safest in keeping them from VD or HIV/AIDS BECAUSE what they are doing is closer to God's plan than if they had multiple partners. What a "coincidence", huh?

Andy said...

John Doe: "Andy, you have constructed a nonsensical hypothetical question. Might as well ask "What if black is white, and up is down?""

It's not nonsense. Sure, one could say with God's current properties, he would never command rape. However, one can easily imagine a god who liked rape creating us. Your answer to the question of why we should follow God's commands implies I should follow God or go to hell. Once again, this just dissolves into a might makes right morality which is surely deficient.

In conclusion, if a being created us and was capable of sending us to hell for disobedience, that does not imply we should obey this being. Something more is needed such as being worthy of being followed. I'm not saying God isn't worthy of being followed (I am a Christian after all) but I am saying that God isn't worthy of being followed simply because he has more power than us and created us. It's because he is a good being. Good here cannot mean "Whatever properties God has" because if God were to have different properties, then that would be good too. Surely this is absurd (if God were to like rape instead of hate it then that would be a good thing).

What makes God's commands worthy of being followed? It's not because he can throw us in hell if we disobey.

Anonymous said...

Are we suggesting that the God of the Bible does not command rape?

I beg to differ. At the very least, forcible taking of women and girls is flagged "permissible - with conditions" as described in verses from Deuteronomy and Numbers.

This is the God that supposedly exists and created us. The one that is supposedly moral and deserving of worship. The whose values we are supposed to "respect."

I don't know John Doe, but he is exactly the person he describes, the one who says, "I reject your stupid notion of doing what is good for the majority. To hell with them, I enjoy stealing and raping the land. I want your stuff and your woman. Since we are all animals, and we are all going to die and turn to dust, I'm doing whatever the hell I want when I want it and to hell with your 'ethics'!"

John articulates a scenario that has indeed represented Christian practice to this day. The atheist response to John is, "Your position is immoral and irrational for you."

John Doe said...

Andy, a couple of points. Yes, I guess it does come down to "might makes right," but if it has to come down to that, wouldn't you want the might to be an all knowing, omnipotent God? Hey, far out, the God who created all the universes is the one telling us what is right!

One can imagine a lot of things, but that does not make them so. In fact, the God of the Bible does not and never did command rape. I go back to what I said previously, it's like imagining up was down or black is white. It might be fun but it has no bearing on reality.

And the issue of whether God is "worthy of being followed" places each person in the position of being the judge of what is worthy and what isn't. I don't believe that will be an acceptable excuse at the judgment day. Hey, God, I dug 6 of your commandments, but I didn't think the other 4 were "worthy." Sometimes might really does make right. That's why the Bible talks so often about "the fear of the Lord."

anonymous, you are like a child finding a loaded pistol lying on the ground. You kinda sorta think you know how it works, but not really. Nowhere in the Old Testament does God command anyone to rape anyone else. God did command the Israelites to kill the inhabitants of the promised land. They were to enforce his judgment that the occupants had violated his commandments. Sure, you can criticize God for Ok (that's a different issue), he didn't command anyone to rape, he commanded them to kill and plunder, but at least get your facts straight.

And anon, your last paragraph was showing what an intellectual lightweight you really are. Kindly show me how the scenario that I painted "has indeed represented Christian practice to this day." Unless you misspoke or I misunderstood, it sounds as though you are saying that Christians to this day act thusly: "I reject your stupid notion of doing what is good for the majority. To hell with them, I enjoy stealing and raping the land. I want your stuff and your woman. Since we are all animals, and we are all going to die and turn to dust, I'm doing whatever the hell I want when I want it and to hell with your 'ethics'!"

If so, you are a moron, and worse, you make up stuff that isn't true. Now, if perhaps what you really meant is that Christians merely reject non-Christians' view of morality, then please forgive me for speaking harshly, but if so why didn't you just say that?

At any rate, that's ironic, you claiming that Christians are called immoral by atheists. Atheists do not have a set standard of what is right and wrong. The most that any atheist can say is that he personally disagrees with another's ethical standard. The God of the Bible has one ethical and moral standard, atheists each have their own, whatever that is. But beyond that, atheists are usually the ones advocating immoral behavior, and trying to justify it using rationalization and "logic." What you really should have said is that atheists are always trying to call Christian morality immorality and their own immorality morality.

Anonymous said...

Flail, Doe, flail. I meant what I wrote exactly as I wrote it because it's accurate. I am sorry that you cannot handle the facts, but they are easily available to anyone with access to either the Internet or a semi-decent library.

When you reach college age, apply to a real school and not Liberty University. You have much to learn about the Bible, philosophy, Christian history, and critical reasoning.

Good luck! ;>)

TGP said...

John Doe,

Your God, were he to actually exist, is an evil dick.

I would gladly oppose that sort of tyrant in any and all of his endeavors.

John Doe said...

Anton, that is a totally bogus argument. When it is convenient for atheists, they argue that this was not and never was a "Christian nation," but when they want to blame Christians, suddenly all the killings that occurred in the Indian wars were committed by Christians. Can't have it both ways. Also, the 27 million or whatever figure you cited is totally bogus. There were never that many Indians here. The Indian wars worked both ways. Indians killed each other and white people. And most of the Indian deaths occurred due to disease to which they had no immunity.

Supersage, I am new here. I didn't go rummaging through all the archives. All I know about what Alphonzo believes has been gleaned from reading his posts from about the past month. No mention has been made of moral relativism to date. So your remark is idiotic to say the least.

Eneasz, you have proven yourself not to be worthy of my time. Your sophomoric insults mask your inability to discuss issues rationally.

TGP, whaaa whaaaa. Does that work often for you in real life? Here, let me give you a free psychological profiling: yer a faggot, or you enjoy some other form of perversion, and you hate it when your conscience bothers you when you do it, and you have been trying your entire adult life to make it stop, and have found the best way to do it is to bash Christians and God. Want a little cheese with your whine?

John Doe said...

Anonymous, making up shit on the internet is easy. Proving it with actual facts is the hard part. Don't forget to pay your NAMBLA dues, you know you hate it when you don't get their monthly magazine in the mail.

supersage400 said...

Doe

Fine. Christians are more likely to agree on certain issues than atheists. This might be true, but I don't see how it changes things much. Your original problem was that atheists can not care about doing the right thing even if they're shown completely logical reasons for doing so. The problem exists for Christians (and other theists) as well, whether they generally tend to agree from the start or not. It's just as easy for a theist to say "I don't care about your logic; I'll do what I want anyway" as it is for an atheist. If you're going to say it's a problem for atheistic ethics, you can't then go ahead and say it's not a problem for theistic ethics as well, can you?

anton said...

Alonzo:

Was "John Doe" one of your creations to stir up the pot? I will refrain from reading the comments for a few months and hope that idiot is no longer around. Perhaps we could all avoid commenting for a while and leave this forum to the creep. Couldn't he have found a "Christian" blog more receptive to his shit? Yeah, I know, I am just feeding the troll.

supersage400 said...

A creation to stir up the pot? Oh wow. That would just be hilarious.

John Doe said...

Supersage, you make valid points. But you did mistate my position: "Your original problem was that atheists can not care about doing the right thing even if they're shown completely logical reasons for doing so."

I would say it rather thusly: My problem is that some atheists do not accept the premise that what they do should be based upon reason or logic. What you and I consider logical and reasonable, they (rightly, I would argue)reject as they have no reason to do so. A dog doesn't need logic, neither does a human if he feels that he is no better or worse than a dog. Yeah, yeah, I KNOW, many atheists will say that is not their view of humans. But I contend that is the case for very many atheists. Zero Christians believe that way, there simply is no room for such a belief if you are a true Christian. Atheism, on the other hand, does allow for such a conclusion.

There are some fundamental areas that it is impossible to be a true Christian and hold certain views. There are no such fundamental areas of agreement with atheists. True, when push comes to shove, it really devolves down to "I'll do it my way." Christianity has taken certain areas of possible disagreement off the table. It also greases the skids somewhat if a majority come from the same perspective.

Be happy if you live in a land founded upon the morals and precepts of Judea Christianity. Sharia law sucks. And can you imagine trying to get a consensus of what the common good involves if you are a minority and head-hunters and cannibals are in the majority?

John Doe said...

Actually I'm smarter than Alonzo, more logical, better educated, and more learned. I created Alonzo's writings as some sort of spoof of what a "rational" atheist would conjure up. Jokes on ya'll.

supersage400 said...

Well, sir, Christianity may indeed take certain areas of disagreement off the table, but certainly not for any logical reason in many cases. For example, take the intelligent design "debate." You can show a fundamentalist all the evidence and logical argument you want, this is an area in which disagreement has been taken off the table. Is this good? I would say not. I couldn't, however, by any means, logical or otherwise short of threat or force, convince said fundamentalist that what he was doing was wrong. It may well be true that some atheists deny that they should do what's logical, but this is, again, nothing that isn't also true of many theists.

John Doe said...

Supersage, I can't speak for other Christians, but I can speak for myself. I personally attended a Christian college and took a course called "Creationism" or "Intelligent Design" (or something like that) which studied the reasons to be skeptical of the official version of evolution.

Guess what. I was a skeptic. I didn't buy their official version either. I listen to reason, and to logic, and I am open to both the proposition that Christians are wrong, and that scientists are wrong. I'm not a scientist. I don't know all the ins and outs of evolution. But I don't blindly accept the scientific "consensus," nor do I automatically accept the latest "Piltdown Man" to come down the pike. And oh, yeah, I'm a "fundamentalist." Perhaps the reason that you are having problems convincing people such as me is that you don't know what you are talking about? Appeals to authority do not convince such people. So if you are not an expert in a particular topic, leave it to the experts. Perhaps you don't know what you are talking about. I have a little more than a layman's knowledge of the topic, but I'm not automatically going to accept the crap that you or anybody else spews without good reason. I'm open to being convinced, but not willing to swallow hook line and sinker what you say without proof. If that position is somehow "illogical" in your view, then I suggest that your logic needs work.

p.s. SORRY, I could not resist. Anton, you big pussy. You don't want to read what some Christian wrote so you are gonna run away and hide and hope that I won't post here in a few months? God, are all Canadians such little wimps? You can't even bother to scroll past my comments, so you will hide your head in the sand until I stop posting here!!!?? And Supersage has the gall to paint Christians as narrow-minded? BWAAHAAA HAAA!!

Eneasz said...

Amazingly, I still can't make up my mind if John Doe is for real or not. But I'm beginning to enjoy the spectacle. :)

Supersage, I am new here... All I know about what Alphonzo believes has been gleaned from reading his posts from about the past month.

That brought a smile to my face. Would any real person make all sorts of strong claims in the comments to a blog and then a few days later declare his gross ignorance of it? Is this simply playing to my prejudices of fundies as idiots? I'd be somewhat embarrassed to end up on an Onion-esque satire site.

Eneasz, you have proven yourself not to be worthy of my time. Your sophomoric insults mask your inability to discuss issues rationally.

Coming from someone who, when his flawed reasoning was pointed out, ignored the argument and resorted to calling his opponent a pedophile. Less than a week ago! And every day since. Again, it's hard to imagine someone ACTUALLY being this self-blind.

There are some fundamental areas that it is impossible to be a true Christian and hold certain views.

I've seen several "True Christian" claims from JD now. I know that real people actually use such terms, but c'mon... really? True Christian = People who agree with John Doe. False Christian = Everyone else. No attempt to hide it at all. If I hadn't read The Authoritarians I wouldn't believe such a self-deluded person could exist outside of an asylum.

I personally attended a Christian college

A snicker...

and took a course called "Creationism" or "Intelligent Design" (or something like that)

...followed by an IRL LOL. Gotta love those christian colleges! :)

And oh, yeah, I'm a "fundamentalist." Perhaps the reason that you are having problems convincing people such as me is that you don't know what you are talking about? Appeals to authority do not convince such people.

Count 'em!!! "I'm a fundy" seperated by "appeals to authority do not convince" by only ONE sentence!! A SINGLE SENTENCE was enough distance for the barrier of compartmentalization to come slamming down! Is that ACTUALLY possible?

And consider, less than 24-hours ago he came right out and said Yes, I guess it does come down to "might makes right,"

I think there could be a second explanation, besides the "prankster pretending to be a fundy-tard" one. Most people would've copped to that by now, if called out on it.
In a different blog an xtian called "cl" once came along and tied up the comments for over a month simply by being obtuse and loud. Maybe this is a similar attempt to simply clog up the machinery of dialog with endless streams of shit? Similar to the Town-Hall Vandals of a few months ago.

Eneasz said...

Oh, before I forget:

Well, now that you mention it, if those idiots would follow God's laws and not run around having sex with multiple partners they would not be at risk of contracting the disease.

Google Lubbock, Texas.

In 1995 it instituted an abstinence-only sexual education program. Since then, teen pregnancy, abortion, and STD rates have become among the highest in the country. Do you actually care about real outcomes that effect real humans in the real world? Or are you so enslaved to your ideology that you are willing to sacrifice uncounted lives upon it's alter?

In an only-tangentially-related thought, if it's impossible for new species to come into existence through evolution, and the bible is literally true, that means Noah and his family must have carried every STD that exists, on the ark. That musta really sucked for them.

Anonymous said...

"Actually I'm smarter than Alonzo, more logical, better educated, and more learned. I created Alonzo's writings as some sort of spoof of what a "rational" atheist would conjure up. Jokes on ya'll."

This is precious. John Doe apparently suffers from all manner of penis envy.

John Doe said...

Eneasz, you aren't even entertaining, yer just a bore.

But since I'm bored, I'll swat some of your idiotic remarks.

Oh, boo frickin hoo, kids aren't "taught" how to use condoms. What moron believes that kids do not know how to use condoms? Oh, if only we taught them in public screwal, they would not get pregnant or get STDs. And I've got some beach front property to sell you in the Everglades. Like I said, if they wouldn't have sex, they wouldn't get pregnant or get disease. Would YOU want to have sex with someone with AIDS? I wouldn't trust my life to a rubber. And further, by your way of thinking we shouldn't teach "no theft only," either, because kids are going to steal. Instead, we should teach them how to beat the rap, or how to survive in jail. I don't buy this crap that only the shitty public schools can teach kids sex ed. I had sex ed in a public school, it did not stop me from having unprotected sex when I was a young punk.

And no, limp dick, that does not mean Noah brought every VD onto the ark. Bacteria etc. mutate and change, it is perfectly plausible that VDs were innocuous, or that humans had immunity to them in their original form, and only later did they turn deadly. Shetland ponies aren't a threat to run over you and trample you, but Clydesdales sure are.

Me saying "real Christians" does not mean that I am authoritarian, you diseased pud. There are common notions about what is a "real Christian" that are generally accepted by the masses. You can call yourself a Christian, but if you deny that Christ was a real person, if you deny that he was crucified and resurrected, or if you claim that he was the devil or that the Bible is just a fairy tail for instance, then sorry, yes, you ain't a real Christian. It is no different than if I said somebody isn't a "real atheist." Dipshit, by very definition, somebody who believes in God is not an atheist, no matter what he chooses to call himself. If you called him a "fake atheist" it would not be because he disagreed with you, it would be because he really wasn't an atheist. Are you really so dense that you can't understand?

I've been to a Christian college, and two secular colleges, and a secular law school. Is my education somehow deficient in your eyes? Who is really the narrow-minded one here? I've got the best of both worlds, while you don't even have a clue what the other world is.

You and your little atheist friends can't stand a little debate? You gonna run away like Anton for a few months so your precious eyes don't fall on something written by a Christian? What a little pussy. Oh, "he ties up the widdle board so we can't have our little circle-jerks where we all think alike and sound alike and cheer each other on." Don't respond to my comments if you don't like them. Skip over them. You know you aren't smart enough to debate a real man.

TGP said...

I'd like to sincerely thank John Doe for demonstrating almost perfectly my original point concerning theist thought.

It's either option #1 or option #2 here, isn't it? The only appeal science might make here is to offer heavy medication.

I'm going to choose to agree to disagree with John Doe, as he's only embarrassing himself right now. However, we must remain vigilant whenever this sort of intolerant madness attempts to enter public policy.

May Carl Sagan watch over you and guard you from harm,
TGP

Anonymous said...

"You and your little atheist friends can't stand a little debate?"

Do you have any actual arguments to make besides this: "me sooo smart. me real man. me real christian. you pussy. you diseased. you no know christianity like me know christianity. me talk in no spin zone. me tell it like it is."

Piero said...

I have a few leftover bags of Acme Troll Food, if anyone is interested...

John Doe said...

When the atheists can't refute what you say, they attack the person. For those too blind to notice, I use reason and logic, and only attack those who have first attacked me.

Don't flatter yourself TGP, you are wrong about me. You are either an idiot to come to such a conclusion, or you are just lying about me to be mean. I've said here many times that the reason that I am so skeptical is from personal experience in litigation, where you can literally find a doctor, engineer or scientist to advocate almost any position, no matter how absurd. Soon, it doesn't take a genius to realize that two "scientists" advocating with equal intensity diametrically opposed conclusions cannot both be correct.

I agree with "let science do the work." However, I don't just blindly accept what you claim the science really proves. I scrutinize the science. I look behind the science, view the scientist, his biases and prejudices, his logic, how well he conducted the experiment, whether his experiment flies in the face of other experiments, and I especially listen to those who are skeptical of his work, etc.

For instance, Global warming alarmists seem to want to skip right past all that and force us to accept the conclusions of global warming alarmists merely because they are so-called experts.

If my skeptical attitude causes you concern, it is probably because you advocate some "scientific" position which cannot withstand such scrutiny. The best disinfectant for lies is sunlight. Get all the facts out and don't hold anything back.

Anonymous said...

John Doe,

"I especially listen to those who are skeptical of his work."

Seems like you are especially fond of the skeptics. Do you vet them too? Do you scrutinize their biases, prejudices, and logic?

Have you scrutinized yourself in this way?

Please, do name some of the scientists and skeptics who have met your standards.

Thanks.

John Doe said...

anon, you are still missing the point. I don't have ANY scientists who "meet my standards" if what you mean is I automatically accept what they say as true. If there is someone who "meets my standards" I would still want to hear what the critics say. Nobody is always right, even if they are the top expert in their field.

I'm not a skeptic just when I write comments here, I'm skeptical about everything. Sorry if that bothers you. If I was playing poker with my mother, I'd STILL cut the cards.

I thought the typical atheist fancies himself to be "opened minded." From what I've seen so far, they seem even more closed-minded than the stereotypcial Christian. So many here seem to take offense just because I have a different opinion. How does it effect any of you if I hold what you consider to be an assine opinion?

Using the excuse that I am a "troll" is bogus; a troll disagrees just to be contrary. I've freely agreed with people on this board. I admire many of the thoughts of Alphonzo because he is obviously a deep thinker. I am quick to speak up when I disagree with him, but I have nothing against him. I could care less when his opinion differs from mine. I only took offense when he gratuitously insulted Christians.

Why can't some of you lighten up and just read my comments, disagree if you feel like it, and STFU if all you want to do attack me because I disagree? Anton has to run and hide, Eneasz has to be a prick. Anon always has to get in a snide remark. I get it, you disagree with me, but lighten up on the insults, eh? And I'll not insult in return.

If you are trying to insult me to drive me away because you don't like my opinion, doesn't that say something about yourself? Nazis act like that, because they fear dissenting opinions. If my silly opinions are so silly, just ignore them, or demonstrate why they are incorrect. Perhaps it is my legal training, but I can argue either side of any issue, and I don't take offense when somebody disagrees with me, so long as they are civil.

Anonymous said...

"Nobody is always right, even if they are the top expert in their field."

Sure. No problem with this in principle.

"I'm not a skeptic just when I write comments here, I'm skeptical about everything. Sorry if that bothers you."

Also not a problem.

"I thought the typical atheist fancies himself to be 'opened minded.'"

I don't know what a typical atheist is. We tend to be a diverse group in my experience.

"So many here seem to take offense just because I have a different opinion."

Did not see any offense taken, just disagreement.

"I only took offense when he gratuitously insulted Christians."

Christian persecution complex is unimpressive.

"If my silly opinions are so silly, just ignore them, or demonstrate why they are incorrect."

Ok. Where would you like to start?

scott gray said...

john doe cannot possibly be a sock puppet. even alonzo in his seediest of disguises would never write: "I would say it rather thusly." he just could not do it.

Piero said...

Scott Gray:
I agree. Very few people could even conceive such a phrase, let alone write it.

J. Shakespeare Doe said...

Eat your heart out Shakespeare.

TGP said...

...an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters...