Atheist Schism?

So says NPR:

Last month, atheists marked Blasphemy Day at gatherings around the world, and celebrated the freedom to denigrate and insult religion.

Some offered to trade pornography for Bibles. Others de-baptized people with hair dryers. And in Washington, D.C., an art exhibit opened that shows, among other paintings, one entitled Divine Wine, where Jesus, on the cross, has blood flowing from his wound into a wine bottle.

Another, Jesus Paints His Nails, shows an effeminate Jesus after the crucifixion, applying polish to the nails that attach his hands to the cross.

“I wouldn’t want this on my wall,” says Stuart Jordan, an atheist who advises the evidence-based group Center for Inquiry on policy issues. The Center for Inquiry hosted the art show.

Jordan says the exhibit created a firestorm from offended believers, and he can understand why. But, he says, the controversy over this exhibit goes way beyond Blasphemy Day. It’s about the future of the atheist movement — and whether to adopt the “new atheist” approach — a more aggressive, often belittling posture toward religious believers.

Some call it a schism.

Evidence-based group? What an odd description, though I like the implication that religious groups are non-evidence-based.

It is pretty silly, though perhaps irresistable to a journalist looking for a story, to speak of a schism among atheists. In a religious context a schism usually refers to some dissatisfaction with an established authority, leading to a split into rival factions. Since these disputes often involve points of doctrine, and therefore the perceived will of God, the break-up tends to be a bit acrimonious.

There is really nothing like that among atheists. For one thing, there is no central atheist authority from which to split. For another, the dispute, such as it is, really is not all that acrimonious. For a third, atheists are only united by the belief that there is no God. Why should we expect general agreement on questions of political tactics?

For myself, I am a pluralist on this question. I think angry polemics have a role, as do efforts at calm outreach. Some of my atheist colleagues think the polemics do more harm than good by “scaring away the moderates.” I do not accept this at all. Anyone who is scared away by Dawkins or Hitchens was never really a moderate to begin with. That we are constantly so worried about the effect of vocal atheism is precisely the reason we need the polemics. If you want to mainstream atheism, which I think we all do, you have to make it visible. You go after the younger generation, by making it something so familiar that they do not think there is anything scary about it. Staid academic tomes simply do not cut it.

Skipping ahead a bit

Jordan is a volunteer at the center and therefore could speak his mind. But interviews for this story with others associated with the Washington, D.C., office were canceled — a curious development for a group that promotes free speech.

Ronald Lindsay, who heads the Center for Inquiry, based in Amherst, N.Y., says he didn’t know why the interviews were cancelled. As for the art exhibit and other Blasphemy Day events the group promoted:

“What we wanted were thoughtful, incisive and concise critiques of religion,” he says. “We were not trying to insult believers.”

Incisive and concise critiques of religion are, all by themselves, insulting to many believers. Forgive me, but you do not host something called “Blasphemy Day” and then act surprised that some of what occurs appeals more to the gut than it does to the head. Personally, I liked the painting of Jesus doing his nails (shown in the NPR article.)

But others are perfectly happy to. New atheists like Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins and journalist Christopher Hitchens are selling millions of books and drawing people by the thousands to their call for an uncompromising atheism.

For example, Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book God Is Not Great, told a capacity crowd at the University of Toronto, “I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.” His words were greeted with hoots of approval.

Religion is “sinister, dangerous and ridiculous,” Hitchens tells NPR, because it can prompt people to fly airplanes into buildings, and it promotes ignorance. Hitchens sees no reason to sugarcoat his position.

“If I said to a Protestant or Quaker or Muslim, ‘Hey, at least I respect your belief,’ I would be telling a lie,” Hitchens says.

Sinister, dangerous and ridiculous sounds about right to me. Not too sure about hatred though. Hatred of a belief rapidly becomes indistinguishable from hatred for the people who hold that belief. For some reason I am reminded of evangelical Christians disingenously talking about loving the sinner but hating the sin when it comes to homosexuals.

This caught my eye:

Paul Kurtz founded the Center for Inquiry three decades ago to offer a positive alternative to religion. He has built alliances with religious groups over issues such as climate change and opposing creationism in the public schools. Kurtz says he was ousted in a “palace coup” last year — and he worries the new atheists will set the movement back.

This is all news to me. Anyone know the facts? I had no idea that Kurtz had been “ousted.”

Anyway, P. Z. Myers has also weighed in on this article, raising a number of other issues. The article has its faults, but I do not hink it ias bad as P. Z. seems to think. Go read it and decided for yourself.

Comments

  1. #1 Russell
    October 20, 2009

    Schism assumes a unity and organization that, in this case, is more imagined than real.

  2. #2 Rob Jase
    October 20, 2009

    So is this supposed to mean that some of us who don’t believe in deities don’t disbelive the same deities?

  3. #3 Dave W.
    October 20, 2009

    Here’s something on Kurtz’ ouster:

    http://community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/43861/18728697/Ron_Lindsay_Steals_Center_for_Inquiry_from_Paul_Kurtz

    But it doesn’t explain what happened, really.

    Here’s more, with more links I haven’t followed yet:

    http://skepacabra.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/center-for-inquiry-founder-paul-kurtz-ousted/

  4. #4 mrcreosote
    October 20, 2009

    Schism? I think I had a splinter there once…

  5. #5 mrcreosote
    October 20, 2009

    “Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?”
    “He’s over there”
    “SPLITTER!!!”

  6. #6 Cuttlefish
    October 20, 2009
  7. #7 Oran Kelley
    October 20, 2009

    From this dumbass, adolescent bs?–I’ll take a schism between me and it any day, thanks.

  8. #8 minusRusty
    October 20, 2009

    Evidence-based group? What an odd description, though I like the implication that religious groups are non-evidence-based.

    Well, the Center for Inquiry, formerly CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), is an evidence-based group. As is JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation). The fact that many (though not all) of there members are also atheists is a side-benefit.

    Don’t know about the Kurtz ousting, though. Probably politics as usual. (Even atheists aren’t immune! lol)

    -Rusty

  9. #9 Patrick Oden
    October 21, 2009

    “For one thing, there is no central atheist authority from which to split.”

    I was thinking this same thing. Doesn’t a schism require an authority to separate from?

    It’s not like Epicurus founded The Glorious Order of Atheism or some such nonsensical dogmatic pseudo-religion.

    Saying there’s a split in organized atheism would be like saying there’s a schism in Unitarian Universalism. Um, what?

    By analogy, some partisans like direct confrontation, while others prefer passive-aggressive manipulation. That doesn’t mean there’s a schism in the political party.

  10. #10 Valhar2000
    October 21, 2009

    When faced with the choice between boring, prosaic truth and titillating half-truths, Barbara Bradley Hagerty chose the latter. Journalism as usual.

    Now, can somebody tell me again why we should be worried about traditional journalism dying?

  11. #11 Richard Eis
    October 21, 2009

    Well she got some points seriously wrong (she lied) and most of the diatribe was a complete misunderstanding of atheists.

    The article is one big fault. Made up of smaller faults.

  12. #12 wice
    October 21, 2009

    “Some call it a schism.”

    yeah, “some”, meaning the author of the article, exclusively, who is unable to think about atheism in non-religious terms, or maybe has an agenda to paint atheism as “just another religion”. pathetic.

  13. #13 Jud
    October 21, 2009

    the author of the article…who is unable to think about atheism in non-religious terms

    There’s a 2005 quote from Barbara Bradley Hagerty, the author, speaking to an evangelical group, where she refers to Jesus as her “employer,” in the sense that though her job may be at NPR, she is ultimately working for the Lord. At least at that point, she was a committed evangelical. So it isn’t surprising that she sees atheism as a group (or, post-“schism,” groups) with a doctrine opposed to religion, rather than people without a doctrine.

  14. #14 SLC
    October 21, 2009

    I haven’t read the article in question but, based on the recent brouhaha on this and other blogs over accommodationism, an outsider could well conclude that there was a serious split in the atheist ranks. We have Chris Mooney and Josh Rosenau, both professed atheists, on the accommodation side and PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne and Abbie Smith on the non-accommodation side. And the rancor between them was something to behold, with Ms. Smith inviting Mr. Mooney to perform an anatomical impossibility and referring to the intersection team of Mooney and Kirchenbaum as “Mooneytits”.

  15. #15 qbsmd
    October 21, 2009

    There’s a 2005 quote from Barbara Bradley Hagerty, the author, speaking to an evangelical group, where she refers to Jesus as her “employer,” in the sense that though her job may be at NPR, she is ultimately working for the Lord. At least at that point, she was a committed evangelical. So it isn’t surprising that she sees atheism as a group (or, post-“schism,” groups) with a doctrine opposed to religion, rather than people without a doctrine.

    Posted by: Jud

    That’s interesting. From a quick Google search, I found her web page: http://barbarabradleyhagerty.com/content/index.asp and a few other sites, and she appears to be more of a fuzzy, “spiritual but not religious” person with a “all religions have something to offer” attitude. Are you sure your quote is from the same person?

  16. #16 Captain Obvious
    October 21, 2009

    Is there any work going in the Athiest Palace? Surely with this coup there are some vacancies as the old order are purged?

  17. #17 J. J. Ramsey
    October 21, 2009

    “This is all news to me. Anyone know the facts? I had no idea that Kurtz had been ‘ousted.'”

    The Friendly Atheist discussed it in the post “A Living Obituary Of Paul Kurtz.”

  18. #18 Michael Kremer
    October 21, 2009

    The primary meaning of “schism” is simply division or separation, with no implication of a central authority from which to split.

  19. #19 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 21, 2009

    J. J. –

    Thanks for providing the link.

    Michael –

    But in the context of religion the word “schism” generally does refer to dissent from some central authority. The term is also inapt because atheists are not really united by much in the first place. We all don’t believe in God, but what does that have to do with opinions regarding political tactics?

  20. #20 Amber
    October 21, 2009

    Good post. I always find it interesting when people have trouble separating religion from atheism in the sense that they treat atheism as thought it is a religion. In fact, it’s the absence of religion and a belief in God. I’m not sure where the confusion lies…

  21. #21 J. J. Ramsey
    October 21, 2009

    Jason Rosenhouse: “But in the context of religion the word ‘schism’ generally does refer to dissent from some central authority.”

    Not really. There may be a central authority involved in a schism, but even in the context of religion, “schism” denotes one religious body separating into two due to issues of doctrine or practice. It’s the differences of beliefs within the body that is emphasized, not the authorities to which they may hold allegiance.

  22. #22 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 21, 2009

    J. J. Ramsey –

    Yes really.

    From the ever useful Wikipedia:

    The word schism (pronounced /ˈsɪzəm/ or /ˈskɪzəm/), from the Greek σχίσμα, skhísma (from σχίζω, skhízō, “to tear, to split”), means a split or a division, usually in an organization or a movement. A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group. The word is most frequently and usefully used about a religious division that occur with a religious body with a defined organisation and hierarchy.

  23. #23 BaldApe
    October 21, 2009
    • There is no god, and his name is Allah.
    • There is no god, and his name is Jehovah/Jaweh
    • There are no gods, and their names are Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha…
    • There are no gods, and their names are Odin, Thor, Loki, Freya…

    Gracious sakes alive, looks like we got ourselves a SCHISM!

  24. #24 J. J. Ramsey
    October 22, 2009

    Rosenhouse: “Yes really.”

    Your Wikipedia entry doesn’t help as much as you think, since even it describes a schism as “split or a division, usually in an organization or a movement,” and there is certainly an atheism movement. Furthermore, I pointed out that in speaking of a schism, the emphasis is generally “differences of beliefs within the body that is emphasized,” such as whether salvation is by faith alone or by works, too, or whether one should play musical instruments in worship, or whether one should crack the big end or little end of the coddled egg. In practice, schisms over these matters often happen in bodies with a “defined organisation and hierarchy,” but it is hardly necessary for this to be the case.

  25. #25 J. J. Ramsey
    October 22, 2009

    Oh, and more from Wikipedia on schism: “More generally, especially outside of religion the word schism may refer to the separation/split between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc. or any division of a formerly united from the state movement in politics or any other field into two or more disagreeing groups.”

  26. #26 Jason Rosenhouse
    October 22, 2009

    J. J. Ramsey –

    Your comment 24 is irrelevant since I was specifically talking about the context of religion. Your comment 23 is the reason I said that in the religious context the term schism usually refers to a split from an organized body.

  27. #27 J. J. Ramsey
    October 22, 2009

    Rosenhouse: “Your comment 24 is irrelevant since I was specifically talking about the context of religion.”

    It isn’t all that irrelevant, since it shows a usage of “schism” that would apply to atheist groups, and furthermore, this usage, namely the splitting of a group into “two or more disagreeing groups” overlap with the usage of “schism” as applied to religion.

    To put it more bluntly, the claim that to “speak of a schism among atheists” is silly is flat out wrong. We do have camps of atheists that differ on how to treat believers, and the conflict between the camps has been acrimonious enough to involve mutual accusations of dishonesty and at least one Hitler analogy.

  28. #28 sinz54
    October 22, 2009

    “Anyone who is scared away by Dawkins or Hitchens was never really a moderate to begin with. ”

    I’m scared away by them, and I’m not even a Christian.
    I’m a Deist.

    But men like Dawkins won’t be satisfied until I agree to stamp out any last vestige of belief in a Higher Power and accept their vision of a pitiless, indifferent, hostile Universe in which we live out our puny lives, passing on our genes, for no good reason except we’re driven by laws of biochemistry.

    That’s the only position they consider epistemologically compatible with the philosophy of science.

    It may be epistemologically compatible.

    But I find it profoundly depressing.

    It’s a philosophy devoid of hope.

    And I reject it utterly.

  29. #29 Marshall
    October 22, 2009

    Silly rabbits, why waste energy arguing about definitions, which are not “facts” (empirical observations) but simple matters of customary agreement. Is there a “split” between to subcategories of people-who-refer-to-themselves-as-atheistical? I think the notion of “anti-accomodationism” says yes, there is. “Plural” means “more than one thing”.

    Jason:
    For myself, I am a pluralist on this question. I think angry polemics have a role

    Polemic: from the Greek, “warlike” or “hostile”. If you are trying to rouse rabble, angry polemics are effective; eg, those polemical Fox guys are effective at polarizing Republican vs. Democrat to the point where cooperation seems no longer possible, which bodes poorly for the future of the Nation. The bad thing about religion is it’s tendency to anathematize around the most trivial points of disagreement. You don’t want to be like them, do you?

    For myself, I am a pluralist on the question of Theism vs. Atheism, partly because I believe in Toleration (aka ‘separation of church and state’), but mostly because I believe that the more we get together the happier we’ll be, and angry polemics are not a good way to get together.

    Jud:
    So it isn’t surprising that she sees atheism as a group (or, post-“schism,” groups) with a doctrine opposed to religion, rather than people without a doctrine.

    You want to tell Christopher Hitchens that he doesn’t have a doctrine? “I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.” Let’s check with The Great Wiki:

    Doctrine (Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or “a body of teachings” or “instructions”, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. The Greek analogy is the etymology of catechism.

    I don’t understand why Atheists… pardon me, people who refer to themselves as Atheistical… feel that they don’t or shouldn’t have, or don’t profess a belief system or body of principles. It would seem to be good to have a belief system.

  30. #30 Siamang
    October 22, 2009

    “But men like Dawkins won’t be satisfied until I agree to stamp out any last vestige of belief in a Higher Power and accept their vision of a pitiless, indifferent, hostile Universe in which we live out our puny lives, passing on our genes, for no good reason except we’re driven by laws of biochemistry.”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing!

    We are awake in the universe. We understand at least our biological origin, which is more than anything else has been able to do within the history of the universe. By what measure is that a failed existence? What, do you want a pony too? Well, I’ve got good news for you… existence STILL includes ponies! As many ponies, and puppy dogs and kittens and the smiles of babies as you could ever want!

    “That’s the only position they consider epistemologically compatible with the philosophy of science.”

    It nevertheless has a strong possibility of being true.

    “It may be epistemologically compatible. But I find it profoundly depressing.”

    I’ll remind you that the factual nature of the universe has no moral obligation to see to it that you are not depressed.

    “It’s a philosophy devoid of hope.”

    ….I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden!

    “And I reject it utterly.”

    Oh, woe! Reality might cause me to be sad! I REJECT IT!!!

    I’d rather live a short, finite life seeking reality than a long self-absorbed life denying it.

    Enjoy your steak.

  31. #31 llewelly
    October 22, 2009

    Marshall | October 22, 2009 2:55 PM:

    I don’t understand why Atheists… pardon me, people who refer to themselves as Atheistical… feel that they don’t or shouldn’t have, or don’t profess a belief system or body of principles. It would seem to be good to have a belief system.

    What you are suffering from is called “reading comprehension failure” . Atheism does not prevent one from having a belief system, just as it does not require a particular belief system.
    Humanism would be an example of a belief system that many (but not all) atheists subscribe to.

  32. #32 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    October 22, 2009

    I don’t understand why A-philatelists… pardon me, people who refer to themselves as non-stamp-collectors… feel that they don’t or shouldn’t have, or don’t profess a belief system or body of principles. It would seem to be good to have a belief system.

  33. #33 llewelly
    October 22, 2009

    Marshall | October 22, 2009 2:55 PM:

    Silly rabbits, why waste energy arguing about definitions, which are not “facts” (empirical observations) but simple matters of customary agreement. Is there a “split” between to subcategories of people-who-refer-to-themselves-as-atheistical? I think the notion of “anti-accomodationism” says yes, there is. “Plural” means “more than one thing”.

    “Silly rabbits, why waste energy arguing about definitions, when I, Marshall, am here to pretend that my definitions are better than yours anyway!”

  34. #34 Marshall
    October 22, 2009

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear, I was reacting to the debate between Jason and JJ Ramsey as to whether or not accomodationism vs. anti-accomodationism is properly a “schism”. Whether or not, clearly there is some sort of split or separation.

    Some people object that it is unfair to categorize “atheists” as a group. Hence llewelly:

    Atheism does not prevent one from having a belief system, just as it does not require a particular belief system…

    Except, naturally, a belief system or body of principles that states that the universe unfolds according to mechanistic principles, no divine and hence no divine intervention, that prayer is talking to yourself, that death is extinguishment, and so on. Perhaps it will be argued that these are negative principles, but they are principles none the less. Perhaps it will be argued that they are “just common sense”, but a creationist will tell you that creationism is “just common sense”, so there you are, aren’t you?

    Humanism would be an example of a belief system that many (but not all) atheists subscribe to.

    I am glad to hear it, and it seems to me that Humanism would be a productive place for Atheists and Religious People to get together, discussing (as I was originally suggesting) behavior rather than justification.

    I am curious: Some atheists have said that they don’t wish to “believe” anything that isn’t “true”. True stuff is supported by objective evidence, unlike stuff you have to “take on Faith”. So how can you get to Humanism without going through Faith? Is there a sense in which it is “supported by objective evidence?”

  35. #35 Siamang
    October 22, 2009

    I think there’s some different senses in which the word “believe” is used in your last question, Marshall.

    “Believe” as in ‘convinced that a factual state is true’.
    “Believe” as in ‘subscribe to a set of freely-chosen ideals’.

    I don’t want to ‘believe’ in unicorns if they aren’t real.
    But I do think I am nevertheless able to ‘believe’ in democracy, America, and the ability for the Angels to win the ALCS.

    I don’t think atheists are hindered from *HOPES*, merely because they choose to express skepticism about unproven claims of fact.

    Beware words with more than one meaning… they can trip you up!

  36. #36 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    October 23, 2009

    Humanism would be an example of a belief system that many (but not all) atheists subscribe to.
    I am curious: Some atheists have said that they don’t wish to “believe” anything that isn’t “true”. True stuff is supported by objective evidence, unlike stuff you have to “take on Faith”. So how can you get to Humanism without going through Faith? Is there a sense in which it is “supported by objective evidence?”

    Beliefs are in the domain of epistemology. Holding to the values of humanism would fall under aesthetics. Therefore, it would be more proper to call it a value system than a belief system.

  37. #37 llewelly
    October 24, 2009

    I am glad to hear it, and it seems to me that Humanism would be a productive place for Atheists and Religious People to get together, discussing (as I was originally suggesting) behavior rather than justification.

    Not “would be”. Has been, for over two centuries. (Time dependent on quibbling over definitions of humanism; some trace humanism back to Petrarch in the Renaissance, or even back to Anaxagoras and Epicurus in ancient Greece.)
    Note however that as Bayesian Bouffant, FCD, pointed out, I was using poor terminology; Humanism is more properly a value system rather than a belief system.

  38. #38 Marshall
    October 24, 2009

    I am really, really confused by a thread that shows up Massimo Pigliucci as an apologist for religion, some kind of **accomodationist**.

    …If you only think that god “probably doesn’t exist”, then why should you object if some other people want to do some thought (and other) experiments on the assumption that some god does exist?

    Ian:

    Scientific questions deal with the material world. Religion posits a non-material world. Atheists claim that there is no non-material world.

    I would rather say that Religion deals with the world in a non-material way. You could consider the synthetic vs. the analytic. Or the geisteswissenschaft vs. the naturwissenschaften, the mind-affected world vs. the natural world. Popper’s World 2 (or World 3). And so on.

  39. #39 Marshall
    October 24, 2009

    Ak, that was supposed to go to Why Evolution is True. It’s too late, I should go to bed.

  40. #40 Elliott
    October 25, 2009

    I agree with Hitchens that radical Muslims are insane, but has he ever attempted to learn about Judaism–a religion centred around justice and morality? He can’t regard 9/11 as a product of ALL religion! I would like him and all atheists to know that Judaism introduced to the world the notion that infanticide is wrong, that pedophilia is wrong, that all human beings deserve equal rights (in all ancient cultures except for Judaism, slaves were owned). He uses crazy fanatics as a knife to theism’s throat.

  41. #41 Leni
    October 25, 2009

    Elliot, it was an example. I’m sure if we looked long and hard enough we would eventually find at least one instance of Jews using religion to treat others badly.

    I know it’s difficult to imagine that Jews can behave as badly as the rest of us, but I’ve suspected for quite sometime now that it can happen.

    He uses crazy fanatics as a knife to theism’s throat.

    No, he uses it as an example of a worst-case scenario. This is what can happen when religious belief trumps reality: people can die. It’s certainly a great deal more complicated than that (and others know a lot more about it than I do), but I think you can get the idea. The uncritical acceptance of bad ideas can be extremely harmful. This is one example of when it was.

    …If you only think that god “probably doesn’t exist”, then why should you object if some other people want to do some thought (and other) experiments on the assumption that some god does exist?

    I don’t think anyone is objecting to “thought experiments”.

    Those of us that have objections typically frame them around the uncritical acceptance of some extraordinarily bad ideas*. Bad ideas that can and do sometimes have very serious consequences that affect all of us. Moreover, I think it is bordering on disingenuous to refer to religious belief as a thought experiment. 9/11 was not a thought experiment. The Crusades were not thought experiments. The Family Research Council is not engaging is hypothetical arguments. Pat Robertson does not routinely demonize gay people as a hypothetical.

    *That’s not to say religion is comprised entirely bad ideas- it’s not. Just some of the worst ones known to humanity. That is the problem and that’s why it deserves to be criticized.

  42. #42 Jud
    October 26, 2009

    in all ancient cultures except for Judaism, slaves were owned

    Not quite true that there was no slavery (servitude) in Judaism. It wasn’t encouraged, granted, but it was allowed within certain limitations. And where is the encyclopedic knowledge of “all ancient cultures” that allows you to confidently say they included slave-ownership?

    Judaism introduced to the world the notion that infanticide is wrong

    I think claiming this for a doctrine that celebrates Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac as the pinnacle of devotion to God, and the killing of the first-born in Egypt as a sign of God’s deliverance of His chosen people, is rather strong. I also think we can be quite sure that infanticide was thought of as wrong in at least some cultures in various parts of the world prior to the emergence of Judaism.

    It is true that because of the currents of history (Judaism begat Christianity which became the religion of the Holy Roman Empire) we in the West are far more familiar with the collection of judicial/moral doctrines in Judaism than others that existed at the same time or earlier, but other such doctrines surely existed, and in some cases contributed to those in Judaism. (For example, parts of the Code of Hammurabi, dating from the 18th century BCE, are found almost word for word in the Torah, generally thought to have been completed in the 500s – 300s BCE.)

  43. #43 michael fugate
    October 26, 2009

    Women had equal rights in Judaism? or were they not considered humans?

  44. #44 Tootie Fruitie
    November 4, 2009

    What’s really going to be funny is when these blasphemers stand before God on Judgement day and give an account for their actions. They have an opportunity to change things now, but once judgement day comes, there will be no turning back and no more chances. Hope you have a explanation fitting for the creator and sustainer of the universe, or else, you may want to sart stockpiling ice cubes; it’s going to be hot in your neck of the woods.

  45. #45 Rieux
    November 4, 2009

    Tootie–wow. I feel Poe’s Law breathing down my neck, but:

    Bertrand Russell was asked what he would say if he died and found himself confronted by God, demanding to know why Russell had not believed in him. ‘Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence,’ was Russell’s (I almost said immortal) reply.

    – Richard Dawkins

    Heaven for climate, Hell for society.

    – Mark Twain

    Hell is an outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made you in his image, I reply that he must have been very ugly.

    – Victor Hugo

  46. #46 Leni
    November 6, 2009

    …there will be no turning back and no more chances. Hope you have a explanation fitting for the creator and sustainer of the universe, or else, you may want to sart stockpiling ice cubes; it’s going to be hot in your neck of the woods.

    Or else! Jesus said “blah blah fucking blah”, so take that!

    If there were ever a schoolyard chant not worth listening to it would be this one. It’s on par with calling someone gay and there is only so much funny left in the world for there to be room for this shit.

    If it is a “Poe”, at this point I am so sick of it that… a pox on all their houses. I would be happy to grind AIDS ridden plague lice into the faces of anyone pretending that this bullshit is either a) funny or b) worth uttering for any other reason.

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