Those who do not remember the National Lampoon are condemned to repeat it

i-54ba8841be634cf8faaf03843daa218b-shoot_this_dog.jpg

Deja vu, man, deja vu. I remember this magazine cover—I even bought the magazine, not because I was worried about the dog, but because I always read the National Lampoon. This is supposed to be a joke, though.

So now Goosing the Antithesis leads me to the
Answers in Genesis page, and what do I see?


i-ddf9aa5ca82a9e9ca61f7e421cabaead-AiG_gun.jpg

You have got to be kidding me. This is no joke: AiG has a a new campaign going that one-ups NatLamp and suggests that if you don't buy in to Jesus, you will get shot.

If we evolved from lower life forms, then the Bible isn't true and we are no more than animals. So why should we listen when it says to be fair, to be kind and to love our fellow human beings? The only thing that matters is pleasing ourselves at the cost of whomever gets in our way.

Creationists are a contemptible bunch, aren't they? Lies and fear. That's all they've got.

Look, the majority of people on this planet do not believe the Bible is true. Somehow, though, they don't end up on shooting rampages. Isn't it obvious Ken Ham and his fellow kooks are freaking wrong? How retarded do you have to be to swallow this nonsense?

More like this

Of course, some of the people who don't believe the Bible is true believe that the Koran is literally true, and some of them do go on killing rampages....

I try to keep my killing rampages confined to within Grand Theft Auto.

Lies and fear. That's all they've got.

No, yhey also have stupidity, nice red uniforms, and a fanatical devotion to the pope.

By Millimeter Wave (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

^y^t

By Millimeter Wave (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

My eye is twitching, thanks PZ.
It was subsiding since the ID "rally" at the sundome, but this brought it back.
Maybe I'll go watch some Monty Python, that always helps...

How retarded do you have to be to swallow this nonsense?

I don't know. Let's ask Yamil.

This is right up there with "An armed society is a polite society" in the annals of The Greatest Lies Ever Told.

To answer your final question, PZ, you only have to be retarded enough to accept Jebus as your Savior, and vain and/or fearful never to question the horseshit you are told is required for Jebus to continue the relationship.

By goddogtired (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

Well, if you believe in a literal Hell, which the Bible says is a fate far worse than death, then if you care about someone you will say anything, do anything to save that person from that fate.

So it's not surprising that these people will resort to extreme measures. Their whole philosophy is predicated on the idea than nothing else comes close to being as important to another's salvation, save their own.

And they wrap it up with "find hope." I find that to be the funniest part.

The Scientologists (used to?) play the same tricks in their hard-sell recruiting video.

The voiceover was something like "You could walk out of here and forget all about it [L. Ron & Xenu]. You could also jump off a bridge, or shoot yourself."

There were appropriate effects.

Congrats, Christians. You're no better than Scientologists.

I go back to the argument Dawkins uses against this line of reasoning in "The God Delusion" program. To paraphrase, is AIG not out killing, raping and pillaging just because they fear a deity's wrath? I don't kill, rape and pillage because I think it is WRONG.

By gonzoknife (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

I'm biased, of course, but I've always found myself and my athiest friends to be far more moral than any of my religious friends.

I have always understood it to mean athiests, as a rule, are moral because that is simply the way you should be. It is simply the right thing to do. There is nothing mysterious or otherworldy about being "nice".

I find my most religious of friends seem to be moral out of fear. They also seem to have those get-out-of-jail-free cards called confession and asking for forgiveness. I do not, so lead my life in such a way as not to require them.

At the same time I'm sure there are very moral thiests. I tend to always come back to conclusion that they'd have been nice people anyway. The religion didn't do it.

So why should we listen when it says to be fair, to be kind and to love our fellow human beings? The only thing that matters is getting to heaven via a death row conversion.

By Stephen Erickson (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

So, since the Bible is literally the word of God, does it mean that every one who goes to work on a Saturday should be put to death?
It seems that risks to your physical safety will be much greater if you actually do what they are telling you.

By mndarwinist (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

hey,
This is completely off topic, but I can't get to the Godless bloggers....Pensacola Christian... post that is so popular with comments. If I click on the link, I just get the post....can someone help? I was having fun reading all the replies to the troll. =(

By Pygmy Loris (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

In light of the rash of school shootings, at least one because the perp was mad at "God", all I can say is what incredibly bad taste this portrays! I would email and tellthem, but it is so bad, it should stay up. Plus, I KNOW that they will sell my name to marketers, even though they say they won't. No way am I gonna believe a Lier For Jesus!

Maybe they should take that gun and shoot themselves in the foot some more!

How retarded do you have to be to swallow this nonsense?

I know this dude named Salvador...

Well Answers in Genesis thinks that teaching of evolution in public schools removes meaning from life. Remember, we were all created in God's image literally as described in Genesis. To be fair to AiG, I think our society does tend to produce these rare but extreme events. Many people are brought up to believe in Jesus, that God is the reason for your life, they are taught or stumble across the contrary, they've already had other problems in life, the uncertainty removes meaning from their life and their confusion leads to panic. I think this is one instance in our society among many multi-faceted reasons for acting violently out of character. We live in a never-ending culture war. It's fundamental to provide people with sound reasons for their lives. I think looking at the world from a natural approach is good enough, and in fact when understood can help provide reason for everything from social disorders to our origins. While religion is a good shell, when that shell is broken it's like entering a whole new world and it presents challenges for anybody, particularly adolescents.

By CalUWxBill (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

"If you don't matter to God, you don't matter to anyone."

Am I dumb? I can't figure out what it means!

Would someone shoot me because I don't matter to God? Why would God want to shoot me?

If you don't matter to God, you don't matter to anyone.

Even if you are religious, isn't it a bit vain to think that you actually matter to God?

Does it mean that if you do believe in god you won't get shot? God will intervene?

Does it mean if you don't believe in god you deserve to be shot? No one will care?

Does it mean that someone who doesn't believe in god will shoot you because you don't too?

Is it a metaphor?

at least one because the perp was mad at "God",

Outside of idle speculation from the religious, I have seen nothing to indicate that this guy was "mad at God". He was mad at young girls, and picked the Amish school because it was handy.

It wouldn't suprise me to find that this guy was a regular church-goer. Quiet, smiled a lot...

I especially like the part where they assume the existance of a supreme being to whom your existance is meaningless because your beliefs on the subject differ from theirs.

By Molly, NYC (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

I'm biased, of course, but I've always found myself and my athiest friends to be far more moral than any of my religious friends...I find my most religious of friends seem to be moral out of fear...At the same time I'm sure there are very moral thiests. I tend to always come back to conclusion that they'd have been nice people anyway. The religion didn't do it.

Posted by: Frac | October 3, 2006 07:28 PM

I'm sure atheists are as likely to do wrong as theists, but as you say, when atheists do right, it's for its own sake, not to score brownie points with the sky fairy or avoid a fiery afterlife. My favourite line from Dawkins's "The Root of All Evil":

[Nobel-winning physicist Steven] Weinburg said: "Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it, you'd have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, you need religion."

By False Prophet (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

"Let he among you who is without sin, cast the . . . *uh* . . .
Ow! . . . Hey, bitch . . . Get back here!"

"Anyway, like I was saying . . ."

What's all this nonsense about Christians not going around killing each other. Of all the developed nations, the United States has by far the highest death rate per capita from firearms and by far the highest rate of church attendance. I believe this correlation is not a fluke but comes from the failure of most Christians to understand our Darwinian origins. We humans are violent animals: Our ancestors, both human and pre-human, were good at killing or they would not have survived to pass their genes down to us. Until enough people realize this, and pass sensible gun control laws, we will continue to have the vast number of senseless killings to which we have become accustomed.

By Derick Ovenall (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

Quote False Prophet: "I'm sure atheists are as likely to do wrong as theists..."

I believe this to be true as well, as I have no evidence to the contrary. May I propose, however, that it may not be the case.

I wonder if I could find reliable and citable sources for a proposal that atheists are less likely to do wrong. It would certainly be an interesting project.

I have seen sources showing inverse relationships between intelligence and theism, but I can't vouche for their reliability.

To be managable, I supposed I'd have to define "wrong" as "being found guilty of a crime" since I don't think it would be possible to quantify overall morality or goodness.

"Insensitive, since five Amish girls killed by that guy in Pennsylvania."

AiG could care less about this because the Amish are going to hell for not believing in AiG's version of God.

AiG has just won the no credibility in absolution award from me. They should be shunned far and wide for this. I'm passing this to family members so they can witness what religion has truly become in the land of the free.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

If you don't matter to Gawd, you still matter to me. And many of your fellow human beings. And that's what counts. We're better than Sky Daddy.

Anyone find AiG's new ad campaign eerily congruent with their street address?:

From their website:

"Street Address:
2800 Bullittsburg Church Rd.
Petersburg, KY 41080"

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

So why should we listen when it says to be fair, to be kind and to love our fellow human beings? The only thing that matters is pleasing ourselves at the cost of whomever gets in our way.

Are they proudly labeling themselves sociopaths, or do they literally not believe people exist who are pleased by being kind and loving? Jesus, did their parents burn them with cigarettes every day?

By Anton Mates (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

The Republicans have discovered that fear overcomes logic and strengthens the appeal of authoritarianism. AiG is just adopting the same tactic.

In my opinion, Answers in Genesis lost what pathetically small amount of credibility it had when Ken Ham said "Well, Steve Irwin probably was a nice guy, but since he didn't renounce his unforgivable sin of believing in evolution before he died, he's probably burning in the agonies of Hell right now, as will you, too, if you don't renounce your sins immediately."

If we evolved from lower life forms, then the Bible isn't true and we are no more than animals. So why should we listen when it says to be fair, to be kind and to love our fellow human beings? The only thing that matters is pleasing ourselves at the cost of whomever gets in our way.

A fallacy so nice, I plugged my dissection of it twice.

I've noted before that views like AIG's run directly counter to the entire message of Jesus. In the Jesus story, the king of kings is born so humbly that his parents don't even have a roof -- they share quarters with a bunch of domestic animals in a stable. The message includes this: Great things come of extremely humble beginnings.

If we evolved from lower life forms and we are no more than animals, we fulfill the Jesus story. We share life with domestic animals, and all other animals, and all other life, as well. Irony of ironies: Darwinian evolution gets closer to the gospel than AIG.

What religion is AIG pushing? It ain't Christianity, and what they're saying ain't Christian.

(They could learn a lot and get some laughs if they'd read C. S. Lewis, especially The Screwtape Letters. Sometimes I fear these radical fundamentalists like the crew at AIG don't get the humor when they read such books -- they don't smile, and they think it's literal. God save us from Christians like that.)

Oh, and the original National Lampoon? We were debating at a tournament at Colorado College in Colorado Springs when it hit the newsstands. During a break I wandered across the street to a local drugstore and found the magazine on sale there. As I looked at the cover, and before I could pick it up, a woman who worked at the store wandered by, and said, "You know those people at that magazine -- you know they'll do it, too!" She wasn't in on the joke. When I bought the magazine, at the checkout she told me that she only hoped they could sell the rest of the magazines to save that poor dog. She couldn't understand why the federal government didn't intervene . . .

(True confession: For a moment there, I thought AIG had the most incomprehensible car insurance ad I'd ever seen.)

By Molly, NYC (not verified) on 03 Oct 2006 #permalink

What's really funny about this BS. Just bought the most recent Skeptic, its all about religion and "if" its claims are supportable. Well, one article in there quotes a lot of stuff from here:

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

Unfortunately, it seems they are using Microsoft server software, so the truely damning charts are all awol. Christian hackers maybe?

But in the pages of the magazineone was misprinted I think, since it suggests that the first one is about anti-evolution vs. religiousity, but is actually labelled Homocides per 100,000. But so is the second figure...

The actually general statistics:

1. The US is one of the most *religious* of those in the study.

2. The more overtly religious, the more likely they are to reject evolution (Gosh!).

3. There is no significant conncetion that can be shown with religion vs. suicide in teens.

4. Arbortions are more common in the "religious" places, especially the US.

5. Homicide is more common in the "religious places, especially the US.

6. Teen pregnancies (obviously, seeing as 3..) are higher in the "religious" places, especially the US.

and

7. STDs are more common in religious countries, especially the US.

So... Someone please explain just what, other than church attendence and tithing, the religious are *actually* showing greater instances of moral behaviour in, *especially* in the US. Please, because the totally incomprehensible of the people like AiG who think reality is the complete opposite of this confuses the hell out of me. If someone insisted mid day was actually night, I might suspect they where blind and we where in the bloody Arctic, but what I am seeing here is unbelievable stupidity and ignorance of the highest order. lol

The only more insane article involved Orthodox Jews and what basically amounts to the same sort of council of loons who decide what is "acceptable since it reflects the Torah" and what will get you excomunicated. Guess they figured since the Christians tried that during the Inquisition, it was about time for the Jews to do so as well. Several notable Jewish scientists have in fact since been excomunicated because it was decided recently that their "previously" acceptable research was actually sacreligious. I'm betting that by the time the are done with this genius idea the result will be indistinguishable from the Discovery Institute. lol

I'm really gld you religion haters are here. I was raised (in the early '60s) with a mom who took us (brothers and sisters) to a methodist church and bible school. We learned - turn the other cheek- do unto others- take the beam from your own eye-the good samaritan- etc . There was no negativity. No better than. None of that. Genesis and Noah and the walls of Jericho and Daniel in the the Lions den and that thing with David and Saul being so tight, and Goliath and the rest were taught as parables. Now I, of course, realize I'm no Christian, but I must admit I'm diseapointed that the people my mom identified with have become such assholes. She always despised televangelists for "taking the poor peoples money....."but still wanted us to be good Christians valuewise. It's hard to get past
your upbringing...I had a brother who became a strong Christian. My Pop, on his death bed( literaly) told him he wanted absolutley no mention of God, Jesus,or any other religious "crap" at his funeral. Pop came from a New York Jewish family and his Mom never got past him marrying a North Carolina DAR girl. My brother gave up his church stuff immediatly after saying "my God wouldn't send a good man like Pop to Hell". I tried to explain about human creation myths and such to him. I think he got it.
I think most people are middle of the road and realize that science is what we need to save the planet. But we need (unfortunately, as humans)to have zealots at either end of the spectrum to achieve a middle ground.
I've been reading evolutionary biology since the '70s.
Gould, Dawkins,Trivers, Hamilton, G.C. Williams, Fortey,Eldridge, Lewontin, Maynard Smith, the Ridleys, Conway Morris, Bonner, and all the stuff in between. Finally found Rudy Raff 15? years ago and realized that here's the opening they've been waiting for (it's all about origins after all.....thats what we all want to know)
Ran into a serious roadblock with West-Eberhard (no formal education makes it a really tough read). Have to settle for others' synopsis. In any event, science doesn't screw with any religion me or my family ever dealt with. And I trust the great majority of Americans know the difference. Fringe groups need to be dealt with. Thanks, PZ, for doing so. Looped in Virginia,

shaker: Even if you are religious, isn't it a bit vain to think that you actually matter to God?

I have it on very good authority that Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.

Just when you think your opinion of someone can't get any lower....

I happen to live less than 90 minutes' drive from that Amish schoolhouse, and my girlfriend and I sleep in a beautiful bed made by an Amish craftsman every night. "Despicable" and "contemptible" are far too kind as descriptions of the cheap opportunism practiced by AiG.

...my girlfriend and I sleep in a beautiful bed made by an Amish craftsman every night.

How do you get him to come in every night? Does he do windows?

"So they admit the only reason they don't go around killing people is they think God's watching them and taking notes."

Well, not quite. There are those Born-Again who sincerely believe that their new "status" gives them license to do anything, even the most heinous of crimes, and still be granted entrance to Heaven. Lying, Rape, Murder, Stealing - all are of no consequence, for they've been "saved".

By Gaia sighs... (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

So this must be that projection I keep hearing about. If it weren't for Jebus they'd all be a bunch of devious perv...

(*ring* Yes? Mark Foley. He did WHAT?)

Ahem. Nevermind.

On a slight tangent - I found the definition of a traditional marriage in genesis.

17Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad was the father of Me-hu'ja-el, and Me-hu'ja-el the father of Me-thu'sha-el, and Me-thu'sha-el the father of Lamech. 19 And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Had I known polygamy was what the whole traditional marriage thing was about, I would have been for it ages ago. :)

You know, as a Christian, albeit a "librul" Episcopalian one, I have no freaking idea what the hell this ad means. Probably because I'm a fuzzy headed, gay accepting, woman ordaining, dinosaur believing, Piskie. Must be that real wine we use on Sundays.

Seriously, things like this make me understand the Apostle Peter (the "deny me three times" guy).

Hey, PZ,

I noticed on the AiG page that the illustrious Ken Ham will be at something called a "Worldview Weekend Conference"...

North Heights Lutheran Church
1700 West Highway 96
Arden Hills , Minnesota 55112
United States

...on Oct. 28. That's near the Twin Cities, isn't it? You know that Ken would probably love to see you...

Interestingly, my family (all fundies) have actually commented that I have become a nicer person these past few years... not sure they attribute it to my conversion to atheism... but, I do...
... I find myself less judgemental of others... I have lost that "you're going to hell if you don't change your ways" attitude...
... maybe there's something to the concept that religion makes you a more hateful person... I don't think it's supposed to... it just does... probably because we were continually told we "have the truth"...
... but, it really is noticeable... it's a lot harder to ruffle my feathers now...

By DamnRight (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

I had a mini-revelation last night that might or might not apply here.

All religions need heretics.

At the very least it helps keep them honest. But when you start subtly threatening the lives of non-beleivers, it's time for a halt to be called. These idiots need to be shamed into silence.

"If we evolved from lower life forms..."

If we really developed from gooey sperm and globby egg...

"...we are no more than animals."

...and could get shot by a bullet, which is no more than a small piece of highly malleable metal.

And if being fair, kind, and loving is not INTRINSICALLY a good thing, than nothing in the Bible can make it so. We have been "designed" by evolution to be social, cooperative, nurturing, and sometimes altruistic beings. Not only does "god" bring nothing to this table, but this vaunted Bible of theirs specifically countermands our innate sense of morality. Genocide, slavery, misogyny, various forms of bigotry and cruelty...our HUMAN intuition that this is wrong is the source of morality, which we could never extract from "God's word."

This is illogical to the point of insanity. The scariest thing about it might be not that it's aimed at unbelievers, but that it's believed by the devout. This meme is a more effective razor wire than anything we have at Gitmo. No brains are thinking outside this dark cage.

By Greg Peterson (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

The AIG and their ilk are vultures. They wait for terrible things to happen just so they can swoop down and capitalize on death. Stever Irwi dies and they first lie about a death bed conversion then claim he was condemned to hell. Some little girls get murdered by a sociopath and they claim it's because of evolution and abortion. I also did a search for 9/11 on the AIG website and found this lovely little article.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v26/i1/enemy.asp

They should have called it, "Sure 9/11 is bad but Abortion is the worst!"

Furthermore they are lying on their statistics. 5.4 million people are going to suffer violent crime in the next year? Perhaps AIG better report the other 3.4 million to the department of justice. Because they sure haven't heard of them.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance.htm

I also doubt the validity of the 1.4 million abortions per year. The CDC only reported 854,000 abortions as occuring in 2002 which is a far cry from what AIG reports. Granted Alaska, California, New Hampshire, and Oklahom are not reporting but I see no reason to suspect over half a million in those states.

The AIG and their peers are batshit stone-cold lunatics that believe in a bronze age mythology regardless of the lack of any evidence.

By commissarjs (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

The Lambs of God are being prepared for another
shearing session. If any Christians out there are
reading this blog, please understand that AIG and
their ilk are *only* interested in separating you
from your money and your votes.

Here's a nice picture of a Christian with AIG, Focus on the Family and AEI representatives:

They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you. They don't care about you.

They don't care.

By Dark Matter (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

Well, remember, if you do get shot, it's your own darn fault. No, really:

To understand that sin is the ultimate cause of the problem is also to understand that the blame lies with you and me--with everyone. We all sin in Adam (Romans 5)--that's why there is death and violence in the world. Collectively, it is our fault!

I suppose those murdered girls in Pennsylvania were just asking for it. What an odd duck this Ken Ham is.

That fellow in the wifebeater aiming the revolver at the camera - does he look, well, swarthy to anyone else?

Good old AiG. Never missing a trick.

He looks like he's 11.

Question:

Are there any actual numbers on homocides by religious as opposed to athiest people? (Tricky, I know; how do you know a murderer believed in God?)

Because ultimately they are making not a moral plea but a practical one: if there is no god, murder is OK, so you will get murderered.

---N

By DrNathaniel (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

"Well, not quite. There are those Born-Again who sincerely believe that their new 'status' gives them license to do anything, even the most heinous of crimes, and still be granted entrance to Heaven. Lying, Rape, Murder, Stealing - all are of no consequence, for they've been 'saved'."

I know the Baptist denomination I grew up in pushed this, only with an obviously different spin. They were big on the whole thing about Daddy's right hand and how nobody can take you out. I'm pretty sure that, according to their teachings, I'm still "saved" even though I've since "converted" to a godless atheist heathen. I mean, hey, at least I'm not a Papist.

So the message from this poster is: if you don't matter to God, you will be shot. Or maybe the message is: if you do matter to God, go out and shoot those who don't. Or maybe the message is: if you don't matter to God, you'll be shot, but if you do matter to God, you'll be shot anyway, because the crazy-a** m*****f***er pulling the trigger doesn't really give a tin sh*t who you believe in or why.
The brutal and cruel irony is that the man who murdered the students at the Amish school already believed in God. He believed God murdered his daughter. He believed a lot of sick things. Atheism might have provided some solace for him. His wife? At a prayer meeting when all this went down. And look at all the good their devout worship did when one guy decided his view of things was the only way of viewing the world.
The way I see it, this poster could be construed as a direct threat of violence on non-believers. I wonder if they could be investigated as a terrorist organization?

I can't answer the question about the morality of theists vs. atheists, but I recently came across an interesting book about teaching ethics.

The subjects interviewed for this book were MBA students, and so were a little older and with a wider age spread than undergraduates. The researchers found a couple of divisions, but the main one was between students who hadn't considered that managerial decisions can have an ethical dimension and those who had.

As an illustration, the typical member of the first group may be personally interested in environmental issues but if they were a manager at a paper mill they would still be focused only on profit. Even if they volunteered to clean up the neighborhood on their weekends. They would seperate their business ethics from their personal ethics.

The members of the second group may still be primarily making decisions based on profit, but would be aware that their decisions may be harming the environment.

The main difference between the two groups seemed to be life experiances. The first group had not had any real difficult times in their lives. When they went to college, it was paid for. They stepped into a job as soon as they left college. They returned for an MBA because it was expected, but it was no real hardship.

The second group had to struggle at times. Not all the time, but the members of the second group had, at some point, had to make some tough decisions in their own life. Because of this, they were more aware of the affects of decisions on others.

To relate this back to the atheist vs. theist morality. I suspect that a lot of atheists have given a great deal of thought about morality and ethics. This doesn't mean they are morally better than theists, just that they have considered the basis of morality.

Theists may have gone through hard times, apparently some people find religion during rough periods in their life. But they, in many cases, accept that morality arrives from religion as an axiom, not as the result of a proof.

Many atheists used to be theists. Not all, but the people who were raised religious, learned critical reasoning skills and applied them to religion, and then rejected religion, are likely IMHO to have considered morality and ethics.

I submit that those people who have thought about morality and ethics find it easier to identify moral and ethical situations, and react in a moral fashion.

I also suggest that a higher percentage of athiests than theists have thought about morality.

So it would be expected that atheists are generally more ethical than theists. Not that there wouldn't be exceptions because the distinguishing characteristic is not atheist or theist but thinking about morality compared to blind acceptance of moral authority.

Cheers,

-Flex

Their headline ("If you don't matter to God, you don't matter to anyone") contradicts the point of their explanation, which amounts to "If God doesn't matter to you, nobody does." I wonder why they changed the focus from belief in God to God's love. To offset the shocking image? To be less explicitly insulting to nonbelievers?

And while I agree with Greg Petersen, there's yet another problem with the "if we are only animals there is no reason to be fair, kind, or love each other" argument. It seems to rest on the assumption that of course we are -- and should be -- unfair, unkind, and unloving to animals. We should "treat them like animals." Shoot them, beat them, degrade them, when they "get in the way."

Really? Christians don't own dogs? The Humane Society is another "anti-christian" organization?

If the way we treat our pets exemplifies the phrase "being treated like an animal," sign me up. I'd like to be one of my cats.

The nuttiest part of the "no morality without god" BS argument for me is the utter failure to recognize that, even if one feels unconstrained by morality in deciding whether or not to rape, murder and steal at one's own whim, those behaviors are not effective means to getting what one wants and almost everyone who's not a sociopath or a moron--religious or not--recognizes that.

One doesn't need a christian dictation of moral values to see that doing those things simply doesn't result in good short- or long-term outcomes for the person doing them. We don't need christianity to tell us that if you cheat and steal, you will not be trusted by others and you will find your opportunities in life gravely limited by your failure to respect others' rights.

I could go next door, kill my neighbor, and take his fancy BMW SUV. But unless I've become detached from reality or just don't care what happens to me, it's obvious that I will then be hunted by the police and even if never caught, I will have limited my future options so severly that my godless, amoral enjoyment of the Beemer will clearly be far less than the enjoyment I get out of driving the '96 Ranger I bought by working an honest job.

I don't need god, allah, or the FSM to tell me to do what works, and what works is to gain the trust and respect of others. Like other commenters have said, one has to wonder about the true principles of someone who tells you that without god, we'd all just slit peoples' throats and take their shit. I know I would never do that, and my religious education consisted of my dad telling me at 6 years old, "son, don't ever let anyone try to sell you any of that god crap". But if you're telling me god is the only possible restraint you see against doing such things, I sure wonder about who you really are.

I think what they're trying to get at is the value and meaning of human life. What is my identity, what is my purpose, and what am I worth?

I'm no psychologist, but does it not make sense that if I see no meaning in life or feel that I'm not worth much then it would be easier to take someone else's life?

Evolution offers very little meaning or worth to our lives - other than the continuation of the species, which honestly doesn't give many people much to live for.

In contrast, if we are created then we have tremedous meaning and value.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

So it would be expected that atheists are generally more ethical than theists. Not that there wouldn't be exceptions because the distinguishing characteristic is not atheist or theist but thinking about morality compared to blind acceptance of moral authority.

An interesting question, does the act of thinking/reasoning about why a certain moral standard should be followed make an individual more likely to actually follow it? Of course it does. A blind acceptance is much easier to break down than an acceptance based on reasoning.

That being said, God's moral authority is proven over and over again that when people do what He said, life is good. If you don't, life can be pretty bad. I would never claim that because you're not a Christian, you're going to start murdering people. So whether you arrive at morality through reasoning or through acceptance, the interesting thing is that the reasoning comes to roughly the same conclusion as acceptance.

The sad thing is that many Christians fall way short of God's moral standard. They don't realize that they have been made new creations.
Galatians 2:20-21 says "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

By M Petersen (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

Evolution isn't meant to give meaning. It's just a fact of life.

Your worth in not dictated by a book. And if God gave us meaning, then he's done a pathetic job of laying out the terms.

I think what they're trying to get at is the value and meaning of human life. What is my identity, what is my purpose, and what am I worth?

Well, their headline makes no sense: If I don't matter to God, I don't matter to anyone? Huh?! With or without God, I still matter to my wife, kids, friends and vice versa (hell, even my cats matter to me!).

I'm no psychologist, but does it not make sense that if I see no meaning in life or feel that I'm not worth much then it would be easier to take someone else's life?

Yes, of course -- and people who feel that way should go see a psych, before they harm themselves or others. But that says nothing about needing God to supply that meaning -- the PA shooter was religious for cripes sake!

Evolution offers very little meaning or worth to our lives - other than the continuation of the species, which honestly doesn't give many people much to live for.

So? Neither does gravitation, nor thermodynamics, nor any other scientific concept, as such. Science tries to answer questions about the way the world works. "Meaning Of Life" is a whole other issue. Don't blame evolution for not doing what it's not advertised as.

In contrast, if we are created then we have tremedous meaning and value.

Oh gods, I sense so many layers of confusion here I don't know where to start untangling them.

Look: you, personally, were "created" by your parents, not (in any direct and obvious sense) by God. That has nothing to do with the origin of the whole human species (or the human form, or whatever it is that Creationists seem to think is so important). Your beef is not with evolution here, it's with theories about conception and gestation.

BTW: when I was a Christian, and thought as you do, that ultimate value is rooted in God, it still didn't screw up my understanding of natural history, as shown by the evidence of the physical world.

But about God assigning us this "tremedous meaning and value": it seems to be a relatively recent idea He's had. For a lot of Christian history, we were loathesome sinful worms who might -- maybe -- be granted a place in Heaven if we did exactly what the Church (or the Bible -- the attitude comes in both Catholic and Protestant versions) said. Or we were created by God to hold some particular place in society -- which for most people, meant to toil in the mud growing food for the high and mighty, or being cannon fodder, or otherwise disposable and insignificant. The good Christian southern slave-owners valued their slaves at whatever they bought them for, or the work they could get out of them, and that was it. This whole "All humans have dignity and rights because our Creator bestowed them on us" is a very much a johnny-come-lately in Christian history (and many of those first pushing it were Deists and other heretics).

So MP, recognize this AiG article for what it is: the worst grade of sleazy propaganda. Take something that horrifies everyone (school massacres, child sexual abuse, Nazis, whatever) and try to set up associations between that and the target you're trying to discredit. If you can't see that, then you are blind.

By Steve Watson (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

The inability to find ones own moral compass or to find meaning in ones own existence in the absense of a supernatural father figure is, in my opinion, very nihilistic. M. Peterson, with due respect, you are free to constrain yourself in that way, but don't lay those artificial limitations on me. I'm perfectly capable (and willing!) to live a moral and meaningful life with, or without, God.

Anyway. We were created.

By nature and time.

I find that tremendously exciting and meaningful. To exist at all is amazing! What an opportunity to be, and to affect the world in a positive way during the short time I am here!

If it turns out that a supernatural father figure created us, well, ok. That's exciting, too. But it's not BETTER. It's just... less likely. ;-)

But if you're telling me god is the only possible restraint you see against doing such things, I sure wonder about who you really are.

Right on, Ben.

Evolution isn't meant to give meaning. It's just a fact of life. Your worth in not dictated by a book. And if God gave us meaning, then he's done a pathetic job of laying out the terms.

Perhaps that is where the problem lies. Evolution can't give meaning to someone's life.

The prevailing view in the West today, for all practical purposes, is naturalism. This is not only the prevailing philosophy on college campuses, but we have all been encouraged by the successes of science to believe that if something is not scientific, it is not reliable. Since science investigates the natural order, we tend to see nature as all that is really important, or even as all that exists. This is called scientific reductionism.

However, the scientific method is capable of dealing only with quantitative matters: How much? How big? How far? How fast? Philosopher Huston Smith has argued that, for all the achievements of science, it is incapable of speaking to such important issues as values, purpose, meaning, and quality.{8}

This focus on science is not meant to pick on this discipline, but to point out that science cannot give answers to some of the major issues of life. Moreover, if we go so far as to adopt naturalism as a world view, we are really in a bind, for naturalism has no answers to give, at least to the question of ultimate meaning. Naturalism says there was no purpose for our coming into being; the only meaning we can have now is that which we superimpose on our own lives; and we are all just going back to the dust. If the universe is just a chance accident in space and time; if living beings intrinsically are nothing more than just so many molecules, no matter how marvelously arranged; if human beings are merely cousins to trees, trapped on a planet caught somewhere "between immensity and eternity," as Carl Sagan said; then there is no meaning to life that we ourselves do not give to it. Being finite, we are by nature incapable of providing ultimate meaning.

If we should seek to establish our own meanings, what is to guide us? By what shall we measure such things? What if that which is meaningful to me is offensive to you? Furthermore, what if the goals we pursue are not capable of bearing the meaning we try to put into them? Many people strive to move up the ladder, to attain the power and prestige that they think will fulfill them, only to find that it's not all it's cracked up to be. The possession of material goods defines many of our lives. But how much is enough? Does the one with the most toys when he dies really win? Or, as some have said, is it simply that the one who dies with the most toys . . . still dies?

Thus, there is no ultimate meaning in a universe without God, and our attempts at providing our own limited meanings often leave us looking for more.

If naturalism is true, we should be able to shake off the fantasies of our past and give up worrying about questions of ultimate meaning. However, we continue to look for something bigger than ourselves, something that will give our lives meaning. Christianity provides the explanation. We are drawn toward the One who created us and imbues our lives with meaning as part of His purposes. We are significant in ourselves because He made us, and there is meaning in our daily activities because that is the context in which we work out His ambitions for us and our world. Recognizing the true God opens to us the reality of value and meaning. The meaning of life is found when we find our place in God's world.

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/relevanc.html

By M Petersen (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

Wow you really do miss the point. Evolution is a theory/law of science it's not a philosphy of life. No one looks to it for meaning. Do you look at the ocean to hope to find meaning?

It's not God's world. It's our world. And it's the only one we have. There isn't a next world.

We can find meaning in life by enjoying it and expanding our knowledge of the world, it's culture and all that it offers.

Wow you really do miss the point. Evolution is a theory/law of science it's not a philosphy of life. No one looks to it for meaning.

Yes I understand it's a theory, not a philosophy. I'm not claiming anyone looks to evolution for meaning, it's the philosophies that follow logically out of evolution, such as naturalism.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

I agree that the image and text are poorly conceived, but many of you are missing the point of both the AIG campaign and the concept of "without God there are no morals."

Without universal absolutes of conduct, then any group can decide what is moral for themselves. If you accept that standard, then you also must accept that different groups may make different decisions:
* China decided it's sometimes okay to kill second babies after they are born.
* Germany decided to kill Jews and others.
* Many countries decided it's okay to enslave others.
* NAMBLA decided it's okay to have sex with a child if he doesn't protest.
* Some have decided killing as many humans as possible is necessary to save the environment.
These groups in general believe that they are right. Without universal absolutes to the contrary, you cannot argue with them except to say you disagree.

Christians have done a poor job of explaining this concept. Many do not understand it completely and quote its conclusions without understanding its logic. Many humanists also misunderstand the position they disagree with. Statements containing "without the Bible we'll all go shoot each other" and its common variations are an example of that misunderstanding.

Either you have universal absolute standards for behavior, or you do not. If you do not, then the logical conclusion of man-made morals is "anything goes," because each individual or group can decide what is right. In that case, all you can have are disagreements on behavior rather than violations of morals. The Christian standard, regardless of whether individual Christians always adhere to it, is that the absolutes have been given.

So, then, Mr Petersen, what sort of philosophies flow out of the study of the evolutionary history of fossil organisms?

Which are far more superior to religious dogma of an omniscient omnipotent god.

That being said, God's moral authority is proven over and over again that when people do what He said, life is good. If you don't, life can be pretty bad.

Okay, I'll bite.

Could you give me an explanation of all of the OT laws which you choose not to follow, and why those ones for some reason don't count? Unless, of course, you're going to tell me that you actually follow all of them.

By Millimeter Wave (not verified) on 04 Oct 2006 #permalink

Perhaps that is where the problem lies. Evolution can't give meaning to someone's life.

Yes it can.

However, we continue to look for something bigger than ourselves, something that will give our lives meaning. Christianity provides the explanation.

For the author. For you. For anyone willing to accept the presumed absolute authority of an entity whose existence cannot be demonstrated. For others, that's not enough.

What is peoples' obsession with the "meaning" of life? Can't they just enjoy it? So what if there isn't any "ultimate purpose?"

There's another level of ignorance (or maybe irony, if you look at it right): the AiG article linked to by the gun repeats the old canard about creationists and scientists having the same evidence, but different worldviews with different presuppositions, and that these presuppositions color everything we see.

Yet just recently PZ posted a graph showing the increase in cranial capacity in fossil humans over time. The data for that chart came from a paper that attempted to measure researcher bias in estimating cranial capacity (their conclusion: there's a significant amount, but not nearly enough to explain the curve seen in the graph).

In other words, the authors of that paper went out of their way to identify bias in their own colleagues, the better to make sure that they could compensate for it.

M. Peterson, Clarification please. Are you saying that evolution should be rejected, not on scientific grounds but because "philosophies that follow logically out of evolution, such as naturalism" don't answer questions about the meaning of life?

if we are created then we have tremedous meaning and value

Says you. Who's to say we weren't created by someone or something who thinks we're shit? Maybe god is a DaVinci who considers us by far his worst painting. Who's to say we aren't the result of a failed creation experiment, and the creator has completely forgotten we exist, or has put us on an out-of-the-way planet to live out our useless lives far away from his true life's work? Oh yeah, you say so, and just like so many other god-botherers, you expect the rest of the world to swallow your personal religious interpretations whole like a slimy raw oyster, and have a bottomless well of shock and indignation available for each instance when we do not.

Let's look at the chain of logic here, as you present your religious dogma to what you know to be an audience of mainly scientific-minded people. First you buy into the false dichotomy of evolution vs. creation: if we weren't evolved, we must have been created. So we're created, let's stipulate that. So the next jump is from the general idea of being created (which we are to take as true principally because evolution doesn't provide a satisfying philosophical framework, not sure where this comes from but whatever), to the idea that if we were created, our lives must have great meaning and value. How does that spring from your false dichotomy? It doesn't, it's just an assumption on your part that once you've convinced others (ha) with your fallacy, you've also convinced them that your own personal interpretations of the teachings of one of the world's many fundamentally contradictory and scripturally nonsensical religions are therefore correct.

To recap: 4 billion years of evidence and 150 years of thousands of scientists devoting their lives to developing the most (and only) plausible theory for the origin of biological diversity should be scrapped as not true, because accepting it as true doesn't provide your life with meaning and value. Since evolution is not true, creationism must be, despite the utter lack of scientific basis. Then, since creationism is true, your personal interpretation of how that creation must have happened must also be true, as well as all of the philosophical and moral tenets that you say flow from that interpretation. Did I miss something?

You may believe these things based on this kind of reasoning, and I can't fault you for it. I believe you have a fundamental right to be muddleheaded. But what kind of mental gymnastics must one perform to tell oneself that babbling this crap might convince anyone else?

So, then, Mr Petersen, what sort of philosophies flow out of the study of the evolutionary history of fossil organisms?

Does anyone else seriously need me to show how evolutionary theory can lead/contribute to certain philosophies?

Please read: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil.html

By M Petersen (not verified) on 05 Oct 2006 #permalink

M. Peterson, Clarification please. Are you saying that evolution should be rejected, not on scientific grounds but because "philosophies that follow logically out of evolution, such as naturalism" don't answer questions about the meaning of life?

No.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 05 Oct 2006 #permalink

Your just wrong M Petersen.

Okay, I'll bite.

Could you give me an explanation of all of the OT laws which you choose not to follow, and why those ones for some reason don't count? Unless, of course, you're going to tell me that you actually follow all of them.

Being a rather involved subject to discuss via blog comments, I'll have to refer you to:
http://www.wcg.org/lit/law/otl/default.htm

By M Petersen (not verified) on 05 Oct 2006 #permalink

Your just wrong M Petersen.

I understand that you feel that way GH. Have you fully considered your position on the truth? Were you once a Christian as well?

By M Petersen (not verified) on 05 Oct 2006 #permalink

Not once but rather am.

And for the record I find your position both dishonest and inconsistent. Your links are so filled with obvious faulty logic I have no idea how they are appealing to you.

Ummm. you need to read the posts over at talk origins before you use that as an example of Evoluion leading to a philosophy.

Does cosmology lead to a philosophy?

I know I probably shouldn't respond to this but, TK wrote, "Either you have universal absolute standards for behavior, or you do not. If you do not, then the logical conclusion of man-made morals is "anything goes," because each individual or group can decide what is right."

Incorrect. The logical conclusion of man-made morals is to consider the consequences of your actions before you take action. The consequences to an 'anything goes' morality is usually pretty bad for the person perusing that morality.

There is not, nor has there ever been, an absolute morality. Your christian absolute prohibition against killing doesn't apply to soldiers killing enemies. Your christian absolute prohibition against theft doesn't apply to plunder.

The differences in morality between a theist and an atheist are minor if their behaviors are compared. The differences are most strongly found in how they justify their behavior. A theist can justify their morality by an appeal to an external authority. An atheist can only justify their morality as a responsibility to themselves.

In many ways, I believe an atheist is more moral than a theist. For when temptation arises, the atheist can only ask themself, 'is that the sort of person I want to be seen as?' The theist has an escape route. A theist can be tempting into an immoral act, and reclaim their moral status by an appeal to a forgiving god.

In other words, theists are constrained to morality through both their personal moral sense of responsibility and their belief in a vengeful deity who will punish them. Atheists are only constrained to morality through their personal moral sense of responsibility. Being aware that only you are responsible to safeguard your morality adds both a burden and a freedom to your actions. It gives you power, but also responsibilities.

But I'm not arguing that theists are immoral, only that they have an additional avenue to regain their respect than an atheist does. In general, I believe that both theists and atheists alike behave generally moral. There are exceptions in both groups, and there is the occasional society wide set of moral beliefs which is different than what we consider moral today.

In general, however, I think that atheists have considered the problem of morality more carefully than theists. Further, I believe that thinking about morality often leads a person to become more moral. For that reason, I suggest that atheists are likely to be less susceptable to temptation than theists. Not because they are atheists, but because they have thought about the problems of morality.

If we want to improve the level of moral behavior in society, we need to teach ethics to the theist and atheist alike. Giving the theists a pass on ethics because of their belief in an external moral authority is not helping to create a moral society. We must teach ethics for that to happen. I don't care if the teaching occurs in a school, a church or at home, ethics has to be taught.

Cheers,

-Flex

Here here.

I plan to teach my son a rigorous level of ethics and respect for himself and others.
And it will not come from any religious dogma. When he's old enough I'll explain
the ideas of religion and philosophy. And even older still I'll present him with various religions in a factual and objective way. He should respect other cultures even if he doesn't share in the beliefs. Religion will not be some revelation to him when he turns 12.
He'll know all about it. And Hopefully he won't need it.

Either you have universal absolute standards for behavior, or you do not. If you do not, then the logical conclusion of man-made morals is "anything goes

This is a pretty ignorant viewpoint. First human behaviour is a continuum, meaning you have extremes at either end and most of the population in the middle. So an absolute standard is not only a silly notion it's an impossible notion.

What is good for you may not be good for me even if we can infer some ideas are beneficial to the majority of organisms in a group. You always have the outliers on either end.

'Anything goes' ignores the fact that we are a group/communal species and an 'anything goes' mentality would be quickly defused by the group as a whole as it doesn't lend itself to the general stability our species prefers day to day.

GH and Flex: you are both still missing the logical conclusion of man-made ethics. Do you agree with the group ethics of modern China, or Nazi Germany, or the others I mentioned? Are you willing to agree those things are okay? They are not.

As GH said, "What is good for you may not be good for me even if we can infer some ideas are beneficial to the majority of organisms in a group," and as Flex said, "There are exceptions in both groups, and there is the occasional society wide set of moral beliefs which is different than what we consider moral today." Both of you said, in different words, the standard humanist argument: cultures (or individuals) make the rules that are right for them.

If you hold to that argument, you must accept as ethical the things done by those other cultures because GH) what is good for them may not be good for you and Flex)Their moral beliefs may be different than what you consider moral today. I would point out, Flex, that China kills newborns today, right now. Is that right for them? Apparently they think so. Is it right for you? I doubt it. How can you reconcile that? There are more Chinese than there are you or all of us. If the dominant population says something, by humanist standards that makes it right.

The fact that something is depressing or difficult to fathom does not give us the right to make up an imaginary construct that will make everything orderly and result in us feeling better. If something is reality, the negative ramifications of that reality are not a valid reason to determine that it must not be that way (or else!).