Another shocking thing I hear from fundamentalists is "If the bible isn't true, then I might as well sleep with ten partners, or go do whatever I want." They don't realize what they are saying. They are actually admitting that the only reason they are not raping another person, or having sex with anyone they can, is because they are trying to please the Creator of the Universe. Or worse, they are restraining themselves only out of fear of eternal damnation. Do they really believe that without their faith, they would actually steal and take things that belong to other people? That they would kill another human being? That the only reason they don't do these things is because the Old Testament Ten Commandments says not to do it?
And, hear me on this: I DON'T WANT TO DO ANY OF THOSE HURTFUL THINGS ANYWAY! But if I did, the criminal laws in this country would suffice in keeping me under control, not my beliefs about the ancient texts, or fear of some eternal punishment after I died.
Question: Would you really be a murderer, adulterer, thief, drug addict, and rapist if it were not for the Bible OR not for your faith in Christ? I certainly hope not. I would hope your parents and schools and police and friends and civilized society would help you to realize that killing and raping is WRONG, not because the Bible says it is, but because it is WRONG. And worse, many people kill because of the Bible, not in spite of it. (Crusades, Inquisition, Witch trials, Holy wars, etc.)
Let me give you another example. I believe that God created the earth and everything in it. Why? Because I see the beauty and complexity of it all, the design of it all, and there is no other logical, reasonable explanation except some highly intelligent Creator was involved. Big time! Once again, excuse my all capitals here: BUT I DON'T BELIEVE IN A CREATOR JUST BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS SO IN GENESIS 1:1. Put another way, I believe Genesis 1:1 is the most truthful, accurate and verifiable verse in the entire Bible. It is the one verse that is not open to debate, that is based on reality, science and evidence and doesn't depend on what part of the world I was raised in. But I don't believe it's true just because the Bible says its true. It's true because it's true. Another example: If the Bible says 2 + 2 = 4, then I certainly believe that verse without any doubt or skepticism. It's true because it's true. Try it out for yourselves. Go get two rocks. Then go get two more. Now count how many you have left. But I don't believe 2 + 2 = 4 just because the Bible might say that it is. Get it?
So, killing, raping, murder, stealing, etc. is wrong just like 2 + 2 = 4. And I don't need the Bible, religion, or a holy man to tell me either.
I believe Genesis 1:1 is mistranslated. It should be : “At the outset of the creation there was chaos”. A different sense than God creating.
BTW Chomsky got interested in linguistics because of the above error that went unnoticed for more than thousand years!
Thanks for the series of posts. I am beginning to understand what you are driving at.
Exactly. I am a good person because I am...not because of a book.
Dog,do you believe in a eternal hell where people burn forever and there is no escape from it?
So you leave it all up to your own reasoning? Ok. How do you know that your reasoning is sound? Because others say it is, or because you say it is? How do you validate anything you think is true or false?
Hmmmm. Sounds pretty harsh. Do the people there get consumed? Or they burn forever and ever?
Hi George, I'll take my feeble reasoning over your willful and purposed lack of reason.
George, "Now choose to perish or to learn that the anti-mind is the anti-life." Galt's speech, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
To think or not to think is the first moral choice, and moral reasoning and morality are the province of only those whose choice is thought. To choose not to think is to choose to live as a dumb obedient farm animal.
So how do you KNOW that equation is true? I bet SOMEONE taught you that and I bet you even read it in a BOOK somewhere. How do you know if the book or that person is correct?
I'm with you so far. So how do you get to the point where you KNOW that what you have observed, reasoned, and decided upon is correct?
I was expecting a more reasoned response from you. You are acting like the Fundies you castigate on this blog, as you debate with hyperbole and ad hominem. You know the critic is held to the higher standard. So I restate my question: how do you know you are right?
Anon @ 4:48....what do YOU believe? And why?
George - You are missing the point. Relax. I don't KNOW that I am right. And more importantly, I don't really care if anyone agrees with me. I admit it. Therefore, I don't insist someone else HAS to believe what I believe, or agree with me in order to be saved. None of us KNOW. So let's not be dogmatic about our religious beliefs. Have faith. Live out your faith. Don't insist others are going to hell who disagree with your religion of choice.
As for how does one know that 2 + 2 = 4? Please tell me that your brain is not so damaged already that you don't know the answer to that! It's not because I read it in a book. It's not because someone told me. It's not because I used logic, or reason, or faith. It is because I found two rocks and put them on a table. Then I went and found two more rocks and put them on the table. And lo and behold, there were now 4 rocks on the table. George, we CAN know some things. Thank goodness. Others things take faith.
At least you have dropped all pretenses.
Seeing how hostile you are towards the Word of God explains much.
I think we all should "drop all pretenses" and get real. Amen? As all of my recent posts have stated, I am not "hostile toward the Word of God", but only towards those charlatans and dogmatic fundamentalists who use it selectively to exploit others and drive away the next generation by insisting that the word is inerrant, infallible and you have to believe it all or none.
Physical phenomena can be empirically measured, then tested, and we can get close enough that any remaining uncertainty is insignificant. I know, for instance, that we can incinerate entire cities in the blink of an eye, because that has actually been done, and so I 'know' that the atomic model 'works' ... whether or not an atom, or molecule, actually looks as it did in my college textbook is irrelevant; the model enables the solution of real-world problems (besides incinerating enemies, I mean).
Moral questions are much more difficult and, in truth, inevitably become some flavor of utilitarianism: Which choice conduces toward the greatest good for my 'tribe' -- immediately, tomorrow, 10-years from now, and who is my tribe anyhow? There are no fixed, certain answers; all we can do is pick our way forward cautiously and with goodwill.
Certainly, the Ten Commandments are a good starting point, but to say they are a complete guide to morality is childish. All of us, including the most devout Christians, can think of cases where violating them is entirely appropriate. Does anybody condemn, for instance, those people who broke store windows in the aftermath of Katrina and stole water? Not me. I have a problem with those fools who stole widescreen televisions, but applaud those who sinfully stole Pedialyte for their infant children.
I continue to make it clear that I believe in God and that I am trusting Jesus for my salvation. So why so much rebuttal and name calling and accusations from other Christians? Answer: Read my recent posts. I am trying to explain this hijacking of Christianity by charlatans and fundamentalists.
God created us in HIS image. He created us with a mind and emotions and a conscience. We have the ability to understand right from wrong built into us, because He created us. Adam & Eve demonstrated this all the way back on Page 2 when they hid from God.
We grossly "underutilize" the incredible tools that God has placed within us, and for all the good they can be used for in this world. One way is through sin. Another is by taking the bait that we must always be comparing ourselves to some person's or some entity's ideal of righteousness, and that we are inadequate to figure anything out or sustain any kind of meaningful relationship with God on our own - THROUGH the very tool set that HE gave to us.
I refuse to take the bait. I love the Lord and I love His word. I do not understand it all and have many questions. There are passages that seem inconsistent to me, but there are many more that have encouraged, challenged, and comforted me since I gave my whole heart to Jesus at age 14. And I never tire of letting them wash over me and live in my heart.
While I firmly hold my own thoughts, I just will not argue with anyone about the whale, the donkey, the age of the earth, women in the church, tithing, and all the other "gnats of the faith" that swarm around and distract us from enjoying a precious relationship with Christ and doing good.
I love reading comparative mythology and I distinctly remember reading Joseph Campbell that both the story of Moses being drawn from water and the ten commandments are drawn eerily similar from cultures 1000 years before the penning of ten commandments in the OT.
I am still a Christian but I think the biggest "snow flake" gift to humans was the genetic basis for language and thus thought from which all all human aesthetics have poured forth about 50 to 75 thousand years ago which sprang in a "snow flake" genetic change in one human and it turn allowing us to blog here.
WD - It's been several years now and I've still yet to hear any other grown man tell any group of people he is talking to that "I'm gonna stomp" or "did I just say that? You better believe I did!" Nor have I heard any associate or executive employee address their listeners with a loud wailing WAAAA! WAAAA! WAAAA! Just sayin'
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
"Did God really say?"
Did the snake really say? Lol. You are right, though. God really did say the sun stood still and the donkey talked and the snake spoke and convinced people to question god, etc. that's why I'm only putting up verses for now that god really did say. It's in da book. Stay tuned.
For me, this issue is more one of knowing your standard is true. In other words, how can I know the standard, "You shall not murder" is a worthy and true guide? Obviously, some people do not feel "You shall not murder" is a true statement. The Nazis were especially good at ignoring that standard. We say now (most of us anyway) that the Nazis were wrong. If there is no "something" outside of us - transcendent to us - to uphold the supremacy of the standard, then why can't we, as the Nazi leadership did, decide to change the standard?
I do believe that too often some well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) folks take the standards as "black and white." An example given above - people stealing water during Katrina - is a case of a higher moral principle (saving a life) superseding the moral law of stealing. The use of nuclear weapons on Japan? Was that moral? Did the killing of innocents in the atomic attacks actually stop the killing of even more innocents? It definitely did.
It's like telling the girl that asks you, "Do you think I'm pretty" when you definitely do not find her pretty at all, "Absolutely." Did you lie? Yes. Did you have mercy on her? Yes. Which quality is higher in that particular scenario - truth or mercy?
I can testify only for myself, but when I decided I no longer wished to follow Christ, for a time I felt free. If someone wronged me, I wronged them right back. I didn't care. Why should I have? There was no standard for me. I got drunk on whiskey practically every day. I didn't care. Why should I? There was no God. I felt like, "This is it. I've got one shot to enjoy myself. I'm going to do whatever I want - so long as I don't end up in jail. Of course God's Spirit had mercy upon me and drew me back by helping me to realize I wasn't really free doing those things. I was a slave to sin. I was in a cage. The Lord Jesus came along and handed me a key made out of grace.
It's sad that some people need a Holy Book in order to treat other people with respect and human dignity. Now, we have laws to help them do so, or lock them up if they don't.
But what makes those laws right? We, as a society, have decided we like not having our property stolen. We like not having our wives raped. That is how it is now, but what if society decides to change those laws? Far-fetched? We now legally sanction killing the unborn. We used to think it was a good thing to control our borders. Now we do not. The issue is - is the law outside of us, or solely dependent upon on our whims?
Hi Johnny - I hope you are doing well. Those are good questions and very difficult to answer. I see the difficult issues you raise with such questions. I can only offer my opinions, and not any dogmatic theological requirements. I think our society continues to evolve. (I hesitate to use that word on a Christian blog.) Obviously, society was wrong in their allowance of slavery for centuries. Even the church and it's members were wrong in that many were slaveholders. The church and society were also clearly wrong on the racial issues. (See teachings on the "mark of Ham"; MLK, Jr.'s letters from jail to church leaders) (See also Bob Jones University prohibition of dating for interracial couples.) They were wrong on many women's issues as well. Thankfully, society and the church have both evolved. No longer do we burn witches. No longer do we think diseases are caused by demons. No longer are heretics burned at the stake. No longer are disobedient children stoned in front of the city. No longer are virgins prohibited from marrying.
As for our laws, they evolve with society. Laws against adultery are no longer enforced. Alcohol was illegal for a time. People still sit in jail cells for possessing marijuana, while it is now legal in many states. Hopefully we don't end up like the Taliban or Isis or Muslim countries where the religious leaders are in control of the laws. Instead, we need to seek justice, kindness, respect, understanding, tolerance, and grace. Those qualities seem to be lacking where charlatans and fundamentalists are involved, whether it be here or abroad. And to directly answer your question, if we ever decide we like our wives being raped and our property being stolen, you can be sure those laws will be repealed, or ignored, just like the laws against selling alcohol were repealed.
Hi Dawg. Thanks for the good wishes. Doing pretty darn good for an old guy that still hangs onto an MX bike! :) Hoping the same for you.
"As for our laws, they evolve with society. Laws against adultery are no longer enforced. Alcohol was illegal for a time. People still sit in jail cells for possessing marijuana, while it is now legal in many states."
I don't see this as evolution as much as I do "devolution," but I don't run the world and don't get to make the rules. I see absolutely no danger of "Taliban" like laws becoming fashionable here in the states. I think the evidence shows a completely different view of things taking hold. Some people like our new progressive society. Some don't. Me? I don't worry about it all too much. It ain't nothin' God can't handle. I got enough trouble worryin' over myself.
So, I sit back and muse over this stuff. I don't argue over it - does no good. I do, however, hold that Scripture, in the original documents, interpreted using the historical, grammatical method, was divinely given and is authoritative. I believe I have educated myself enough on the matter to safely hold to that. If others do not, that is OK too. I won't say someone isn't a Christian because they might not see it that way. The line of demarcation for me is; Do you(insert name) believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth for the forgiveness of your sins?" If the answer is yes, we can fellowship. I even have friends that don't believe that. Most of 'em in fact.
I so look forward to the day that I can sit at Jesus' feet and ask him all the questions I have. Maybe I won't even care when I do find myself sitting at his feet. Just so long as I get to sit at his feet - that is of supreme importance to me - and by His grace, I will, one day soon, be sitting at His feet. I will hug those feet, cry on them, wipe them, whatever He wants. I can't believe He will let me do that!
Also, I don't think there is any trouble between James and Paul. I see it as James looking at faith practically, and Paul writing about how faith works in salvation. In other words, one is talking about application and the other, that branch of theology learned dudes call "soteriology."
Peace to you, Dawg!
Johnny - Thanks for reading and commenting. The answer from me is "yes', so I'm glad we could fellowship together. Peace to you too, Johnny.
I have heard this statement put forth by well-meaning Christians, but their error is merely being too ignorant of theology and proper apologetics to adequately express what they mean.
When someone says, "If the bible isn't true, then I might as well sleep with ten partners, or go do whatever I want," what they're expressing is actually the notion that if God doesn't exist, then anything they do is morally permissible. In fact, without God, the idea of "morality" is nonsensical.
I once saw a meme posted by one of my atheist friends that said, "You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy -- not religion."
It's hard to find such a succinct statement that can be both right and horribly wrong in the span of two sentences. First of all, in order to make such a statement, they must presume that it is morally good to be empathetic. Where do they derive that belief? They certainly don't derive it from their human experience or from nature. As Tennyson said, nature is "red in tooth and claw." Answer: they borrow such an idea from theism. Only in theism is it OBJECTIVELY true that human beings have value, and empathy is a moral virtue.
However, before we can even begin to discern whether or not empathy is morally right or wrong, the atheist has to clear the hurdle of, what the heck does right and wrong even mean? If there is no law-giver, then certainly any "law" that we humans devise is merely opinion. Rape is not OBJECTIVELY wrong -- it's just something that most of us don't like, as a society.
So, while it's true that we don't need a book to tell us what's right and wrong, we most certainly need God to ground the notion of right and wrong.
Jeremy, that is nonsense. Actions are right or wrong based on civilized society norms. Not on what the bible says. Murder is wrong with or without religion. I don't need to believe the bible to know that. You've been brainwashed. Killing your disobedient child is wrong. No matter what the bible says. And if God tells you to rape the virgins, it's wrong.
To be perfectly clear, I don't now, and never have, needed religion to tell me right from wrong. The laws and my mom and dad and teachers helped me to know. Not creator God. His word speaks of killing for many reasons. I'm not doing it anyway.
"Actions are right or wrong based on civilized society norms."
So, in the Old South, slavery was not OBJECTIVELY morally wrong in 1857, because the society said that it wasn't?
"Murder is wrong with or without religion."
I don't disagree with that statement. The statement that I would disagree with, however, is, "Murder is wrong with or without God." Without God, murder is not objectively wrong. If there is no God, and you think that murder is wrong, then that is merely your subjective opinion. If you say that murder is wrong because a vast majority of people believe that it's wrong, that is still no more objective than only one person believing it. That's merely the subjective, collective opinion of a large group of people.
"I don't need to believe the bible to know that."
You clearly missed the point of my post. Of course we don't need the Bible (or any book) for us to know that murder is wrong, just like I don't need a math book to tell me that 9 x 6 = 54. However, without God, the notion of right and wrong is utterly meaningless.
If you believe that human beings can discern the notions of "right" and "wrong" without the existence of a Supreme Law-Giver, then I offer you a challenge. Give me some natural criteria for what makes a moral action either "right" or "wrong."
We most likely agree, on an epistemological level, that rape is wrong. I would like for you to explain, on an ontological level, why it is objectively wrong.
Jeremy - No thanks. I'll leave that argument to theologians and philosophers. And your example of slavery in the south makes my point, not yours. The "church" and the "Bible" said it was acceptable. For hundreds of years. In both Europe and America. Society, NOT the church or religion, realized that it was wrong. Not because GOD said it, but because they figured it out. An educated, civilized society figures things out that religion just doesn't seem to be able to. Wiping out diseases, advances in medicine, technology, and on and on. Another example, inter racial marriage. Bob Jones college, for example, banned interracial dating. Many white Christians are still racists. The "church" and "religion" was way behind "society" when it came to equal rights. So, in many cases the dependence on God for morals and ethics lacks far behind civilized societies and education. As for your challenge, I answer with this, as just one of millions of examples: I quit drinking and never smoked because of scientific evidence and education. Not because I believed that God made it right or wrong. I don't have sex outside of marriage, not because a Creator tells me its bad, but because I have a conscience and commitment to my wife. So in this case, the Christian man who relies on God for his morals and ethics (Josh Duggar, Bill Cosby, many pastors and deacons and untold thousands of other clergy, priests, etc.) are actually less able to keep their vows then someone like me who stays faithful out of principle and morals and not because they get their morals from God. I hope this helps you understand other views better. If that is indeed what you are trying to do.
Just like with most of the posts I'm discovering on this site, you're not actually addressing the arguments -- you're simply venting about the behavior of imperfect human beings and conflating them with Christianity, itself.
My example about slavery does nothing to make YOUR point. It actually destroys your point that civil society is the ultimate arbiter of "right" and "wrong." The kind of chattel slavery that was practiced in the South has never been condoned in the Bible. To assert such a thing only demonstrates a Children's Church knowledge, at best, of ancient Hebrew culture.
While the King James Bible uses the term "slave," the best description of ancient Hebrew "slavery" is indentured servitude -- a temporary state of affairs, entered into voluntarily, and terminated after an agreed-upon term. Biblical slaves were slaves in the same sense that I was a slave when I was a young, enlisted Marine.
As for what professing Christians or a "church" claim to be morally acceptable, I couldn't possibly care less. My standard is not set by any human being -- Christian or heathen.
Regarding your attempt at setting forth a natural criteria for determining "right" and "wrong":
"I quit drinking and never smoked because of scientific evidence and education. Not because I believed that God made it right or wrong."
Science and education can only tell you what IS. It cannot tell you what OUGHT TO BE. Science can tell you that smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. Science can tell us nothing, however, about whether such a thing is right or wrong. It can tell us that it's unhealthy, but that's not a valid criterion for morality. After all, we can both agree that there are plenty of unhealthy acts that are morally right (saving a person from a burning building, jumping in front of a gunman to protect your family, etc., etc.)
"I don't have sex outside of marriage, not because a Creator tells me its bad, but because I have a conscience and commitment to my wife."
Why is commitment to your wife a moral good? Who says that monogamy and fidelity are morally better than polygamy and betrayal? Who wrote the laws of morality upon your conscience?
"So in this case, the Christian man who relies on God for his morals and ethics...are actually less able to keep their vows then someone like me who stays faithful out of principle and morals and not because they get their morals from God."
You're still spectacularly missing the point of my original post. First of all, EVERYONE, atheist or theist, derives his sense of morality from the fact that there is an Eternal Law-Giver. Skeptics continually talk about treating others the way you would like to be treated and being empathetic as some sort of moral standard. The problem is, they're borrowing that sentiment from theism.
When pressed to explain why, in a Godless universe, it's morally better to be empathetic than cruel, the best answer they can provide is, "either you see it or you don't." That's an unacceptable answer, because it's capricious, arbitrary, and SUBJECTIVE. In other words, in a Godless universe, the notion that it's better to be kind than cruel is nothing more than their opinion -- and why should I be morally bound by someone else's mere opinion?
With respect to the abuses of the American church and the hirelings that are currently overseeing the modern American church culture, you and I are in complete agreement. I am currently looking for a new church and have been for quite a while, because I refuse to join with the panty-waisted, corrupt, seeker-sensitive, worshiptainment show that so many American churches have become.
However, I sincerely believe that you are allowing our mutual disdain for American churchianity, bias your thinking against Christianity, in general. It would appear that even if a truth is completely scriptural and reasonable, if a modern American churchian holds to that truth, you deride it because of who holds it. I hope that's not true.
Jeremy - You might be right. Thanks.
Jeremy makes a great point. My disdain for American churchianity likely has biased my thinking. Here's why: I feel the same way about whatever the Muslim tells me in regards to me getting my morals from Allah or Muhammad. Or the Jehovah witness who shows me scripture that I believe and follow and thereby says, I must accept the rest of JW teachings. Or the Jew who points to Old Testament scripture as the basis of my laws and morals. My bias towards all of these religions, makes me reject some of the actual truths that might be contained in their teachings merely because they are contained in these other religions, of which, i (and most of my readers) have rejected. It's another element to consider when we talk about our faith, while excluding the faiths and beliefs of others.
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