Pharyngula

Inanity squared

Yikes—it’s like some kind of horror movie: Inhofe meets Robertson.

Look, Pat, I don’t have to tell you about reading the Scriptures, but one of mine that I’ve always enjoyed is Romans 1, 22 and 23. You quit worshipping God and start worshipping the creation — the creeping things, the four-legged beasts, the birds and all that. That’s their god. That’s what they worship.

I’m not a big fan of the Bible, and every time I do dig into it, I find myself disgusted—and this is no exception. I had to look up Romans.

   15So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

   16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

   17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

   18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

   19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

   20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

   21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

   22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

   23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

   24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

   25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

   26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

   27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

   28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

   29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

   30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

   31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

   32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Shorter Romans: Loving nature is really, really gay. And evil.

It’s one of the nastier passages in the Bible, easily twisted into an absolute injunction to be anti-science and anti-homosexual—no wonder it’s one of Inhofe’s favorites.

You know, I really don’t need to compose arguments against religion: just quoting scripture is damning enough.

Comments

  1. #1 NatureSelectedMe
    July 27, 2006

    PZ quoting the Bible. Now I’ve seen everything.

  2. #2 PZ Myers
    July 27, 2006

    Satan can do it, too.

  3. #3 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    The just shal live by faith.

    What a load of CRAP!

  4. #4 No One of Consequence
    July 27, 2006

    You know, I really don’t need to compose arguments against religion: just quoting scripture is damning enough.

    New tactic – quote mining scripture. The thing is, you don’t even have to do the dishonest quote mining that the other side does, you can leave it in context.

  5. #5 phototaxi
    July 27, 2006

    Doesn’t Romans also justify absolute deference to political authorites based upon their selection by God? Or is my recollection of biblical fictions foggy?

  6. #6 George
    July 27, 2006

    So nice to know we’ve sunk to the point where our Senators now openly admit to making science policy based on what they read in crappy Michael Crichton novels.

  7. #7 Dan
    July 27, 2006

    So nice to know we’ve sunk to the point where our Senators now openly admit to making science policy based on what they read in crappy Michael Crichton novels.

    For most of them, it’s the only exposure to “science” they’ve ever had.

  8. #8 Steve LaBonne
    July 27, 2006

    You misspelled “insanity” in your title, PZ. Hope this helps. 😉

    Paul was indeed a nasty piece of work.

  9. #9 Jim Wynne
    July 27, 2006

    Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.

    Thomas Jefferson

  10. #10 PaulC
    July 27, 2006

    That whole passage is pretty incoherent, but I’m inclined to interpret verse 23 as an injunction against idolatry–literally replacing the image of God with an animal depiction, like a golden calf. I think it’s a stretch to apply this to environmentalists, who didn’t really exist at the time as such.

  11. #11 wamba
    July 27, 2006

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature

    That reminds me; GrrlScientist is running a thread on Bananas: The Atheist’s So-Called “Nightmare”

  12. #12 Gregory
    July 27, 2006

    And disobedient to parents! Oh, mercy!

  13. #13 PaulC
    July 27, 2006

    Amazing, it was actually the other senator from Oklahoma who made a big issue of “rampant lesbianism” in the high schools.

    http://www.alternet.org/election04/20162/

    It sounds more like rampant lead poisoning among the voters to me.

  14. #14 j
    July 27, 2006

    Skatje already quoted Romans 1:26-27 on her blog. She’s way ahead of you.

    I never liked Romans. James, Songs of Solomon, Proverbs, and (my favorite) Ecclesiastes are so much better.

  15. #15 Mr. Person
    July 27, 2006

    For even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.

    Yes! I’m cutting this out and putting it above the swimsuit calendar.

  16. #16 Ed Darrell
    July 27, 2006

    You don’t have to take their tortured interpretation, you know. The money stuff is in verse 20, where it says the invisible powers of God are made visible in creation.

    Well, then, a study of creation is a study of the powers of God — and incidentally, since God’s work is just and virtuous, we can assume (with the authority of scripture) that what we see in nature is God’s own truth. That is the assumption Darwin used in his studies, when he was sent off to find the evidence that proved one of the versions of Genesis. Darwin found the evidence told a different story, and stuck with what the evidence showed.

    And in the end of verse 20, it makes it plain: Since it’s there to see in nature, creationists have no excuse. The next couple of verses describe creationists, including especially verse 22: Proclaiming themselves wise, they become fools.

    But I’m applying a rationalist’s reading to the scriptures, so that will exclude those who make an idol out of the trees and fossilized critters that go into paper and ink, and are printed into the Bible.

    It’s another one of those ironies. The Bible urges rationality, so the Bible idolators vilify rationalists.

    Go figure.

  17. #17 Rocky
    July 27, 2006

    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/rom/1.html

    The “Skeptic’s Annotated Bible” also comments on the rabble rousing tones of these passages.

    “New tactic – quote mining scripture. The thing is, you don’t even have to do the dishonest quote mining that the other side does, you can leave it in context.”
    Why not??? Right on PZ!
    Most people really don’t really read the bible they supposedly believe in. When I was younger and attended church, these parts are quietly skipped over, or only a sentence, used out of context is referred to. This book needs to be shown for the hateful rag it is.

  18. #18 Big Nasty
    July 27, 2006

    New tactic – quote mining scripture. The thing is, you don’t even have to do the dishonest quote mining that the other side does, you can leave it in context.

    This isn’t a new tactic. Having been raised in a fundamentalist household, I have seen many first-hand instances of quote-mining scripture to justify all sorts of things (generally why some other group of people should be prevented from doing something). It shouldn’t be too surprising that they use the same technique on non-scripture.

  19. #19 matthew
    July 27, 2006

    I find that the Bible is a lot easier to understand when it is accompanied with illustrations of the people and the events as they were happening… in LEGO form:

    http://www.thebricktestament.com/index.html

  20. #20 Brian
    July 27, 2006

    I hadn’t seen that quote from Jefferson, but I agree with the Founding Redhead 100%. (Source?)

    In the Gospels, Jesus was annoyed by only three often-overlapping types of people: Pharisees; those who declared their religion loudly in the marketplace; and those who made money from religion. (Sense any modern applications yet?)

    Paul, on the other hand, seemed to be annoyed by everyone, and was almost gleeful as he consigned “unbelievers” (i.e., everyone different from him) to perdition. Way to carry the torch, you old hypocrite.

  21. #21 Blake Stacey
    July 27, 2006

    Ed Darell:

    I’m glad somebody else noticed the same way of reading that I did.

  22. #22 Ray H
    July 27, 2006

    Love passages like this from the “good” book:

    32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    Ah, yes. So those people who have sex for pleasure are worthy of death. One more for the “Jesus/God is an asshole” file.

  23. #23 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    That whole passage is pretty incoherent, but I’m inclined to interpret verse 23 as an injunction against idolatry–literally replacing the image of God with an animal depiction, like a golden calf. I think it’s a stretch to apply this to environmentalists, who didn’t really exist at the time as such.

    Thank you, PaulC. That’s obviously the meaning intended.

    This is a great example of how God’s word, no matter how eternal and infallible it may be, still has to be processed through a fallible human mind to be given meaning. The fundamentalist’s absolute faith is not in God, but in his own infallibility.

    There are few people in this world more arrogant than the religious fundamentalist, despite all his desperate trappings of humility.

  24. #24 mjs
    July 27, 2006

    And there will be Blogs, and Rumors of Blogs…

    The Magic Book
    It casts a spell
    That points to Heaven
    But creates a Hell

    +++

  25. #25 Jason
    July 27, 2006

    23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    Who knew Paul forsaw evolutionism!

  26. #26 Sastra
    July 27, 2006

    19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

    20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    The way I read this — and the way it is usually interpreted — is as a longer version of “everybody really knows there is a God.” This is sometimes extended to mean “everybody really knows that Christianity is true.” Atheists are liars who choose to pretend to themselves and others that they don’t believe in God just so they can rebel against authority, and sin.

    The belief that those who disagree with you aren’t just mistaken, but dishonest, evil, and fundamentally insincere leads to bigotry. To say the least, it shuts off dialogue. The truth is already plain enough. Nonbelievers don’t need to be persuaded like well-intentioned equals: they can only be chastized and condemned. Nice.

  27. #27 Colby Codner
    July 27, 2006

    In Oklahoma, we apparently put our criminally insane (and ethically bankrupt) people in public office. Sure there are hillbillys and rednecks here, but not all are fanatical religious adherents, or drooling inbreeders.

  28. #28 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    Jason is kookoo for cocopuffs.

    Evolution is eeeevil.

  29. #29 Jason
    July 27, 2006

    Shorter Romans: Loving nature is really, really gay. And evil.

    It’s not about loving nature being evil – it’s not. Nature, like women, is not the least bit denegrated at any point in the Bible. This passage is about not putting God first and what that leads to. Oh, I don’t expect PZ or anyone else here to understand or accept that fact. It’s much easier and more comfortable to hold on to the lies you hold. Few people ever move beyond that.

  30. #30 nancy73
    July 27, 2006

    Honestly, The Brick Testament is the only version of the bible that’s worth reading. Enjoy!

  31. #31 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    And you are living proof of that fact Jason.

    Lies lies lies yeah. – Thompson Twins

  32. #32 Jim Wynne
    July 27, 2006

    My direct source for the Jefferson quote is The Great Thoughts compiled by George Seldes and he attributes it to a letter from Jefferson to W. Short dated April 13, 1820.

  33. #33 tacitus
    July 27, 2006

    One of my favourite quote mines is Psalm 139, a passage anti-abortionists use to defend their position:

    This is what you normally see:

    13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

    15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

    16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

    This is the passage you don’t see, that almost immediately follows it:

    19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

    20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.

    21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?

    22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

    Loving, peaceful, thoughts are they not? And we wonder why abortion doctors get murdered…

  34. #34 Ray H
    July 27, 2006

    Nature, like women, is not the least bit denegrated at any point in the Bible

    yes, it does not denegrate women at all in the bible when it states that menstruation is a sin. i guess righteous women don’t shed their uterine lining.

  35. #35 Wyatt
    July 27, 2006

    “22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” Isn’t this sort of damning to those who proclaim themselves experts in this field?

  36. #36 Ian H Spedding
    July 27, 2006

    There’s really only one appropriate response to all that:

    …Obadiah, his servants. There shall, in that time, be rumours of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things wi– with the sort of raffia work base that has an attachment. At this time, a friend shall lose his friend’s hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o’clock. Yea, it is written in the book of Cyril that, in that time, shall the third one…

  37. #37 Efogoto
    July 27, 2006
  38. #38 idlemind
    July 27, 2006

    Paul was quite the manipulator; comparing his letters to the different churches shows just how facile he was at cheerleading each group according to its circumstances. It’s not a coincidence that he revs up the bombast for the group most likely to face martyrdom…

    Fundie preachers love Paul, since he was all about growing the church and increasing the power of its leadership. Maintaining fidelity to the philosophy and insights of Jesus? Not so much.

    Jefferson had it right.

  39. #39 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Oh man, where to start? The quote, though lengthy, still needs more context to be fully understood.

    Sastra wrote:

    Nonbelievers don’t need to be persuaded like well-intentioned equals: they can only be chastized and condemned. Nice.

    I don’t think that’s what Paul is saying here. They need to be persuaded, but if they don’t believe they will be condemned. It’s not up to humans to judge, but to love.

    Romans 1:14 “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.”

    skipping forward to chapter 2, verse 1-11 …

    You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
    But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

    skipping forward to chapter 3, verse 9-26 …

    What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:
    “There is no one righteous, not even one;
    11there is no one who understands,
    no one who seeks God.
    All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
    “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
    “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    ruin and misery mark their ways,
    and the way of peace they do not know.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
    Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

    But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

    and skipping way ahead to chapter 12, verse 9-21:

    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
    Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

    Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  40. #40 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    Thanks for the sermon.

    Move along. We know we know. We’re condemned you love us anyway. Whatever.

  41. #41 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    phototaxi:

    I believe you may be referring to Romans 13:1-7

    1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

  42. #42 drwhore
    July 27, 2006

    As someone who survived, barely, six years of reparative therapy during high school and college, these verses were always hurtful and mentally damaging. They still make me ill and angry. Verse 27 is the primary evidence for the church that AIDS is a punishment from god. Fortunately, as a scientist, I have ‘left behind’ the hate and no longer believe in such drivel.

  43. #43 j
    July 27, 2006

    Thank you to those who linked to The Brick Testament. It’s hilarious. I loved Legos as a child.

  44. #44 Caledonian
    July 27, 2006

    “Behave for the Romans, or they’ll sack your city and slaughter all who oppose them.”

    After the destruction of Jerusalem, I’ll just bet that there were a lot of Jews who were receptive to hearing the message that secular authorities had to be obeyed.

  45. #45 nancy73
    July 27, 2006

    I also wanted to pass on this link. It’s a handy website that compares different verstions of the same biblical passage. Very handy when the ol’ King James Version just gets too big for its pantaloons.

  46. #46 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Steve_C: I don’t know what happened to you Steve, why you seem so jaded toward God, but I hope you handle disagreement in your field better.

    As Rocky claims, most people don’t even read the Bible they believe in, how would I expect that those who don’t believe would be any different?

  47. #47 Rocky
    July 27, 2006

    “It’s much easier and more comfortable to hold on to the lies you hold. Few people ever move beyond that.”
    Wah, wah, wah……..
    Jason, what a pitifully insane statement to spew forth to rational adults. Great example of reversed projection.
    It’s people like you that believes in the insane concept of an invisible middle eastern sky god, and during a discussion where adults question the truth and evidence of radical stupidities, you call the questioners close minded accepter of lies. Of course, because you already have all the answers, if only we would believe.
    You very much sound like someone who’s trying to convice himself of his own irrational views by attacking others,
    much like other closet non-believers I’ve know in the past until they were ready to make the jump to reality. In the future, when you grow out of the Santa Claus and Easter Bunny phase of your life, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see you here posting as an ardent and reformed realist, of course under another name.
    The truth will set you free!

  48. #48 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    I’m jaded toward the tooth faerie too and big foot.

  49. #49 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    tacitus:

    That is the personal feelings of King David, who was understandably pissed off. Also, the covenant of the time used war and punishment — the new covenant introduced by Jesus was one of love.

    That being said, it’s not that God isn’t angry about sin and He is just. But through the sacrifice and victory of Jesus, He provides a way out.

  50. #50 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    Do alittledance makealittlelove get down tonight.

  51. #51 Rocky
    July 27, 2006

    As Rocky claims, most people don’t even read the Bible they believe in, how would I expect that those who don’t believe would be any different?
    Posted by: M Petersen | July 27, 2006 03:10 PM

    Yes sir, I agree, but if you read through the feedback, many or most of the commenters have read and been exposed to the bible. I still read it as an interesting history source. As I believe PZ noted above, the teachings of Jesus has many great value lessons of life, many, as a secular humanist I greatly strive to live to. I have many good and close Christian friends that I greatly admire for their actions, not their words. My friends and I often agree on the philosophical reasons for living a good moral life are often agreed on, we just have different path for doing so.
    Having said that, the concern is the witch burning fervor of radical evangelists that are fine with forcing their views down everyone throats at gunpoint. A casual reading of history, recent or past, demonstrates the distinct danger of this path.

  52. #52 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Love passages like this from the “good” book:

    32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
    Ah, yes. So those people who have sex for pleasure are worthy of death. One more for the “Jesus/God is an asshole” file.

    Ah, no. Not sure where you get the “sex for pleasure” thing. You’re quite free to have all the sex for pleasure you want, as it was meant, within the marriage relationship of a man to a woman.

  53. #53 quork
    July 27, 2006

    Also, the covenant of the time used war and punishment — the new covenant introduced by Jesus was one of love.

    You seem to disagree with Matthew on that point:

    Matt 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

  54. #54 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Having said that, the concern is the witch burning fervor of radical evangelists that are fine with forcing their views down everyone throats at gunpoint. A casual reading of history, recent or past, demonstrates the distinct danger of this path.

    I couldn’t agree more.

  55. #55 Greg Peterson
    July 27, 2006

    Since Paul wrote his shit decades before the Gospels were written, what makes folks think he was destorting Jesus’ message? Couldn’t it just as easily be that Paul got it right, Jesus was a dick, and then Matt and Jack and Mark and Luke came along to soften things? OK, I don’t think that’s what happened (and seriously question if there ever really WAS a Jesus as anything more than a literary creation), but it’s at least as plausible.

    And for fine biblical quote mining, my favorite passage is probably this:

    “If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.” Deuteronomy 22:28&29, Living Bible

  56. #56 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    quork: No I don’t disagree with Jesus in the book of Matthew at all.

    Jesus didn’t come to fulfill the messianic prophecies in the way that the Jews of that time thought he would. He didn’t bring peace to the earth, establish his kingdom as King of the Jews, and save them all from their persecution and hardship and bring peace.

    The above passage speaks about the consequence of being obedient to the command of Jesus that we are to preach his message. Some will listen and accept it but many will reject it and react violently.

    Christians will be hated for the message of repentance that they have to bring, because it calls people from evil to light. For many it will mean that even our own family will turn against us.

    The sword referred to here is the sword of division that God’s word brings — truth from error. The sword that Jesus brings, is the sword that his followers have to suffer, a sword that is applied to them, not a sword that they wield against others.

    And exactly that happens in many countries. The fellowship of believers, while full of peace, incurs the wrath of the nonbelievers. Christians are gathering peacefully, yet are persecuted.

    Now, as I’ve said before, not all people who called themselves Christians were obedient to Jesus’ commands and caused their own violence and persecution in the name of God. But this was not part of Jesus message.

  57. #57 False Prophet
    July 27, 2006

    If I didn’t reject the idea of fate, I’d swear it wasn’t coincidence that PZ brings up this passage the day after I read John Shelby Spong’s interpretation of it. Here’s Spong’s moneyquote:

    Yes, I am convinced that Paul of Tarsus was a gay man, deeply repressed, self-loathing, rigid in denial, bound by the law that he hoped could keep this thing, that he judged to be so unacceptable, totally under control, a control so profound that even Paul did not have to face this fact about himself. But repression kills. It kills the repressed one and sometimes the defensive anger found in the repressed one also kills those who challenge, threaten or live out the thing that this repressed person so deeply fears.

    -John Shelby Spong, The Sins of Scripture, p. 140

  58. #58 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    It comes down to the fact that it’s just a book. And most of it is long, boring and cruel.

  59. #59 Don
    July 27, 2006

    Actually, that passage makes a lot of sense. I was about 12 when I first rejected religion and discovered evolution, and it’s true; I was pretty much overwhelmed by the lust in my heart, became disobedient towards my parents and developed an unhealthy interest in ‘women (who) did change the natural use into that which is against nature’. I also developed spots, I’m guessing that was god showing how pissed off he was.

  60. #60 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Greg:

    Paul didn’t distort any of Jesus message.

    Jesus as anything more than a literary creation? Ok, I’ve gotten into this before and didn’t get very far, even though there is no reasonable doubt in any historian’s mind that Jesus existed. Though it would be quite the literary creation, written over hundreds of years, in different regions and countries, in different languages, by people who knew nothing of each other, and Jesus fulfilling ALL of the prophecies (see http://www.contenderministries.org/prophecy/jesusmessiah2.php) — almost as if it were true.

  61. #61 Ray H
    July 27, 2006

    Ah, no. Not sure where you get the “sex for pleasure” thing. You’re quite free to have all the sex for pleasure you want, as it was meant, within the marriage relationship of a man to a woman.

    verses 24 and 26

    24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves
    26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    “the natural use” pretty clearly refers to childbearing, and if not then the big guy needs to find a better copy editor.

  62. #62 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    I dunno if he acutally existed.

    There’s arguments that he was an amalgam of people and prophets that were
    coalesced into one individual.

    There was plenty of written history at the time of his supposed existence but no one bothered to write about him until 60-100 years after his apparent death.

    He only appears in the bible. Not in any writing of other cultures of the time.

    I would think that someone rising from the dead would be a big deal.

    Apparently not. Or he didn’t exist. Or his story was so ordinary it went unnoticed.

  63. #63 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Ray H:
    No, no referring to child-bearing at all. It is referring to unnatural sexual relations. Then in Verse 27, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

  64. #64 Ray H
    July 27, 2006

    So by “unnatural sexual relations” you mean head? well then god is still an asshole, isn’t he?

  65. #65 j
    July 27, 2006

    And what is that due penalty?

  66. #66 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Steve_C: We’ve been over this in the previous rapture post. In it, I named at least 6 other places/authors where Jesus appears.

  67. #67 Robster
    July 27, 2006

    My favorite passages have to do with pagan worship, and “Baal’s sweet tooth“.

    (Hosea 3:1): “…Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they love the sacred raisin cakes.”

    Later, I’m off to get a bagel. Perhaps with… RAISINS!

  68. #68 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    j: I have no idea.

  69. #69 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    MPETE I stopped reading your posts there after a while.
    Way too long and way too much cut and pasting.

  70. #70 Shan
    July 27, 2006

    I don’t see a problem with those passages. They seem to be condemning idolatry and other practices that are believed to be immoral.

  71. #71 j
    July 27, 2006

    Shan, perhaps there wouldn’t be a problem with the passages if they weren’t being interpreted to deny certain people–homosexuals, for instance–their rights. In fact, maybe I wouldn’t have a problem with the Bible at all if it weren’t exerting such a powerful force in our legislation, legislation that affects non-believers as well as believers. Abortion bans, gay marriage bans, stem cell research bans…all are, to some extent, religiously motivated.

  72. #72 Greg Peterson
    July 27, 2006

    M Peterson: I can’t really be bothered. For one thing, I know this material quite a bit better than you do. The vast majority of what are taken to be “prophecies” are just OT passages that no sane person would have read as a prophecy of anything, appropriated and then incorporated into NT texts. As for the mentions of Jesus…come on. Which ones are you touting? Josephus? Tacitus? Which ones? Because they are all considerably after the alledged Christ event, or are obvious and acknowledged fabrications and interpolations. The truth is, there is NO independent verification of anything to do with the Christ myth within 100 years of his supposed birth. Nothing at all. In this regard, the Christ legend is indistinguishable from several other legends. Christianity just won out in a sort of Darwinian selection for “favorite beleif system,” radically boosted by its official adoption under Constantine. Let’s not pretend that there is anything like facts or evidence to support your favorite bed-time story, OK?

    Here, I don’t agree with everything on this site, but at least it answers a good deal of your nonsense:
    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/index.html

  73. #73 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    Ummmm yeah.

    http://www.atheists.org/christianity/didjesusexist.html

    They Should Have Noticed

    John E. Remsburg, in his classic book The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence (The Truth Seeker Company, NY, no date, pp. 24-25), lists the following writers who lived during the time, or within a century after the time, that Jesus is supposed to have lived:

    Josephus
    Philo-Judæus
    Seneca
    Pliny Elder
    Arrian
    Petronius
    Dion Pruseus
    Paterculus
    Suetonius
    Juvenal
    Martial
    Persius
    Plutarch
    Pliny Younger
    Tacitus
    Justus of Tiberius
    Apollonius
    Quintilian
    Lucanus
    Epictetus
    Hermogones Silius Italicus
    Statius
    Ptolemy
    Appian
    Phlegon
    Phædrus
    Valerius Maximus
    Lucian
    Pausanias
    Florus Lucius
    Quintius Curtius
    Aulus Gellius
    Dio Chrysostom
    Columella
    Valerius Flaccus
    Damis
    Favorinus
    Lysias
    Pomponius Mela
    Appion of Alexandria
    Theon of Smyrna

    According to Remsburg, “Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.” Nor, we may add, do any of these authors make note of the Disciples or Apostles – increasing the embarrassment from the silence of history concerning the foundation of Christianity.

  74. #74 Martin Rundkvist
    July 27, 2006

    A cool thing about that passage in Romans is that it’s followed by the following:

    “2:1 Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things.”

    I think I could really get into this quote mining thing.

  75. #75 idlemind
    July 27, 2006

    I don’t think Saul of Tarsus changed much when he shifted his allegiance from one authority to another. His attempts to exert control over the early church are of a piece with his earlier attempts to persecute believers, except that he saw an opportunity to lead the movement, and not just be an enforcer. I’m not saying that he didn’t believe in what he preached — largely, I think he did. But he’s got more in common with the TV preachers of today than with the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount.

  76. #76 mjs
    July 27, 2006

    Give me that old time religion Audio File: Deuteronomy 21:15-17.

    Oh, and there’s this as well: a cartoon depicting how some Christianist believers view non-believers.

    +++

  77. #77 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Greg: I’m sure you are the foremost historian on this matter, otherwise you wouldn’t be claiming to know more than me (though you have no idea what I know or don’t know). Also, I’m quite sure you have researched it thoroughly and published extensive papers with facts, otherwise you wouldn’t be referring me to the writings of Kenneth Humphreys.

    Here are the ones I mentioned:

    Highly reliable sources. There are two of these: Tacitus and Josephus.

    Moderately reliable sources. We find three: Thallus, Pliny, and Lucian.

    Marginally reliable or unreliable sources. Three are in this class: Suetonius, the letter of Mara Bar-Serapion, and the Talmud.

    http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/jesusexisthub.html

    I’ve also refuted the “myth” idea in the previous thread.

    From http://www.michaelhorner.com/articles/resurrection/appearances.html:

    Professor A.N. Sherwin-White, an eminent historian of Roman and Greek history, has studied the rate at which myths were formed in the ancient Near East. He chides New Testament critics for not recognizing the quality of the New Testament documents compared to the sources he must work with in Roman and Greek history. Those sources are usually removed from the events they describe by generations or even centuries. Despite when they were written though and the typically biased approach of the writers, he says historians can confidently reconstruct what actually happened.

    In stark contrast, Professor Sherwin-White tells us that for the gospels to be legendary, more generations would have been needed between the events and their compilation. He has found that even the span of two full generations (50-80 years) is not long enough for legend to wipe out the hard core of historical fact.7 Even the late dating of the gospels meets that criteria, let alone the early dating! In addition, there is no example in history where legendary stories supplanted the historical core in the same geographical location in less than two generations. The legends about Jesus the critics are looking for do exist, but they arose in the second century – consistent with the two-generation time frame discovered by Professor Sherwin-White – when all the eyewitnesses had died off. Thus, the trust-worthiness of the gospel accounts is highly probable because there just wasn’t enough time for mythical tendencies to creep in and prevail over historical fact.

    If you don’t like Sherwin-White, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Robinson_(1919-1983):
    John A.T. Robinson

    Robinson concluded that New Testament was written before AD 64, partly based on his judgement there is little textual evidence that the New Testament reflects knowledge of the Temple’s AD 70 destruction. C. H. Dodd, in a frank letter to Robinson wrote: “I should agree with you that much of the late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton, the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that, if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church, he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud.” [1] Robinson’s call for redating the New Testament was echoed by subsequent scholarship such as John Wenham’s work Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem. Other subsequent works calling for redating of some or all of the gospels were written by such scholars as Claude Tresmontant, Gunther Zuntz, Carsten Peter Thiede, Eta Linneman, Harold Riley, Bernard Orchard. [2]

    In relation to the four gospels dates of authorship, according to Norman Geisler, “Robinson places Matthew at 40 to after 60, Mark at about 45 to 60, Luke at before 57 to after 60, and John at from 40 to after 65.” [3] Robinson went on to state that the book of James was penned by a brother of the Jesus Christ within twenty years of Jesus’ death, that Paul authored all the books that bear his name, and that John, the apostle, wrote the fourth Gospel. Dr. Robinson believed the result of his investigations argued for the rewriting of many theologies of the New Testament.[4] [5]

  78. #78 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    None of these were written AT THE TIME of jesus’ apparent existence.

    Myth theory is all very interesting but it’s not evidence.

  79. #79 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    On Kenneth Humphreys: http://www.tektonics.org/gk/humphreysk01.html

    On Remsberg:
    http://tektonics.org/qt/remslist.html

    In almost all cases, Remsberg’s writers are the sort who would not mention Jesus anyway (being writers of either fiction, poetry, or on mundane and practical matters like oratory and agriculture, or historians or writers of another time or place). The few left over, like Plutarch or Tacitus, either did mention Jesus or else would be too bigoted to make the special diversion, unless (as with Tacitus) they had some corollary reason to look into the movement (Tacitus was trying to show Nero’s cruelty).

    My challenge to skeptics: Show me why each of these writers should have mentioned Jesus. Remsberg’s say-so ain’t gonna cut it.

  80. #80 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Myth theory is all very interesting but it’s not evidence.

    My point exactly, it isn’t evidence that Jesus was a myth.

  81. #81 Stogoe
    July 27, 2006

    Seve_C, I hate to play ‘christian’s advocate’ here, but isn’t it possible that all the writing regarding jesus around his ‘time’ was either all bundled up into what we call the bible or was burned and disavowed as ‘not the sort of jesus we’d like to be hanging around’?

  82. #82 commissarjs
    July 27, 2006

    What evidence do you have that Jesus fulfilled any prophecies outside of selected letters and treatises written by his followers which were translated through several languages before being compiled nearly 300 years later by a pagan emperor? There is exactly the same amount of evidence that Jesus fed a large crowd with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread that Zeus imprisoned Typhon under Mount Etna. Which is to say none. If you have evidence then provide it. Not hyperbole, antecdote, or theological mumbo jumbo but actual evidence. The miraculous accounts in the bible are in stark contrast to the writings of Josephus.

  83. #83 Greg Peterson
    July 27, 2006

    My degree in biblical studies is from a conservative Christian college. I’m a foremost authority on nothing–I just find that most Christians can’t hold a candle to my understanding of their scriptures. I apologize if I stepped on your toes, M.

    I should also point out that I don’t personally hold to the notion that Jesus was purely a mythical creation–but I do have serious questions about his historical existence. It seems surpassingly strange that no other record exists of him within 100 years of his birth other than that cobbled together by his ostensive followers. You’re wrong about Josephus and Tacitus, of course. I can’t imagine a serious scholar entertaining for a moment that those references are helpful. The dating of the authorship can at least me debated, but I do not think an early dating more probable. And the “scholars” you cite are literalist ideologues. I came to my position through a process of weighting the arguments most heavily that I found, on balance, most compelling. This cannot be what such Christian apologists have done, or they would not be able to make such confident, ignorant claims.

  84. #84 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    It isn’t evidence he wasn’t.

    You can’t quote the bible as evidence, or writers that had heard about him 40-70 years later.

    You say James’ was his brother and his writings are proof. But he’s IN THE BIBLE.

  85. #85 aiabx
    July 27, 2006

    Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

    This is my new .sig

  86. #86 commissarjs
    July 27, 2006

    I find it hard to believe that prominent historians and authors wouldn’t write about the miraculous powers of a god made flesh. Walking on water, creating food, turning water to wine, raising the dead, and coming back from the dead are all pretty hefty magic powers. You would think that in between commenting on local politics and weather that they could be bothered to notice that.

  87. #87 JohnJB
    July 27, 2006

    The argument that there wasn’t enough time for the mythmaking to have occured, like Sherwin-White’s above, begs the question.

    It presumes an historical Jesus born about 3 BCE and then works from there.

  88. #88 Sastra
    July 27, 2006

    Sastra wrote:

    Nonbelievers don’t need to be persuaded like well-intentioned equals: they can only be chastized and condemned. Nice.

    M Petersen responded

    I don’t think that’s what Paul is saying here. They need to be persuaded, but if they don’t believe they will be condemned. It’s not up to humans to judge, but to love.

    Thanks for the reply.
    In my post I said that the most common interpretation of Romans 19-21 which I have encountered could be paraphrased something like “deep down, all people know that God exists.”

    In other words, persuasion won’t work if people are not being honest with themselves and ignore what they already are aware of. That God made the world is as self-evident as the world itself – what we can know of God is “manifest in us, for God has shown it to us.” There aren’t any *real* atheists or nonbelievers (people who are sincerely mistaken, instead of people who deliberately and willfully turn from truth out of a desire to rebel.)

    Do you see that as (in part) a reasonable interpretation? Do you believe that yourself?

  89. #89 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    Ok, I’m not an historian, but it seems to me there is a pretty solid logical argument for the historical reality of this Jesus guy.

    The prophecies were very clear that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the hometown of David. Nobody in Jesus’ time would have been taken seriously as a potential Messiah unless they had been born in Bethlehem (and were a descendant of David).

    So Jesus, the Gospels tell us, was born in Bethlehem in accordance with the prophecies. But the Gospels have to create elaborate, unlikely, and ultimately silly stories to explain how Jesus could have been born in Bethlehem since everybody knew the adult Jesus was a native of Galilee, far to the north of Bethlehem.

    Why go to the trouble if your Jesus is a fictional character? Just say he was from Bethlehem. He was born there and grew up there. Make up some good stories about his childhood in Bethlehem – the hero’s precociousness as a child is usually a part of mythmaking.

    But the problem is that everybody knew Jesus was from Galilee. He probably had a rustic Galilean drawl, and most of his buddies were from Galilee. This was an historical reality that had to be reconciled with the prophecies, and so you get goofy stories about how a guy everybody knew was from Galilee was actually born in faraway Bethlehem during a brief sojourn there by his parents. Such gymnastics are only needed because it was necessary to reconcile the fiction with the reality.

    So think of it as a thought experiment, perhaps. If there was no historical Jesus, if he was pure fiction, give me a reason why Jesus was a Galilean.

  90. #90 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    The story is so kooky it’s gotta be real?
    Is that your argument?

  91. #91 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    No, that wouldn’t be my argument. Maybe try reading it again.

  92. #92 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    And I’m saying you’re using the book as proof of an historical jesus.

    I dunno why is Santa Claus from the north pole?

  93. #93 Zombie
    July 27, 2006

    “If there was no historical Jesus, if he was pure fiction, give me a reason why Jesus was a Galilean.”

    Because whoever wrote Matthew was trying to shoehorn Jesus into more than prophecy.

    It doesn’t do much to address the lack of corroborating evidence…

  94. #94 George
    July 27, 2006

    If Jesus is completely fake, I don’t care if he ascended into heaven. He can ascend to heaven, walk on water, and fart in Judas’ face for all I care.

    If he is real, I do care if people say he did weird stuff like ascend to “heaven,” because people don’t do that in my universe, and people who call themselves sons of “God” are kookballs in my universe, no matter how nice their message might be.

  95. #95 Leon
    July 27, 2006

    No Steve, I think Max is onto something. People wouldn’t be weaving elaborate explanations for how Jesus could be from Bethlehem if they didn’t need to, for some reason. Of course it doesn’t prove there was a historical Jesus, but it does seem to lean in that direction. I don’t know myself one way or another; I tend to think there probably was one, just that he didn’t have all the mystical powers he’s said to have had.

  96. #96 MHB
    July 27, 2006

    Ah, no. Not sure where you get the “sex for pleasure” thing. You’re quite free to have all the sex for pleasure you want, as it was meant, within the marriage relationship of a man to a woman.
    Posted by: M Petersen | July 27, 2006 03:33 PM

    So M Peterson, as a polygamist, you’re getting all the biblical sex you can stand? So can you have sex with more than one wife at a time? And is it ok to commit sodomy with your wives, but not with another guy? It’s impossible to tell which version of Christianity you’re spouting here… Or are you letting man’s law interfere with your following god’s law, and sticking with monogamy?

    Do you really think readers of this blog lump all theists together? Perhaps as it relates to infecting science with myth or religion, but clearly most posters here understand nuances within belief systems. Jerry Falwell is clearly not the same as William Sinkford, but that doesn’t mean either should be imposing their religions on science.

    Theists coming here complaining about anti-religious bigotry is kind of like the KKK going to a NAACP site complaining about Black on White discrimination.

    Included at The Skeptics Annotated Bible noted above,
    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/
    are the The Skeptics Annotated Quran and Book of Mormon.

  97. #98 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    There could be historical reasons for them to twist it that way.
    Did prophecies at the time state that Christ would be born in Bethlehem?
    There’s lots of reasons why.

    There aren’t too many reason why contemporary or non biblical accounts don’t exist.

    Who writes stories 40 years later?

    Holy crap this dude walked on water! I’ll wait 40 years to write it down.

  98. #99 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    Because whoever wrote Matthew was trying to shoehorn Jesus into more than prophecy.

    It doesn’t do much to address the lack of corroborating evidence…

    Why would all these big-time Greek and Roman writers mention some wannabe-Messiah foreigner from some colonial backwater who got himself killed 5 minutes into his revolution? You’re projecting his importance backward anachronistically.

    And, pray tell, what was was Matthew trying to “shoe-horn” Jesus into other than prophecy? Seriously, tell me what purpose is served by making Jesus a Galilean if Jesus weren’t, in fact, a Galilean?

  99. #100 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    Holy crap this dude walked on water! I’ll wait 40 years to write it down.

    The guy never actually walked on water. Duh. But that doesn’t mean there was no historical Jesus.

    There was a war between the Greeks and the Trojans, we now know, just as we read in The Iliad. But that doesn’t mean Athena was flying around the battlefield grabbing people by the hair and deflecting spears.

  100. #101 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    Because that’s what he heard someone say?
    I dunno. To substantiate him walking on water near a fishing village?
    To make the story more believable?

    They did have 40 years to get their story straight.

  101. #102 Zombie
    July 27, 2006

    “And, pray tell, what was was Matthew trying to “shoe-horn” Jesus into other than prophecy?”

    Typo on my part. More than /one/ prophecy. Including some that require Jesus to be from Galilee as well. The Christianists have whole lists of these things, apparently.

  102. #103 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    I guess there’s an emotional reason you can’t see the lack of logic in your responses. I don’t know any way to address that.

  103. #104 Steve_C
    July 27, 2006

    I understand your reasoning.
    I’m just saying it’s not all that compelling.
    Why would ANYONE wait to write these things down.
    Even the gospels were written WAY after he apparently died.

    Yes it is likely he existed. I’m just saying even that is largely based on faith.

  104. #105 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    More than /one/ prophecy. Including some that require Jesus to be from Galilee as well. The Christianists have whole lists of these things, apparently.

    The post above was for Steve_C

    The prophecies were (and are) very clear about the Messiah comming from Bethlehem. Christians have retro-fitted some OT versus as “prophecies” of Jesus’ more complicated origins. But anybody who reads Matthew and Luke can see that the fairy tale accounts of Jesus’ birth were tacked on because it was important to reconcile the inconveniently historical Galilean with the undisputable requirements of the prophecies.

    It’s clear to me there was an historical Jesus. He was from Galilee. Which was a bit of a problem for those who insisted he was the Messiah even after he got himself killed, but they made do. And now we have to deal with all this goddamn Christmas music.

  105. #106 Max Udargo
    July 27, 2006

    Yes it is likely he existed. I’m just saying even that is largely based on faith.

    Okay… I understand… completely. Sure.

  106. #107 Michael J
    July 27, 2006

    Leaving aside the apologists most biblical scholars believe in a historical Jesus but that is where it stops. Most of the scholars have very divergant views on who was Jesus. Given the lack of information it is easy to make him whoever you want him to be. Especially since Paul and the Gospels differ quite a bit. The mythicists point to lack of earthly details around Jesus in Paul’s writing (which are thought to be the earliest writings) means that Paul thought Jesus only existed in some astral plane.

    Michael

  107. #108 George
    July 27, 2006

    People who want to believe the kooky stuff in the New Testament are the spiritual descendents of the nuts who wanted to believe it back then. Today’s nuts cling to their beliefs in the face of lots of science, so they should be considered even nuttier than the Christians of 2,000 years ago. By nutty, I mean believing in Heaven, God, and Jesus rising from the dead.

    It’s a losing battle. Take a moral message from the New Testament books, embrace an existential Jesus, but give up trying to defend what can only be considered sheer fantasy. It’s made-up. Human beings excel at making stuff up (just look at all he kooks who are doing it today).

  108. #109 Owlmirror
    July 27, 2006

    Since everyone’s talking about Jesus anyway…

    One of the things I’ve seen on the web is the assertion that Jesus and his apostles were actually Zealots dedicated to the overthrow of Roman rule.

    That might explain, for example, the seemingly contradictory words and deeds that have been noted: When he was somewhere that Romans might hear about, he was all diplomatic and “Render unto Caeser”; when he was with Zealot sympathizers, he would drop the meek act and start talking about swords, and leaving your family to follow him.

    Has anyone else seen this interpretation? Is it something serious historians think is possible?

  109. #110 CanuckRob
    July 27, 2006

    Has anyone else noticed that bibilical literalists and faith based “thinkers” actually espouse a more Darwinian view of humans than most Darwininas do? Prohibitions about contraception and that sex is only for procreation sounds like something a selfish gene would say, not a human that has the benefit of culture and the ability to control it. Anti-environmentalism, the attitude of just take what you need to survive now and the future will have to take are of itself, sounds like what the religous say is the atheist view. Controlling women and in particular their reproductive systems, forced child birth (no abortions) is also something our selfish genes (at least male ones:)) might say.

    If you accept this idea then what does that say about any possible morality that can come out of religion. However when we think about the evolution of human morality it looks like we got the ability to be more moral than our genes or religions want us to be.

    I can only hope that all this religous nonsense is a temporary glitch in the minds of many Americans, that you will reboot in 2008 and that the rest of the world can stop thinking that many (most?) of your elected representatives are nutbars.

  110. #111 GH
    July 27, 2006

    They need to be persuaded, but if they don’t believe they will be condemned

    How loving is this? If anyone, even one soul right know as we scroll on about this is in an eternal state of suffering then it cannot possibly be blamed on that individuals actions. If one has the power to stop torture/suffering one should stop it.

  111. #112 Pierce R. Butler
    July 27, 2006

    there is no example in history where legendary stories supplanted the historical core in the same geographical location in less than two generations.

    Parson Weems cranked out his Life of George Washington in 1800, one year after Washington’s death, and his absurd lies about the cherry tree, throwing the coin across the Potomac, etc, seem to have become common currency almost immediately.
    Or would you prefer to compare the historical reality of, say, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, to the whitewashed versions being sold to the US public these days?

  112. #113 Scott Hatfield
    July 27, 2006

    With respect to your question, it is widely accepted that Judas Iscariot was a Zealot. Less widely held, but intriguing, is the suggestion that the Zealots had a falling-out with Jesus, leading to his betrayal, or (as others suggest) a staged ‘betrayal’ that went bad when the authorities double-crossed the Nazarene.

    I don’t get too worked up over that. The most common-sense interpretation of the Gospels as a whole is that Jesus claimed his kingdom was ‘not of this world’, such that even the literal-minded Christian is unlikely to claim that Jesus himself was advocating the use of real swords. It’s ironic that even fundamentalists invoke metaphor when they’ve got a particularly thorny passage.

    Scott

  113. #114 GH
    July 27, 2006

    The most common-sense interpretation of the Gospels as a whole is that Jesus claimed his kingdom was ‘not of this world’

    Perhaps, but I doubt this is as common sense as you seem to think it is.

  114. #115 naturalist
    July 27, 2006

    It does not matter if a man named Jesus existed or not, the point is that there is no tangible proof that any Christian can show that their beliefs have any or ever had any validity. All they go on are the words of one book and what other historical texts exist. MPeterson set up an experiment for us with evidence from your so-called holy book and prove that there is right now unequivocally a force called God and/or someone called Jesus Christ.

  115. #116 George
    July 27, 2006

    If Jesus was real, he has to be rated one of the most successful people ever at what he did – getting people to accept his sayings and creating a cult to himself.

    He deserves credit (doesn’t he?) for figuring out how to be more successful at what he did than almost any other person in history.

    I guess my question is, why did he do it? Was the kooky stuff (God) the most important thing to him, or did he care more about spreading his radical egalitarian ideas? Did he see his God ideas and his radical ideas about caring for others as inseparable?

  116. #117 George Cauldron
    July 27, 2006

    Ok, I’m not an historian, but it seems to me there is a pretty solid logical argument for the historical reality of this Jesus guy.

    To me the arguments about whether Jesus actually existed seem rather irrelevant, and unprovable either way. We know for a rock solid fact that Mohammad existed, and yet no one’s giving that as an argument in favor of Islam. Jesus probably existed, it’s unprovable, the point is, is there any concrete reason to believe any of the supernatural things attributed to Jesus in the bible? Nope. Do we have any way of refuting the idea that he was just a Jew with a mystical bent who was pissed off about the stuff the Rabbis were doing and saying? Not at all.

    Joseph Smith was definitely real, too, but that doesn’t mean there’s any reason to believe that the angel Moroni gave him the Book of Mormon on gold plates in 1823.

  117. #118 rob
    July 27, 2006

    “Christians will be hated for the message of repentance that they have to bring, because it calls people from evil to light.”

    bullshit. it gives you license to do or say whatever you please and still have an out.

    i worked with an evangelical man who was convinced that the end times would come during my lifetime. i asked him if, when it became apparent that the end was nigh, i’d have time to repent and secure my passage to heaven. “sure,” he said.

    now, whether he was right or not (according to scripture) is irrelevant. the scary thing is that he and his ilk shrug off the consequences of immoral behaviour, expecting that god will be happy to sweep it under the rug in exchange for a few hushed words of forced, disingenuous praise.

    being an atheist is hard. when we make bad decisions, there are real consequences and no one to bear the responsibility but ourselves. there is no repentance. there are only remorse, reparation and lessons learned.

    if christians are hated for the message of repantance, it’s because they use it as an instrument of cowardice.

  118. #119 Molly, NYC
    July 27, 2006

    So by “unnatural sexual relations” you mean head?

    Atheists/agnostics/people who have trouble taking religion seriously don’t proslytise–they don’t have to–but they have their conversion stories, just like the “Look at me! I’m a Christian!” crowd.

    The stories show up in this blog now and again, and they mostly go along the lines of: “When I was in my teens, I thought about it and decided religion was a lot of crap.” All very intellectual.

    Only a cynical person would notice that these conversions seem to occur at about the same time in life most people start giving serious thought to having a sex life.

    Hmmm. Jesus? Or hot, sweaty unnatural relations?

    Somehow, you all left out that part out.

  119. #120 Narc
    July 28, 2006

    It is referring to unnatural sexual relations.

    Um, homosexuality has been observed in hundreds of animal species, both in the wild, and in captivity. Unnatural? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  120. #121 Henry Holland
    July 28, 2006

    I’m currently listening to one of my favorite albums, the original Decca verion of Jesus Christ Superstar in my car as I drive to work. I’ve loved this album since I heard it in 1970 as a 10 year old, despite already being an atheist. Anyway, I love this bit of lyric from the song Superstar:

    Tell me what you think about your friends at the top
    Who’d you think besides yourself’s the pick of the crop?
    Buddha was he where it’s at? Is he where you are?
    Could Mohammed move a mountain or was that just PR?

  121. #122 Scott Hatfield
    July 28, 2006

    GH:

    Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the expression ‘common-sense’, if only because it implies a conceptual framework we might not share.

    Let me make the argument another way: in Christianity today, there’s no shortage of aggressive, even warlike use of language in the evangelical churches. Yahweh is a ‘mighty king’, a ‘warrior God’, the ‘Lord of hosts’, and so forth. Present-day judgement is directed at the perceived enemies of Christendom (folks like me, especially) in the fiercest of terms. And, the Last Judgement, with its Tribulation and Armageddon, are eagerly awaited as ‘the Final Battle’ between Good and Evil.

    Well, all of that just turns me off. I don’t care for any of that. But, rhetoric aside, I can objectively report what they actually believe and teach, and I have to tell you the bellicose believer I’ve described would be the first to tell you that Jesus’s Kingdom was ‘not of this world’ and that it was not his intent to lead a rebellion, command an army etc. The irony, as I mentioned, is that these folks tend to take the most literal interpretation but this is a case where even militant fundamentalists feel obliged to report metaphor.

    Now, maybe it doesn’t seem like common sense to you, but if these folk don’t promote a militant interpretation, who would take it that way, and why?

    Thanks for your reply…Scott

  122. #123 CaptainMike
    July 28, 2006

    “Hmmm. Jesus? Or hot, sweaty unnatural relations?
    Somehow, you all left out that part out.: – Molly, NYC

    Actually Molly my full conversion to atheism came roughly twenty years after I entered puberty, but I had rejected Christianity before then, roughly at age 10.

    By the way, I’m not sure what you consider natural and I don’t care. But my wives, husband, and all our children are quite pissed as they think you are defaming our family.

    Sexual behaviour of any kind is not unnatural. Some of it is wrong and some of it is deeply evil, but not unnatural.

    I met a woman once who told me that gay sex was worse than bestiality because you’re not supposed to play mix and match with genders.

    In my opinion it is the ability to give consent that holds the deciding vote. This is why having sex with a consenting adult(s) is okay, but having sex with a goat is not.

    If the goat is obviously into it…I mean really coming onto you, then that’s probably okay. But I wouldn’t risk it.

    Since I can’t seem to leave the sex thing alone, could someone please tell me why polygamy is so universally decried? I understand why a man having lots of wives in order to control their wombs is wrong, but why must my family be lumped in with religious zealots and cultists? Polyamory can be a wonderful thing.

  123. #124 Mnemosyne
    July 28, 2006

    It’s kind of funny that people today assume that Paul was railing against the kind of gay relationships we see today when in fact he was probably referring to the “entertainments” that emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nero liked to stage for the masses during Paul’s lifetime. When you’ve got donkeys fucking women in the Colisseum in front of a cheering crowd of thousands, you too might come up with this kind of condemnation.

    Historical context, ladies and gentlemen. Until you understand that the Beast referenced in Revelation is the Emperor Nero, who gloried in having Christians publicly torn apart by wild animals, you’re going to make a lot of very silly pronouncements about Biblical “prophecy.”

  124. #125 CaptainMike
    July 28, 2006

    “When you’ve got donkeys fucking women in the Colisseum in front of a cheering crowd of thousands, you too might come up with this kind of condemnation.” – Mnemosyne

    Wrong. I’d love to see this but I have basic cable.

  125. #126 RyanG
    July 28, 2006

    Everyone knows Superman was born on Krypton, but the writers included a convoluted explanation showing how he could also be from Kansas. Clearly, they must have needed to explain why the real Superman has a Kansas accent and friends. Therefore, Superman must have existed.

  126. #127 moioci
    July 28, 2006

    I read this a little differently than some. Could this passage be referring to Dobson, et al?

    1Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

    23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

    25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections:

    The creature here would not be God’s creation, but theirs: their distortion of His/Her messsage for their own purposes. The vile affections thing just follows naturally.

  127. #128 bernarda
    July 28, 2006

    As earlier mention, the passages are mostly unintelligible. The few that make a clear point are nonsense. What does “against nature” mean. Anything in nature, including the behavior of animals, cannot be against nature. It is part of nature.

    Paul gets the order of god belief wrong. People worshipped plants and animals and other things before they invented the invisible thing they now say they believe in.

    For that matter, Paul knew nothing of jesus or the disciples. He himself says that he gets his ideas only from revelations and visions. Of course there is no evidence or proof of any of them. Mohammed was a similar case.

    It makes you wonder if they had the same mental disorder or if they took hallucinogens like amanita muscaria. Both of them were hucksters. Why a xtian should believe in Paul is beyond me for Paul simply created his own religion. It could be called Paulism.

    There is the comment on the covenant. What sense does that make? A covenant is a voluntary agreement between two parties. It is hardly a covenant if god says “do this or else”. If some people were foolish enough to accept such a covenant, that hardly binds their descendants who did not make any agreement. You can’t break an agreement that you didn’t agree to in the first place.

  128. #129 bones
    July 28, 2006

    I agree that he passages are omni-intelligible. This is the same trick Nostradamus uses, the writing could apply to many times/things and is written in a fashion that, almost anyone can get them to mean whatever they want. I would be interested to see what the text actually said in the original language, a pet peeve of mine – bible apologists that point to the “truth” of every word, ignoring the fact those words have been interpreted differently multiple times.

  129. #130 Greco
    July 28, 2006

    Since I can’t seem to leave the sex thing alone, could someone please tell me why polygamy is so universally decried?

    You’re considering “Christian influenced West” as “universal”?

  130. #131 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    Wow, trying to play catch-up here. Sorry if I miss a few.

    Sastra wrote:

    Do you see that as (in part) a reasonable interpretation? Do you believe that yourself?

    I agree that is a reasonable interpretation. Definately, people do not want to believe God exists, because that means they would have to admit sin and its further implications.

  131. #132 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    MHB:
    No, I’m not a polygamist. I’m talking about the Bible.

    When asked about marriage and divorce, Jesus said, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” [Matthew 19:4-6; see also Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31]
    God defines marriage as a man LEAVING HIS FATHER AND MOTHER and uniting to his wife, so that TWO become one flesh.

    The practice of polygamy is clearly found in the Old Testament. Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon are prime examples of Old Testament saints who practiced polygamy. But it must be clearly stated that just because they had multiple wives, doesn’t make it right! At no time does God condone or place His “seal of approval” upon the polygamous practices of these men. In fact, God warned Solomon well in advance to NOT practice polygamy:

    Moses’ instruction to Solomon generations in advance:
    Deuteronomy 17:14-20 is God’s warning against the polygamist practices of Solomon. After stating that the king [Solomon] is not to get riches from Egypt, nor to amass silver or gold, Moses says, “He must not take many wives” [Deut 17:17].

    Polygamy brought problems!:
    Abraham’s household was fractured because of jealousy between Hagar and Sarah.
    Jacob also endured spousal rivalry.
    David’s adulterous tendencies was his downfall, as he approached Bathsheba.
    Solomon’s many wives were a snare to him and drew him into idol worship.

  132. #133 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    Ok, I can’t go over and over evidence again, it’s just too much over this medium of communication.

    The original topic here anyway, is the book of Romans and the areas it discusses, so I will attempt to stick to addressing that.

    How loving is this? If anyone, even one soul right know as we scroll on about this is in an eternal state of suffering then it cannot possibly be blamed on that individuals actions. If one has the power to stop torture/suffering one should stop it.

    I went into this at length in the rapture thread.
    It boils down to God has given us free will to choose whether we want to follow or rebel. It’s your decision. God will wait for you, not wanting anyone to choose to be separated from Him, and when you decide he will receive you with open arms. See the story of the prodigal son. Luke 15:11-32

  133. #134 Caledonian
    July 28, 2006

    Well, that’s a little problem there, Mr. Petersen, because I am in possession of medical evidence showing that men and women who marry do not in fact become tissue grafts of each other. Their flesh remains at all times distinctly separated.

    Clearly, then, God has not ordained that marriage should take place among human beings.

  134. #135 Keith Douglas
    July 28, 2006

    bernarda: Actually, it has been semi-seriously suggested that both Paul and Mohammed were temporal lobe epileptics.

  135. #136 George
    July 28, 2006

    “God” does not define marriage, people do.

  136. #137 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    MPeterson set up an experiment for us with evidence from your so-called holy book and prove that there is right now unequivocally a force called God and/or someone called Jesus Christ.

    naturalist, You propose a very interesting challenge, though I’m not sure you meant what I’m understanding here. You want me to prove God exists using evidence from the Bible? Seems trivial to me, no? How do you experiment with God if you don’t believe He exists?

    Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    Proof: The heavens and the earth exist.

    QED

  137. #138 wintermute
    July 28, 2006

    The prophecies were very clear that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the hometown of David. Nobody in Jesus’ time would have been taken seriously as a potential Messiah unless they had been born in Bethlehem (and were a descendant of David).

    The prophesy is:

    “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

    –Micah 5:2

    Bethlehem Ephratah was not a town but a person, the son of Caleb’s wife Ephratah, who appeared in 1 Chronicles 2. If Matthew had wanted to demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled this prophesy, why not simply include Bethlehem Ephratah in that huge geneology that makes up the first half of his book, instead of editing the prophecy to make it look like it was talking abut a town?

    And if no-one would have taken Jesus seriously without this prophecy having come true, where is the story about him and seven shepherds taking up swords and destroying the Assyrians?

    And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.

    –Micah 5:6

    Of course, given that all the disciples and early Christians were Greeks rather than Jews (why do we use the Greek “Jesus Christ” instead of the Hebrew “Yesua Messiah”, do you think?), they might not have had much of an idea what Jewish prophecy said. Nor might they have cared enough to make sure that the legends they wrote matched exactly with the prophecies.

    Far better to make sure that Jesus teach the same things as Mithras, Attis, Osiris, Elusis, and a whole bunch of other Meditteranian Godmen whose followers cheerfulyl admitted weren’t literally about actual historical people…

  138. #139 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    Well, that’s a little problem there, Mr. Petersen, because I am in possession of medical evidence showing that men and women who marry do not in fact become tissue grafts of each other. Their flesh remains at all times distinctly separated.

    Clearly, then, God has not ordained that marriage should take place among human beings.

    Being one flesh means the sharing of life, not just bodies and material possessions, but thoughts and dreams, joys and sufferings, hopes and fears, successes and failures. In short, it’s being one soul as well as one body.

    In a way this also links to the apostle Paul’s description in Ephesians 5 of the way a husband and wife are to relate: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of his body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:22-32).

    The husband/wife relationship is the integral connection of head to body/body to head = one flesh. The husband who loves his wife loves himself, nourishing and cherishing her as he would his own flesh. This is what it means to be one flesh.

    Dr. Sarah Sumner explains it further:
    “When head is defined as “leader” and body as “helper,” the biblical mystery is lost. What is mysterious about a leader coupled up with his helper? Not very much. Nor is it particularly inspiring. But it is altogether breathtaking to see the biblical picture of body and head joined mysteriously as one. . . . It indicates immediately the organic unity that bonds a husband and wife . . . It’s not so disturbing to imagine a leader breaking up with his assistants, but it is utterly disconcerting to imagine a body being amputated physically from its head. A body belongs to its head and a head belongs to its body. That’s why God hates divorce.”

  139. #140 wintermute
    July 28, 2006

    It boils down to God has given us free will to choose whether we want to follow or rebel. It’s your decision.

    Suppose the government says “Everyone has free speech; after all, we can’t prevent any specific sequence of sounds coming out of your mouth. You can say anything you want to. But obviously there are consequences. If you say anything that can be interpreted as meaning that the President isn’t the wisest and noblest man who ever lived, then we’ll arrest, torture and kill you.”

    Would you accept that as a fair definition of “free speech”? I’m guessing not. Personally, I’d describe that simply as “speech”.

    And yet, when God says “You have free will; you can make any descision you want. But obviously there are consequences. If you don’t decide all on your own to adore and worship me, then I’ll torture you for all eternity.” he gets a free pass on it.

    If you want to give people the ability to make their own choices and live their own lives without being forced to worship you, it doesn’t make sense if then threaten eternal damnation to anyone who dares use that free will.

    A god who will do that sounds like a petulant four-year-old throwing a tantrum.

  140. #141 awhitby
    July 28, 2006

    I’ve always thought of the ‘good book’ as really being the original facist poltical manifesto.

    Aaron

  141. #142 quork
    July 28, 2006

    Bethlehem Ephratah was not a town but a person…

    This is indeed so. Thomas Paine covered this, and all other alleged fulfilled prophesies in the New Testament, in The Age of Reason, part 3. It was first published about 200 years ago, so it is hard to excuse ignorance of its contents.

  142. #143 quork
    July 28, 2006

    and Jesus fulfilling ALL of the prophecies (see http://www.contenderministries.org/prophecy/jesusmessiah2.php) — almost as if it were true.

    Greg: I’m sure you are the foremost historian on this matter, otherwise you wouldn’t be claiming to know more than me (though you have no idea what I know or don’t know).

    I checked out your apologetics site, and it appears you don’t know that Bethlehem Ephrathah was a person, not a town:


    Micah 5:2 speaks of the Messiah’s birthplace as Bethlehem Ephrthah, the town where Jesus was born.

  143. #144 quork
    July 28, 2006

    More on the scholarship of Contend Ministries:

    Here is their OT support for the virgin birth prophecy:

    Jeremiah 31:22: How long will you wander,
    O unfaithful daughter?
    The LORD will create a new thing on earth–
    a woman will surround [a] a man.”

    I don’t see any mention of a virgin there.

    And:

    Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

    There’s a few problems with this:

    1) While the Greek translation available in Matthew’s time says “virgin”, the Hebrew version translates more closely as “maiden”.

    2) The verb was altered from present to future tense to make it appear more like a prediction.

    3) If you read the context, it is referring to events which (allegedly) happened at the time of Isaiah. It is not a messianic prophecy at all.

    You can read about this in Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason, part three: Examination of the Prophecies”, edited and annotated by Frank R. Zindler, American Atheist Press, 1993.

  144. #145 quork
    July 28, 2006

    Indeed, the world would be a better place if more people would read the Bible, because then there would be more atheists.

  145. #146 George
    July 28, 2006

    “Wives, submit to your own husbands.”

    Great advice. Thanks, God.

  146. #148 Peter McGrath
    July 28, 2006

    “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers”

    Did they have a filler cap for each? What happened if fornication went into the hole for debate. Mayhem, I’d guess. That’s the kind of thing that stops the Rapture happening. I’d say. Not very intelligent design, either. Debate. God doesn’t like debate. Or whisperers.

  147. #149 wintermute
    July 28, 2006

    Of course God doesn’t like debate. If people discus things, that leads to them making decisions. And if people are going to make decisions for themselves instead of just accepting God’s word as the Be All And End All, what would the point of giving people free will have been?

  148. #150 George
    July 28, 2006

    I have modernized Ephesians for M.Petersen, omitting the misogyny and removing all vague suppositions and all references to fictitious beings:

    “Wives … for … therefore … that … so … For this reason … I speak …”

  149. #151 quork
    July 28, 2006

    Doesn’t Romans also justify absolute deference to political authorites based upon their selection by God?

    Romans 13:1-7

    [1] Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

    [2] Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

    [3] For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

    [4] For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    [5] Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

    [6] For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

    [7] Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

  150. #152 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    quork:
    You can also look at: http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/bethlehem.htm

    Where it discusses this objection further. Bethlehem was definately a town, and the one in Judah was referred to as Ephrathah in ancient times.

  151. #153 Steve_C
    July 28, 2006

    Does anyone else find it all so very boring and pointless?

  152. #154 HP
    July 28, 2006

    All this talk about the historicity of Jesus, and no mention of Near Eastern mystery cults?

    The ancient Near East — the whole Hellenized and Romanized world — was swarming with virgin-born, died-and-resurrected savior deities. Osiris, Attis, Dionysus, Heracles, Orpheus, Mithras, etc., etc., etc. Only believe and you will be redeemed.

    Roman Judea was chock-a-block full of renegade and heretic rabbis. The Romans had pretty well stripped the priests and pharisees of any legitimacy, and itinerant teachers took up the slack. “Miracle-workers” (see any history of prestidigitation) were common as dirt.

    Was one of these miracle-working heretic rabbis named Yeshua? Pretty likely, as it was a pretty common name. Might easily have been more than one.

    Do the Gospels passed down to today represent an amalgam of many popular teachings from a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish sources, fit around a narrative common to all the most popular mystery cults, moved to a then-contemporary setting?

    Yes.

  153. #156 Steve_C
    July 28, 2006

    We get it. You have an answer to every doubt.
    We still are not biting. Why do you come here to defend your faith?
    It’s like going to Fenway and trying to convert them into Yankees fans.

  154. #157 naturalist
    July 28, 2006

    mpeterson, You are right that was not what I had in mind. The physical evidence we see of the “heavens and the earth” prove nothing supernatural to us. What I mean and I am not advocating doing an experiment “with God” but asking for you or any other Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc. using the words written in these archaic texts for an empirical method to prove the existance of a being or force called God.

    Just displaying quotes from your texts is not sufficient. I am asking for something substantial like a scientist would do in setting up an experiment to prove a theory and provide reproducable data. By the way I am not a “hard atheist” but an agnostic.

    I am willing to say that I do not know if some power beyond our understanding exists which we might see as a first cause. If it does, I don’t think this force would be as ludicrous, capricious and lacking such complex, sophisticated elegance as the traditional icon that is promoted by most of the world’s religions.

  155. #158 Steviepinhead
    July 28, 2006

    MPeterson, this is admittedly off-topic, but just for me, would you learn to spell “definitely”?

    Work into it in easy steps, if you’d like: you know, finitE, definitE, definitEly.

    No A’s anywhere to be seen.

    You’d be surprised the extent to which people will tend to move you into the “maroon” category the moment they see something like “definately.” In your case, merely improving your spelling probably isn’t going to get you OUT of that category right away. But it would be a first tiny step in the paying-attention-to-reality direction.

    Thanks ever so.

  156. #159 j
    July 28, 2006

    Steviepinhead, the misspelling of “definitely” is my biggest pet peeve. I’ve never had the courage to correct people’s spelling though. Thanks a bunch.

  157. #160 Steve_C
    July 28, 2006

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-8eEDePOTA&mode=related&search=Atheism

    I’m not really clear why M Petersen comes here.

  158. #161 Greco
    July 28, 2006

    Far better to make sure that Jesus teach the same things as Mithras, Attis, Osiris, Elusis, and a whole bunch of other Meditteranian Godmen whose followers cheerfulyl admitted weren’t literally about actual historical people…

    Actually, claiming that mythical gods and heroes were historical people was a big thing around the Mediterranean in those times. It was done with Osiris, who was turned into a real pharaoh, and I think with Mithras and others, too.

  159. #162 Damien
    July 28, 2006

    youtube:
    “75% of Americans are Christian. 75% of people in prison are Christian. 10% of Americans are atheist. Only 0.2% of people in prison are atheist.”

    Um, so who’s disproportionally represented in prison?

  160. #163 quork
    July 28, 2006

    On the virgin birth:
    http://www.tektonics.org/uz/virginbirth.html

    On Thomas Paine:
    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/painet01.html
    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/painet02.html

    Reactions to him in his own time:
    http://www.tektonics.org/classics/painerelief.html

    I am familiar with the concept of apologetics. What is your point? I don’t care what you have to say about Thomas Paine, or how poorly he was treated in his own time. Deal with what he had to say about the Bible, and deal with it honestly.

    For the present discussion, I don’t even care about the actual truth of the virgin birth. the issue is whether it was the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy. Clearly it was not. Your attempts to smear Paine rather than read Isaiah in context speak poorly of your scholarship and any link between religion and morality.

    Here’s Isaiah 7:14 from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible. Please note that this pro-Bible site admits what you won’t: that there is no prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in Isaiah.

  161. #164 joseph rainmound
    July 28, 2006

    Since we have no historical written evidence of Jesus, despite his reportedly amazing superhuman powers and heights of wisdom, in the writings of his contemporaries, I’m forced to one of two conclusions: either he didn’t exist, or he was black/gay/Jewish/other-disrespected-at-the-time-minority. Possibly black, gay, AND jewish. (/snark)

  162. #165 quork
    July 28, 2006

    You can also look at: http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/bethlehem.htm
    .
    Where it discusses this objection further. Bethlehem was definately a town, and the one in Judah was referred to as Ephrathah in ancient times.

    You are entirely off the point. How would the existence of an ancient town called Bethlehem, or even Ephrathah, change the fact that the verse in Micah is referring to a person? Your scholarship sucks, and you are a bad person who will burn in hell for eternity for your dishonesty.

  163. #166 Caledonian
    July 28, 2006

    Being one flesh means the sharing of life, not just bodies and material possessions, but thoughts and dreams, joys and sufferings, hopes and fears, successes and failures. In short, it’s being one soul as well as one body.

    But they’re not one body, and they certainly do not possess telepathy. Therefore, male-female pairings do not constitute marriage as the Bible defines it.

    Thank you, Mrs. Petersen.

  164. #167 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    quork: Micah was referring to a town, and maybe (just maybe) a person.

    On Isaiah 7:14:

    1. The word almah is employed of females seven times in the Old Testament (Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Psa. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Sol. 1:3; 6:8; Isa. 7:14). A study of these contexts reveals that almah is used only of one who is a virgin. Robert Wilson noted that almah never meant “young married woman” (316).

    2. The conception was to be a “sign” to the house of David. The normal conception of a “young married woman” would hardly be considered a “sign” (cf. Niessen, 143).
    The apostle Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 and affirms that the prophecy is “fulfilled” in the virginal conception of Mary. Moreover, both Matthew and Luke go to great lengths to explain precisely the significance of the term “virgin” (Grk. parthenos)

    3. Parthenos is found fifteen times in the New Testament. It never denotes a “young married woman,” but refers to a sexually pure person. Those who set aside Matthew’s inspired commentary on Isaiah 7:14, in deference to their own theories (which ultimately find their roots in modernism), are guilty of arrogance to an extraordinary degree.

    Sources

    Niessen, Richard (1980), Bibliotheca Sacra (April-June).

    Willis, John (1984), Isaiah (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).

    Wilson, Robert Dick (1926), The Princeton Theological Review, 24. (XXIV).

    It’s all true, though quite off-topic in this thread, so I would prefer to stick to the original text in question here.

  165. #168 Steve_C
    July 28, 2006

    Mary was a horny teenager.

  166. #169 Kagehi
    July 28, 2006

    “If there was no historical Jesus, if he was pure fiction, give me a reason why Jesus was a Galilean.”

    Because whoever wrote Matthew was trying to shoehorn Jesus into more than prophecy.

    Hmm. If Titus Falvius wasn’t the second coming, why did Josephus go to such rediculous lengths to alter dates, so the Roman campaign against the Jews would exactly fit the time frame given in David?

    Uh… Because if your making up myths about people, it makes it more believable, real or not, if you can tie them into the prophecies of the religion they are supposed to belong too? See, not hard to come up with an explaination at all… lol

    Oh, and the only mention in that list of authors “is” Josephus, who placed one obscure passage about Jesus in his book, then went to elaborate lengths to link the Roman campaign of his time with the Prophacies in both the OT passages of David and the NT prophecies. Even to the extent to placing key events in the campaign in the same locations and order as the supposed miracles and speeches of Christ. One individual goes so far as to suggest that, since the only evidence of when some parts of the NT where written is a letter, now lost, from the supposed writter, who “claimed” to have written the passages 20-30 years earlier, that if you discount the letter, everything in the NT could have been written in the same period as the history Josephus wrote, and in fact much of it “was”, with only John’s letter making the claim that he wrote and earlier draft decades befroe then. I.e., a parallel story, weaving myth and legend of the common people, who didn’t have any of it written down, into something that “supported” the contention that the Titus was in fact the second coming and fullfiller of Jewish prophecies. Soon after the campaign, the Flavians became the first Romans to “Convert” to the new religion, but not before Titus got is father declared an emporer God, thus making him the “son of a god”.

    That much is believable. What is somewhat more questionable is Atwill’s suggestion that the NT was written as a parody of the events of the campaign, after the fact, by none other than one of the two leaders of the Jewish revolt, with the same name as the “primary” author of the NT, John. The other leader in the revolt, who was killed, instead of agreeing to some sort of unspecified “service” in trade for his life and sent back to Roman, was also one of the supposed “disciples”. In fact, it is the very same name of Simon that is connected prominently with John in the Bible. John + Simon as the rebellion leaders vs. John + Simon as desciples, but with the true history being John allowed to live, as long as he did something for Titus. Hmm… Parody? Fake history? Both? One of them seems likely given the coincidences, even if Atwill gets a lot of stuff wrong.

    Its certainly more believable than the contention that every author of the time period that has survived would all completely fail to notice or comment on the existence of someone like Jesus, especially if he really did do a bunch of stuff that all the other two bit messiahs that where running around at the time couldn’t.

  167. #170 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    Steve_C: I’m trying to help people understand the message, as there are (proven in this thread), many misconceptions about its meaning.

    From your posts, it seems that you’re here to be rude and generally disruptive.

  168. #171 Steve_C
    July 28, 2006

    Why does such a simple message need so much explanation?

    There’s many meanings all of them are valid. You just paint the one that fits your psyche the best.

    I reject your reality and replace it with mine. (Mythbusters)

  169. #172 j
    July 28, 2006

    “There’s many meanings all of them are valid.”

    Do you really think that?

  170. #173 Steve_C
    July 28, 2006

    Well… valid in the sense that anyone can interpret the author’s meaning anyway they want.
    It’s fiction so it’s all open to interpretation.

  171. #174 j
    July 28, 2006

    Got it.

  172. #175 stogoe
    July 28, 2006

    Even in fiction, not all interpretations are valid. There can be more than one valid reading, of course, depending on textual evidence, even if some are not specifically author intended. But an interpretation has to have evidence supporting it if it wants to be valid.

    It’s all about the evidence.

  173. #176 Will E.
    July 28, 2006

    “I’m trying to help people understand the message, as there are (proven in this thread), many misconceptions about its meaning.”

    I’d bet many folks here–myself included–were raised in Xian homes of one kind or another (considering that over 80% of Americans self-identify as Xian I don’t think this is an unfair assumption). We understand the “message.”
    Some of us were preached the message from the get-go to varying degrees of intensity. The message is loud and clear: there is a God, his son is Jesus, and he died for our sins so we might live forever.

    We simply do not believe it, have looked at it long and hard from many different angles; read, thought, wrote, pondered, discussed, argued, etc. etc, about the message. We simply do not believe it. For me, for many of us, there’s nothing more to be said. Although you wouldn’t know it from the way we like to argue. Heh.

  174. #177 George Cauldron
    July 28, 2006

    From your posts, it seems that you’re here to be rude and generally disruptive.

    And from your posts, it’s clear that you’re here to ‘witness’. What’s your point?

  175. #178 Koray
    July 28, 2006

    All this bickering about historical documents and who Jesus was or wasn’t is irrelevant. For the sake of the argument, assume that Jesus existed and the bible is right. Then, deal with the one billion muslims of this world who have tomes of historical documents about Muhammad, who spoke to God and wrote the Koran. It has to be fabrication, right? Then, why can’t the bible be another fabrication?

    The point is, you cannot “write” about supernatural things. Historians may write about ancient wars between the english and the french and they could be accurate or inaccurate; it is no big deal if we accept it or not because its truth doesn’t matter much. People fabricated religions throughout history. The idea just doesn’t work because you can’t convince anybody that you, just you, talked to God.

    Also, don’t get me started on what people of two millenia would consider “a miracle”. I could have started a new cult with a bottle of diet coke and mentos back then.

  176. #179 eyelessgame
    July 28, 2006

    The overwhelming message from Paul, when I read him, is the constant refrain that if you, or your things, or thoughts, or actions, or resources, or friends, are not Christian, you’re a worthless pile of shit.

    He says this in about as many different ways as it’s possible to say. He says it over and over until every single reader gets it. It is his core message.

    What he thinks being ‘Christian’ entails is subject to some discussion and interpretation. But his core message is so clear as to overwhelm the reader: become a Christian or you are worthless.

  177. #180 386sx
    July 28, 2006

    The overwhelming message from Paul, when I read him, is the constant refrain that if you, or your things, or thoughts, or actions, or resources, or friends, are not Christian, you’re a worthless pile of shit.

    My favorite Paul passage:

    Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

    Lol, I swear that’s about the most brilliant piece of utterly worthless BS I’ve ever seen.

  178. #181 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    George: My point is that it’s not helpful to anybody. Perhaps it’s useful to Steve as a defense mechanism, but I’m attempting to present a different viewpoint.

    Will E. simply assumes that everyone here is well-versed (pardon the pun) in everything to do with God and the Bible. But as it was pointed out earlier, not many people actually read what the Bible says. It’s much easier to go on heresay and the ‘experts’, than to research and come to your own conclusions.

    God speaks for Himself. I cannot pretend to know anything about Him or how He works, except from what He has told me or shown me in the universe. Now, having studied these passages and their historical context, I think I’ve come to reasonable explanations and conclusions on them.
    These I present, and what you do with them is up to you. Some decide to argue the basic facts, some present their opinion, and some just turn off.

    As Will E. pointed out, some just don’t believe. I hope someday they will and so does God.

    Though my words are cheap, and I work hard at backing them up with my actions, someone may be helped through this (maybe).

    1 Corinthians 13:13 says And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    I may be discouraged sometimes, but I will never lose hope.

  179. #182 stogoe
    July 28, 2006

    One of my favorite religious readings from high school was Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God.” According to that script, even if you are a Christian, you’re worthless.

  180. #183 George
    July 28, 2006

    “God speaks for Himself.”

    No, he doesn’t. He get a LOT of help.

  181. #184 j
    July 28, 2006

    1 Corinthians 13:13 says And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
    I may be discouraged sometimes, but I will never lose hope.

    Hehe, sounds like Ayn Rand’s Anthem. From Anthem 11:11,

    I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.

    I think I prefer thought, will, and freedom to faith, hope, and love.

  182. #185 Damien
    July 28, 2006

    You’d think an omniscient god-prophet might try writing his own words down. And heck, invent printing to get more copies out, I don’t see how that’d violate “free will”.

  183. #186 natuarlist
    July 28, 2006

    M Peterson,
    The notion that you say that God speaks to you is the problem with religion…dependence on the validity of personal revelation. Everybody who is a believer has their own idea who God is, for some he is love, others vengeful etc. Your concept of God is a non-transferrable, subjective, mental paradigm that is exclusively in your mind only and cannot be imparted precisely to anybody else. God, Christianity, Islam are all totally subjective ideas that cannot be backed up by objective data or reproducable experiments.

    Through rationality and science visionary people have tried to bring humans kicking and screaming out of a ignorance and darkenss that has enveloped us for millenia. This obstinate adherence to believing supernatural explanations for our existence is in my opinion a part of our collective immaturity and if we are going to survive as a species we are going to have to culturally evolve and get over this insiduous spell that religion has had over us for much too long.

    All you have to do is look at the insanity and great harm that religion is causing recently to see that pursuring more of the status quo is hardly the answer.

  184. #187 Sastra
    July 28, 2006

    Sastra wrote:

    In other words, persuasion won’t work if people are not being honest with themselves and ignore what they already are aware of. That God made the world is as self-evident as the world itself – what we can know of God is “manifest in us, for God has shown it to us.” There aren’t any *real* atheists or nonbelievers (people who are sincerely mistaken, instead of people who deliberately and willfully turn from truth out of a desire to rebel.)
    Do you see that as (in part) a reasonable interpretation? Do you believe that yourself?

    M Petersen replied:

    I agree that is a reasonable interpretation. Definately, people do not want to believe God exists, because that means they would have to admit sin and its further implications.

    naturalist asked:

    The physical evidence we see of the “heavens and the earth” prove nothing supernatural to us. What I mean and I am not advocating doing an experiment “with God” but asking for you or any other Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc. using the words written in these archaic texts for an empirical method to prove the existance of a being or force called God.

    Well, I think that if we consider my paraphrase of the Roman passage and M Petersen’s endorsement of it as a “reasonable interpretation” — from M Petersen’s point of view there is no need for any Christian to come up with an empirical experiment, method, or argument to prove the existence of God. You already know there is a God. Your first sentence here is a lie.

    According to the doctrine set forth in Romans (and elsewhere in the Bible), all atheists are trolls. Pretenders. Our so-called atheism is not really a sincere viewpoint, but a smoke-screen rationalization designed to trick, deceive, and stir up strife.

    Such a belief seems to eliminate a common ground on which to have an honest discussion or debate, and I think there is an ethical problem in Christianity because of it. Which is why I agree with PZ, and find this particular passage particularly repellant.

  185. #188 Sounder
    July 28, 2006

    Well, I’m glad that’s all cleared up. Apparently we’re all closet theists, and we’d admit it were it not for our love of sin.

    I love these threads. It makes the absurdity of Christianity’s position all the more obvious. Thank you for your continued posting, M.

  186. #189 Will E.
    July 28, 2006

    “Will E. simply assumes that everyone here is well-versed (pardon the pun) in everything to do with God and the Bible.”

    No, I said: “I’d bet many folks here–myself included–were raised in Xian homes of one kind or another.” I stand by that. I don’t think we know “everything” about God & the bible. I wanted to point out many of us atheists are well-versed (pun intended) in biblical lore not only thru’ our upbringings, but also as educated, thoughtful, curious adults. Hence, we get the “message.”

    “It’s much easier to go on heresay and the ‘experts’, than to research and come to your own conclusions.”

    Actually, that was more my point–that I think atheists *do* research and, as I said, read, write, think, discuss, argue, etc. about matters religious–then we became atheists.

    We conclude all claims that a god exists are unconvincing. And it doesn’t matter how one interprets sacred scriptures–literally or figuratively, carved in stone or as poetic metaphors–we don’t buy them as anything but cultural artifacts of the people and period they were composed.

  187. #190 suirauqa
    July 28, 2006

    Come on now! You, at least, should appreciate the tenacity and single-mindedness of M. Peterson. You have questioned him, doubted the veracity of his assertions, tried to provoke him, and decried his beliefs, but he has steadfastly answered all questions – to the best of his knowledge and beliefs, and politely, too (his minor transgressions into typos notwithstanding). If he had been a scientist (I am assuming he is not, given his belief system), he would have been a good one. Pity.

    A note on historicity (is that a word?) on Jesus – not entering discussions into his apparent divinity or lack thereof – is here:
    http://www.tombofjesus.com/home.htm [look up the left column for navigation]
    This has been in the news for some time now.

    Very interesting, this theological discussion on a confirmed atheist’s blog… but he started it, quoting the Scriptures!!

  188. #191 Owlmirror
    July 28, 2006

    But as it was pointed out earlier, not many people actually read what the Bible says.

    Certainly not many believers actually read what the Bible says.

    It’s much easier to go on heresay and the ‘experts’, than to research and come to your own conclusions.

    All of religion is hearsay and reliance on ‘experts’. Doing research only leads to the conclusion of how empty it all is.

    God speaks for Himself.

    The only thing that really speaks for itself is the universe; the reality that is nature. Pantheism is the obvious conclusion, but there’s little connection to traditional religion there.

    Looking back at the original post, I note that Inhofe says that those who don’t believe in God worship the creation. What an odd accusation. Worship itself is a just a submission ritual. Worship is the stupidest part of religion; it only makes sense as an invention of psychologically crippled hierarchical ape-descendents.

  189. #192 Caledonian
    July 28, 2006

    If he had been a scientist (I am assuming he is not, given his belief system), he would have been a good one. Pity.

    Missionaries politely answer the questions of others. Scientists struggle to ask themselves the questions that need to be asked. Petersen wouldn’t know science if it came down from the heavens carved into tablets of stone and beat him to death.

  190. #193 Jake
    July 29, 2006

    You, at least, should appreciate the tenacity and single-mindedness of M. Peterson.

    There is nothing to appreciate in a stubborn unwillingness to let go of ignorance.

  191. #194 Watchman
    July 29, 2006

    “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosphy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

  192. #195 naturalist
    July 29, 2006

    Tenacity and single mindedness can be become nothing but arrogance, obstinacy and willfull ignornace…a good example is the disingenuous, religious wacko in residence at the White House. The one who thinks(?) he is a principled and strong leader. What is extremely sad is that many others think that also.

  193. #196 quork
    July 29, 2006

    Come on now! You, at least, should appreciate the tenacity and single-mindedness of M. Peterson. You have questioned him, doubted the veracity of his assertions, tried to provoke him, and decried his beliefs, but he has steadfastly answered all questions – to the best of his knowledge and beliefs, and politely, too (his minor transgressions into typos notwithstanding). If he had been a scientist (I am assuming he is not, given his belief system), he would have been a good one. Pity.

    I disagree with you on that. A good scientist follows the evidence. He/she notices all the evidence, not just that favoring his/her pet theory. If M. Petersen were a scientist, he would probably still be flogging phlogiston.

    Enthusiams and tenacity are not good characteristics when yoked ot a bad cause. I do not admire the tenacity and single-mindedness of Hitler, or Pol Pot.

  194. #197 suirauqa
    July 29, 2006

    caledonian, jake, naturalist and quork: I ask you – is irony dead? Has it been finally sacrificed at the hallowed altars of science?

    I don’t know about you, but for me, a wet-lab bench-scientist in biology, tenacity is a very important and positive attribute. Once I have generated a hypothesis, experiments after experiments need to be done to accumulate and re-confirm observations, whether they prove or disprove the hypothesis. Do you think all that work is possible without a modicum of tenacity and single-mindedness?

    A good scientist does sift all the evidence, but eventually he (or she) does lean to one theory. M. Peterson has probably gone through what he (or she) believed as evidence, and chosen to follow one path – according to the tenets of his belief system. I still think if M. Peterson had received training as a scientist, this belief system would have undergone a paradigm shift, making him (or her) a good researcher in science.

    I believe, quork, you have hit upon the right idea when you said, “Enthusiams and tenacity are not good characteristics when yoked ot (sic) a bad cause.” However, the emphasis should be on the ‘bad cause’. Otherwise, isn’t your statement altogether like saying “study of nuclear power is not good because it can be used in making bombs”?

    Folks, if you have encountered or even looked at the evangelistical raving lunatics, so common a sight in today’s world, you would appreciate M. Peterson’s sincerity, politeness and dedication to his cause, however misguided he (or she) might be.

    And since when ‘being a scientist’ equates ‘arrogance’?

  195. #198 Max Udargo
    July 29, 2006

    Everyone knows Superman was born on Krypton, but the writers included a convoluted explanation showing how he could also be from Kansas. Clearly, they must have needed to explain why the real Superman has a Kansas accent and friends. Therefore, Superman must have existed.

    Cripes. You see, there was a reason Superman needed to be born on Krypton but raised in Kansas. Because the story required him to be an alien with super powers who lives among humans. But the Messiah story required that the Messiah be from Bethlehem. The fact Jesus was from Gallilee only creates a problem in mapping his biography to the narrative. There was nothing in the Messiah story that required he be born in Bethlehem but raised far away in Gallilee.

    My point is very straight-forward, and the fact several of you will go to such blatantly illogical lengths to try to avoid it shows how irrational you are about your beliefs.

  196. #199 brandon
    July 29, 2006

    From the time that I taught hs, and learned to weed out plagiarism simply, effectively, and ruthlessly, I’ve encouraged and practiced frequent googling of arguments such as his, as they smack of a copy and paste jobs.

    Googling this phrase from a post put up here yesterday by M Petersen:

    The husband/wife relationship is the integral connection of head to body/body to head = one flesh. The husband who loves his wife loves himself, nourishing and cherishing her as he would his own flesh. This is what it means to be one flesh.

    Takes us to this website, where the phrase and much of the post outside of the quoted scripture are ripped almost verbatim.

    http://www.rbc.org/radio_and_tv/discover_the_word/32010.aspx
    Throughout this passage weave several strands of Genesis 2:24 with which Paul ends his comments. The husband/wife relationship is the integral connection of head to body/body to head = one flesh. The husband who loves his wife loves himself, nourishing and cherishing her as he would his own flesh. This is what it means to be one flesh. It’s not just about sex

    M Petersen continues here:

    Dr. Sarah Sumner explains it further:

    The uncredited website continues:

    When head is defined as “leader” and body as “helper,”
    Dr .Sarah Sumner, commenting on this passage, observed that a doctrine of headship is often established from this passage.

    This not fine-tuned apologetics, honest scholarship, or admirable, steadfast doggedness. It’s horseshit bordering on appropriation. Entertaining conversations like this, greatly increases the signal to noise ratio on any blog. That’s that. You’re not arguing with a man, you’re arguing your side and he’s throwing up some paragraphs he scrounged.

  197. #200 Scott Hatfield
    July 29, 2006

    Hmm. I’m saddened but not surprised.

    It’s an interesting fact that creationists, as well, routinely copy each other’s scripts without giving attribution. In a particularly inane example, I attended a meeting of Hugh Ross’s organization (“Reasons To Believe”) and to my complete consternation the scheduled speaker’s presentation had large sections of text directly lifted without change from a talk I had given at my church which subsequently was forwarded to some folk in the RTB chapter. To make matters more interesting, he was arguing a position at odds with the position I took in my talk, and only parroting the portions of my work that did not conflict with his views.

    I interrupted the presentation briefly to point out that he was directly quoting from my work. The fellow blinked, smiled and said he wasn’t aware of it. In his mind, he was simply using in good faith what someone had said him as he understood it, and in that context attribution never occurred to him. This mindset, so contrary to real academia (where substantiated charges of plagiarism are a death sentence) is typical of creationists.

    I might add that, at a later date, when I made a point of showing the sources I used to present a Power Point, I received some curious stares. Most of them just don’t get it.

    Scott

  198. #201 Uber
    July 29, 2006

    M.Peterson,

    I see up the thread you had listed a tectonics website to back up your ‘case’. Someone should tell you that the fellow who runs that website has been widely debunked all over the internet and is given zero creditbility.

    You should find more reliable sources.

  199. #202 GH
    July 29, 2006

    But an interpretation has to have evidence supporting it if it wants to be valid.

    It’s all about the evidence.

    That which matches with reality has a far better chance of being correct than not.

  200. #203 larson
    July 30, 2006

    Watching the scientifically arrogant discuss religion is roughly as enlightening as listening to a French poetry specialist discuss physics.

    Take this especially witty example:

    “The just shall live by faith.”
    What a load of CRAP!
    Posted by: Steve_C

    We Steve-o, that “load of crap” changed history. It was this verse that inspired Martin Luther to begin a protest against the corruption and economic imperialism of the Roman church that ultimately came to be called The Protestant Reformation.

    Because Luther was a humanist in the mold of Erasmus who believed in universal literacy, it wasn’t long before all meaningful science and scholarship migrated to the Protestant areas of Europe. The Dutch Republic proved that Protestants had higher living standards, better business methods, and a more just society (just remember, they threw out the Puritans) than anything previous.

    Lutheranism itself took hold in Scandinavia, which also emulated the Dutch governmental forms. The Nordic governments are still the most enlightened on earth by any meaningful measure of social health.

    So tell us Steve-o, what exactly have you done with your life that enables you to sneer at such a list of accomplishments?

  201. #204 Uber
    July 30, 2006

    Larson,

    I am a man of faith and I don’t think your being fair or objective here. Faith played a role but it certainly wasn’t responsible for all you mention. In fact a good case could be made that it all would have happened faster minus all these various faiths. So while people of faith accomplish alot, they also impede alot for no real rational reason.

    In fact even using what you have written it is clear that Luther was thinking as a man for men in areas of literacy, as you mentioned humanist type thoughts.

  202. #205 larson
    July 30, 2006

    I am NOT talking about religion as an act of “faith.” I am discussing religion as a CULTURAL phenomenon. You can remove all the nonsense from religion and still have the cultural impact left. Virtually ALL Scandinavians are cultural Lutherans even though only a tiny minority ever attend devout observances.

    Keep in mind that before anyone had heard of secular humanism, there was Christian / Protestant humanism. Humanism was at the very core of Luther’s teaching and his most trusted aide Melanchthon was a fellow professor at Wittenberg–his subject was humanism.

    I have historical evidence on my side–why are we arguing? Sounds like you need to read some history books.

  203. #206 A Whitby
    July 30, 2006

    Larson I’d be very careful of making grand claims for the humanistic achievements of Lutheranism. A small sampling of the history of northern Europe over the last five hundred years will reveal biblically justified genocides, colonisation (with massive economic exploitation), industrial strength slavery and fascism to name just a few major activities. In fact it would be a better argument to claim that the lot of the common man has improved exponentially as the grip of the church has weakened over the centuries.

    It amazes me that anyone can read the bible and not laugh out loud at the absurdities. It’s so clearly a political tool and fascist in it’s world-view. God (the state) is without error, above the law and all powerful. The leader(s) are hand picked by God (the state) and therefore are also without error, above the law and all powerful. Worship God (the state) at all times for fear of punishment, quite possibly extreme and vicious. Your reward for submitting yourself completely to God (the state) will be determined by God (the state) and will be available for collection after you die. Respect all hierarchies and make sure to remember every second of the day that you are a powerless peon who’s life is controlled by God (the state) who is always watching, listening, judging and recording you.
    No wonder B Boy’s such a devout follower, he is after all a chosen one.

  204. #207 Mechanophile
    July 30, 2006

    Larson:

    So tell us Steve-o, what exactly have you done with your life that enables you to sneer at such a list of accomplishments?

    … Well, I’m pretty sure that Steve doesn’t hate the Jews, or logic. Which is really more than you can say about Martin Luther. From Wikipedia: Sociologist Ronald Berger has written that Luther is credited with “Germanizing the Christian critique of Judaism and establishing anti-Semitism as a key element of German culture and national identity.”

    So yes, religion can have an enormous cultural impact. No one’s arguing that. Unfortunately, you seem to give religion all the credit for the good, and none of the blame for the bad. And there is a significant quantity of bad, more than just anti-Semitism.

    The Dutch Republic proved that Protestants had higher living standards, better business methods, and a more just society (just remember, they threw out the Puritans) than anything previous.

    What you fail to acknowledge is that if the Dutch Republic threw out the Puritans, that means that they also produced them.

    Even apart from that, though, what evidence do you have that northern Europe’s advantages in science, living standards, etc. result from Protestantism, and not some other, unrelated factor? Given the evidence you’ve presented that the disparity was caused by Lutheranism, you could just as well say that it’s caused by something in the water in the North Sea and the Baltic.

  205. #208 Damien
    July 30, 2006

    Um, I thought the Puritans came from England, and found refuge in the Dutch Republic after being chased out of England, and until they annoyed their new neighbors (or until they decided to find a place just for them in the New World.)

    Not that Dutch Calvinists were a barrel o’ laughs, but they took in the Jews, and created red light districts.

  206. #209 Damien
    July 30, 2006

    > Keep in mind that before anyone had heard of secular humanism, there was Christian / Protestant humanism

    And Catholic humanism. Both recycling the classical humanism of the Greeks and Romans, in the Renaissance.

  207. #210 Uber
    July 30, 2006

    I have historical evidence on my side–why are we arguing? Sounds like you need to read some history books.

    We’re discussing cause and effect. You have historical events that no one disagrees happened but the successes you credit may not necessarily correlate to what you think it does.

  208. #211 larson
    July 30, 2006

    The Dutch did NOT produce the Puritans–they came from England.

    Luther was FAR from perfect–it is just that he was a LOT better than anything he replaced.

    As for the superior Nordic culture being a product of the waters of the Baltic… I thought this thread was on a science site. What I am discussing is the sort of thing done by cultural anthropologists. I have never heard the water explanation before.

    As for Luther and antisemitism–if THAT link were as strong as you suggest, how do explain why the Nordic countries, which are Lutheran by WIDE majorities, didn’t seem to have this problem.

    Geeze, does anyone on this thread know ANY history??

  209. #212 GH
    July 30, 2006

    As for Luther and antisemitism–if THAT link were as strong as you suggest, how do explain why the Nordic countries

    As a casual observer of this conversation I think larson you are giving Luther alot of credit in alot of areas but not this one. Perhaps the link between him and the other ‘benefits’ of his thoughts you are positing are no more strong than this one and that is what the others are saying.

    But it is clear Luther was an antisemite.

  210. #213 larson
    July 30, 2006

    Let’s see:

    We cannot credit Luther for near-universal literacy rates among Lutherans even though literacy was a core teaching of his.

    But–we CAN talk about his anti-Semitism even though his writing about Jews was less than 1% of his critiques of Catholicism by volume.

    I understand. Boy it sure is fun to debate folks with a lot of “scientific” training. (sheesh)

  211. #214 Damien
    July 30, 2006

    It’s not what %age of the writings, but what %age of the impact. And what is said, regardless of %age.


    I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them.

    Jerusalem was destroyed over 1400 years ago, and at that time we Christians were harassed and persecuted by the Jews throughout the world for about 300 years … During that time they held us captive and killed us … So we are even at fault for not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for 300 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then … We are at fault in not slaying them.
    Rather we allow them to live freely in our midst despite all their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying, and defaming; we protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property. In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us boldly of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such a great sin, and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope).

    He had more favorable views earlier on, and pointed out that Jesus was a Jew, but turned on them quite viciously later. Hitler noted him favorably.


    “Luther was not content with verbal abuse. Even before he wrote his anti-Semitic pamphlet, he got Jews expelled from Saxony in 1537, and in the 1540s he drove them from many German towns; he tried unsuccessfully to get the elector to expel them from Brandenburg in 1543. His followers continued to agitate against Jews there: they sacked Berlin in 1572 and the following year finally got their way, the Jews being banned from the entire country.”

    As for other works of Luther, there’s the massacre of peasants, and his advocacy of complete submission to authority. If you want to credit Lutheranism as it evolved with good things, that’s one thing, but don’t confuse that with cherry-picking Luther’s own deeds. And don’t confuse it with Calvinist cultures in the Netherlands (and Scotland, not previously mentioned.) Or give it all the credit for Scandinavian culture, which has roots much deeper than Luther.

  212. #215 Damien
    July 30, 2006

    Whoops, the italics should continue to “daily pray and hope.” Also I should cite my quotes:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_and_the_Jews
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jews_and_Their_Lies

  213. #216 Uber
    July 30, 2006

    larson you seem pretty high strung, I don’t even disagree with you on some of what you say but you seem an all or nothing sort.

    All cultures have a variety of influences to simply ignore the diverse nature of culture and pinpoint all these items on this one aspect seems naive’.

  214. #217 larson
    July 30, 2006

    Oh you are correct. The fact that the officially Lutheran countries rank at the top of most social indicators such as health care, provision for the elderly, lack of corruption, etc. are ALL accidents. It has NOTHING to do with the culture of Luther and Bach.

    Of COURSE there were many truly evil things that happened during that time in the name of religion, but overwhelmingly, the Protestants were the victims of religious persecution. And then there is this other fact–whatever problems the Protestants may have had in their early development, at least they GREW UP. Today’s most evil religious nuts are mostly Jewish and Muslim. We will see if THEY ever mature as a culture. Imagine Israel getting along with it neighbors like say, Finland, and you can see what an unlikely scenario I am proposing.

    But we must NOT say such things. These are inconvenient truths on a site where religion has been branded as the belief system of idiots. How you fit a JS Bach into this slander I have NO idea.

  215. #218 Damien
    July 30, 2006

    The officially Lutheran countries are also Scandinavian. How do you determine whether it is the Lutheranism and not the Scandinavianism which is responsible? The Netherlands rank highly as well and aren’t Lutheran. Neither is Japan. Or Canada.

    And as an American, the evil religious nuts I’m most worried about are in fact Protestant. Some strands may have “grown up”, in the sense of bowing to science and secularism and not being very fervent anymore. Others haven’t.

  216. #219 larson
    July 30, 2006

    Hey uber!

    If you think I am “all or nothing,” what do you call someone who claims one of the most important verses of the Bible–historically–is a “load of CRAP.”

    You call me high strung. I would simply say that I am pissed off!!! I can discuss nuance, but NOT with someone THAT insulting to me and my culture.

  217. #220 larson
    July 30, 2006

    Damien

    “How do you determine whether it is the Lutheranism and not the Scandinavianism which is responsible?”

    Good question. And as a Swedish-American Lutheran, I have asked it oh about 10,000 times.

    When the 19th-century Finnish Bishop declared that no illiterate could be married, he helped make Finland the first totally literate country. Clear link!

    Other things, like health care delivery methods are not so clear.

    Personally, I consider the Lutheran church merely a form of social insurance. I do NOT attend devout observances. I AM scientifically literate and would (and have) LOUDLY object(ed) if religion got in the way of scientific instruction. But then, we Lutes are not members of the Jesus-wants-you-to-be-an-idiot crowd. We leave such foolishness to the Baptists.

  218. #221 windy
    July 30, 2006

    “How do you determine whether it is the Lutheranism and not the Scandinavianism which is responsible?”
    Good question. And as a Swedish-American Lutheran, I have asked it oh about 10,000 times.
    When the 19th-century Finnish Bishop declared that no illiterate could be married, he helped make Finland the first totally literate country. Clear link!

    Get over yourself. I’m sure few of us modern Nordic people are interested in being your hobby horse for promoting the benefits of Lutheranism.

    Not that we don’t appreciate being some of the most secular countries in the world, but I’m sure this was not what the church intended for us.

    If Lutheranism was so damn enlightened, why did it take at least 3 centuries after its arrival to take any steps toward modern society? How enlightened and altruistic was the “universal literacy” demand if there was nothing to read besides the bible and catechism?

    Lutheranism took hold in Sweden not because of enlightenment and humanism, but because Gustaf Wasa wanted to get his hands on the church property (not that that was a bad thing, good riddance). You might also want to look into the Protestant witch hunts of Europe.

    As for Luther and antisemitism–if THAT link were as strong as you suggest, how do explain why the Nordic countries, which are Lutheran by WIDE majorities, didn’t seem to have this problem.

    Nosiree, no antisemitism, just the little thing that Jews were FORBIDDEN TO SETTLE in most areas for centuries.

  219. #222 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    This not fine-tuned apologetics, honest scholarship, or admirable, steadfast doggedness. It’s horseshit bordering on appropriation. Entertaining conversations like this, greatly increases the signal to noise ratio on any blog. That’s that. You’re not arguing with a man, you’re arguing your side and he’s throwing up some paragraphs he scrounged.

    Actually, I was hoping you’d find that because the site goes into further detail than I explained. I apologize for not having included the source of the explanation in my post, but I thought it somewhat pointless since few seem to read the links I post anyway.

    I agree with the interpretation I quoted, and I found it more articulate than my own words.

  220. #223 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    I see up the thread you had listed a tectonics website to back up your ‘case’. Someone should tell you that the fellow who runs that website has been widely debunked all over the internet and is given zero creditbility.

    You should find more reliable sources.

    Thanks Uber, I did not realize there was a problem with the person who runs the site. Who is it and where can I find the sources that have debunked him?

  221. #224 arensb
    July 31, 2006

    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    Thankfully, it doesn’t say anything in there about squid, so you’re okay.

  222. #225 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    The just do not live by faith alone.

    Having faith has nothing to do with it.

    Ooo. I said it again.

    I live a just life and I have NO FAITH. Suck on that.

  223. #226 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    There are a great many scientists who believe(d) in God.
    NY Times:

    “According to a much-discussed survey reported in the journal Nature in 1997, 40 percent of biologists, physicists and mathematicians said they believed in God – and not just a nonspecific transcendental presence but, as the survey put it, a God to whom one may pray “in expectation of receiving an answer.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/23/national/23believers.html?ei=5088&en=affec45468b0ff25&ex=1282449600&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

    The article points out:

    … some scientists were simply unwilling to confront the big questions religion tried to answer. “You will never understand what it means to be a human being through naturalistic observation,” he said. “You won’t understand why you are here and what the meaning is. Science has no power to address these questions – and are they not the most important questions we ask ourselves?”

    Some have said there’s absolutely NO reason we’re here at all. Is that because science is UNABLE to answer the question of the meaning of life?

    I say the meaning of life is that we were created to have a relationship with God.

    “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

    “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

  224. #227 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    We’re here to exist and carry on our genes.

    What we do with it is up to us. And only us.

    There is no god to give you meaning. Ohhh that’s scary.

  225. #228 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Steve_C said: “I live a just life …”

    What makes your life ‘just’? Who determines what ‘just’ is? Why do you care?

  226. #229 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    I don’t need a god to live a just life.

    I’m am good to my fellow man. I’m fair and want all people in general to be happy and healthy. I think there’s a common understanding of what just is.

    Hmm…. Why do I care? Why do you think I care?

    I know it’s hard for you to understand because you believe exactly what I think is CRAP.

    No faith is needed to live a just life.

  227. #230 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    What makes your life ‘just’? Who determines what ‘just’ is? Why do you care?

    I think Petersen is yet another one of those people who assumes anyone not religious must be completely amoral with no ethical system. Funny how Christians who believe this get so *angry* when confronted with evidence to the contrary, like some very cherished stereotypes are being violated.

  228. #231 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    And I find it very insulting and ignorant.

    It’s like I don’t believe in god so I must be grilling babies up for dinner.

  229. #232 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Steve_C: What does ‘good to my fellow man’ mean? How do you determine what’s good, fair, just, happy, or healthy?

    Are all of these things determined by observed responses and consequences over time? I killed someone — Oh, that’s bad because it hurt someone else. Why do you care if you hurt someone else?

    Whatever you pursue – knowledge, happiness, wealth – doesn’t matter. If there’s no meaning to life, then no matter what you purse makes no difference.

    I think the bigger problem is not that there are religious fanatics out there blocking scientific and political progress, but that people have no meaning, no purpose in their lives. If there’s no meaning, then there’s no reason to consider others, and if you do consider others it can only be for selfish reasons (ie makes YOU feel good). A lot of people are out there searching for this elusive happiness (in whatever they can), but are not finding it. I think it is because you can’t have happiness without purpose.

    No meaning = greater chaos

    In Ecclesiastes, Solomon comes to this conclusion that everything is meaningless. If you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to do so.

    Then at the end of Eccelesiates 12:13-14:

    13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
    Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the whole duty of man.

    14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

  230. #233 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    I think Petersen is yet another one of those people who assumes anyone not religious must be completely amoral with no ethical system. Funny how Christians who believe this get so *angry* when confronted with evidence to the contrary, like some very cherished stereotypes are being violated.

    No, I don’t believe that at all and I’m not angry in the least. What I am asking is what that morality is based on. I certainly do not think all non-religious people are not ethical, I’m wondering why they are ethical. Why do you bother?

  231. #234 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    No, I don’t believe that at all and I’m not angry in the least. What I am asking is what that morality is based on. I certainly do not think all non-religious people are not ethical, I’m wondering why they are ethical. Why do you bother?

    Why do you assume we shouldn’t ‘bother’?

  232. #235 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    And I find it very insulting and ignorant.

    It’s like I don’t believe in god so I must be grilling babies up for dinner.

    I don’t think that you are doing that at all. My question is, why aren’t you? What is stopping you – is there something bigger than avoiding the negative consequences (death penalty or other)? I have not come to any conclusions, I’m asking an honest question here. Do you not have an answer to it?

  233. #236 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    You are so completely blind to reality.

    The japanese are a fairly peaceful and ordered sociery. And they aren’t at all christian.

    How do they keep their shit together? It’s such a mystery.

    You keep showing us how you essentlially have a glitch in your understanding of reality.
    To you god exists without question so you can’t even imagine how anyone or any society can function without her.

    It shows a complete lack of understanidn of the real world.

  234. #237 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    I type like crap and fail to proof sometimes. Sorry.

    It’s very simple. I don’t kill, rape or rob because I myself would not like it done to me.

    I have empathy for the life I share this planet with.

    Is that really so hard to understand?

  235. #238 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    Try this: you don’t need to have a concept of punishment after death to motivate yourself to be ethical or moral. People can behave wonderfully with no concept that they’ll be punished horribly if they don’t. Is this news?

  236. #239 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Ok, so what I’ve gotten back so far is mostly a defensive response. I’m not accusing anyone here of anything ‘bad’. I was asking an honest question.

    The only answer I’ve got so far is that you wouldn’t want to have it done to you, so you don’t do it to others. Thank you. Is that so hard to say without making assumptions about what I’m getting at or attacking my beliefs?

  237. #240 windy
    July 31, 2006
    It’s like I don’t believe in god so I must be grilling babies up for dinner.

    I don’t think that you are doing that at all. My question is, why aren’t you?

    The high fat content?

  238. #241 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    I get mad when you ask crazy shit. When it’s so completely OBVIOUS.

    Are you Catholic? Why aren’t you sexually abusing children?

    Crazy question ain’t it.

  239. #242 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2006

    Average cost of a vaginal birth in this country is about $4000 (double that for a caesarian). If you figure all that money gets you an 8 lb baby, that’s $500 a pound! And it isn’t even deboned or gutted! I’m sorry, but the only people who can afford that delicacy are Republican fat cats.

  240. #243 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    I prefer Kobe Beef, better marbling, and a beer and grain fed baby just sounds unappetizing.

  241. #244 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    My hope for the atheists here is that you’ll continue on this path so you’ll eventually come to Jesus.

    Example: http://www.ex-atheist.com/from-skepticism-to-worship.html

  242. #245 j
    July 31, 2006

    And my hope for you, M Petersen, is that one day your adherence to moral standards will be based on more than fear of a wrathful/loving god. My hope for you is that you will one day face the meaninglessness of life with the knowledge that you have the freedom to create meaning for yourself without help from a book of outdated doctrine. My hope for you is that you will eventually use the faculties of reason granted you by millions of years of evolution.

  243. #246 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    This is why we dislike you M. I plan on continuing on this path. It will never bring me to “god”. I’m quite happy the way I am.

    I won’t even bother posting a link to an ex-christian site. This one is home to many.

    Stop trying to convert me. I’ve already converted.

    Looks like Mel Gibson may need some help though.

    http://www.first-draft.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=6717&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0&PHPSESSID=71f4d7fbda79b8e0fe274bccf6754259

  244. #247 thwaite
    July 31, 2006

    Or come to Bhuddism, like most of the Japanese? Or to Taoism, or Confucianism, or even Hinduism…
    I can live with some of Taoism, it’s so poetic (and so little more).

  245. #248 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006
  246. #249 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    And my hope for you, M Petersen, is that one day your adherence to moral standards will be based on more than fear of a wrathful/loving god. My hope for you is that you will one day face the meaninglessness of life with the knowledge that you have the freedom to create meaning for yourself without help from a book of outdated doctrine. My hope for you is that you will eventually use the faculties of reason granted you by millions of years of evolution.

    I think I have been quite clear in my reasoning. I have not been irrational, but I do disagree with PZ and other’s assessment of the quoted passage. My morals are based not in fear but in the knowledge of the truth that God has revealed. Life isn’t meaningless, God has provided meaning because He created us for a reason.

    I am not trying to convert anyone here. I sincerely hope you do get converted some day. My purpose here is to present a clear interpretation of this passage, and to combat the misconceptions presented here.

  247. #250 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    But you do believe that god judges you and will put you in heaven or hell based on that judgement.

    Am I wrong?

  248. #251 j
    July 31, 2006

    How does “the knowledge of the truth that God has revealed” lead to moral behavior?

  249. #252 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    My hope for the atheists here is that you’ll continue on this path so you’ll eventually come to Jesus.

    ‘Not trying to convert anyone’, eh?

    Why do you think ‘coming to Jesus’ is somehow inevitable? I would remind you there are billions of people who have never ‘come to Jesus’. Christians are not the center of the universe.

  250. #253 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Yes, God will judge me on what I have done. Fortunately, Jesus will step in and I will get into heaven though I do not deserve it.

    The knowledge of the truth God has revealed defines what moral behaviour is. The Law simply shows how immoral I am, and my need for Jesus.

    From Romans:

    Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
    But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

    Does this mean that I am somehow exempt from living a moral life? No.

    From Romans 6:15-18

    What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

  251. #254 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Ok so you won’t be punished regardless of what you do because Jesus has your back when Dad comes out with the belt.

    Got it slave.

    Lame.

  252. #255 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    ‘Not trying to convert anyone’, eh?

    Nope. As it has been said before, nobody is going to be convinced through these arguments.

    Why do you think ‘coming to Jesus’ is somehow inevitable? I would remind you there are billions of people who have never ‘come to Jesus’. Christians are not the center of the universe.

    It is certainly not inevitable. But if you continue down the path of the guy here [ http://www.ex-atheist.com/from-skepticism-to-worship.html ] you may.

    Neither Christians nor non-Christians are the center of the universe. I cannot boast in anything, but I am thankful that Jesus saved me.

  253. #256 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    I am not trying to convert anyone here

    Thank goodness for that, I hate to imagine how you’d be going on if you were

  254. #257 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    May I remind you that the whole reason I’m posting here is to clarify the original quoted text. What are your thoughts on the text saying that many of the problems we experience today are our own fault?

  255. #258 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Suuuure he did.

  256. #259 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Ok so you won’t be punished regardless of what you do because Jesus has your back when Dad comes out with the belt.

    Got it slave.

    May I point out here that without Jesus, you are a slave to sin.

  257. #260 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    May I point out here that without Jesus, you are a slave to sin.

    Golly, no one ever told me that before. And I’m sure you must have proof why your religious beliefs are correct while anyone who believes differently is wrong…

    Just make sure you don’t start trying to convert anyone here!

  258. #261 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    That’s funny.

    Mmmm. I’m SO a slave!

  259. #263 j
    July 31, 2006

    Okay, so if I understand you correctly, no matter how moral or immoral of a life you lead, you are not worthy of heaven, so you turn to Jesus, who saves you no matter how moral or immoral you are. Faith is all it takes. Then you are compelled to be righteous because of Jesus’ teachings, which you follow. This is great, nothing new here. Perhaps it would be more convincing if your god were not responsible for so many atrocities, both in our world today and in the text of the Bible.

    This is why I lead a moral life: Certain behaviors, such as empathy, and the avoidance of other behaviors, such as murder, are conducive to the survival of the species. It is logical that through evolution, humans would be predisposed towards behaviors that are amenable to the continued survival of our species. So first of all, there is an evolutionary component to the (kind of) universal morality that many Christians attribute to their god.

    Second, I obey just laws, laws that are created by humans to protect humans’ rights. So there is a societal component as well.

    Third, I have developed my own views of right and wrong based on my personal experience. This individual component of morality is the most important. I base my own ethical principles on my respect of human dignity.

    Follow the link to learn more about Kohlberg’s stages of moral development:

    http://www.xenodochy.org/ex/lists/moraldev.html

  260. #264 GH
    July 31, 2006

    Nope. As it has been said before, nobody is going to be convinced through these arguments.

    That is the truth M. Petersen. Especially when you run that nut from tectonics blather out to back up your ‘point’. Every Christian I know thinks he’s nuts and so does everyone else who has read his stuff.

    May I point out here that without Jesus, you are a slave to sin.

    Oh c’mon M, how are you any more or less anything because you believe this or that about supernatural goings on. You behave the way you behave, which for the majority of people is pretty well most of the time.

    It is certainly not inevitable. But if you continue down the path of the guy here [ http://www.ex-atheist.com/from-skepticism-to-worship.html ] you may.

    Should they then counter with the number of websites that have people going the other direction, a number that far exceeds the ‘atheists’ converting?

    The knowledge of the truth God has revealed defines what moral behaviour is.

    Morality varies from culture to culture and person to person. Even religion to religion and sect to sect. What was moral in the past is often considered immoral now and vice versa. Morals are interesting things to discuss but they are certainly not laws set in stone. They likely arose from ours being a primate/group species and foster cooperation.

    Life isn’t meaningless, God has provided meaning because He created us for a reason.

    whoever said life is meaningless? why would you think it?

    My question is, why aren’t you? What is stopping you – is there something bigger than avoiding the negative consequences (death penalty or other)? I have not come to any conclusions, I’m asking an honest question here. Do you not have an answer to it?

    Thats just idiotic and if you don’t know why I don’t think it can be explained to you.

  261. #265 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    whoever said life is meaningless? why would you think it?

    I think that would be Petersen again making assumptions about how nonchristians must think…

  262. #266 Uber
    July 31, 2006

    larson said:

    But then, we Lutes are not members of the Jesus-wants-you-to-be-an-idiot crowd. We leave such foolishness to the Baptists.

    and then he later said:

    If you think I am “all or nothing,” what do you call someone who claims one of the most important verses of the Bible–historically–is a “load of CRAP.”

    You call me high strung. I would simply say that I am pissed off!!! I can discuss nuance, but NOT with someone THAT insulting to me and my culture.

    So apparently larson thinks it’s ok to insult Baptists(of which I am one) and there culture but he gets ‘pissed off’ when it happens to him. The same Baptists who have done alot for THIS country(present southern form excluded). I call that person a hypocrite.

    larson just because someone thinks its a load of crap shouldn’t piss you off, prove it isn’t. It doesn’t get a pass just because you think it should.

  263. #267 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    And I’m sure you must have proof why your religious beliefs are correct while anyone who believes differently is wrong…

    The proof is in the Bible, in nature, and in Jesus death and resurrection.

  264. #268 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    The proof is in the Bible, in nature, and in Jesus death and resurrection.

    But Petersen, no one provably saw Jesus’s resurrection, and other religious scriptures say very different things. Are you saying the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true?

    Why does your fondness for the Bible prove its truth, and the falseness of other religions?

  265. #269 Damien
    July 31, 2006

    Couple of answers, in religious language, to atheist morality:

    We atheists use our free will and choose to be good. Why? Because we choose to. That’s what free will is supposed to be about. The goodness of a Christian is tainted by the promise and threat of Heaven and Hell, but the goodness of an atheist is freely chosen, for its own sake.

    Alternatively, we’re slaves to righteousness, to our empathy and upbringing. As a naturalist who thus doesn’t believe in contra-causal free will, I have to say this is more likely to be the case. People tend to be nice, or not, out of their natures; choice doesn’t have that much to do with it, except when consequences are clear. And the ability to consider consequences and exert self-control is itself part of one’s nature, not choice. Thus morality is largely orthogonal to religion. Religion may lead some people to curb their antisocial impulses, but it’s also been a vehicle for petty evil and grand atrocities; hard to say what the balance is. But as noted, most of the nice societies in the world today are either non-fervently Christian or not Christian at all.

  266. #270 Watchman
    July 31, 2006

    >> whoever said life is meaningless? why would you think it?

    For the record, “j” wrote this:

    “My hope for you is that you will one day face the meaninglessness of life with the knowledge that you have the freedom to create meaning for yourself without help from a book of outdated doctrine.”

    So. Someone did write that, M. Peterson didn’t make it up.

    With that said, I would say to M. Peterson that reflexively quoting the Bible in support of Christian dogma doesn’t make for a very compelling argument. You believe what you believe, your belief proves nothing beyond the obvious fact that you believe it, and I’d say the same to any atheist.

    I would also recommend (to everyone) to take a look at a book called The Five Gospels, by a group called The Jesus Seminar, if you haven’t already seen it. Interesting stuff. I hesitate to overstate the case, but to me it’s THE New Testament reference for ummmm Jeffersonian agnostics like me.

  267. #271 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Is there a difference between meaning and purpose?

    There of course is purpose. The natural one.

    Meaning? I don’t think there’s an inherent meaning to life. Your life’s meaning is what you choose it to mean or not mean. But an overall meaning that applies to everyone? I don’t think so.

  268. #272 windy
    July 31, 2006

    M Petersen wrote:

    May I point out here that without Jesus, you are a slave to sin.

    Paul wrote:

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters.

    Well, if you guys insist…

  269. #273 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Can’t wait to get my sin on tonight!

  270. #274 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    This is why I lead a moral life: Certain behaviors, such as empathy, and the avoidance of other behaviors, such as murder, are conducive to the survival of the species. It is logical that through evolution, humans would be predisposed towards behaviors that are amenable to the continued survival of our species. So first of all, there is an evolutionary component to the (kind of) universal morality that many Christians attribute to their god.

    Why is it logical that humans would be predisposed towards behaviors that are amenable to the continued survival of our species? Predisposed in what way?

    Second, I obey just laws, laws that are created by humans to protect humans’ rights. So there is a societal component as well.

    Why is protecting humans’ rights important? Clearly, not all humans consider this important, neither do all consider the same rights as important as others.

    Third, I have developed my own views of right and wrong based on my personal experience. This individual component of morality is the most important. I base my own ethical principles on my respect of human dignity.

    How do you develop this respect for human dignity? Is this not subjective as well?

  271. #275 Ken Cope
    July 31, 2006

    Xtianists read one book, and think that’s all they need to know, compounding the error by presuming it’s one more book on religion than any non-theist has read. Worse, they imagine everybody is an ignorant atheist awaiting conversion–all the Xtianist has to do is quote enough Bible passages and Shazam! all former atheists will be rapture-ready. Pathetic.

    The proposition that most atheists have never considered religion before should plainly be recognized as absurd, even by our non-prosyletizing evangelist MP. In the west, it’s harder to find somebody raised by atheists than raised by Xtians. Examination of religious beliefs and believers puts plenty of people off religion. Seminary produces quite a few atheists; the more they study heaven, the more they learn there is no there there. And when the religious demand that we ignore science, and challenge its methods, and then accuse us non-believers of having no basis for morality…

    Wait, what is the basis for the Xtianists so-called morality? Fear that they won’t get the goodies or be banished to the bad place if they don’t behave, because their god watches them wherever they go, with particular scrutiny in the bathroom and the bedroom?

    So, MP, here’s the $64K question:

    Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God? HINT google Euthyphro dilemma, or just go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma

    Is it OK to stab your son on a sacrificial altar out on Highway 61 because Gawd told you to? Is it moral for Gob to stay your hand at the last minute because He was just faking you out to see if you would? Is Gawb a genocidal Sumbitch, or is genocide OK when Gob commits it? How about sending a she-bear to devour children who call an old prophet baldy? Moral, or not? As a bonus question, if a voice in your head tells you to do something, and you think it’s god, and not a demon, or not a chemical imbalance cuz you’re off your meds, how can you tell? What should the rest of us presume, especially those of us looking at the corpses you left and the smoking weapon in your hand?

    Do you worship a god, or a monster? How can you tell?

  272. #276 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    How do you develop this respect for human dignity? Is this not subjective as well?

    Why is it any more subjective than your religious beliefs?

  273. #277 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    There’s a permanent glitch in is preception of the way the world works.
    How can you not understand how one becomes empathetic or how that might
    help the human species survive?

  274. #278 GH
    July 31, 2006

    Why is it logical that humans would be predisposed towards behaviors that are amenable to the continued survival of our species?

    Your answering your own question. Our behaviours evolved to help ensure the survival of our species. Can you name one animal who doesn’t behave in this manner?

    All organisms are predisposed to survival and reproduction. This seems to me akin to asking why do I breathe air.

  275. #279 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Ok, 6 on 1, throwing in 5 different topics is something I cannot tackle right now.

    But Petersen, no one provably saw Jesus’s resurrection, and other religious scriptures say very different things. Are you saying the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true?

    Why does your fondness for the Bible prove its truth, and the falseness of other religions?

    I’m saying the Bible is true because it is true. There a several reasons why I take it as true, not least of which being the fact that Jesus died and rose from the grave.

    I’m really going to try to stick to the topic of morality and such… perhaps another time.

  276. #280 GH
    July 31, 2006

    I’m saying the Bible is true because it is true. There a several reasons why I take it as true, not least of which being the fact that Jesus died and rose from the grave.

    Thats the same thing. There is no external evidence.

  277. #281 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    I’m saying the Bible is true because it is true. There a several reasons why I take it as true, not least of which being the fact that Jesus died and rose from the grave.

    On what do you base this assumption? That is, what is your evidence? I know of absolutely no such evidence.

  278. #282 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Faith rears its ugly head again.

    I’m fuzzy on the bible here. Jesus wakes up from his death and leaves his tomb.
    His physical body… where was he buried the second time? Or is the resurrection the
    actual body floating up into the sky like a bubble?

    Anyway. Societies existed for thousands of years before the old OR new testament.

  279. #283 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Couple of answers, in religious language, to atheist morality:

    We atheists use our free will and choose to be good. Why? Because we choose to. That’s what free will is supposed to be about. The goodness of a Christian is tainted by the promise and threat of Heaven and Hell, but the goodness of an atheist is freely chosen, for its own sake.

    Alternatively, we’re slaves to righteousness, to our empathy and upbringing. As a naturalist who thus doesn’t believe in contra-causal free will, I have to say this is more likely to be the case. People tend to be nice, or not, out of their natures; choice doesn’t have that much to do with it, except when consequences are clear. And the ability to consider consequences and exert self-control is itself part of one’s nature, not choice. Thus morality is largely orthogonal to religion. Religion may lead some people to curb their antisocial impulses, but it’s also been a vehicle for petty evil and grand atrocities; hard to say what the balance is. But as noted, most of the nice societies in the world today are either non-fervently Christian or not Christian at all.

    My point is what or who defines what is ‘good’? How can you claim anything is good?

  280. #284 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    So your saying if not god then who?

    And we’re saying, there is no god, so obviously US.

    Is your need for an authority figure really that strong that you can’t understand that?

  281. #285 Carlie
    July 31, 2006

    “Ok, 6 on 1, throwing in 5 different topics is something I cannot tackle right now.”

    They’re really all variants on the same question: Why is your reason for being moral any better than an atheist’s reason for being moral? Is it because it makes more sense? Is it because it has more evidence? What is it, exactly? If the answer is that you like one particular book better than anything else in the world, fine, but say so, and admit that it objectively doesn’t make any more sense than following any other particular book, or following what one feels is right.

    I would argue that understanding that morality is based on what works for a functioning society and thereby higher survival rates of a species actually has a lot of evidence behind it, in fact more than other arguments for morality, but that’s expanding the topic a little. And again, defining “morality” is like nailing jello to the wall. The way even a modest girl dresses in public today would have gotten her burned at the stake a couple of hundred years ago. Some would say killing a spouse in a rage when finding them in an adulterous situation is understandable, some would say not. If telling a lie is bad, is it wrong to tell your mother that she does indeed look fat in that outfit?

  282. #286 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    I have yet to see an explanation as to how morals have evolved.

  283. #287 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    I have yet to see an explanation as to how morals have evolved.

    You have yet to give a coherent reason why your moral system is any better, more valid, or more true than anyone else’s.

  284. #288 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    It’s a glitch. Faith is a glitch. It’s just some can recognize it and accept that it’s a glitch.
    Some see the glitch and reject it. And some, and M may be one of them, don’t preceive the glitch at all.

  285. #289 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Secular Humanism teaches us that morality is relative; different people at different times view morality differently. It teaches us that we cannot condemn other cultures for their moral codes, just because we have a different perspective. Because cultures are simply collections of people, to avoid an ad populum fallacy (where right and wrong are determined by majority rule), the argument has to be extended to the individual; just because you and I may have a different perspective on right and wrong than does another person, does not mean that we can condemn them for their personal moral codes. The end result of such a philosophy is that there really isn’t any right or wrong at all.

    — A.S.A. Jones

  286. #290 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    You have yet to give a coherent reason why your moral system is any better, more valid, or more true than anyone else’s.

    Defensiveness in not an explanation.

  287. #291 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    M: How do you think human societies got as far as they did before god or jesus?

    Try answering your own question. Give it a shot.

  288. #292 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    M: How do you think human societies got as far as they did before god or jesus?

    They didn’t get anywhere, because they didn’t exist before God, because God created the universe. Hey, that was an easy one.

  289. #293 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Try reading this:

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=main&page=declaration

    Moral Education
    We believe that moral development should be cultivated in children and young adults. We do not believe that any particular sect can claim important values as their exclusive property; hence it is the duty of public education to deal with these values. Accordingly, we support moral education in the schools that is designed to develop an appreciation for moral virtues, intelligence, and the building of character. We wish to encourage wherever possible the growth of moral awareness and the capacity for free choice and an understanding of the consequences thereof. We do not think it is moral to baptize infants, to confirm adolescents, or to impose a religious creed on young people before they are able to consent. Although children should learn about the history of religious moral practices, these young minds should not be indoctrinated in a faith before they are mature enough to evaluate the merits for themselves. It should be noted that secular humanism is not so much a specific morality as it is a method for the explanation and discovery of rational moral principles.

  290. #294 thwaite
    July 31, 2006

    I have yet to see an explanation as to how morals have evolved.

    The fact that morals evolved is demonstrable by observing the social structures of non-human primates. They show complex behaviors such as leadership and authority based on reputations of fairness (rather than simple dominance), the ability to form coalitions to tame bullies, both empathy and sympathy, and care for unrelated elders (occasionaly) as well as for their own infants. Such observations go back to Darwin (he used the new London zoo to good advantage) and modern accounts are widely available: Frans De Waal’s GOOD NATURED will suffice to start.

    A note on WHY morals evolved – several people have cited the ‘good of the species’ – pretty casual talk since natural selection is really only about individual lineages’ reproductive success. However, Darwin’s early discussions (in the DESCENT OF MAN etc) and modern work do return to group advantages, somewhat larger than but overlapping with kin groups, for social morals (and for music! – see Mithen’s new THE SINGING NEANDERTHAL, and George Miller’s papers reviving Darwin’s idea).

  291. #295 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    You have yet to give a coherent reason why your moral system is any better, more valid, or more true than anyone else’s.

    Defensiveness in not an explanation.

    Should take that as a tacit admission that you HAVE no explanation, and that you believe the Bible for no reason other than you choose to? And that you reject other moral systems because you believe you’re supposed to reject them?

    Remember, YOU are the one who is evidently baffled by nonreligious people being moral. None of the rest of us have a problem with the concept.

    Why is a moral system based on fear of punishment more valid than a moral system voluntarily undertaken, under no duress and with no sense of a possible retribution?

  292. #296 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    You can’t be serious. So you are a creationist. Good luck with that.

  293. #297 RavenT
    July 31, 2006

    I have yet to see an explanation as to how morals have evolved.

    Well, since you phrase it that way, I’ll go ahead and confess that I find it highly amusing that macaques “understand” altruism and cooperation enough to demonstrate those behaviors (presumably without resorting to scripture) [1,2], while at the same time you can’t tell the difference between treating others right and treating others wrong without some authority figure spelling it out for you.

    Then again, I’m easily amused.

    [1] Widdig A, Streich WJ, Tembrock G. Coalition formation among male Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). Am J Primatol. 2000 Jan;50(1):37-51.

    [2] Reinhardt V, Dodsworth R, Scanlan J. Altruistic interference shown by the alpha-female of a captive troop of rhesus monkeys. Folia Primatol (Basel). 1986;46(1):44-50.

  294. #298 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?

    Neither, the dilemma itself is false because there is a third option.

    The Christian rejects the first option, that morality is an arbitrary function of God’s power. And he rejects the second option, that God is responsible to a higher law. There is no Law over God.

    The third option is that an objective standard exists (this avoids the first horn of the dilemma). However, the standard is not external to God, but internal (avoiding the second horn). Morality is grounded in the immutable character of God, who is perfectly good. His commands are not whims, but rooted in His holiness.

    Could God simply decree that torturing babies was moral? “No,” the Christian answers, “God would never do that.” It’s not a matter of command. It’s a matter of character.

    So the Christian answer avoids the dilemma entirely. Morality is not anterior to God–logically prior to Him–as Bertrand Russell suggests, but rooted in His nature. As Scott Rae puts it, “Morality is not grounded ultimately in God’s commands, but in His character, which then expresses itself in His commands.”[9] In other words, whatever a good God commands will always be good.

    Taken from: http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5236

  295. #299 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    So I guess god created murder and rape too. Oh wait free will, I forgot. We came up with that on our own after Adam ate the apple. Damn that bitch Eve.

  296. #300 thwaite
    July 31, 2006

    A broad discussion of the origin of morals, not limited to primatology, is Matt Ridley’s THE ORIGIN OF VIRTUE. This is in many bookstores as well as Amazon, as are De Waal’s titles.

  297. #301 Watchman
    July 31, 2006

    Wrong, M. The world, and mankind, did exist before Jesus. Wow, THAT was an easy one.

    “Moral Creationism” – heh.

    Sorry M. you are incorrect. Explanations have been offered, but you refuse to acknowledge them.

    In a nutshell: “Morals” represent social behaviors that are pro-survival for gregarious creatures such as homo sapiens. What’s complicated about that concept? And yet some people STILL need supernatural motivation to be moral. Some do not. It really IS that simple.

    Morals are constantly evolving, by the way – like everything else. There’s a huge gap between Biblical law and what is considered “right” nowadays. And let’s not be so disingenuous as to suppose that’s moral relativism at work — it’s moral evolution at work.

    As recently as my own mother’s generation is was considered iffy for a Protestant to marry a Catholic, to say nothing of interracial marriage. Huh? Why was it not ok then, but it’s ok now? Did the Bible change? Why was is ok in the past for a man to marry a 14 year old girl, but it’s not ok now? Did the Bible change? Something did. Whatever it was, I suspect it was man-made.

    Moral relativism hasn’t destroyed the world just yet. I think that when a gang of rowdy gay youths drag a heterosexual male to his death behind a car simply for the relative sin of being heterosexual, well, that’ll be a harbinger of the coming Apolcalypse, though. Yep.

  298. #302 M Petersen
    July 31, 2006

    Should take that as a tacit admission that you HAVE no explanation, and that you believe the Bible for no reason other than you choose to? And that you reject other moral systems because you believe you’re supposed to reject them?

    Remember, YOU are the one who is evidently baffled by nonreligious people being moral. None of the rest of us have a problem with the concept.

    Why is a moral system based on fear of punishment more valid than a moral system voluntarily undertaken, under no duress and with no sense of a possible retribution?

    I have not offerred my explanation, that doesn’t mean I don’t have one. On the other hand, your lack of explanation and continued efforts to throw it back to me demonstrate that YOU do not have one.

  299. #303 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Didn’t god kill all the first born sons on passover in egypt?

    Seems kinda immoral.

  300. #304 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    I have not offerred my explanation, that doesn’t mean I don’t have one. On the other hand, your lack of explanation and continued efforts to throw it back to me demonstrate that YOU do not have one.

    Now you’re getting defensive. Let’s just hear your explanation.

  301. #305 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    I thought he did. He essentially said God did it.

    He created man with morals is his explanation.

  302. #306 RavenT
    July 31, 2006

    He created man with morals is his explanation.

    Doesn’t explain the macaques, though.

  303. #307 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    Sure it does. God created everything. Except evil. God would never do that.

  304. #308 George
    July 31, 2006

    “Secular Humanism teaches us that morality is relative; different people at different times view morality differently.”

    People don’t go to a church of Secular Humanism. There is no monolithic ethic that can be ascribed to people who don’t believe in God.

    Reading the Bible and going to church every Sunday doesn’t make one morally “special” or “better” than someone who does not read the Bible or go to church.

    I would say that wide reading and lots of it, in lots of discipines, along with exposure to people from lots of different backgrounds and places, will do more for someone’s morals than a narrow fixation on what the Bible teaches.

  305. #309 RavenT
    July 31, 2006

    Sure it does. God created everything. Except evil. God would never do that.

    No, the macaques don’t need an authority figure to tell them whether to engage in cooperative or altruistic behaviors because it’s moral. So even with the bootstrapping/question-begging, it’s still Macaques 1, M Petersen 0.

  306. #310 Steve_C
    July 31, 2006

    I was playing creationist’s advocate.

  307. #311 thwaite
    July 31, 2006

    it’s still Macaques 1, M Petersen 0.

    Heh. And macaques are monkeys, not apes (so they’re even less closely related to us). Although, they’re the most-widely distributed primate worldwide except for humans.

    Speaking of geographic distribution, it’s interesting to recall that Christianity originated and flourished in the mid-East and Europe where there aren’t non-human primates. One wonders what the impact on Christian theology would have been had churches and temples been overrun with monkeys and apes as are those in India and the rest of Asia.

  308. #312 RavenT
    July 31, 2006

    🙂

  309. #313 GH
    July 31, 2006

    I have not offerred my explanation, that doesn’t mean I don’t have one. On the other hand, your lack of explanation and continued efforts to throw it back to me demonstrate that YOU do not have one.

    Good grief it’s like an ostrih with it’s head in the sand. An explanation has been given to you, ours ‘morals’ are a byproduct of the group dynamic in our species and general primate behaviour as a whole. They likely have given us some form of survival benefit.

    And you posting extremely weak arguments from other sites doesn’t bolster your cause. They in an of themselves don’t stand on point.

  310. #314 j
    July 31, 2006

    When I referred to the meaninglessness of life, I meant it in the sense that there is no inherent meaning to life; humans must create meaning for themselves. Thanks, Steve_C, for stating that so nicely.

    The whole idea of “universal morality=God” is flawed. Morals change as societies change. We did away with slavery (as condoned in the Bible), we fought and continue to fight for women’s equal rights (in opposition to many passages in the Bible), and we face other moral discussions today about who is a human being, about whether a person’s sexual orientation should affect his/her rights, about whether a person’s religious obligations can supersede his/her professional obligations as with pharmacists refusing to dispense emergency contraception. Morals cannot remain stagnant in an ever-changing world. If you would like to call this moral relativism, so be it.

    Why do we all agree that murder is wrong? (This is barring exceptions, of course; religious fanatics, terrorists, abortion-clinic bombers, Pat Robertson, and the Christian God might disagree.) Because if we all murder one another, there will be no more humans.

    Duh?

  311. #315 Ken Cope
    July 31, 2006

    Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?

    Neither, the dilemma itself is false because there is a third option.

    The Christian rejects the first option, that morality is an arbitrary function of God’s power. And he rejects the second option, that God is responsible to a higher law. There is no Law over God.
    The third option is that an objective standard exists (this avoids the first horn of the dilemma). However, the standard is not external to God, but internal (avoiding the second horn). Morality is grounded in the immutable character of God, who is perfectly good. His commands are not whims, but rooted in His holiness.

    Petersen, you’re not helping to convince anybody you could pass a Turing test– I suspect you couldn’t pass one in real life. Throwing quotes around without having to reason anything on your own must be part of the appeal of being an Xtianist–never having to think for yourself.

    So let’s say then that you’re fine with God being constrained by morality, that there is an objective standard of morality that’s part of god too.

    First of all, it’s weak. It’s just having the cake and eating it too.

    Most importantly, by any standard of morality Petersen, the god you worship is a monster, without the morality my 4 year old worked out with respect to behavior toward a cat. My son would never even conceive of punishing a cat that clawed him by burning him in a lake of fire in perpetuity. In all the stories, god ordered the rape and torture of women and children. He drowned the entire planet but for a few species he managed to set aside.

    If he created a sinful race (some god, that), and plans to torture for eternity all but those who acknowledge a bloody human sacrifice, then I don’t see where morality is anything that can even be remotely associated with the monster you worship.

    Whether you’re a monster worshipper, Petersen, or just an Xtianist Turing bot, you’ve got a long way to go before you learn what it’s like to live among the rest of us humans. I’ve got no use for you.

  312. #316 Carlie
    July 31, 2006

    On the other hand, your lack of explanation and continued efforts to throw it back to me demonstrate that YOU do not have one.

    It has been explained. Several times, in fact, with a link to a very good book about the subject, complete with references you can then check as well. There are hundreds of academic peer-reviewed papers on the subject, dozens of articles in popularizing magazines, and even loads of newspaper articles – I can search the New York Times archives and find a bunch, not to mention the books such as those cited here. If you don’t think there’s an explanation, it’s because you’re sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “la la la” every time someone gives you one.

  313. #317 Damien
    July 31, 2006

    Thwaite: I’ve wondered something similar. Not what the impact on (Judeo) Christianity would have been, but what the impact on real Eastern religions and philosophies was, from having monkeys all over. I guess similar questions could be asked of Africa and South America as well, but Asia seems to have a lock on the literate societies of the group.

  314. #318 thwaite
    July 31, 2006

    I’ve no special expertise here.

    But knowing the ‘red man of the forest’ (orangutans) is lurking quietly about, or seeing the Hanuman langurs frolicking (at best) in the courtyard, or the rhesus macaques gratefully exploiting the hot-springs in a snowy Japanese landscape, perhaps bends the mind toward notions of reincarnation – ?

    One also has to wonder why no culture until the Victorians created a world-view or simple story based on some flavor of biological selection to explain – or even to pose the problem of – diversity within adaptive functions. It’s as if there were a specific absence of biological intuition, complementing the putative god-shaped vaccum in our minds… (but I digress).

  315. #319 naturalist
    July 31, 2006

    MPeterson, When I was in my late teens(a long time ago!) I was as gullable and ready to believe as you seem to do that everything, all the answers to the world were all tied up in one book and by accepting Jesus your my Saviour.
    There was a certain sense of comfort(and arroagnce) I guess in thinking that I knew the truth and that the rest of humanity that was not saved was simply destined for hell. So simplistic and easy really, doesn’t even require much critical thought and of course if anything comes along that would contradict that certainity then the devils hand was in it.

    How grateful I am that I escaped such madness and mediocrity.

    Ponder this MP please as I try to explain something that helped me see how ludicrous it was to think that I had the corner on truth: We live on a small planet in a solar system of a huge size relatively speaking and that solar system resides near the edge a galaxy(Milky Way) that is 100’s of thousands of light years across(a light year is how long it takes for light (186,000 miles per second)to travel in a year, a convenient yardstick of distance when measuring the HUGE distances of space) That galaxy is part of a cluster of other galaxies that are also similiar to those dimensions.
    All of these reside in a universe that we have conservatively estimated to be about 15 BILLION light years in time-space dimensions!

    Question MP? In all that space how likely is it that “the truth” of all time resides in one religion,on one planetary speck in the midst of time-space that for our purposes is almost beyond comprehension…talk about hubris!

    MP please find a way to climb out of this liitle cave you have found yourself in. You will find the the clarity of your “mental” air much purer and the view much more expansive when you leave the darkness of fundamentalist Christianity behind.

  316. #320 Owlmirror
    July 31, 2006

    Another ironic tidbit (I wonder if the fundamental problem with fundamentalists is that they’re irony-blind?):

    I followed the tektonics links offered above. As one might guess, they’re all confused and rather poorly-argued apologetics. One that caught my eye was this one, against the “argument by outrage”, as he calls it:

    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/outrage.html

    If you read it carefully, you’ll see that it argues, among other things, that morality is relative, so the nasty things that God did or sanctioned weren’t that nasty, and that free will does not exist (because of course the children that God killed or permitted to be killed would have been evil).

    Isn’t it great how arguments can be so easily twisted around and about in support of a conclusion that has already been assumed?

  317. #321 Watchman
    July 31, 2006

    Monkeys. Reincarnation. You might be on to something there…!

    Some of you might enjoy a story called “The Deathbird” by Harlan Ellison. Story elements betray a pronounced Gnostic influence. Those of like mind to Mr. Cope may like to file it under: “Whoa – THAT explains a lot!”

    With respect to God, though, I think it’s fair to point out that the New Testament god of Jesus is quite a different sort of Being. Loving, inclusive, etc… all you have to do to belong to the Club is to Believe.

    Which brings me to the strangest thing about M. Peterson’s morality rap which, if I’m not mistaken, boils down to this: “Thanks to Jesus, I’ll get into Heaven no matter what I do.”

    What kind or morality is THAT?!?

  318. #322 Damien
    July 31, 2006

    Believe, and presumably don’t sin too much, as in having gay sex or a divorce.

    Hmm, hadn’t thought of reincarnation as the link. I don’t think China and Japan had it (until Buddhism got imported) but perhaps monkeys are more intermingled in Indian life. They sound like urban pests today… Actually, has anyone besides India made a big deal of reincarnation in their native religion? I tend to think of ancestor worship/sustenance as the default, with Abrahamic religions outsourcing sustenance to God, and Hinduism/Buddhism being the only main reincarnation ones. But I’m no expert.

  319. #323 GH
    July 31, 2006

    Actually divorce is perfectly forgiveable as are all the ‘sins’ if one buys into such ideas that is.

    🙂

  320. #324 Damien
    August 1, 2006

    Where morality comes from: the instincts for love, fairness, revenge, etc. which we’ve evolved as members of a social species. Love keeps a family together — hominids without it had fewer children. Senses of fairness and revenge encode the Tit For Tat logic of retaliating cooperators, well-honored in game theory; tribes with such senses could manage trade and warfare better than those without. This isn’t handwaving; multiple computer models of the evolution of kin selection and reciprocal altruism exist, while related behavior can be found in other species. Empathy for the feelings, including pain, of those you spend your life with has obvious utility as well.

    As for what morality should be — no, we don’t have rules on stone tablets. We do have a condition moral rules should satisfy: each of us wants a system of morality which maximises our own security, opportunity, and pleasure, as defined by even more ancient instincts. Balancing our desires leads one to social contract theory, or utilitarianism, each of which comes in multiple philosophical flavors. How do we pick one? Pragmatically, by whichever one works best, modulated by conservatism and inertia and elite manipulation. An evolutionary process, really…

    And answers like this go back to at least Epicurus, 300 years before Christ, and possibly from the Carvaka (Indiana atheists) 300 years before that. If you haven’t heard of social contracts, utilitarianism, kin selection, reciprocal altruism, or the Prisoner’s Dilemma, then you might understand why those of us who have are curt with your ignorance.

  321. #325 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Good grief it’s like an ostrih with it’s head in the sand. An explanation has been given to you, ours ‘morals’ are a byproduct of the group dynamic in our species and general primate behaviour as a whole. They likely have given us some form of survival benefit.

    And you posting extremely weak arguments from other sites doesn’t bolster your cause. They in an of themselves don’t stand on point.

    You would do well to read the entire thread before posting. I was pointing out the fact that George Cauldron refused to answer my question. There are others here who are actually taking me seriously, because I asked an honest question that I don’t know the answer to. I can only assume that this would be the right place to ask such a question, since this seems to be the mecca of hard-core scientific fervor (and I think the most popular science blog out there).

  322. #326 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    They in an of themselves don’t stand on point.

    Making a claim doesn’t make it true. Please show how they don’t stand on point.

    The whole idea of “universal morality=God” is flawed. Morals change as societies change. We did away with slavery (as condoned in the Bible), we fought and continue to fight for women’s equal rights (in opposition to many passages in the Bible), and we face other moral discussions today about who is a human being, about whether a person’s sexual orientation should affect his/her rights, about whether a person’s religious obligations can supersede his/her professional obligations as with pharmacists refusing to dispense emergency contraception. Morals cannot remain stagnant in an ever-changing world. If you would like to call this moral relativism, so be it.

    Why do we all agree that murder is wrong? (This is barring exceptions, of course; religious fanatics, terrorists, abortion-clinic bombers, Pat Robertson, and the Christian God might disagree.) Because if we all murder one another, there will be no more humans.

    I never said that universal morality = God. Slavery is not condoned in the Bible, but given the reality of slavery God gave instructions as to how slaves should act and be treated. Women have always had equal rights according to the Bible. The Bible simply recognizes the male-dominated culture of the time, and that men and women were created to fill different roles in society and the family (both equal and complimentary). Certainly, as new issues come up, we must evaluate what is right. But if there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, all decisions must be made by collective agreement. The Bible provides a framework to base those decisions on. All naturalism has is trial and error, often validating what God said to begin with.

    Murder is wrong because you would be asserting yourself above God (and would cause the obvious negative consequences). You have no right to decide who lives and who dies, only God does.

  323. #327 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    So its ok for god to murder?

  324. #328 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Petersen, you’re not helping to convince anybody you could pass a Turing test– I suspect you couldn’t pass one in real life. Throwing quotes around without having to reason anything on your own must be part of the appeal of being an Xtianist–never having to think for yourself.

    So let’s say then that you’re fine with God being constrained by morality, that there is an objective standard of morality that’s part of god too.

    First of all, it’s weak. It’s just having the cake and eating it too.

    Most importantly, by any standard of morality Petersen, the god you worship is a monster, without the morality my 4 year old worked out with respect to behavior toward a cat. My son would never even conceive of punishing a cat that clawed him by burning him in a lake of fire in perpetuity. In all the stories, god ordered the rape and torture of women and children. He drowned the entire planet but for a few species he managed to set aside.

    If he created a sinful race (some god, that), and plans to torture for eternity all but those who acknowledge a bloody human sacrifice, then I don’t see where morality is anything that can even be remotely associated with the monster you worship.

    Whether you’re a monster worshipper, Petersen, or just an Xtianist Turing bot, you’ve got a long way to go before you learn what it’s like to live among the rest of us humans. I’ve got no use for you.
    Ahhh, are you upset because I defeated it so easily? Here’s your soother and go sit in the corner.

    So the new rule of debate on this thread is you can’t quote anybody — everyone got that?

    I fail to see how an objective standard of morality is weak. If I have some cake, I want to eat it. Isn’t that what cakes are made for?

    Your 4 year old son has no concept of what perpetuity is, nor does he have control over it. God doesn’t need to answer to me or you, and given our limited capacity to comprehend what God considers in His decision-making, we wouldn’t understand anyway.

    I live among humans every day. Are you referring to those in this thread when you say the rest of us humans? Are you guys all holed up in some secret location?

  325. #329 Carlie
    August 1, 2006

    Whoa, what?? Since when did God make his rules in accordance to the “reality” and “culture” of the society? If he’s the all-powerful and all-important God, couldn’t he tell them “No Slavery” rather than “Well, ok, you have slaves, I guess I can work with that, so just treat them well”????? or “I’d rather women be equal and all, but since you’re so male-dominated, you go right ahead”???

    I’ve heard a lot of weird justifications for things in the Bible before, but that tops most all of them.

    “You have no right to decide who lives and who dies, only God does.”

    I’ve always wondered about this with respect to abortion and contraception. If God has the right to decide who lives, thereby who is created to live, and thereby any conceived child is God’s will, shouldn’t couples make damned sure that God really wants them to be having sex every time they do? If not, they’re outside of God’s will, and might conceive a child without God’s say-so, and have then committed the complementary sin to murder (creation without God’s will, rather than destruction without God’s will).

  326. #330 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    M Petersen:

    Isn’t obvious even to you, by how much dancing and rationalizing you have to do, that the supposed infallibility of god and his word is a farce?

    It’s just so obvious to us on the outside how irrational it is.

    If you got ran over and flattened by a cement truck tomorrow… would that be god’s will?
    She’s decided it’s your time?

  327. #331 RavenT
    August 1, 2006

    Slavery is not condoned in the Bible, but given the reality of slavery God gave instructions as to how slaves should act and be treated. Women have always had equal rights according to the Bible. The Bible simply recognizes the male-dominated culture of the time, and that men and women were created to fill different roles in society and the family (both equal and complimentary).

    If morality is objective, and God is omnipotent, why is he taking his cues about morality from the ways in which fallible humans instantiate their societies?

    Can you really not see how much your insistence on your untenable position forces you to contradict yourself when confronted with facts?

  328. #332 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    You would do well to read the entire thread before posting. I was pointing out the fact that George Cauldron refused to answer my question. There are others here who are actually taking me seriously, because I asked an honest question that I don’t know the answer to. I can only assume that this would be the right place to ask such a question, since this seems to be the mecca of hard-core scientific fervor (and I think the most popular science blog out there).

    We have answered your question. It would be nice if you would quit being weaselly and admit the obvious, that you don’t have an answer to our questions.

  329. #333 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Question MP? In all that space how likely is it that “the truth” of all time resides in one religion,on one planetary speck in the midst of time-space that for our purposes is almost beyond comprehension…talk about hubris!

    MP please find a way to climb out of this liitle cave you have found yourself in. You will find the the clarity of your “mental” air much purer and the view much more expansive when you leave the darkness of fundamentalist Christianity behind.

    Such a calculation of probability is likely flawed at best and impossible at worst. Your presumption of my beliefs about whether humans on this planet are alone in the universe is false. I cannot pretend to know whether or not we are the only ones, God has not addressed the issue. Even so, probability has nothing to do with truth. Say a certain weighted die is twice as likely to show a 6 than any other number. But you roll the die and turn up a 4. The probability being greater for a 6 doesn’t change the fact that you turned up a 4.

    Do you make your decisions of truth based on probability?

  330. #334 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Does god murder?

  331. #335 Watchman
    August 1, 2006

    “Slavery is not condoned in the Bible, but given the reality of slavery God gave instructions as to how slaves should act and be treated.”

    Ah-hah! Just as I suspected – The Bible is the Word Of Man.

    There may be A Creator. That is one of the great unknowables. But I think it’s clear that Man creates a god when he needs to fill a knowledge void.

    Remember Apollo? Thor? I loves those guys, and once upon a time we needed them – but we outgrew them. The knowledge voids concerning the daily arc of the sun, and thunder and lightning, have been filled by science. The role of god(s) in contemporary life has shrunk, for there are really only two meaningful knowledge voids now: 1) The Origin of Life, and 2) What Happens To Our Consciousness When We Die, and 3) The Nature and Origin of the Universe. Oh dear – that’s three. (“Amongst our weaponry…”)

    What we see now is that those who cannot bear to let go of their god resort to all measures of rationization to push away or distort knowledge that makes their god smaller and less (omni)potent. But these measures only succeed in retarding our growth.

    We need to grow. We were created to grow. God would want us to grow. Up.

    If we’re all God’s children, well… who here thinks God wants us living in his basement forever? I don’t. Any good parent wants his children to grow into mature, self-sufficient and productive adults, not fearful and obedient to Mommy and Daddy in perpetuity. That’s dysfunctional.

    The Old Testament God demanded obedience on some pretty basic safetly levels. Don’t eat uncooked pork, don’t have unrestricted unprotected sex or you’ll get icky sores, don’t touch the stove when it’s hot, and don’t stick your tongue in that electrical outlet. But the ultimate goal of any parent is to make themselves unnecessary to the survival of their children. Mutual letting go is part of the program. This can be painful, for both parent and child, but it’s a natural and healthy process.

    Letting go of mythology and restrictive dogma does not mean the death of spirituality. Quite the contrary, I believe. We’re always going to be questing to learn our place in the universe, and the less baggage we have to carry around on that quest, the better.

  332. #336 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Which brings me to the strangest thing about M. Peterson’s morality rap which, if I’m not mistaken, boils down to this: “Thanks to Jesus, I’ll get into Heaven no matter what I do.”

    What kind or morality is THAT?!?

    Your failure to read what I said and what I quoted is evident in your incomplete summary. I will get into Heaven no matter what I do. BUT, what I strive for, what I discipline myself for, is to love God with all my heart and to love others as Jesus loved me (and the way he loved me was to die for me even when I didn’t deserve it). That is the ultimate morality, and there is no better way to live life.

  333. #337 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Sure there is. You just can’t see it.

    Does god murder?

  334. #338 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    Petersen:

    Here’s my question you seem to be avoiding:

    But Petersen, no one provably saw Jesus’s resurrection, and other religious scriptures say very different things. Are you saying the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true?
    Why does your fondness for the Bible prove its truth, and the falseness of other religions?

  335. #339 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    And you don’t dispute the fact that you’re going to heaven DESPITE what you do or think.
    That’s a brilliant system. Is there a hell?

  336. #340 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Whoa, what?? Since when did God make his rules in accordance to the “reality” and “culture” of the society? If he’s the all-powerful and all-important God, couldn’t he tell them “No Slavery” rather than “Well, ok, you have slaves, I guess I can work with that, so just treat them well”????? or “I’d rather women be equal and all, but since you’re so male-dominated, you go right ahead”???

    I’ve heard a lot of weird justifications for things in the Bible before, but that tops most all of them.

    That’s not what I said. God’s objective moral standard is in the Bible, but He also included instructions for the people at that time. Example: Romans was address to …. the Romans.

    Slavery in Biblical times is completely different from the slavery that happenned in the US. I’d be happy to discuss it further at a later time, for now you can refer to:
    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qnoslave.html

    Regarding equal rights, both women and men are equal in the Bible, each has his/her vital role to play.

  337. #341 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Isn’t obvious even to you, by how much dancing and rationalizing you have to do, that the supposed infallibility of god and his word is a farce?

    It’s just so obvious to us on the outside how irrational it is.

    If you got ran over and flattened by a cement truck tomorrow… would that be god’s will?
    She’s decided it’s your time?

    It may be God’s will, I wouldn’t know until He tells me.

  338. #342 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Does god talk to you alot? She going to give you a heads up when the Cement truck driver has one to many buds at lunch and swerves onto the sidewalk and runs you over?

    Or after the fact when your in heaven and she says “You know what? You suffered long enough down there. Sorry it had to be a cement truck, but that guy needed to learn a lesson too.” ?

  339. #343 Ken Cope
    August 1, 2006

    Ahhh, are you upset because I defeated it so easily?

    Actually, you didn’t defeat Euthyphro at all, nor did the quote you provided.

    So the new rule of debate on this thread is you can’t quote anybody — everyone got that?

    Not my point at all. Show that you can make an argument, not just puke up pamphlets like a Jack Chick style Turing bot that any first-year code kiddie could construct. Creationist Jeezoid has to be the lowest-hanging fruit in amateur AI engineering.

    I fail to see how an objective standard of morality is weak.

    That inanity confirms, as if there were any doubt, that MP never even began to comprehend Euthyphro.

    If I have some cake, I want to eat it. Isn’t that what cakes are made for?

    Whoosh

    Your 4 year old son has no concept of what perpetuity is, nor does he have control over it.

    How childishly obtuse. Infinity is not the point, it’s that torture of a living creature is a concept that wouldn’t occur to him. The moral values of my son trump those of the monster you worship. They certainly won’t be improved by subjecting him to tales of your idol’s depravity.

    You continue to evade my question. How is the perpetual torture of all but a handful of humans some sort of moral virtue? (BTW, I want to hear no second law of thermodynamics crap from anybody who worships a god with a perpetual torture device). Now that it’s All-American to torture and export torture franchises to foreign contractors, I can see the inspiration your god/monster has been for the Bushists.

    God doesn’t need to answer to me or you,

    Actually, if your monster has the temerity to exist, the bastard has some explaining to do.

    and given our limited capacity to comprehend what God considers in His decision-making, we wouldn’t understand anyway.

    Bullshit. Don’t handwave ineffability beyond mere human comprehension at me when you’re merely peddling a preposterously inconsistent fairy tale bogeyman. Your petty torturer is far less sophisticated than many fine products of collaborative storytelling, even if we confine our critique to 2000 yr. old god-concepts.

    I live among humans every day.

    You’re badly composed text on a screen. I have to presume you’re a bot unless you can elevate the content and style of your discourse. Fat chance.

  340. #344 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    We have answered your question. It would be nice if you would quit being weaselly and admit the obvious, that you don’t have an answer to our questions.

    Others on the thread who took me seriously answered my question, you dodged it.

    I have answered the question, you’re just not getting it. Steve_C kind of got it, why can’t you?

    God created us with conscience, and He gave us a framework within which we can lives healthy lives.

  341. #345 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Does god murder?
    Is there a hell?

    These are interesting topics that I’d be willing to discuss at a later. Please try to stay on topic.

  342. #346 GH
    August 1, 2006

    M.Petersen,

    You need to stop reading apologetics websites and learn some history:

    Slavery in Biblical times is completely different from the slavery that happenned in the US.

    I’ll be blunt here, only an idiot of the highest order could possibly believe this given the sheer history that we have on this. This entire concept of excusing slavery speaks to the utter and complete dishonesty of apologetics and frankly you do our faith no favors with this line.

    Slavery was terrible in biblical times. The fact that you accept ownership of other humans by humans for whatever reason just so you can make an untenable belief better is simply immoral.

    In this regard M Petersen you are neither honest nor moral. An honest man wouldn’t look to apologetics but his own heart and mind to realize no form of slavery is just. Pathetic.

    Man that pisses me off.

  343. #347 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Petersen:

    Here’s my question you seem to be avoiding:

    But Petersen, no one provably saw Jesus’s resurrection, and other religious scriptures say very different things. Are you saying the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true?
    Why does your fondness for the Bible prove its truth, and the falseness of other religions?

    Ok, I’ll try to type this slowly. I am attempting to stick to one topic here. It is simply too much for me and I end up getting no actual work done.

  344. #348 Ken Cope
    August 1, 2006

    Does god murder?
    Is there a hell?

    These are interesting topics that I’d be willing to discuss at a later. Please try to stay on topic.

    That’s got to win the prize for evasion.

    You have the effrontery to play topic cop on a thread you’ve hijacked. This thread started with our host’s post with the thesis that the best refutation of religion is scripture, a point you prove with your every canned sanctimonious bleat.

    Inanity cubed!

  345. #349 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Does god murder? Is completely on topic. Goes back to your whole god can’t even KNOW evil because he is only good.

    Remember the whole discussion where you argued that God created MAN and HIS morals.

    We were arguing that man’s altruistic tendancies and empathy has evolved and is engrained in us. And has been for a long long time. We see it in Macaques. We see it in may different species.

  346. #350 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Actually, you didn’t defeat Euthyphro at all, nor did the quote you provided.

    The entire dilemma is false to begin with.

    Not my point at all. Show that you can make an argument, not just puke up pamphlets like a Jack Chick style Turing bot that any first-year code kiddie could construct. Creationist Jeezoid has to be the lowest-hanging fruit in amateur AI engineering.

    I have shown that numerous times. You however, result to belittling and name-calling to make yourself feel better and claim victory. It must be difficult to live with such low self-esteem. Try re-reading the Bible.

    That inanity confirms, as if there were any doubt, that MP never even began to comprehend Euthyphro.

    It would be more helpful and much faster if you could bring yourself down out of your self-importance, and actually answer a question.

    Infinity is not the point, it’s that torture of a living creature is a concept that wouldn’t occur to him.

    Wow, back up there. TORTURE of a living creature is NOT a concept that would occur to a 4 year old? Do you spend any time with your son?

    How is the perpetual torture of all but a handful of humans some sort of moral virtue?

    The moral virtue is that God is just, but He is also patient and loving, not wanting anyone to perish. But if that is your decision, God will honour it because He gave you the ability to either choose or deny Him.

    Actually, if your monster has the temerity to exist, the bastard has some explaining to do.

    The entire reason YOU exist is because of Him. What could He possibly owe you, the creation? In His love, God reached out to us.

    You’re badly composed text on a screen. I have to presume you’re a bot unless you can elevate the content and style of your discourse. Fat chance.

    This is by far the lowest form of arguing there is. If you can’t bare to suffer my writing, don’t read it. Your time is probably better spent with your son anyway.

  347. #351 j
    August 1, 2006

    Yes, the question of God’s morality is very much on topic. If humans got their morality from God, and God murders…

  348. #352 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    I’ll be blunt here, only an idiot of the highest order could possibly believe this given the sheer history that we have on this. This entire concept of excusing slavery speaks to the utter and complete dishonesty of apologetics and frankly you do our faith no favors with this line.

    Slavery was terrible in biblical times. The fact that you accept ownership of other humans by humans for whatever reason just so you can make an untenable belief better is simply immoral.

    In this regard M Petersen you are neither honest nor moral. An honest man wouldn’t look to apologetics but his own heart and mind to realize no form of slavery is just. Pathetic.

    Man that pisses me off.

    Don’t hold back on my account, please do be blunt. I’d be happy to discuss it further at a later time on ANOTHER THREAD.

  349. #353 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    I don’t exist because of god. I exist because a long line of homo sapiens have procreated for a long long time. And no they are not descended from Adam. There was no adam.
    Jesus is almost as unlikely.

    All your beliefs are based on faith and what you read in a book.
    And not a very well written book at that.

    Of course GOD doesn’t murder because there is NO GOD. God does kill people in various ways in your book though. But he’s a just god so that’s ok.

    Is it even possible for you to answer a question without referring to your book or your religion?

  350. #354 Owlmirror
    August 1, 2006

    Slavery is not condoned in the Bible, but given the reality of slavery God gave instructions as to how slaves should act and be treated.

    I don’t think the word “condoned” means what you think it means. I would recommend that you examine the dictionary definition carefully, then re-read your above sentence. You’ve essentially written that God (and the bible) does condone slavery.

    If a politician said something like “I don’t condone homosexuality, but given the reality of homosexuality, homosexuals should have the exact same rights as heterosexuals in all things”, wouldn’t you have a sneaking suspicion that the second part of the sentence was completely at odds with the first?

  351. #355 Ken Cope
    August 1, 2006

    Wow, back up there. TORTURE of a living creature is NOT a concept that would occur to a 4 year old? Do you spend any time with your son?

    Fuck you too.

    My wife and I limit and arrange our working hours so we can spend more time with our children than most people can. We monitor everything our son sees does and reads (he’s been reading since he was three). And he hasn’t been subjected to religion. Where would he get such a notion, but from monster worshippers like you? Perhaps you should run out and find a four year old child raised by atheists. You have a lot to learn.

    How is the perpetual torture of all but a handful of humans some sort of moral virtue?

    The moral virtue is that God is just, but He is also patient and loving, not wanting anyone to perish. But if that is your decision, God will honour it because He gave you the ability to either choose or deny Him.

    It’s a Good Life, ain’t it? I just can’t wait to be wished into the cornfield, can you?

  352. #356 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    No, MP, you’re continuing to be evasive. You haven’t answered THIS at all:

    Why does your fondness for the Bible prove its truth, and the falseness of other religions?

    If you have no emperical answer other than your faith, just admit that.

  353. #357 Damien
    August 1, 2006

    GH: I didn’t read all of that christian-thinktank url and wouldn’t trust it far anyway, but my understanding is that New World slavery *was* different from most other instances. Classical slavery has a lot of manumission and integration into society, or slaves buying their freedom. Of course, that’s probably more for house slaves than field or mine slaves. The idea that ‘slavery’ might be conflating different institutions together doesn’t seem obviously false to me.

    “The entire reason YOU exist is because of Him. What could He possibly owe you, the creation?”

    He would owe us a decent life. Eternal torture is certainly not justified by creation. Read Frankenstein, where the sin is not creating the Monster but Victor’s being an ass to his creation.

    “It must be difficult to live with such low self-esteem. Try re-reading the Bible.”

    That’s not the way to get yourself taken seriously here.

  354. #358 GH
    August 1, 2006

    The moral virtue is that God is just, but He is also patient and loving, not wanting anyone to perish. But if that is your decision, God will honour it because He gave you the ability to either choose or deny Him

    You start with a presumption- God is just and go from there.

    But here is the kicker,with your ‘logic’ he is neither just or loving and you don’t have free will at all. You have a choice to love him or suffer. Thats not really a choice at all.

    Secondly is this how you treat others and your children? If they don’t love you, you say then suffer and torture them?

    I’m sorry M, this is not justice, free will, or love. It’s a monstrous idea.

  355. #359 GH
    August 1, 2006

    but my understanding is that New World slavery *was* different from most other instances. Classical slavery has a lot of manumission and integration into society, or slaves buying their freedom. Of course, that’s probably more for house slaves than field or mine slaves. The idea that ‘slavery’ might be conflating different institutions together doesn’t seem obviously false to me.

    One only needs to see how slaves where kept in Rome to see the parallels. And in my view how can it possibly matter? If a human owns another human even if they can buy their freedom is that not still a disgusting concept? Is that not beneath humanity?

    I can’t believe that people argue over which form of slavery was ‘better’?

  356. #360 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    And weren’t women considered property in the bible?

    Where does this “women have always been equal in the bible” stuff come from?

    It doesn’t say MEN OBEY YOUR WIVES.

  357. #361 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Does god murder? Is completely on topic. Goes back to your whole god can’t even KNOW evil because he is only good.

    Remember the whole discussion where you argued that God created MAN and HIS morals.

    We were arguing that man’s altruistic tendancies and empathy has evolved and is engrained in us. And has been for a long long time. We see it in Macaques. We see it in may different species.

    Sorry I didn’t see the connection there.

    It is shown in the Bible that God has used death as a punishment for sin. Whether He continues to use it cannot be known.

    I see this empathy in Macaques as God designing an animal to be able to learn and adapt to survive.

    It still brings me back to the question of right and wrong. There is no right and wrong in naturalism – ‘morals’ are based solely on the effects of the behaviour.

    I think most people would agree that Hitler’s actions were wrong. But if there is no objective standard of morality, then Hitler has the right to set his own rules. Hitler thought his way was the ‘right’ way and many Germans at that time followed him and agreed. Was Hitler right? No. How do you decide that he was wrong? Because he hurt other people. Why is that bad? Because I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me, it hurts. But what is true for me is not necessarily true for you …

    In naturalism, you cannot claim anything to be right or wrong from a moral standpoint. It makes no sense.

    Why is it any more subjective than your religious beliefs?

    Because my religious beliefs are based on an objective moral standard set by God. It is a much better system than the one that naturalism provides because it doesn’t change. Would you agree that killing people for sport is wrong? How would your viewpoint change if it became socially acceptable?

  358. #362 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Fuck you too.

    My wife and I limit and arrange our working hours so we can spend more time with our children than most people can. We monitor everything our son sees does and reads (he’s been reading since he was three). And he hasn’t been subjected to religion. Where would he get such a notion, but from monster worshippers like you? Perhaps you should run out and find a four year old child raised by atheists. You have a lot to learn.

    He would get that notion from himself and from Satan. People are NOT inherently good, contrary to popular belief. You don’t like religious references, so how about Willing Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” ?

  359. #363 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Why does your fondness for the Bible prove its truth, and the falseness of other religions?

    If you have no emperical answer other than your faith, just admit that.

    You just don’t get it. In this discussion, I am not trying to prove the Bible is true, nor am I trying to prove other religions are false. I am presenting my argument assuming it’s true. Do you really want to get into attacking each other’s basic assumptions?

  360. #364 Uber
    August 1, 2006

    People are NOT inherently good, contrary to popular belief.

    really? Then why are 99% of the worlds people kind and generous regardless of the religion they follow. They love their friends and families,pets, etc and never hurt a soul. Why do you think such things and why do you allow them in your head? This poor idea of your own humans.

    Because my religious beliefs are based on an objective moral standard set by God.

    No, its not. It’s a sujective view of a text. Period. And only one version of 1000’s and thats just that version of God.

    But if there is no objective standard of morality, then Hitler has the right to set his own rules.

    He did, and how did the world respond? You don’t get to set your own rules. Our species has developed general rules that work to provide a successful social structure. This is where you get lost, each individual can only make his own rules until they run into another and the group as a whole. They are stronger than the individual.

  361. #365 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    He would owe us a decent life. Eternal torture is certainly not justified by creation. Read Frankenstein, where the sin is not creating the Monster but Victor’s being an ass to his creation.

    Why does He owe you a decent life? Like it or not, you don’t have a choice in that matter. God gets to make the rules. The rebellion is obvious, you don’t want anybody telling you what to do. If God has given me free will, then I can do what I like without consequence, and God should just leave me alone. There are consequences to all of your actions, both here and after you die. All the wishful thinking in the world isn’t going to change that.

  362. #366 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Do you really want to get into attacking each other’s basic assumptions?

    BINGO!!!!

    You basic assumption is that god exists.

  363. #367 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    Why is it any more subjective than your religious beliefs?

    Because my religious beliefs are based on an objective

    “Objective?????” Do you even know what that word means?

    moral standard set by God.

    And your proof of that is…?

    It is a much better system than the one that naturalism provides because it doesn’t change. Would you agree that killing people for sport is wrong? How would your viewpoint change if it became socially acceptable?

    You’re more foolish than I thought if you think that the moral standards of Christians have never changed. Do you think slavery is wrong? Stoning witches? Do you have the same opinion on the death penalty as all other Christians?

    Dare I ask what logic you use to prove that the ‘objective moral standard’ you derive from the Bible is superior to that of Muslims, Zoroastrians, Hindus, or Buddhists? The last 3 groups, at least, have written moral codes far older than Christianity, since you seem to think being old is so crucial.

    Also, let me ask this again, to give you another chance to ignore it:

    Why does your fondness for the Bible prove its truth, and the falseness of other religions?

  364. #368 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    There’s a difference between saying.

    I KNOW god exists versus I have no proof but I BELIEVE he exists.

  365. #369 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    I KNOW god exists versus I have no proof but I BELIEVE he exists.

    I do not believe there is any such distinction inside Petersen’s brain.

  366. #370 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    Yup. That’s the glitch I mentioned above. He can’t even see it.

  367. #371 Steve LaBonne
    August 1, 2006

    Here’s what Jesus thought of people who self-righteously parade their “morality”:

    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

  368. #372 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Secondly is this how you treat others and your children? If they don’t love you, you say then suffer and torture them? I’m sorry M, this is not justice, free will, or love. It’s a monstrous idea.

    No. What isn’t justice is the fact that Jesus died for you, while he knew you’d rebel — no, that’s love.

  369. #373 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    No. What isn’t justice is the fact that Jesus died for you, while he knew you’d rebel — no, that’s love.

    Petersen is still resisting the temptation to convert anyone, I see…

  370. #374 j
    August 1, 2006

    Oh, for God’s sake. Jesus died. Tragic.

    And the millions of people before Him and after Him who died and will die because of religion? Even more tragic.

  371. #375 Uber
    August 1, 2006

    This it it for me then I’m done. This is like wathcing a car crash on the freeway.

    The rebellion is obvious, you don’t want anybody telling you what to do. If God has given me free will, then I can do what I like without consequence, and God should just leave me alone. There are consequences to all of your actions, both here and after you die. All the wishful thinking in the world isn’t going to change that.

    Rebellion? what rebellion? I am a law abiding citizen who loves his wife and family. Most often I’m called straight laced. yeah alot of rebelillion here. How do you know there are consequences after you die?

    And again if the consequences after people die is that of eternal torment for an opionion and finite actions it says more about the torturer than the tortured.

    You entire belief structure is based on wishful thinking but here you use it for you. How can one human be so twisted up?

    No. What isn’t justice is the fact that Jesus died for you, while he knew you’d rebel — no, that’s love.

    If he died for us then the debt is paid. Your seeking to make everyone believe seems to diminish this quite abit. And by the way if God knows all and is eternal then he knew this from the get go. How is it love to torture people? How does that even work for you?

    Oh thats right religion has made you accept immoral actions that you otherwise would find abhorent.

  372. #376 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    He did, and how did the world respond? You don’t get to set your own rules. Our species has developed general rules that work to provide a successful social structure. This is where you get lost, each individual can only make his own rules until they run into another and the group as a whole. They are stronger than the individual.

    Why is one collective’s rights stronger than another’s? It can provide a successful social structure (though I’m not sure how successful we are sometimes), but you can’t call it ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. There is no right and wrong according to this view.

  373. #377 Steve LaBonne
    August 1, 2006

    Another text for our Christianist(NOT Christian)friend M Petersen:

    Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

  374. #378 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Do you really want to get into attacking each other’s basic assumptions?

    BINGO!!!!

    You basic assumption is that god exists.

    Assumption was the wrong word for what I was trying to describe. We are BOTH making arguments based on our basic principles of life, etc.

  375. #379 Uber
    August 1, 2006

    Why is one collective’s rights stronger than another’s? It can provide a successful social structure (though I’m not sure how successful we are sometimes), but you can’t call it ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. There is no right and wrong according to this view.

    Because the collective maintains the social order which enables each individual to in turn have a shot at success. We are all helped and protected by each other, likewise we all protect and help each other. It’s a mutually beneficial scenario.

    You seem to be caught up on words, right or wrong? Virtually all activities in humanity can be either right or wrong depending on widely varying circustances. Your creating a false dicotomy and that is why you can’t see what is obvious. You want reality to fit your preconcieved notions. It doesn’t.

  376. #380 JimC
    August 1, 2006

    Assumption was the wrong word for what I was trying to describe. We are BOTH making arguments based on our basic principles of life, etc.

    Yeah but your assumptions have no reality behind it. It’s belief plain and simple.

  377. #381 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    And your proof of that is…?

    Bible.

    You’re more foolish than I thought if you think that the moral standards of Christians have never changed. Do you think slavery is wrong? Stoning witches? Do you have the same opinion on the death penalty as all other Christians?

    Dare I ask what logic you use to prove that the ‘objective moral standard’ you derive from the Bible is superior to that of Muslims, Zoroastrians, Hindus, or Buddhists? The last 3 groups, at least, have written moral codes far older than Christianity, since you seem to think being old is so crucial.

    There is a difference between the subjective moral standards of men (these change with the times), and the objective moral standards set by God (these never change).

    When did I say that the Bible’s moral standard is superior to other religions? When did I say that being old was so important?

    Also, let me ask this again, to give you another chance to ignore it:

    Thanks.

  378. #382 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    When did I say that the Bible’s moral standard is superior to other religions?

    So you’re willing to accept that the Bible’s moral standard is the equal of that of the Muslims, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists?

    There is a difference between the subjective moral standards of men (these change with the times), and the objective moral standards set by God (these never change).

    Again, you’re wildly naive if you think there are objective moral standards set down by god that exist irrespective of how men interpret them.

  379. #383 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    I KNOW god exists versus I have no proof but I BELIEVE he exists.

    I do not believe there is any such distinction inside Petersen’s brain.

    I have proof, but there is definately a point where I must believe. Faith and knowledge both have a part to play in my theology.

  380. #384 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Here’s what Jesus thought of people who self-righteously parade their “morality”:
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

    Thank you for that. I should be careful not to claim that I am better than anyone else in my practice of the moral standard God has set out for me.

  381. #385 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    I have proof, but there is definately a point where I must believe. Faith and knowledge both have a part to play in my theology.

    Wow, it took 24 hours of pounding to get Petersen just to make THIS admission.

  382. #386 JimC
    August 1, 2006

    I have proof,

    Good then you don’t need faith. Your likely a decent fellow but your lying to yourself on this issue and that makes you dishonest at other points in life.

  383. #387 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Petersen is still resisting the temptation to convert anyone, I see…

    Are you feeling convicted George? Cause if you are, it’s certainly not me.

  384. #388 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    ‘Convicted’?

    Sorry, I have no idea what you mean here by ‘convicted’.

    I suspect this is some jargon term you hear in church that won’t make any sense to anyone outside your sphere.

    Have an answer to that Muslim, etc. question?

  385. #389 Owlmirror
    August 1, 2006

    Do you really want to get into attacking each other’s basic assumptions?

    Well, it’s certainly what you’ve been doing.

    While some of the responses you’ve been receiving have been very rude, I think it is fair to point out when your basic assumptions (or the basic assumptions of the arguments that you’ve pointed at as supporting your assertions) are either internally inconsistent, or downright contradictory.

    For example, first you were arguing that that God is inherently good, then you changed that and started arguing that God can do whatever he wants to his creation. If God has no moral obligations whatsoever towards his creation, then God is amoral; you’re now arguing that might makes right.

  386. #390 Watchman
    August 1, 2006

    Re: Equality of women. Lesseee now…

    The Bible decrees that when a woman bears a boy child, she is “unclean” for seven days and is kept apart from worship for 40 days. Even more intriging is that when a woman bears a girl child, she is “unclean” for a fortnight and is kept apart from worship for 80 days. What psychotic misogynist dreamt that one up?

    What’s that you say? This is the word of God?

    Oh.

    And what about this passage?

    “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

    I’m sorry – am I off-topic? My bad.

  387. #391 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Rebellion? what rebellion? I am a law abiding citizen who loves his wife and family. Most often I’m called straight laced. yeah alot of rebelillion here. How do you know there are consequences after you die?

    And again if the consequences after people die is that of eternal torment for an opionion and finite actions it says more about the torturer than the tortured.

    You entire belief structure is based on wishful thinking but here you use it for you. How can one human be so twisted up?

    Rebellion against God. God says there are consequences after you die. You can whine about it all you like, you can’t change it.

    If he died for us then the debt is paid. Your seeking to make everyone believe seems to diminish this quite abit.

    I really don’t have the strength to go into this right now.

    How is it love to torture people?

    It isn’t. When did I claim it was?

    Oh thats right religion has made you accept immoral actions that you otherwise would find abhorent.

    What immoral actions are you referring to?

    You can’t turn back to God and say “That’s immoral”. I understand your point of view here. God created me, now he’s threatening to torture me if I don’t believe. I’d rather he didn’t create me at all.

    I look at it as God created me and he wants to have a relationship with me, but I have to choose him.

    What good is it to create something that has no choice but to love you back? You have a choice, you just don’t like the consequences if you choose against God.

  388. #392 M Petersen
    August 1, 2006

    Another text for our Christianist(NOT Christian)friend M Petersen:

    Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

    Thank you very much for reminding me of that. It’s been enjoyable discussing these things with all of you. Have a great day. I must get some work done now, and I have some emergency ‘beam in eye’ surgery to perform.

  389. #393 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    Perhaps a more apt term is ‘witnessing’.

    Yawn.

  390. #394 Damien
    August 1, 2006

    “Don’t like the consequences.” But God set those consequences, eternal hellfire (according to the Gospels; Paul seemed to just go for eternal oblivion, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yay for Biblical consistency.)

    “I think most people would agree that Hitler’s actions were wrong. But if there is no objective standard of morality, then Hitler has the right to set his own rules. Hitler thought his way was the ‘right’ way and many Germans at that time followed him and agreed. Was Hitler right? No. How do you decide that he was wrong?”

    This criticism eats itself. Yes, there’s no objective right and wrong, and Hitler could be said to have the right to set his rules. But then so do we, and he lost the war.

    Trying to avoid resorting to might makes right all the time is how we get systems of equality and fairness, like social contracts, utilitarianism, and democracy.

    No, the universe isn’t fair. But we can try to make it fairer. — Iain M. Banks

  391. #395 Steviepinhead
    August 1, 2006

    Yo, “M for Maroon” Peterson, I’ve got no problem with your ignoring all the logical points that have been righteously scored against your puerile apologetics. I would expect nothing better from you and wouldn’t personally have wasted all the time all these good (and several Godly) folks have expended in trying to invite you outside your pre-commitments.

    But I specifically took the time to educate you on a non-controversial, non-religious, non-metaphysical point–the correct spelling of the English word “definitely”–and yet you just blew it again, all over the internet, as if you didn’t know any better.

    You’re not just a maroon. You’re an incorrigible maroon.

  392. #396 Owlmirror
    August 1, 2006

    Rebellion against God.

    What does “rebellion” mean, anyway? If someone rejects God’s very existence, but accepts that we should behave morally towards other people because other people are evidently real, is that “rebellion”?

    God says there are consequences after you die.

    Why aren’t there consequences while we’re alive? After all, we’re performing this so-called “rebellion” while we’re alive.

    You can whine about it all you like, you can’t change it.

    We can reject it if there’s no evidence for it, and if it’s an inconsistent and self-contradictory idea.

  393. #397 George Cauldron
    August 1, 2006

    In my interpretation of the particular religious system which I have chosen, God says there are consequences after you die, though of course I have no particular proof of this, and essentially just accept it on faith, though I will never admit that.

    There, fixed it for ya.

  394. #398 j
    August 1, 2006
    And your proof of that is…?

    Bible.

    The word “proof” has just been redefined.

  395. #399 George
    August 1, 2006

    “I look at it as God created me and he wants to have a relationship with me, but I have to choose him.”

    People can convince themselves of anything. That’s one of the most frightening things about us as a species.

    It would be more honest to say you create God in your own head and you want to have a relationship with some part of yourself, but you have to choose to do it.

    It’s all a bunch of solipsistic b.s.

  396. #400 Steve_C
    August 1, 2006

    I think we’ve established that Petersen is of the…

    I know god exists I have proof clan.

    Versus I know it’s irrational but I believe in god anyway.

    There’s no real point in arguing with those who don’t even recognise that they’re entire belief system is based on faith versus reality. They can’t even see the difference in logic.

    He couldn’t even address it. Can’t even see that the bible is NOT proof.

  397. #401 AC
    August 1, 2006

    I think M.P.’s god is fairly described as inhuman. The trick is that we consider that an insult, whereas M.P. likely considers it a virtue. The impasse is that M.P. believes in an additional Platonic layer on top of reality, where his god resides, and we have the sense not to.

  398. #403 natuarlist
    August 1, 2006

    MP, I probably did not make my statements clear. I am not saying I base my life on probabilities. I am saying that if a universe is this large how can you possibly know that there is one truth over all? It’s impossible. To do so you would have to examine every corner of the cosmos. I am saying Christians and other religions are nor seeing our lives in context of where we exist. We are so cloistered so to speak on one small planet and in our limited places we travel and live daily that most of don’t think about in context of the space we actually live in.

    If “God” or my preference: a original primary force does exist I do not believe we have found it.

    The cave I am talking about MP is the one you and other religious believers have created for yourselves when you limit the world to such small parameters that your beliefs squeeze you into. Even Paul said we see through a “glass darkly”. Our species is still so young and with so much to learn in relation to how much time has preceeded us. Open up your mind and see that these limited concepts and rules you have created about existence are incredibly short-sighted and downright silly. I apologize if that offends you but there is life after Christianity. You will not melt or burn or be forsaken. Just let yourself see there are alternatives to this corner you have backed into.

    Another point MP is that the concepts of good and evil were constructs of the development of the human mind and culture. They have no force outside of that and are not embodied in anything much less a deity or a devil. This does not mean we don’t need some guidance and laws which we agree on to make life harmonious and bearable, just don’t get obsessed with the idea that when you do somthing good or bad you have obeyed or disobeyed some cosmic injunction.

  399. #404 natuarlist
    August 1, 2006

    MP, I probably did not make my statements clear. I am not saying I base my life on probabilities. I am saying that if a universe is this large how can you possibly know that there is one truth over all? It’s impossible. To do so you would have to examine every corner of the cosmos. I am saying Christians and other religions are nor seeing our lives in context of where we exist. We are so cloistered so to speak on one small planet and in our limited places we travel and live daily that most of don’t think about in context of the space we actually live in.

    If “God” does exist I do not believe we have found it.

    The cave I am talking about MP is the one you and other religious believers have created for yourselves when you limit the world to such small parameters that your beliefs squeeze you into. Even Paul said we see through a “glass darkly”. Our species is still so young and with so much to learn in relation to how much time has preceeded us. Open up your mind and see that these limited concepts and rules you have created about existence are so short-sighted and downright silly. I apologize if that offends you but there is life after Christianity, I assure you. You will not melt or burn or be forsaken. Just let yourself see there are alternatives to this corner you have backed into.

    Another point MP is that the concepts of good and evil were constructs of the development of the human mind and culture. They have no force outside of that and are not embodied in anything much less a deity or a devil. This does not mean we don’t need some guidance and laws which we agree on to make life harmonious and bearable, just don’t get obsessed with the idea that when you do somthing good or bad you have obeyed or disobeyed some cosmic injunction.

  400. #405 Ken Cope
    August 2, 2006

    George Carlin whittles the ten commandments down to mostly one, maybe two, three tops:
    Carlin’s Commandments

  401. #406 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Yo, “M for Maroon” Peterson, I’ve got no problem with your ignoring all the logical points that have been righteously scored against your puerile apologetics. I would expect nothing better from you and wouldn’t personally have wasted all the time all these good (and several Godly) folks have expended in trying to invite you outside your pre-commitments.

    But I specifically took the time to educate you on a non-controversial, non-religious, non-metaphysical point–the correct spelling of the English word “definitely”–and yet you just blew it again, all over the internet, as if you didn’t know any better.

    You’re not just a maroon. You’re an incorrigible maroon.

    In the same way, I would expect nothing better from you than spell-checking. Is that all the value you add to this discussion?

  402. #407 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    You don’t even GET the discussion.

    You can’t see the difference between faith and reality.

  403. #408 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    What does “rebellion” mean, anyway? If someone rejects God’s very existence, but accepts that we should behave morally towards other people because other people are evidently real, is that “rebellion”?

    Rejecting God’s existence would be considered rebellion.

    Why aren’t there consequences while we’re alive? After all, we’re performing this so-called “rebellion” while we’re alive.

    If you read one of my previous posts, you’ll see that I acknowledged there are consequences while we’re still alive.

    We can reject it if there’s no evidence for it, and if it’s an inconsistent and self-contradictory idea.

    Again, you’re quite free to accept or reject whatever you like. How you justify your decision is entirely up to you.

  404. #409 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    In my interpretation of the particular religious system which I have chosen, God says there are consequences after you die, which I accept on faith based on the Bible.

    Does that clear things up for you?

  405. #410 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    Do you or do you not agree, there is no proof or evidence of God?

  406. #411 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    I think M.P.’s god is fairly described as inhuman. The trick is that we consider that an insult, whereas M.P. likely considers it a virtue. The impasse is that M.P. believes in an additional Platonic layer on top of reality, where his god resides, and we have the sense not to.

    I disagree with that description of God. God is fair, kind, and merciful — which I consider virtues.

  407. #412 Owlmirror
    August 2, 2006
    Why aren’t there consequences while we’re alive? After all, we’re performing this so-called “rebellion” while we’re alive.

    If you read one of my previous posts, you’ll see that I acknowledged there are consequences while we’re still alive.

    Pretending, for the moment, that this God you believe in exists and that there are indeed consequences while we’re still alive from rejecting this God, how are these consequences to be distinguished from purely natural events? Are there consequences that only the nonreligous feel, and that the religious never feel?

  408. #413 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    I am saying that if a universe is this large how can you possibly know that there is one truth over all? It’s impossible. To do so you would have to examine every corner of the cosmos.

    How can you know anything is true about the universe? By your reasoning, you cannot know anything because it is impossible to examine every corner of the cosmos. Therefore, all you have is your subjective opinion.
    Conversely, my beliefs are based on an objective truth revealed by God. It remains true whether I believe it or not.

    Another point MP is that the concepts of good and evil were constructs of the development of the human mind and culture. They have no force outside of that and are not embodied in anything much less a deity or a devil. This does not mean we don’t need some guidance and laws which we agree on to make life harmonious and bearable, just don’t get obsessed with the idea that when you do somthing good or bad you have obeyed or disobeyed some cosmic injunction.

    The concepts of good and evil were given to us by God, the designer of life.

    A quote from A.S.A. Jones:

    God is, by definition, the author or designer of life. A designer designs with intention. Only the designer is in a position to know his intention; all others can only speculate concerning his intention. For example, players, without the set of instructions for a new board game, can only have opinions as to how the game is designed to be played. They don’t know, with certainty, the objective intent of its designer. But when the designer reveals the objective purpose of the game through written instructions and rules, he objectively states his intention. The designer is the authority concerning his design; he is the objective authority when it comes to purpose of the design because only he can know, with certainty, its purpose. He may attempt to make that purpose known to others, but that attempt would make it open to interpretation. But to agree that the designer’s expressed intentions as to how the game is to be played, are just as subjective as one’s own interpretation of the game, would be like saying to another, “We know what you think you mean, but we disagree that you really mean it.”

    Skeptics may say that Christians deceive themselves into believing that there is a god, in order to supply their lives with an objective purpose. Of course, whether or not this god exists remains open to debate. Skeptics, however, reject the concept of a deity, and, therefore, reject any concept of an objective purpose to their lives, but emotionally maintain that their lives have a purpose, a purpose that can only be imaginary. At least there is the possibility that our God is real, and we don’t have to pretend that our lives have meaning.

  409. #414 AC
    August 2, 2006

    I disagree with that description of God. God is fair, kind, and merciful — which I consider virtues.

    Virtues that come from, and are defined by the nature of, God, though. The point is that your beliefs are inherently misanthropic. Platonism denigrates the “non-ideal”, and your religion’s particular instance is no exception. You are not bothered by that, but others are. It causes us to react in shock and dismay when you nonchalantly describe God as an abusive, dysfunctional parent and “honestly question” one’s ability to synthesize morals in the absence of God-belief.

    I think if you shifted your focus away from this supposed plane of divine perfection and immutable Truth and instead toward the real world, and the real situations faced by the real people in it, you would stand a much better chance of understanding the humanist position. Absolutes are not available; fortunately enough, they are also not necessary.

  410. #415 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Do you or do you not agree, there is no proof or evidence of God?

    Proof? It depends on how you are using the word. The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven. However, there is much evidence that points to the existence of God, including but not limited to the design of the universe, the Bible, Jesus existence and resurrection, etc.

  411. #416 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    No it doesn’t. None of the things you cited are proof.
    None of the things you even cited are proved themselves.

    Just trying to establish whether your belief system is based entirely on faith.
    Or whether you think it’s based on reality (the one where there’s proof/evidence of God).

    There’s a huge difference in how you view the world based on why you believe what you believe.

  412. #417 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Pretending, for the moment, that this God you believe in exists and that there are indeed consequences while we’re still alive from rejecting this God, how are these consequences to be distinguished from purely natural events?

    That is a good question, but a distinction does not necessarily need to be made here. The consequences in this life can be purely natural events. There may also be consequences that God causes outside of the natural world. There is no way to tell the difference unless God reveals it to you.

    Are there consequences that only the nonreligous feel, and that the religious never feel?

    Perhaps. The natural consequences of our behaviour are common to both. So I suppose it would depend on how you live you life here on Earth, and your circumstances.

  413. #418 Carlie
    August 2, 2006

    M Peterson, you keep using the word “objective”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  414. #419 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    No it doesn’t. None of the things you cited are proof.

    I made a clear distinction between proof and evidence.

    None of the things you even cited are proved themselves.

    They are within a reasonable doubt in my mind.

  415. #420 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Virtues that come from, and are defined by the nature of, God, though. The point is that your beliefs are inherently misanthropic. Platonism denigrates the “non-ideal”, and your religion’s particular instance is no exception. You are not bothered by that, but others are. It causes us to react in shock and dismay when you nonchalantly describe God as an abusive, dysfunctional parent and “honestly question” one’s ability to synthesize morals in the absence of God-belief.

    I think if you shifted your focus away from this supposed plane of divine perfection and immutable Truth and instead toward the real world, and the real situations faced by the real people in it, you would stand a much better chance of understanding the humanist position. Absolutes are not available; fortunately enough, they are also not necessary.

    I can certainly understand your dismay in my nonchalant description of what is reality. I have already accepted the immutable Truth. I really do not want any of you to be separated from God for eternity (I thought I said that before). However, the choice is yours to make. I think if you shifted your focus away from complaining about the reality of life and instead toward acceptance, you can begin to know God. It’s not easy to let go of pride, but if you do, the reward is well worth it.

  416. #421 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    M Peterson, you keep using the word “objective”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Well let’s consult Merriam-Webster:
    Main Entry: 1ob·jec·tive
    Pronunciation: &b-'jek-tiv, äb-
    Function: adjective
    1 a : relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence — used chiefly in medieval philosophy b : of, relating to, or being an object , phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind <objective reality> <our reveries…are significantly and repeatedly shaped by our transactions with the objective world — Marvin Reznikoff> — compare SUBJECTIVE 3a c of a symptom of disease : perceptible to persons other than the affected individual — compare SUBJECTIVE 4c d : involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects , conditions, or phenomena <objective awareness> <objective data>

    What I believe is irrelevant in affecting the objective moral standards of God, nor does it affect what is objectively true.

    Can you explain your position further?

  417. #422 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    So you admit that your belief system is based entirely on faith?

    Citing your admission that there is lack of proof OR evidence for god or the resurrection.

  418. #423 George Cauldron
    August 2, 2006

    Petersen, please offer us your ‘proof’ of Jesus’s resurrection, since you claim it’s part of your proof of God’s existence.

    Now, remember, if you have no proof of Jesus’s resurrection other than ‘the Bible says it and I choose to believe it’, that’s not, like, you know, real PROOF. That means that your beliefs are no more objective or proven than anyone of any other religion. Even those religions I bet you disapprove of.

    I was pleased to see you admit this:

    In my interpretation of the particular religious system which I have chosen, God says there are consequences after you die, which I accept on faith based on the Bible.

    If you admit this is true, why should ANY of us care about your religious beliefs? Why do you think we want to hear them? Why is it important? What’s so special about you?

  419. #424 AC
    August 2, 2006

    Skeptics, however, reject the concept of a deity, and, therefore, reject any concept of an objective purpose to their lives, but emotionally maintain that their lives have a purpose, a purpose that can only be imaginary. At least there is the possibility that our God is real, and we don’t have to pretend that our lives have meaning.

    Again, you’re hamstrung by Platonism. Meaning is not some ethereal substance bestowed upon people from a non-human source. It is a purely subjective, psychological phenomenon that exists only in men’s minds. So the “skeptic” does not pretend his life has meaning; he gives it meaning. And though he may adopt his meaning from other people (family, country, culture, etc.), no one else in the world need agree with his life’s chosen meaning.

  420. #425 Ken Cope
    August 2, 2006

    What I believe is irrelevant in affecting the objective moral standards of God, nor does it affect what is objectively true.

    I agree with your claim that what you believe is irrelevant nor does [what you believe] affect what is objectively true.

    Smuggling in the claim that God has objective moral standards is no less empty than one about the objective moral standards of Gandalf the Grey.

    The only evidence you can use to support your beliefs is testimony of your personal suspension of disbelief in a story (gospel, if you will) that is so full of contradictions that no two believers can agree on its particulars.

    Worse, you need to reject everything science has to say about astronomy, geology, biology, the sum of nature, to cling to your story’s “Immutable Truth.” You expect us to do so with you, on the basis of the strength of your belief.

    Then, you display your inability to reply honestly and rationally to questions that any reasonable person would have, leading us to believe that one would have to suspend reason itself to accept your position. For this crowd, that’s a tough sell, and there are no takers.

    In examination of the story you want us to embrace, while rejecting all the evidence the natural world yielded to our senses and reason, you ask us to believe in the moral nature of a supernatural being. The being you worship will torture all but a handfull of creatures for eternity, and tell us that’s a good thing. You ask us to worship a petty thug who makes pikers of all the genocidal maniacs of history combined. How could I in good conscience bask in air conditioning while others suffer? Where is the morality of one who has taken the vow of the boddhisattva, contrasted with this creator of a cosmic charnel house who demands our unconditional love?

    As usual, unsupportable claims about god cannot help us obtain any useful information about the nature or alleged existence of supernatural beings. What you believe is far more informative, and perhaps more revealing than you would prefer. It tells me more than I want to know about you, M. Petersen, whatever you are, and tells me I want nothing to do with you or anybody who thinks as poorly and amorally as you do.

    You appear to want to be an eternally simpering sycophant groveling at the toenails of a cosmic alpha male, accusing us of “Rebellion against God.” How can it be rebellion to reject yet another popular phantom of the collective imagination of maladaptive sociopaths?

    If you think you can live comfortably forever in some imaginary paradise where a little monster from the Twilight Zone wishes members of his family into the cornfield, so you can tell him how good it is to have done that, knock yourself out.

    Me? I’ll take the cornfield. As Mark Twain has it, Heaven for the climate. Hell for the company.

  421. #426 Carlie
    August 2, 2006

    Ken covered it already, but I’ll put in too:

    “What I believe is irrelevant in affecting the objective moral standards of God, ”

    That gets at my point – you can’t prove objectivity in the moral standards of God. What’s the evidence? A book that has been both written and interpreted by people. Even if one takes the astronomically huge leap of saying that there is a God and those words are His, there’s still the interpretation thereof to deal with. Determining exactly what the moral standards of God are is an entirely subjective enterprise. Simply put, when you talk about the “objective morals of God”, there is no “there” there.

  422. #427 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    So you admit that your belief system is based entirely on faith?

    Citing your admission that there is lack of proof OR evidence for god or the resurrection.

    I don’t know why I even bother responding to you. Improve your reading comprehension and then come back.

  423. #428 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    Because you never answer anything clearly.

    I ask very straighforward questions.

  424. #429 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    You stated that you cannot prove or disprove god. (agnostic view)
    But then you state a bunch of things as evidence that god does exist.

    Shows a lack of consistency. If it’s unprovable… there is no evidence.

  425. #430 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Petersen, please offer us your ‘proof’ of Jesus’s resurrection, since you claim it’s part of your proof of God’s existence.

    Now, remember, if you have no proof of Jesus’s resurrection other than ‘the Bible says it and I choose to believe it’, that’s not, like, you know, real PROOF. That means that your beliefs are no more objective or proven than anyone of any other religion. Even those religions I bet you disapprove of.

    Try googling it, I’m sure you’ll find more than enough evidence to examine. And then you can google the counter-arguments against the proof, and those counter-counter-arguments and so on … Again, whether you choose to believe the evidence proves the resurrection beyond a reasonable doubt or not is up to you. Best of luck.

    I was pleased to see you admit this:

    In my interpretation of the particular religious system which I have chosen, God says there are consequences after you die, which I accept on faith based on the Bible.

    Well I’m glad I could brighten your day.

    If you admit this is true, why should ANY of us care about your religious beliefs?

    It has nothing to do with my beliefs at all.

    Why do you think we want to hear them?

    I’m quite certain you don’t.

    Why is it important?

    It’s important because it is the whole reason we exist, it affects your life both on Earth and after you die.

    What’s so special about you?

    Nothing is more special about me than anyone else.

  426. #431 George Cauldron
    August 2, 2006

    Try googling it, I’m sure you’ll find more than enough evidence to examine. And then you can google the counter-arguments against the proof, and those counter-counter-arguments and so on … Again, whether you choose to believe the evidence proves the resurrection beyond a reasonable doubt or not is up to you. Best of luck.

    I will take this as a tacit admission that like every other evangelical, that you can’t back up your statements, but live in terror of admitting this.

    It has nothing to do with my beliefs at all.

    Certainly it does. You’ve admitted yourself you have no real objective proof for your religious convictions, so it ALL comes down to your beliefs. You’ve failed to give any reason for us to take your religous beliefs any more seriously than any other human’s, yet you still seem to WANT us to take you seriously, based on the fact that you’re REALLY REALLY serious about your beliefs. You’ve made all this quite clear, and don’t seem to understand why in a forum of many very intelligent people, you have no takers.

    For example: there are millions of Muslims in the world who believe that only people with their beliefs will get into heaven. You have precisely as much ‘proof’ on your side as they do. Why are they wrong and you right?

  427. #432 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Again, you’re hamstrung by Platonism. Meaning is not some ethereal substance bestowed upon people from a non-human source. It is a purely subjective, psychological phenomenon that exists only in men’s minds. So the “skeptic” does not pretend his life has meaning; he gives it meaning. And though he may adopt his meaning from other people (family, country, culture, etc.), no one else in the world need agree with his life’s chosen meaning.

    “In an atheistic philosophy, there are certain things that concern the reality of life that must be accepted as illusion because, without God, that is the only thing they can be. We live our lives as if they have a real and genuine purpose. Most people will say that their lives have meaning, regardless of their philosophy. But a life that is created by chance, and natural selection, can have no inherent or objective purpose or meaning. Instead, such a life can only have a self-assigned, subjective meaning. A non-objective, self-assigned meaning is purely imaginary! It is a subjective opinion of what can only be a subjective reality. Conversely, a life created by design and a designer, such as the one described in Christianity, is given an objective purpose; its meaning is genuine and inherent. We may have different, subjective opinions as to what that purpose is, but these are subjective opinions concerning an objective reality.” — A.S.A. Jones

  428. #433 AC
    August 2, 2006

    I think if you shifted your focus away from complaining about the reality of life and instead toward acceptance, you can begin to know God. It’s not easy to let go of pride, but if you do, the reward is well worth it.

    This is standard Christian rhetoric, but I’ll indulge. Please cite my complaints about the reality of life. Also consider how your use of the word “pride” here is colored by your misanthropic beliefs.

  429. #434 j
    August 2, 2006

    You know how religious people sometimes have crises of faith? God stops talking to them, or they start to realize the irrationality of their beliefs? Well, I think I’m having a crisis of unfaith. It’s like this deep resignation to the reality that we are fighting a losing battle. As long as humans exist, they will always be susceptible to indoctrination, and they will always force their beliefs on others, whether out of desire for power or out of genuine ignorance and compassion. If you can’t beat them, join them.

    And wouldn’t it be so much easier to confront the unknown with a rote answer: God did it? I don’t know how or why, and I don’t care, but I have faith that God did it!

    And wouldn’t it be so much easier to be part of the majority, or at least pretend to be, in order to escape the constant threats, not by God but by caring Christians, of eternal hellfire and rejection?

    Jesus Christ. I am sick and tired of all of this.

  430. #435 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    You are so completely lost. But you do manage to find quotes to help you stay in the maze you have created.

  431. #436 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    Sorry J. That was obviously intended for MPETE.

  432. #437 Carlie
    August 2, 2006

    M Peterson –

    Thank you for at least partially attributing your source. Again, this is something that is not necessarily a big deal in general conversation, but is a very big deal in certain areas of study (such as all scientific ones) and to most people here, so I’ll give you kudos to adapting to the preferred mode of information transmission on this blog.

    However,
    “but these are subjective opinions concerning an objective reality.”

    It’s still not proven that a creator is an objective reality. That’s the sticking point.

  433. #438 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    That gets at my point – you can’t prove objectivity in the moral standards of God. What’s the evidence? A book that has been both written and interpreted by people. Even if one takes the astronomically huge leap of saying that there is a God and those words are His, there’s still the interpretation thereof to deal with. Determining exactly what the moral standards of God are is an entirely subjective enterprise. Simply put, when you talk about the “objective morals of God”, there is no “there” there.

    By that reasoning, truth does not exist because determining truth requires subjectivity. All reasoning is based on our subjective preferences.

    “The bottom line is that purpose & meaning, in the philosophical sense, cannot result from random chance (random mutations) and natural selection. Ever.

    If a hat contains 100 slips of paper numbered 1-100, and 7 of those numbers accidentally spill onto a table, what is the meaning and purpose of those 7 numbers? There can be absolutely no meaning or purpose. But if you design a game, whereby certain numbers are selected to represent a winning hand, only then do the numbers have a purpose and meaning when they are INTENTIONALLY spilled from the hat.” – A.S.A. Jones

  434. #439 AC
    August 2, 2006

    Once again, M.P., your sources fail you. I lament that you do not see or understand the failure. I know the lens through which Ms. Jones views the world has a comfortable, familiar tint for you, but it is tinted nonetheless. Instead of looking to an “ex-atheist” for your analysis of “atheistic philosophy”, why not ask those who are atheists right now? The paragraph you quoted does not carry the philosophical weight you think it does.

  435. #440 AC
    August 2, 2006

    And now I see a second quoted paragraph that just leaves me giggling. Please meditate on this sentence from it, M.P.: “There can be absolutely no meaning or purpose.” I’ve got work to do.

  436. #441 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    I will take this as a tacit admission that like every other evangelical, that you can’t back up your statements, but live in terror of admitting this. Certainly it does. You’ve admitted yourself you have no real objective proof for your religious convictions, so it ALL comes down to your beliefs. You’ve failed to give any reason for us to take your religous beliefs any more seriously than any other human’s, yet you still seem to WANT us to take you seriously, based on the fact that you’re REALLY REALLY serious about your beliefs. You’ve made all this quite clear, and don’t seem to understand why in a forum of many very intelligent people, you have no takers.

    I simply wittled it down to a couple sentences with some hand-waving because the end result is the same. My evidence is well-documented, look it up.

  437. #442 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Thank you for at least partially attributing your source. Again, this is something that is not necessarily a big deal in general conversation, but is a very big deal in certain areas of study (such as all scientific ones) and to most people here, so I’ll give you kudos to adapting to the preferred mode of information transmission on this blog.

    However,
    “but these are subjective opinions concerning an objective reality.”

    It’s still not proven that a creator is an objective reality. That’s the sticking point.

    I understand that it’s not proven. Nor is it disproven, provable or disprovable.

  438. #443 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Once again, M.P., your sources fail you. I lament that you do not see or understand the failure. I know the lens through which Ms. Jones views the world has a comfortable, familiar tint for you, but it is tinted nonetheless. Instead of looking to an “ex-atheist” for your analysis of “atheistic philosophy”, why not ask those who are atheists right now? The paragraph you quoted does not carry the philosophical weight you think it does.

    All lenses through which anyone sees the world is tinted, why should Jones be the exception?

    I thought I was asking “those who are atheists right now“, right here on this thread. Are you not an atheist? What are your beliefs?

  439. #444 Steviepinhead
    August 2, 2006

    Regarding his inability to spell “definitely,” despite specific instruction and helpful hints, M. Petersen cackles:

    I would expect nothing better from you than spell-checking. Is that all the value you add to this discussion?

    Although YOU have learned nothing from my highly-focused instruction, it’s at least possible that someone else out there–someone with a couple of neurons to spare–may have learned, if nothing else, how to spell this one word.
    That possibility has added far more value to this discussion than your thousands of poorly-spelled and utterly vacuous words, which continue to display before a dismayed internet community–one which chooses to anchor itself in reality rather than whimsy–that you are an ineducable maroon.

  440. #445 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    You quote an ex-atheist to tell us how are beliefs are wrong.

    See any problem with that?

  441. #446 George Cauldron
    August 2, 2006

    MP, you’ve pretty much come out and admitted all the points we were making (though only under 2 days of pressure), but I would like your response to this:

    For example: there are millions of Muslims in the world who believe that only people with their beliefs will get into heaven. You have precisely as much ‘proof’ on your side as they do. Why are they wrong and you right?

    Please give us YOUR answer and don’t tell me to google it.

  442. #447 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    How our… I must proof read. I must proof read….

    All you have to do M Petersen is state without equivocation…

    either

    A) Yes, I believe in God, but I know there’s no evidence of his existence. My beliefs are based entirely on faith.

    or

    B) Yes I believe in God because I know God exists. There is evidence God exists.

    Simple A or B answer.

  443. #448 j
    August 2, 2006

    Yes, but M Petersen has been arguing some weird combination of A and B for the past two days.

  444. #449 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Although YOU have learned nothing from my highly-focused instruction, it’s at least possible that someone else out there–someone with a couple of neurons to spare–may have learned, if nothing else, how to spell this one word.
    That possibility has added far more value to this discussion than your thousands of poorly-spelled and utterly vacuous words, which continue to display before a dismayed internet community–one which chooses to anchor itself in reality rather than whimsy–that you are an ineducable maroon.

    The proper spelling of certain words is definitely irrelevant to the topic at hand. I’ll be the first one to come running to you when I don’t know how to spell a certain word or I’m losing at Scrabble. In the absence of such a need your posts have no value, except to expose your lack of self-esteem. Is that because you have no meaning in your life?

  445. #450 Steviepinhead
    August 2, 2006

    Liar. You didn’t know how to spell a word. Acting out of random kindness, I clued you in. Next time you wanted to use that very same word, you didn’t “come running” to me, or even scroll back up the page: you repeated your mistake.

    You’ve been generally failing to learn from your mistakes for the past two days. And, on the evidence of your many unsupported assertions here, probably for much of your life.

    That’s the relevance, maroon.

  446. #451 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    For example: there are millions of Muslims in the world who believe that only people with their beliefs will get into heaven. You have precisely as much ‘proof’ on your side as they do. Why are they wrong and you right?

    There is no right and wrong remember? It’s all subjective according to atheism. How could you possibly understand why I think they are wrong? Nothing is wrong.

    It’s not a question of proof, but a problem with sin. Sin is not dealt with perfectly in Islam. I can follow the Quran and live faithfully by the 5 pillars, but I will still have the problem of unpaid sin. How good does a person have to be in order to enter heaven? Goodness and doing what is ‘right’ does not pay for sin. Jesus is the only one who can deal with sin perfectly, and that is why He is the only Way.

  447. #452 Ken Cope
    August 2, 2006

    There is no right and wrong remember? It’s all subjective according to atheism. How could you possibly understand why I think they are wrong? Nothing is wrong.

    MP:

    There is a difference between nihilism and atheism.

    Please try to demonstrate the slightest regard for honesty; failing that, just show us you have even the slightest familiarity at all with the subject matter before you try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs.

    Thanks.

    Have a nice day.

  448. #453 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    Liar. You didn’t know how to spell a word. Acting out of random kindness, I clued you in. Next time you wanted to use that very same word, you didn’t “come running” to me, or even scroll back up the page: you repeated your mistake.

    You’ve been generally failing to learn from your mistakes for the past two days. And, on the evidence of your many unsupported assertions here, probably for much of your life.

    That’s the relevance, maroon.

    I like the idea of having my own personal spell-checker, it’s very freeing. I would recommend that everyone get themselves a Steviepinhead. Would it be possible to change your alias to something more reflective of your role? Oh wait, nevermind. More importantly, do you do grammar as well? I have been experiencing some difficulty in avoiding the passive voice in my writing. See? There I go again.

    Clearly I am not learning from my mistakes because I keep attempting, in vain, to have a real discussion on this blog.

  449. #454 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    I still haven’t gotten an A or B.

  450. #455 M Petersen
    August 2, 2006

    C) Yes I believe in God based on faith and the evidence God exists.

    This is not new.

    John 20:29

    Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    1 Corinthians 15:3-8

    3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

    1 Corinthians 15:14-17

    14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

  451. #456 Steve_C
    August 2, 2006

    I could of predicted that answer. You’re contradicting yourself.

    You already stated that god was unprovable. How can there be evidence?

  452. #457 RavenT
    August 2, 2006

    I have been experiencing some difficulty in avoiding the passive voice in my writing. See? There I go again.

    Uh, no, that’s an active sentence–it’s a progressive form of the active verb “to experience”. Not all sentences with “be” in them are passive, and if you wanted this to be passive, you’d have to say something like “Difficulty in avoiding the passive voice in my writing has been being experienced by me”, or something equally convoluted.

    You clearly don’t understand the passive form, so you put your trust in a visual indicator, but that indicator is unreliable. And you are doing the same thing in your “joke” as in your argumentation–you are confusing content and form, and switching back and forth without realizing it, leading to contradictions and hopeless fuzziness.

    Normally, I wouldn’t even bother with a grammar flame, but this is actually a teaching moment–if you can even get a glimmer of how much you are falling flat on your face in something as trivial and easily externally verified as spelling and grammar, perhaps you can extrapolate to see how just much more you are flailing in matters such logic and evidence, which you clearly understand even less.

  453. #458 Owlmirror
    August 2, 2006
    M Peterson, you keep using the word “objective”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Well let’s consult Merriam-Webster:

    There seems to still be a certain amount of confusion over your use of the word “objective”, since you are using it in inconsistent ways.

    Could you go back to the list of definitions you pasted in, pick which specific definition of objective you are using, and clarify?

  454. #459 Owlmirror
    August 2, 2006

    It’s not a question of proof, but a problem with sin. Sin is not dealt with perfectly in Islam. I can follow the Quran and live faithfully by the 5 pillars, but I will still have the problem of unpaid sin. How good does a person have to be in order to enter heaven? Goodness and doing what is ‘right’ does not pay for sin. Jesus is the only one who can deal with sin perfectly, and that is why He is the only Way.

    I’m not a Muslim, but I think I could respond as a Muslim would:

    Allah is all-powerful, and all-knowing, and is merciful as well. If you do what is good and right, as explained in the Quran, then Allah, when He judges you, will forgive your sins, in his perfect mercy.

    Your assertions about Jesus (PBUH) are blasphemous. Jesus was a prophet who, like all prophets, came to teach people to return to Allah. Jesus could not and cannot forgive sins. Only Allah can do that – and because he is merciful, he will, if you have lived an virtuous life.

    Give up your erroneous Christianity which teaches the outrageous worship of a mortal man, and come to the true faith of submission to almighty Allah!

    See? Like that.

  455. #460 George Cauldron
    August 2, 2006

    It’s not a question of proof, but a problem with sin. Sin is not dealt with perfectly in Islam. I can follow the Quran and live faithfully by the 5 pillars, but I will still have the problem of unpaid sin. How good does a person have to be in order to enter heaven? Goodness and doing what is ‘right’ does not pay for sin. Jesus is the only one who can deal with sin perfectly, and that is why He is the only Way.

    But Muslims don’t agree with you, MP. Why are you right and they wrong? That was the original question.

  456. #461 Owlmirror
    August 2, 2006

    The point of that being, not that Islam is true and Christianity is false (although I think that Islam has fewer ideological inconsistencies), but that Islam is like Christianity in having many followers and having faith that their long-held traditions about their book(s) and commentary describes “objective reality” (to abuse the term in the same way as above).

    But since they don’t actually have what is actually objective proof, Islam is no better and no worse than Christianity at describing anything about objective reality (to use the phrase correctly).

  457. #462 Steviepinhead
    August 3, 2006

    Ah, good. Thanks to my admittedly-oblique instruction, RavenT’s far more direct head-butting, and–oh yeah!–the contributions of hundreds of others more long-suffering, charitable, and polite than me, M.Petersen has finally retired from the field (though only temporarily, I’m sure…) in order to search for a bible-textual rejoinder to what he finally appears to have internalized (though only temporarily, I’m sure…): LIKE SPELLING AND GRAMMAR, it’s possible for human societies to invent OTHER consensual, mutually-advantageous conceptual structures which may NOT be gods-given, but merely home-grown.

    Things like, oh, morality, right’n’wrong, how to treat each other, what’s of worth and value…

  458. #463 Steve_C
    August 3, 2006

    For the deluded like him the answer is always C.

  459. #464 AC
    August 3, 2006

    I thought I was asking “those who are atheists right now”, right here on this thread. Are you not an atheist? What are your beliefs?

    The problem is this: After asking us silly questions (such as “How can you claim anything is good?” and “Why does God [a creator] owe us [his creations] a decent life?”) and reading our responses, you offer no thoughtful reply. You simply regurgitate equally silly passages from an “ex-atheist” whose tinted vision suits you. This is what Ken Cope was talking about; you might as well be a computer program looking up keywords from our responses in a database and outputting prewritten passages.

    What I am trying to tell you is that your database has flawed entries. For example:

    “In an atheistic philosophy, there are certain things that concern the reality of life that must be accepted as illusion because, without God, that is the only thing they can be.”

    “Illusion” is not a fair description of meaning and purpose in “an atheistic philosophy”. Ms. Jones clearly means it to be a derrogatory comparison to the supposed reality of their Platonic counterparts. In “an atheistic philosophy”, meaning and purpose are simply recognized for what they are: artifacts of consciousness. Like any ideas, they have no reality outside the mind. But they are as real as the brains that give rise to them, and we can affect the rest of the world distinctly by acting on them.

    “[A] life that is created by chance, and natural selection, can have no inherent or objective purpose or meaning.”

    Remove the meaningless “or objective” clause and I agree with this point. In fact, I would say that the only life that can have inherent purpose or meaning would be one specifically constructed by a conscious being. However, that purpose and/or meaning would only necessarily exist in the creator’s mind; it could also exist in the creation’s mind, but it would not have to.

    The atheist would say: “That’s fine, but there is no evidence that life on Earth is specifically constructed by a conscious being. Moreover, the evidence instead indicates that life on Earth arose and continues to develop through unconscious processes.” From there, individuals can define all kinds of (subjective) meaning and purpose.

    “Instead, such a life can only have a self-assigned, subjective meaning. A non-objective, self-assigned meaning is purely imaginary!”

    A trivial statement. Again, Ms. Jones clearly means “imaginary” in a derrogatory fashion, though at least it is accurate (as opposed to “illusory”). Self-assigned, subjective meaning does exist only in the mind. But it can only be considered unreal or inferior when compared to a supposed Platonic uber-reality. The atheist rejects this for simple lack of evidence.

    “We may have different, subjective opinions as to what [God’s] purpose is, but these are subjective opinions concerning an objective reality.”

    The irony of this statement is that people do hold a great many subjective opinions concerning an objective reality, but that objective reality is the physical universe, and if any idea could be called inferior by an atheist, it would be metaphysical claims such as Christian Platonism, which do not relate to physical reality beyond the fact that physical brains imagine them.

    “If a hat contains 100 slips of paper numbered 1-100, and 7 of those numbers accidentally spill onto a table, what is the meaning and purpose of those 7 numbers? There can be absolutely no meaning or purpose.”

    Earlier I asked you to meditate on that last sentence, M.P. I was hoping that, in doing so, you would recognize that it is incorrect – and why. Ms. Jones means that there is no meaning or purpose of those 7 numbers because they were not consciously separated, but that is only half the scenario. What if a conscious being sees the 7 numbers? He can define, for himself, in his own mind, a purpose and/or meaning for them. This purpose/meaning is as real as his mind.

    Furthermore, consider that he has never played the lottery, but he decides that the purpose of those 7 numbers is to win him the jackpot. If he plays those seven numbers, his chances of winning will be tiny – but they will be non-zero, as opposed to not playing at all. If he wins, it will likely have a big impact on his life. A mundane example perhaps, but I hope it illustrates that aspect of my position well enough.

  460. #465 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    I could of predicted that answer. You’re contradicting yourself.

    You already stated that god was unprovable. How can there be evidence?

    It’s hardly contradictory. I think we’re working with differing definitions of evidence and proof. God is unprovable through physical evidence. Short of Him manifesting himself in physical form in front of your eyes, no physical evidence would prove that He exists. That is why I included Thomas in my references, because he didn’t believe until he actually saw and was able to touch Jesus. However, the physical evidence can suggest the existence of God.

    That includes:
    1. Jesus died, was buried, and 3 days later the tomb was empty. The most probable explanation in my mind is that Jesus was God and rose from the dead.

    2. The universe exists. I see design in the universe suggesting a designer. To quote Dr. Dawkins: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    3. The Bible. Prophecy fulfilled and its consistency (that’s right, I said consistency) though written by about 40 people from different continents and over a period of about 1500 years.

  461. #466 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    Thanks RavenT for the lesson. I am working to improve my writing.

  462. #467 j
    August 4, 2006

    “I see design in the universe suggesting a designer.

    Where?

  463. #468 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    There is a difference between nihilism and atheism.

    My apologies for the inaccurate label.

  464. #469 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    “I see design in the universe suggesting a designer.”

    Where?

    Why don’t you ask Dawkins? Perhaps you’ll believe him.

  465. #470 j
    August 4, 2006

    What? I was asking you. You made the assertion, and now I would like to know where you see design in the universe. It was a genuine question.

  466. #471 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    There seems to still be a certain amount of confusion over your use of the word “objective”, since you are using it in inconsistent ways.

    Could you go back to the list of definitions you pasted in, pick which specific definition of objective you are using, and clarify?

    of, relating to, or being an object , phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind

    Is it really necessary to waste time with definitions?

  467. #472 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    What? I was asking you. You made the assertion, and now I would like to know where you see design in the universe. It was a genuine question.

    I understand it was a genuine question. But I am not interested in discussing it further at this time. Some other time / thread perhaps.

  468. #473 Owlmirror
    August 4, 2006

    Is it really necessary to waste time with definitions?

    Definitions can be crucial to understanding. If you keep on using words in ways that are either confusing or inconsistent, you undermine your own arguments.

    For example, look at your definition of “objective”:

    of, relating to, or being an object , phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind

    The objection to your using the word “objective” in the ways that you have been is because religious beliefs are not “independent of individual thought”; the concepts that they assert are not perceptible by all observers. Physical proof, which you have already stated does not exist, is what is actually objective; it has a reality that is independant of the mind.

    So you seem to be misusing the word “objective”.

    Speaking for myself now, and looking at some of what I’ve already written above, I see that there are some things that are simple typing mistakes, or might be confusing. Given that I can’t go back and edit them, I can at least try and make my actual meaning clear rather than try and defend the lack of clarity.

  469. #474 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    Ah, good. Thanks to my admittedly-oblique instruction, RavenT’s far more direct head-butting, and–oh yeah!–the contributions of hundreds of others more long-suffering, charitable, and polite than me, M.Petersen has finally retired from the field (though only temporarily, I’m sure…) in order to search for a bible-textual rejoinder to what he finally appears to have internalized (though only temporarily, I’m sure…): LIKE SPELLING AND GRAMMAR, it’s possible for human societies to invent OTHER consensual, mutually-advantageous conceptual structures which may NOT be gods-given, but merely home-grown.

    Things like, oh, morality, right’n’wrong, how to treat each other, what’s of worth and value…

    Ahh, so that’s the rule here. No Bible references. Better inform PZ of this rule. I’m sorry, it’s his blog, he sets the rules. Hmmmm… There seems to be a parallel here. It’s God’s universe, he sets the rules.

  470. #475 Owlmirror
    August 4, 2006

    By the way, I have also been skimming the ex-atheist.com site, and it seems to strike many false notes; indeed, it is an entire symphony of dissonant noise.

    It looks to me not like an actual former atheist’s writings, but rather is a projection of what a fundamentalist would think that an atheist would think if they would just somehow magically find faith. Certainly the arguments on the website are very poor and confused, like all fundamentalist arguments I’ve seen so far.

  471. #476 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    The objection to your using the word “objective” in the ways that you have been is because religious beliefs are not “independent of individual thought”; the concepts that they assert are not perceptible by all observers. Physical proof, which you have already stated does not exist, is what is actually objective; it has a reality that is independant of the mind.

    So you seem to be misusing the word “objective”.

    Certainly religious beliefs are not independent of individual thought. God’s standard of morality and absolute truth is. God defines it and he makes it known to us.

    It seems like you’re trying to say:
    1. God defines a standard of morality.
    2. God tells people who write it down.
    3. Those people who write it, must perceive it.
    4. Therefore God’s standard of morality, as we understand it, cannot be objective.

    So the problem you have is that you can’t get back to 1 from 4?

    How do you know this computer exists? Do you not perceive it’s existence? If you had 500 people over to witness its existence, do they not also perceive it? How many perceptions does it take to make something objective? You seem to be taking the long road back to the same argument.

  472. #477 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    It looks to me not like an actual former atheist’s writings, but rather is a projection of what a fundamentalist would think that an atheist would think if they would just somehow magically find faith.

    Hmmm, that’s what I thought at first. But then again, Jones is describing exactly what I see on this blog. Also you should consider that it is a projection of a current believer trying to document what her former atheist self was thinking, though her point of view has completely changed.

  473. #478 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006
  474. #479 Steviepinhead
    August 4, 2006

    M-guy: Beliefs, however many people may share them, are not the same as shared perceptions of physical events which may be subjected to tests which generate evidence.
    We are trying to help you work with the definitions, but you persist in working around them.
    RavenT wasn’t trying to help you with your writing; she was attempting to assist you with your thinking.
    None of it’s working, because you lack the philosophical courage to subject your evidence-free beliefs to any sort of objective test.
    Grow some grit, then come back.

  475. #480 Owlmirror
    August 4, 2006

    Certainly religious beliefs are not independent of individual thought. God’s standard of morality and absolute truth is. God defines it and he makes it known to us.

    Sigh. This is what I mean when I say fundamentalist arguments are confused.

    Your first statement acknowledges that “religious beliefs are not independent of individual thought”. Yet this is in direct contradiction to the very next sentence! Do you not even realize that the very idea that “God exists”, and that “God has a standard of morality”, and so on, are all religious beliefs? And that, as religous beliefs, they are very much dependent on individual thought – in this case, your own?

  476. #481 Owlmirror
    August 4, 2006

    Also you should consider that it is a projection of a current believer trying to document what her former atheist self was thinking, though her point of view has completely changed.

    Yes, that’s what I meant looks wrong. The reason for Jones’ atheism appears to have been disaffectation for its own sake, which is how fundamentalists project what atheism is. While some real-world atheists might start out that way, from what I’ve seen, there is also a rationalist desire to not accept ideas which have no valid evidence, and particularly to reject ideas which are internally contradictory to a greater or lesser extent.

    At no point does Jones address that desire for reason as a motivation or an objection that had to be overcome. The alleged “former atheist self” only used logic to make Christians feel bad. Which, again, looks like a common projection that fundamentalists make about atheists.

  477. #482 Steviepinhead
    August 4, 2006

    Yes, perhaps that needs to be emphasized. It’s not M.Petersen’s Christian beliefs that are being subjected to scrutiny here, or his faith, or even his profession of his faith, but his refusal to understand–or his insistence on conflating–the differences between the radically-different concepts and ways of viewing the world embodied in faith, belief, and subjective claims on the one hand and evidence, logic, and the objective claim-testing methodologies of science on the other.

    Which leads him to misunderstand–or misrepresent–the source of morals in the world.

    We all believe some silly–and perhaps even some noble and essential–things which we can’t adequately “show” to others. I belong to small majority-Christian blogs in which everyone vigorously debates and contests all sorts of difficult topics, but where it is recognized that credibility, logic, impeccable sources and studies, and a willingness to subject one’s claims and opinions to a rigorous testing process are the key to meaningful debate and growth.

    Quite frankly, M. wouldn’t make the cut in places like that. At least not yet…

    In “theory,” M., sure, everyone could go his or her own way on matters of morals, beliefs, right and wrong, or even the meanings and referents of words, the rules of grammar and spelling–and no one’s yet come up with a way to prevent a Hitler on the broad scale or a Wayne Gacy on a smaller scale, or even an entire culture or polity, from going dangerously off the rails or from taking a fork in the road that warps human society in horrific ways.

    But reality–and even our much-more-fragile jerry-built, homegrown, moral and social consensus–is resilient: we corral the Hitlers (sometimes at terrible cost)–and work to change the cultural underpinnings that enable them–because the rest of us don’t want to live like that. That kind of self-construction and self-correction of morality, culture, and other consensus constructs is self-motivating.

    There’s no guarantees that we’ll always get it right–it’s virtually guaranteed that “it” will go wrong a discouraging amount of the time (call that “sin” or “evil” if you’re bent that way)–and no guarantee that the vast majority who would prefer peace, prosperity, and civility will ultimately prevail. That’s what makes life an ongoing challenge.

    That’s also why it’s entirely understandable that some will need to gather solace and resolution from untestable sources. It’s not his understandable urge to defend his resort to those sources–but his dishonest refusal to acknowledge the key distinctions which have been repeatedly demonstrated to him here–that keep getting M. knocked around.

  478. #483 j
    August 4, 2006

    I understand it was a genuine question. But I am not interested in discussing it further at this time. Some other time / thread perhaps.

    Oh, I apologize. I thought that since you yourself brought up the subject, you would be open to discussing it. Instead, when I question the assertions that you have made without demonstrating any evidence, you decide you’re not interested in discussing it.

  479. #484 Owlmirror
    August 5, 2006

    You can check out other former atheists here:
    http://humanknowledge.net/Philosophy/Metaphysics/Theology/AtheistDeconversion.html

    I followed this link, and I am vaguely surprised that you posted it. It’s not a page by a Christian presenting these few converts as examples of the superiority of Christianity, but is rather a page by a philosophically learned atheist who presents them in order to critique their conversion stories.

    As such, I find the page to be quite interesting (the critique of Jones in particular), but it does absolutely nothing to support any argument that atheists should convert to Christianity.

  480. #485 M Petersen
    August 7, 2006

    My friends:

    All I can share with you is what I know, limited though it may be. And while my evidence may not prove anything conclusively, I know that God exists.

    This is all that I know: I am a prideful person and I will do almost anything for my own happiness. I was a cheater, an adulterer with other women against my marriage vows. Lies, deception, manipulation, etc. I thought the worst thing in the world would be if she found out and left me. Then my fear was realized and the entire truth came out. She was devastated, yet I was so far removed from reality that I felt little remorse – not that I didn’t want to. So my behaviour continued, to the point where she was a shell of her former self, almost fading away to nothing. Even so, she stuck by me though she wanted and needed to leave, she never gave up hope. That’s when I finally realized, God does exactly that.

    We live our lives for ourselves, attempting to fill the void with meaning. We run to anything and everything we can think of – science, logic, pleasure, power, fame, fortune, being a good person, even helping others. All the while, God remains faithful and waits for us, never losing His hope that someday we will turn and come back to Him. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what has been done to you, God waits in hope and love.

    When you realize this, my friends, the love He has for you, you cannot help but want to live for Him. I do not live for God out of fear. I fear God, yet fear is not my motivation, and it no longer masters me. I willingly lay down my life for Him because He loves me and has a plan for my life. I cannot tell you the freedom this brings.

    You cling to what you claim to be objective – the physical world, repeatable tests – what you can see, feel, taste, measure. But you do not realize, God is not of this world. He is above it, beyond it. You won’t find God in this universe. You may find suggestions of Him, but while you remain so focused on the physical, you will never find Him.

    There is truth outside of what you can prove through science. Religion does not effect truth. God is truth and it does not matter what humans do, that truth will not change. God sets the objective standards for our lives. Though no one will attain these standards, condemnation is not their entire purpose. Their purpose is also to show our need for Him.

  481. #486 Steviepinhead
    August 7, 2006

    Wow, WAY too much information, M-guy.

    Not to mention how you somehow manage to transfer to your ineffable God the credit you ought to be reserving for your to your unflaggingly loyal, unswerving, and long-suffering spouse. She’s the source of the forgiveness you certainly haven’t earned but desperately need, not some pie-in-the-sky-guy. But when you’ve committed transgressions that serious, I suppose you feel “entitled” to whatever redemption you can find, anywhere you can convince yourself you might find it. Understandable on a human level, but not particularly relevant to any of your claims here.

    Why you came to a science blog in the first place to share your internal, personal anecdotes of a faith that you now admit dwells above and beyond science is above and beyond me. That you can still confuse your testimonies about your internal mental and emotional states with scientific evidence, after all you should’ve learned here–if you’d been paying any attention at all–kind of creeps me out, particularly after that lengthy confessional.

    Give it a rest, now, and plow the rest of your energy and attention back into your marriage. Good luck with that.

  482. #487 M Petersen
    August 7, 2006

    I thought you would respond that way. You are extremely condescending, pompous, and blind — and you entirely missed my point. My wife and I are happier than we’ve ever been, thanks for your concern. Her forgiveness, while undeserved, does nothing for me after I die. While you claim to see, you are shrouded in darkness. I have given plenty of evidence, which you choose to ignore, most likely due to your blindness. You have also ignored most of my questions and comments, which I can only assume is because you could not possibly bring yourself down to my level to converse with a ‘maroon’. All I’ve seen from you is some intellectual hand-waving and insults. Should you wish to have an honest discussion at some point in your life, once you’ve rid yourself of your self-importance, I’d be happy to participate.

    I would not possibly expect you to be able to see how faith, evidence, and logic can live quite happily together. That is why I posted about the disciples, because they saw the evidence first hand, yet they had faith. While I did not see it first hand, I still see the evidence, and I have faith also.

    “Pride is the mask of one’s own faults.” — Jewish proverb

  483. #488 Steve_C
    August 7, 2006

    I’m sorry your guilt and fear of losing your wife drove you to religion.
    The guilt must have been to much to bare. Also its obvious that you felt
    so badly about what you did that you felt you needed redemption.
    You can only redeem yourself through actions. God has nothing to do with it.

    None of us are looking for God. What would be the point? There isn’t one.

  484. #489 Steve_C
    August 7, 2006

    It is always better to have no ideas than false ones;
    to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.

    Thomas Jefferson, (letter to Rev. James Madison, July 19, 1788)

  485. #490 Owlmirror
    August 7, 2006

    M Petersen,

    While your postings have been heartfelt, and these most recent ones have been deeply personal, you have to understand that you have not been providing evidence. You have been providing personal testimony, or quoting someone else’s testimony, or linking to someone else’s testimony. And while your emotions about God may very well be powerful and important and real to you, all that means is that they are by definition subjective.

    And unfortunately for your arguments, testimony is all that any religion has: testimony repeated and transmitted and translated and reinterpreted, with an emphasis that changes from generation to generation and from community to community. When it comes down to what the testimony is about, there’s almost nothing there. There certainly isn’t anything in support of the extraordinary assertion that the religious texts were written or dictated by an entity that, according to the religious texts themselves, created the universe.

    In addition, please note that while for you morality is inextricably entangled with God, it is not necessarily so for everyone else. For example, someone else in a situation similar to yours could just as easily question whether the pursuit of pleasure was entirely satisfying, and decide that it was not worth the obvious emotional pain and sadness brought to their spouse from that abandonment and breaking of a promise – without ever considering God.

    Finally, while you call those who do not see God “blind”, please remember that there is a corresponding term for those who see things that are not actually there. Ultimately, the question of whose perceptions are functional and whose are defective is best answered by which perception is supported by real, objective evidence.

  486. #491 Steviepinhead
    August 8, 2006

    Sigh, M.
    I have no particular stake in my own “importance”–what I do think important has to do with the way reality works. The surest route to unimportance and ineffectuality is to obliviously ignore the way reality works…
    Our conversation here has not been about your choice to have faith in God. One of my best friends from my long-ago childhood is a Southern Baptist minister who is deeply involved in encouraging the strength and health of spouses and families.
    I don’t have a problem with his faith, nor with his profound convictions about the priorities of life (and the afterlife) that are grounded in that faith.
    What I have a problem with is your continuing to confuse your individual subjective certainty with objective interpersonal evidence–despite the great patience with which many here have undertaken to explicate your confusion and clarify this critical distinction–and with seeking to extend the convictions–and the resulting conclusions about morality–to which your faith has led you to others, without apparently troubling troubling yourself to realize that those others may reasonably require more from you in the way of evidence than simply YOUR faith.
    That you have chosen to base your faith upon the unevidenced faith of your predecessors in belief is just that, your choice. But your unwillingness to demand evidence before reposing your faith does not require every other reasonable and moral person who happens to share the social world with you to do the same, despite your naive wish to the contrary.
    I hope you continue to act in a way that will render you deserving of a blessed afterlife. I will endeavor to do the same, whether or not I have faith in that afterlife, because the evidence of my reason, senses, and experience tells me that that’s the most appropriate way to behave, and the likeliest way to elicit similar behavior from my fellow mortals.
    Again, good luck and happiness to you and your wife as you continue your journey to wherever it turns out that good folk go.

  487. #492 Irony Man
    August 9, 2006

    My compliments to M. He posted for over a week in this thread, worked assiduously and civilly and yet still confirmed every suspicion I had of the intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of Christian (and that of any other revealed religion’s) evangelism. The fact that despite his best efforts he only manages to demonstrate that like Oakland there’s no there there, makes me more assured that there’s really nothing I’m missing in my understanding of morality and its complete orthogonality to cosmology.

  488. #493 M Petersen
    August 18, 2006

    I find it very interesting how you ignore the evidence I base my faith upon. The evidence exists, yet you claim there is none. If there were evidence in your mind, the implications would be disastrous for your way of life. I mean, if God exists and Jesus exists and if Jesus actually did die and rise from the dead, then your life would have to change. Make no mistake though, the truth will not change depending on your beliefs or mine. Your beliefs are no more objective than mine. You base yours on man’s limited understanding of a created universe. Therefore, it is also limited by that universe, and cannot be any larger than it. God has given us a book, in which he told us about Himself and predicted certain events that have all come true. I base my belief on Jesus, the FACT that he lived and died and rose from the dead. The important things he said and did are written in the Bible.

    When I accepted Jesus and was born again, I was created a new person who is spiritually alive, not bankrupt. While I was spiritually dead in Adam, I became spiritually alive in Christ. Christ is in me and I am in Him. My spirit was hidden away with Christ before the universe was created. The former M Petersen is dead in the spiritual sense, crucified with Jesus 2000 years ago, and the new M Petersen has eternal life with God. Please try to think outside of our time limitations when you read this. It is difficult sometimes to reconcile thoughts and events in time to those outside of time. If I have eternal life, that means that I always had it, though the choice inside time was necessary to obtain it because I am limited by time right now. I think the most difficult thing for Christians to grasp is that they’re dead — in that, their former self no longer lives, but Christ lives in them. Christians still sin because they try to do things on their own strength. We are not sinners saved by Jesus, we are new godly creations who sin sometimes. That does not mean that I have a free pass to go on sinning because there won’t be any consequences. Rather, I must continually choose to allow Christ to run my life and He does not sin.

    I’m sure you think I’m crazy right about now. Unfortunately, you won’t understand this until you are saved.

    Spiritual bankruptcy is the human condition. We are not spiritually bankrupt because we do bad things, but because we were born that way. Those who think they can glean good moral advice from the Bible are delluded and blind. You have to deal with the rest of what Jesus said.

    “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” sounds like a crackpot, but somehow we can overlook this because he said some other good stuff? No, he said there’s only one way… one way. There aren’t a million different ways to God, there’s one. It’s very sad to see churches try to include other religions as if they’re just as valid. The problem being that you cannot get to God through human power, we just can’t do it. It must be through Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins.

  489. #494 Steve_C
    August 18, 2006

    And he’s back babbling again. Take it to your bible study group. We don’t care.

  490. #495 j
    August 18, 2006

    I find it very interesting that all of you refuse to put aside your powers of logical reasoning in order to understand where my faith is coming from [dangling preposition intended]. You all insist that I show scientific evidence, but I just need the evidence in my mind; why can’t you understand that? I mean, if God exists and Jesus exists and Jesus actually did die and rise from the dead, then your life would have to change. In addition to leading the moral lives you already lead, you would have to go to church every Sunday, give money to the church, spend extensive time reading out of a book of outdated doctrine, and ask favors of an invisible person. Your beliefs are no more objective than mine. You base yours on repeated observation, logical reasoning, the scientific method, and all that limited human understanding. But my beliefs are based on a thousands-years-old book, translated and retranslated, interpreted and reinterpreted, countless times by human beings. I base my belief on Jesus, the FACT that he lived and died and rose from the dead. The important things he said and did are written in the Bible, which I believe because the Bible tells me that the Bible is the Word of God.

    When I accepted Jesus and was born again, I became a better person. I was a bad person before. So you should accept Jesus and become a better person instead of a bankrupt person. Then Christ will be in you and you will be in Him, and you will have the eternal life you always had, and you will be a godly creation who sins sometimes and must always ask Christ to run your life.

    I’m sure you think I’m crazy right about now. Unfortunately, you won’t understand this until you, too, are crazy.

    Spiritual bankruptcy is the human condition. We are not spiritually bankrupt because we do bad things, but because we were born that way and God loves us. Those who think they can glean good moral advice from the Bible are delluded [sic] and blind because the Bible depicts countless atrocities sanctioned, ordered, or indeed perpetrated by God. You have to deal with the rest of what Jesus said. See, that’s what a selective interpretation of the Bible is all about.

    “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” sounds like a crackpot, but somehow we can overlook this because he said some other good stuff? No, because it’s still crackpot. Oh, and he said there’s only one way… one way. There aren’t a million different ways to God, there’s one. This is why Christians can claim superiority to everyone else in the world. It’s very sad to see churches try to include other religions as if they’re just as valid. Our brand of irrational thinking is obviously better than other brands of irrational thinking because ours involves someone who died on a cross. The problem being that you cannot get to God through human power, we just can’t do it [sic to the entire sentence]. It must be through Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins, the sins we were born with because God made us that way.

  491. #496 Steve_C
    August 19, 2006

    Hehe.

    M would say he doesn’t sound like that at all and then tell you where you’re off in parodying him.

  492. #497 j
    August 19, 2006

    If he were to come back, that is.

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