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The return of God: atheism's crisis of faith

When we talk about morals, we end up back talking about religion. That's a good thing

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

19 April 2014

9:00 AM

Like any movement or religion, atheism has ambitions. Over the years it has grown and developed until it has become about far more than just not believing in God: today atheism aspires to a moral system too. It comes with an idea of how to behave that’s really very close to traditional secular humanism, and offers a sense of community and values. Atheism has crept so close to religion these days that it’s de rigueur for political atheists like Ed Miliband to boast about a dual identity: a secular allegiance to a religions tradition, in his case Judaism. They don’t of course believe any of the mumbo jumbo about God, prophets and angels.

But as pleasant and rational as this all sounds, the new atheists are now hitting the intellectual buffers. The problem that confronts them is as stark as it is simple: our morality has religious roots. Put another way: when God is rejected, the stakes are gulpingly high; the entire moral tradition of the West is put in question.

This was the insight of Friedrich Nietzsche — and for all the different atheist thinkers and philosophers since, it remains just as true today. It’s all very well to say that blind faith is a bad idea, and that we should move beyond it to a more enlightened ethical system, but this raises the question of what we mean by good and bad, and those ideas are irrevocably rooted in Christianity. Nietzsche saw this, and had the courage to seek a new ethos amid the collapse of all modern systems of meaning. Did he find one? Yes, in pagan power-worship — the sort that eventually led to fascism. We think of him as mad and bad — but he was brave. Imagine Ed Miliband trying to follow in this tradition, gazing into the abyss of all meaning, the dark crucible of nihilism.

The trouble is that too many atheists simply assume the truth of secular humanism, that it is the axiomatic ideology: just there, our natural condition, once religious error is removed. They think morality just comes naturally. It bubbles up, it’s instinctive, not taught as part of a cultural tradition. In The God Delusion Richard Dawkins tries to strengthen this claim using his biological expertise, arguing that humans have evolved to be altruistic because it ultimately helps their genes to survive. But in the end, he admits that no firm case can be made concerning the evolutionary basis of morality. He’s just gesturing with his expertise, rather than really applying it to the issue at hand.

Here’s his muddle. On one hand he believes that morality, being natural, is a constant thing, stable throughout history. On the other hand, he believes in moral progress. To square the circle he plunges out of his depth, explaining that different ages have different ideas of morality, and that in recent times there has happily been a major advance in our moral conventions: above all, the principle of equality has triumphed. Such changes ‘certainly have not come from religion’, he snaps. He instead points to better education about our ‘common humanity with members of other races and with the other sex — both deeply unbiblical ideas that come from biological science, especially evolution’. But biological science, especially evolution, can be used to authorise eugenics and racism. The real issue is the triumph of an ideology of equality, of humanism. Instead of asking what this tradition is, and where it comes from, he treats it as axiomatic. This is just the natural human morality, he wants us to think, and in our times we are fortunate to see a particularly full expression of it.

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The Dawkins muddle has further dimensions. He argues that morality just comes naturally to all of us, yet it’s distorted by religion. But given that almost all human cultures have been religious, where does that leave us? Are we to believe that morality comes naturally, but only when atheism liberates it to come naturally? It’s comically flimsy.

 

The new atheists sometimes seek refuge from their muddle in the Golden Rule, which predates Christianity — the basic idea that we should treat others as we’d like to be treated. Of course morality has no need for religion, they say; morality simply consists in adhering to this simple maxim. But the Golden Rule, on its own, is powerless to challenge things. It’s just an ancient way of saying ‘Let’s be nice’. Such basic morality is, of course, intrinsic to human society. But humanism seeks to offer a far more extensive moral code.

One celebrity atheist, A.C. Grayling, does at least try to talk about a tradition of humanist morality, but his attempt only reveals a frankly dishonest account of intellectual history. Humanism is necessarily anti-religious, he says: with the withering of religion, ‘an ethical outlook which can serve everyone everywhere, and can bring the world together into a single moral community, will at last be possible’. In other words (cue the piano), ‘Imagine no religion…’. He claims that humanism naturally arises from clear unprejudiced thought about human life; it begins with the Greeks, but becomes particularly strong in modern times, once thinkers dare to reject Christianity. The reality is (and he surely knows it with one part of his brain) that the energetic universalism of modern humanism is rooted in Christianity.

The new atheism has reached the limits of what it can achieve because it is attempting to renew secular humanism in anti-religious terms. This cannot be done. It’s a paltry and dishonest attempt, because it avoids reflecting on the tradition of secular humanism. Such reflection is awkward for it, due to its muddled claim that morality is just natural, and so no special tradition is needed. And yet — felix culpa! The atheists have unwittingly raised the question, which we generally prefer to evade, of what secular humanism is, how it is related to God. By tackling this big issue ineptly, they have at least hauled it onto the table. (Also — a slightly different point — their unattractive polemics have surely helped to push some semi-Christians off the fence, onto the faithful side — seemingly including A.N. Wilson and Diarmaid MacCulloch. And they have nudged some quietly Christian authors into writing about their faith — Francis Spufford stands out.)

An example of an agnostic prodded into fruitful reflection on religion is the famous brainy lefty Terry Eagleton. In his book Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate he explains that rational humanism is rooted in the Protestant passion for reform: the Enlightenment opposed aspects of religion, yet ‘in a choice irony, it inherited its brave campaign against superstition partly from Christianity itself, with its rejection of all false gods and prophets, all idols, fetishes, magical rituals, and powers of darkness, in the name of human flesh and blood’. He draws on the work of the Canadian Roman Catholic thinker Charles Taylor, whose book A Secular Age discusses the Christian roots of humanist universalism (and incidentally Taylor himself was partly responding to the popularity of the new atheist narrative). Eagleton accepts that his own socialism is a faith-based position, one that derives from Judeo-Christian tradition. Without the atheists to kick against, he might not have felt inclined to present himself in such religion-friendly terms.

In his book Unapologetic (which opens with a blasting riff of annoyance at atheist arrogance), Francis Spufford notes that Christianity’s influence on secular morality is hard to see, having ‘faded indistinguishably into the background of our common sense’. For example, ‘the emphasis on people being lovable to God irrespective of what they deserve laid the groundwork for the idea of there being rights owed to people irrespective of their status, their behaviour, their capabilities’.

A similar point has been made recently by the American writer Marilynne Robinson, in relation to the Declaration of Independence: ‘Is it self-evident that all are created equal? Only in a religious conception. Jefferson makes the human person sacred and thereby sets human rights outside the reach of rationalisation.’

So the atheists have unwittingly provoked some genuine thought about how religion has shaped our public creed of secular humanism. And it’s obvious that this shaping did not just happen hundreds of years ago, in the age of Locke and Jefferson, and then stop: Christianity has continued to influence secular humanism into our times — the American civil rights movement being a vivid example. (Last year the liberal media gushed about Revd Martin Luther King’s famous speech of 50 years ago, utterly ignoring its religiosity.)

Now the debate can move on. We should ask: why do we believe in right and wrong? How can it be that Christianity has given rise to a post-religious, secular world that accepts religious values without questioning them? Is this not rather interesting? The new atheists may not like it, but they’ve had their say. It’s time for a serious discussion.

Theo Hobson’s latest book is Reinventing Liberal Christianity.

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Show comments
  • Matt Meskill

    Did God decide what’s right and what’s wrong? If so, s/he could have easily reversed the decision which would indicate that God and/or morality are arbitrary. Hardly re-assuring. If God decided right was right because it’s right that implies a power of some sort higher than God. How to reconcile this dilemma?

    • Brian Westley

      Looks like this is atheists-can’t-be-moral week on spectator.co.uk

    • allymax bruce

      read Genesis; it tells you ‘God made … and said it was good’.
      Can’t you understand that ‘good’, is a value?
      What are moral imperatives based upon?
      GOOD VALUES .
      Shape-up, or ship out, cowboy.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      And the kicker is, that argument has been atound for over 2000 years, since Plato’s Euthephro, and theists still don’t have an answer.

  • Steve Greene

    Summary: ‘The Bible says that you have to believe in God to have morals, so atheists have no basis for having any morals.’

    Of course, when you’re following a book that teaches that genocide is a moral principle (read the book of Joshua sometime), the argument comes across as nothing more than a really tiresome joke. Which is why atheists don’t even laugh at it any more. It’s more like ‘Ho hum.’

    • Bonkim

      Muslims I suppose are today’s true Christians.

  • http://bit.ly/glUAR7 Calladus

    So, when Moses ordered the genocide of the Midianites (at God’s command, in Numbers 31) THAT was moral, right? Or was it moral when the 32,000 virgin girls were awarded to the Israelite army as plunder after that battle?

    Christians seem to forget that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament.

    • La Fold

      The old testament is mental!
      Used to love to wind up the Mormon missionary sisters by telling about how Noah got drunk.

      • Bonkim

        The New Testament is continuation of the old and constantly referes to the basics. Not sure if you can call Mormons Christians – having faith in another human prophet is heresy to true Christians.

        • allymax bruce

          Rubbish.
          You are a Philistine.

          • Bonkim

            Great people Philistines. We don’t want the likes of you.

          • allymax bruce

            Hmmm, nice!
            Bang-on description of the Philistines!

          • Bonkim

            Have they reduced your benefits recently? Are you one of those out of work and don’t know what to do with their time?

        • La Fold

          Em, Im neither a mormon or a christian, was just saying that theres a lot of mad stuff in the old testament. Look at the story of Lot, offered his daughters up to the men of Sodom and then got drunk and done the deed with them in a cave later on. Mental!

          • Bonkim

            Real life is full of surprises. A lot of incest takes place in today’s society too, much like Lot’s lot. The Rulers of old (Egypt for example) married within their family or close relations.

            If you think about it – Adam and Eve – off-springs from the first couple were all incestuous. But God made them perfect so they did not have any genetic defects – until they started disobeying God and were then cast off from divine protection – afflicted with diseases, etc. Religion is belief or faith. You don’t start questioning its validity or logic.

          • allymax bruce

            If you think about it, you think you’re clever, but you’re truly are an idiot.

          • Bonkim

            Barging in with your uninvited comments again – are you living in perpetual insecurity – no one will take notice of you unless you constantly interrupt – go back to your Dunce’s corner and keep quiet or will get lines after class.

          • Bonkim

            Don’t have to think – I am miles ahead – numpty dumpty.

          • @Mike-uk2011

            But these were said to be the only “moral people in town.” Lot…. the one moral guy around offers up his daughters as a sacrifice for the town to rape, to save his god’s angels – Who turned out to have magical powers anyway, thus didn’t need their sacrifice.
            Who later got daddy drunk to rape him while he slept.
            This is the one moral guy.

          • fredx2

            Any idiot can snark about the behavior of people in the old testament. Such snark indicates a real ignorance, a moral posturing that is equivalent to the basest moral posturing that religious people are accused of. In point of fact, the compilation of stories in the old testament was supposed to instruct about the various foibles and possibilities for good and evil that exist – the stories were meant to provoke discussion about the behavior of those biblical people. So whoop de do, you have taken a cheap shot, you are so morally superior, I am impressed.

          • Mary Squire

            Fred, the tone of your response is exactly why I cannot be convinced that people who believe in God are better than people who don’t.

          • vincent jackson

            every one is created equal. and i’m not quoting the bible, i’m quoting thomas jefferson. 🙂

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            Sure as simply a book, we can learn from any book, but to call it the word of some god, is simply preposterous and outright insane.

          • http://theramblingbricklayer.com Graham T Harvey

            The bible was written by prophets who listened to the spirit of truth. Many people only think they know their truth, when they don’t. How many peole really know how they would react in all given situations. Someone points a gun at you? Someone threatens you with violence. You loose your job, a death in the family or anything else. Very few people know their truth. Study the Bible with mature Christians and your truth will reveal itself, Amen
            theramblingbricklayer.com

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            The bible was written by sheep herders and the bible reflects that fact perfectly.

            How do you cure leprosy according to the bible?

            What does the reaction of people in different situations have to do with anything?

            Of course people will react differently to different stress levels, what does that have to do with the truth? Nothing.

          • http://theramblingbricklayer.com Graham T Harvey

            Your reply is not Godly

          • bippy1234567

            Mike it’s obvious that you wanted to read the bible just to read your atheistic presupposition into it.
            The Bible is open and honest about everything. Lot had lived so long in Sodom that he had adopted their lifestyle. Debauchary was rampant in Sodom (some what like the way US is heading today) and so God had to destroy it.

            What Lot did was wrong and the Bible does not hide it. Even his daughters slept with the father so that he could have an heir..and this is because of the practices of Sodom. Again they made a mistake. They bore sons that became the Ammorites and Moabites…a thorn to the Jews.

            God saved him BECAUSE Abraham INTERCEDED for him. Please read the Bible carefully.

          • bippy1234567

            Mike uk it’s obvious that atheists like u who like to cherry pick and tell half truths of the Old Testament stories is indicative of folks that are extremely insecure aboit their atheism.

            If your this insecure about your atheism with the Old Testament imagine how insecure you would be if we debated the shroud of turin. You just might leave your atheism all together lol

          • Ona Luna

            One need not cherry pick! The whole premise of Christianity is immoral and cruel. Infinite punishment for a finite “crime” — immoral.

          • vincent jackson

            the whole premise of Christianity is in context about being kind to each other. and the concept of karma is just.
            is it moral, that the person who kills your children while drunk driving, gets off scott free. i certainly hope not

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            You may hope all you want, but reality doesn’t conform to your wishes.

            A drink driver kills someone and he goes to jail. That is the law.

            In your law, Hilter just needed to repent at the last minute and he would be in heaven with the people he actually killed. Now which law makes more sense?

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            You logic is that of a 10 year old child. Grow up.

          • La Fold

            I lived in the deepest darkest recesses of north east scotland, you dont need to tell me about incest! Ive seen the big eared boys on farms and they dont like outsiders. And I was well aware that incestous marriages were very common practice for a long time, the Ptolmaic dynasty for example.
            I still dont get your point though, are you having a dig cause you are religious?
            I honesty couldnt care who anyone worships, jesus, mohammed, Buddha, Yoda. whatever floats your boat.

          • Bonkim

            Keen observer – not a Believer. Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha are not worshipped – simply Prophets and Buddha did not have a God although Buddhists are amongst the most superstitious people on earth with millions of Genies and spirits haunting their every step.

            Enjoy pricking human sensibilities.

          • La Fold

            And you enjoy being a sanctimonoius prick.
            Think you’ll find jesus is worshipped you dobber. Mohammed is a prophet and may not be worshipped as divine or as the deity known by the Arabic word for God Allah, but he is revered as the most perfect example of man by Muslims. And I am fully aware of Buddhist superstitions such as protective tattoos in South east asia call Sak Yant.
            Thanks for being patronising though.

          • Bonkim

            Holier than Thou!

          • La Fold

            Good for you!

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            Are you fucking kidding me? You don’t really buy into that crap do you?

          • Bonkim

            Watch your language! Or you will be struck down by hell-fire.

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            Bahahahahahaha! LMAO!

          • margotdarby

            You’re talking about Genesis, especially the nursery-school stories that everyone has heard of even if not read. Genesis is not so much religion as it is history and science. There isn’t any theology to speak of there, but there are explanations of how the visible world came about, and traditional histories and legends. I suggest you examine the rest of the Old Testament.

          • La Fold

            For the love of janet, im getting it from both sides here. I read the thing, some of the stories are as mad as a box of frogs. Thats all Im saying. I didnt pass any judgement on those who choose to follow its teaching or those who dont, I personally dont care. I carefully suggest you go and examine my post again.

          • margotdarby

            Noo noo, it has nothing to do with “religion” or “teaching.” Read my reply carefully.

          • La Fold

            Ahhh, i get you now. My apologies. I was getting it the neck from both sides and wrongly read your post as an attack. Although surely the commandments would count as teachings?

          • margotdarby

            Quite all right! But to clarify:

            1) The Commandments do not appear in Genesis, where most of your “mad frog” stuff is.
            2) The Ten Commandments are pretty sane, anodyne; even atheists regard them as transparently obvious stuff that don’t need religious drapery. (‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Okay. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ Understandable. ‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.’ Wait a minute…didn’t you just say that? Or you mean *thinking* about it is a no-no too? That’s pretty abstruse. ‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.’ Ahh, now there’s the firm basis of any society. But that’s not RELIGION, it’s LAW!)
            3) My basic point was that there isn’t much religion or theology per se in the most famous books of the Bible, which are a combination of straight history with primitive science and myth.

          • La Fold

            Fair dos but I I never said the commandments appear in genesis, I said they were in the old testament .And even if they are quite obvious to most of us today they havent always been. Also contempary religions at the time advocated all sorts of things such as human sacrifice in their teachings but the commandments were the teachings of Judaism. But now we are debating semantics so I will leave here.

          • vincent jackson

            1 corinthians 1: 27 it’s confounding isn’t it. 😛 lol

          • Ona Luna

            Genesis is mythology. Not science. No scientific method was involved in writing Genesis.

          • fredx2

            It is your criticisms that are “mental”. The old testament is a book of a thousand pages. You have selected the few things in that thousand page book that are odd and concerning. Big deal. Of course things that happened 3,000 years ago in a culture that is very, very different are hard to understand. Especially when you just have fragmentary accounts to go on. But go ahead with your anti-semitic rants. Jews revere the Old Testament, since they read the whole thing.

          • First L

            Er no – criticism of any page of the bible is valid if you accept that the Bible is the word of God which is what Christianity requires you to do.

          • La Fold

            I KNOW THE BOOK IS THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD! Furfuxsake! Ive read the thing, old and new testament. I merely said I found some of it pretty odd. Ive read Greek mythology too, Zeus castrating his father was pretty mental as well. And as for calling me an anti semite get a f#’king grip you plank. Not one word of what I have said has shown any anti smeitism in any shape or form. So a simple obsveration of the old testament makes me as an anti semite now? you sir are a Moron.

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            So if hitler did a thousand good deeds for his people, but killed 50 million of his enemy, we should ignore the 50 mill and call him a great man?

            The bible from beginning to end is an abomination.

            From talking serpents and the fall of men for one stupid mistake, basically teaching us that we are not to forgive ourselves and to look at ourselves like “sinners”, to Revelations where billions die for no reason and then go to an eternal place to burn.

            Where is your intellect?

          • Chrissy Holmes

            Proverbs 26

            Fools Recycle Silliness

            26 We no more give honors to fools
            than pray for snow in summer or rain during harvest.

            2 You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse
            as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.

            3 A whip for the racehorse, a tiller for the sailboat—
            and a stick for the back of fools!

            4 Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool;
            you’ll only look foolish yourself.

            5 Answer a fool in simple terms
            so he doesn’t get a swelled head.

            6 You’re only asking for trouble
            when you send a message by a fool.

            7 A proverb quoted by fools
            is limp as a wet noodle.

            8 Putting a fool in a place of honor
            is like setting a mud brick on a marble column.

            9 To ask a moron to quote a proverb
            is like putting a scalpel in the hands of a drunk.

            10 Hire a fool or a drunk
            and you shoot yourself in the foot.

            11 As a dog eats its own vomit,
            so fools recycle silliness.

            12 See that man who thinks he’s so smart?
            You can expect far more from a fool than from him.

            13 Loafers say, “It’s dangerous out there!
            Tigers are prowling the streets!”
            and then pull the covers back over their heads.

            14 Just as a door turns on its hinges,
            so a lazybones turns back over in bed.

            15 A shiftless sluggard puts his fork in the pie,
            but is too lazy to lift it to his mouth.

            Like Glaze on Cracked Pottery

            16 Dreamers fantasize their self-importance;
            they think they are smarter
            than a whole college faculty.

            17 You grab a mad dog by the ears
            when you butt into a quarrel that’s none of your business.

            18-19 People who shrug off deliberate deceptions,
            saying, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,”
            Are worse than careless campers
            who walk away from smoldering campfires.

            20 When you run out of wood, the fire goes out;
            when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down.

            21 A quarrelsome person in a dispute
            is like kerosene thrown on a fire.

            22 Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
            do you want junk like that in your belly?

            23 Smooth talk from an evil heart
            is like glaze on cracked pottery.

            24-26 Your enemy shakes hands and greets you like an old friend,
            all the while conniving against you.
            When he speaks warmly to you, don’t believe him for a minute;
            he’s just waiting for the chance to rip you off.
            No matter how cunningly he conceals his malice,
            eventually his evil will be exposed in public.

            27 Malice backfires;
            spite boomerangs.

            28 Liars hate their victims;
            flatterers sabotage trust.

          • vincent jackson

            zombies ate it

          • http://theramblingbricklayer.com Graham T Harvey

            The Old testament is testament to human behaviour, which is mental as you rightly say. If everyone was honest and shed light on their thinking and actions then all heaven would break loose. The bible shows the revolting side of humanity, and then came Jesus who showed us the light. Amen
            theramblingbricklayer.com writer and blogger

          • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

            Yeah, Jesus showed us the light… lol How exactly did he do that? Did he master electromagnetism? Cause I thought Tesla did that. Did he show us how to cure deceases? Because I thought Pasteur did that.

            What exactly did this Jesus do?

        • jeremyjanson

          So I suppose all Catholics with their papal bulls and prophetic visions like the Virgin of Guadalupe are heretics then, eh? God gave the keys of heaven to Peter (the church), not Paul (the bible).

          • Bonkim

            God surely did not give the keys of heaven to Peter – and Jesus is not God. Even if Jesus entrusted Peter with his Group did not envision that the Church of Rome would become a continuation of the Roman Empire with its hands drenched in the blood of his fellow human beings though the centuries – little different from that of the later advent of militant and political Islam.

            The Papacy is a political entity with little to say for itself in Christian terms from persecution of the Jews, the civil wars in Europe, persecution and massacres of native Indians by the Pope’s representatives in the Americas, the Inqisition, Crusades, forced conversions in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, etc, etc. As said not much different from the barbarity through the ages by followers of Muhammad.

            Matt.16:18-19: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This was long time ago and at the great Conference of Nicea followers of hrist chose one God – not the Trinity.

          • margotdarby

            Catholics in Africa and Asia…mmm, that’s a funny one. Where? Nepal? Red China? Bantustan? Hindustan? Ghana?

          • Bonkim

            Where have been hiding all these years/decades/centuries – “At present, Christianity continues to be the majority religion in thePhilippines, East Timor, Armenia, Georgia, and Cyprus. And has significant minority populations in SouthKorea, China, India, Indonesia,Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Syria and several other countries in Asia with a total Christian population of more than 260 million.[1]

            Christianity is now one of the two most widely practiced religions in Africa. There has been tremendous growth in the number of Christians in Africa – coupled by a relative decline in adherence to traditional African religions. Only nine million Christians were in Africa in 1900, but by the year 2000, there were an estimated 380 million Christians.

            Some experts predict the shift of Christianity’s center from the European industrialized nations to Africa and Asia in modern times. Yale University historian Lamin Sanneh stated that “African Christianity was not just an exotic, curious phenomenon in an obscure part of the world, but that African Christianity might be the shape of things to come.”[15] The statistics from the World Christian Encyclopedia (David Barrett) illustrate the emerging trend of dramatic Christian growth on the continent and supposes, that in 2025 there will be 633 million Christians in Africa.[16]

          • margotdarby

            Doesn’t exactly reply to my point, though, does it? Yes, we all know about rice Christians and Bishop Tutu. But favor us with tales of the devout Catholics of Kyrgyzstan. Are they Eastern Rite?

          • Bonkim

            Don’t denigrate rice Christians – the Catholics of Kyrghisthan were converted from China.

            In any case what is your point? Catholics/Christians persecuted is not news – Christians, Catholics in particular are not new to persecution of others having inflicted forced conversions, exploitation, and bloodshed on a massive scale and temple/mosque burnings in their turn across the Globe. I suppose the tables are now turned that is all. You just have to go to locations such as Goa in India or the Phillippines to see the havoc.

            Religion – any religion is superstition, everyone thinks his/hers is the bees knees of faith and my God more powerful than yours.

          • margotdarby

            No, you’re way off and rather incoherent to boot.
            1) My remark was replying to your declaration that there were lots of Catholics in Asia and Africa. There aren’t. (Goa? That’s your example?)
            2) Catholics do not do forced conversions. A forced conversion is not a conversion. Maybe Mohammedans or others do; I don’t know.
            3) You don’t even know what superstition means. Superstition refers to the old pagan and folk beliefs that keep sticking up long after the arrival of Christianity. Ergo, Christianity cannot be superstition. It’s pretty much the opposite.

          • Bonkim

            You better brush up on your population and religious affiliations’ statistics, world geography and history chum. The Church of Rome has been variously described as the continuation of the Roman Empire in its Holy guise. Catholic dogma is not considered Christian by many Bible scholars. Regards forced conversions and cultural oppression by the Catholic Church including burning down places of worship of other faiths (A la Taliban) check your history of Asia and the Americas.

          • margotdarby

            Give a few examples, pally. And read up a little, while you’re at it.

          • http://wasmyfacered.com margotdarby

            Ah yes, the latest hobby of you folks: accusing prelates of perversion… while you yourselves are eagerly pushing perversion in all the ways and means? I’ve long been onto your game. Understand?

          • Bonkim

            Good luck – this story has passed its sell by date.

          • http://wasmyfacered.com margotdarby

            Seems fresh enough for you, Buncombe.

          • Bonkim

            May be you breathed some freshness on it.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Were there kangaroos on the Ark?

        • haywardsward

          Of course, just like there were all those very large meat eating dinosaurs!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            So dinosaurs and Noah coexisted? Which makes the Flintstones a documentary.

          • jeremyjanson

            Dinosaurs are never mentioned in the bible.

          • http://abundantlifelutheranchurch.org Tammy

            dragons were. Read in Job, near the end when God speaks. If he’s not talking about a dragon I don’t know what else it could be. Just saying, it’s pretty cool. Job 40:15 – 41:34

        • La Fold

          Im not sure but you seem to be having a go. For the record I am not a religious chap.

        • jeremyjanson

          Why not?

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Yes, why not? A creature as unusual as that would surely warrant a mention.

    • jmjm208

      God is sovereign. If He decrees the “genocide” of the Midianites then He has the right to do so. I would suggest you read Romans 9 v 20.

      • allymax bruce

        Read the Gospels; not Pauline philosophy.

        • haywardsward

          But it was it not Paul who pushed the early church out into the gentile world.
          A brief recap, Saul off chasing, in a somewhat persecutory fashion Jewish adherents of Jesus, falls from his horse, cracks his head, comes to with what is obviously a case of concussion, possibly brain damage. Comes to and suffers a reversal of his previous obsession.

          Decides to change his name and take over the very movement , those followers of Jesus that he had been persecuting, he rebadges it as “Christian” and places himself as the leader, chief theoretician and pamphleteer.

          The followers of Jesus are then admonished, browbeaten, harassed into subscribing to what in fact becomes “Paulinity”. A rather nasty misogynistic update of the OT wrapped in the guise of the words and deeds of the supposed Jesus from the NT.

          Paul, as he became, also wanted to expand the franchise, to go up market. For unlike Jesus, Paul was not as keen on appealing to the poor and dispossessed.

          He also wanted to obtain some heft, influence, leverage, call it what you will with the rulers of the day the Romans., that would take people in the right place and bribes.

          So like a modern Tele Evangelist he needed the money to keep flowing in. Just think if he were to reincarnate today he would a “Ministry” that would have a Crystal Construction of some sort, his own TV and Radio Channels with an Hour of Something and probably a Pauline Theme Park. In fact he could probably outdo… L. Ron Hubbard. He would be holding prayer breakfasts, lunches, dinners, suppers whatever it took!

          • allymax bruce

            Hey, you know what? I kinda agree with you on your Pauline exposition; to ‘the’ existential perspective. That’s why I say, for the Truth, in ‘coming to Jesus’, read the Gospels only.
            However, Paul did actually see the Light; for those who can’t, won’t; thus they attempt ‘logic’ to solve everything. Always wrong! The very definition of Adam, Eve, Serpent, forbidden fruit!
            The Pauline philosophy is good for a background emphasis of analogy, simile, metaphors etc; it helps the Salvation witness understand to Works Witness understanding.

          • haywardsward

            No other major religion, there may some strange cults of which I am not aware, premises its very existence on sin, that brought about by “The Fall of Man” the “Original Sin”

            For as a marketing device OS has done very well for it has led to a belief in the general condition of sinfulness of the human race from birth, hence the Church is able to claim that it and only it is able to save those sinners.

            OS as devised by Paul was continually used to beat those early followers of the erstwhile Jesus about the head & soul. But there was no evidence of OS until Paul came along.

            Where did the erstwhile Jesus talk of OS? Where in the OT is there a mention of OS?

            The early Church took to it seriously as a way of controlling the flock. So seriously that later it was worked up into doctrine by Iraneus.

            Understandable then why later on Pelagianism did so well. For if one can be at all rational about any religion why should it be accepted that a “sin” supposedly committed at the very beginning of “creation” can effect a new born child by placing them at birth in the general condition of sinfulness

            Of course this was opposed, for it was cutting into the Church franchise in the Holy Roman Empire. Then along comes Augustine, the “saint” who wrote “Lord grant me chastity, but not yet” to argue against Pelagianism.

            So much so that the early Church may have ended up like the Shakers. Augustine was definitely down on sexuality. Like all those Southern evangelists, who having wallowed in sin and fornication decide that no one else should.

            Obviously if Augustine had had enough, that was it for everyone else. He railed against concupiscence. But the Church needed all the “faithful” to reproduce to keep the franchise going, so much of what was in Augustine’s arguments was swept under the carpet.

            However the later Protestant sects of various sorts took to Original Sin in a big way, following the Augustine line concerning concupiscence and ramping up the guilt trip.

            Luther asserted that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. But somehow interestingly enough he also subscribed to that strange doctrine of the Immaculate conception!

            Calvin believed that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. But he took it even further for this is the basis for the Calvinistic doctrine of “total depravity. Resulting in a complete alienation from Calvin’s God and the total inability of humans to achieve reconciliation with Calvin’s God based on their own abilities.

            Not only do individuals inherit a sinful nature due to Adam’s fall, but since he was the first representative of the human race, all whom he represented inherit the guilt of his sin.

            What is that about “a sucker born every minute…

          • fredx2

            When you start out with an idiotic statement like “No other major religion… premises its very existence on sin” it just shows you have no idea what you are talking about. You certainly have learned to display your prejudices by taking on straw men. But then again, that is a feature of the New Atheist. I would hope that you will soon learn that an overweening cynicism is not an intellectual virtue.

          • haywardsward

            The oldest rmajor religious tradition in the world, Hinduism does not recognise sin as such nor does it have the concept of original sin.

            In Judaism, there is the concept of sin, but no concept of original sin.

            Buddhism does not recognize the idea behind sin, nor does it have the concept of original sin.

            The concept of original sin is not recognized in Islam. Muslims believe that Adam and Eve were forgiven by God.

          • fredx2

            If you understood the story of Paul, you would understand that what you have written is utterly stupid.

          • haywardsward

            Then we will just differ on our understanding concerning Paul. For as you say it is a story and stories can have many interpretations,

      • JoeDM

        Which god is that? Us humans have invented so many down the ages.

      • @Mike-uk2011

        So you’re a slave of your god then? A slave.

    • allymax bruce

      What is it about the dichotomy of Old, verses New, that you don’t understand?
      Doesn’t matter if it’s the same God; the contract/ethos changed; dipstick!

      And 17 people voted you up; what ignoramus skulks on these forums!

      • Guy_Innagorillasuit

        Why would a perfect being change his mind? Did he make a mistake? Did he fail to understand something? It’s a horrible story.

        • allymax bruce

          The perfect being was meant to be us; in His image.
          In this ‘stead’, He gave us ‘redemption’; take it or leave it. It’s yours.

          • Guy_Innagorillasuit

            It’s a shame I’ll miss out on heaven because he wrote/inspired/revealed such a bad book.

          • allymax bruce

            It’s not in a book; it’s in your heart.

          • Jim

            Actually, last I checked, hearts were filled with blood and, for the unfortunate, arterial plaque.

    • Bonkim

      NOT MANY CHRISTIANS LEFT ON EARTH.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Sadly, that`s not entirely true.

        • Bonkim

          Not al that shout Lord Lord will inherit the Kingdom of God.

    • Karl Stuebe

      Fr. Barron comments on Violence in the Bible: http://youtu.be/1A65Wfr2is0

    • João Paulo

      CREATOR OF ALL fits in devinição of “killer”? haha atheists (naive or unfairly) forget that when they argue from a theistic perspective, can NOT delete the question “afterlife” (ETERNAL SPIRITUAL LIFE): all of life is not simply a case of meat.

      • willshome

        Are there dogs in heaven? Or are they just meat?

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Will there be alcoholic drinks in Heaven? Hardly worth asking, as without booze it wouldn`t be Heaven.

    • mchasewalker

      I understand your point, but just as a measure of clarification, the Christian God was expropriated and pseudo-morphed from the Old Testament, but, in fact, has absolutely zero to with the Yahweh of the Old Testament except in the most contrived and superficial ways. For Jews, from a purely theological stance, the very idea that g-d would impregnate a Jewish man’s virgin bride to conceive a man/god/messiah is contrary to the very essence of Talmudic understanding. That such a supreme being would then give birth to “himself” and assign a Greek name to that progeny is yet another heretical conceit. That he would then deliver that “offering” to the unclean hands of Romans for sacrifice is, well, nothing but add on misappropriation. The Christian conceit is that it is the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, when in fact it is heretical and contrary to the very essence of the Old Testament and thousands of years of Judaic religious thought.

      • roger

        Religion is related to faith, faith is believing in something even though it breaks the laws of nature.
        If ‘god’ is a unique entity then the idea of gender is impossible, sexual reproduction of a unique entity is impossible, even parthenogenesis is impossible as then there would be more than one ‘god’.
        Please everybody, God did not create humankind, they ‘created’ ‘god’ as an explanation for all those things that were beyond their comprehension.
        As for morals, they are a product of thinking beings, single cell creatures do what they do without morality.

        • fredx2

          I don’t know, I have met some pretty moral amoebas.

      • Alien & Stranger

        Um, you do realise that the first believers (numbering in the 1000s) were Jews? Maybe you should read the New Testament first to gain some insight…

        • mchasewalker

          I’ve read it to many times as well as other books, including Semitic Mythology: The Mythology of all Races (Boston, Marshall Jones Company 1931by Stephen Herbert Langdon also other authorities on the subject as Heidel, Speiser, Spengler, and King. While no doubt some Hellenized Jews of Jerusalem were infatuated with Greek culture during the Hellenistic period c. 200 BC to 100 AD and the rule over Jerusalem by the Seleucid empire, various Hellenizing cults emerged in Jerusalem introducing such hybrid gods as Theos Hypsistos, Yahweh Hypsistos, Zeus Sabazius, Lord Sabazios, Lord Saboath, and others. In fact there is a petition to Antiochus IV from Jason of the Onaid family and Menelaus of the Tobiads for his support of a Greek Jewish Hybrid Yahweh Hypsistos. According to Professor W.W. Tarn Antiochus IV thought there would be no insuperable difficulty in introducing Zeus into all of Judea. In the year 139 a number of Jews were expelled from Rome ostensibly for introducing the Greek Cult of Zeus Sabazios. But all this rather proves my point that Christianity is more of Greek religion heretical to Talmudic Judaism than a direct off shoot of Jewish Old Testament religious thought.

          • mchasewalker

            I should also add that prior to the Euhemerizing of Ishus early Christians had no concept of a Man God. Ishus was a God and not a mortal man and this idea grew to such alarming proportion it wasn’t until Nicea C. 300? AD where they finally had to vote on it in order to suppress it. In fact, there are 1st century Christian relics revealing that Orpheus was even a much more prominent figure than Ishus in early Christianity.

          • fredx2

            Could you post that a couple more times? I don’t think we got it yet.

          • mchasewalker

            Haha, sorry about that– a computer glitch.

          • rationalobservations?

            Where are these “first century christian relics” available to be observed?

          • mchasewalker

            Orpheus the Savior Domatilla Catacomb Rome 3rd Century, Orphic Sacramental Bowl Rumania, c.2nd Century, Christian Neophyte in Fish Garb Christian votive lamp 1st century (orpheus was know as the Fisher of Men) Also see The 16 Stations of Orpheus stained glass… see Dr. Robert Eisler’s Orpheus– The Fisher Comparative Studies in Orphic and Early Christian Cult Symbolism

          • rationalobservations?

            I am very aware of the many messiahs and their cults that have evdience of their existence between C 4 BCE and C 140 CE.
            I am very aware that those who are ignorant of the existence of the many “messiahs” not called Joshua/Yeshua/Y-shua – or the much later coined and otherwise meaningless Greek word “Jesus”. Claiming any evidence of any of the many historical known and named “messiahs” or many 100’s of mythical “god-men” as evidence of the one much later written into myths and legends and only centuries later called “Jesus” is clutching at straws.

            There is a record of a 1st century messianic cult and its messiah among the “Dead Sea Scrolls”. It bears not a single similarity to anything much later invented regarding the fictional “god-man” called by the invented and meaningless Greek coined word “Jesus”.

            I repeat: There is no evidence of the existence and adventures of a god-man called “Jesus” from within the 1st century. There are plenty of other named and historical god-men and “messiahs” but not a single trace of one called Joshua/Yeshua/Y-Shua/”Jesus” until long after the time in which those fables and that mythology is set.

          • mchasewalker

            I quite agree with your overall assessment, but there is evidence of several gods with a variation of the name Ishus introduced into the Greco Roman Levant around that period. Understanding how myths develop — it is not a far stretch to see how these gods and heroes piled on to become myth, religion and pseudo history. (Orpheus, Dionysus, Angus, the Good Son of Heaven and many many more.) The name of the Goddess “Isis” is closer to the correct Greek name Jesus and its Hebrew spelling Ysys. (There are no vowels in Hebrew and the closest pronunciation of the Greek name would be Ishus as “Jesus” is called today in Greece. We know that the Egyptian myth of Isis, Horus, and Osiris had considerable influence in the development of the Ishus Christos son of heaven myth. The idea of the world saving Messiah is a Zoroastrian concept developed around 1700 BCE in the figures of Saoshyant and Gayomart and predates the Dead Sea scrolls by centuries (millennia?) and was appropriated into Jewish mythology over hundreds of years. In addition we have Julius Caesar’s record in Gallic Wars (30 BCE) to a Gallic god named Esus or Hesus, who was a woodman/ carpenter? god whose sacrificial victims were hung on trees.( See The Pillars of the Boatman) There is another god “Issha” of which we have scant record of, probably due to vigorous Christian suppression. Some have suggested it is a Persian god hero. Joseph Campbell suggests that godhead originated out of Northern Africa. Of course we all know that the mystery cult of Mithra which rivaled Christianity into the 4th Century CE was extremely close the Ishus cults in dogma. ( Born December 25th etc) So when we examine all these influences together it is impossible not to understand how Christianity developed as mythological with, as you suggested, zero historicity as far as there being a historical figure named Jesus.

          • margotdarby

            Try the Catecombs! Very popular! Frescos, even!

          • rationalobservations?

            Sorry i missed debunking your moronic comment when you made it.

            What part of – FIRST CENTURY – did you fail to understand?

            I have researched and/or inspected most of the 3rd and 4th century ROMAN artifacts, archaeology and texts connected with their then newly cobbled together religion based upon their fictional god-man they named “Jesus” (although “Jesus” is not a 1st century Hebrew?Jewish name and is an otherwise meaningless word coined by Greek scribes).

            I have searched for and researched all known and extant texts, artifacts and archaeology for any evidence of your fabled god-man “Jesus”. NONE exists. All of the legend appears in slowly evolving forms long, long after the time in which those myths and legends are merely back dated to and set. The vast, vast majority of what we know today of the legend of “christ” originates and appears for the very first time in the mid to late 4th century.

        • mchasewalker

          I’ve read it to many times as well as other books, including Semitic Mythology: The Mythology of all Races (Boston, Marshall Jones Company 1931by Stephen Herbert Langdon also other authorities on the subject as Heidel, Speiser, Spengler, and King. While no doubt some Hellenized Jews of Jerusalem were infatuated with Greek culture during the Hellenistic period c. 200 BC to 100 AD and the rule over Jerusalem by the Seleucid empire, various Hellenizing cults emerged in Jerusalem introducing such hybrid gods as Theos Hypsistos, Yahweh Hypsistos, Zeus Sabazius, Lord Sabazios, Lord Saboath, and others. In fact there is a petition to Antiochus IV from Jason of the Onaid family and Menelaus of the Tobiads for his support of a Greek Jewish Hybrid Yahweh Hypsistos. According to Professor W.W. Tarn Antiochus IV thought there would be no insuperable difficulty in introducing Zeus into all of Judea. In the year 139 a number of Jews were expelled from Rome ostensibly for introducing the Greek Cult of Zeus Sabazios. But all this rather proves my point that Christianity is more of Greek religion heretical to Talmudic Judaism than a direct off shoot of Jewish Old Testament religious thought.

        • mchasewalker

          I’ve read it to many times as well as other books, including Semitic Mythology: The Mythology of all Races (Boston, Marshall Jones Company 1931by Stephen Herbert Langdon also other authorities on the subject as Heidel, Speiser, Spengler, and King. While no doubt some Hellenized Jews of Jerusalem were infatuated with Greek culture during the Hellenistic period c. 200 BC to 100 AD and the rule over Jerusalem by the Seleucid empire, various Hellenizing cults emerged in Jerusalem introducing such hybrid gods as Theos Hypsistos, Yahweh Hypsistos, Zeus Sabazius, Lord Sabazios, Lord Saboath, and others. In fact there is a petition to Antiochus IV from Jason of the Onaid family and Menelaus of the Tobiads for his support of a Greek Jewish Hybrid Yahweh Hypsistos. According to Professor W.W. Tarn Antiochus IV thought there would be no insuperable difficulty in introducing Zeus into all of Judea. In the year 139 a number of Jews were expelled from Rome ostensibly for introducing the Greek Cult of Zeus Sabazios. But all this rather proves my point that Christianity is more of Greek religion heretical to Talmudic Judaism than a direct off shoot of Jewish Old Testament religious thought.

          I should also add that prior to the Euhemerizing of Ishus early Christians had no concept of a Man God. Ishus was a God and not a mortal man and this idea grew to such alarming proportion it wasn’t until Nicea C. 300? AD where they finally had to vote on it in order to suppress it. In fact, there are 1st century Christian relics revealing that Orpheus was even a much more prominent figure than Ishus in early Christianity.

      • jeremyjanson

        “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a simple mind.” (Emerson)

        • mchasewalker

          Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.John Adams, ‘Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,’ December 1770
          US diplomat & politician (1735 – 1826)

          • jeremyjanson

            Nothing you said was fact. What you said was 100% appeals to authority – in fact, rather blatant and obviously appeals to authority. Now, of course, this does not mean (and the philosopher Edmund Burke explored this paradox beautifully) that there is no value to the argument from tradition even if it is not totally logical, but calling such “fact” is disingenuous.

          • mchasewalker

            Um, I quoted John Adams as a rebuttal to your quote of Emerson to show that facts can be construed as foolish consistencies by foolish people. However, It is a fact that Christianity is heretical to Talmudic teachings. Even Christian dogma supports this. See Reza Aslan’s “Zealot” It is a fact that in the Old Testament Yahweh does not have sex with mortals.The whole notion is a Greek conceit (reference Zeus and his prolific impregnations.) It is a fact that Jesus is a Greek name not Hebrew. It is fact that for the Jewish people Hebrew is a sacred, even Holy language, and revered as such. It is a fact that it is inconceivable in Judaism that Yahweh would give birth to a Son and assign him a Greek Name. In fact, There are so many egregious differences between the two it is certainly true to conclude that Christianity is more Greek than it is ” the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy” as it claims. I don’t know what your point is about authority, but there are volumes of writings on these subjects by scholars, ethnologists and mythologists including the religious texts themselves that show the origins of these mythological ideas, such as Spengler, Campbell, Freud, Jung, Speiser, King, See: Semitic Mythology: The Mythology of all Races by Stephen Herbert Langdon I cite them as historical and scholarly references and not as some mindless paean to authority.

          • pearlsandoysters

            That’s a very strange way of thinking, there are many books to answer the question “What Athenas have to do with Jearusalim?”

          • mchasewalker

            No stranger than this poorly constructed question…

          • pearlsandoysters

            The question itself is a famous quote from Tertullian. Later on, this very question has become the focus of discussion in numerous academic books on Theology, Philosophy and Religion.

          • mchasewalker

            Thanks for clearing it up and correcting the spelling on your question and quote. How, then, is it strange, if I’m reiterating arguments of “numerous” august theologians, religionists, and philosophers ? Obviously, I’m aware of many modern books on the subject, but I don’t think the question is properly answered by Christian apologists, hence my reference to the above unbiased historians, scientists and mythologists. Obviously, I think there is a problem in Western Academia when, after 1500 years of aggressive suppression, genocide, and virulent revisionism the facts have been invented, misconstrued, redacted, and pseudo morphed into “history”, canon and common belief. Tertullian was writing in 160 CE without the benefit of what we now know in 2014. Is it strange to revisit it 1900 years later, or merely strange because it challenges the vigorous confirmation bias rampant in Christian canon and thought?

          • http://wasmyfacered.com margotdarby

            Not fact, but soundly based on Chick Tracts, so that’s even better!

      • margotdarby

        The Jewish people of the pre-Christian era are long gone, so it’s pretty risky to speculate on what they may or may not have thought. The Talmudic Judaism that grew up later, sharing common ancestry with Christianity, but denying Christ’s divinity as its main raison d’etre, is not the same thing as the pre-Christian Hebraic tradition.

        • mchasewalker

          That’s just rubbish! The Torah (800-400 BCE) The Mishnah and the Talmud are as alive and vibrant in Jewish culture, religious thought, study and tradition as they ever were. According to Mosaic Law, It is not Jesus’s divinity that is rejected, but the entire notion that any man could be a god is pure heresy. This is a Greek conceit. In Jewish thought, the messiah was never prophesied to be a god or god man, merely a great man or religious political figure. In fact, the prophet Nathaniel believed Cyrus The Great of the Achaemenid Empire was the messiah. As far as Jesus, since the story is a myth, cobbled together between 70 CE and 325 CE so too is his rejection by the Jews a myth, and a particularly anti-semitic one at that.

          • margotdarby

            BCE? Buy Cracked Eggs?

            Get a grip and read up on your subject before responding. The Mishnah is part of the Talmud, the first collection of volumes. It was NOT around in pre-Christian times. It was compiled several centuries after Christ, making it much closer on the timeline to the Koran.

          • mchasewalker

            You’re referring to the written Talmud, I was referring to the oral traditions which date back centuries before Christianity.

          • mchasewalker

            As far as reading goes you might actually read what I’ve posted before responding with your Sunday school bias. If you dispute the dates of the Y.D. P and E texts of the Torah (800 BCE to 400 BCE.) I suggest you take it up with anthropologists…

          • margotdarby

            Oh yes. Do tell, do tell. Favor us with your “BCE” tales.

            By the way, it’s AD and BC, not BCE and XYZ and that other nonsense. You don’t like them apples, then why are you living in this civilization?

          • mchasewalker

            Because it’s time you woke up. Your God, like every other god in the entire history of humankind is a myth. There is no anno domini, there is only BCE and CE. Grow up, you religious cretin!

          • rationalobservations?

            Do yourself a favour and read the explanation at the end of this link:

            http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/why_3530.shtml

            It could save you a lot of embarrassment!

          • margotdarby

            And which “oral traditions” are these? That Jesus was the child of a Roman centurion and a gentile Galilean?

            Ah DOON’T think soo.

            The oldest intact versions of the Pentateuch are in Greek, from the late pre-Christian era. That’s why it’s called the Pentateuch.

          • mchasewalker

            Once again, you need to go beyond your Parochial school brainwashing and bias. Refer to the basic Hebrew texts representing the mythology of the Southern Kingdom Judah, in the 9th Century BCE otherwise known as The Yahwist or “J” Text. The Elohim texts representing the mythology of the Northern Kingdom Israel in the 8th Century BCE and compiled in the 7th Century BCE The ritual code of Holiness ( known as The H Text dating to the 7th Century BCE. The ritual code of the Deuteronomists (D texts) 621 BCE and the P Texts proclaimed in Jerusalem by Ezra 397 BCE. Judaic mythology and religious thought has a rich written and oral tradition later adapted into the Mishnah and Gemara. See W.O.E Oesterly and Theodore H. Robinson, An Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament ( New York Meridian Books 1958.)

          • http://wasmyfacered.com margotdarby

            Holy smokes, you’ve really drunk the Kool-Aid. What you refer to as “Judaic mythology and written thought” is actually obscuranta and abracadabra of the Pharisaical sect. There were no “Jews” per se in the period you mention. Nor was there any “BCE”; that is a recent invention.

    • la catholic state

      That was war in a dog eat dog environment. Im sure the Midianites sought the genocide of Jews…..and we should know there’s nothing new in that. So much for our new improved post-Christian morality.

      • La Fold

        Correct. One of the 670 odd commandments was not to murder which was not the same as killing someone in a war.

        • jeremyjanson

          Murder still means “a purposeful killing which is legally unjustifiable and inexcusible.” Shooting an intruder in your own home or someone trying to kill you in self-defense is still homicide, but not murder. In some states with strong JH statutes, many other things may be considered justifiable or excusible (the difference is that an excused homicide does not invalidate your liability for civil court lawsuits and can be challenged by the courts if it is felt that you carried the authority excessively) such as lynching a cattle rustler (Texas or Mississippi), shooting a thief running away with felony level stolen property (Washington State), shooting someone threatening or fighting someone else in your presence (most Western states, including Washington, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada), attempting to rape you or someone else (most Western and Southern states), resisting a citizens arrest for murder or rape (New York), and attempting to break in to your car (Georgia).

          • La Fold

            Which all kind of proves my point. Killing someone in a combat situation under proper rules of engagement would not qualify as murder. Shooting or otherwise killing a prisoner of war without due process would be.

          • La Fold

            Which is kind of my point. Killing someone in a combat situation under proper rules of engagement is not murder. Shooting or otherwise killing a priosner of war without due process would be.

    • margotdarby

      Not the same God at all. The Hebrew God derived from Baal or Moloch, and that origin left its traces. Jesus Christ, and the other two personae of the Trinity, are radically different.

    • Antodav

      He is, but you completely misunderstand his motivations. Not to mention that the Old Testament is not an entirely accurate account of the history of ancient Israel.

    • spyridon89

      Calladus and anyone else confused could do worse than watch this illuminating sermon from Bishop John Shelby Spong. He outlines how the Israelite understanding of God actually evolves across the Old Testament – as the title has it – ‘from tribal God to Universal Presence’ – and thus the framework for the universalistic God of the New Testament is already being laid in the Old. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87rokCqk0Po&hd=1

    • jeremyjanson

      Yes it was, however that was a different time with very different constraints and limitations than our industrial, modern governments face today with our railyards, refrigerated storage and near infinite supply of food and soldiers, and Putin has been rather “conservative” on the death camps.

      Modern societies acting as biblical societies did would be inexcusible because famine and underpopulation (meaning, insufficient young men with guns to keep the conquered under control) are not really aspects of our world. Famines do occur in a few truly primitive societies, but even in those societies it is inexcusible because they DO have the technology and plenty to make it work if they will just stop being a bunch of corrupt shit heads.

    • Tommy_Butler

      Right. It was.

    • Tommy_Butler

      Sorry. In haste. I don’t know who those Christians are who forget the history of God. I only know that the very concept of history as we use it today (as opposed to the Greek idea of inquiry, which is very different, more factitious) derives from the Christian understanding of history: a gradual unfolding, a slow revelation, of God’s will, so that nothing is absolutely right, absolutely good, or wrong, or evil on merely historical grounds. Rather, all things must be judged both in terms of a transcendent horizon (absolute Good, etc.) and in terms of the revelation of that horizon, in which case some things that do not look so good to us now, in isolation from their context, nevertheless play a meaningful role in drawing the truths of God into visibility within the world.
      So, for instance, it would not make for much of an argument in a world where the dignity of human life had not been revealed by our Loving God to mention the details you mention and expect them to shock one as barbaric or nasty. But, because we do live in a world that has been transformed by knowledge about the intrinsic value of the person as revealed by God, we do find those details a bit shocking.
      It is worth noting how Christian — or Christian derived — is your way of framing your question. Only a Christian would assume that the question of the existence of God is integral to the question of his goodness. We believe this precisely because God is the Good who, in his goodness, is self-diffusive and cannot help but share the goodness of being with all things.
      In any other context, the existence of God and the goodness of God would be entirely different questions, where one would have no necessary implications for the other.

    • pearlsandoysters

      No. The New Testament explicitly says that ” you can not put the old wine…”

    • Nele Schindler

      Atheists seem to forget that their own lives and times are always full of filth, murder, unrighteousness and deceit on a scale so large that any accusation against the Bible or even God relating to stories they don’t understand is beyond ridiculous.

    • Nick Hill

      You are misreading the Old Testament. Go a little deeper: 1. Is God a Moral Monster? An Exploration on those hard passages in the OT in their historical context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C3q3Zr_R8E 2. Moral Objections to the Old Testament by Dr. Peter Williams of Cambridge University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7B5jokJsqk

      • http://bit.ly/glUAR7 Calladus

        I find those people who are able to “explain away” atrocity to be lacking in morality themselves.

        If you think that having a PhD gives credence to justifying the death of an entire city, down to the last baby boy, then you are also just as morally challenged.

    • vincent jackson

      history is filled with atrocities, in and out of biblical reference. was it moral for the u.s.a to drop two nukes on japan. was it moral for the greek teachers to have sex with their young boy students. is it moral to exterminate wolves because of superstition and fear. and besides why do you guys even care about this stuff, you don’t believe in God…..remember.

    • http://bit.ly/glUAR7 Calladus

      I love all the replies from “Christians” here. Some of which contradict each other.

      But one more point, if you are seriously trying to DEFEND genocide, then you are an immoral monster. And if you believe your god is right to direct genocide, then you are capable of any atrocity if you believe your deity has ordered it.

  • Mark Moore

    Wasn’t it Jesus that was going to send billions of innocent people to be tortured for all eternity? Nice guy that Jesus. Real moral.

    Love me or I torture you for ever – that is how much Jesus loves you.

    • Cyril Sneer

      Yeah, if this was a normal mortal relationship then I’d be saying get out, that person is controlling and manipulative.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Compulsory love, the definition of totalitarianism.

      • allymax bruce

        It’s not ‘compulsory’; you have the choice to mend your ways, or go to hell.

        • rationalobservations?

          How about all the millions of totally blameless, humanitarian and charitable atheists of the world with no evil in their hearts and no evil actions in their lives?

          What you silly little boogie-man admonition amounts to is that the choice is to be as evil as you like so long as you “repent” and worship men in fancy dress and institutions that employ them or go to hell…

          • Mass Executions

            Everybody’s got evil in their hearts. Everybody. People of all ideologues are inherently terrible.

            You’re second statement doesn’t mean much to me, as I don’t think repentance comes cheap, and as an American protestant we’ve got no fancy dresses and institutions. It’s pretty much anarchy over here.

          • rationalobservations?

            Having traveled around, and lived within; many lands all around this obscure and meaningless little lump of rock we live upon – it is my impression that the vast, vast majority of our recently evolved species of ape are fundamentally cooperative, kindly, helpful and “good”. There lives an occasional psychopath or sociopath among us and the affect of religion in blunting good folk’s conscience and allowing them to perpetrate the most vile evil in the name of one “god/god-man”., or another.

            I sympathize with you regarding the “anarchy” of 200+ christian cults and sects all battling with the secular state and with each other. The good news is that the growing majority of USA citizens shun all that religious stuff – even though many of them don’t admit it for fear of persecution by the religiots.

            I think the measure of the weirdness of the USA is that the population are not trusted to judge when it’s safe to cross the highway, street, or road, yet are trusted with enough military grade arms to start a large war.

            The rapidly growing number of anti-religious organisations in the USA is a phenomena that is not observed across Europe. Perhaps the battle for free, secular democracy is considered already won in Europe – but is still being waged in the USA?

          • Mass Executions

            I must disagree. From birth we seek our own good first. It just happens that for our species it we have been in situations that incline toward cooperation, at least within our group. Let’s not fool ourselves, though. When it’s advantageous we apply force to get resources and reproduce. So frequently even when we don’t, we want too, but only resist for fear of punishment. This is clearly on display when we have a group that agrees with us and a smaller, weaker group we can push around. We’re selfish and rotten to the core, naturally. No two ways about it.

          • rationalobservations?

            You have my deep and sincere pity for your sad and deplorable state of selfishness and your non-existent moral and ethical sub-human character.

            I am so glad that pitiable folk like you are so few and far between and that crime still makes the news and crime and self confessed folk of criminal and amoral tendencies like you are so rarely encountered by the vast majority of us.

            The rest of us have been conditioned (by evolution) toward charity, generosity, cooperation and unrewarded acts of altruism that have allowed our recently evolved species of apes to flourish. Worth noting that many other species also share this evolved behavior.

          • Mass Executions

            You deceive yourself. We are liars, thieves, and thugs by nature. From the history of the world to be behavior of kids at a daycare, the evidence is everywhere. That’s why power corrupts. It allows us to express what’s really in our hearts.

          • rationalobservations?

            You reveal only yourself and what is really in your heart perhaps.

            Autocratic totalitarian power corrupts.

            That’s why the rest of us will never again allow the totalitarian, self serving, blood soaked tyrannical christian religion (or any other blood soaked tyrannical religion) that all corrupting, brutal, barbaric, murderous, anti-humanitarian power.

            Fortunately, most of us are equipped (by evolution and nature) with what we call a “human conscience” (look it up?).

            We recently contrived a terrible system of checks and balances on the evil of religious and political totalitarianism. We call it “democracy” and we will defend it (for all its flaws) against those who would impose their own exclusively self serving evil barbarism upon us. That system of peaceful, secular democracy may be “terrible” – yet it is far less terrible than all other systems of political and/or religious totalitarianism and tyranny we have observed so far.

          • Mass Executions

            This is all a byproduct of us looking out for ourselves. Don’t think we would have skipped out on helping others if we could have. Denying the fundamental evil of humanity will bite you every time, but feel free to adhere to it if you want to.

          • rationalobservations?

            I feel great sadness that you consider/observe yourself to be so selfish and fundamentally evil. Perhaps you are one of the rare cases of psychopathy or sociopathy within our otherwise mostly benign, sociable and charitable species?

          • fredx2

            Another patently dumb remark. You equate religion with “totalitarian, self serving, blood soaked tyranny” and “that all corrupting, brutal, barbaric, murderous, anti-humanitarian power.”

            Do you realize how dumb that is? In the twentieth century, we sure saw “totalitarian, self serving, blood soaked tyrannies”,, but they almost always were associated with the lack of religion – or the rejection of Christianity.

            Hitler was an near atheist, (a materialist if truth be told ) who despised Christianity. Stalin was an atheist; the rulers of Japan (who killed 15 million Chinese) were Shinto ancestor worshippers. Pol Pot was an atheist nutcase. Communism – an atheist philosphy – put real people in real chains and gulags everywhere.

            Yet, in your fantasy world you blame religion for things? That takes a monumental amount of ignorance, or stupidity. Why do atheists lie so consistently? Why was Christopher Hitchens a well known Polemicist rather than a seeker after truth?

            Such nonsense.

          • rationalobservations?

            The thing is that the growing legion of peaceful, charitable, democratic atheists abhor the brutal murderous barbarity of twentieth century dictators every bit as much as those in thrall to one religion, or another.

            Hitler was self evidently a sincere and devout christian. As is evidenced by his continual reference to his faith and belief he was “doing god’s work” throughout his book Mein Kampf (“my struggle”) and within speeches delivered right up to his suicide in 1945.

            Hitler wrote: “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord..” As a boy, Hitler attended to the Catholic church and experienced the anti-Semitic attitude of his culture. In his book, Mein Kampf, Hitler reveals himself as a fanatical believer in God and country. This text presents selected quotes from the infamous anti-Semite himself.

            You are correct that several 20th century dictators attempted to replace all competing political and religious ideologies with their own version of the religion (in all but name) of communism.

            It was christianity that set the benchmark for brutallity and mass murder when the fraudulent religion of “Jesus” was imposed upon the 95% of 4th century citizens who saw it as heresy.

            No one would deny and abhor the barbarity of 20th century tyrants and dictators.

            Why do you attempt to deny the murderous barbarity of many generations of tyrant Popes and Pope “anointed” Kings?

          • fredx2

            Really. You have been reading too many atheist tracts. Your head is screwed on backwards. Go read up on Hitler’s religion. You will find that he posed as a Christian up until he consolidated power. Then he turned on Christianity, tried to either control it or turn it into a state religion he could control, or replace it with weird pagan ideas. Honestly. I thought we had settled this question long ago. So the quotes are meaningless unless you know when they are from.
            As a boy, Hitler attended the Catholic church because he was forced to by his parents. There is no record of him ever setting foot in a church after he was a teenager.
            It was Christianity that set the benchmark for brutality? The world was not brutal before that? Of course it was. Christianity has almost always been an ameliorating force to the brutality that has always existed in man. Please. You are just spouting propaganda. it’s embarassing.

          • rationalobservations?

            Because you are totally indoctrinated by “what some folks say”, you imagine that everyone is so narrowly inclined and gullible.

            The conclusions I draw and the observations I make are the result of personal research and observation.

            Your ignorance regarding the brutal history of the church and the devout christianity of barbarian Popes and other murderous totalitarian dictators (like Adolf) is pitiful.

            Of course those in thrall to the evil and self serving institution of “the church” refuse to believe in anything that confounds and contradicts the lies of “the church”. Here’s a little more evidence to ignore or deny however:

            “The anti-Semitism of the new movement (Christian Social movement) was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”

            [Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]

            “I have followed [the Church] in giving our party program the character of unalterable finality, like the Creed. The Church has never allowed the Creed to be interfered with. It is fifteen hundred years since it was formulated, but every suggestion for its amendment, every logical criticism, or attack on it, has been rejected. The Church has realized that anything and everything can be built up on a document of that sort, no matter how contradictory or irreconcilable with it. The faithful will swallow it whole, so long as logical reasoning is never allowed to be brought to bear on it.”

            [Adolf Hitler, from Rauschning, _The Voice of Destruction_, pp. 239-40]

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest
            not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with
            deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is
            the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see them work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week they have only for their wages wretchedness and misery. When I go out in the morning
            and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people are plundered and exposed.”

            [Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich on April 12, 1922, countering a political opponent, Count Lerchenfeld, who opposed antisemitism on his personal Christian feelings. Published in “My New Order”, quoted in Freethought Today April 1990]

            “I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.”

            [Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp. 46]

            “What we have to fight for…is the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator.”

            [Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp. 125]

            “This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief.”

            [Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp.152]

            “And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God.”

            [Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp.174]

            “Catholics and Protestants are fighting with one another… while the enemy of Aryan humanity and all Christendom is laughing up his sleeve.”

            [Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, pp.309]

            “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so”

            [Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941]

            “Any violence which does not spring from a spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest in a fanatical outlook.”

            [Adolph Hitler, _Mein Kampf_, p. 171]

            “I had excellent opportunity to intoxicate myself with the solemn splendor of the brilliant church festivals. As was only natural, the abbot seemed to me, as the village priest had once seemed to my father, the highest and most desirable ideal.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 1]

            “I was not in agreement with the sharp anti-Semitic tone, but from time to time I read arguments which gave me some food for thought. At all events, these occasions slowly made me acquainted with the man and the movement, which in those days guided Vienna’s destinies: Dr. Karl Lueger and the Christian Social Party.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 2]

            “…the unprecedented rise of the Christian Social Party… was to assume the deepest significance for me as a classical object of study.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “As long as leadership from above was not lacking, the people
            fulfilled their duty and obligation overwhelmingly. Whether
            Protestant pastor or Catholic priest, both together and particularly
            at the first flare, there really existed in both camps but a single
            holy German Reich, for whose existence and future each man turned to
            his own heaven.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “Political parties has nothing to do with religious problems, as long
            as these are not alien to the nation, undermining the morals and
            ethics of the race; just as religion cannot be amalgamated with the
            scheming of political parties.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “For the political leader the religious doctrines and institutions of
            his people must always remain inviolable; or else has no right to be
            in politics, but should become a reformer, if he has what it takes!

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “In nearly all the matters in which the Pan-German movement was
            wanting, the attitude of the Christian Social Party was correct and
            well-planned.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “It [Christian Social Party] recognized the value of large-scale
            propaganda and was a virtuoso in influencing the psychological
            instincts of the broad masses of its adherents.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “If Dr. Karl Lueger had lived in Germany, he would have been ranked
            among the great minds of our people.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3, about the leader of
            the Christian Social movement]

            “Even today I am not ashamed to say that, overpowered by stormy
            enthusiasm, I fell down on my knees and thanked Heaven from an
            overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted
            to live at this time.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 5]

            “I had so often sung ‘Deutschland u:ber Alles’ and shouted ‘Heil’ at
            the top of my lungs, that it seemed to me almost a belated act of
            grace to be allowed to stand as a witness in the divine court of the
            eternal judge and proclaim the sincerity of this conviction.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 5]

            “Only in the steady and constant application of force lies the very
            first prerequisite for success. This persistence, however, can always
            and only arise from a definite spiritual conviction. Any violence
            which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering
            and uncertain.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 5]

            “I soon realized that the correct use of propaganda is a true art
            which has remained practically unknown to the bourgeois parties. Only
            the Christian- Social movement, especially in Lueger’s time achieved
            a certain virtuosity on this instrument, to which it owed many of its
            success.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 6]

            “Once again the songs of the fatherland roared to the heavens along
            the endless marching columns, and for the last time the Lord’s grace
            smiled on His ungrateful children.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 7, reflecting on World
            War I]

            “The more abstractly correct and hence powerful this idea will be,
            the more impossible remains its complete fulfillment as long as it
            continues to depend on human beings… If this were not so, the
            founders of religion could not be counted among the greatest men of
            this earth… In its workings, even the religion of love is only the
            weak reflection of the will of its exalted founder; its significance,
            however, lies in the direction which it attempted to give to a
            universal human development of culture, ethics, and morality.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 8]

            “To them belong, not only the truly great statesmen, but all other
            great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great stands Martin
            Luther as well as Richard Wagner.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 8]

            “The fight against syphilis demands a fight against prostitution,
            against prejudices, old habits, against previous conceptions, general
            views among them not least the false prudery of certain circles. The
            first prerequisite for even the moral right to combat these things is
            the facilitation of earlier marriage for the coming generation. In
            late marriage alone lies the compulsion to retain an institution
            which, twist and turn as you like, is and remains a disgrace to
            humanity, an institution which is damned ill-suited to a being who
            with his usual modesty likes to regard himself as the ‘image’ of God.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 10]

            “Parallel to the training of the body a struggle against the
            poisoning of the soul must begin. Our whole public life today is like
            a hothouse for sexual ideas and simulations. Just look at the bill of
            fare served up in our movies, vaudeville and theaters, and you will
            hardly be able to deny that this is not the right kind of food,
            particularly for the youth…Theater, art, literature, cinema, press,
            posters, and window displays must be cleansed of all manifestations
            of our rotting world and placed in the service of a moral, political,
            and cultural idea.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 10, echoing the Cultural
            Warfare rhetoric of the Religious Right]

            “But if out of smugness, or even cowardice, this battle is not fought
            to its end, then take a look at the peoples five hundred years from
            now. I think you will find but few images of God, unless you want to
            profane the Almighty.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 10]

            “While both denominations maintain missions in Asia and Africa in
            order to win new followers for their doctrine– an activity which can
            boast but very modest success compared to the advance of the
            Mohammedan faith in particular– right here in Europe they lose
            millions and millions of inward adherents who either are alien to all
            religious life or simply go their own ways. The consequences,
            particularly from a moral point of view, are not favorable.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 10]

            “The great masses of people do not consist of philosophers; precisely
            for the masses, faith is often the sole foundation of a moral
            attitude. The various substitutes have not proved so successful from
            the standpoint of results that they could be regarded as a useful
            replacement for previous religious creeds. But if religious doctrine
            and faith are really to embrace the broad masses, the unconditional
            authority of the content of this faith is the foundation of all
            efficacy.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 10]

            “Due to his own original special nature, the Jew cannot possess a
            religious institution, if for no other reason because he lacks
            idealism in any form, and hence belief in a hereafter is absolutely
            foreign to him. And a religion in the Aryan sense cannot be imagined
            which lacks the conviction of survival after death in some form.
            Indeed, the Talmud is not a book to prepare a man for the hereafter,
            but only for a practical and profitable life in this world.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 11]

            “The best characterization is provided by the product of this
            religious education, the Jew himself. His life is only of this world,
            and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his
            nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the
            new doctrine. Of course, the latter made no secret of his attitude
            toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took the whip to
            drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who
            then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his
            business existence. In return, Christ was nailed to the cross, while
            our present-day party Christians debase themselves to begging for
            Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles
            with atheistic Jewish parties– and this against their own nation.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 11]

            “….the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil
            assumes the living shape of the Jew.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 11, precisely echoing
            Martin Luther’s teachings]

            “Faith is harder to shake than knowledge, love succumbs less to
            change than respect, hate is more enduring than aversion, and the
            impetus to the mightiest upheavals on this earth has at all times
            consisted less in a scientific knowledge dominating the masses than
            in a fanaticism which inspired them and sometimes in a hysteria which
            drove them forward.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 1 Chapter 12]

            “The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this
            world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which,
            fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its
            will against all others.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 1 Chapter 12]

            “The greatness of Christianity did not lie in attempted negotiations
            for compromise with any similar philosophical opinions in the ancient
            world, but in its inexorable fanaticism in preaching and fighting for
            its own doctrine.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 1 Chapter 12]

            “All in all, this whole period of winter 1919-20 was a single
            struggle to strengthen confidence in the victorious might of the
            young movement and raise it to that fanaticism of faith which can
            move mountains.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 1 Chapter 12]

            “Thus inwardly armed with confidence in God and the unshakable
            stupidity of the voting citizenry, the politicians can begin the
            fight for the ‘remaking’ of the Reich as they call it.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 1]

            “Of course, even the general designation ‘religious’ includes various
            basic ideas or convictions, for example, the indestructibility of the
            soul, the eternity of its existence, the existence of a higher being,
            etc. But all these ideas, regardless of how convincing they may be
            for the individual, are submitted to the critical examination of this
            individual and hence to a fluctuating affirmation or negation until
            emotional divination or knowledge assumes the binding force of
            apodictic faith. This, above all, is the fighting factor which makes
            a breach and opens the way for the recognition of basic religious
            views.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 1]

            “Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord
            commits sacrilege against the benevolent creator of this miracle and
            contributes to the expulsion from paradise.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 1]

            “A folkish state must therefore begin by raising marriage from the
            level of a continuous defilement of the race, and give it the
            consecration of an institution which is called upon to produce images
            of the Lord and not monstrosities halfway between man and ape.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 2]

            “It would be more in keeping with the intention of the noblest man in
            this world if our two Christian churches, instead of annoying Negroes
            with missions which they neither desire nor understand, would kindly,
            but in all seriousness, teach our European humanity that where
            parents are not healthy it is a deed pleasing to God to take pity on
            a poor little healthy orphan child and give him father and mother,
            than themselves to give birth to a sick child who will only bring
            unhappiness and suffering on himself and the rest of the world.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 2]

            “That this is possible may not be denied in a world where hundreds
            and hundreds of thousands of people voluntarily submit to celibacy,
            obligated and bound by nothing except the injunction of the Church.
            Should the same renunciation not be possible if this injunction is
            replaced by the admonition finally to put an end to the constant and
            continuous original sin of racial poisoning, and to give the Almighty
            Creator beings such as He Himself created?”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 2]

            “For the greatest revolutionary changes on this earth would not have
            been thinkable if their motive force, instead of fanatical, yes,
            hysterical passion, had been merely the bourgeois virtues of law and
            order.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 2]

            “It doesn’t dawn on this depraved bourgeois world that this is
            positively a sin against all reason; that it is criminal lunacy to
            keep on drilling a born half-ape until people think they have made a
            lawyer out of him, while millions of members of the highest culture-
            race must remain in entirely unworthy positions; that it is a sin
            against the will of the Eternal Creator if His most gifted beings by
            the hundreds and hundreds of thousands are allowed to degenerate in
            the present proletarian morass, while Hottentots and Zulu Kaffirs are
            trained for intellectual professions.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 2]

            “It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life,
            but the time will come when man will again bow down before a higher
            god.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 2]

            “Christianity could not content itself with building up its own
            altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the
            heathen altars. Only from this fanatical intolerance could its
            apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute
            presupposition.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 5]

            “For how shall we fill people with blind faith in the correctness of
            a doctrine, if we ourselves spread uncertainty and doubt by constant
            changes in its outward structure? …Here, too, we can learn by the
            example of the Catholic Church. Though its doctrinal edifice, and in
            part quite superfluously, comes into collision with exact science and
            research, it is none the less unwilling to sacrifice so much as one
            little syllable of its dogmas… it is only such dogmas which lend to
            the whole body the character of a faith.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 5]

            “The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in
            his own denomination, of making people stop just talking
            superficially of God’s will, and actually fulfill God’s will, and not
            let God’s word be desecrated. For God’s will gave men their form,
            their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is
            declaring war on the Lord’s creation, the divine will.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 10]

            “In the ranks of the movement [National Socialist movement], the most
            devout Protestant could sit beside the most devout Catholic, without
            coming into the slightest conflict with his religious convictions.
            The mighty common struggle which both carried on against the
            destroyer of Aryan humanity had, on the contrary, taught them
            mutually to respect and esteem one another.”

            [Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf” Vol. 2 Chapter 10]

            “For this, to be sure, from the child’s primer down to the last
            newspaper, every theater and every movie house, every advertising
            pillar and every billboard, must be pressed into the service of this
            one great mission, until the timorous prayer of our present parlor
            patriots: ‘Lord, make us free!’ is transformed in the brain of the
            smallest boy into the burning plea: ‘Almighty God, bless our arms
            when the time comes; be just as thou hast always been; judge now
            whether we be deserving of freedom; Lord, bless our battle!’

            [Adolf Hitler’s prayer, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 2 Chapter 13]

            “The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral
            purification of our public life, are creating and securing the
            conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life”

            [Adolph Hitler, in a speech to the Reichstag on March 23, 1933]

            The lies and duplicitous propaganda you buy into and recycle is all that is embarrassing, Fred…

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Sounds as if Adolf had an unhappy childhood. Never underestimate the long-term harm that can do.

          • willshome

            You really do confuse the capacity for something (non-existent until implemented) to the seeds of something (pre-existing, eternal and always raring to go). I’m sure you have more offences at your beck than you have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. But until you beck them, they don’t exist.

          • Mass Executions

            To desire to do evil is evil in itself, and everyone has those desires, far more than they have the desire to be benevolent.

          • Kevcol

            How do you define evil? Does it emanate from some ultimate source of evil? How did evil come into the world?

          • Mass Executions

            I suppose the easiest way to define it here is acting in your own self-interests over the interests of others, as if you were somehow inherently better than they are. And yes, I think there is an ultimate moral law that says love one another written on the foundation of the universe, and choosing not to do that is the source of evil.

          • Kevcol

            Self interest is one of the existential realities of life, so to live is to be evil? I’ve given to and helped many people but I can’t do it all of the time. My younger sister just died of cancer, her second bout with it. She had breast cancer, went through therapy and beat it for a few more years until it metastasized to her bones, liver and brain. She suffered a horrible, prolonged death. She was a Christian, as is everyone in my family. They prayed for her. I left the city where I live and came and stayed with her along with my mother to care for her. For three months I saw her suffer. Many, many people prayed for her but with each passing day all that ever happened was that she suffered more and more.
            I think that you said that you’re a Protestant Christian correct? I was specifically interested in you answering the last question. How did evil come into the world?

          • Mass Executions

            To put yourself first is to be evil. If we tired to help everyone all of the time we’d burn out, so they most good is done by resting and refreshing ourselves periodically. To take time for oneself in order to do more overall good is not wrong. To take time for yourself because you place yourself above others is.

            Evil came into the world through choice. People are given the gift of choice and choose wrongly.

            I’m so sorry for your family. You were right to help her, and they were right to pray, but wrong not to provide other help. We need to seek to help people by getting up and taking action and through prayer. I don’t think I can say you were wrong for not praying if you don’t think it does anything. I don’t really see how your story relates to the existence of evil and it’s source, though. What were you getting at?

          • Mass Executions

            I can’t seem to reply to your last comment, so I’ll post here. I’m saying that we have to learn to not be evil, not that we CAN’T suppress our evil. Just that we are naturally inclined to do evil much more than we are naturally inclined to do good, without external forces shaping us toward good.

            That’s great that you think all people are equal and worthy of respect. I just think we’re naturally inclined to think the weak, stupid, offensive, disabled, selfish, and sometimes even just different, are NOT equal to us and we don’t need to treat them with respect. I saw a headline just today that babies show racial preferences. All of us have to overcome this stuff.

            I believe the versus says “Where two or three are gathered together I am there with them.” It doesn’t guarantee an answer to prayer. The new testament says that Christ’s followers will suffer, but he will be there to comfort them through the suffering. It reminds us to ultimately pray for God’s will, which we won’t always know. It also says, however, that death isn’t the end. It would indeed be pretty worthless with out that addendum.

            I think that God did create the potential for evil by creating other beings with freewill, but that he did so because the value of having free beings choose to love each other is greater than the evil generated by allowing choice.

            Also, I read a little bit and it looks like that word for evil is more associated with disaster, than other kinds of evil, and it is speaking of God’s power.

          • fredx2

            Why do atheists make such consistently dumb comments? As a matter of fact, at least in the Catholic religion, IF you are an atheist and IF you have led a perfectly wonderful life, with no evil, then it will be possible for you to go to heaven in the right circumstances.
            And your point about being as evil as you like so long as you repent is again, dumb and betrays an ignorance.

          • rationalobservations?

            Why do religiots make such consistently ill-informed and simplistic comments?

            As a matter of fact; the whole confused and internally contradictory content of your bibles are irrelevant to us and your absence of any attempt to convince us with logic and evidence merely predictable.

            Many of us appear to know the origin and content of your dumb and fraudulent religion more intimately than you do.

            Maybe that’s one of many reasons we are atheists.

          • fredx2

            Ooh! You have found contradictory statements in a book of two thousand pages, spanning several thousand years. You must be a genius.
            Ralph Waldo Emerson said “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” By that he meant that any fool could find inconsistencies and contradictions in anything. But for those of large minds, finding those things is the beginning of investigation, not the end.

            Although you claim to know things about the bible, your statements below show that you really know nothing at all about bible scholarship.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Heaven for the view, Hell for the company.

          • allymax bruce

            If you say so, Jack.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            But it`s worth repeating.

          • Kitty MLB

            Oh, for God’s sake Ally. Have you been taken over by aliens. You are taking everyone far too
            seriously.Which is unfortunate, I am never serious and never take others too seriously
            and I am sure Jack is right, hell would be more
            fun.Oh lighten up.

          • Rocksy

            You post this every time.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          But compulsion, sure.
          You really need to cut through the cant. Realise that Heaven is a fabrication for the weak-minded that can`t handle mortality.
          Can I prove that Heaven doesn`t exist? I don`t have to, I`m not the one selling that after-life insurance.

          • allymax bruce

            “Can I prove that Heaven doesn`t exist? I don`t have to, I`m not the one selling that after-life insurance.”
            So, what you’re saying is, nothing exists if you don’t need it to?
            Hardly an enterprising debating standpoint, Jack. For your argument, Atheism, to have any ‘worth’, you must show my argument is less worthy; but you can’t!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            I`m saying that Heaven is a convenient myth for the weak-minded that can`t handle mortality. When you draw your last breath it`s “Game Over”. Get used to it.

          • fredx2

            You are the one making the assertion, however. The one making the assertion is the one that has to prove it.

        • @Mike-uk2011

          I’d say the only one needing “fixing” around here is you.

        • @Mike-uk2011

          If I held your parents hostage and asked you to choose which one I shot. Would you call that a “choice”?
          More like I put you into a position you had no “choice” in and forced you into the choice between two options.
          According to you, this beast created me, without my consent, gave me free will without choice, and will punish me for acting on it.
          He also charged me with the crimes of some fictitious couple long before I was born.
          So now I’m left with the “choice” of bending my knee to a tyrant, like Hitler but a million times worse, or going to a fictitious hell and suffering in agony for ever. A place I was created to go to. Because this being is apparently omniscient too.
          Which – none of this matters anyway, since I can’t choose to believe in something I’m not compelled to with evidence.
          Choose to believe you’re a car, and tell me how easy it is.

          • allymax bruce

            You are very close to renewing your mind.
            Don’t stop.

          • fredx2

            Again, the ignorance is appalling. Man, these atheists are dumb.
            They like to twist things and tell a sad sack story. Poor baby, created without his consent!
            “Charged with crimes of some fictitious couple long before you were born?” Nobody has charged you with crimes. Did the police come by to pick you up and take you to jail? How melodramatic the atheist likes to be!
            Poor baby doesn’t understand Original Sin, so he just mangles it and pretends he is a victim somehow.
            God’s just going to punish you,no matter what you do? What an idiotic thing to say.
            Wow, how did the other 99% of humanity ever get along in llfe, it being so oppressive and all?

        • Cathal Ó Broin

          “It’s not ‘compulsory’; you have the choice to mend your ways, or go to hell.” That sounds like a free choice in the same way “Give me your money or I’ll shoot” is a free choice.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Go through the motions. What have you got to lose? Nothing your integrity.

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          “Love me or I’ll torture you for eternity” is the very definition of “compulsory”. And it’s evil.

        • gcomeau

          Uh-huh… like following the orders of any dictator isn’t compulsory. You have the choice to just do what your told and thus not get shot or thrown in prison and tortured. See? Totally voluntary. Because CHOICE!!!

          (Disclaimer: Hugely exaggerated rolling of the eyes was being performed while those words were being written)

      • Oisín SF

        Unconditional love. It is the object of that love which has a choice to pass it on, or pass it up.

        • Guy_Innagorillasuit

          “You can love me, or you can suffer for eternity in this place I made for those that don’t love me, even though I love you unconditionally”

          • Banyansmom

            Many theologians suggest that those who reject God actually get the afterlife they thought they wanted–an eternity barred from His presence. No fire and brimstone, just eternal absence.

      • @Mike-uk2011

        And not forgetting suppose to fear at the same time.
        And can be committed for thought crimes, too.
        And these people actually worship this fictitious monster??

        • fredx2

          Oh, the horror! You’re right, Jesus was an absolute tyrant!

    • allymax bruce

      I think you’ve got it wrong way round; it is us, the sinner, by our actions, that sends us, to ‘be tortured for all eternity’. Only through Jesus, can we come to God, and be in His image.
      Get this; it’s not God who murders people in wars, it’s us! God only gives us a way to stop our sins; through Jesus.

      • Rillian

        Are you listening to what you are saying?

        You sound like some witch Dr talking about magic spirits.

        • Oisín SF

          And you sound like a puritannical missionary amongst the savages 😀

          Who says atheism has no Christian influence! 😉

          • Rillian

            The Christians tried to brainwash me into their cult all the way through my youth. Does that count as influence?

          • allymax bruce

            “The Christians tried to brainwash me into their cult …”
            So, now you’re an Athiest because of that experience?
            You reckon one cult is better than another?
            Jesus never tried to ‘convert’ anybody; what you got was institutionalised religion; that’s not Christianity.
            Get with the program tiger, and stop embarrassing yourself; and taking up good forum time of others.

          • Rillian

            Jesus probably didn’t even exist. I just don’t need any invisible friends of any faith to get me through life, thanks.

          • fredx2

            Another dumb comment by an atheist. When will the horror end? Why does atheism seem to base itself on rank ignorance? Most scholars agree that a person named Jesus probably did exist. This is commonly known. Why don’t atheists know this stuff? Is it because they get all their information from Polemicists who feel no duty to the truth? Probably.

          • Rillian

            Please link me any proof, I’d be most interested to see it.

            And please don’t link me to page written by people of faith but no actual, factual proof of his existence.

            The very first mention, in any historical records anywhere, was in AD 63. So well after his supposed crucifixion. Which is strange, because the Romans were avid record keepers and many still exist today, all with no mention of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc. etc..

        • allymax bruce

          Jesus never judged me; why do you judge me?

      • GordonHide

        No God murders far larger numbers than we do with disease and natural disasters. The flu epidemic of 1918 killed far more people than died on both sides during the Great War. The atomic attack on the Japanese couldn’t compete with the boxing day tsunami.

        • Oisín SF

          Those were natural, not supernatural occurrences.

          Where did you learn about religion? A bumper sticker?

          • GordonHide

            Fortunately for me I never learned about religion even on a bumper sticker. I was assuming your god was all powerful and inclined to intervene in the world to do good. My mistake. But if your god is impotent or doesn’t care to intervene or both, why do you worship him?

          • fredx2

            So we don’t even have a bumper sticke level of knowledge. Most atheists have the bumper sticker knowledge, at least.

        • allymax bruce

          Knob.

    • Rocksy

      I know this will spoil the mood for the anti Catholic crowd but we don’t believe anyone goes to Hell. We do believe that all people will go to Heaven. Yes even people like Hitler will be forgiven. Hard for us to take in being the vengeful people that we are but the Christian God isn’t made in our image like so many other religions where their gods are vindictive and needy.

    • TimeandtheRani

      Well I think that was his dad, actually.

    • Oisín SF

      No.

      Myth or not, that’s just intellectually lazy or wilful misrepresentation of it.

      He saw himself as a redeemer of beings from a cruel world and hard law.

    • Mass Executions

      “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. ”

      ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

      • Guy_Innagorillasuit

        Comrade Stalin doesn’t send them to the gulag, they send themselves by rejecting Comrade Stalin.

        Weak sauce, C.S. Lewis.

        • Mass Executions

          No, what Lewis is saying is you can try and be happy outside of the presence of God, but people weren’t designed for it. You can try and run your car on sugar, but it’s not going to work. God doesn’t have to (and doesn’t) go out of his way to make those who reject him miserable, misery is what naturally occurs outside of the presence of God.

          • Guy_Innagorillasuit

            You and C.S. Lewis think only people that worship your god can be happy? Good luck supporting that argument. I don’t envy you the mental gymnastics required to make a god based on Christian scripture anything other than laughable and/or reprehensible.

          • Mass Executions

            In eternity. And that when people find happiness in this life they are encountering the true God, if only tangential and unknowingly in some cases. All good things come from God.

          • Guy_Innagorillasuit

            Hahah, that’s rich! Everything good is God, he’s blameless for the rest!

            This is why apologetics is such a sad field. You start with answers and twist everything until it fits.

          • Mass Executions

            Choice is good, even if it creates the potential for evil. All evil results from the opportunity for choice.

            That’s what apologists think about materialists.

          • fredx2

            Why are all the atheists so fricking sour on everything then? I’d rather spend have a toothache then spend time with these snarky, bitchy, whiny, “think they are so clever” types

          • http://www.isystain.com Hipster Beard Platform

            Or as science calls it: entropy. So yes, in the absence of a book telling nice little stories to cheer us all up, nature can seem pretty miserable. Some of us need the good ship Christianity to ignore that true…others don’t.

          • Mass Executions

            Science call’s choice entropy? I think I misunderstand. I didn’t exactly sign up for Christianity because it cheered me up. The moral standards considerably depress me, sometimes, but the thing for me was the moral standards really do seem to be objective. Written on the foundation of the universe, so to speak. That, combine with human ability to think and chose, which seems impossible to derive from mere random particle motion. Actually, entropy kind of pointed me that way, too. If the universe had a beginning, and is grinding on toward a heat death with no method we know of for restarting, how did it start in the first place? I just find it more difficult to sign up for materialism. I may be wrong, of course, but if materialism is true it seems everything is predetermined by particle motion, so I’m not sure I can be any other way.

          • allymax bruce

            Marxist ideology.

          • Mass Executions

            Which one? Materialism?

          • allymax bruce

            Marx wrote in chiastic ‘fashion’; he was a Jew, and never got ‘over it’; regardless of what he said.
            Look for the absolute reverse to what Marx said in his Manifesto, and you will find Post-Capitlaistic economy; it’s called Counterproductivity.

            All Right Reserved to allymax
            Last Post Productions

          • http://www.isystain.com Hipster Beard Platform

            No, I was commenting on your statement about misery being a natural state. I agree and was saying the explanation for this is probably entropy. Maybe not misery but it certainly requires us to expend energy to lessen the effects of entropy. Hidden in that is a large swag of misery I’m sure.

            I also agree that the concept of God helps man be happy, however I see it as a diversion to help ‘forget’ the inevitable decline of all things. Some need the diversion (Christians), other don’t (Atheists and quite possibly Buddhists).

            I also agree that the moral standards current religions place on people are indeed depressing. Many have no moral benefit at all. In fact quite the opposite. Ultimately though, religion does empower some people to find meaning and ultimately some form of peace. This is a good thing but unfortunately, heavily abused by power driven men.

          • Mass Executions

            Everything is abused by power driven men. The ultimate question is, of course, not how a given set of beliefs make you feel, but whether they’re true.

          • http://www.isystain.com Hipster Beard Platform

            I’m not so sure that the truth of beliefs is all that relevant. If you come from the standpoint that many religions are made up by man to answer the unanswerable and to provide peace to people confronted by death, I think many of them have done this well so their value isn’t in their proof. In fact many a religion argument ends with the Christian saying proof is irrelevant in matters of faith.

            Not that my views are entirely provable either for that matter, they just make more sense to me because there is at lease some scientific proof and reasoning involved. Enough for me to use it as a basis of why ethics and morality exist, why it doesn’t have to be from a divine source and why I don’t need to worry too much about life being devalued in the absence of religion.

          • fredx2

            On the other hand, the bible has been compiled over thousands of years of human history. It presents a case for a set of moral ideas. The morality contained therein has been empirically tested over thousands of years and found to produce good societies. So it is an empirically based, time tested method for producing moral cultures. No atheist societies have ever existed, except on a small scale. And they quickly evaporate because atheists can’t agree on what the components of morality are.

          • http://www.isystain.com Hipster Beard Platform

            Yes, the bible has been empirically tested to be completely ambiguous. Case in point: ‘Slavery is a natural condition’, ‘left handed people should be stoned’, ‘gay people should be killed’, the world is only 6000 years old, Adam and Eve had 2 sons….who the hell did they have sex with to create the human race. Their mother? If so aren’t we all doomed to hell based on the oh so forgiving teachings of the good ship Christianity?

            As a Christian you do not have a divine right to morality. There are other sources, you just don’t like the competition.

        • fredx2

          Another patently stupid atheist comment. Did any communist every think or say that they sent themselves to the gulag? No, it was more than clear that Stalin sent them.
          CS Lewis makes a standard point of Christian theology. No one goes to hell unless he chooses to permanently separate himself from God. You couldn’t handle that intellectually, so you made up some silly nonsense about Stalin never sending anyone to the gulag

          • Guy_Innagorillasuit

            And you’ll give your god a pass for anything. Because you have to.

    • Rafael

      Torture? You haven’t read the Bible, you’re Biblical illiterate.

      Do you know what Eternal Fire means?

      Jude 1:7 – ” just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [a]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [b]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

      Eternal Fire means death, Fire has eternal consequences, Nonexistent, Fire destroys, Hence why the term is used, if you Questioned it and Studied it like you atheists like to promote, then you would’ve known this.

      Here’s another mind blowing passage, “he Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

      So whoever rejects God will Not see life, so they won’t be existing, so the term “God’s Wrath remains on them” means that they’ll be nonexistent/dead. wrath also an mistranslation, which is properly Justice, Anger at injustice.

      If you reject YHWH, then you reject Life, YHWH is life(John 14:6)

      You didn’t question anything, if you did what the Bible says, and Tested All Things(1 Thessalonians 5:21), you’d be a Christian.

      Matthew 7:12 – “2 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this Is the Law and the Prophets.” – YHWH(The Father and The Son(Jesus Christ) and The Holy Spirit)

      So the Law is Treat others the same way you would want them to treat you.

      What is Sin?

      1 John 3:4 – “Sin is Lawlessness”

      So the Bible defines Sin as Lawlessness, and the Law is Treat others the same way you would want them to treat you.

      Sin therefore means according to the Bible, Not treating others the same way you would want them to treat you.

      Nothing more, nothing less.

      Homosexuality is never condemned in the Bible – http://savedbychrist94.blogspot.com/2014/01/homosexuality-is-not-sin-irrefutable.html

      Lust is never condemned in the Bible – http://savedbychrist94.blogspot.com/2013/04/lust-is-not-sin.html

      The Bible says that If you hold to Man made Rules such as “Do not handle, Do not Taste, Do not touch” the you are Of The World and not of Jesus Christ,

      Colossians 2:20-23 – “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”(This passage proves that flesh doesn’t mean literal flesh, but is a term.)

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Stop quoting Scripture. Unless you`re campaigning for the post of village idiot.

    • fredx2

      No, it wasn’t. What the hell are you talking about?

    • alex

      Totally wrong. The Jesus of the gospels shows God’s grace and unconditional love to everyone, and identifies with suffering humanity. ‘Love your enemies and bless those who hate you’ are hardly the words of an unloving person. As for original sin, I am not sure if this exists but human nature is certainly flawed as a look at history or any modern newspaper will demonstrate.

      God does not send people to hell. The only ones in ‘hell’, if it exists, are those who choose it for themselves through their own choices in life. Reaping what you sow is a natural outworking of cause and effect.

  • Stoic Atheist

    “The Moral Life of Babies” (Scientific American Magazine) that’s S-C-I-E-N-T-I-F-I-C!!!!
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-moral-life-of-babies/

  • Ricky Strong

    If only the late Christopher Hitchens were able to read this, in particular your reference to the Declaration being founded upon religious “principles”.

    You are quite right though, where religion is concerned we are are all born equal – born as sinners into an imperfect world where our only hope of salvation is to aspire to something better than this mundane life here on this rotten planet called Earth. Just one big obstacle stands in the way though doesn’t it, make sure you chose the ‘right’ religion and the ‘right’ set of morals, but above all else, don’t even dare to think for yourself because only specially selected individuals can show you the way.

    I’m all for spiritualism, feeling a connection with nature, the universe, other humans etc, but seriously, stick religion – as Hitchens once remarked, it poisons everything.

    • Cyril Sneer

      If someone said to me that my beautiful daughter coming into the world is already a sinner I’d knock them out.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        So how are those anger management classes going?

      • Tommy_Butler

        Your daughter, beautiful though she is, is born a sinner. So are you. So am I.
        Sin is a turning aside from what is good. Babies turn aside from the good all the time, and fathering them consists largely in teaching them to pursue what is good and in right measure. If you are not up to that task, than the fallen state into which your daughter has been born will remain a curse for her and a cause of suffering.
        We are all born desiring what is good. But it is a clear sign of our fallen condition that, though we desire it, we are not born knowing what it is. Every father — who is not insane — desires to teach his child this desired good, so necessary, so already wanted, but so clearly unknown to that child, so that the child may share in the goodness of his life, expand it, perpetuate it.
        Our shared father wishes to teach us the full good about reality so that we may share in it most fully. In doing so, he teaches us of a good we could not have known on our own — the Good Itself — and does so in a distinctive way because, on account of our fallen condition, we have trouble discerning even what is best about small things and would almost be hopeless if we were left to ourselves about what it ultimate, highest, and best.
        You’re welcome not to believe this. I know it sounds bizarre that anyone could believe the universe were founded on truth and love, rather than on nothing but chance. But this narrative explains who we are and how our desire operates far more clearly and fully than any other. Further, it is the only one that can justify the passion with which you find your daughter beautiful. If God is not real, than beauty is a mere subjective feeling, a sentiment, and your pride in your daughter — which I find entirely justified! — is just a specious act of passing off your irrelevant sentiments as an objective moral principle (after all, you said you planned to hit me, based upon it!).

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          This is known as emotional blackmail. The correct response is, “Take your violent superstition and shove it up your donkey”.

          • fredx2

            How are those anger management classes coming?

          • Tommy_Butler

            It’s called being responsible for what one says. If you assert something as true, you ought to be capable of explaining why it is true. The author to whom my comment replies either is not serious about what he says, or does not understand the significance of what he says. As for you, you do not know what you are talking about to call Christianity violent. People are violent; Christianity, in its moral dimension, chastens that violence. How ghastly the world would be had Christianity not pronounced that justice was a reality applicable to all persons merely in virtue of their being persons. As for “superstition,” as you use that word, all it means is “a story I don’t like.” But that tells me nothing, since it seems very clear that there is nothing you like besides the little god you have made of yourself.

        • haywardsward

          I posted this further but it needs repeating!

          No other major religion, there may some strange cults of which I am not aware, premises its very existence on sin, that brought about by “The Fall of Man” the “Original Sin”

          For as a marketing device OS has done very well it has led to a belief in the general condition of sinfulness of the human race from birth, hence the Church is able to claim that it and only it is able to save those sinners.

          OS as devised by Paul was continually used to beat those early followers of the erstwhile Jesus about the head & soul. But there was no evidence of OS until Paul came along.

          Where did the erstwhile Jesus talk of OS? Where in the OT is there a mention of OS? The early Church took to it seriously as a way of controlling the flock. So seriously that later it was worked up into doctrine by Iraneus.

          Understandable then why later on Pelagianism did so well. For if one can be at all rational about any religion why should it be accepted that a “sin” supposedly committed at the very beginning of “creation” can effect a new born child by placing them at birth in the general condition of sinfulness

          Of course this was opposed, for it was cutting into the Church franchise in the Holy Roman Empire. Then along comes Augustine, the “saint” who wrote “Lord grant me chastity, but not yet” to argue against Pelagianism.

          So much so that the early Church may have ended up like the Shakers. Augustine was definitely down on sexuality. Like all those Southern evangelists, who having wallowed in sin and fornication decide that no one else should.

          Obviously if Augustine had had enough that was it for everyone else. He railed against concupiscence. But the Church needed all the “faithful” to reproduce to keep the franchise going, so much of what was in Augustine’s arguments was swept under the carpet.

          However the later Protestant sects of various sorts took to Original Sin in a big way, following the Augustine line concerning concupiscence and ramping up the guilt trip.

          Luther asserted that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. But somehow interestingly enough he subscribed to that strange doctrine of the Immaculate conception!

          Calvin believed that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. But he took it even further for this is the basis for the Calvinistic doctrine of “total depravity. Resulting in a complete alienation from Calvin’s God and the total inability of humans to achieve reconciliation with Calvin’s God based on their own abilities.

          Not only do individuals inherit a sinful nature due to Adam’s fall, but since he was the first representative of the human race, all whom he represented inherit the guilt of his sin.

          What is that about “a sucker born every minute…

          • fredx2

            See my earlier response. This is still dumb.

          • haywardsward

            But not as dumb as than the belief in OS carried out to the extent of the Calvinistic doctrine of “total depravity.

          • Tommy_Butler

            You seem to know more about the history of ancient Christianity than St. Paul or any actual Christians. You are certainly correct that ancient Judaism, and contemporary Judaism, does not generally speak of the story of the fall as, well the story of the fall, i.e. as the advent of original sin. That is because the death that enters into the world through sin was not thought, in the ancient covenant, to hinder one’s eternal life. Why not? Because life everlasting for the ancient Jews was primarily conceived of as the enduring love relationship between God and his chosen people. But, within that tradition, as the Gospels testify, arose the question of whether God also intended not just the deathlessness of the Jewish people, but the resurrection of the dead per se (as most of us would understand that phrase). The answer Jesus gave to that question was emphatic, to say the least. We are born for life, not for a lasting death. How did we lose that life, so that those who meet Jesus in John’s Gospel are asking always, “How shall we be saved?” and slowly discovering that Jesus alone has the “words of eternal life?” This is the question to which original sin is the answer. We all know we need to be saved. We are looking for the permanent reality that can adequately account for why we see our lives as intrinsically good and meaningful even as we look inside ourselves and see glaring imperfections and around us and see no lasting justice or vision of happiness adequate to that which the soul, somehow, already knows.
            Perhaps engaging with your comment is beside the point. To tell me that there was no talk of original sin before St. Paul can elicit no other response from any rational person than, “Well, so far as Christianity is concerned, St. Paul is a venerable enough authority for me.”

      • Oisín SF

        But this wonderful little person, perfect as she is in a father’s eyes, can of course develop – she has weaknesses, room for growth. That is not an insult to say so.

      • fredx2

        I’m sure Charles Manson’s father said the same thing. And Hitlers father. And Jeffrey Dahmers.
        The point is that we are NOT born perfect. Each of us is born with an Original sin, that is a tendency to do evil at times. This is particularly true for babies – they bite other kids, they smack each other, they want what they want and they don’t give a shit about other people. They have to be taught to be nice, to share, to forego their own selfish pleasure for the sake of others. They ARE born bad, and it takes a lot to educate them out of their seflishness.
        Everyone is born like this. Do you deny that the possibility is there?
        Or do you believe that your little daughter will never do anything bad?

        • haywardsward

          That you believe in OS which only exists in the Christian mindset is your choice.

    • jmjm208

      Where is Hitchens now? If he did not repent of his atheism and accept Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour then he is in Hell!

      • Ricky Strong

        I heard that David Hume is reported to have said on his deathbed after being asked to repent ‘I care as much about what happens to me after I die as I do about what happened to me before I was born’.

        • allymax bruce

          So, are you espousing Heresy?

          • Ricky Strong

            I would certainly hope so.

        • Oisín SF

          My personal favourite:
          Voltaire was asked to reject the devil, and he responded:
          “This is no time to be making enemies”

          • Ricky Strong

            Very good.

        • Kitty MLB

          Indeed, do not believe in heaven as a place, if you do not
          wish to. Believe the human soul is a source of energy, and continues through the passages of time, it that makes you happier. And its not heresy as some have said. Who decides
          what is heresy.

        • jmjm208

          Then David Hume was extremely foolish. After death comes the judgement, then we all face eternity in Heaven or Hell.

          Those who repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour go to Heaven, those who don’t go to Hell.

          • Ricky Strong

            Do you not think it slightly cruel of your god to wait for so long to reveal himself and offer his teachings. All those mesolithic or neolithic men women and children burning for eternity in hell because your god did not set out the rules from day one.

            For your sake you better hope that Allah is not the true one god, because it will be you burning in hell fires for worshiping a false god.

            And if your gods idea of justice is to torture his creations for eternity as some kind punishment for not accepting him then I spit at his feet. What a sick individual he must be. I want nothing to do with a deity that condones torture,

          • fredx2

            Do you have any idea what you are talking about? These are third grade questions about religion. Honest to God, people, all of this has been answered ad nauseum for centuries by the various religions. Do a little homework before you start criticizing with drive by bumper sticker comments. God, these atheists are the dumbest people I have ever encountered.

          • Ricky Strong

            I’m not an atheist, but please, enlighten me.

          • jmjm208

            I suggest you pick up a New Testament and read Romans 9 v 20

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Presupposing there is such a place as Hell, which I for one seriously doubt.

        • allymax bruce

          And the crux comes to crunch; into the long dark night; you won’t be coming back; eternal damnation is a long time to consider that ‘doubt’!

          • Ricky Strong

            What makes you think you’ve picked the right god?

          • allymax bruce

            There is only one True God.
            That’s how I know.

          • Matt McDowall

            how do you know there is only one god?

          • allymax bruce

            i thought you told me to go away?

          • Matt McDowall

            I told you to read your book. Not go away.

            but to answer my question to you…the answer is – you don’t know if there is more than one god. your just accepting what someone has told you (most likely parents) attaching yourself blindingly to a belief based purely on the convenience of where and when you were born.

          • allymax bruce

            Wrong again; your lacking logical conclusion is what you espouse; only because you don’t know what I know.
            That’s your problem; not mine. Don’t think you know me, or my Faith; you know nothing.

          • Matt McDowall

            So we please beg you to demonstrate that there is not more than one God…
            your faith is nothing more than an excuse. You can believe anything on faith can’t you? I mean the hindus have faith don’t they? So do the muslims that they are correct, yes? If you had good reasons you wouldnt need faith would you now?
            So if you do have good reasons please explain them and we can evulaute them on evidence and logically reasoning…
            If not your opinion is as worthy as a psychiatric person trying to convince us that their imaginary friend is real.

          • allymax bruce

            Matt, don’t beg, nor ask in pleasure.
            Come to God in full honour that he will give you His will.
            When you do this, you will understand that mere ‘projecting’ your wants, needs, and desires, onto a ‘deity’, is nothing more than what you ‘expect’.
            God is Almighty; He sees, hears, and knows everything; if you doubt, then I cannot help you.
            If you have the slightest of faith, then, I can help you.
            Until, then, we are in different ‘worlds’.

          • fredx2

            If you want to consider a super large proportion – say 84 percent or something – of your fellow men as “psychiatric persons” then I would say that calls into question who the real psychiatric person is.

          • Matt McDowall

            yes Fredx2 a population can be wrong…i’m not sure if you realize this

            Hey guess what?! Most people believed that the world was flat at some time in our history…were they right? No.

            Hey guess what?! Most people believed that diseases were caused by gods because they were angry….were they right? No.

            I’m sure you can think of many many more, correct?

            Now lets play the fun numbers game just to ram this point home for you….

            35.1 % of the population of the world identify as Christians…so that means 64.9% do not…so from a theistic perspective more people don’t believe in Jesus than do….Is this more palatable for you?

            Now if you are claiming a deistic perspective/ or just any God I’ll grant you the mass majority of people believe it…so what? doesn’t make it true does it?? Why you ask?

            …Is that the claim itself doesn’t hold validity because a group of people say so or believe so….it only holds validity if can be verifiable confirmed, tested, observed etc etc with EVIDENCE to support its case….

          • Ricky Strong

            I would hate to be so certain in my own life. It leaves no room for imagination.

      • rationalobservations?

        Now suspending incredulity for a moment (don’t get excited – only a moment: Lets look at an argument for heaven or hell and “god” or “satan”?

        The human authored work of fantasy and fiction called the Old Testament contains fables that indicate that “god” killed or caused to be killed hundreds of millions of ordinary humans on whims of its own peculiar immoral judgement.
        On the other hand; According to the same weird old book – “satan” only ever killed 10 humans (Lot’s children), but those deaths were provoked by “god” and those deaths are therefore also its responsibility.
        “God” or “Satan”? I know which one appears the more humane and less barbaric.

        As for heaven?
        Since the 4th century CE brutal and barbaric imposition of the then new heresy of the Western / Roman religion based upon a fictional “god-man” Greek scribes called “Jesus” – countless millions of innocent folk have been persecuted, terrorised, tortured and massacred by “the church”.
        On balance: If good folk like Hitch are in “hell” and all those barbarous, murderous, genocidal, homicidal christians are in “heaven”…

        • allymax bruce

          Old Testament, is not the New Testament; if you don’t know the difference, then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • rationalobservations?

            The “New Testament” relies upon and is based upon the “Old Testament”.
            The fictional character for which 3rd century Greek scribes invented the name “Jesus” preaches the Old Testament and constantly refers to laws and mythology from the Old Testament.
            No OT “god” – no NT “god-man”.

          • allymax bruce

            No, you are wrong; the New Testament, does not rely on the Old Testament. What you ‘interpret’ (myth-making), from Jesus’ saying; “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” is your myth-making!
            Here’s what it really means; ‘to fulfil that which was shadowed by the figures of the Law, by delivering men through grace from the curse of the Law’.

            Read Matthew 22:18-21, to see yourself!

          • rationalobservations?

            I have studied the confused and internally contradictory content of the NT bible we all know today AND many of the previous versions of that book right back to the significantly different content of the first/oldest codex NT that was started by four anonymous Greek scribes in the late 4th century and contains the history of a further 800 years of editing, deletions, additions, alterations, interpolations, modifications and exaggerations.

            Quoting long debunked bunkum fails to impress me at all.

            Please cross reference the actual original Hebrew / “Old Testament” messiah prophesies and you will discover that your mythical god-man “Jesus” fails to fulfill them.

            Cross reference the prophesies that your god-man is said to have fulfilled and your will not find them in the tales of the Hebrew god.

          • allymax bruce

            I only read your comment down to your, “NT that was started by four anonymous Greek scribes in the late 4th centur”, and knew there’s no point in discussing anything with you.

          • rationalobservations?

            I am happy to leave you to your ignorance and lack of curiosity regarding the real history of your particular religion.

            I accept that you have nothing that refutes or contradicts the evidence based facts I present.

            Please note however; that your bunkum will always be debunked by those who have acquired greater knowledge of your fraudulent religion than you have.

          • fredx2

            Please note that I have taken the time to rebut your nonsensical statements in part. You have now revealed your ignorance, and not much more is needed.

          • rationalobservations?

            Please note: Unsupported denial is not rebuttal or refutation.
            You have rebutted nothing while merely denying everything.

            Run away. That’s what ignorant religiots always do when backed into a corner and asked to support their claims with evidence.

            Much more is needed before you can claim you have revealed anything at all my ignorant and delusional friend..

          • haywardsward

            All translations of the OT/Tnk, NT from Hebrew/Greek into Latin and from all three into initially German/English were made to serve the particular needs of those who commissioned/ made them. For compilation/redaction has been the norm in both the original OT/Tnk and NT

            The Torah from Tnk consists of five pieces, written by five different authors in five different places at five different times and redacted. It is not the work of Moses written down from dictation given by Ywh.

            The NT underwent compilation/redaction to fit in with the needs of the early Church. Irenaeus based his choice of the four canonical gospels on Geography, Meteorology and Symmetry as much as Theology, saying in Against the Heresies,

            …It is not possible that the gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the church is scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground of the church is the gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh…

            NT is not actual eyewitness, historical evidenced writing but mostly conjecture, hearsay and a very selective “truth”, in fact often lies.

            Those early Fathers of the Church, Clement , Eusebius, Jerome, John Chrysostom, were all adept at justifying deceit/lies for the good of the poor sinner.

            …For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention. In fact action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind …

            …And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived…

            Chrysostom, Treatise On The Priesthood, Book 1.

            When we think of Spin Doctors let us recall those early ones they who set the standards, The Doctors of the Church

            Further more as for the historical Jesus fact is that there is not the slightest physical evidence; no accounts, artefacts, carpentry. dwellings, tools or self authored manuscripts. No contemporary Roman records show Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus.

            There occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either mostly unknown authors, people who had never met the earthly Jesus, or from straight out fraudulent accounts.

          • allymax bruce

            ” it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh… ”
            Wow; and you take yourself seriously? Are your Dan Brown?

            “NT is not actual eyewitness,”
            Look mate; I really don’t know what your smoking, but please put it down; if you follow logical conclusions, you are making god in the image of Man. That’s not what Christianity is about; the New Testament gave us Jesus, God’s only begotten Son. That means, by default, Isaac, Ishmael, and any other ‘son’ deity spouted, are all dissolved. In every ‘era’, God gave us prophets that were all foretold, and all foretold of Jesus’ return; what you don’t know, you will never understand! As such, 500 years ago they thought many things that were wrong, and never knew of many things that we know of now. You are only another wrong-un. Forget trying to rationalise God, Jesus, Christianity; just have Faith mate.

          • haywardsward

            The quote , that of Irenaeus, an early Church Father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology is accurate as is that of John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, another early Church Father.

            I do not smoke anything just exercise some rationality.

            Your choice not to it appears

            Of course god is made in the image of man/woman. That is what all religions/cults/whatever do.

          • allymax bruce

            Hay! Anyfool can quote scribes and detractors; your last sentence is correct. Now, retire, and consider what The Spirit of God is, not what anyfool tells you what it is.

          • haywardsward

            But these two were Doctors of the Church who amongst the many others were the those who laid the theological and apologetic foundation of the christian church

            I am about to retire, to bed, but have no need to consider the non existent sprit of a non existent being.

          • allymax bruce

            ‘The Church’ rejected Jesus.
            Try Descartes; seeing as your lying!

          • haywardsward

            Where in my statements was their an untruth? The one about god, which by the way should have been gods/godeses is an arguable one but not an untruth.

          • fredx2

            More dumb atheist comments. Here is perhaps his dumbest and most intellectually dishonest. “Further more as for the historical Jesus fact is that there is not the slightest physical evidence; no accounts, artefacts, carpentry. dwellings, tools or self authored manuscripts. No contemporary Roman records show Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus.

            So rather than a know it all atheist who claims to be a bible scholar, lets look at what real bible scholars say:

            From the Historicity of Jesus Article on Wikipedia,
            “Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed”

            For this proposition they quote the following:
            “In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees” B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285″
            “Michael Grant (a classicist) states that “In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.” in Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels by Michael Grant 2004ISBN 1898799881 page 200″
            “Richard A. Burridge states: “There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.” in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34″

          • fredx2

            Another stupid atheist trick.

            John Chrysostom did indeed write what you say he wrote.

            However, you rip the quote from its context. In that document, Chrysostom was saying that it is not reasonable to expect 100% perfect truth at all times. He makes the point that sometimes it is better to tell a lie, if the ends intended are good. For example, if the Nazis come to your house asking where the Jews are hidden, and you know, is it better to tell the truth, or to lie? Obviously it is better to lie. That is the only point that Chrysostom was trying to make.

            Yet, the atheist uses the quote to PRETEND that Chrysostom is approving of falsifying the Gospels.
            Why can’t atheists make their case without some sort of mendacity?
            You should be ashamed of yourself.

            I invite everyone to go read the entire document,

            http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/19221.htm

          • fredx2

            More stupid atheist tricks.

            Although the first copies of the bible we have are from the 4th century, (really, how could we have earlier ones, the canon of the bible was decided on in the 4th century) there are numerous, voluminous writings of the early Christians refererncing every facet of the bible from the very earliest days of Christianity.

            He ain’t as smart as he wants you to think

          • rationalobservations?

            More stupid religionist denial, fred.

            Please name and state the location of these extant “numerous, voluminous writings of the early Christians refererncing every facet of the bible from the very earliest days of Christianity.”

            I have searched and researched far and wide through the great museums and libraries of the world and there appears to be nothing relating to the legends of Jesus extant from within the 1st century. Many other men claiming to be “messiahs” or acclaimed by others as “a messiah” between C 4 BCE and C 140 CE – but not a single mention of a messiah called “Jesus” or the real Jewish names Joshua or Yeshua / Y-Shua from which it is assumed the later Greek authors of the “Jesus” legend coined the otherwise meaningless word “Jesus”.

            I don’t wish to be thought “smart”. I just would like to have some answers to my questions and an argument based upon logic and evidence presented by a religionist for once.

            Assumption and presumption is not argument.
            Opinion and the content of one confused and internally contradictory book is not evidence.

            Please stop making your self look even more stupid and present a logic and evidence based argument that address the issues, defends/excuses your beliefs and answer the questions.

          • fredx2

            Another dumb comment by an atheist.

            “In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees” B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285″

          • rationalobservations?

            Yet another vacuous and dumb denial by a reloigionist, fred.

            Since when was the christian bible scholar Bart Ehrman a “secular agnostic”?

            Since when was quoting the personal opinion of someone who shares your belief any validation of that belief?

            I don’t say that there wasn’t one (or several) humans who may have been at the start of the human mythology that ended in tales of “Jesus” hundreds of years later. All I ask is what (non-biblical / non-fictional) evidence exists that in any way confirm the existence of a 1st century “god-man” who was named “Jesus” by later Greek scribes.

            Opinion is not evidence.
            Belief is not evidence.
            Old books of potential fiction are not evidence.

            Denial is not rebuttal or refutation either.

          • GeeBee36_6

            I have been reading this spat of yours with fred etc with interest. As usual, the apologists for Jesus base all of their comments on the presupposition not merely that he actually lived, but also that he was the founder of a religion in his name, and that the NT is a tolerably accurate reflection of his later life.

            I,like you, have spent more hours than I care to recall, over many years, researching this fascinating matter, and have discovered something absolutely crucial to understanding the entire subject. It is, to any objective analysis, a very easy discovery to make: the true founder of the Christian religion certainly lived. For one thing, the only more or less first-hand sources in the NT confirm as much, in that he was their author.

            I do not, however, refer to ‘Jesus’ (who I also believe was real enough, but who found himself more or less hi-jacked by the person to whom I allude.) No, the true founder of Christianity was a mysterious figure: part sham, part showman, part shaman. His energy and polemics promoted a new amalgam of the
            ancient, and formidable religion of Judaism, with paganism, spiced with a
            hefty dash of the eastern mystery cults.

            I refer of course to Saul of Tarsus. The very fact of his admission (in the book of Acts, written by his companion known to gospel-history as ‘Luke’) that he had made an enemy of Jesus’ brother James the Just, ‘and others who consider themselves great’, speaks volumes of Jesus’ existence. This spat was most inconvenient to ‘Saint Paul’, as he became known, and via the analytical tool of ‘tendenz’ it can be more or less confidently deduced that Jesus must have existed, bearing in mind that James, and probably all three of his brothers, fell out with Saul over what the latter was preaching about their own deceased brother. (Tendenz, for those unfamiliar with biblical analysis and archaeology, avers that passages that run counter to the main thrust of any theme, and thus appear to mar its seamless flow, must be true. They are only there because, as in the case of Saul’s spat with James, they were so well known at the time it would appear odd, and decidedly fishy, not to acknowledge them.)

            Because Saul wrote about James ‘the brother of the lord’, and because James and Jesus’ remaining family clearly despised Saul, we may, with some confidence, conclude that ‘Jesus’ was real enough. Through examining James and also the other brothers, Jude/Judas and Simon/Simeon, we are able partially to reconstruct Jesus. As Robert Eisenman, in his magisterial ‘James, the Brother of Jesus’ (Faber & Faber, 1997) observes ‘whoever and whatever James was, so was Jesus’.

            Eisenman then goes on, over more than a thousand pages, to construct James as a radical ultra-orthodox Jew, whose family were, in today’s parlance, both ‘freedom fighters’ and messianists. They did not teach antinomianism – that was a sly trick put about by Saul. On the contrary, any whiff of deviation fro the Jewish law would have been anathema to them.

            Saul forged ahead (an apposite verb) with his ideas, and of course they had instant and massive appeal. They tapped into the existing desire among gentiles to share in the highly regarded Jewish faith. The phenomenon was given the term ‘theos hypsistos’, and what made most gentiles demur was the necessity to adhere to the law. In the case of men, of course, this meant undergoing circumcision. Also, converts would henceforth be precluded from ‘open table fellowship’, essentially separating them v-from all members of their family who had not also converted.

            Cue Saul, and his bogus ‘new covenant’: no more need for tiresome and infinitely complex rules governing every aspect of daily life. Judaism in its ‘new guise’ would throw off these shackles and embrace all gentiles with no penalty. Strange that almost no actual Jews bought into Saul’s mountebank performance. Oh no: poor, homeless, downtrodden gentiles formed his core target market. In this regard he was a very similar figure to many much more modern religiosophists: Joseph Smith Jnr; Charles Taze Russell; Mary Jane Eddy; L Ron Hubbard; David Koresh.

            Just because Saul was the first of many does not mean his schtick had any more substance to it. That it came, eventually, to appeal to the POTUS of the day, in the form of Emperor Constantine, who cynically adopted it as a means of social control. He personally saw no reason to abandon his own pagan faith of the undefeated sun, but decided it might be amusing anyway to meld aspects of it with the religion he co-opted – hence all Christian figures being represented with the sun behind their heads for example (I think you might term this enduring phenomenon a ‘halo’), and of course the birth of the deity at the time of the winter solstice, and its triumph over night at the vernal equinox.

            The Christ of faith might well have sustained Western civilisation, and the four Christian gospels exported to the four corners of the globe, but I fear that the Jesus of history, insofar as he is recoverable, bears no resemblance to the figure Saul of Tarsus set at the head of his new and rampantly successful brand.

          • Matt McDowall

            you do realize they are the same “God” right? You do understand you can’t have the new testament without the old testament and the fact that Jesus was a Jew and believed the old testament and laws right? Have you read either of them?

          • Kitty MLB

            Ally is correct, in a way. The old testament God was cruel and vengeful. The new testament God- our Christian God is so very
            far removed. But remember The God of Christ is the God of the gentiles. Jesus may have been a Jew, but he hardly had much of a choice in the matter. And the new testament
            doesn’t live by the others Laws- not the same.

          • Matt McDowall

            All is only correct in saying that the old testament is not the New testament…well it doesn’t take Einstein to figure that out.

            However they are both related…and you can’t have the new testament without the old. Where the hell do you think you get the 10 commandments from you Christians preach so much? (and btw – they aren’t the real 10 commandments – i’ll let you look that one up yourself!)

            I’ll grant that the God portrayed in the old testament is different than the one in the new testament. This is what caused confusion with Marcion and actually help speed up the creation of the Canon…by a committee by the way.

            Does God bi-polar?

            Jesus was a black arabic jew who believed in the god of the old. (if he existed) He clearly stated that the old laws to be upheld…

            please take your pick below: he is referring to the old testament…the new testament was created till the 4th century…and then edited again and again and again.

            “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

            “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

            “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

            Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law. Mark.7:9-13 “Whoever curses father or mother shall die” (Mark 7:10 NAB)

            And more:

            “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19)

            BTW Moses is the old testament…if you didn’t know.

          • allymax bruce

            Took you an hour to write your comment.
            Took me a minute to read it, then decide it was rubbish.

          • Matt McDowall

            Once again clever..

            a) took 2 minutes to write, however wasn’t at a computer for a good hour…did you think of that genius?

            b) I’m glad you read it. however Cognitive dissonance will settle in now for you. I’m quoting your book princess…Just read it.

          • allymax bruce

            ‘princess’?
            Well, I say; I’ve never been called that before.
            I really don’t know what to think. I forgive you anyway; I think?

          • Matt McDowall

            your welcome….now go read your book.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            And your point?

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            But take into account all the other people that read it and the cost-performance was pretty good.

          • allymax bruce

            Jack, you’re precious.

          • fredx2

            If your interpretation of the Old Testament held any water, then you would expect Jews to be cruel and revengeful, too , wouldn’t you? After all, they only study the Old Testament and read nothing of the new testament. But of course they are not. They are every bit as good as everyone else. So do you think that you might have misinterpreted the Old Testament, based on some highly selective things that are in there? It’s a long book, and God has to deal with some pretty evil people at times. Do you think it is reasonable to believe that we just suddenly, in 2013, we now understand that the Old Testament God is “cruel” when earlier generations who had much more bible knowledge than our generation does, had no such belief?
            Or is it more likely that there is a little fad of atheism, which is spreading a bunch of half baked assertions to a generation that really does not understand much about the bible.?

          • Rocksy

            The Old Testament is more a history of he Jews. It’s main importance to Christians are the prophecies in it concerning the coming of the Messiah (Jesus).
            In general, Catholics don’t focus on the Bible , Old or New Testament. For Catholics, the focus is always on the Eucharist.

          • Matt McDowall

            Jesus was a Jew……

            Jesus wasn’t a Christian….

            Jesus believed in the old laws….

          • Rocksy

            Except when He didn’t.

          • fredx2

            Well, sort of true. Jesus was a Jew. He believed in the old laws. But he wasn’t a Christian? That just does not make sense. He WAS Christianity.

          • Matt McDowall

            No it is absolutely true,…Christianity was formed well after the fact. He didn’t create it…Paul and the early churches created it and then ONLY decades later didn’t they elevate him to a GOD.

            Jesus didn’t create Christianity…his followers did, Jesus never claimed to be the “messiah” – his followers did. Only in the gospel of John does he every try to allude to this…and John is considered by the mass majority of Historical Scholars as the least accurate.

            Jesus preached the old laws – he states it plain and simple. read the book.

          • haywardsward

            In reality not so much Christianity as Paulinity. A rather nasty misogynistic update of the OT wrapped in the guise of the words and deeds of the supposed Jesus from the NT.

          • haywardsward

            It all comes down to what some say is exegesis but others eisegesis

            For modern evangelical scholars accuse liberal Protestants of eisegesis, while other more orthodox scholars accuse the fundamentalist Christians of eisegesis.

            Catholics say all Protestants engage in eisegesis, because the Bible can only be correctly understood through the Holy Tradition of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

            But Judaism has the best counter. All Christians practice eisegesis when they read Tnk as a book about Jesus!

          • Rocksy

            This has nothing to do with anything.

          • haywardsward

            Yes it does as exegesis is the exposition or explanation of of a text based on a careful, objective analysis.

            Exegesis means “to lead out of.”, that the interpreter is led to his/her conclusions by following the text.
            The opposite approach to a text is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading.

            Eisegesis means “to lead into,” that the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he/she wants.

            That is why Judaism has the best counter. All Christians practice eisegesis when they read Tnk as a book about Jesus!

          • allymax bruce

            You do realize you’re a knob?

          • Matt McDowall

            how clever….

        • Oisín SF

          Good folk like Hitch were more than capable of advocating actions that bore the hall marks of imperial expansionism. Merely subtracting religion does not make people more moral or their rationality inherently more superior.

        • Dom Jenks

          “Since the 4th century CE brutal and barbaric imposition of the then new heresy of the Western / Roman religion based upon a fictional “god-man” Greek scribes called “Jesus” – countless millions of innocent folk have been persecuted, terrorised, tortured and massacred by “the church”.”

          It seems that you believe that without the benefit of the Judeo-Christian model of morality and the influence of the Church the world would have been full of pleasantry and happy-go-lucky folk wandering around just being nice to other people because that’s what humans naturally do? Like the Aztecs for instance? Or pre-Christian pagan Europe? Or the Roman Empire with it’s conquests and death for sport? This is not quite going to plan, let me think of some other societies that detached themselves from the shackles of Christianity… Communist Russia and China perhaps?

          The God Man Jesus taught us to love God and to love our neighbour. You have no idea how radical a message that is because you have grown up in a society so profoundly influenced by Judeo-Christian morality that the inherent dignity and inestimable worth of each human being is taken for granted. And as for the Church, bad things have been done AGAINST the teachings of Christ. Countless wonderful things have been done WITH the teachings of Christ (Charity, Hospitals, Schools,). The good news is the Church is the field hospital for all of us poor sinners who do the bad and stupid things and by the grace of God in Christ we can leave the bad behind and grow in the good. Read one of the Gospels to find out how. God bless

          • haywardsward

            Does the phrase”Gott mit uns” mean anything to you? First used by the Teutonic Order and then by the various German Empires through to the Third Reich.

            The Teutonic order that brought “Christianity” to the eastern part of Europe including Livonia, Lithuania, Poland and Prussia. Brought by fire and sword in a series of “Crusades” all this from 1200-1400

        • fredx2

          As I began reading these things, I play a little game. How many sentences before the atheists says something factually wrong. How many sentences before the atheist starts using loaded words, emotionally loaded phrases, etc. As you can see from this one, no rational thought is involved:
          “hundreds of millions of people” – no serious demographer believes there were that many people in the very ancient times the bible talks about.
          Note how the atheist blames religion for hundreds of millions of deaths, but excuses or glosses over the atheist murders of hundreds of millions – via communism, 100 million, and via non believers – hundreds of millions killed by thughs and fools who held no religious belief at all.
          In fact, it is religion that has restrained mans propensity to go around killing others.
          But this is lost on the atheist, who must just make stuff up for effect.

          • rationalobservations?

            You predictably quibble about semantics and the exact detail of any indictment against your religion while ignoring the points raised and the questions asked or implied.

            No one attempts to “gloss over” the barbarity of the 20th century political tyrants and dictators. Their anti-humanitarian political dogma was matched only by the anti-humanitarian religious dogma that prevailed between the 4th century introduction of the western/Roman state religion of “christianity” until the advent of free secular democracy. Entirely similar barbarity prevails in Islamic dominated lands today.

            Both religion and democracy was challenged by the communist dictators, while the leader of the 3rd Reich collaborated with his pet Pope to overthrow only democracy.

            Democracy has prevailed against religious and political totalitarian tyranny here in the free, secular western world. I look on at the “Arab Spring” with some hope for those who are persecuted by totalitarian Islam.

            The law constrains those few psychopaths who would “go around killing”. A well developed evolved human conscience means that most of us do not feel at all inclined to harm our fellow recently evolved apes in any way at all.

            “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere…. Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

            — Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science,” New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930

            Depending upon which cult or sect holds a religiot in thrall, they believe the fiction made up by one recent delusional individual (example; L Ron Hubard) or many generations of human minds (example: the anonymous writers of the NT bibles since the late 4th century first version was started by 4 anonymous scribes and altered, edited, re-written for at least another 800 years).

            No need to make up the evidence of human involvement and human imagination in the ridiculous myths and legends that no religionist has yet justified, validated or excused.

            Bring forward 1st century evidence of a god-man called “Jesus”? Or accept that this fantastical legend was merely “made up” long, long after the time in which the legend is set – as all the actual evidence indicates and confirms.

      • Cyril Sneer

        And what if Hitchens had been a Buddhist?

      • Joe Cogan

        The notion that a deity would reward or punish someone for their beliefs (or lack thereof), rather than their actions, is, quite frankly, not just ridiculous, but reprehensible.

        • Tommy_Butler

          Based upon what? Are you the creator of justice and therefore its fitting arbiter?
          If there is no creative intellectual principle of all that is, then every intellectual claim is nothing other than a verbalized expression of some irritation of the nervous system.
          The New Atheism is distinguished, as the article above shows, by its self-righteous appeal to supposedly self-evident moral standards for which it can provide no intellectual foundation. New Atheists can neither think historically (tracing the genealogy of many of their unquestioned beliefs back to their origin in Christianity) nor philosophically, i.e. they assume as axiomatic claims that are patently NOT axiomatic and which they lack the reasoning to demonstrate.

          • Matt McDowall

            Is it justified for a father to punish a son/daughter because they don’t believe in him? the father is the creator no?

            Now, all we can say is that anyone who does this is pretty damn cruel….yet you are not willing to apply the same standard to a deity….have you sincerely asked yourself why is this? I remain unconvinced that you have.

            the analogy of a mafia boss sums up the characteristic of this ” creator”….do not question me, Only I can make decisions, Appease me, love me and I won’t hurt you…

            We all know the mafia boss isn’t a pleasant character, so how come you are unwilling to take a logical step and apply this to the actions of your master? It is a wish to be a slave.

          • fredx2

            Your conception of God is pretty weird. Any rational person knows that those are not the propositions that God ever makes to man.
            Atheists, however, like to pretend that is the proposition. Okay, go ahead, knock yourself out.

          • Matt McDowall

            Well any rational person wouldn’t believe an old book written by superstitious tribesmen without evidence now would they? Especially outrageous claims! (btw this is the part where you say touche’)

            Secondly – It says so in your book. Mu conception of “god” comes from the Old and new testament….Actually Jesus says you must leave your family to follow him to welcome in the kingdom…among many many many other terrible things.

            You see we don’t even believe this proposition because we don’t believe in a god – we get this proposition from

            a) your own holy book/s
            b)Religious people themselves cramming it down our throat regarding hell blah blah blah and blah. – you get the point.

            Now if this doesn’t fit your own “perception” of god…well fantastic…but it says so in your book..plus you can make up your perception as much as you want…still no evidence for that…you do realize there are 30 000 odd denominations alone of Christianity who all think they have the “correct” perception right? Now the problem you face is this…Has Jesus then got it wrong?

            this is when you say again – touche’

            ,

          • Tommy_Butler

            I can only speak out of the orthodox, Catholic tradition not out of certain strains of Protestant fideism, so your account of soteriology (the means of salvation) is not one I would recognize as valid.
            But, indeed, it would be a strange and backward child who refused to admit his father’s existence.
            All we can know about justice must descend from Justice itself, which is a divine idea. It seems a patent contradiction to say that, “based upon the principle of justice, I deny the existence of justice, because it is unjust.” But that, in a word, is what you are saying.
            No Christian thinks that God is just one more being among others. He rather is Being itself and the source of all being. As such, we affirm him as the principle of reality, including the reality of justice.
            If it seems persuasive (and I think a strong case can be made for it) that someone’s unbelief is rooted in an indefeasible ignorance, that someone has not received the gift of faith in God and so has lived a life without it, then certainly the Catholic tradition says that such a person may well indeed be saved by God.
            The thing is, most atheists are wounded sinners like the rest of us, but with a small difference: they displace their own waywardness onto God, and so think it a matter — however irrational and internally contradictory — of reason and justice to deny the existence of God. But this is not honest dealing. It is rather an instance of ideology, where one seeks to reconfigure the universe so that it will affirm that one need not become a better person than one already is.
            I am not surprised Christians make atheists agitated and defensive; we should. We are a reminder that you are not perfect just the way you are, and that you already know this to be the case.
            A Christian is simply someone who recognizes his own sinfulness and his essential dependency on the law of God’s love. He doesn’t recognize himself as someone saved from sins — unlike those terrible people over there, as it were. Rather, he is one who stares in blinking amazement that someone should have loved him so much as to make him in the first place, and he looks forward to the prospect of repaying that gift, first, by ridding it of its failings as best he can, and then, second, by lifting up his heart in joy.

        • allymax bruce

          But you just comprehended it in your exposition. Are you calling yourself a liar?

      • Matt McDowall

        I believe Hitchens is buried somewhere. He may of got cremated but I’m pretty sure he donated his body to science…you know to actually benefit people to learn so they can intern save other lives…very honorable.

        Pretty narcissistic malevolent deity you worship to sentence someone to hell for rejecting him because of zero evidence don’t you think?

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          “He may of got cremated…”
          …may have been … I venture to suggest.

    • Oisín SF

      And of course Hitchens, like many other atheists from Ayn Rand to Soviet leaders, were more than capable of using their notions of superior rationality to justify all sorts of social orders and imperious actions.
      That doesn’t disprove atheism; it does rather puncture – or should – this inflated sense of moral sanctimoniousness some of its adherents like to proclaim from the rooftops.

      • Ricky Strong

        I do agree that some atheists perhaps go a bit too far and are often guilty of that which they profess to despise. I can’t say I would put Hitchens in that bracket, though I can see why some would. Dawkins does teeter on the edge though.

        • fredx2

          For years, Hitchens was a promoter of horrid ideas. He always tried to separate himself from the Commmunists by calling himself a Trotskyite, but its not much of a difference.

    • Rillian

      Spiritualism is a belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living.

      Are you sure that’s what you meant? I was agreeing up to that point 🙂

      • Ricky Strong

        No, no, no. Perhaps I used the wrong word. I was trying to allude to that feeling I get, for example, when surfing or walking through the woods, or from being in love, or from feeling the warmth of the sun and appreciating that it is but one of billions of stars in this wonderful universe. The only ‘spirits’ I believe in are single malts and gin.

    • fredx2

      Do you realize that Hitchens, most his life, was a Trotskyite, was a rank Polemicist, a guy who just enjoyed stirring people up, with no desire to advance truth? And you take your marching orders from a guy who purposely does not present all the evidence, does not present both sides of an argument for your consideration, but rather wants to spin you up like a top?

      Religion poisons everything? Do you realize that the most effective social service program in the United States is Catholic relief services? So that one fact undercuts the nonsensical idea that “religion poisons everything”

      Did you realize that Hitchens hated religion with a passion because 1) His parents sent him away to a Methodist boarding school when he was 9 , and he hated it, and 2) His mother committed suicide with her Anglican priest lover in a hotel room in Italy when he was 24? 3) He admits to having homosexual affairs as a young man, and he does not like the fact that the church won’t approve of it?

      And most bizarre of all, you object to the fact that the Declaration of Independence was based on religious ideas, when it specifically states tht it does? That is crackpottery of the first order.

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-

      • Ricky Strong

        Not being religious, I take my marching orders from no one. I do however adopt other’s opinions from time to time.

        Yes, it does poison everything. Catholic relief as you pointed out – people only doing good because they believe it will reward them later on in life.

        Your reasons for Hitchens’ dislike of religion differ greatly form those he gave himself, perhaps you knew him personally?

        And to your last point:

        “The phrase “Nature’s God” is not a product of traditional religious denominations, but is generally associated with 18th-century Deism. That philosophy centered on what has been called “natural theology,” a belief that while a “Creator” started the universe and established the laws of nature, the modern world saw no divine intervention or miracles.

        The most famous religious phrase in the Declaration—that people are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”—was not included in Jefferson’s original draft. He had written that people derive inherent rights form their “equal Creation.” The iconic language was added by a small committee, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams” – Taken from the Wall Street Journal

  • JoeDM

    “But given that almost all human cultures have been religious….”

    Superstitious is the word !!!

    • Kitty MLB

      Faith is not superstition. Its hope. Yes all human cultures have had religions.
      And some are quite, well against God actually. Yet without hope, we have nothing- and empty void.
      I hope you believe in something, even if its the continuation of the human soul,
      otherwise its awfully bleak for you.

      • Matt McDowall

        faith = is the excuse people give when they have no good reason to believe it.

        If you had good reasons you wouldn’t need faith.

        And hope does not mean truth….

  • spiral115

    Wow this guy has books published? I guess in the age of reality show making everyone think they have something important to say we can expect this type of tripe.

  • Mark

    This is making the assumption that almost everything started with Christianity (“almost all humans have been religious”), with a tiny nod to pre-Christian Confuscious. It’s the other way around. Religion simply gets it’s written moral code from human nature and declares it owned by the religion. To imply we can’t be moral without religion is quite patronising, and belittles the human nature.
    Although even saying “human nature” is probably elavating us to a higher level, when all it is, is chemical brain reactions in order to survive. Be nice to that person, and hopefully they’ll be nice to you. It’s so simple.

  • JabbaTheCat

    Aw bless, another one pretending to know something they don’t know…

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    In earlier times philosophy was said to be the handmaid of faith. Mr. Cameron finding refuge in faith may try rubbing a few fish together as in The Feeding Of The Five Thousand (Matthew 14:13-21) to alleviate “food bank”.

  • Cyril Sneer

    If we get our morals only from religion then what you’re saying is that we never had morals before religion?

    So 1500/2000 years ago however long it is now…. we acquired morals from Christianity that we apparently never had before.

    So…. for the previous 150k to 250k years of humanities existence we apparently didn’t have any morals at all?

    Simply not true, a complete fabrication much like organised religion.

  • Bonkim

    Religion any religion is superstition. Atheists just don’t want that.

    • allymax bruce

      prove it.

      • Bonkim

        It is not for me to prove anything to you. You can sink deep in your own hole and enjoy the stench.

        • allymax bruce

          So, you go about making salacious comments, without ever having to back them up with mere facts?
          Are you a journalist?

          • Bonkim

            Don’t discuss personal matters with blog-bums who are stupid.

          • allymax bruce

            Don’t think you can tell others what to do, Dickhead.

          • Bonkim

            Forgot idiots babble on where not wanted.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Want what?
      I suspect the vast majority of Atheists would agree with your first sentence.

  • Al

    Without God clear definitions of right and wrong might be harder to pin down, but if an Atheist doesn’t believe in God anyway, then presumably the Christian definitions of right and wrong came from humans in the first place.

    So there is no problem of humanist and Christian morality, just morality.

    Atheist morality might be in constant flux, but at least it allows for equal marriage.

    • allymax bruce

      On that basis, we determine our own ‘morality’; that’s what Baron is saying in his comment. Euthanasia anyone?
      Who decides?

      • Al

        Of course we determine our own morality.

        Would a priest have sex with a child if there was not a book telling him to?

        • allymax bruce

          But that’s wrong; and eveybody knows it. So, that’s immoral, not moral.

          Oh-yeh, Hey Baron, have you been ‘determining your own morality’?
          Money can’t buy you love.

  • Baron

    ‘God is the giver of life’ is one of the postulates of Christian morality, ‘and only God can take it away’. When we accepted it, we could justify capital punishment in a society in which many died from hunger, but didn’t murder to obtain sustenance, life was sacred. Today, in the post Christian world, non Christian based morality ruling, we kill unborn babies, burn their foetuses to heat hospitals. It’s not unimaginable soon we may burn those past their procreating best, too, they’ve served their purpose in life, why keep them.

    • Kevcol

      More Christians abort their fetuses than any other group. The only definite statement of truth about Christians is that they can’t and won’t practice what they preach…just like their hypocritical deity. “Thou shalt not kill…unless I command you to.” A moral relativist deity.

      • Baron

        You’re missing the key point, Kevcol. Christianity offers a calibrating mark, if all Christians were to break its rules it’s there telling them they broke the rules, should come back, embrace them again.

        To quote from the great Mark’s other writings:

        “In 1944, at a terrible moment of the most terrible century, Henri de Lubac wrote a reflection on Europe’s civilizational crisis, Le drame de l’humanisme athee. By “atheistic humanism,” he meant the organized rejection of God — not the freelance atheism of individual skeptics but atheism as an ideology and political project in its own right. As M. de Lubac wrote, “It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true is that, without God, he can only organize it against man.”

        • Kevcol

          Way to avoid the main point Baron! Christians and their deity are moral relativists. Is killing wrong or not? Your deity can’t make up it’s mind.

          According to your bible everything that happens in the heavens and the earth is according to its’ will. If killing is wrong, then why does it abort so many fetuses-I’m alluding to the fact that something like 50% of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions.
          The great Mark? Is that who you are quoting? Regardless, Lubac’s opinion is just that, his opinion. My opinion is that he’s wrong.

          • Baron

            Look, Kevsol, we are not going to convince one another (btw, Baron isn’t a man of the Good Book)), let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

          • Kevcol

            Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you Baron. You are not a Christian?

  • rationalobservations?

    This strange article starts with the ridiculous line: “Like any movement or religion, atheism has ambitions….”

    “Movement”?
    “Religion”?

    There are a few atheist/skeptic/humanist clubs scattered around the world – but a “movement”? It appears that many millions of individuals come to the conclusion that all the many thousands of gods, goddesses, god-men and other assorted super-spooks dreamed up by men are fictional and therefore not worthy of any of the short and valuable time we have between non-existence and non-existence.

    There is an atheists club started by two comedians that apparently meets on Sunday in one or another of the rapidly growing number of redundant churches. But that hardly qualifies as a “religion”.

    All that follows the opening meaningless/erroneous line appears to be similar nonsense.

    The trend toward non-belief appears to be accelerating and for the first time the majority of British citizens ticked the “no religion/not religious” box in the last census. Many polls and surveys indicate that more than 50% of the general population are non religious and that rises to over 80% among the under 30 age group.

    Meanwhile: The RCC church has a declining active membership that totals under 900,000 and the CofE fewer than 800,000 active members.

    The return of “god”? Surely that should be “The return of a god – since there are so many thousands of imaginary deities to choose from.?

    But we all know that all that imaginary “gods”, “magic” and scary boogie-man stuff has been outgrown by the growing majority within our modern, free, peaceful, educated, egalitarian, humanitarian and increasingly secular democracy…

  • allymax bruce

    “The problem that confronts them is as stark as it is simple: our morality has religious roots.”
    Yes; and that was sen by the secular humanism of Atheism in the illegal Iraq war!
    Bliar lied to force us into an illegal war on Iraq. He/we, murdered a million innocent boys, girls, women, men; all because Bliar ‘utilised’ Kant’s Postmodern philosophy. Where Kantian ‘unintended consequences’ trump moral imperatives, and Kantian Postmodernism, strips away the moral absolutes of Modern philosophy. Bliar, used an ideal, over, a moral absolute, to murder a million innocents; in our name!

    • GordonHide

      Well, that’s a Christian for you.

      • allymax bruce

        No, it’s not; that institutionalised religion, being manipulated and used as a smoke screen by a mass murderer.

        • GordonHide

          Well he says he’s a Christian. He acts like a Christian. He brown noses the pope like a Christian. Perhaps he was just following the pope’s example of killing off millions in Africa by opposing condoms?

          • allymax bruce

            “Well he says he’s a Christian” … Anybody can say they’re a Christian; the Zionists do it all the time, to cause trouble for the Christians. Need more than that chum.
            “He acts like a Christian.” …. Not Christianity as Jesus taught; not my Christianity.
            “He brown noses the pope like a Christian.” … true, but the Pope is ‘obliged’ to forgive.
            “condoms”? … Are you stupid? You think condoms kill people?

          • GordonHide

            No I think condoms save people, but the pope seems to think condoms damn peoples immortal souls.

    • TimeandtheRani

      Yeah, see but Blair has openly talked about how his faith influenced his support for Iraq, so….

      • allymax bruce

        Bliar used Kantian ethics to murder a million innocent people; and you think he’s right to blame it on his religion?

      • allymax bruce

        Bliar used Kantian ethics to murder a million innocent people; and you think he’s right to blame it on his religion?

      • haywardsward

        Do not forget, Dubya The Faux Texan and born again, who also consulted The Lord before unleashing that old time religion “Shock and Awe” on the Land of Iraq

  • Cyril Sneer

    Atheism is not a movement.
    Atheism is not a religion.
    It is the default position for any newly born human being.

    This is fact.

    Since birth I have had no need to join a religion or movement to declare my non-belief in a god, any god. I don’t need to do that, I just need to carry doing what I’m doing – religion has never been a part of my life, and I need no organisation to join with which to continue to carry this non-belief out.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      You know, I`m starting to agree with you.

  • manonthebus

    Just because a few people write about atheism, it doesn’t mean that atheism is a ‘movement’. I suspect that most people simply couldn’t care less about religion; they just want to get on with life as best they can. Faith is fine so long as it is personal. The history of religion, however, is a never-ending attempt by self-ordained individuals to take control over others on the basis that the power-seekers are blessed with insight into the way that their God wants everyone to live. Most of the time, it is accompanied with extreme violence against those who do not wish to comply. So-labelled heretics were not murdered or burnt at the stake because they hurt or threatened anyone. They merely did not think in the appropriate manner. If that’s an example of what a ‘loving God’ would want, I’m a monkey’s uncle.

  • Rillian

    Moral values and acceptable behaviour in groups would have developed long before any Gods were required to monitor it. Just like any group of animals.

    Did you know in 16th century Britain, magic was considered a real thing by the vast majority of the population? so we’re getting there slowly.

    • allymax bruce

      Communal living, in Society, is the actions of Man. The Spirit of Man is what makes these ‘actions’ of Man, ‘moral’.

      Communal Society does not equal Spiritual morality.

      • Rillian

        Prove to me a spirit even exists.

        If you can’t your sentences may as well be written in gibberish for all the logical sense they make.

        • allymax bruce

          Prove to me God’s Spirit doesn’t exist.
          Seems to me you prove Bliar’s evil spirit exists!

          • Rillian

            The onice of responsibility is on your shoulders to prove what you are saying is the truth, not mine to disprove it.

          • allymax bruce

            “I expect I deserve eternal damnation and torture, or a good stoning at the very least.”
            No! You moron, I want to forgive you!
            Why do you (Athiests) have to juxtapose every good thing against a bad thing? Why must the value of ‘good’ have a reason to be good? Just accept the Grace of God, and stop trying to prove Freud right with all your ‘death instinct’ reasonings.

          • Rillian

            But he’s a figment of imagination. He isn’t a real thing. That’s why you need faith in him, due to the lack of evidence of his existence.

            So, no I won’t accept the words of anyone who tells me he knows that god/s are real, or that heaven exists. They have no more knowledge of these things than me, which is zero.

            You are not only inadvertently lying to me about their existence, your are also lying to yourself.

            Calling people morons on the internet because they disagree with you will not win you the argument, quite the opposite in fact.

  • Rillian

    There’s not even one scrap of evidence, from Roman times, who were avid record keepers, that Jesus even existed. He was created by the Romans and very cleverly so. They continued their reign for another 1600 years after his ‘creation’.

  • lookout

    Check out chuck missler 7s in the bible on you tube, find your future

  • Rillian

    Stupid old books written by pre-science cretins, full of unbelievable nonsense.

    Why would anyone with the slightest amount of logic or intelligence believe a single word of any of it?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Ah, you must be referring to the Jewish Book of Fairy Stories.

      • Rillian

        All of them.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Common ground there.

  • Kaine

    Morality pre-exists God according to Judaism and Christianity. Genesis 18:25, Abraham arguing with God.

    “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

    Therefore there exists a right other than that which God does, therefore morality exists without God, according to the document upon which the creed is based.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Can someone mention St. Augustine? Which will give me the opportunity to bad-mouth this flat-earther.

    • allymax bruce

      Well, St. Augustine doesn’t think so!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        This was the imbecile that set back astronomy by some 1,400 years. The Greeks and figured out that the Earth was spherical by the 3rd century BCE. Check the work of Eratosthenes who calculated the circumference and radius of the Earth in around 240 BCE.
        “Dickhead” Augustine said it was impossible that people on opposite side of the Earth would have the soles of their feet pointing towards each other.
        “When you`re got faith you don`t need proof.”
        Religion is for all emotion, no logic retards.
        So how you doing, allymax?

        • allymax bruce

          Good, Jack.
          Yeh, nice to get past institutionalised religion.

  • GordonHide

    I’d like to record what I think is wrong with this article but I’m not expecting to live that long. So I’ll just cover a few points:
    1) Atheism is not a religion or a movement worth mentioning. The various atheist and humanist societies around the world comprise a few thousand individuals in total. Atheism is just a lack of belief in gods. There are somewhere between 600,000 and a billion people in this world who hold that position. Most of them have never read one of the atheist polemics of recent years. They just get on with life freer from superstition and irrationality than most others.
    2) Well now lets look at the so called Christian roots of our morality.
    We have the golden rule but that predates Christianity and even Judaism so it can’t be that.
    The ten commandments we don’t think are a good thing except not murdering, stealing or lying and all those predate Judaism as well. So it can’t that.
    We’ve stopped stoning adulterers, throwing homosexuals down mountains and burning heretics so it can’t be those.
    We give the Christians a hard time over their misogyny so it can’t be that.
    We give the Christians a hard time over their anti-Semitism so it can’t be that.
    We give the Christians a hard time on their bigoted position on homosexuals so it can’t be that.
    We laugh at Christian sexual repression and general prurience so it can’t be that.
    We’re currently struggling to get sensible rules on assisted dying opposed by the Christians so it can’t be that.
    We’ve dumped slavery over the side no matter what the bible says so it can’t be that.
    We enjoy our Sunday sport and shopping so it can’t be that.
    We’ve stopped burning witches and given them full recognition as a religion so it can’t be that.
    We’re keen that women should have control of their own bodily functions in the teeth of strong Christian opposition who want to enslave women against their will as gestation machines so it can’t be that.
    Christians do make noises about equality and human rights but you can see from the above that they’re not really into it except in a sort of Orwellian manner.
    It’s actually quite difficult to find in one little Christian root I think. Thank goodness.

    • allymax bruce

      What you call ‘Christian’, is not what I call Christian.
      Apply Jesus twice a day for improved results.

      • GordonHide

        Ah good one! The old “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Love it.

        • allymax bruce

          Your ‘no true scotsman fallacy’, was ‘invented by an Englishman; no need for me to say anymore!
          I suppose there’s a ‘no true Muslim’? A ‘no true Hindu’? A ‘no true German’? … You get the drift !
          Why don’t you try and make an argument against what I said on the subject, rather than trying to think you’re clever flayling rhetorical gibberish around?
          Dickhead!

          • GordonHide

            Pointing out your fallacious argument does counter what you said on the subject. I don’t believe you have any authority to decide who is a Christian and who isn’t.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Money back if dissatisfied.

  • Michael

    No, no, no. The use of Nietzsche’s writings for fascist purposes was only due to the Nazi collaboration with Nietzsche’s sister to twist the meaning of his works. We KNOW that Nietzsche abhorred anti-semitism and fascism. And to describe his new ethos as pagan-power worship is to seriously misinterpret him. I don’t know where you got the word pagan from, but indeed Nietzsche did encourage people to will their own personal power. But this was not his ‘new ethos’, he admitted that he could not come up with one and predicted that someone one day would.

  • Kitty MLB

    The point is miserable atheists and scientists who believe they know everything
    actually know nothing in the slightest.
    Nothing comes from nothing, there is always a beginning, matter cannot be created
    from something that didn’t exist. Ask Scientists what came before the big bang and
    they have No answer. And atheists they want to wallow in nothingness.

    • Gentleman of Dalhousie

      Scientists don’t believe they know everything. If they did, it would defeat the point of being a scientist.

      • Kitty MLB

        Indeed, science is trial and error. So therefore it shouldn’t pretend
        to know all the answers and suggest ‘ There is no God because of scientific facts’. Some have said that, and they were wrong. There
        are no facts that they could possibly have.

        • http://hamlife.blogspot.com/ Matthew Rees

          Science does not say that. Science says that we have found zero evidence for a God so the best assumption is that there is not one.

          • Bonkim

            Doubt if serious scientists would argue about God with a believer. But then there are/were scientists that believe/believed in God.

          • Randy Wanat

            When in doubt, make stuff up. You win the Internet!

          • Bonkim

            Basic cause and effect analysis and keen observation of human nature. No doubts whatever on the subject – Science, and engineering in my blood, atheist since age 10.

          • Randy Wanat

            How did I end up replying to THAT post? Weird. The Internet wins the Internet!

          • mchasewalker

            If science has shown us anything it is that all the gods that ever were have proven to be myth.

    • jaffathecake

      Ask god-believers “If everything must have an intelligent creator, what created god?” No answer

      • Bonkim

        silly God-Father of course!

    • http://hamlife.blogspot.com/ Matthew Rees

      Actually there are several possible answers to what happened before the Big Bang, not least that it is a meaningless question as there was no time before the Big Bang. Where this supposed God came from?

      • Kitty MLB

        The Big Bang is just a theory ( and you cannot create Matter from nothing)
        The issues with the big bang ( which scientists have being playing around with since Hawkins and 200 years before is the following:
        The issues with inflation ( background radiation) this is not
        understood, the cause of the big bang if it happened is a mystery.
        Black Matter is also a mystery.
        Not touching on the fact we cannot reconcile gravity and the other
        3 forces, as well as magnetic monopoles and asymmentry.
        Scientists just blag away, do not have a clue. Where is God-
        everywhere- he wasn’t created.

        • TheBlindPoet

          You’re trying to disprove science’s authority by referring to the most interesting problems in science? Do you understand what you’ve just done?

      • Bonkim

        What makes you think creation does not have a life-cycle which keeps repeating itself? Everything in nature has a life-cycle with different periods.

    • TheBlindPoet

      Firstly, find me one scientist who claims to know everything. Science doesn’t know everything, that’s the point of it, if it did know everything IT WOULD STOP.

      Secondly, there is no “nothing” in modern physics. If there was nothing then spacetime wouldn’t exist for starters. The current question isn’t how we got everything from nothing, it’s why we have “something” instead of “everything”. This is research being done all over the world, by both atheists and religious scientists of all hues – the Vatican even has a whole astronomy and cosmology research center.

      • allymax bruce

        “Science doesn’t know everything, that’s the point of it, if it did know everything IT WOULD STOP.”
        You’re talking rubbish. Science is the testing of hypotheses, by a methodical reasoning of tests; reasoning of Man! Fails straight away! Anyway, what scientists do is test a hypothesis, and if they reason it to be significantly propbable, then that’s only a ‘probablity’ of that hypothesis being true/untrue.
        Get with the program Einstein!

        • TheBlindPoet

          Religions (who get to define god, hey, it’s their “thing”) explicitly state that you cannot test god. If you try then He will make Himself look suspiciously like probabilistic results.

          If I claim my cat was made by an invisible pink unicorn it does not mean that cats are proof of invisible pink unicorns.

    • Bonkim

      Absolutely – no answer to the big bang – now who made God? If it was God that created himself – did he have to do that – and also why did he create the earth and its inhabitants? Was he/she simply playing with sand threw together in an instance of fantasy – and where did he get sand? would have preferred to live on an earth made of chocolate. Much more fun.

    • Kevcol

      The point is miserable theists and theologians who believe they know what “God” is and wants, actually know nothing about it. They don’t know where it is, whether it is corporeal or ineffable, when and where it came about or from what (since you declare that “nothing comes from nothing” then whence commeth it?).

      How does one wallow in nothingness? It sounds to me like your belief in your ever diminishing deity has made you a hateful bigot. I pity your state of willful ignorance-the closest realistic approximation of the mythical place called Hell.

  • The Blue Baron

    If monotheism rather than the classical heritage of Greece and Rome is the starting point for Western concepts of morality can you explain why the heavily monotheistic Islamic world has very different moral attitudes to ours?

    • leilaleis

      Here’s my take on it; take it or leave it lol:

      Christianity’s present enlightenment is (imo) a result of its strained relationship with the Old Testament, not a reflection of its truth as a religion. There are no laws in the New Testament; there are merely suggestions. The Old Testament has The Law, but Christianity had to walk a fine line between accepting and rejecting that law. That lack of overt legislation makes Christianity the odd religion out in the Abrahamic trinity, and makes it possible for it to make room for secular legislation.

      As an example of this, see medieval legislation. We define the Middle Ages
      as a religious era, but even then, no medieval secular state tied its secular legislation to “Christian law.” Instead, various states used a mixture of pagan, Germanic tradition and Catholic dogma, which in turn was heavily based on pagan Roman tradition.

      After the Reformation, even that unifying Catholic tradition broke down,
      leading to various Christian states, with various rulers at the head of various churches, with various ways of interpreting the religion. The heretic-killing excesses of the 16th and 17th centuries hid the decline, but it’s pretty clear in the 18th century.

      • Bonkim

        You talk a lot of sense leilaleis – but all that proves Christianity as other religions including Islam is a man-made construct – interprepted as the whim takes through time and space.

        If anyone wishes to believe such junk – they are welcome – we all have our freedom of belief – and no point convince someone you are right and he/she is wrong.

  • Billibob Hobbledob

    You know the problem with ascending to Heaven? Gravity.

  • AlexanderGalt

    The touching thing about the atheists and antitheists is how Christian their morality is as opposed to say Muslim.

    The other irony is that the Church of England is not dead on its feet because of its Christianity but being throttled by a clergy that is obviously militantly anti-Christain in its outlook.

    This is exemplified by the push for gay marriage from its own priests.

    That Ruthless truth really nails the issue in: “Dearly Beloved” at:

    http://john-moloney.blogspot.com/

    • allymax bruce

      Kinda agree with that; I met a bloke that runs a church recently, and he said to me, ‘You-know, Ally, what we need in our church is more Christians’ !

  • Raymond Rodgers

    I actually read that steaming pile of wrong. These idiots keep trying to attach things to Atheism that go far beyond it’s actual definition. Saying morality comes out of religion is like saying eggs come from feather dusters. I think is was Christopher Hitchens who said: “Morality does not derive from religion, it preceeds it”. Religion gets it’s morals from us, not the other way around.
    As far as Atheists are concerned, I would say that Atheists’ morals are superior to Theists’ because it is not based on the fear of punishment or the promise of reward. We are moral because it is the right thing to do, period.

  • JEK68

    One of the reasons that I don’t think a post religious morality will end in people reverting to pagan power worship and fascism is that humans have always got their morality from their own biological make up. If you think (as I do) that religion is man made, then this has always been the source of morality.

    Of course Christianity has transmitted some good ideas, and if our culture had developed with a different belief system we may well live in a much worse culture.

    The point that ‘new atheists’ (a term that needs to be thrown away) have made in recent times is that we now live in a world where it is possible to reject the hideous and non-factual teachings of religion, as we have done for hundreds of years, ever since scripture sanctioned all kinds of torture and killing and keep the good ideas that are described. This is achieved as it has always been achieved, through a continuous process of debate, discussion and argument over the best way to live and make law..

    The fact that Dawkins said that morality is ‘natural’ means that there are thing that you don’t need to teach a healthy child that has had a decent upbringing as can be seen in parts of the animal kingdom. And I have no idea where Dawkins has ever said that he ‘believes that morality, being natural, is a constant thing, stable throughout history’. It is natural in healthy evolved Homo-Sapiens.

  • Hegelguy

    What bothers me most about Christianity is the incredibly bitter anti-Semitism that it still exudes, especially at Easter. I have married into a Catholic family and as a matter of curiosity often attend masses here in Vancouver. Last Sunday I attended a Holy Week mass and was treated to the usual annual grisly retelling of the old story soaked in blood and bitterness and resentment of the Jews about how Jesus was allegedly taken before Pilate and condemned to crucifixion at the insistence of “the Jews”. Once more I was shocked by the venomousness of retelling this story after all the appalling things that have happened to the Jews in the Christian world thanks to the fomenting of prejudice against them over many centuries.
    Is it not crying high time to give this old bitter grudge a rest?
    The religion of forgiveness indeed! It is the opposite of magnanimous.

  • Perseus Slade

    Just another confused attack on Dawkins (yawn).
    Much like the regular ones by Dummy, Tiny Tim and Jammy on the DT.

    What this is all about is morality, the last stand of religion.

    Morality is a natural thing, society could not prosper without it.

    Consider insects, the most successful ones are the social ones: ants, bees and wasps. In their societies, they regularly indulge in altruistic (aka moral) behaviour sacrificing themselves for the common good. If they didn`t, their societies would fail. If what they do did not work, they would not be here to show it. Simple as that.

    There is no mystery about individuals exhibiting non-selfish behaviour from a Darwinian viewpoint. In life, there are two players: the individual and the group. Neither can survive alone. Selfishness is in the interest of the individual. Altruism is in the interest of the group. You might say that altruism is the selfishness of the group, and selfishness is the altruism of the individual. There is a constantly re-drawn dynamic equilibrium between the two trends, actually the subject of nearly every novel, play and film.

    Think it over!

  • Eddie

    ‘When we talk about morals, we end up back talking about religion.’
    Oh do we? Maybe you do.
    For those of us blessed with a lack of ignorance, the adoption of morality in human cultures – some of which are necessarily religious or quasi religious (e.g. Communism) – is evidence of humanism, not evidence of gods. Human societies needed rules and morality sprang from that – religions then appropriated already-existing morals, and then convinced everyone that God created that! What utter piffle.
    ALL moral codes in society emerged in early human history – so that societies could survive and prosper. All these silly religious rules (don’t eat pork etc) have a basis in health promotion in pre-history. I do really wonder sometimes why religious people feel so threatened by the facts here.
    Man created morals as He created God.
    Get over it.

  • Bonkim

    God by definition cannot die – he/she if real was there from the beginning and will be there to the end – whenever it is if ever. He created himself and inconceivable he will be be able to pull the plug on himself – no others will be there to help him with his euthanasia.

    His creation may die and/or be recycled. The ancients simply knitted together a set of common sense principles to regulate the worst aspects of the human condition and called it morality – simply a code for preserving the tribe from harmful behaviour. These appear in some form or other in all world religions. People across the globe are simply discarding this unnecessary social appendage or changing it as a hobby to bring some meaning to their existence – the crutch of the hopeless and unthinking.

  • http://www.isystain.com Hipster Beard Platform

    Wow! What a bunch of misguided assumptions. Undoubtedly all religions have had some influence on the collective human consciousness…not just ‘Christianity’, and by no stretch of the imagination all good. At the same time, any deed that resulted in a good outcome would also be reinforced by those who witnessed it and felt it offered some advantage…ie: Darwinism.

    I think it’s a giant leap to assume that our morality is shaped by Christianity. What about the 100,000 years of natural selection before it? That’s the 100,000 before Genesis that is….

    Humans have been known to group together for that time. That assumes we got to a point where we understood the advantage of looking after each other. Isn’t that the basic construct of morality as we know it today?

    Furthermore, yes Atheism has reached its limits on what it can know about morality. So has Christianity for that matter. The difference is Atheism isn’t presumptuous enough to state that it is superior or more enlightened because it made up a self-fulfilling prophecy with diagrams and easy to understand stories.

    • Bonkim

      Yes. The fundamental flaw in the essay is – atheism is not a faith – it is the lack of one. It is not a unified mindset – it is more don’t care, don’t believe. Atheists by and large don’t moralise – get on with doing their acts of living and letting others live. They are by and large apolitical – don’t goive a damn if others want to believe in their Gods or belief systems.

      Atheists by and large don’t want God thrust at them or the state wasting money on faith related activities. I doubt any atheists will withdraw from pseudo-religious observances prevailing around them and have a glass of bubbly on such occasions.

      The fundamental belief system – if there is such is diverse and mainly apolitical. Wonder why those with their religious baggage assume atheism is another religion and is immoral.

      • http://www.isystain.com Hipster Beard Platform

        …because they assume morality is imparted to them from God…in other words, they believe their self is not capable of constructing right and wrong. The premise being, because we all sin therefore we need a higher power to ‘save’ us. All Atheists need is a conscience….something not highly valued by most religions.

        • Bonkim

          Don’t forget man’s history has been one of being told what to do – by God and king.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    …Imagine Ed Miliband trying to follow in this tradition, gazing into the abyss of all meaning, the dark crucible of nihilism….

    I used to do this every day in my seminars, as a philosophy undergraduate…

  • ohforheavensake

    There isn’t a god, by the way. Just thought you should know.

  • Wild

    Yes, secularism did start from a religious point of view. The Catholics, Anglicans, Calvinists and Puritans did believe that secularism was probably for the best in the end. I mean look at the sixteenth and seventeenth century, a great time of brotherly love I think you must agree. Great leaders like Bloody Mary staunchly believed that everyone is loved by God equally and thousands of Catholics and Dissenters must have been extremely grateful for two hundred years of Anglican secular humanism and tolerance. It’s really too bad there is absolutely no evidence for any of this religion lark at all and no reason whatsoever to believe it true. But hey! When did that ever matter eh?

  • Nkaplan

    I think you rightly identify a problem with New Atheism in that it has taken a rather blasé attitude to questions of the status and origins of morality. I recall Christopher Hitchens repeatedly uttering the word ‘solidarity’ in response to such questions, as if this hangover from his Trotskyite days somehow constituted an adequate answer to this most profound of questions.

    However it seems to me that even the more thoughtful among the religious (this article, and Christopher Hitchens opposite number I.e. his brother Peter spring to mind) make a similar mistake but in reverse. Namely, you assume that the existence of God makes these problems vanish into air. It’s almost as if you’ve never heard of the Euthyphro dilemma. I.e. are things good because God says they are good, or does God say they are good because they independently are? In the first case moral truths arbitrarily depend on God’s will – and murder could have been good had God taken a shine to it. In the second (and more plausible) case the religious are in no better a position than the atheists in that they also will need to give an account of the basis for this independent system of morality.

    • Hugh_Oxford

      Interesting post. Fascinating question. I think that maybe someone like David Bentley Hart might say that you create a false dichotomy between what is Good and what is God. God IS Good: not some kind of demiurge or detached agent. But it’s a great question.

  • mchasewalker

    Once again we have yet another stunning example of Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc fallacious reasoning, so dear to the confirmation obsessed, ever revisionary Christian sciolist. The author assumes that because humans are moral today it must be due to the agency of Christianity in the world. Yet such a proposition requires a mind-numbing denial of human history, anthropology, and world mythology justified through a rabidly engineered argument of prejudice and parochial understanding. The concept of “the good society” is as old as civilization itself and dates back to Sumer, Egypt, and Persian cultures as early as 7,500 B.C.E. congealing in Zoroastrianism c. 1700 BCE,, where many of the moral codes introduced are still in practice today. If science teaches us anything it is that storytelling is coeval to human evolution, and morality is an extension of those very “stories” we developed to instruct our youth, so they will bind with their families and tribes. In fact, it is the very function of mythology to introduce and organize those systems for the tribe’s benefit . Dr. Havelock Ellis wrote, What we call morals is simply blind obedience to words of command.” Frobenius attributes these moral systems to “paideumna”, or, the pedagogic trait in humans to imprint the open nervous systems of their progeny through symbols, images, codes, and legends. We also know that modern Christianity has one of the most atrociously bloody, genocidal and murderous histories of any single religious system on earth. If we study this through clear eyes it is easy to see that morality develops from the human mind and sometimes in spite of his very dangerous religions and belief systems.

    • allymax bruce

      “If science teaches us anything … In fact, it is the very function of mythology”
      Right; now you’re on the right path.
      Forget books; Eric Blair showed us we should never trust what we read; listen to your heart. Then you will know.
      allymax

      • mchasewalker

        Hmmm forget books? How would you know what Eric Blair (George Orwell) taught if you hadn’t read it in a book?

  • david trant

    I noticed that Nigel Evans has found God, so that’s how you do it, get pi**ed and grope lads and you get back your faith.

  • Pete1216

    A big theme on this planet has been human group vs human group. Morals are the set of rules that keep a group in good shape; because the cost of not doing so was disasterous. Human societies have had moral systems since there have been human societies; starting way before there was any form of mono-theism. Morals don’t come from God.

  • willshome

    Atheism is not about “not believing in God”, it is about believing in what is – whether that be the material world or that nebulous phenomenon called thought which reacts to and describes the material world. The material world itself being (as science, not religion, has now established) pretty nebulous itself, modern atheism is wholly relaxed about the limits to what we know, and wholly uninterested in weaving what we don’t know into some imaginary god or monster that rewards or punishes us after we die. The fact that people can be moral – ie love and behave well towards others – without such a system of reward and punishment seems to confound some religious people. I really don’t know why. The fact that some religious people can be “moral” – ie hate and behave horribly towards others in the name of their odd beliefs – confounds me. I really don’t know why that either.

  • rtj1211

    Perhaps the question should not be ‘why do we believe in right and wrong?’ and rather ‘Who are we to be so arrogant as to believe that right and wrong, outside of a few extreme examples, are absolute rather than contextual??’

    Christians on Crusades no doubt thought they were bringing ‘right and wrong’ to primitive savages. Others would say that they brought wrong through pig-headed arrogance and superiority complexes.

    Christians and Muslims alike, not to mention Jews, say that because someone wrote a book centuries ago saying that their way was right, that they have the right to kill others to uphold that contention. Many others disagree…….

    I’m not sure I can see the difference between Jesus being put to death for confronting authority and millions being put to death for confronting tyranny. The only difference is that a book written 2000 years ago says that Jesus said that he was the Son of God, whereas all the unfortunate gypsies, homosexuals, Slavs, Kurds, Jews, Arabs etc etc who were bumped off for opposing regimes were simply human beings following their consciences. The sacrifices of the 20th century don’t make Jesus’ sacrifice particularly noteworthy, to be brutal…….

    The truth about all religions is that you have to take certain tenets on trust. In the case of Christianity, that a supernatural God sent his messenger to Earth (termed his Son) about 2000 years ago and subjected him to betrayal prior to execution. Then, crucially, he rose from the dead, like no other human being before or since has done.

    It’s a very arbitrary belief to hold and one that has shaped the past 2000 years of history.

    The more relevant aspects of New Testament Christianity are the concepts of forgiveness and mercy. Forgiveness brings peace from war/strife and mercy allows dignity to be retained rather than the imposition of slavery, humiliation and revenge.

    I don’t think you need to see the example of a man put to death 2000 years ago to invoke those concepts, but if large numbers of people think that you do, well good for them.

    Just don’t tell the rest of us that we are like you, is all I say…..

    Nothing I have said implies I do or don’t believe in God, that I am or am not an Atheist.

    It just says that I have examined the precepts of religions, the assumptions and the impositions and am free to decide what to believe for myself, rather than having self-appointed high priests imposing that on me instead……..

  • Hegelguy

    tosh

  • john

    I’m glad God is back. Maybe now he can grant my prayer for Sunderland to stay up?BTW Was he on hols?

  • pearlsandoysters

    That’s an excellent article written with intelligence, honesty & insight. It’s undeniable that the whole western tradition is rooted in Christianity. Moreover, even before advent of Christianity, the Greeks were not

  • Terry Field

    It seems obvious to an infant that without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values.
    If all is up for grabs, force is the definition of moral structure.
    Kill, take, keep.
    No reason not to if man is all there is.
    Why has it taken so long to get to this really obvious position?

    • Randy Wanat

      Because there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong. Killing one’s child: right or wrong? Genocide: right or wrong? Incest: right or wrong? Take absolute positions about those three issues and you either condone all of them as proper acts or you brand Yahweh immoral. Your pick. Are you the monster or is your god the monster? Trying to reduce the world to black and white is how little children understand the world before they develop intellectually. I trust that if you want it badly enough, you can graduate from that level of intellectual development.

      • Terry Field

        Ah, the predictable infantile response of the industrially ‘educated’ idiot, leavened with the predictable petty insult.
        Welcome!
        I smoked you out!
        Cretin

        • Randy Wanat

          All morality is conditional. All ethics are situational. To pretend otherwise is absurd. Is it absolutely wrong to kill another human being intentionally?

          • Terry Field

            Another half-educated fool with silly certainties born of Daily Mail ignorance that makes the fool believe there is nothing else outside his or her pathetically limited knowledge. You expose yourself to ridicule. We who are educated to the point of understanding that there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns are all laughing at you.

          • cminca

            Funny how you don’t actually respond, just resort to insults.
            “We who are (actually) educated” recognize that mechanism for what it is, and the weakness it exposes.

          • mchasewalker

            And what pristinely moral passages from those august tomes justified the genocidal massacres waged by Constantine and Theodosius, or the burning of untold heretics many of whom were devout believers, or how about Pope “Kill Them All’ Innocent 111, Torquemada and the Inquisition, the slaughter of Celtic pagans, Aztecs and Native Americans or slavery of the Africans? If we objectively examine the so-called “moral” history of Christianity what is revealed is nothing close to morality, but precisely the opposite. And who was it who said “Ye shall know them by their fruits” ? Well we’ve tasted the fruits of this fool’s banquet, and it is a mealy worm-infested repast at best.

          • Terry Field

            Insulting a fool is appropriate.
            You present uncertainties as certaities. In a way that many religious bigots are in the habit of doing.
            You are a bigot; and the things you postulate as your little ‘creed’ are not known, not certain, open to vigorous discussion and disputation, and are plainly not agreed upon.
            That is why you are, most certainly, an industrially educated, narrow-horizoned, cretinous nasty piece of work. There; another fully justified insult. God that feels good!

          • AlanCK

            Yes, you are right. And both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament would support what you say. The Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) are situated by the phrase “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” It is the action of God that results in the giving of the law to the Israelites. The ethics of each particular New Testament community that the apostle Paul writes to are situated by how the gospel collides with the phenomena it encounters. Why would women in Ephesus be told to be quiet in worship while in Corinth they are encouraged to prophesy? Situational ethics.

            If I were you, I’d watch out–you’re closer to sitting in a pew than you may realize.

          • Randy Wanat

            What you describe is not situational ethics.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      But the existence of a deity doesn’t help you argue for absolute moral values. Are moral rules moral because God commands them? If so, would it be moral to murder a child if God commanded it (as He allegedly did several times in the Old Testament)? If not, then morality must find its objective basis somewhere other than God. (It’s called the Euthyphro dilemma, and it’s been known since Plato, btw.)

      • Terry Field

        Yes it is a dilemma, but the texts allow man to consider the nature of God according to the time of interpretation, and we have, in the Christian world, since the collapse of the ‘divine authority’ of kings considered God’s nature as being one of Love and justice; that is the message of the new testament after all.
        SO we can take that as a pattern for behaviour, and the assumed existence of God,( since God cannot be ‘known’), provides absolute moral justification.
        That is how we cobble together things, and it wins, by a short head, in my view, over the atheistic view that Man is God, and altruism and self-restraint are techniques for global survival; that builds in instability. And we do not like instability.
        Not profound; Simple pragmatic use of argument to serve a purpose. We are really pretty simple little apes, after all.
        Thanks for the Greek; I have read a bit, and will not burden you with my proprietorial expertise, since I feel you may consider it to be tiresome ( a mild admonition, if you missed it).

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          But, having made the massive concessions you do in this last post, how can you then continue to argue that “without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values”??

          • Terry Field

            Yes, a black and white view of life is foolish and leads to disillusionment in the end for an intelligent mind. I consider- argue would be almost too strong a word – that there is at least as much possibility that a creator exists as there is that it does not. I choose to accept that the creator exists. I then choose to accept that there is a predilection for order – ‘good’ if you prefer, by that creator. I understand the Islamic view that God can be whatever it chooses to be, but I prefer the Christian interpretation for texts, that I consider give a tiny insight into the ‘mind’ of the creator. Tiny, mind; nothing more.
            Note the moderation of my language, since the word ‘believe’, and ‘faith’ are those preferred by bigots of all types.
            SO, if I prefer to accept the idea of the existence of a creator who tends towards ‘good’, I am happy to accept our striving attempt to identify laws by which we live, ideas by which we can be kind and happy, that I ascribe for their worth and weight to the concept of the creator who has allowed us to come into existence for its ‘decoration’.
            That is a weak argument for a top-down dirigist tribal culture of natural killers, but in a way it has a strength to it, since it is ephemeral enough to be not susceptible to competitive destruction – and that is what I see as the main characteristic of atheism – a new competitive religion with new centres of power and coercion. Just like the old ones.
            I see no further chance of progress in this matter, since atheism clings to nothingness, and religions invent the nature of the creator to support their temporal greed and innate viciousness.
            You may think this a weak response; but it is the closest I can get to what I think at present. Sorry.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Huh? The issue was whether “without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values”. Everything you’ve just written is entirely irrelevant to that issue. It’s almost like I’m arguing with a robot that just strings theistic sentences together rather than actually responds to what I say. You’re actually at risk of failing the Turing test here…

            Let me repeat, this issue is whether, as you put it, “without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values”. Do you still hold tho that proposition or not?

          • Terry Field

            Sorry to disappoint. Being didactic is foolish. I think you want a black and white position. Is that wise. Another mini-insult. Why bother with that? Having a bad day at the sewage farm?

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Didactic? I’m trying to be precise and to stay on the topic.

            At the start of this exchange, you claimed that “without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values”. I replied by pointing to the ancient Euthephro dilemma to show that a deity doesn’t help with absolute moral values either. You then conceded this, but went into a tangent about how religious beliefs can help a little for people to be moral. I tried to bring the discussion back on topic by asking whether, after that concession, you still held to the view that “without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values”. You have then repeatedly refused to answer the question.

            So, I will try one last time: Do you still hold to the view that “without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values”?

          • Terry Field

            I have referred to the goodness of god. This removes the false dichotoly of the Euthypro dilemma. (spelt wrongly by you old cock)
            The Euthypro ‘dilemma’ proposes only two options when another is possible. The third option is that good is based on God’s nature. God appeals to nothing other than his own character for the standard of what is good, and then reveals what is good to us. It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), not because God had to discover lying was wrong or that he arbitrarily declared it to be wrong. This means that God does not arbitrarily declare something to be good (ignoring his own nature) or say that something is good by nature (recognizing a standard outside of himself). Both of these situations ignore the biblical option that good is a revelation of God’s nature. In other words, God is good by nature and he reveals that nature to us. Therefore, for the Christian, there is no dilemma since neither position in Euthyphro’s dilemma represents Christian theology.

            So there we have it.
            A simple answer, repeated since you have little focus to get it the first time.
            (wording familiar to you?)

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Um, how does that answer my question? Which was, I hope you’ll recall because I’ve repeated it in ever post since: Do you still hold to the view that “without a deity, it is not possible to argue there are absolute moral values”?

          • Terry Field

            I do not know; I only ‘feel’. What do you do; is it all clever use of logic and fancy sentence construction for you?
            As for the Turing test, if you want to measure against machine criteria, I will not try to dissuade you.
            Since you ask, I ‘feel’ that without God, all is pragmatism; if we apply ‘values’ it is in the form of actions – we protect each other at a minor cost to ourselves hoping the sum of the parts is greater than the whole and each survives better and longer as a result. whatever else can there be.
            Clearly, in some circumstances, one should slaughter and steal when there can be no ‘comeback’. Why do we not?
            Too much pudding and resultant sleepyness.

  • Randy Wanat

    Morality came into existence 2000 years ago. Before that, there was no morality whatsoever. Thanks for the history lesson. Next lesson: Obama is a Muslim communist reptilian member of the Illuminati.

  • Steven Carr

    Morality came from Christianity?

    Even if true, this is just as true as saying that chemistry came from alchemy, and that astronomy came from astrology, and that medicine came from bleeding people with leeches.

  • NEWater

    The author conveniently ignores how Locke also argued that morality comes from the state of nature (Essays on the Law of Nature). That’s typical cherry-picking behavior of Christians, especially when it comes to the Bible.

    The main problem that atheists like I have with religiously-controlled morals is the assumption that people are good only because a divine being is constantly watching them. If we are good only because an all-powerful invisible man in the sky is watching us and will deliver eternal pain if we are not good, then it diminishes the value of being a good person. I have a huge laundry list of why I left religion behind, but somewhere near the top of the list is my decision to be a good person without the need for constant supervision. My former pastor once asked me, “How do you not kill, rape, steal or maim without God?” and my reply was: “If you’re going to assume that you are going to do all that when God isn’t watching, you have issues and urges that you need to examine for yourself.”

    • TheGrouse

      Exactly. You are good because it is in your true nature to be so. Isn’t that interesting

  • Piratipper

    Atheism is not a ‘religion’. It is not a cohesive group with consistent ‘agendas’. I don’t hang out with atheists and hatch plans. I have as much in common with another atheist as you and I do based on our mutual non-belief in unicorns.

    For the religious, it is easier to rationalise the forces at work in society by constructing the illusory archetype of the ‘atheist religion’, rather than see the wood for the trees. Atheism is just a passive shift in society as people become more educated, or indeed enlightened, and have more plausible and tangible explanations on which to hang their view of reality than the competing wailing of desert tribes.

  • robheggie1

    So another article written by someone who has no idea what atheism is then? The more the religious decry atheism the more desperate they sound, keep em comin’.

  • Hugh_Oxford

    The irony of course is that those that attack Christianity today pervert and distort Christian ideas to do so. For example, the idea of equality, which is inescapably a supernatural, Christian one, is used to attack the idea of human beings created male and female, and therefore marriage as the divinely sanctioned biological union of male and female. A similar distortion of Christian equality is used to assert moral and cultural relativism, relativising Christianity itself. The logical consequence is the destruction of the very thing upon which the assumption stands.

    It was really only Nietzsche that had the integrity, courage and bravery to embark on a sincere endeavour to strip Christianity from all his assumptions, and we all know how that ended.

    Modern “secular humanism” is an intellectual embarrassment, an attempt to grasp and reject Christianity at the same time. If you’re going to reject Christianity, do it, take it to its logical conclusions. Don’t try and wrestle, twist and turn Christianity into an atheist, materialist, utilitarian mould: it doesn’t fit, it can’t fit, and it’s ridiculous to try and make it fit. In fact, trying to make it fit whilst crowing about how rational and intelligent you are (the “Brights”!!) makes you look even more stupid. Take the plunge, embrace the Ubermensch, reject slave morality.

    • mchasewalker

      To deconstruct Christianity is not an attack, but an important and overdue scholarly pursuit. The very idea that it is the basis of morality in the modern age is hyperbolic confirmation bias and a preposterous distortion in and of itself.

    • Robert_Loblaw

      Please, concepts of equality existed well before christianity. most pagan traditions taught that all life was sacred and equal, which it could be said goes a few steps further than “christian equality”, which puts man above all other life, and in some books of the bible, man over woman. The true farce here is that you’re asserting a christian monopoly on equality(and morality, too!) and using it to denigrate others who don’t believe as you do. I guess that with “christian equality”, some are just more “equal” than others… right?

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Chemistry had some of its roots in alchemy. Astronomy had some of its roots in alchemy. Liberal secular humanism had some of its roots in Christianity. Well tended roses have some of their roots in, um, fertiliser.

      Your point is?

  • Warwick

    It is odd that some of the commentators here seek to distance Jesus from Judaism.
    The God of Judaism was a very nasty piece of work, certainly no source of morality.
    Not that the Christian God is much better; he also is a zealot who, as noted in the book of Revelation, has eternal torment in store for those whom he rejects.
    Where the Dawkinites go off the rails is their equating of the non-material aspects of our existence – consciousness, experiencing, poetry, wonder and the like, with simple materialism.
    Buddha showed the way to go beyond this confusion without introducing an indiscernible being in the sky, and the element of Hinduism known as Advaita pointed in the same direction.
    Everyone knows that the great bulk of Buddhists and Hindus are lamentably superstitious, but that doesn’t alter the perceptiveness of the inner teachings. Very many in the West are not capable of being civilized, are not capable of pursuing the open enquiry of Galileo, but that doesn’t negate Galileo’s contribution to human understanding.
    Descartes came close to the understanding of Buddha when he observed, “Even if I doubt everything, I cannot doubt that I am.”
    I could write all day about the implications of that statement but no zealot would have his faith changed. Believers in God would continue to hold their beliefs and Dawkinites would continue to assert that nothing that can’t be seen under a microscope has any relevance.
    But for folk who really are searching for clarity, that statement of Descartes’ is a good starting point.

    • mchasewalker

      The “distancing” of Jesus from Judaism is not for ideological purposes but historical ones and they are important. The Christian conceit is that it is the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy when it is clearly a proven historical pseudomorphosis. There is also compelling evidence that the tenets of Buddhism were greatly influential on early Christianity. We know that the evangelizing King Ashoka petitioned all of his contemporary monarchs on the teachings of Buddha and there are strikingly shared mythological similarities between Ishus and Buddha: miraculous birth, the wandering teacher, the harrowing of hell through the wrathful deities, the temptations of Mara, and the sublimation (resurrection) of self under a tree (Cross) to gain enlightenment, the amassing of 12 disciples, and even The Last Supper. The point is not to distance but to differentiate and show the origins of Christian canon to better understand its mythological progression

      • Warwick

        mchasewalker,
        I typed out a lengthy reply but then I was unable to find a “send” button. I tried pressing various keys and eventually my post disappeared, into cyberspace somewhere. I don’t have the will to go over it all again

        • mchasewalker

          Too bad, I had similar problems earlier. I would have enjoyed reading your rebuttal.

  • Antodav

    Atheists try and struggle to twist and bend the limits of their “logic” and “reason” to fill the moral vacuum created in the absence of religious morality, and predictably they fail, miserably. Their main problem is that they ascribe all of the misery and suffering that mankind has endured to religion, when in fact it is due to human nature itself. Religion gives people a reason to exceed, evolve beyond, surpass and suppress their true nature, which is inherently violent, cruel, and selfish. When corrupted by secular influences, religion fails to do this badly (take for example Catholicism in the Middle Ages, or Evangelical Protestantism today). In its natural form though, atheism fails at this already, because it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of humankind. The philosophers of the Enlightenment may have been Deists, not Christians, but they were not so naive as to dismiss the philosophical importance of God altogether (except for Nietzsche, as the article mentions, with disastrous results). Atheists today are done in by their own arrogance and pride—and they probably won’t learn their lesson until it’s already too late.

    • Robert_Loblaw

      Do You honestly think the only thing that stops a mother from eating her child, or abandoning it so as not to be burdened by it… is her religious instruction?

      I’ve always loved the double standard here, when a person does not believe in any god, it is regarded as the result of arrogance and pride. but if a person believes in only one god, denying the thousands of other gods, it’s seen as a humble virtue by his fellow practitioners.

  • James Stevenson

    ‘Is it self-evident that all are created equal? Only in a religious conception.’
    From the rest of the article I’m assuming ‘religious’ in this case means Christianity. Because there are numerous other religions that do not assume that, some even adopting caste systems. I’d actually argue this is only true of Christianity in only the most superficial sense as well, but trying to keep this relatively brief which is difficult for me.

    The reality is that to argue that ‘we accept equality for all because we think God loves us all’ is turned on its head in some interpretations. There are several strands of Christian thought which only pays lip service to the idea (the Phelps being one of the more extreme examples). You may dismiss this and say ‘oh people like that are fringe’ but if this conception of God was given prominence either though the majority thinking its right or this line of thought holding an outsized level of political power how long do you think the initial presupposition will hold? That alone proves that hand-waving ‘God = Morality’ is a woefully insufficient position to hold and is something that can be easily moulded to serve the whims of tyrants.

    I’ve always felt such sweeping generalisations are just a lazy way to say ‘see! SEE! You need our religious thought to be moral!’ It, to me, ignores the reality that all human relations are always work in progress and we will always debate them, as well we should. Just as in extreme examples evolution can be used to enforce eugenics (as some religious strands of thought do also), science just shows us how the world works and from then we must then constantly work through our ethical systems based on this to decide how we move forward with new knowledge. Assuming that the new knowledge even affects us at all on a moral basis.

  • ron_goodman

    Whatever influence, good or bad, that Christianity(or any other religion) might have on moral systems or ethics, it has nothing at all to do with the truth of the claims made. The discussion of morals is interesting, but irrelevant.

  • Othelbark

    Humanity drags religion kicking and screaming up the slope of progress and then it claims credit for the clime.
    Sure religion might once have been a useful step ladder but now all it does is drag us down.

    Sorry about all the metaphor.

    Morality is complicated but it’s complicated in the details and the application not in the fundamentals. Good is what moves us towards the world we want to live in, and evil is what moves us towards the worst of all worlds (pure suffering).
    This is necessarily arbitrary; all basal motivations are arbitrary. Appealing to a god just moves the arbitration out of sight.

    • AlanCK

      No apologies about the metaphor. Message boards could use a lot more style.

      Are you ready to join Nietzsche in pagan power-worship? If we try and remain in conversations about morality, about good and evil, then we are mere “Last Men” (Nietzsche’s category for those who would continue to believe humanity has accountability to a moral order). Once God has been killed, all that is left is our preferences–and gangster statesmen and Wall Street titans most certainly have their preferences, too. They know for certain the world that they want to live in. Will you too be a superman?

      • Othelbark

        I don’t know much about Nietzsche but worshipping power seems to be a step away from the world I want to live in. I believe we are accountable to the moral judgement of ourselves and the people around us. “Preference” seems a weak word to describe what world we want to live in but yes; it is about preference. And at the most fundamental level preference is
        arbitrary.

        You can invoke reason to some extent; it’s important in figuring out what the world you want would be like in practice and exactly what actions will bring us towards it. Though again fundamentally it is arbitrary.

        But invoking a god doesn’t get rid of the problem; why should I trust a god’s arbitration over that of a human? It’s power? It’s wisdom? That would give it more rational moral preferences but it’s most fundamental moral preferences would still be arbitrary.

  • Paul Frantizek

    “In The God Delusion Richard Dawkins tries to strengthen this
    claim using his biological expertise, arguing that humans have evolved
    to be altruistic because it ultimately helps their genes to survive.”

    I found this funny because the evolutionary argument in favor of Natural Morality is something Aquinas proposed, humorous considering the scorn Dawkins heaps upon Aquinas.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      I found it funny because it revealed a rather superficial and inaccurate understanding of the “selfish gene” theory of the origins of genuine altruism.

  • Rebecca

    Hahahaha sorry, were you actually trying to write a serious article? Oh, I thought it was a rather unsuccessful attempt at satire.

    Atheism: a – without, theism – belief in deity(ies). Thats it.

    Atheism by itself isn’t sufficient though – adding onto it is a whole raft of secular theories. Hence the seeking of moral philosophies.

    However, against your main claim – religion has never had the monopoly on morality – and no ethicist worth their salt (poor Lot’s wife) would say that we could follow talmudic, biblical or quranic moral law without other moral considerations. To follow religious laws, one would not only be acting immorally, but also in many cases, be breaking civil, criminal and international law.

    You may be right – Christianity (amongst other religions – you know others exist, right?) may have played a role in the development of secular humanism – which just goes to show (us) ‘atheists’) are not averse to utilising the best of what you have to offer – while discarding the rubbish. Perhaps you would be better off thinking the same way – utilise the best, get rid of the worst… Oh, wait… that would be cherry picking, right? Unlike Christians, atheists can take good ideas, and, as is the wont of ideas, be moulded and utilised in new ways. Christians have all their rules set down for them – and they’re supposed to believe in it all. Isn’t it funny that its not often you hear demands for loving Jesus/God more than you love your family anymore (oh, I guess you’re in the US… might make it more common!)? We don’t hear much about a literal interpretation of genesis either, here – so many Christians have accepted an allegorical interpretation that is not against our developed scientific knowledge. How nice for them – but interesting how interpretation abounds… Who has the right of it? I’m quite happy to say none of you.

    • DougH

      A bit of a nitpick, but you are falling prey to what linguists call the “etymological fallacy,” that a word’s etymology is necessarily relevant to its current meaning. “Atheism” in current usage doesn’t just mean not believing in deities, it means believing there is no God or gods, or usually the supernatural in general, and is therefore as faith-based as a belief in God or gods. For that matter, “atheism” didn’t mean not believing in the gods even in Classical times – when Christians were accused of being atheists, or Socrates before them for that matter, their accusers meant that they didn’t believe in the gods of the Empire or Athens respectively. A modern comparison would be for Christians to accuse Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Wiccans, what have you, of being atheists because they don’t believe in the Trinity.

      • Rebecca

        Well, in effect, what christians/muslims (because I rarely hear jews saying anything of the sort) are saying with their ‘oh, you just haven’t read the bible’ is that they take all others who believe differently to be unbelievers. This is what ‘conversion’ (christianity) and ‘reversion’ (islam) is all about – making you ‘see the truth of x’ – because if you don’t already believe in my god, you’re effectively an atheist.

        I don’t know what you’ve been reading – but atheist means exactly that. Without belief in god(s) – or the stronger claim, a disbelief in god(s). No fallacy here – that is literally the ONLY requirement to be an atheist. That is exactly what it meant in ancient times (when it was usually in reference to particular local gods- much like the theists of today), and its what it still means today – despite the attempts by some to demonise it, or turn it into an entire philosophy (though you may see this as ‘Atheism+’ (to highlight its ‘extras’).

        I know christian atheists (don’t believe in god, but like the traditions/teachings), buddhist atheists (subscribing to a particular form of buddhism), humanist atheists – but these things are in ADDITION to their atheism.

        Perhaps you may need to ask the user of the language for their understanding – create a shared dialogue? Often you will find, particularly with those of a heavily religious disposition, amazing variation in their usage – atheist can be used to mean ‘devil’, ‘evildoer’, and any number of other meanings. This doesn’t change the logic behind the language – it just means you’re allowing one view to colour your interpretations.

        • mchasewalker

          As a side note is interesting that the original usage of the term Satan or Shaitan simply referred to another tribe’s god in general before it was appropriated and anthropomorphically mixed with Persian, Greek folklore to become the story of Lucifer, the lightbearer.

        • DougH

          I might be a bit touchy on the subject, but I got into an argument with an atheist once that insisted that everyone that doesn’t believe in a personified deity, from newborn infants to the most laid-back agnostic to the most hardcore atheist are all actually atheists, and his only point of defense was the etymology of the word. He simply ignored the fact that it wasn’t used that way when the word was first coined and isn’t used that way now.

          As for how it’s used, it’s gone through a process that linguists call narrowing, Where the definition tightens to cover a smaller range. Examples are meat (used to mean all solid foods), corn (used to cover grains, which is why it’s in the Old Testament of the KJV), and starvation (used to mean to die a lingering death without reference to how). In the case of atheism, it used to mean those that don’t believe in *our* gods, whatever gods they may actually worship, then tightened to those that don’t believe in gods/supernatural at all, then thanks to Huxley’s coining of the word agnostic almost 150 years ago tightened again to just those that believe that there is no God/supernatural as opposed to those that don’t know one way or the other.

          And yes, it’s a good idea to make sure someone you’re having a discussion with understands the labels the same way you do, but when one sees “atheist” used in columns and news articles the writers are usually referring to the Dawkins/Hitchens types rather than Huxley-type agnostics. Ditto polls, I believe.

          • Rebecca

            From a philosophy background, there has always been a big difference between atheist and agnostic. They are not mutually exclusive terms – and its because people who don’t care about the difference (usually because they have a particular worldview that they wish to emphasise – yes this is on all sides) repeatedly use them incorrectly that there is all this confusion.

            a-theist: without belief in god(s)
            a-gnostic: without absolute knowledge
            anti-theist: against belief in god(s)

            There is no incompatibility with saying, as I do, that I am an agnostic, anti-theist atheist. I do not know, in absolute terms, that there is no god (therefore I would be willing to accept evidence that supported one); I do not believe in a god – and stronger, I think there is good reason to disbelieve in god(s); and I think belief in god(s) causes great harm to our world, and therefore I speak out (because I could not in good conscience do nothing at all).

            Like anything – news articles are often presented from a particular point of view. Ditto polls. People reading them should always employ critical thinking, and don’t take one opinion – or one book – as gospel (literally).

  • madtheory .

    This would get a fail in first year philosophy. But to be fair to Theo, Nietzsche is difficult 😉

  • johnlbirch

    Hang on a minute, atheism is not just the rejection of Chistianity, its the rejection of all religion and the idea that there is a god. Any god. So arguing about this or that interpretation of any book is beside the point.

    I am an atheist not because of what this book or that book says or does not say. I am also not an atheist because of some quasi-political decision. I am an atheist because the whole idea of a supernatural thing being in any way behind the running of the universe just makes no sense.

    My parents were believers, more or less, I went to a CofE primary school, and we sang hymns at secondary school every day. But despite this by the time I was about 13 I had put away childish things, and god was one of the things that went – along with Father Christmas and a host of other stuff, like the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs. God makes as little sense as any of them – indeed rather less than most. Frankly the Scottish monster seemed to make much more sense to me than any god did.

    Subsequently I have come to see how a belief in an external intelligence behind things can make people feel better – hence the attraction of conspiracy theories as well as religions. Its what made Douglas Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex such a great idea. – But I’ve never felt the need for such a crutch. The maths and the science just seems to make much more sense.

    Indeed the only thing I really cannot understand is why so many intelligent people, like the author of this article, who question everything as one should, leave all this behind at the church door. I mean they really, cannot genuinely believe there really, really is a god, surely? Along with heaven and hell and purgatory (oh no, sorry, the last pope abolished that didn’t he? Neat trick). They do know the earth goes round the sun? How do they hold such conflicting ways of looking at the world at the same time? Is it some kind of schizophrenia?

    As for morality, quite frankly, the idea that people will only behave well if they fear eternal damnation is utter crap. Really. If that is the only reason why you do good then, frankly, you are not a good person. And you also have a quite stunningly poor opinion of your fellow man. It also does not work as the idea that religious people behave better is clearly rubbish. If anything the opposite is true.

    Man is a soclal animal. Without society we would die out. And like every other social animal we therefore co-operate. Do wolves or lions have a god? No. Are their social groups riven with mass murder and mayhem? No – they are actually pretty successful. It doesn’t require even much thought – behaviour that supports your society supports you, so much altruistic behaviour is nothing of the sort. Ditto anti-social behaviour threatens society and therefore threatens you. Hence members of successful social groups don’t to do it.

    • johnmonno

      Nicely done. Its always comforting to know there are other thinkers out there who can see through the silliness of the religious.

  • Keith

    Oh what a pile of ignorant crap this lot is. Almost doesn’t merit a response beyond rolling one’s eyes.

    Still I’m bored and have some time to kill before work so…

    “Here’s [Dawkins’] muddle. On one hand he believes that
    morality, being natural, is a constant thing, stable throughout history. On the
    other hand, he believes in moral progress.”

    I don’t think Dawkins ever claimed morality was “constant”
    or “stable throughout history.” I’m not sure where Hobson gets that idea from.
    A quote or source would be nice. Not that it matters anyway. Dawkins doesn’t
    speak for all atheists so what he says about morality is not necessarily representative of what we all believe – ditto for Nietzsche by the way. What is it with the religious and their need for attributing authority to people? That’s a
    rhetorical question by the way.

    Here’s my take on this so-called muddle that Hobson
    attributes to Dawkins:

    What is moral depends on the well being and happiness of
    conscious beings. Insofar as the well being and happiness of animals (in our
    case humans) improves their chances of reproductive success, genes that enable
    the development of emotions and behaviours conducive to well being and happiness will be naturally selected for and will tend to thrive in the population.

    This forms the basis for a rudimentary, innate morality.
    Will it be perfect? No, as we can see in ourselves and other animals it will be
    subject to all sorts of error and shortcomings that one would expect from a naturally occurring morality. With the continued evolution of our cognitive faculties as well as advances in reason and science generally we are able to build upon and move beyond that simple innate morality – that’s how morality progresses.

    The roots of morality are innate and we build upon them with increased knowledge and reason, a process that accelerated with the advent of writing, improved education and access to information, all of which leads to us learning and developing better ways of living together. So morality can be natural and progress. That’s what the evidence supports happened and continues to happen. No almighty celestial dictator required.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Indeed, anybody how’s actually bothered to *read* The God Delusion would know that Dawkins says more or less thr opposite of thr idea that morality is constant. See the chspter entitled, “The Changing Moral Zeitgeist”.

  • One Thirsty Bear

    Unlike the totalitarianism upon which collectivist systems of thought depend, republics of the individualist conception rely upon morality.

  • Cathal Ó Broin

    The four horsemen of ethics answer this: Virtue Ethics, Deontology, Utilitarianism and Consequentialism. Religion provides no basis for morality: “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?”

  • David Patrick Allen

    Study the “Master Key System” by Charles F Haanel and you won’t have to worry about the existence of “God”, and whether man is a natural moral being or not, ever again!

  • http://mrda.wordpress.com MRDA

    “Nietzsche
    saw this, and had the courage to seek a new ethos amid the collapse of
    all modern systems of meaning. Did he find one? Yes, in pagan
    power-worship — the sort that eventually led to fascism. ”

    I almost stopped reading after this: way for Hobson to signal his poor comprehension of Fritz!

  • juepucta

    NO

  • Paddy S

    Atheists also seem to forget the horror their belief system (and it is a belief system) unleashed on the world in the 20th century… Hundreds of millions dead exactly as Nietzsche predicted.

    • mchasewalker

      Your assessment that “atheism is a belief” is incorrect. While there are some atheists who argue from opinion rather than science and perhaps that charge could loosely apply to them. The fact is there is a preponderance of scientific evidence that supports the science of atheism culled from a vast array of scientific disciplines that include comparative Mythology, history, anthropology, archaeology, behavioral science, psychology, and philology. Don’t assume that just because some atheists argue from opinion, or a concurring “belief”without the support of empirical evidence– that there is none. To the contrary there are volumes and volumes of scientific research to support the irrefutable conclusion that the very concept of god is a man made artifice. What we do know is that every god since the beginning of time can be attributed to myth and it would be absurd to otherwise assume out of thousands of years of human history that one god, in particular, is not.

      • Paddy S

        It amazes me how naive new atheists are – Im sorry it is a belief – belief that there is no God, and has such has effects on worldview of individual who shares it. The idea that atheism is not a belief system is born out of attempts by atheist philosophers in late 20th century to make it seem the de-facto position which it isnt.

        • mchasewalker

          Naiveté is believing in something regardless of the preponderance of evidence. Ignorance is persisting in that belief without due investigation. The science is there for all to research and discover. The evidence is voluminous. There is absolutely ZERO evidence to support your claim of a deity. So who’s being naive, or, dare I say…

          • Paddy S

            Funny I don’t remember serious scientists coming out with a genuine scientific theory backed up by empirical evidence as to God’s existence. Speaking of naivety though, the greatest atheist stated that if God was dead – there was no objective morality and that millions of people would die in 20th century… I dont think he was naive.

          • mchasewalker

            Well if you’re serious about actually doing the investigation and leaving behind your obsessive conformation bias, which I doubt, I can suggest the scientific and scholarly
            works of Speiser, Spengler, King, Campbell, Lorenz, Freud, Frobenius, Eisler, Eliade, Carrier, Jung, and about a thousand others in a multitude of scientific fields compiled and published over decades. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to WORK and THINK which I imagine you’re rarely
            done successfully. Believers believe, thinkers investigate. Saying ridiculous things like “Nietzsche is the greatest atheist” shows a predilection for hyperbolic conflation so typical to magical thinkers. Nietzsche was a great thinker and philosopher of his age and while many of his findings
            are valid and worthy and even prophetic he was writing in the late Nineteenth Century — It’s 2014, we’ve come
            a long way since then, pilgrim, or should I say, some of us have?

          • Paddy S

            None of those thinkers have established/ discredited beyond doubt that God exists. I dont doubt there have been some great atheist thinkers though I admire him the most for his ability to get it: the end of Christendom means end of idea that all human beings are created in image of God and thus the end of Christian moral thought must come about. Though I wouldnt use Freud (discredited) Carrier (not taken seriously by many atheist historians) I could go on. As for the cheap insults, keep them coming their sign of this age, not of intelligence. I could mention Aquinius, Augustine, Lemaitre, Mendel, Collins, Billings, Boyd, Bacon, Heisenburg, Chesterton, Lewis, Dosteoevsky, Kodel, Duhem, Ratzinger Newton, there are thousands more I can name who were superb thinkers and scientists or philiosphers from last millenium all deeply religious and superb thinkers of which many atheists I have met and debated agreed. Ive read some of their works so cannot imagine not being able to think from them.

          • mchasewalker

            Like I said this is 2014 dude, we’ve come a long way since the last millennium. As for introducing insults and slinging epithets that was you, I merely rebutted them and played off what you so recklessly started. Oh, but I know victimhood is rampant in your fairy tale world. As for Carrier being discredited where’s the citation? There is debate among historians and scholars finally,especially in Western Academia, and it s long overdue. but that’s hardly discreditation. And let’s face it your ideology has a long tarnished history of burning heretics, so I wouldn’t be too smug about its dubious casuistry.

          • Paddy S

            Hey its your lot that troll religious sites simply to get attention. As for fairy tale world heres one your lot love: universe it was created from nothing, no wait law of gravity, no wait multiverse no wait…. No serious historian denies Christ existance and that debate has been going on for 300 years, its not new, people just now accept he exists even Dawkins does. Bit rich to talk of my lot burning heretics when your lot helped give the world the gulag, the killing fields, the rivers of blood and the very definition of totalitarianism…

          • mchasewalker

            Okay so we have this exalted character whose mythological roots can be traced back thousands of years, with a mythological name, birth, birth date, lineage, scant biography, no contemporary record, miraculous “hagiography”, mythological execution on a mythological “holiday” named after a mythological goddess (Ishtar), and a subsequent mythological resurrection. From which we have the very same account of “resurrection” and empty tomb by Plutarch about the god/hero Romulus in his “The Disappearance of Romulus” which was clearly plagiarized by the Gospel writers, and yet you persist with this idea of historicity? May I quote Frantz Fanon’s definition of fanatic? He states, ” Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable called cognitive dissonance. And because it is important to protect that core belief they will rationalize, ignore and deny anything that doesn’t fit in to that core belief.”

          • Paddy S

            No contemporary record: there are Greek, Latin and Hebrew records of Jesus not to mention the New Testament. As for the Romulus/ Ishtar/ Horus accounts I can see your taking internet garbage as history/ mythology, Im sorry if you knew anything about classical mythology or classical history youd know that stuff is no way related to Jesus resurrection an event unparalled in history. Gospel writers would not have plagurised it since many of them would not know about Romulus or as devout Jews would have contempt for the pagan stories. I mean no offense but you take internet history and non serious historians (Carrier) as fact. Fanatic – filled with or expressing excessive zeal. I fully accept there are many decent atheists but dont question my intelligence just cause you disagree with it, thats what totalitarians do, mainly atheist state ones now that I mention it.

          • mchasewalker

            Your assumptions and mischaracterization are legion, false and pernicious. But what else is new? You’re desperate and on woefully thin ice, so that’s the only basis you have for argument is to discredit everyone and everything to justify your stunning religious bias. The readers can read Plutarch’s account in “Disciplina Etrusca” The Disappearance of Romulus for themselves, as I have done and make their own conclusions without your revisionist bias and false accusations. For the record, I do not trust the internet nor do I rely on it for references. For those who are serious in finding out for themselves they can refer to Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God Series: Occidental Mythology Viking Penquin pgs: 315-319.

          • leilaleis

            Butting in, but, again, the problem is that death, murder, wars are not confined to 20th century atheism. Look at how colonialism affected indigenous people through the 16-20th centuries. The Christian British were literally hunting down Tasmanians for sport in the 19th century, and Christian American treatment of Native Americans is nothing to boast of. See the way “heretics” were treated in the 16th-17th centuries…

            I’m sorry, but specifically blaming atheism is just ridiculous.

    • leilaleis

      Humans did not appear out of nowhere in the 20th century; there are thousands of years of history before that. Christianity was used to kill millions, the same way atheism was used in the 20th century.

      No belief system has a lock on mercy and cruelty; if it did, we would at least know which to follow.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Atheism is a negative, a denial of someone else’s belief system. It is not in itself a belief system.

      However, to be fair, most atheists *do* have a positive belief system, but the nature of those belief systems vary from atheist to atheist.
      – One can be an atheist and a Communist (indeed, to be an orthodox com, you have to be)
      – One can be an atheist and a Fascist (though most were Catholics)
      – One can be an atheist and a Nazi (though most were Catholics, Protestants or, towards the end, sub-Wagnerian pagans)
      – One can be an atheist and a Ayn Rand Objectivist
      – Or one can be an atheist and a modern secular humanist.

      Most modern western atheists are secular liberal humanists – e.g. Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, AC Grayling, etc. Now, how can you argue that liberal secular humanism was responsible for Stalin’s purges or Pol Pot’s killing fields?

      • Paddy S

        Im sorry it is a belief system, like I said above to deny that is something only recent atheists do, Russell, Nietzsche, Shaw would not agree with your definition of what an atheist is. Actually I agree with (A) (B) mainly as most fascist regimes sadly came about in Catholic countries more due to political, social, economic climate than anything else, (C) However most Nazis at top were pagans, SS was incredibly anti-Christian, (D) True but Id call it liberterian you forgot some liberterian/ conservative atheists who like religion role but cannot believe (E) True too.
        But you also forgot people (F) Who hate God and religion (G) people who had horrible event happen and so cannot believe (H) people who’d like to believe but cannot.

        I would be careful stating that all of those above are secular humanists. And to be quite frank I wouldnt argue that secular humanists are responsible for anything, if liberal atheists would stop saying that Christians of today are responsible for Inquisition or Crusades or witch-burning.
        Although Douglas Murray did ask potent question – where is secular humanist as a group outrage against abortion/ euthanasia/ poverty/ free speech censorhip to conservative/ pro-life groups?

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          Huh? Bertrand Russell made more or less the same poimt I did half a century ago.

  • Paddy S

    For those arguing below – the very idea that all people are created equally with innate dignities and rights is not a humanist one – its one they borrowed from Christianity and stripped it of all religiosity… If you doubt me go to China or see Old Soviet Unions files, or East Asia the idea is foreign to them precisely because they grew in a culture devoid of Christianity…….

  • Nic

    Dear Mr Hobson,

    I really like your article in general, but have you actually read Nietzsche? You say:

    “We should ask: why do we believe in right and wrong? How can it be that Christianity has given rise to a post-religious, secular world that accepts religious values without questioning them? Is this not rather interesting?”

    This is precisely the question which Nietzsche’s trying to answer in ‘On the Genealogy of Morality’; ‘The Gay Science’; and ‘Thus spoke Zarathustra’. It seems churlish to throw him out when he spent a life time working on your concluding question.

  • Nav Hir

    I don’t think I’ll even read this article given that it starts with the phrase “New Atheism” which immediately stereotypes atheism as a ‘new’ thing. If a child is born in to a home that does not have the religious brainwashing as a doctrine then that child will be curious, imaginative and wonder about life… they would be taught the sciences then think for themselves. I have taught my son this from the start, he’s now 9 with a huge love for the wonders of the universe. Even with his limited knowledge he realises that the answers are out there to be discovered. He also realises that there is no supreme being that could have created all this. His 10 year old sister was ‘got to’ 😉 by a relative who she was in awe of. It has taken a lot of education to get her away from the idea of God. It is very easy to accept the idea of God as then it takes away your need to think, wonder & postulate about life. Given how stupid the average person is it is no wonder religion can get hold of so many. Religion is the greatest Ponzi scheme ever invented. One day it will collapse…

    • Nav Hir

      Jared Diamond recently on a Inquiring Minds said that asides from the 2% DNA difference between homo sapiens & chimpanzees was that we invented religion… even the Neanderthals and ancient civilisations did not have religion, it was a man made thing once we started living in groups of 20-40 or more… the only thing my son can deduce from that is that it was a control method… he said it was for the baddies to make the good ones what they wanted…

      • leilaleis

        We don’t know enough about the Neanderthals to determine if they had a religion or not. Ditto for pre-literate civilizations from 20,000 BC and before. We can argue endlessly over the nature of
        the buildings at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey and cave paintings as we don’t know if these were religious in nature. As far as “ancient civilizations,” like Sumer, Egypt, Indus Valley, on and on, they all had religions.

        Re living in groups of 20 or more: That includes the entirety of human history. Humans don’t survive as individuals. We are social animals.

    • rationalobservations?

      The ever more rapid decline in active membership of any brand or business of fraudulent religion may indicate that the concept of and interest in religion is steadily collapsing all across the free, democratic western world.

      If the present trend toward indifference to all supernatural legends continues – it won’t be long until the still functioning superstition based religious businesses join those that have been all but forgotten in the dustbin of history.

  • jeremyjanson

    “Democracies and dictatorships”

    The problem with the articles presumption is that neither America nor Britain during its colonial era were truly democracies. America was a Republic, and still (mostly because of its strong, non-democratic constitutional court) is a somewhat borderline Republic, and Britain was a monarchy. Britain is still technically a monarchy, at least ceremonially, but considering how it has been run lately and how thoroughly mob tyranny has taken over the place it is basically a Democracy at this point (not surprisingly, it’s empire ended around the same time).

  • jeremyjanson

    They could have done a lot more with this article, ala Edmund Burke. I’m glad he brought Nietzsche in to this, but to really get the full effect you need Mr. Burke and maybe a little De Maistre (for the authority and organic view of society) and Baudelaire (for the individualism) to go with it.

  • elvischannel

    Genetic studies show that humans show are much more like one another than populations of other species. How’s that for a nonreligious explanation for human equality? As for moral right and wrong (as opposed to factual right and wrong), it can be seen as a tool to insure group survival in a social animal, something that can be against the interests of an individual viewed in isolation. Moral right and wrong is just a species specific characteristic that has no connection to other species or to an inanimate universe. Human morality plays no role in seahorse reproduction, grizzly bear behavior, the law of gravity, or planetary motion. That’s a nonreligious take on right or wrong that works for me. If that makes me morally wrong, factually wrong, or both in your eyes, then I’ll have to struggle dealing with that.

  • Bonkim

    Utter rubbish – Atheists don’t look at their non-belief as a moral issue. People define their morality in terms of what is appropriate in a given situation. There are no moral absolutes for believers or those that don’t profess a religion. In any case religious morality has shifted with time and place.

  • ilpugliese

    Just another religious article. A load of words to confuse the issue. Atheism is just what it says on the tin. There is no organised atheism. Morality is what civilised people choose to use as a standard. If they don’t choose it, then we don’t have it. If we’re not civilised, we don’t have it. And they don’t and they aren’t in large tracts of the world, much of which is “blessed” with religion.

  • Hegelguy

    The less religion, the happier a society is, as a rule.

  • rtj1211

    The most logical explanation for religion is that it was a way to imbue some sense of conscience and mercy into warlike savages. You’ll note that many of the most war-like were attached to the courts of powerful leaders, which is why religion seems more stuck in the minds of sycophantic Establishment followers than it does in those with spiritual freedom.

    Big thugs need God to invoke mercy because otherwise they win in the killing matches.

    For those of us who eschewed fighting due to being beaten up in the playground all the time, we have no need to invoke God to behave peaceably – it is simply in our self-interest that more people behave that way.

    To those without any sense of tuning into nature, invoking God may nudge them in a direction toward humility. To those of us whose love of nature was activated not by reading the Bible, nor by religious teachings, but simply by experiencing the world, we have little need to be told that God inspires wonder. We experienced wonder without invoking God……..perhaps we are closer to God than those who need to invoke him, perhaps not.

    Requiring people to invoke God to become moral is a typical controlling construct by Establishment control-freaks. They can only come to power through domination and subjugation and this is one of their tools.

    For those who believe that lasting peace only comes through a free association of autonomous spirits, this discussion between ‘Atheists’ and ‘Christians’ is tired, tiresome and juvenile. At the level of ‘it wasn’t me Sir, it was him!’ tirades when teacher confronts two pugilistic ragamuffins in the playground.

    Continue on your merry immature ways if you will. You are arguing an unwinnable argument. You demand people be like you, atheists the same.

    Live your own life your way, and be humble enough to realise that it is not the only way.

    Then you might be acting out your purported Christian values.

    Requiring to convert others is a betrayal of fundamental human values concerning choice, freedom and conscience. A requirement to belittle people through shame, sneering superiority and the creation of cliques, clubs and hierarchies. How Un-godlike……..

    It is a stain on organised Christianity and the reason why it is shrivelling as we speak. People neither respect it nor admire it. They prefer positive messages without grovelling sycophancy instead. Messages which see them as free adults with independent will, not servants of some mythical figure of a bygone age.

    It was a temporary power structure lasting several centuries, just as Islam is and will continue to be for a few centuries more.

    Tribal religion is for pre-adolescent children.

    I knew aged 13 that, at their heart, there was no difference between any of the major religions of the world, merely differences in matters of form, allegory and emphasis.

    I am not going to revert to more childish constructions to please anyone but nor am I going to force anyone to accept my views either.

  • Ona Luna

    If, indeed, our morality has religious (no less, Christian) roots, then we’re in trouble, as the whole premise is flawed. God punishes us for possessing a quality with which he endowed us? For heeding the suggestion of one of his creatures? Not only that, but he will punish us INFINITELY for a finite crime. There is nothing just or moral about that story.

  • Ona Luna

    Also, this is an astoundingly insulting article.

  • Ona Luna

    One more incredibly immoral basic tenet is the call to sacrifice innocent beings to appease a god who is forever willing to punish his creation for the misdeeds of a few. Bloodthirsty … and immoral.

  • GeeBee36_6

    ‘The reality is…that the energetic universalism of modern humanism is rooted in
    Christianity.’

    The reality is, in fact, that the dominant political movement in the West today, namely left-liberal progressivism, is not merely atheist, but paradocically deeply rooted in the Protestant Christianity of the 17th century Puritans. As such it shares much of that movement’s intolerance of dissenters, its fanatical adherence to certain articles of faith and its denouncing and destroying of all heretics. It is therefore the case that atheists occupy the positions of absolute
    power in the West today (in spite of some prominent political leaders
    making occasional limp forays into affirming their Christian faith), and the thesis that atheism finds itself standing before an empty tomb (in the surely
    rather poor metaphor of the article’s title), and being in retreat,
    having ‘reached the limits of what it can achieve because
    it is attempting to renew secular humanism in anti-religious terms’, is demonstrably false. In reality it
    actually dominates all political power, all thought, all cultural
    development and most education..

    In the progressives’ world of Cultural Marxism into which that particular strand of human bossiness and intolerance has now morphed, non-PC thought, speech and action have assumed the status of Puritanism’s blasphemy and heresy, and ‘free speech’ is granted only to those parroting the core orthodoxies.

    Thus just as the dominant progressives find it convenient to imagine ‘far-right extremists’, or ‘neo-fascists’ under every bed, so the rump of actual Christian faith in the Western world delights in discovering ‘atheists’ at the door. All such power groups, it seems, need their own equivalent of Emmanuel Goldstein with which to whip dissenters into line…

    • Anna Tomlinson

      That’s just laughable. That really is.

      Secular humanism and atheism have killed more people and killed people for “blaspheming” against liberalism than religious has? (Please pardon me whilst I die of laughter).

      I love it how you think you can tell what is in the mind of every global leader, and you yourself are only privy to the fact that apparently most bad leaders are atheists (even if they purport to be Christian – but you, of course you, GeeBee know otherwise) and yet all the good ones are true Christians in their hearts according to the infinite knowledge and wisdom of you.

      • GeeBee36_6

        Er, I suggest you re-read my post. You appear to have misunderstood it almost totally.

      • Bonkim

        Aren’t you lucky to have the freedom to burst out laughing. You could have easily lived in another age and been burnt at the stake for blaspheming your local Cardinal.

  • Anna Tomlinson

    Is The Spectator a conservative website? I’m beginning to think it is now.

    His article seems to focus solely on the Western world – completely ignoring other cultures, so his whole spiel about how one needs Christianity to be a decent human being is rendered null and void.

    Compassion (which he seems to allude to as morality – thankfully, as most Christians only denote morality as adhering to God’s rules), can be found EVERYWHERE, including in the animal kingdom. You don’t have to be religious to care about your fellow creatures on this earth. What nonsense.

    Case in point – when a toddler fell into an enclosure full of predatory animals (I think they were gorillas if memory serves correctly), one of the older females took the child into its arms to protect it.

    When you reject Christianity, you have to accept the truism that all people are self-interested (this is true for Christians as well as non-Christians, it’s just that non-Christians accept it as true), BUT we can also feel compassion.

  • http://www.chforum.org Oliver Sparrow

    Sirs,

    Covers getting odd. Thing about Shakespeare, then typical reader in the landing path of aircraft, oddly labelled ‘God is Dead’. What Thomism has to do with aircraft have no idea. Read article. Shakespeare one simply vacuous, God-slot simply odd. Argument that is reduction all moralities appeal to religion or abstract qualities.

    Two problems.

    If you want to ground a morality in a religion, then which one? Can’t see Spectator readers submitting to ex cathedra medievalisms of any flavour: you are budded from the communal identity at birth and return at death. All actions must be harmonious with the community, and those not harmonious to be sacrificed on a convenient pyramid, say?

    Other problem. Outright conflict and politics are the only means that we have to resolve incompatible value systems. Religion by definition a value system incompatible with all others. Thus, reject politics in favour of religious determination is to embrace conflict with all other perspectives. Unwise prescription.

    • Bonkim

      Captain Sparrow – my God is greater than yours and if you don’t like that will call thunder to strike you down. Tremble in fear.

  • Terry Field

    Atheism is a violent misery that enslaves the hearts of lost souls. It is the distillation of the evil that came from the continuing living nightmare of the horrors of the twentieth century wars. Griddling millions of people across a continent as an expression of a false Darwinian perspective left us far from the loving simplicity of caring for God and remembering our fragile beauty for him (or her).
    The camps bathed us in a horror that is like white noise; it blocks out the sound of our relationship with the Trinity.

    • Bonkim

      Little wonder God will destroy his delinquent creation soon and re-establish a righteous creation. In the least his experience would help his design and iron out his mistakes with the present creation. We all learn from our mistakes.

      • Terry Field

        You surely do not believe word of that cr*p do you?

        • Bonkim

          Of course I do – not the God part but at the rate populations are exploding and resources – water, land, energy and minerals depleting on the back of profligate consumption, mankind has forfeited right to exist on planet earth. a century or two if not decades, curtain down.

          • Terry Field

            Yes, that makes more sense, but for me that is dwarfed as a problem by the soon to be unavoidable catastrophe of AGW
            God, as you know, is blind drunk on Alpha Centauri, and Mrs God has pissed off to the shops on Beetlejuice.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    The return of God: atheism’s crisis of faith. The Spanish Inquisition is in. Burning those heathen at the stack may save the energy problem.

  • pearlsandoysters

    That’s excellent article to point out the delusions of secular humanism. It’s an open secret that humanism has deep roots in Christianity. It’s positively funny to see how secular thinkers want to claim humanism all to themselves being in denial about the very roots of secular humanism.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Yes, secular humanism has some of its roots in Christianity (though mostly in those parts of Christianity that it plagiarised from Hellenistic philosophy). And chemistry has its roots in alchemy. And astronomy has its roots in astrology. And the sweetest roses grow out of, um, fertiliser – but that doesn’t mean the fertiliser smells sweet or is an appropriate lapel decoration.

  • Randa Milad Abdelmaseih

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one – really appreciated this excellent summary of the issue – may we finally move to the next point in the debate as you raised at the end of your article.

  • SmirkinJudas

    Who says discussion of morals leads to talk of religion? Bull.

  • http://galdrux.com/ Brother Nihil

    The pre-Socratic Greeks believed that the universe began in Chaos, from which gods, religions, philosophies and civilizations sprung. And surely those were the last wise Western thinkers, before the coming of the rationalist philosophers, the Nazarenes and the Enlightenment cultists. Because in truth, there is still only chaos underlying our reality, all values are social constructs and nihilism is simple facticity. So if you want a true religion, might I suggest joining the Holy Church of Nihil? Azathoth akbar!

    • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

      Then why don’t you just snuff yourself?
      Honest question.

      • http://anticosm.com/ Amon Khan

        Why would I want to do that? This is the fallacy of the believer, who somehow concludes that nihilism implies suicide. Huh?

        • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

          No honest question is a fallacy. I didn’t say I believe it does. And actually, that’s my answer. But I guess I wanted to understand a bit more about what drives you given your outlook.

  • Phillip Wilson (Zerocks Globe)

    Know liberty. Sow liberty. Reap the rewards. It is up to you: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • Benjamin O’Donnell

    As I wrote down-thread: Yes, secular humanism has some of its roots in Christianity (though mostly in those parts of Christianity that it plagiarised from Hellenistic philosophy). And chemistry has its roots in alchemy. And astronomy has its roots in astrology. And the sweetest roses grow out of, um, fertiliser – but that doesn’t mean the fertiliser smells sweet or is an appropriate lapel decoration.

    • cartimandua

      It is not possible or desirable to reject Christianity as our history and truly great culture (literature music and art) is completely bound up in it.
      Was the year zero Mao or Pol Pot?

      • Benjamin O’Donnell

        You “don’t completely reject” it any more than chemistry “completely rejected” alchemy. Many of the tools and apparatus and even techniques of chemistry were invented by alchemists. What you do with an old tradition based on a false premise, like alchemy or christianity, is mine it to salvage all that is valuable, that can be adapted to the new paradigm, and then junk the rest.

        • cartimandua

          Which has happened when people now are cultural Christians but still use age old rituals to mark life events.
          Humans need ceremonies and actually faith in “something more than this” is an Evolutionary advantage.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            You are factually wrong: Secular democracies are far *LESS* violent. Among the liberal docracies (and even among US states) the less religious a society is, the *lower* its crime rate.

          • Bonkim

            ‘most stupid and the most dark’ depends on who is observing – Christians living in their box believe theirs is the true enlightenment – Other religions believe their God is stronger and better than yours. No one is wrong, stupid or blind.

          • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

            •” faith in “something more than this” is an Evolutionary advantage. ”
            Ouhh, citation? Or explanation, at least?

            •” secular Democracies are a great deal more violent than we[?] are.”
            Wow. Some bold bs right here. Did a snake tell you that?

        • Bonkim

          Alchemy was random experimentation to convert bas metals into gold. In the process various useful processes and chemical reactions were observed and later systematically developed by chemists and scientists in the age of reason – which caste off the blind cloak of religion.

      • Bonkim

        Of course religion is part of history and culture that evolve continuously.

    • Bonkim

      Cristianity evolved from secular humanity in the first place and its roots are middle-eastern Semitic culture – not Greek. It was the tradition of desert nomads and the wandering tribes of the Bible lands to be hospitable and look after the lone traveller. Tribes understood their interdependency in their harsh environment and only went to war when threatened. That is plain humanity which prevails to the present times regardless of how it is cloaked by different religions as God’s commandments.

      • cartimandua

        Have you seen what happens in overcrowded environments? Ask Rwandans.

        • Bonkim

          You haven’t seen anything yet. At the rate populations are exploding and resources depleting across the globe the dash for what is left will not be a picnic – Rwanda would be seen as the start. Wait a century or two if not decades, mankind will have to call it a day on earth.

  • jamesbarn

    Hypocrisy

    Well I live in magnificent splendour
    I am honoured wherever I go
    I sit in my ivory tower
    And pass judgement on all those below

    I criticise government actions
    Though nobody elected me
    I always want more and I cadge from the poor
    My organisations tax-free

    I criticised all bankers bonus
    Shout for more equal shares of the pot
    In reality we are far richer
    And what’s more were keeping the lot

    I preach that we are all equal
    And demand laws that heed what I say
    But I’m just a snob for your barred from top job
    If you’re female or worse still your gay

    Who am I? Have I got you Guessing?
    Well believe me I have no remorse
    For the habit I have of cross-dressing
    I am an Archbishop of course

    • Bonkim

      Good and too true!

  • cartimandua

    Our morality has animal roots. We have needed altruism in order for the human group to survive.
    That will not change if more people appreciate culture but “don’t go to church”.

  • gcomeau

    No Theo… YOUR morality has religious roots. MY morality is based simply on the Golden Rule, which requires no appeal to any religious underpinning and is simply a matter of basic human empathy and practical good sense.

    Your entire article is simply ridiculous.

  • cartimandua

    Benjamin
    Cannot find the comment to reply to.
    The USA has 6 times the murder rate the UK does. It had to or has to “permit” parity (which means dominance) to the nuttiest groups.
    So you get the Ground Zero Mosque so near Ground Zero body parts fell on it.
    You get people who think women are like pigs making laws in many states.
    The UK has the C of E keeping the darkest sects in their box.
    There is no alternative of “no” religion because so many people need to “feel loved” and need to be told what to do.
    If you take away the C of E you would get the thickest and most violent people insisting their take on things be made into law.
    That is why in the real world which is not a utopian ideal we need to keep our European evolved C of E.
    Otherwise fundamentalism will prevail.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      But the US is a *much* more religious society than the UK is. Indeed, the US is by far the most religious of all developed western democracies.

      • cartimandua

        Its “secularism” means any nut can claim freedom of belief and be a nut. Tennesee has just passed a law allowing for the investigation of every miscarriage and stillbirth.
        The science does not exist to “find out” why those things happen so no fertile woman could ever prove she didn’t.
        The USA is full of nuts because there is no tooth drawn rational faith group with its foot in the door.

  • JimGrimReaper1 .

    Every society that has ever existed pretty soon realises that not killing each other, not stealing each others possessions etc. is a better way for all of them to live. This has nothing to do with the supernatural, it’s simple common sense. To say that this ‘morality’ is dependent upon supernatural belief and that without the ‘god’ part, the morality would not exist is simply dumb. It just ain’t so.
    Atheism is not a belief system with ‘ambitions’.
    It is simply the absence of belief in a god – due to the lack of any evidence to the contrary.

    • Bonkim

      Morality evaporates in the fight for survival – was it any different in the bible when the followers of Jehovah fought their enemies and God’s wrath showered upon those that disobeyed him. Friendly persuasions only when things are going your way. All societies close in when the going gets tough.

    • cartimandua

      It isn’t “natural” to stop territorial battles at all.

  • Mikebert

    As I see it, and atheist is one who lives without a theology. God can exist. Most simply He can be a axiom like this:

    Axiom I: God created the universe (i.e. set the physical parameters that control how it unfolds over time). All developments since are then are the result of God’s initiation of the universe and so are creations of God.

    It follows that people are God’s creatures (along with everything else).

    Axiom II: God does not act in the world today, particularly in response to human desired. That is God plays no favorites, He is indistinguishable from no God at all.

    It follows that all people are God’s “:children” and that all are equal in the eyes of God (He does not act for the benefit or harm of any person)..

    We are all God’s property and so can have no inherent rights. God does not intervene, however, so He is not going to stop us from creating any rights we wish for ourselves (which we have done).
    If one wants to start with the fundamentals (axioms) and to be logically consistent then one is going to come up with the idea and all people have equal rights and much of secular humanism follows.

    As we become more technologically advanced and so gain more powers over the natural world, we develop the ability to face more of the consequences of this logic. For example if all people are truly equal then you cannot justify slavery. You cannot justify the rule of the one or a few over the many. Yu cannot justify destructive use of animals or the natural world by humans That is, as humans become more powerful, they tend to move away from slavery and monarchy to societies of free people under representative/democratic governments. As some point humans begin to question the complete subordination of animals and the environment. Both are God’s creations (axiom I) and by axiom II are equal to humans.

    That said, it is still possible for God to occasionally intervene in the world for His own reasons. Assuming God created the universe for a reason, he may do other things for reasons. If we assume that some of the workings of the universe are fundamentally unpredictable (i.e governed by probabilities) as suggested by quantum mechanics and chaotic systems, then God may intervene from time to time to place an additional weighting on some outcomes over others for His own reasons. Thus one cannot rule out that one or more of the great religions appeared because of one of these nudges. Of course humans are going to interpret things wrongly (just as initial notions of science were almost all wrong). But over time the concepts that developed following a nudge could be reminded in such a way as to produce a more successful outcome that what probably would have happened without a nudge.
    If one is working on problems of social dynamics, it may be useful to employ elements of Christianity in one’s theories,. One can hypothesize that the “mechanism” of Western notions about ethics and the human condition are rooted in certain Christian tenets that follow from the assumption that Jesus Christ represented a nudge, and use this as an axiom to derive modern ideas classified as secular humanism or Progress
    Similarly, religious thinkers can do the same and come up with a different notion of Christian ethics and Progress.* (It is be easier for them since they already accept a large mass of axioms, allowing quick derivation of results) Different versions of Progress can battle it our in elections or wars, and the winner establish its views on the matter. And so it goes.

    *Of course almost nobody actually does this formally (I certainly don’t), we pretty much have most of the results we favor internalized in our “gut”.

    • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

      “God created the universe”
      “God does not act in the world today”
      Who did and does what now?! …If foundationalism really has to be your bag, at least conjure some salient and well-defined basic beliefs.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Axiom? Why? On what basis would one accept this axiom?

  • wordbased

    I have seen, in stark evidence, a clear connection between morality and accountability. The lack of morality when there is no checking up is universal. Absolute power will continue to corrupt no matter the size, boundaries, or leader of the fiefdom. Knowing this, I actively seek accountability because my desire is to follow my Lord Jesus Christ. Remove the influence of Jesus Christ and one removes the motivation (and very probably, the desire) to actually be moral when one’s benefit is on the line.

    • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

      Well, that’s a very cynical analysis of humanity. I’m glad it’s wrong, but if you really do think like that – seemingly remote from any empathy and ethical reasoning – then I urge you to stay servile for all our sake. That, or learn.

      • wordbased

        You would have to show me why my cynicism is unwarranted. It doesn’t take much of a read in a newspaper of your choice to discover that the wheels are coming off the notions of Democracy as they have from every other governmental construct of Man. I would suggest you may be in line for some learning of your own.

        In reference to my cynicism, I do serve a great big God who supplies ALL of my hope. I just don’t expect unregenerate Man to give it to me.

        • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

          I hope your suggestion bears fruit. I love learning, which is why the news media don’t get too much of my attention to be honest. Then there’s availability bias as well… Anyway. Indeed, human history is saturated with tyranny, idiocy and deprivation. Religion has never stopped them – to say the least. But we have demonstrated (despite ourselves, if you like) as a species that we can overcome them, primarily by advancing our understanding.

          And that’s the ongoing challenge – the *credible* source and object of hope. Something called civilisation. It feels fragile and prickly. It is known to wane and crack. But it’s ever so persistent. And it doesn’t depend on magical wishes – only our will and effort.

          It took root long before (in some places, only until) Abrahamic religions, and it persists where they decline. Emphatically, in fact. The claim that empathic and co-operative behaviour declines with such religions is itself an antiquated superstition: Today’s evidence shows there’s not even a correlation, with many of the most happy, educated and egalitarian societies in the world being among the most secular.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      But God and Jesus are just figments of your imagination and can be manipulated to support whatever your self interest is. Your accountability to God and Jeses is as manipulable as an atheists accountability to his own conscience – except that atheists, by virtue of the process by which they *became* atheists, tend to put a premium on intellectual honesty and thus tend to be worse than religious people at lying to themselves.

  • http://holdenisn.wordpress.com/ A B Holden

    “our morality has religious roots… when God is rejected, the stakes are gulpingly high; the entire moral tradition of the West is put in question.”
    Citation?

  • cartimandua

    A B Holden
    The epistmophilic instinct. Dawkins says “don’t know” is the only rational position to take.
    Don’t know allows for new questions and life after death helps people cope with mortality, death, and loss.
    It supports unselfish altruistic acts.
    I often wonder just how Aspergers atheists truly are. They don’t seem to attach enough to be hurt by a loss.

    • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

      True that uncertainty over any reality is resolvable as it is relevant.
      Understanding helps people cope with mortality.
      Understanding supports unselfish altruistic acts.
      Understanding is a fulfilment of wonder, if not just a rhetorical device: Ability to think past an ad passiones appeal ≠ Aspergers syndrome. Also, Neither under-compliment the bearer, let alone their argument.

      • cartimandua

        All reality is not resolvable. nature and Evolution designed it that way.
        “Understanding” everything would be dreadful.
        And no being separated for ever from a loved one “doesn’t help”. It just backs up my point that atheists are on the autistic spectrum and cannot truly attach.
        Prof Baron Cohen has a theory about far end male brain types (not gender specific) which are systematizing being on the autistic spectrum.
        The only way to describe it to you is that there are emotional colours other people can see and you cannot.
        Empathizing brains are also necessary.

        • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

          I would avoid ‘designed’ around here but notion agreed. To clarify – I meant that it is both irresolvable and irrelevant. Understanding everything is not possible and no goal of mine, but where it is it attainable there is nothing more valuable.

          Being separated from a loved one forever isn’t nice, but it would seem to be exactly what happens, and, until it can be shown that something else is true, it’s only healthy and honest to tentatively accept it; to focus on remembering that person for what they really were, and on advancing and celebrating their real legacy, rather than committing all they were to remote magical hope. Luckily, the experience of missing someone doesn’t last ‘forever’.

          Again, you seem to be suggesting that one cannot have empathy and also be able to think rationally about a matter. If I did not care about these things or appreciate what you’re talking about, I would have no reason to indulge the discussion. And while I won’t pretend any expertise, I know that a personality deviation (on any spectrum) is only deemed a ‘condition’ when it’s a problem for the person’s well-being or ability to take part in society. Being able to accept and cope with death in spite of the emotional torment most certainly gets the all clear. Insisting that myths must be believed for fear of reality – that can be a problem. More, I would ask you to make a third-party judgement of two persons’ social faculties, when one is unable to conceive that the other has strong empathy unless they express it as a fondness for fallacious organised fantasy.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Well, Dawkins says “agnostic” is *technically* the right word, but he says he’s as “agnostic” about the existence of gods as he is about the existence of Santa Clause. For practical purposes, he’s an atheist.

      • cartimandua

        Atheists claim too much. The only rational position is “don’t know”.

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          About Santa Claus? Fairies?

          • cartimandua

            You want imagination stopped dead?

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            No. I want to make sure we don’t confuse imagination with knowledge.

          • cartimandua

            Knowledge never progresses without an imaginative leap which is why the Chinese do not produce Nobel Laureates.
            In the back of “New Scientist” are ads for an interdisciplinary
            group because completely linear thinking is not creative enough.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            What an astonishing combination of non-sequiturs?

            The need to distinguish imagination from knowledge in no way prevents imagination from being used to acquire knowledge. As Einstein said, “In science imagination is more important than knowledge”. But Einstein’s imaginative leap in positing his two theories of relativity wouldn’t have been worth a hill of beans if his specific predictions about the orbit of mercury hadn’t been confirmed by experiment. If they’d been falsified, his imaginative theories would have been nothing more than a fascinating wrong turn, a footnote in the history of science.

            And are you suggesting the Chinese are an unimaginative culture? That demonstrates a rather profound ignorance of a culture which is, if anything, too imaginative for its own good. China’s lack of Nobelists has much more to do with its lack of economic development than any cultural prejudice about its “imaginativeness”.

          • cartimandua

            China has more private planes and millionaires than most other countries on the planet if not all. They have a large slice of the very rich. Its not just numbers its conformity.
            They know they have a problem with the way they are educating and it is not producing “blue sky” thinkers.
            But of course you cannot answer me either on the unmeasurable quality of subjective experience or the very real need billions have for imaginary friends.
            If we take for instance cultures where the abuse of women and children is routine.
            All the children will cling to faith for their very lives.
            They need to have an experience of being loved by someone.
            You just cannot take that away.

  • cartimandua

    AB I repeat it is possible is it not that other people have a different brain type and therefore understanding from yours. Neither the firmly entrenched atheists nor the firmly entrenched God squad can understand the others position.
    It is not their reality. It is not what they experience.
    Which may be why in part Dawkins says agnostic is the only rational position.

    • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

      “Neither the firmly entrenched atheists nor the firmly entrenched God squad can understand the others position.”
      Never in an absolute sense. But that’s no excuse for not trying.

    • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

      And Dawkins says agnostic is the only rational position simply because he, like anyone with a shred of honesty, knows that certainty of any reality is a nonsense and a red herring.

      • Benjamin O’Donnell

        Well, he says “agnostic” is *technically* the right word, but he says he’s as “agnostic” about the existence of gods as he is about the existence of Santa Clause. For practical purposes, he’s an atheist.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      But most atheists *used* to be theists. We get what it feels like to be a theist. We *understand* how you think and feel. We’ve been there.

      • cartimandua

        No you haven’t. If you do not have the type of brain which perceives religious experience you just do not know, it cannot be known.
        Brains are different and you cannot say that the brain you have perceives the only reality.
        But really if you can imagine separation by death from someone truly loved you are not capable of some forms of attachment.
        It may never matter to you but it is heinous to try to take from people who have suffered grievous loss and who do have the “faith capacities” you do not have.
        Empathizing brains are as necessary and as valid as systematizing brains.

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          Now you’re just being insulting.

          To suggest that, because I “can imagine separation by death from someone truly loved” i’m “not capable of some forms of attachment” is the worst and most offensive form of bigotry for which you should be ashamed of yourself.

          I’ve lost people. Buried people. People I still miss. I still wake up crying some nights because I miss them. And you have the temerity to claim that I’m “not capable of some forms of attachment”?!?! You disgusting theistic bigot.

          I cherish my memories of those people (and the pain those memories still bring me) because I know they’re gone. I grieve because I know I’ll never see them again. And every time I go to a theistic funeral and hear that rubbish about the “afterlife” I have to bite my tongue and hold back my vomit at the way such talk insults the grief of everyone in the church and, by implication, insults my grief over the ones I’ve lost.

          How dare you write something so offensively, crassly bigoted and expect to be taken seriously?

          • cartimandua

            Because it is true. There is no way at all for you or for me to gauge the nature and intensity of other peoples experience.
            You cannot therefore claim that your experience and reality is “the truth”.
            Either people who need “life after death” have not been able to attach and internalize or they attach more. Either way they need the hope.
            We do know peoples brains are different one from another.
            Not that it matters because we do know billions need the hope of an afterlife for whatever reason.
            Atheists do not get to insist those billions have nothing but despair.
            And as I said “don’t know” is an Evolutionary advantage because it creates space for new questions to be asked.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Bigot. It’s one thing to ignore the fact that human personality is a function of the brain and if the brain dies, the personality vanishes – that’s a matter on which rational people might argue. But it’s quite another thing to insult people by suggesting we’re “incapable of some forms of attachment” simply because we face up to that fact. Those last two posts are appalling immoral behavior – for which you should be profoundly ashamed. You disgust me.

          • cartimandua

            On the one hand you seem to be able to have solved an age old mystery which to my knowledge has not been solved at all ” how to measure someone elses experience”. That to me is both ignorant and arrogant.
            You also seem very keen to remove from billions of people
            a solace they have found. That’s plain cruel.
            So yes you are intellectually arrogant and dismissive of other peoples sorrows.
            Whatever you feel or do not feel cannot be measured against others experience.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Like most atheists, I was once a theist. Like most atheists, I once believed in the afterlife, and experienced the solace and comfort that belief gives. Like most atheists, I understand this issue just as well, if not even better than, most theists.

            Please don’t insult me or my grief or the people I have lost. Please re-read what you have read, feel the sting of shame, and aplogise. You have behaved appallingly.

            If people want to continue in ignorance, or continue to lie to themselves, and cling to their belief in the afterlife, they are welcome to do so. I understand the solace such intellectual dishonesty brings. I even almost miss it. I almost wish I could lie to myself and believe it again.

            But people’s desire to remain in ignorance and dishonesty, and our obligation to respect that, does not oblige us to shut up. It does not oblige us to lie about what we believe.

            I’ll respect your self-deception by not vomiting during the religious portion of funerals. You respect my atheism by not arrogantly and offensively accusing me of being “incapable of certain forms of attachment”.

          • cartimandua

            So where is your Nobel prize and would it be in Neuroscience or in Philosophy? You are denigrating other peoples experience because it differs from yours and this experience cannot be measured.
            That you would even “think” of being sick during a funeral makes it very plain that you have little to no compassion and empathy for others.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Again you reveal your ignorance and bigotry. It is precisely *because* of my compassion and empathy for others that afterlife talk at funerals makes me want to vomit. To talk of meeting the person again in the afterlife insults and belittles the grief of those left behind. We cry because we know what we have lost (even if we can’t admit it in words), how dare some priest denigrate and insult that with his paltry talk of an afterlife?

            And I don’t need a Nobel prize in neuroscience or philosophy to get inside the head of a believer in the afterlife. I just need my memory to cast my mind back to when I sincerely believed those things – and my empathy and compassion to put myself in the place of a believer now.

            Your empathy and compassion, however, are obviously sorely wanting. You arrogantly and offensively belittle and insult atheists for being “incapable of certain forms of attachment” and then fail to appreciate the hurt and insult your ignorant, bigoted words have caused to someone who deeply feels the pain of that attachment on a daily basis. Are you autistic as well as theistic?

          • http://holdenism.wordpress.com A B Holden

            “seem very keen to remove from billions of people”
            Oh, ffs. Nobody is trying to stop you believing crap. Believe all the crap you like. Just don’t expect us to fucking compliment you for it.

  • Bukom Afriq

    This has got to be the silliest article I’ve read on morality in a long time. To think I used to read The Spectator!

  • http://Dorianmattar.com Dorian Moises Mattar

    To the writer of this amalgamation of made up lies and fairies, we atheist are not hitting any buffer and morals don’t come from religion. Morals are observed in primates as empathy.

    You are just too freaking biased and insane to notice the world being round.

    You are indeed a square peg trying to fit in a circle. Shape up or get out.

  • vincent jackson

    hey guys. our world is so much better and more enlightened. we now have filmed child pornography and the internet. three cheers for drunk driving, cigarettes and mcdonalds. lol

  • http://121314rainbow.blogspot.com/ Zed Power

    What about the Zoroastrian Zeitgeist Zombies who worship Zeus?

  • Zem

    Oh, the wishful thinking. 😀 I only had to read the first paragraph and to already smell the stench. 😀
    Religious arguments like this continue to ignore philosophy of ethics and how most of our morals hark directly back at collective interest arising from self-interest, fervently hoping that someone beneath rational selfishness, they will find the divine to make them feel superior.

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