Poor arguments to make with atheists

warning.gifThere are three ways discussions with atheists get off track rather quickly.

1. Don’t confuse moral behavior with a foundation for morality.  The claim that atheists don’t have a foundation for morality (a true statement in my view) is often miscommunicated or misinterpreted as saying they don’t have morals (a typically unfair and inaccurate statement).  Some atheists have better morals than “religious” people.

However, the “molecules to man” approach does not provide a foundation for morality. Classic atheist arguments attempt to read one in, but if you pay close attention you’ll see that they always bring some kind of moral framework in the back door.  I think they often do it unwittingly (mainly because it is so hard to get away from moral reasoning).

For example, I’ve seen the line of thinking that says such-and-such is moral because it is good for the perpetuation of the species. But note how that assumes a universal moral good of perpetuating the species. But where is the materialist proof for that? Who cares if the species is perpetuated if we are just a bunch of molecules? In the Darwinian worldview, lots of species have gone extinct – even before these awful, awful humans showed up.

I’m not denying the innate desire to live and help others, and I’m not denying that atheists don’t have the same feelings. I’m just saying that materialistic philosophy can’t provide that foundation.

2. While atheists can’t prove there isn’t a God, that isn’t a sufficient argument for theists to make.  Proving a negative in a rather sizable universe is somewhat difficult.  We can’t prove there isn’t a pink unicorn somewhere in the universe, either, but that is hardly a reason to believe it is true.

I think it is more fruitful to look at the evidence for and against the existence of God the way we’d make decisions on a host of other issues.  I can’t prove God exists in the sense that I can prove that 2+2=4, but I can point to a whole bunch o’ evidence that I think it rather compelling.  We make lots of important decisions in life based on less than 100.000% surety.

3. Don’t mix up the general concept of God with the specific concept of the true God as revealed in the Bible (i.e., the Trinity).  Sometimes Christians make good points about the existence of God but jump too quickly to him being the God of the Bible.  We believe that is true, of course, but I think it is more productive to approach the argument as follows:

  • Is there reliable evidence for the existence of God?
  • If yes, did He reveal himself to us?  How so?

It is possible to argue it directly from the Bible, but I think it is useful to distinguish between Biblical and general philosophical arguments.  The Word of God is living and active and accomplishes what God sets out for it to do.  But there are many times when other arguments are necessary.  There is nothing wrong with being charitable and meeting people where they are.  They have been bombarded with bad arguments from the Big Book O’ Atheist Sounds Bites for so long that they may need some help in seeing the truth.

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95 thoughts on “Poor arguments to make with atheists”

  1. Mark, I really wasn’t trying to take your passage out of context. I drew the same conclusions reading and re-reading the whole thing. I don’t see how a natural instinct for survival = proof of the creation and evolution of morality. It may help my ability to survive by commiting immoral acts.

    “I know you aren’t selfish, you were making a point.”

    Thanks for being kind, but I really am selfish. It wasn’t false humility at all. Most of the time I am thinking (consciously or not) about what would be good for Neil.

    “You also ask “…how do you know killing and stealing are wrong?” I’m sure it didn’t take long to figure out that you were risking your life in the process of commiting either act.”

    I’m not following . . . how does putting myself at risk make the deed immoral? Good deeds involved risk as well.

    “I’m pretty sure this is where the “eye for an eye” thing came from.”

    The eye for an eye thing was to ensure that punishments fit the crime (i.e., no killing someone over a minor infraction).

    “Much like Bubba, your arguments are also very weak.”

    I appreciate being put in a class with Bubba, but he is much more articulate and accurate than me.

    Gotta run! Have good Thanksgivings in case I’m not back on before then.

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  2. Oops just saw the latest one:

    “I respectfully submit that self-interest is the ONLY basis for a moral foundation.”

    That doesn’t sound like morality to me. There are plenty of things that most consider immoral that, in many circumstances, would benefit me: Enslaving others, stealing, murdering my enemies (so they won’t kill me), etc.

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  3. Bubba, once again you SO miss the point. I did not say the risking your life was immoral – I said that killing and stealing were. Your argument is pathetic.

    The men who gave up their seats on the Titanic lifeboats were acting for the benefit of others. I’m sure you agree this was a brave and selfless act; one worthy of remembering.

    To put what I said in propper perspective, let’s go back to the early days of civilization, shall we. Someone has returned from a hunt and have hung their catch in preparation for slaughter. Someone else attempts to steal the catch, but is caught and severly maimed because of it. As an onlooker, you quickly (I hope – but in your case I’m not sure) figure out that stealing someone else’s property is very risky. As a matter of fact, you might decide that getting your own catch and feeding yourself as well as others is a way to benefit not only yourself but the community as a whole. Yes, this is definitely a foundation for acting in a moral way.

    That is not the same thing as letting a lion eat you so your kids can get to safety.

    I hope you “get it” now, Bubba. Although I suspect you understood it before replying…

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  4. I have a little bit of time left, so let me reply that I don’t grasp your point, Mark. In calling my argument pathetic, you insist that risking one’s life isn’t immoral, that killing and stealing is immoral.

    Okay, so why did you bring up risking one’s life before, Neil?

    You also ask “…how do you know killing and stealing are wrong?” I’m sure it didn’t take long to figure out that you were risking your life in the process of commiting either act. If that is not a foundation then I don’t know what would qualify. I’m pretty sure this is where the “eye for an eye” thing came from.

    And why bring it up again?

    To put what I said in propper perspective, let’s go back to the early days of civilization, shall we. Someone has returned from a hunt and have hung their catch in preparation for slaughter. Someone else attempts to steal the catch, but is caught and severly maimed because of it. As an onlooker, you quickly (I hope – but in your case I’m not sure) figure out that stealing someone else’s property is very risky.

    You bring up risking one’s life as if that somehow proves that theft is immoral, but then you insist that it has nothing to do with immorality and commend the admittedly brave and selfless behavior of those who gave their lives so that others on the Titanic might live, and then you bring up risking one’s life again implying that it somehow proved stealing was wrong.

    Your argument is very confusing, or the one making that argument is very confused.

    I will certainly agree that acting selflessly is very moral — in fact, one of the core principles of morality — but you seem to want to make two arguments for acting selflessly:

    1) Self-interest: you should act as if you are selfless because the cumulative effect of that behavior is beneficial to you personally. This isn’t always true, and it wasn’t on the Titanic, and yet you praise the bravery of those men without explaining the basis for the morality of their behavior.

    2) Collective interest: you should act selflessly because it will benefit the community. This is true, but it begs the question, why do we have a moral obligation to sacrifice one’s own happines and even his life for the sake of the community? Any attempt to explain this duty without ultimately appealing to some transcendent truth — either the transcendence of the moral law itself or the transcendence of its Lawgiver — will fail, and you’re demonstrating that well.

    Couch altruism in self-interest, and you undermine altruism in the extreme cases. Justify altruism by saying it benefits the community, and you engage in a circular argument.

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  5. Mark, you said “It is our human values that give us rights, responsibilities, and dignity.”

    Actually, John Adams declared that those in our country “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights.”

    Today especially, I am thankful that my rights come from God and that my country respects that.

    Frank, you said “Additionally, there are a number of books written on the subject of evolution and morality.”

    Can you reference a couple? I’d be interested in reading. I’d prefer something relatively easy, my mind wanders and I have way too much on my reading list already.

    I have no objection to reading opposing information and weighing it against the Truth.

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  6. I’m obviously not getting my points across. This has happened to me before, so I’m sure it’s not you guys. It’s my ability that is lacking, here. I will try to come up with a line of reasoning that works better.

    Later…

    Randy, please don’t confuse Creator with God. And, like you, I’m thankful that our country recognizes our rights.

    It’s TURKEY TIME! Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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  7. Bubba,

    Quickly, because it’s a long day and I’m tired – you’re conflating two issues. One is: why do we not act in an “amoral” or “immoral” way? I answered. The other: why would we sacrifice oruselves? Just beause the latter doesn’t fit into the framework of the former doesn’t mean that the former is wrong.

    Such is your error in logic. Try asking it as a QUESTION, instead of assuming that I’m wrong, and you’ll get an actual answer.

    Here is an answer, by the way: because self-sacrifice can be extremely selfish. I would rather be dead than to live, knowing I could have saved my little siblings. That is simply an expression of my values, and me acting according to them. Society would not impose any blame upon me if I were not to die for others (in fact, considering that many people’s lives could be saved if I agreed to be harvested for every organ in my body, I would say that society NEVER really requires us to sacrifice ourselves for others), as it has no particular interest in my life or in other’s lives.

    Guilt, from a really boring perspective, helps us be “moral” people. The morality need not be imposed by a Creator, Jehovah, Zeus, Allah, or evolution – it serves a function. It is instrumental to the end of ensuring that we are “moral” people (however one chooses to so define); one can look upon it as an evolutionary quirk, much like our super-sensitive fingertips, or something from a Creator. Nevertheless, it is there and serves a rather boring function. Nothing inherently divine about that.

    By the way, choose a different example next time, Bubba. It’s far, far too easy 😉 for us to point out that women are more important, evolutionarily speaking, than are men: you can repopulate with a few dozen men and hundreds of women, but not the other way around. If men die so women survive, evolution is benefitted – the whole is helped, even if the individual is sacrificed to the greater good. 🙂

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  8. Theo, you offer a socialogical explanation for why men do behave a certain way, but you offer no ethical grounding for why men should behave a certain way. The most you do is suggest that evolution accounts for certain behavior as advantageous in an evolutionary sense, but that hardly makes that behavior normative.

    Let me reiterate that the standards of morality inlcude (but are not limited to) genuine love for one’s neighbor. Socialogically, one could accurately describe a community that is built on such love as cooperation or symbiosis.

    If this standard is the result of evolution, what is to say that evolution won’t supplant it by another standard?

    Suppose you’re confronted by someone that I think could accurately be described as a sociapath, and he argues for a new standard, one in which subjugation replaces cooperation and in which parasitism replaces symbiosis.

    Are you actually going to argue the utility of his approach against yours? Are you going to defend morality only on the grounds that it serves a function? And if the sociopath makes a good argument, are you truly willing to change your mind?

    Who would conceviably evaluate the Golden Rule against a philosophy in which other human beings are treated as means rather than ends, and would choose between the two based on arguments from evolution? If such a person insists that he doesn’t reject the objective truth of morality, he has built on sand the foundation of his trust in that truth, and he’s practically begging for a storm to wash it away.

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  9. Sad.
    Gosh, Neil, you might as well stop. You fool, see how easily the God of Abraham and Christ on the cross are defeated? It’s the molecules, stupid!
    Christ, the apostles, St. Augustine, all the saints, C.S. Lewis—deluded, muddle-headed dolts, the lot of them. If only they could have seen these dissections of their faith on this comment thread, they could have spent their time so much more wisely. Let the whole of Christendom slink away in shame in the face of these clever deconstructionists.
    I see it all so clearly now–how I have just been a mindless sheep doing what mom and dad told me, etc. Christ was an evolved set of molecules doing what benefited the species, and is moldering somewhere in a forgotten grave. And we too are mere vegetable matter.
    What a glorious vision of creation and the human soul! I want to be an atheist now too!!!!

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  10. Lewd,

    As one of my friends said the evening before an organic chemistry final, “We are really just wet animated charcoal.”

    One could also argue that Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and the others are deluded fools who could have spent their lives more wisely, had they just read a little C.S. Lewis. 😉

    You’re a lawyer. The question with these sort of discussions isn’t always “Who is right?” but “Can you make an argument?” It’s akin to surviving a summary judgment motion at trial, not actually winning the trial itself.

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  11. I have been busy lately and missed this discussion.

    If you have to live together peacefully to be happy, then I assume Joseph Stalin was a very unhappy man.

    Theo
    My question is; Who animated the charcoal?
    I wonder how soon that bag I left under the leak in the storage shed will come walking out to complain?

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  12. Sheesh, SST, I thought you would have a sense of humour and not pound the joke to death.

    Your question assumes that a being is needed to animate the charcoal; your second sentence assumes that 1) the joke was literal and 2) the time period is small enough to be seen over your lifetime. (A very common saying in chemical engineering is “Thermodynamics tells you what happens, but tells you nothing about when it happens. Kinetics tells you when.”)

    I reject all three assumptions and thus find it to be an extraordinarily silly question. 🙂

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  13. Theo, looking back to your first post, I see that you wrote, unconvincingly, that morality can be deduced simply by observing what behavior improves our lives and the lives of those around us. You now write that morality can be deduced by what is advantageous in an evolutionary sense. It’s not at all the case that the two coincide: the former goal is concerned with improving our present lives, the latter with propagating our genetic material for future generations. I’m sure one can conceive of philosophies that are brutal on individual humans but quite efficient in ensuring the survival of the species, but if you’re going to appeal, in the end, to your original argument, you shouldn’t have muddied the waters by introducing as a new standard what works in an evolutionary sense.

    For what it’s worth, I say that the argument is unconvincing because, in saying only that X would improve our lives, it does not logically follow that we therefore should do X. What is missing is an explanation for why we have an obligation to improve our own lives.

    The question is, an obligation to whom? I would argue that we have an obligation to our Creator, but you think morality doesn’t need an appeal to a higher power.

    Okay, then who are we left with? Each other?

    Why should I give a damn about you when you’re nothing more than wet, animated charcoal?

    You deny objective standards, writing that good things are “merely those that we perceive to be good” and questioning whether sociopathy is a meaningful term, but you insist that there is a such a thing as morality.

    You deny the Creator, who is, I believe, the only trustworthy source for a transcendent truth like the moral law, and yet you insist that we can deduce what is moral.

    And you even denigrate humanity, proving yourself to be a materialist reductionist who thinks that we are all “just” wet, animated charcoal, and yet you continue to assert that, really, deep down, we have a moral obligation to work to make each other’s lives better.

    (Never mind that you also think a wet bag of coal like you can actually generate rational thoughts.)

    Confidence in rationality and morality cannot be separated from the Judeo-Christian claims about God, man, and objective reality. Remove these foundations, and you remove all reasons to trust rationality and morality. In short, you leave yourself with nihilism.

    When you resist the logical consequences of your beliefs, by absurdly stating that, on the one hand, we ought to improve each other’s lives, and on the other hand, we’re nothing more than coal, you make yourself look extremely foolish.

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  14. Well, Bubba, thanks for many, many paragraphs of telling me that atheism makes me a crappy person.

    May I refer you the POINT of Neil’s post? Thanks for being a walking example of Christian intolerance.

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  15. Let me be clear, Theo, I do not think you’re a “crappy person.” I just don’t think you’re following your position to its logical conclusion, and that doing so makes you look foolish.

    To be sure, it makes you look noble and foolish. That you still cling to the objective reality of the moral law — even as you systematically deny every reason to trust in that reality — suggests that you really believe in the moral law even if you can’t explain that belief intellectually and make it fit with your intellectual beliefs.

    The atheism you and others here have espoused doesn’t make you less moral of a person: it just makes you less consistent if you continue to affirm the moral law and deny all that could explain our confidence in that law.

    I perfectly understand Neil’s point about differentiating between moral behavior and a foundation for morality. I have said nothing about your behavior; for all I know, you could be a better person than I am, and many people are. What I addressed was your foundation for morality, and you shouldn’t take it personally if I find your foundation very unpersuasive.

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  16. And, for what it’s worth, I haven’t seen anything from myself or the other theists here that compares to the personal attacks on my character that two of the atheists here have displayed, first Mark…

    You are a sad, sad, individual. A poor example of a good, thoughtful, human being.

    …and now Theo:

    May I refer you the POINT of Neil’s post? Thanks for being a walking example of Christian intolerance.

    The comments are striking.

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  17. Striking?

    You said that I make myself look foolish, denigrate humanity, deny the Creator, and a host of other insults. I then pointed out that you are insulting, and I’m suddenly a horrible person, AND it’s related to my atheism. Yes, it’s striking – striking in the fact that I did not level the same cruelty against you that you did to me. It’s called character.

    (Never mind that you also think a wet bag of coal like you can actually generate rational thoughts.)

    Um, organic chemistry, first day: organic chemistry is based on carbon. Life forms are based on carbon. Charcoal = carbon.

    Re-read Neil’s post, Bubba. Really, please understand that your Christianity doesn’t make you a better person than atheists; at best, it may only make you a better person than you would be otherwise.

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  18. Theo, you acknowledge your own atheism. How is it an insult to say that you deny the Creator? Is that not accurate?

    Christianity affirms that we humans are made in God’s image and that we have eternal souls, but you believe that we are not the work of a deliberate Creator and that we are “just” organic matter. (I do not deny that our bodies are made of carbon and other elements, only that man is not limited to a physical body.) In comparison to Christian belief, your position does denigrate humanity.

    It does seem inconsistent and foolish to suggest, simultaneously, that we are “just” bags of coal but that we nevertheless have a moral obligation to improve each other’s lives.

    And, you didn’t just suggest that I was insulting you. You called me “a walking example of Christian intolerance.”

    Once again, I understand Neil’s post perfectly well; I will reiterate that I’m not suggesting your atheism makes you less moral, only less logically consistent.

    I’m not the one who has confused statements about an atheist’s behavior with his foundation for morality.

    And, I’m not the one who thinks that saying the obvious about an atheist — that he or she denies the Creator — is somehow a cruel insult.

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  19. Bubba,

    Nice backtrack, but it doesn’t work with the internet. There’s a nice record of your statements on file.

    You owe me an apology. Nothing more – especially not more of your self-justification. Read that Bible. I’m pretty sure that it speaks out pretty harshly against the way you’re treating me.

    As for the Creator issue – um, I’m calling b.s.. In your world, it’s an insult. I measure the insult by the intention of the giver, not the receiver.

    As for the charcoal issue… if you do not know what a joke is, and if you could not tell that I was bantering with one of my best friends (Lewd & I know each other from law school), then such is your problem. I do not think that my repetition of a joke should make me the subject of your cruelty.

    Again, backtracking just makes you look like more of a jerk. Apologise – such is my due, as a member of the human race. Funny – you’re the one who gets on his high horse about thinking that humans are so great, but you treat me like garbage. Your justifications are just pathetic excuses for ignoring both the point of Neil’s post (you’re the poster child for what not to do) and what you believe to be God’s commands on how to treat your fellow man.

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  20. finally – I’m bowing out of this one. I really don’t need to be told that I denigrate humanity because I don’t ascribe to Christianity.

    (Last time I checked, no one has accused the Native Americans, Hindus, Buddhists, and ancient Greeks of the same, although they clearly weren’t Christians.)

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  21. I wasn’t backtracking, Theo. I was standing behind what I’ve written, and I continue to stand behind what I’ve written.

    And, on the subject of backtracking, you earlier defended your “charcoal” comment by appealing to “um,” organic chemistry. Now you want me to dismiss the comment as a joke, even though I believe it remains clear that you really do believe humans are physical beings and nothing more.

    Personally I’m not sure how a person is supposed to apologize without backtracking — you write that I should do the former but that doing the latter would make me look more like a jerk — but I’ll make this very easy for you by doing neither. I do not backtrack from any of my comments, and I will not apologize for them.

    I can assure you that, since I know my own intent, it was not intended as an insult to say that you deny the Creator. It is an accurate description of your beliefs, stated matter-of-factly, and I note that you did not deny the basic truth of this conclusion.

    I have done my best to remain quite civil with you, a fact that you seemed to have missed completely, and I have in fact shown you the respect you deserve as a human by taking your position seriously enough to evaluate it and criticize it as I deem necessary.

    What would you have a Christian to do? To act as if your justification for morality is solid even though it’s obvious that it isn’t? Is confronting you with the truth as best as I understand it, and with as much civility as I can muster, really treating you like garbage?

    I don’t think it is.

    About your last comment, I continue to believe you denigrate humanity, not simply because you’re not a Christian, but because you seem to believe that, ultimately, human beings are nothing more than the sum total of complex chemical reactions.

    If I misunderstood you, I would be happy to hear that you believe that humans are not reducible to the atoms and cells which comprise our body, and I would love to hear you explain the source of this “something more” that we generally call the mind, the will, and the soul.

    About your bowing out, I do hope we can have more success talking at another time.

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  22. Bubba,

    Re-reading your first slam that triggered this crap… I’m sorry, but you really went way, way overboard in attacking me.

    I had asked a legitimate question (asking you to clarify an otherwise meaningless hypothetical – i.e. if there is nothing but your own whinings that a person is a “sociopath,” why should I care?) and got a load of crap in response. Suddenly, I’m not a thinking human who refuses to answer irrationally abstract hypothetical questions, I’m a woman who questions whether or not sociopathy is meaningful.

    I bantered with my best friend; suddenly, I’m a horrible, amoral person.

    I asked for an apology, not a Bill-Clinton type retraction. You have the nerve to call yourself Christian and think that an apology means telling me why I’m wrong. No, Bubba, an apology involves saying that YOU were wrong to say what you said. You owe it to me, but I’m not holding my breath.

    It’s called CONTEXT. I’m sure that you know what it means; I’m equally certain you are ignoring it in order to promote your skewed view of the world.

    Face it – more people think you are wrong about Christianity, and think themselves just as certainly right about their religion, than think you correct. All religions are mutually exclusive. There is a slight difference between atheists and theists: the latter believe that exactly one of the thousands of religions is correct; the former believes zero to be correct. The difference is less than a tenth of a percent.

    If God came down from heaven tomorrow and told you to slaughter your child, would you do it? After all, if there is no morality arising from humanity, why not just follow whatever your religion tells you to follow? Of course, Christians believe they can sin all day, every day, and they will still go to Heaven (so long as they accept Christ), so why bother being a good person if you are Christian? Thing is, Judiasm at least provides some objective basis for morality; Christianity says that it’s all forgiven; logically, sin all you want, because you’re going to sin anyway.

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  23. ‘Of course, Christians believe they can sin all day, every day, and they will still go to Heaven (so long as they accept Christ), so why bother being a good person if you are Christian?”

    Regretably, some Christians do believe this. But the Bible says that Christians will be judged too.

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  24. Theobromophile, I enjoy reading your comments, but I have been reading Bubba’s for a long time and I think you have somehow mistaken his intentions. He is very knowledgeable as are you, but speaking as one female to another, he is not being disrespectful…….just giving his side of the story. We females are more emotional as God made us that way and we tend to get offended more easily. Just keep your comments coming and enjoy the debate.

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  25. I think there was a miscommunication somewhere with two of my favorite commenters. Given the nature of the post I suppose disagreements were somewhat ironic even if they were likely. Hopefully we can just start fresh on another post with this topic someday.

    I was just thinking yesterday about the “cheap grace” topic – i.e., can we sin all we want because everything is forgiven? I’m going to do a separate post on that because I think it is an important topic.

    There is an irony of sorts that if you explain grace properly, in all its fullness, then it is logical that there would be a misunderstanding and people would ask the question of whether we can sin on purpose. The short answer is that if we really understand what that grace means and what it cost then we wouldn’t want to do that. Paul addresses that question directly in Romans and basically says that the Christians were falsely accused of that and said there is no way we should sin on purpose.

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  26. Theo, first of all, I have no idea what you mean when you write, accusingly, “I asked for an apology, not a Bill-Clinton type retraction. You have the nerve to call yourself Christian and think that an apology means telling me why I’m wrong.”

    No, I don’t think that, and I am fairly certain that I haven’t written anything that could be reasonably construed to suggest that. To reiterate, I do not believe I have said anything that merits an apology, and therefore I am not offering an apology.

    I do not backtrack from what I’ve written, and I do not retract what I’ve written, either in a Clintonian fashion or in any other fashion. I cannot fathom why you think I’m doing what I EXPLICITLY deny doing.

    The comment that you seem to have the most problem with was a reaction, not only (or even primarily) to your question about sociopathy, but to your appeal to your first post:

    I’ve already answered your questions. Try my first post on the subject.

    What you called a “load of crap” was intended to make three broad points:

    1) Your first comment suggested that morality was premised on improving each other’s lives in the present, and your much more recent comment suggested that morality was based on what was advantageous in an evolutionary sense — that is, what was most efficient in guaranteeing future generations. These two theories are at least somewhat incompatible.

    2) That first comment is unpersuasive because morality implies an obligation, and what remains unclear is the answer to the question, to whom are we obligated? You deny a Creator (again, this is an objective fact, not an insult), so you cannot believe we are obligated to Him; but you also seemed to suggest that human beings are no more than physical bodies, so it’s not clear why are obligated to each other.

    (And, for all that you insist that your comment was banter and a joke, it does seem accurate to say that you’re a reductionist in your approach to human beings. I’ve given you an explicit opportunity to repudiate that reductionism and affirm that we are more than physical bodies, and you haven’t seized that opportunity.)

    3) You continue to undercut every reason we have to trust in rationality and morality; that you still cling to morality is inconsistent with the nihilism that is the necessary logical conclusion of the path you’re walking.

    All of this is substantive, and though you clearly are appalled by the comment, I’m not sure a reasonable Christian could have predicted that stating the obvious — that you deny the Creator — would be construed as a cruel insult.

    About sociopathy, I thought I gave a rather obvious clue why a person could reasonably conclude that the person he encountered in that hypothetical was indeed a sociopath: he advocated a will-to-power alternative to morality where the strong should prey on the weak: “he argues for a new standard [of morality], one in which subjugation replaces cooperation and in which parasitism replaces symbiosis.”

    I don’t think a moral, mentally healthy adult would make the suggestion that the hypothetical conversationalist made, so, as I said, I think he could “accurately be described as a sociapath.”

    You write what is frankly an odd argument for atheism:

    Face it – more people think you are wrong about Christianity, and think themselves just as certainly right about their religion, than think you correct. All religions are mutually exclusive. There is a slight difference between atheists and theists: the latter believe that exactly one of the thousands of religions is correct; the former believes zero to be correct. The difference is less than a tenth of a percent.

    Let’s assume that what you write is true: so what? If the difference between atheism and theism is so minor, why write so much to defend one and attack the other?

    But, what you write can be turned around: theism affirms 1 deity, atheism believes in zero deities. Multiply zero by any number, and no matter how big that number is, you will never get one as a result. The number 2 is 100% bigger than 1, but 1 is — by percentage — infinitely bigger than zero. The difference is numerically enormous.

    But numbers aren’t the important thing here: the number of competing religions doesn’t magically disprove Christianity, just like it doesn’t magically disprove atheism, either. In terms of the logical consequences, I believe the difference between Christianity and atheism is tremendous. I believe one provides a trustworthy basis for rationality and morality, and the other doesn’t.

    And even if the consequences weren’t significant, truth matters, doesn’t it? What does your appeal to numbers matter if God actually does exist and He actually did reveal Himself in the written word of the Bible and, most importantly, in Jesus Christ?

    Above all this, your basic premise is wrong. Christianity doesn’t require an adherent to deny all other religions to the degree that is required by atheism. For the Christian, his Judeo-Christian faith is the only one perfectly revealed by God, while all other faiths can be seen the result of man’s imperfect efforts to reach up to God: their theologies are often very flawed, but most other religions acknowledge a morality that really is objective, and there is a lot of common ground in terms of the moral law that these religions uphold — such as the virtues of charity, honesty, and courage. (Paul himself writes about our common knowledge of God’s law.) For the (consistent) atheist, all religions are completely wrong and are worthwhile only in the degree to which they are useful.

    You ask:

    If God came down from heaven tomorrow and told you to slaughter your child, would you do it? After all, if there is no morality arising from humanity, why not just follow whatever your religion tells you to follow?

    I ask again, in response, if morality only arises from humanity, if humanity is nothing more than the sum total of a set of complex chemical reactions that was the random result of an unguided universe, and if morality is subject to change by the ongoing process of evolution, why am I obligated to it?

    Explain why we are actually obligated to follow the moral law (and to whom are we obligated?), and I would be happy to answer your question. Don’t simply explain why other people did follow the moral law or theorize about temporal benefits that could accrue to me by following the moral law: explain why I have an actual obligation.

    Finally:

    Of course, Christians believe they can sin all day, every day, and they will still go to Heaven (so long as they accept Christ), so why bother being a good person if you are Christian? Thing is, Judiasm at least provides some objective basis for morality; Christianity says that it’s all forgiven; logically, sin all you want, because you’re going to sin anyway.

    The Bible is actually quite clear that grace does not provide license to sin, but rather liberty to obey. This very concern was directly addressed by Paul in Romans 6, in one of the most famous passages of Christianity.

    To our discredit, too many immature Christians and frank charlatans believe that God’s forgiveness enables us to sin perpetually, but Biblical Christianity is clear on this issue, and I would appreciate an effort to understand our faith before you criticize it.

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  27. Thanks for picking up the standard in my absence, theobromophile. You reached the same conclusion I did, though. You made some very good points that, once again, were completely either missed or ignored by Bubba. My guess is that they were just missed. Bubba, and others, thinking is way too linear to understand the topic. No, Bubba, I will not respond if you comment on this – although I will read it.

    I must clarify something for Randy, though. The word “Creator” instead of “God” was purposefully placed in our founding documents because it can be interpreted to mean something other than God.

    Think about it, why didn’t they use the phrase “endowed by God” ?? They purposefully left God out of it because our government was setup to be completely secular. That is not to say that our society was setup to be secular, too. You can’t confuse the terms government and society. Our society is allowed to believe whatever it pleases without government interference.

    I hope that explains things for you.

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  28. The word “Creator” instead of “God” was purposefully placed in our founding documents because it can be interpreted to mean something other than God.

    Think about it, why didn’t they use the phrase “endowed by God” ?? They purposefully left God out of it because our government was setup to be completely secular.

    Mark, you seem to be referencing the Declaration of Independence and its claim that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

    Perhaps you were unaware that “We hold these truths to be self-evident” isn’t the very first phrase in the document.

    This is.

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    I think it’s a bit silly to argue that “Creator” can mean something other than God. Nevertheless, look what we have there: an appeal to Nature’s God.

    (The declaration also concludes with an appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the world” and a stated reliance on “the protection of divine Providence.” There is ample evidence that our Founding Fathers, even the eccentric Jefferson, never intended a government where God’s name and God’s word were verboten, unless one wants to argue that the “Superme Judge” could be a reference to Joe Wapner and that the revolutionaries were trusting in the protection of the capital of Rhode Island.)

    The word “God” was purposefully omitted? I don’t think it is.

    But, then again, what do I know? My thinking’s too linear to grasp atheism in its many intricacies.

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  29. Good points Bubba. I must say you got me.

    However, my point about a secular government still stands. The Declaration of Independence declares our new standing in the world. It does not, however, setup the government. Our Constitution has no references to God or any other supreme being and only one reference to religion – the first amendment.

    The first amendment expressly forbids government from creating laws that establish a religion or prohibiting the free excercise of one.

    This creates a secular government. Just as our government is blind to race and sex, it is blind to religion.

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  30. Funny, Mark, how you alluded to the Declaration as one of our “founding documents” when you thought it proved your point, but now?

    “The Declaration of Independence declares our new standing in the world. It does not, however, setup the government.”

    Why’d you bring it up, then?

    The First Amendment doesn’t forbid “creating laws that establish a religion.” It forbids creating laws respecting an establishment of religion. Either way, that does not entail a radically secular government. After all, the same Congress that approved the Establishment Clause also unanimously approved a resolution calling on President Washington to declare a national day of thanksgiving for, among other things, “the many signal favors of Almighty God.”

    But let me guess: the actions of the same legislative body that approved the Establishment Clause are less important than a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote, even though Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and had very little to do with the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

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  31. Bubba, I gave you credit where due. Why do you insist on rubbing it in.

    I’ve heard of poor loosers, you can’t seem to accept a compliment.

    “Either way, that does not entail a radically secular government.” I did not insert the word “radically” – you did. Except for that, It certainly does! You just don’t get it. If not for that one clause in the Constitution, you would have an official government sponsored religion. Belief’s that did not match those of your government would be met with harsh punishment. Everyone reading, deep down, knows this is true – even if they won’t openly admit it.

    My guess is that you just can’t stand having a secular government presiding over these United States. You won’t be happy until the Bible is taught in every public school, prayer held before every public (and private) event, the entire population of the country accepts your way of thinking.

    Do you deny that our Constitution sets up a government that is blind to religion?

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  32. I can’t answer for Bubba, but I certainly don’t want the public schools teaching the Bible. Are you kidding?! There are countless apostate churches I wouldn’t set foot in, let alone send my kids to. Can you imagine what the public schools would do with the Bible?

    Come to think of it, I’m surprised that the education lobby hasn’t volunteered to teach it, so they could distort it the way the theologically liberal churches do.

    The 1st Amendment is profoundly clear on the restrictions. It has taken a lot of effort, but someone people became convinced that having one’s religious views inform one’s political views was a bad thing. As if we should do the opposite of what our religious views state! That would make me pro-stealing, pro-murder, etc.

    Yet I run across all sorts of liberals who try to dismiss the pro-life position because it is religiously motivated. (Even though it isn’t just religiously motivated – I’ll debate anyone, anywhere purely on secular reasoning).

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  33. Bubba,,
    I was the one who brought up the Declaration of Independence as a historical reference, not Mark. The comment was made on Thanksgiving day as a comment du jour. I don’t agree with everything Mark says, but I’ll defend his right to say it.

    Mark,
    Thanks for coming back to my point. I’ve been looking here for your answer and honored that you came back to me. But I’m still confused. How can Creator not be God? If there is a creator, wouldn’t He (or she or it) be God?

    And Frank (if you’re still out there),
    I’m still looking for some material on evolution and morality. You said there was plenty of it. If you have some suggestions, I’ll read them. I’d prefer easy reading (I’m way behind on reading already).

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  34. Randy, even though you first brought up the Declaration, it does seem that Mark wanted to emphasize the document’s importance when he thought that it proved his point — “They purposefully left God out of it because our government was setup to be completely secular” — but then downplayed the document after that claim was shown to be inaccurate.

    Mark:

    Thank you for your earlier comment, and I apologize for being more sarcastic than was absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, I do strongly disagree with your interpretation of the First Amendment: I think it’s ungrounded, and I don’t believe that it is uncivil of me to put forth the reasons why I think it is.

    About your response:

    If not for that one clause in the Constitution, you would have an official government sponsored religion. Belief’s that did not match those of your government would be met with harsh punishment. Everyone reading, deep down, knows this is true – even if they won’t openly admit it.

    That last sentence is pure conjecture that seems to be designed to discredit me, preemptively, for objecting to your frankly inaccurate assumptions about me.

    As a Baptist, I am a positively fierce defender of what we call “soul competency,” which is “the accountability of each person before God.” For that reason, I absolutely oppose compulsion regarding religious beliefs, though I do think that the government should criminalize certain behaviors (e.g., human sacrifice and other forms of murder) even if a person’s religious beliefs lead him to condone such behavior. And for that reason, I also oppose the government officially sponsoring any particular religion: even if, initially, that sponsorship was made by declaration alone, the temptation is too great for the government to add teeth to that declaration, to encourage membership in that one faith or discourage membership in other faiths.

    (And, pragmatically, faith seems to thrive when it is free. Christianity was probably done no long-term favors in the UK by the government granting the Church of England an open endorsement and by its entangling itself in that congregation’s heirarchy.)

    But look again at this sentence:

    “If not for that one clause in the Constitution, you would have an official government sponsored religion.”

    I think that that is the one thing — an official government-sponsored religion — that that one clause actually forbids. It forbids an American analogue to the Church of England.

    It does not forbid legislative bodies from opening their sessions in prayer, or from being sworn in with Scriptures of their own choosing, or from calling for a day of prayer and giving thanks to God.

    It does not forbid volunatry prayer in school.

    My guess is that you just can’t stand having a secular government presiding over these United States.

    We don’t have one — at least, a radically secular government — or have you not taken a very close look at our money? I would object to a government in which faith is verboten on public ground: I would think that any person who affirms free speech would object.

    You won’t be happy until the Bible is taught in every public school…

    Actually, I think a history class is incomplete if it ignores the impact of the Bible on politics during the era of the Reformation, or its impact on the Plymouth colony, or on Wilberforce’s actions to eradicate slavery, or even the civil rights movement. And a class on English literature is woefully incomplete if it ignores the complement to Shakespeare in terms of our language’s greatest works: the King James Bible. But, no, I don’t salivate at the thought of Bible study in the Christian sense in every public school. That sort of thing is best left to families and churches.

    …prayer held before every public (and private) event…

    I simply think that voluntary prayer should be permissible at any public event, and I don’t see how Amendment I can be reasonably construed to prohibit that, but, no, requiring such prayer is not on my agenda. I have it on good authority that rote prayer is beside the point.

    …the entire population of the country accepts your way of thinking.

    Frankly, I would love to see everyone on Earth become a Christian, but I strongly affirm evangelism by persuasion and strongly oppose any attempt to evangelize by coercion.

    Do you deny that our Constitution sets up a government that is blind to religion?

    Yes: the First Amendment requires a government that is neutral to religious organizations, not one that is blind to religion. It prevents a Church of America, but not a proclamation for a day or prayer.

    Now, having responded to the details of your comment, I must address the gist of that comment.

    From your accusing me of supporting “harsh” legal punishments for holding differing religious beliefs and your accusing me of wanting to require prayer even in all private events, it’s becoming clear you think I’m some sort of a fascist.

    I’m becoming increasingly inclined to believe, Mark, that you’re guilty of gross religious bigotry.

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  35. Hi. I am a “raider”. I thought I would maybe join the discussion here. But sorry, and my apologies to the theists who hang out here, the arguments posted here are just WAY to silly. Even this one

    I can’t let pass without commenting the bold assertion that hippos act out of altruistic concern for their community. How Mark knows this is a mystery to me…

    mentioned earlier. Even an elementary school child knows there are many species, from dolphins to bison, who will come to the defence of a group member who became isolated and was attacked by predators.

    A common thread in all these theist web sites is “Why are all these atheists attacking us ?”

    Neil said: Hi Rod. Actually, that isn’t the thread at all here. It is more of a theme of amusement and a willingness to dialogue with anyone who can do so charitably.

    I USED to say I had profound respect for those with strong religious beliefs, even though I did not share them. But that all changed with two events, one singular (9/11) and the other more spread out (the deliberate attempt by fundies to take over the government of the U.S. and promote right wing christian agendas). What you have done is enrage many of us with your intolerant behaviour and frequent violence towards any who do not agree with your occasionally twisted interpretation of “faith” and the bible. I no longer have ANY respect for christians or moslems. Jews are still pretty much OK, because they don’t force their beliefs on anyone, and in fact, I hear they are quite fussy about who they let join. But I consider your entire belief systems false. Even Jews. Just ludicrous. One person made the comment that god is “beyond the universe”. Well, that ends the discussion right there. You can’t argue a point with someone who says his claim to truth is beyond testing. If you would all just go back to being quiet, law-abiding people content to live your own lives the way YOU prefer, and stop trying to impose YOUR beliefs on the rest of us, we could “just get along”. But you didn’t, and you won’t. You started this “war”, and now please don’t complain that “those nasty atheists HATE us—where did they come from all of a sudden ?”

    Neil said: Let’s see . . . you came to my blog, and I’m imposing my views on you how?

    I’m not sure what examples you are talking about re. violence, but I don’t know you blame all Christians for that. Hey, I’m no fan of radical Islam but I don’t blame all Muslims for 9/11. And I don’t blame you for all the wrongs done by atheists.

    You aren’t stereotyping, are you? Are you willing to accept responsibility for all immoral acts done by atheists?

    We offer plenty of evidence and logic for our views, so I’m tired of responding to the straw man that we don’t.

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  36. You Neil, personally, may not be trying to impose your beliefs on me personally, but other theists ARE. I lump you in with those because I have not heard you stand up and say “I am totally opposed to fundamental christian thinking in the following areas, because I believe ”

    1) discrimination/violence against gays is illegal and immoral

    Neil said: If it is illegal then let the authorities deal with it. If it is immoral I’d like to understand your foundation for morality. What about those who think that behavior is immoral?

    What discrimination? That transgender people hostile to the word of God might get turned down for a job at a church pre-school? If you agree with me that churches have that right, then where would you draw the line? If you think the churches should not have that right, then I don’t have much to add.

    I agree that violence is immoral, by the way. I would seek to protect gays (and anyone else) from that every time.

    2) inequality of women in society …ditto

    Neil said: Wow, then you must go nuts over Islam. Christianity is the great liberator of women. Read the Bible. If you think we’re not applying it correctly then join the church and help us out. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” That’s a lot of love!

    3) religious dogma training belongs in the chuches, NOT in the schools

    Neil said: Agreed. Not sure where you live, but we don’t have religious dogma in our schools. In fact, I wouldn’t want it there. Liberal “Christians” have messed up the church enough. Can you imagine what liberal non-Christians would do to theological training in public schools?!

    4) abortion, while a regrettable option to be faced with, is not to be countered by asassinating the practitioners or bombing their clinics

    Neil said: Yes, it is regrettable to crush and dismember innocent human beings. I assume you think that should be illegal. Otherwise, I’d be a little confused about your moral compass or as to why you’d say it is a “regrettable option.” If abortion doesn’t kill a human being then it is a completely moral enterprise and a cost-effective method of birth control. It is safe, too – at least that’s what Planned Parenthood says 🙂

    As you might have guessed I dislike the bombing of abortion clinics and related assassinations more than you do. They are morally reprehensible, they set back my cause and give martyr status to the pro-aborts. Those acts are obviously not Biblically justified or Christian.

    OK, now I’ve stated how I’m opposed to that violence. You can stop stereotyping now. Actually, we agree on quite a few things.

    Moderate muslims who stand up and condemn their radical and violent fringe are very very few. Their holy book is full of calls to violence, including the one that makes me most angry – apostasy is punishable by death. Just like the bible…either the koran is 100% true, or it is not, and if not, who decides and how, which sections to disregard. The christian god is a really nasty fellow, drowning all the people on the planet because only Noah and his immediate family “pleased him”. What, the cousins were just a bit to far gone, but the daughters-in-law were just barely on the good side ? What can one say about that !

    Neil said: First, please capitalize God when referring to the God of the Bible when you post here. Just a little courtesy I request. Thanks. I’d caution you against “nasty fellow” comments as well.

    Atheists don’t kill people for believing in a god. Hitler was not an atheist, and Stalin killed people to cement his control on power, as did Pol Pot. Neither of the latter two sought out theists as targets, while leaving non-theists alone. Neither atheists nor theists are necessarily immoral, it is just more likely that theists are, because they have faith in their beliefs, and often try to convert non-believers to adopt their way of life, often at gun/sword point.

    I don’t accept responsibility for all immoral acts done by atheists anymore than you do for faithheads.

    Neil said: Agreed. But the difference is that I don’t broad brush you with the sins of atheists, and you do broadbrush me with the sins of “faithheads.” I don’t even know you, so you might be a swell neighbor/employee/friend/father/husband. I give people the benefit of the doubt on such things.

    And if you are claiming that regimes led by atheists never persecuted Christians (or other religions) then you are mistaken.

    All we want to do is point out the truth in the comment, that good people do good things, and bad people do bad things, but for good people to do bad things, now THAT takes religion.

    Neil said: I disagree. No one is that good. That’s the point of the cross: We could never be reconciled to God on our own. Our righteous deeds are like filthy rags to him. But Jesus took the punishment for our sins if we have faith in him, and his perfect righteousness can be imputed to our account and our endless sins can be imputed to his account. I’m eternally grateful for that!

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  37. Christianity is the great liberator of women. Read the Bible.

    Right. That explains why so many fundamental U.S. preachers are advising wives to stay home, to obey and support their husbands. No careers for them. And then they quote the bible to justify their position. Sounds like liberation to me. It may help explain why many muslim countries are so far behind technologically. Fifty per cent of their population is denied full participation in their society. Anyone with any adult relationships with women know they bring interesting and valuable perspectives to any discussion.

    Neil said: So you are blaming me for Muslim misogyny? That hardly seems fair. So some preachers say things that disagree with the Bible? There’s a shocker. There are preachers who are pro-abortion, who don’t believe the Bible, etc.

    Read Proverbs 31. Women can do all sorts of things. Some women in the NT were merchants. Nothing wrong with that.

    we don’t have religious dogma in our schools

    Not sure where YOU live, either, but there are a great many attempts to force creationism (dogma if there ever was) into U.S. high schools, and these attempts are made by religious types. You seem to agree it has no place there ?

    Neil said: I think schools should teach the macro/micro distinction at a minimum and ideally teach the debate.

    Can you imagine what liberal non-Christians would do to theological training in public schools?

    Uhh, last I heard, there was NO theological training in public schools. Am I mis-informed ? Are liberal and non-christian forever associated in your thinking ? Are there no such people as conservative non-christians ? Or liberal christians ? A course in comparative religion would be useful, as I think there is much to learn from religious books on social structures etc. Even the ten commandments are mostly about social customs (common to many much older religions), and not purely religious instructions. I don’t dispute the right of a religious organisation to filter potential employees to include only those who share their beliefs, UNLESS repeat UNLESS they are accepting government funding. Then, sorry, thou shalt not discriminate on the basis of religion (or lack of it).

    it is regrettable to crush and dismember innocent human beings.

    Sorry, but your opinion that a fetus is a human being is not shared by all, yet you would seek to make YOUR opinion overrule those of others.

    Neil said: I’m always terribly amused when the science-lovers deny the humanity of the unborn. Read the biology textbooks. It is a new life. If she wasn’t living, the abortion wouldn’t be desired, right? She has unique human DNA, human chromosomes, etc. and is at the stage of human development that she is supposed to be at that time, just as toddlers are at a different stage than teens.

    And please spare me the guilt of making MY opinion overrule those of others when you are doing the same thing!

    I use the term regrettable because I think it is NOT a good solution to an unwanted pregnancy, but it is better than an unwanted child. I just can’t accept the violence done by some individual christians, nor the violence fomented by some christian preachers, against those who disagree.

    Neil said: But if it doesn’t kill a human being why isn’t it a good solution?

    I find it wildly ironic that you keep bring up the violence “against those who disagree.” First, I was clear in denouncing that violence. Second, abortion is incredibly violent, and it happens 1,000,000 times per year in the U.S. Have you ever watched one or seen pictures of it, what with the crushed skulls and severed limbs without anesthetic?

    Is it ok to kill unwanted children? Assuming you agree that it isn’t, then the only question is, “What is the unborn?” If it isn’t human, no excuse or justification is necessary to have an abortion. If it is human, no justification is acceptable (except to save the life of the mother).

    We may well agree on many things. Instead of rebutting my points ( a mode we could keep up forever !) see if you can tackle my challenge to prove other religions false. Or let’s discuss the fable of the ark of Noah. Oh yes, my lack of upper case on words like god. The christian god is just one more god, like all the other gods. Note how in the plural, we all use lower case. Upper case is a mark of respect from the believers in that one specific god, among whom I am not counted. Neither the respect, nor the belief.

    Neil said: Proving other religions false doesn’t take long. They have mutually exclusive truth claims on essential issues so at most one could be right – see religious pluralism is intellectually bankrupt for a couple examples.

    Re. capitalizing God: That’s your call. Just don’t be surpised when your comments don’t appear. I thought a moral atheist could at least extend that courtesy since I asked politely, and especially since it doesn’t necessarily denote belief but just that it is a proper name. Apparently not.

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  38. Right. That explains why so many fundamental U.S. preachers are advising wives to stay home, to obey and support their husbands. No careers for them. And then they quote the bible to justify their position. Sounds like liberation to me. It may help explain why many muslim countries are so far behind technologically. Fifty per cent of their population is denied full participation in their society. Anyone with any adult relationships with women know they bringinteresting and valuable perspectives to any discussion.

    First of all, there are very few in this society that are “forcing” women to stay at home. And even those women that stay at home have the right to vote, the right to get a job, etc. I know many more stay-at-home moms than I am sure you do, rod-the-farmer, and let me assure you that every one of them is doing so because, at one point or another, that was the path they chose. NO ONE is forcing them, and under U.S. law, no one can. And that last line is uncalled for. Of course women bring interesting and valuable contributions to discussion, and if you think women did not discuss things with their men in the old days, you need to get your brain out of the sand, because you obviously don’t understand the way a married relationship should work, and has worked for billions of people in the earth’s history.

    Now let me point out a hypocrisy here.

    Not sure where YOU live, either, but there are a great many attempts to force creationism (dogma if there ever was) into U.S. high schools, and these attempts are made by religious types. You seem to agree it has no place there ?

    Sorry, but your opinion that a fetus is a human being is not shared by all, yet you would seek to make YOUR opinion overrule those of others.

    You are trying to have both sides here. On one side, you say that “WE MUST LISTEN TO SCIENCE!!!” and talk like science has never had any evidence to support creation, when, in reality, if you were honest with yourself, you’d admit that it does. Just as it has some evidence to support evolution. Let me remind you that evolution is a theory, not even a scientific fact. Yet, when it comes to abortion, you cry that we are trying to enforce our beliefs on everyone else. If you truly believed in science, you would not use that argument. Science has shown convincing proofs that fetuses in the womb ARE in fact human beings. They feel pain very early on. They have the organs of a human being formed early on. They react to outside forces as a human would. So, if you truly believed in science, you would not deny this.

    To address the issue of God and how His name is typed. Quite honestly, sir, that’s a weak argument. If it were Allah, you’d use uppercase, when in fact, all the name Allah means is “God.” It’s another word in another language. You would uppercase the names of the gods of Greek Mythology. When you are referring to just any god, it’s one thing, but when you refer to a specific god, you should show more respect to the people you are debating.

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  39. Re the fetus/unborn child issue…..your BIRTHday is universally agreed, in every culture, in every religion, to be the day you were born, not the day you were conceived, nor any day in between. Anyone who wants to force women to bear an unwanted child has turned that woman into a baby factory.

    Neil said: Hi Rod – Yes, literally speaking, you are born that day. But I thought there were no universal morals? A social convention of using the day you were born makes sense, because it is obviously easier to determine that rather than the day of conception. But of course, that has zero to do with whether a human being is being killed in an abortion.

    So are you OK with partial birth abortions, since the baby isn’t completely out of the woman?

    But I think we both agree abortion is not the best/most desired outcome/decision. I just insist the FINAL choice is for the woman involved. Yes, the biological father should have a voice, but neither he, nor especially anyone else, should have the right to tell the woman what she should do. Why is it mostly the strongly religious MEN who want to enforce this ?

    Neil said: That is a myth. Young, single men are the most in favor of abortion on demand. I wonder why? Most women are pro-life.

    Also, you, Mr. Science Person, haven’t proved that the unborn aren’t human. I’m going to do a whole post on that concept. It is truly amazing the strawman mockery that pro-abortion Darwinists will heap on Christians in claiming they are anti-science, then they turn around and play dumb about what the unborn are. It is as if they are genuinely surprised when a human baby comes out.

    So should women have the “FINAL choice” to kill innocent human beings outside the womb? Of course not. So why can they when they are inside?

    First of all, there are very few in this society that are “forcing” women to stay at home.

    Note what I said was ADVISING women to stay home. Nothing about forcing. You accuse me of doing straw man stuff, then use that tactic yourself. Prominent televangelists (and lately, some prominent politicians in the U.S.) are often quoted that a “womens place is in the home”. Again, this is up to the woman, and while it may indeed be HER choice, it MUST NOT be promoted from a position of authority like the pulpit ,as god’s choice. Otherwise some of you believers have proven god to be a male-dominant misogynist. QED

    Neil said: Again, we have some common ground here. You won’t find me defending 90% of televangelists. They are not preaching the true Gospel.

    BTW, I didn’t say you said “forcing,” someone else did. Either way, what is so wrong about advising that? I don’t get offended if you advise them to go work.

    Neil said: So you are blaming me for Muslim misogyny? That hardly seems fair

    Where, pray tell, did I accuse YOU of that ?

    Neil said: You went from Christian preachers to Muslims holding women back in the same paragraph. My apologies if I misunderstood.

    I see another straw man. It was merely a mention of my perspective, that religious societies tend to denigrate women, particularly and interestingly, the Abrahamic ones. Why, I wonder ?

    My mention of violence against abortion clinics is meant to show a point. I should have made it more clear. Religious right extremists are prone to this sort of thing, both individuals and some of the preachers. You may object to this violence as I do, but I don’t remember seeing religious types (fundamental or not) lining up outside abortion clinics, protecting them from the radical fringe types who wish to bomb the place or shoot the staff. Maybe I missed that. Were you in some of the photos ?

    Neil said: I didn’t see you there, either. I really don’t follow the flow of logic. I disagree with those people and question whether they are even Christian. Why am I responsible for stopping them? If I see any atheists doing anything wrong do I blame you for not stepping in?

    I deleted the rest because you couldn’t abide by the simple and polite request I made. I wouldn’t have even answered the above if I had read the whole comment first. If you can play by the simple rules, you are welcome to come back.

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  40. How INTERESTING. You deleted the rest.. Coward. Atheists put up with a lot of crap from theists. But you can’t stand a challenge back. Good day to you sir, and good bye.

    Neil said: Comfort yourself with that if you like. Go tell your buddies how you were censored and all. But if you have any intellectual integrity, you’ll remember this and realize that I did nothing cowardly:

    First I said: First, please capitalize God when referring to the God of the Bible when you post here. Just a little courtesy I request. Thanks. I’d caution you against “nasty fellow” comments as well.

    After you refused, I said: Re. capitalizing God: That’s your call. Just don’t be surpised when your comments don’t appear. I thought a moral atheist could at least extend that courtesy since I asked politely, and especially since it doesn’t necessarily denote belief but just that it is a proper name. Apparently not.

    I don’t believe in Allah, Buddha, etc., but have no issues with capitalizing their names. I would never want to offend someone unnecessarily.

    Oh, and just for the record, we’ve had atheists commenting here for a long time and we get along swell.

    You are still quite welcome to post if you will follow the rules.

    Like

  41. re: Abortion – I recall a cartoon from many years ago showing a mother holding a gun and her child tied to a lamp post. Her comment was “sorry, my views on abortion are retro-active”.

    Rod,
    When is it abortion and when is it murder? At the point of delivery, if the fetus is killed, is it abortion or murder? At 8 months? 7? where do you draw the line?

    And I have a question about the mother always having the final voice. What about child support? I’ve aksed this before and never got an answer. Supposed the father doesn’t want to pay child support, can he refuse if the woman refuses abortion? Seems like the woman has all the choice and the man has no voice. Taxation without representation I say! (sorry, I jest).

    Like

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