the complete inferiority of Christian ethics. (xPrae: how I defeated you so soundly (part 5))

In this post, I am going to argue that Christianity is morally inferior to both Islam and atheism. Christianity purports to answer moral questions, but instead offers a loophole that bypasses and excuses all those possible answers to morality. Islam, at least, does have a clear moral message and lacks any obvious subversion of its own system. Atheism also surpasses Christianity in moral systems in that it does not purport to answer moral questions, which at least leaves room for intellectual progress.

There is something obvious but important to point out. Religious moral ideas only work if the God actually exists; there must be a judgemental God who somehow dictatorially defines good and bad. If that isn’t the actual case, then holding to a religious moral standard is just a theatre. Based on the evidence, Christianity and Islam are about equally likely to be right (with a slight advantage to Islam, as Mohammed is better documented than Jesus). But, as all religions have about equal evidence in their favour, it’s more likely that neither Christianity or Islam are the right religion (even if a religion is true).

In this post, I shall subvert entirely the question of whether a dictatorially defined morality is a morality at all. Although, that one has to entirely surrender all their thoughts on what might be moral and instead obey the interpreted (and translated) definition by fiat, doesn’t seem to be a morality.

In a previous post, I argued that Christianity is only socially acceptable because Humanist and Enlightenment ideals have clipped and diluted it. However, the slave-keeping and stoning of unruly children and adulterers is not my point here. If I were a respectable person, acting as a cornerstone of society, who never killed or lied, nor raped or abused a child (holding myself to a higher moral standard than the Bible does), but I don’t believe, where do I go? The Bible is quite clear that I only go to Heaven―i.e. I’ve only been good―if I accept Jesus’ death as my redemption.

There are many apologists who argue that God holds us to an impossible standard, so doing goodness can never be enough in of itself to get into Heaven. So, if we reverse the thought experiment above, what happens then? Imagine I am a murderous, dishonest and abusive person, but I accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Where am I going then? I’ve certainly not seen a Christian argue, with chapter and verse, that such a person is going to Hell. I’ve seen it asserted, but every time I get an answer with chapter and verse, it supports that person going to Heaven.

And that there is precisely the catastrophic failure of Christian morality. The child-abuse and slavery can be justified by saying humans have no intellectual access to what is moral and that what the Bible mandates and condones is, in fact, moral. It’s a poor argument, as human conversation is how we overthrew slavery after having it institutionalised, so clearly humans have some access to moral knowledge. However, it could be argued that an actual moral system could be observed. But, despite all the moral imperatives and implicit commands and the impossible standard, the whole system is undermined by a loophole. The expectation of perfection and unforgiving imperatives to thought crimes are all swept under the rug of human sacrifice.

Islam is superior to this. Despite Islam teaching brutal things and ultimately being more directly eschatological than Christianity, at least its agenda is clear. Jihad is highly unpalatable and there are many other aspects of Islam that are more violent and brutal than Christianity. But, the moral system is consistent. It gives an actual, sensible (although very poor) answer to the moral questions. And all the apparent immoral things it mandates are not really ‘immoral’ through the lens of Islam, just unpalatable to human sensibilities. Christianity not only also offers unpalatable imperatives and laws, but does not give a clear answer to the questions of morality.

Christianity and Islam also have moral contradictions in them. But the Koran includes a rule on how to abrogate (‘tafsir’) in the case of a contradiction: that which is written later in the Koran takes precedent. Presumably, following a logic that Mohammed became more enlightened as he lived on. Christianity offers nothing of the sort, except Jesus offering things that are more palatable. But nothing in the Bible can explain how ‘palatable’ can equate to ‘good’.

It appears, on its surface, Christianity’s abject failure to offer a moral system or even imperatives would make atheism and Christianity level. Christianity’s answer to moral questions is undermined by its own loophole to the point it is as if Christianity offers no answer at all. Atheism, also, offers no answer to moral questions. But, atheism doesn’t purport to answer moral questions. And that difference is profound. Because Christianity purports to offer an answer but doesn’t (or offers an answer so confused as to allow everything) it blocks the conversation to find an answer that actually works. Atheism doesn’t purport to answer moral questions, so it leaves a freedom for other discussions for how we should behave in society, what we will accept, liberties and security.

There have been failings in secular political systems. That seems obvious. If you ever want to argue that, you need to be clear about what the secular failing was. Nazism, for example, was populated by Christians and propagated on Christian rhetoric. You need to articulate exactly what the problem was. But the simple fact that atheism permits a conversation is not a problem, it’s the characteristic that gives it superiority over Christianity.


403 thoughts on “the complete inferiority of Christian ethics. (xPrae: how I defeated you so soundly (part 5))”

  1. What even is a “Christian moral”? For years i have asked apologists to name one thing new or original which Jesus said or did, something truly unique, and not one example has ever been proffered.

    1. No example was ever needed. The question was dumb … and irrelevant.

      However, one thing Jesus did that no one else ever did was overcome death to rise again from the grave. Surely someone said that to you. Also, He turned water into wine. He raised Lazarus from death. He cured the blind man, He made a few loaves of bread and a few fish feed a large crowd. And so on and so on and so on. Why should anyone have to tell you this, Zande? Surely you knew these things.

      Also, it could be said that everything Jesus said and did was perfectly unique, because He did it in as the incarnate son of God. Therefore, all that he said carried with it a perfectly unique level of authority and legitimacy.

      Again, your question itself is stupid and irrelevant, but Jesus surely was quite different from anyone who ever walked on Earth. Obviously.


      — x

      1. Dionysus turned water into wine, and Elijah resurrected the son of Zarephath’s widow. As for conquering death, in Judaism we also have Elijah himself, Enoch, Eliezer (the servant of Abraham), Hiram, Ebed-Melech, and Bithiah. In Buddhism, Bodhidharma conquers death and is resurrected. Peshotanu ascends to heaven alive in Zoroastrianism. Hercules and Apollonius of Tyana ascend to heaven alive. Yudhishthira (in the Mahabharata) is said to be the only human to cross the plane between mortals and heaven in his mortal body. Also in Hinduism we have the stories of Sant Tukara, Sant Tukaram, Mirra Alfassa, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Ramalinga who attained the Supreme Body of the Godhead (the Trinity) when Divinity itself merged with him.

        As for the loaves and fishes “miracle,” another example is in your own bible, you idiot. In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisha has a great many people to feed with only a few loaves of bread and a little other food. He delegates the task of feeding. There is a complaint that the quantity is too small. The feeding continues and everyone is fed. There is surplus bread left over. This older story from Kings has exactly the same plot as the feeding of the 5,000 – only the numbers are different.

        But Buddha did this trick long before. The Teacher with his five hundred monks finished his meal. The great guildmaster and his wife also ate as much as they wished, but there was no end to the cakes, and even when the whole monastery of monks and eaters of broken meat had received, there was no sign of finishing. – Jataka 78,

        Oh, and he walked on water, to: He walks upon the water without parting it, as if on solid ground. Anguttara Nikaya 3.60.

        So, sorry Praetorius, but hardly original.

        But you say Also, it could be said that everything Jesus said and did was perfectly unique

        Great… give me one example of something genuine new or original Jesus said or did.

        Just one thing.

        You can give me one thing, can’t you?

        1. As usual, you didn’t read. Not that I’m surprised. It was the very first part of my post, and it said:

          No example [of Jesus’ having said or done something new and original] was ever needed. The question was dumb … and irrelevant.

          Jesus never needed to do or say anything new or original, He only had to be new and original, which, of course, He was. He was — and is — the incarnate Son of God. Since He was the only one, by definition, as I said above, everything He did and said, was perfectly unique and carried with it the authority of God Himself.

          that’s all He had to do, and that’s precisely what He did.


          — x

        2. Jesus was the only son of a god to visit earth? LOL! You really need to read a little more.

          Okay, so you can’t name anything new or original Jesus said or did.

          If anything comes to mind in the future, be sure to let me know, OK?

        3. He is the One, the I am. Only through Him is there anything. To truly be humble before our father, one does not seek proof.

        4. @Zande: You said:

          Jesus was the only son of a god to visit earth? LOL! You really need to read a little more.

          Okay, so you can’t name anything new or original Jesus said or did.

          If anything comes to mind in the future, be sure to let me know, OK?

          No. Jesus was the only Son of God to be on Earth. Not “a god,” but of God. It was right there. Are you illiterate? Did you receive poor marks in school? It was kind of hard to miss.

          And, again — I hope for the last time (in recognition that you’re particularly rock-headed), As the only Son of God, everything Jesus did or said was new and original … by definition. Allallt’s sophistry aside.


          — x

        5. Yeah, John, all the other ones are fake. I am -the- son of -the- God.
          It’s not difficult. Why are you finding all my assertions so difficult?

        6. And the sophist plays with words, as he must, because he’s actually out of ideas.

          Keep flailing, Allallt. Yep. You’re the only son of God. Sure thing. Ooookay…

          Mind you, I don’t blame you for doing this kind of desperate scatter-shot nonsense. You demonstrated long ago that you’re out of gas. Might as well insist that you’re the only son of God.


          — x

        7. Actually got a rebuttal? Of course not. Your comfortable having your message be based on brute assertion and don’t see the inanity of it when you do it. But when I satirise it, suddenly you can see the failure of that clearly.
          There’s an old adage about that… Something about the log in ones own eye…

        8. I’ve answered your silly — and oft-repeated — inanities many, many times. In this post and others. After a while, your inability to post anything actually substantive becomes tedious, and I just like to have fun with you.

          What’s funny about this is that it’s exactly the following: you’re the little yappy chihuahua that scurries, yipping and yapping furiously, around and around my ankles, while Zande is the even tinier chihuahua squeaking and chirping around your ankles. The only thing missing is the same chihuahua — Akrenaten — inaudibly twittering and skreaking around Zande’s ankles!

          We’re a fractal! With the atheist arguments growing ever smaller and inconsequential as you delve deeper.


          — x

        9. Lol! You’re not the only incarnate Son of God. You’re a child of God, but you didn’t arrive on Earth in the same way as the Christ did.

          And you’re likely a whole lot less consequential than Jesus.

          You are, however, a beloved child of God, and He does want you to come back to Him.

          Interestingly, and maybe counter-intuitively, God loves you every bit as much as He loves Jesus, his only incarnate Son. Still, He won’t force you to come back to Him. You kind of have to decide to do that by yourself.

          I hope you do.

          By the way, when you do, you need have no fear that I’d crow about my victory and all that. You’d hear only my privately delivered welcome back to salvation and to rationality and reason.


          — x

        10. Errrm, incorrect. Again, your own bible, you idiot, describes other sons of God (Yhwh) being on earth:

          When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
          — Genesis 6:1-4

        11. Good to see you can address that which is presented to you in a coherent and adult manner.

          Keep it up. I’m sure you’re impressing everyone.

        12. Lol! And you imagine yourself to be ever so impressive, as you pose a completely irrelevant question (the “originality” thing) over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

          Even though it’s been answered over and over and over and over and over and over again.



          — x

        13. I don’t know where Zande is going with this ‘did Jesus say something original?’ question, and neither do you, so you have no idea whether it’s relevant or not. It might be a perfectly nonsense argument, and as Zande week probably attest, I would join you in pulling him on that. But can you play along so we can actually discover whether it is relevant instead of blindly dismissing. It makes you seen skittish about honest enquiry. You wouldn’t want to give us the satisfaction of being skittish about honest enquiry, would you?

        14. I did answer it. Zande’s obviously very emotionally invested in the question, and in what he imagines to be the answer to it.

          There is nothing I could say that he wouldn’t greet with some attempt at a dodge.

          As I mentioned above, since Jesus was the only incarnate Son of God, quite literally everything He said was perfectly original. Refer to my “sky is blue” reply to cat. Zande didn’t like that, and it seems obvious that he will continue to insist that I haven’t answered his question until I answer it as he wants me to answer it. That’s just wacky.

          So, I have replied. Over and over and over again. Zande didn’t like the answer, so he’s been pretending that I didn’t answer it.


          — x

        15. Your level of ignorance is astounding. But here, to help you along your way to advancing to a third grade level of education lets just name the one’s you’ve probably heard of: Vishnu, Horus, Dionysus, Baal., Alexander the Great, Hercules…. the list is quite long.

          But hey, even your own god, Yhwh, was originally just one of the seventy sons of El, the Supreme Father. You do know, don’t you, that Israel derives its name from El (Mamlekhet Yisra’el), not Yhwh.

        16. And Jesus was the “son of god,” too, right? And yes, Alexander was considered the son of God. Of course, these are merely claims, and are, in all honesty, outside the spirit of my question. Theological claims are of no interest to this exercise. I wish to only discuss those things that were said or done, the things that can be measured. So, we have Jesus purported words, and we have his purported actions. Somewhere in there was there anything, anything at all, that was genuinely new or original?

        17. Has anyone else predicted they would return after their death, and then actually shown up?

          And does it really matter if there was nothing genuinely new or original? Truth need not be. “The sun rises in the East” is neither new or original, but it is still true today and probably will be true tomorrow.

        18. Has anyone else predicted they would return after their death, and then actually shown up?

          Who showed up? Jesus? Really? Got evidence of that?

          And does it really matter if there was nothing genuinely new or original?

          Well, one would imagine a god to have said or done something new, wouldn’t you agree? You would expect a god to actually broaden the human condition by introducing new information… If not, why bother with the whole earthly sojourn thing? If dying was all that the character, Jesus, was going to do that was important then he should have just been killed at birth. Why bother saying anything?

        19. Um, consistency may be appropriate…

          You state that “Alexander the Great was the son of a god” with no documentation to support it, which was fine in the context of our discussion. Then, when I proposed a potentially “unique” action of Jesus, you did not provide any other such claim from an earlier time; you just questioned Jesus resurrection. Which gives the impression that you don’t have an earlier similar claim and are trying to camouflage that lack.

        20. Apologies if it came across like that. It is, though, just a claim (Muslims don’t even believe Jesus died on the cross), and it’s not even present in the first/oldest gospel written, Mark. That part was only added decades later. Also, are you referring to Jesus “saying” there would be a second coming, or Jesus doing the 40 day walkabout? These are two completely different things. As for promising a 2nd coming, I can’t think of any other sage who promised this, although the role Jesus says he’s going to fulfill pre-dates him by millennia. In Zoroastrianism Zoroaster spoke in detail about the Saoshyant, the Saviour, who is described as the “World Renovator” [Astavat-ereta] and “Victorious Benefactor” who will defeat “the evil of the progeny of the biped”, bring “retribution for offenses,” and establish “the Kingdom of Good Thought (righteousness).”

          The concept of a great balancing (the Judgment) is ancient.

          As to claiming to rise again in three days, Simon of Paraea did that in 4.BCE, as recorded on the Jeselsohn Stone.

          As to the 40 day walkabout, the Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma, was resurrected and was seen by the Chinese Ambassador, Sòngyún, three years later. They spoke. In Zoroastrianism, Peshotanu (an earthly prince) is resurrected and returns to earth as an immortal and assistant/go-between to the Saoshyant; the future Messiah. Persephone returns to earth every year. Osiris is resurrected and stands between earth and the underworld. Ganesha was killed but then reanimated, living on earth and in heaven. Lemminkainen drowns but his mother stiches him back together. Krishna is resurrected, but I’m not sure if he wonders the earth after his that. In the Mahabharata Yudhishthira crosses back and forth between earth and heaven in his mortal body. Closer to home, in the Canaanite pantheon, Baal, of course, dies, is reanimated, and returns to his earthly throne.

          It’s not exactly the same, but every Dalai Lama is, of course, the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara. So this is a person who has died but returns to walk the earth, as promised.

          There’s probably many, many, many more such examples, but I think/hope these make the point.

          Still, to keep this within the realm of the rational, it would help if we try to stick to things Jesus actually said or did while alive.

        21. Oops. Of Vishnu, Horus, Dionysus, Baal., Alexander the Great, Hercules only Alexander the Great existed, and he was just a human. The list of those gods who didn’t, and don’t, exist is, indeed, quite long. You’ll note that I made that point a long time ago. Seriously…are you illiterate? Or, are you like Ark, and simply don’t read posts that are carefully and lovingly crafted for your perusal?

          You wouldn’t do that, would you. That would be rude.

          Ah, the origins of the name “Israel!” What you said sure disproves the existence of God! Wow! Why didn’t I see that?!? What vast wisdom! What towering erudition! What expansive and comprehensive learning… to be able to draw conclusions about the maker of the Universe! from the origin of the name Israel!

          Let’s see if we can research the meaning of the name “New York” next. Maybe it’ll clue us all in on what’s the deal with those dadblasted elusive neutrinos!

          You do know, don’t you, that Zande derives from the ancient Sanskrit word for One With Rocks In Head Who Spouts Ever Greater And More Voluminous, Vainglorious Fogwash?


          — x

        22. Zande said: “It is, though, just a claim”

          Point of order.

          Everything is “just a claim.”

          Even the most documented thing. Even a VIDEOTAPED thing is all, just a claim. Nothing is NOT just a claim.

          I can document anything at all up the wazoo and it’s STILL just a claim. As well as the documentation. All just a claim. All of history is just a claim. All the evening’s news is all just a claim. Go ahead prove the evening news. Prove that it happened. Not to me, but to yourself.

          Claims can and are faked all the time. Doicumentation can be and is faked all the time. Anything anyone EVER says is all just a claim.

          If you want to have any debates at all, someone somewhere has to take a leap of faith and accept the other’s BASIC claims.

          “Jut a claim” is a dodge. It’s the argument of someone who is out of arguments.

        23. John, I’m curious about several of the figures you’re naming in the claim to having found characters who cast doubt upon the originality of Jesus’ life and ministry, as you’re including Vishnu, Horus, Dionysus, Baal etc. You’re listing an assortment of figures also cited in the notorious false and widely debunked Zeitgeist movie, the famous anti-capitalist, anti-Christian film which repopularized a movement originally based out of Germany, one which explicitly aimed to find parallels with Jesus and the vast collection of pagan myths throughout absolutely every culture. The reason the movement originally collapsed however was due to many of the supposed parallels being spurious, with which the scholars behind the entire enterprise had no leg to stand upon. Of course later scholars realized the blindingly obvious, that if they were going to search for what inspired the New Testament biographers they would be wiser to read a Torah than anything out of the Greek or Hindu world. I’m wondering if you’re not repeating the same sort of faulty claims people have already bucked many decades ago.

          For example, you are claiming “Apollonius of Tyana ascend to heaven alive.” however, “The life of Apollonius of Tyana” was written no earlier than AD 217, meaning their book, which isn’t of the genre of biography at all, couldn’t possibly cast doubt upon the claims of Christ’s widely circulating miracles. How is the originality of Jesus damaged by material released long after the Gospel accounts, as opposed to the sophist who wrote the massive 82,000 word book (namely Philostratus) being brought under greater scrutiny?

          Craig S. Keener in his Miracles book explains: ‘it is clear that miracle stories circulated about Jesus before Apollonious flourished, and Mark wrote about Jesus’ miracles well over a century before Philostratus wrote about Apollonious’. Explaining furthermore: ‘Philostratus’ portrait suits a late second or third-century setting (i.e., the author’s own time) much better than a mostly late first-century setting (i.e., Apollonius’); his accounts of Apollonius even resemble reports from Christian gospels, though especially of the “apocryphal” variety. This is very possibly deliberate; by the fourth century, pagan writers explicitly used Apollonius as an alternative to Jesus, claiming that the pagan world offered its own healers.’

          Similarly you’ve claimed “Lemminkainen drowns but his mother stiches him back together.” as if to work as a parallel to the Resurrection event, that’s grossly inaccurate, wouldn’t you agree? Paul describes something totally unlike a stitched together person when writing on the resurrection body: “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Similarly Lazarus being revived or Isaiah’s acts of revivification aren’t resurrections, Bodhidharma (who lived over 400 to 500 years after Jesus) likewise wouldn’t be Resurrected given how resurrection is understood in Jewish culture.

          Insofar as your messages go, you’re appearing to cast doubt upon Christ based upon A. Fiction which clearly borrowed from the life of Jesus. B. Totally unrelated events which share the slimmest of parallels with the Jewish resurrection of the dead. So, by combining your methods, I’m able to write Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein shows the resurrection of Jesus to be unoriginal. Or how about the Bride of Chucky, might be a bit of a stretch, although if we’re shoehorning Lemminkainen stitched back together by his mother into a parallel between the resurrection, let’s make Chucky swing too.

        24. The examples given were simply of people who’d conquered death. I was not drawing similarities to the Jesus story, merely pointing out the plotline was far older than the Christian narrative. Indeed, there are at least three accounts of resurrection in the OT, and Baal, of course, died and then returned to his earthly throne. Being of the Ugarit/Canaanite pantheon, this story was clearly well known to the Hebrews. Indeed, Baal is in the bible.

          If you can think of something genuinely new or original which Jesus said or did then I’d be happy to review it.

        25. Didn’t Equipped cat already win that game when you explained: “As for promising a 2nd coming, I can’t think of any other sage who promised this, although the role Jesus says he’s going to fulfill pre-dates him by millennia.”?

          In addition, considering how tenuous (like cracker thin) and misguided many of these parallels are, isn’t the entire thing rather silly? There are no resurrections in the Old Testament, merely revivals and revivification, they’re classed as entirely different things in the Jewish culture, John.

        26. ”Didn’t Equipped cat already win that game when you explained: “As for promising a 2nd coming, I can’t think of any other sage who promised this, although the role Jesus says he’s going to fulfill pre-dates him by millennia.”?”

          Well, it’s a promise. Not sure if that actually counts while the promise remains unfulfilled, but as I pointed out to Cat, the role Jesus says he’s going to play on this promised 2nd coming is far from being original. The same plot (Judgment Day) is described in great detail in Zoroastrianism, where the Saoshyant, the Saviour, is called the “World Renovator”[Astavat-ereta] and“Victorious Benefactor”who will defeat “the evil of the progeny of the biped”, bring “retribution for offenses,” and establish “the Kingdom of Good Thought (righteousness).”

          What would have been original if Jesus had actually done that. He didn’t.

          Would you be happy to say Jesus making a promise was the only genuinely new or original thing he said or did in his entire time on earth?

          ”In addition, considering how tenuous (like cracker thin) and misguided many of these parallels are, isn’t the entire thing rather silly? There are no resurrections in the Old Testament, merely revivals and revivification, they’re classed as entirely different things in the Jewish culture, John.”

          Nonsense. Resurrection is resurrection, but let’s not limited ourselves to the OT. Dying and rising gods is an old, old, old plotline. I have named many such older cases already, not least among them Baal, the son of the Supreme God (El) who dies, is resurrected, and returns to earth to sit on his throne.

          I’m asking you, or anyone, to name one genuinely new or original thing Jesus said or did.

          Can you?

        27. And just to clarify, why I’m asking this is because we’re trying to establish if there is any legitimate reason to believe the claim that Christianity has a unique ethical/moral standard.

          As Jesus, it seems, didn’t say or do anything even vaguely revolutionary, then it appears the Christian claim is thoroughly baseless.

          Would you agree?

        28. You’re unsure whether or not what you’ve named an original saying is in fact an original saying because the saying itself hasn’t come true? You’re moving the goalposts on me now, as in reply you’ve tried hard to explain: “What would have been original if Jesus had actually done that. He didn’t.” Adding moreover “Well, it’s a promise. Not sure if that actually counts while the promise remains unfulfilled,”, now, you’re switching up your challenge because the answers have already came, as you’d originally demanded something original Jesus either said or did, “said” being the noteworthy portion in your messages.

          1. “For years i have asked apologists to name one thing new or original which Jesus said or did,”

          2. “Great… give me one example of something genuine new or original Jesus said or did.”

          3. “Okay, so you can’t name anything new or original Jesus said or did.”

          4. “Be sure to let me know the moment you think you have something new or original which Jesus said or did.”

          5. “So, we have Jesus purported words, and we have his purported actions. Somewhere in there was there anything, anything at all, that was genuinely new or original?”

          So, what’s clearly another more revised question, hopefully one you won’t be asking for years, would be “Show me to my satisfaction something original Jesus did in terms of non-verbal actions!” At present you’re denying your long standing “said/did” criteria for simple “did.” You then proceeded to ask if I myself would be satisfied to have Jesus’ very same promise being the one genuinely new or original teaching they had brought. Of course, who wouldn’t be satisfied with having their life made right with God, in fact, to bemoan the entire thing because you believe it’s unoriginal based upon your strange criteria, isn’t that remarkably jejune? To flip the superficial challenge upon its head, when presumably something original comes along, you’re going to join that particular cult/group/political based upon the argument from originality? . . . My question to you is are you satisfied to admit Jesus’ promise was genuinely original, because you’re struggling against conceding the point.

          My rebuttal to the charge of “nonsense” would be to see your nonsense, and raise you a poppycock, balderdash and codswallop! Your reply was, in truth, tautology. Yes, resurrection would be resurrection, and revival revival, and revivification would again be revivification. You’re failing to discern, then even dismissing, the nuances in how the Jewish culture understood these miraculous acts. Christ is named “the first” fruit from the dead precisely because Their return wasn’t of the order of revival or revivification, rather Resurrection. For example, when Lazarus is raised again to life, he later dies, just as everybody who was raised would do, yet when writing in their letter to the Corinthians Paul states Jesus, by the resurrection body, is raised imperishable!

          “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

          To briefly summarize: Apollonius of Tyana, due to being based upon Jesus, can’t discomfort the originality of the Gospel biographies, similarly Bodhidharma, who flourished over 400 years after Jesus couldn’t draw into question originality with regards to the gospel. To pretend they could again would be as bad as saying the Biblical epic Ben-Hur somehow made Jesus’ life unoriginal. Baal hereafter, let’s discuss Baal.

          70 Plus different stories circulated about the Baal character, only 1 of which has provided unbelievers the parallels they so fervently desire (though insofar as I’ve read it’s not particularly impressive). The tablets which do supposedly serve as an objection don’t actually contain either Baal’s death or their being brought again to new life, as the portion which could or couldn’t contain the supposed event hasn’t survived so to reach the scholars, as is common. Rather “the resurrection” of Baal is inferred by the remainder of the tablets.

          Not particularly sophisticated, in fact, let’s do the very same right now, merely let someone sit through the majority of “The Empire Strikes Back” (Star wars), imagine allowing the person to watch until the portion below.

          “Luke arrives at Cloud City and falls into Vader’s trap. The two engage in a lightsaber duel that leads them over the city’s central air shaft where, as his mentors warned, Luke proves to be no match for Vader who severs Luke’s right hand, causing him to lose his weapon. After Luke refuses to join Vader against the Emperor, Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father. Horrified, Luke falls through the air shaft.”

          Stopping the movie as of now would be near enough an accurate description of how the tablets of Baal are often preserved, after which outmoded forms of scholarship ordinarily coloured into the blank portion in whatever ways they found appropriate. Nevertheless, in order to finish our Star Wars story in the now, rather than watching The Empire Strikes Back in total, let’s instead start by watching Return of The Jedi:

          “Luke Skywalker initiates a plan to rescue Han Solo from the crime lord Jabba the Hutt with the help of Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Leia infiltrates Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, disguised as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca as her prisoner.”

          Wow! Luke was plummeting into an air shaft, and suddenly they are alive, just extraordinary, Luke Skywalker was resurrected! . . . right? Well, no, no they weren’t resurrected, people have just coloured in the blanks and used the resurrection crayon as opposed to others.

          Mark S. Smith, Chair of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, in their “Origins of Biblical Monotheism” explains moreover “…any attempt to render a reconstruction of Baal’s death and return to life should make no assumption about the nature of the latter.” Meaning not only do the tablets actually contain no revival event, but also that people can’t even suppose the nature of the return event given our surviving materials. Do zombie movies discredit Jesus’ originality, how about ghosts, Event Horizon? Are these seriously the best parallels people can invent? Smith appears to have concluded by something very similar to your own assertion, though there’s a twist, they explain the entire message of Baal is centered upon the succession of the Ugaritic kingship, meaning Baal’s demise and “return” would be best understood as both the end of one king and their successor assuming rule and reign. To claim the above as anything like the imperishable, glorious resurrection as understood in Jewish culture is flippant in the extreme.

          Similarly you misunderstand Osiris, as if they served as a parallel, yet Osiris isn’t “resurrected”, they are actually a seasonal symbol for the crop cycle, totally unrelated to the Gospel narratives, let alone endangering their originality. Or, as you appear to already know, Osiris doesn’t return to life, rather they continue to exist in the world of the departed.

          Furthermore, by way of a question, you asked me: “As Jesus, it seems, didn’t say or do anything even vaguely revolutionary, then it appears the Christian claim is thoroughly baseless. Would you agree?”

          Would I agree? No, I’m unable to agree with the above. Your opinion in the above wouldn’t follow even if the believing person agreed with the premise, which I already don’t agree with, the entire claim that without being “revolutionary” something is then “baseless” is the most obvious non-sequitur. Making the leap to your conclusion doesn’t make sense just in terms of basic reasoning power, for which it’s your conclusion which would be baseless.

          You’ve got 99 problems JZ, but considering how you’re styling these errors out I imagine a lady friend isn’t 1. 🙂 Although supposed parallels are amidst those aforementioned problems.

          Osiris (Crops don’t cast doubt upon the originality of the Gospels).

          Old testament revivals (Dismissing nuances in the Jewish sources doesn’t discomfort the originality of the Gospels).

          Horus (Being dismembered into fourteen pieces and reanimated doesn’t involve Jesus life and ministry).

          Angels (Not understanding the word “Son” has specialized meanings doesn’t harm the Gospels).

          Apollonius of Tyana (Copying Jesus doesn’t reflect badly upon Jesus).

          Bodhidharma (Weak similarities which are recorded hundreds upon hundreds of years after Jesus don’t reflect badly upon the Gospels).

          Baal (Non-existent events inferred by the faintest evidence don’t cast doubt upon the originality of the Gospels).

          Alexander The Great (The same problems which hampered Apollonius of Tyana discomfort Alexander).

          Simon of Paraea (Ditto Baal. Non-existent events inferred by the faintest evidence don’t cast doubt upon the originality of the Gospels).

          Nonetheless, doing my best to be a good sport, I’d very much enjoy taking you up on your originality challenge, although I’m competing for a silver medal, considering Cat’s contribution.

          1. Jesus taught “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

          How many sages taught their true believers would have to eat their flesh and drink their blood or no life was in them?

          2. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

          How many sages imagined themselves as the ladder dreamt by Jacob in Genesis 28:10-19?

          3. “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

          How many sages claimed to be co-equal in authority with the God of Israel before the world began?

          Lastly, my own game for you, can you offer a single parallel from the ancient world which stands up to my scrutiny?

        29. I’m sorry, but I don’t quite understand what your last question means.

          I am by no means moving the goalposts. There is no trick here, and I apologise if you think there is. I assure you, there is not. I am simply asking whether there was anything genuinely new or original in anything the character, Jesus, said or did. For this we’re trying to focus only on the actual things said or done, rather than the theological flights of fancy, much of which are the imaginings of much later people. Of course, this doesn’t exclude these theological things, not entirely, but I hope you can appreciate that by addressing things like “promises” we’re off into an unquantifiable world. For example, the various storylines attached to dying and rising and resurrection matter not. What matters is the act (dying/rising/resurrection) is played out in other, older stories. That is the point. A point you seem to be having trouble grasping. Lemminkainen, for example, drowns, and is smashed to bits. His mother then stiches him back together and he returns to life. The manner in which Lemminkainen dies and is returned to life isn’t of concern. What is, is that he died and was resurrected.

          Regarding Baal, here we have the Son of the Supreme God, El, who is killed, resurrected, and returns to earth to sit once again on his throne. If you want to read a quite detailed account of his death, resurrection and return, then I suggest this article: Death and Return of Baal: a reply to a near consensus

          Now, as I’ve said, I can’t think of any sage who “promised” to come back, except for perhaps Avalokiteshvara who promised to return and is reborn in every Dalai Lama. I would, however draw your attention to the total absence of originality in what Jesus was actually promising. Judgment Day is found in the far, far older Zoroastrianism, as is the Saviour (the role it is said Jesus will play) who’ll oversee it and “renovate” the world.

          OK, you’ve made some suggestions. Thank you.

          1) “Jesus taught “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
          How many sages taught their true believers would have to eat their flesh and drink their blood or no life was in them?”

          First up, only Catholics believe this, so it can hardly be considered a universal Christian thing, and I’m sure Evangelicals would have something to say about this. It is, however, nothing but a food ritual. Are you suggesting food rituals are unique to Christianity? Dionysus cults ritually consumed foods. Hellenistic mystery cults ritually consumed foods. In fact, the consumption of sacrificed animals was noted by Edward Carpenter as “…sufficient to show the extraordinarily wide diffusion of Totem-sacraments and Eucharistic rites all over the world.” There’s also the contention that Mithraism had the Eucharist before Christianity, although early church writers liked to accuse them of copying it.

          The concept, though, of sacrifice and consumption for the atonement of sin is anything but original. In Leviticus (4:35,5:10) we have: “The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.”

          Replace the animal with Jesus and you have the exact storyline.

          2) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
          How many sages imagined themselves as the ladder dreamt by Jacob in Genesis 28:10-19?”

          Don’t you think this falls into the same ethereal category of the promised second coming? And how can it be truly original is, as you say, the idea is found in Genesis? And isn’t the story of Osiris a mirror of this, in that he stands between the earth and the underworld? In Zoroastrianism the dead person’s spirit is escorted to heaven by the guardian spirit, Daena, where the spirit is shown their life (thoughts, words, and actions). An angel at the Chinawod Bridge would then determine if the dead person would go on to heaven, hell, or a third destination (purgatory) where it would wait until the Judgment Day. The idea of a gatekeeper is not new.

          3) “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
          How many sages claimed to be co-equal in authority with the God of Israel before the world began?

          I’m confused here as to what you’re suggesting. The bible has contradictory statements concerning this. Certainly, in John 10:30 we have Jesus saying “I and the Father are one,” yet then we have numerous occasions where Jesus says he’s not God:

          Jesus said “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only

          John 13:3 the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God, and went to God.

          John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me

          John 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak,

          John 8:26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him

          John 14:24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

          Either way, there are many Sons of God stories. Certainly nothing new or original there. Also, the idea of a Trinity (although never actually expressed in the bible) is anything but new. In the Egyptian ” Hymn to Amun” it’s written:

          ‘No god came into being before him (Amun)’ and that ‘All gods are three: Amun, Re and Ptah, and there is no second to them. Hidden is his name as Amon, he is Re in face, and his body is Ptah.’

          In Hinduism, the trinity (Trimūrti, or The Three Forms) is of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These three-in-one are called “the Hindu triad” or the “Great Trinity”

          In the Hindu Puranas there is this passage:

          ‘O ye three Lords! know that I recognise only one God. Inform me, therefore, which of you is the true divinity, that I may address to him alone my adorations.’

          In response, the three-gods-in-one (Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva [or Shiva]), replied,

          ‘Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between us. What to you appears such is only the semblance. The single being appears under three forms by the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, but he is one.’

          In Babylon it was Nimrod, Semiramas, and Tammuz; within Israel pagan gnosticism it was Kether, Hokhmah, and Binah; In Plato’s philosophy it was the Unknown Father, Nous/Logos, and the world soul.

          Listen, just to reiterate, there is no trick here. I’ll be happy to grant anything if it stands the test. It’s really quite simple: was there anything genuinely new or original in anything Jesus said or did. Was anything he said truly revolutionary? A while ago we thought we’d found something, Jesus cursing the fig tree, but as it turned out, in Hinduism is a similar event:

          “Then Vac entered the trees; the gods claimed her but the trees refused to give her up; the gods cursed the trees”

          That said, although falling under the general category of “miracles” (hardly original) Jesus turning the fish into an ATM machine does appear to genuinely original.

          So, there’s one.

        30. My goodness, John, an awesome array of quotes misused and deformed beyond recognition. Was it too much to ask to read the words surrounding the words you’ve quote? Let’s simply read the immediate context of the things you’re uncritically ripping into pieces, let’s see if you too come away with a better understanding of the Bible in context (very important to read in context).

          You didn’t actually reference where you’d lifted the foremost of your quotes, nonetheless, the quote itself is a proof text for divinity: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

          Your quote is actually a perversion, omitting the words “nor the Son” as my quotations hereafter are about to show, they’re from every place in which the saying is found and are historically confirmed as Jesus’ own words:

          Mark 13:32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

          Matthew 24:36: “But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”

          Let’s just give you the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to thinking you edited the text to better suit your agenda. In saying no one knows the hour, neither the angels, nor the Son, Jesus is speaking in ascending order, explaining how the angels are above mankind, yet, Jesus then, in the portion you’ve somehow managed to delete from the above, places Himself above the angelic host! Jesus says they’re above the angels. Anyhow, considering you’re not bothered to reference where you’ve drawn the quote from, let’s begin by reading the surrounding context found in Matthew, by which we can find anything you’ve. . .missed:

          “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

          Who owns and commands the angels, John? Jesus claims the Son of Man, namely Himself, is going to command His angels, and that’s before placing Himself above the angelic host. Moreover, Psalms and Job are both great examples of who commands the angels:

          If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

          God owns the angels, and Jesus too owns the angels, how interesting, not exactly the contraction you’d like it to be. Everything you’re quoting is meaning the exact opposite of the things you’re saying, extraordinary. You continued anyhow, quoting John 8:26, which read “I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.”

          One helpful suggestion, try reading verse 8:21, instead of ignoring the entire things and beginning with the portion you find most appealing: Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgement of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

          “I’m from above” Jesus said, “I am not of this world.” Perhaps you simply missed these portions which are so very close to the things you’re quoting. You using the Gospel of John, of every Gospel, wasn’t a helpful thing to do if you’re hoping to undermine Jesus’ claims to being God. The more context that’s added just undoes everything you’ve been trying to convince people to believe, namely the overplayed narrative that somehow Jesus was just a nice man who said nothing controversial. My goodness, John 1:1 should have given you a hint as to what the author was meaning to convey! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” There’s only one way to read John’s Gospel, and it ain’t how you’re reading, in fact, the very same chapter you decided to quote ends by saying:

          Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

          No surprise then in other sections of John, readers find: Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me? “The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God,”

          How about another, because you’re quoting from the believed disciples after all, for which their love of God, and as a consequence truth, compelled him to write as much as they could about both Jesus the man, and the God. You used the following text as found in John 14:24: “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”

          Try verse 4 and onward in chapter 14 (it’s the very same chapter), instead of ignoring direct claims which undo your preferences:

          Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

          Jesus as described by later authors as the “visible image of the invisible God” says “ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” which is of course accepting prayer, as was explained by several independent sources. John ends it best when they wrote “No one has ever seen God, but the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made him known.” Again, “the only begotten God” There certainly are later writers who find material so unpalatable or scandalous that they’re open to editing their findings, as you have already done, yet they’re not writing divinity into Jesus words, rather they’d in many manuscripts change “begotten God” to “begotten Son” because they had been made so uncomfortable. Nonetheless, you’ve gone on to defend yourself when caught in other slips of the finger. . .repeated slips, even though you’ve been asking the question for years:“I am by no means moving the goalposts. There is no trick here, and I apologise if you think there is. I assure you, there is not.”

          You used to write: “name anything new or original Jesus said or did.”

          You’re presently writing: “Well, it’s a promise. Not sure if that actually counts while the promise remains unfulfilled.”

          People reading can decide on whether or not you’re either a really really bad communicator, or something else.

          You later insisted: “I am simply asking whether there was anything genuinely new or original in anything the character, Jesus, said or did. For this we’re trying to focus only on the actual things said or done, rather than the theological flights of fancy, much of which are the imaginings of much later people.”

          We are referring to the Jacobs ladder verses and Jesus’ saying of eating His flesh and drinking blood in order to be saved, unless you can show these things were a latter addition to the Gospels, do stop making false claims, if you can however, please go ahead. . .you cannot. The simple fact that Jesus’ blood and flesh saying is historically attested, and practices surrounding the fact were being performed before the Catholic church even existed, strongly suggests they weren’t later developments. Your continued message was undaunted: “Of course, this doesn’t exclude these theological things, not entirely, but I hope you can appreciate that by addressing things like “promises” we’re off into an unquantifiable world.” You don’t mean. . .the world of history?! 😛 Again, in your own words: “So, we have Jesus purported words, and we have his purported actions. Somewhere in there was there anything, anything at all, that was genuinely new or original?”

          The word “purported”, as you snidely used, is meant to explain it’s probably inaccurate, rather than something being reported, it’s purported to have happened, so, you’re hoping to find something original in even the purported words of Jesus, meaning you’re not even after words which weren’t a later invention by somebody else, due to which you later writing “we’re trying to focus only on the actual things said or done” means once again, you’re either incapable of using words how they’re meant to be used, or again are dishonestly moving the goalposts, readers are likely to decide. Speaking of not using words as they’re meant to be used, you’re avoiding the word resurrection in an awesome show of denial, once more:

          You’re failing to discern, then even dismissing, the nuances in how the Jewish culture understood these miraculous acts. Christ is named “the first” fruit from the dead precisely because Their return wasn’t of the order of revival or revivification, rather Resurrection. For example, when Lazarus is raised again to life, he later dies, just as everybody who was raised would do, yet when writing in their letter to the Corinthians Paul states Jesus, by the resurrection body, is raised imperishable!

          Try facing up to the Jewish context, as an actual event, or in your eyes a purported event, it’s a one of a kind original claim/happening. You classing everything which remotely resembles returning after death as the Jewish resurrection is wilfully ignorant. An example of your own words: “The manner in which Lemminkainen dies and is returned to life isn’t of concern. What is, is that he died and was resurrected.” Considering you very much enjoy making laundry lists of out of context Bible quotes, try actually reading and understanding the material instead, by definition, to repeat, by definition, Lemminkainen was not Resurrected. You’re going to have to make your peace with that.

          You continued, even defending your earlier Baal assertion: “Regarding Baal, here we have the Son of the Supreme God, El, who is killed, resurrected, and returns to earth to sit once again on his throne.”

          I especially enjoyed the part where you avoided everything about the actual tablets of Baal as found in my previous post and continued on as if none of your claims have already been explained as faulty. 🙂 The tablet contains no such event, you’re writing into the missing story the sort of content you’d like to be there, even worse than that you’re writing Jewish notions into a culture which had their own ideas. You’re also misusing the word resurrection (yet again).

          With regards to the three suggests I’ve made to you, you offered nothing in terms of a sage who asked their followers to drink their blood, instead used vague references to other food rituals, rather than face up to the substance of the claim. You tried to explain “Replace the animal with Jesus and you have the exact storyline.” meaning rather than truly finding parallels, as you’ve been unable to do, you’re instead searching for any elements, past, present or future, which are shared elements to the entire whole, after finding such a shared element, you then think you’re justified in dismissing something as unoriginal. You’re mistaken, to be original either means to be the first, as Jesus was by your purported standard, or merely to be not copying something or someone else, as you’ve already explained Jesus wasn’t doing.

          As for Jacob and their ladder, as referenced by Jesus in Genesis 28:10-19, you wrote: “Don’t you think this falls into the same ethereal category of the promised second coming? And how can it be truly original is, as you say, the idea is found in Genesis?” If indeed it’s in the vein of the Second Coming quote, as Cat had already used to win gold, then that’s yet another original thing Jesus either said or did, fantastic.

          “How many sages claimed to be the God of Israel?” Was my very simple question to you, and you’ve failed to answer, instead you went into a full blown fib fest, aimlessly and poorly attacking the divinity of Jesus rather than simply face the substance of the claim. Making claim to be Thor isn’t to say you’re the God of Israel, saying you’re Zeus, who would become a swan etc, isn’t the same as someone saying they’re the God of Israel, Jesus, by our use of the historical method, has been shown to have made these claims, if as it appears nobody else has claimed to be the God of the Jewish people before Christ, then there’s yet another original claim, one of many many original claims and deeds. You finding other gods in the history of forever doesn’t make such a claim unoriginal.

          You’ve saved your most interesting misstep until last however, writing how Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva somehow harm the originality of the Trinity. Writing “O ye three Lords! know that I recognise only one God. Inform me, therefore, which of you is the true divinity, that I may address to him alone my adorations.” Concluding, in your words how the “three-gods-in-one” makes the Tri-personal God of the New Testament unoriginal.

          Hindu views of the divine are in fact pantheistic, regarding the universe and everything within it (which includes your example of three) as an offshoot or expression of the impersonal ultimate. It’s the element in Hinduism which renders everything as in some wise belonging and being an expression of the impersonal divine force which allows for three supposed demigods to reply as if to say they’re one. They’re however mere emanations of the one impersonal force.

          The three-in-one-gods are not truly gods in the least, rather they’re one substance, whereas in the case for Christ the three aren’t three gods but three persons, yet the Hindu ultimate is impersonal! (No persons). You’re claiming the impersonal endangers the originality of the personal, and that writers who copy Jesus harm Jesus’ originality, or anything anywhere even though they’re totally unrelated to the Gospels harm their originality. Merely due to reading the English word three you falsely imagine it’s somehow endangering the Trinity’s originality, imagine after having heard of the tri personal God someone started babbling: “Ah three, ah ah three musketeers, the three stooges, umm three. . .free. . .free willy!” The number three being involved in something doesn’t harm the Trinity.

        31. My goodness, Oldschool, I’ll give you credit for producing a wall of text utterly unrelated to the subject at hand. So, you are trying to say Jesus is God. Despite many verses which say the complete opposite, I really couldn’t care less. Jesus claiming to be god or not is not the matter. There have been many “sons of god,” and as I have already shown you, the concept of a multi-godhead is anything but new.

          To repeat, food rituals are anything but new. The atonement of sin through sacrifice/food rituals is not new. A heavenly gatekeeper is not new. A person/god returning to life/earth is not new.

          Regarding Baal, did you read the linked article? I’m guessing, no. You should. But once again, we are not prosecuting every detail of every storyline, rather the plot in general: dying/rising gods. That plot is far, far, far from being original.

          It seems you are having serious trouble grasping this. Case in point, you say:

          “How many sages claimed to be the God of Israel?”

          What has that got to do with anything? Olódùmarè is the God of the Yoruba people.

          Regarding the Trinity, it is not new, although the trinity is never even mentioned in the bible. You are aware of this, aren’t you?

          Here is the trinity in Buddhism. The Trikāya doctrine says that a Buddha has three kāyas or bodies:

          1. The Dharmakāya or Truth body which embodies the very principle of enlightenment and knows no limits or boundaries;
          2. The Sambhogakāya or body of mutual enjoyment which is a body of bliss or clear light manifestation;
          3. The Nirmāṇakāya or created body which manifests in time and space.


          Here is the Trinity fully expressed in Zoroastrian: Ahura Mazda (the Father), Spenta Mainyu or Vohu Mana (the Holy Spirit), and Asha Vahista (the Logos, or Son):

          “Praise to thee, Ahura Mazda, threefold before other creations.”


          Not new or original.

          Listen, let’s bring this back to the real. You are getting yourself all confused and hopelessly muddled. I’ll give you an example.

          Q: Was the Jesus talking about the so-named Golden Rule new or original? No. Far from it. The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,” 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”

          Another example.

          Q: Was Jesus’ teaching about turning the other cheek or loving your enemy new or original? No.

          Lao Tzu, said it this way: I treat those who are good with goodness. And I also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained

          Zhuangzi said it this way: Do good to him who has done you an injury.

          Rishabha said it this way: My Lord! Others have fallen back in showing compassion to their benefactors as you have shown compassion even to your malefactors. All this is unparalleled.

          Mahavira said it this way: Man should subvert anger by forgiveness, subdue pride by modesty, overcome hypocrisy with simplicity, and greed by contentment.

          In Hinduism it’s said this way: A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death. A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault?

          And Siddhartha Gautama said it this way: Conquer anger by love. Conquer evil by good. Conquer the stingy by giving. Conquer the liar by truth.

          You see what we’re actually dealing with here. Things “said” or “done.” Please get that straight in your head.

          And once again, there is no trick. Things “said” or “done.”

        32. “Regarding the Trinity, it is not new, although the trinity is never even mentioned in the bible. You are aware of this, aren’t you?”

          What you mean to write is “The word Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible”, nor need it be, in fact, the word Monotheism isn’t to be found within the Bible either, yet, would anybody claim the Bible doesn’t teach monotheism? Think these things through before posting, time permitting. Moreover, try reading Matthew 3:14-17, as the Trinity is explicitly taught:

          Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

          As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

          The Word made flesh baptized by John, the Spirit descending from Heaven, and the voice of the Father from Heaven itself. Also, considering the embarrassment of Jesus seemingly being baptized “for the remission of sin” this goes to show the event an actual historic one, rather than later tampering.

          Anyhow, even the Trinity being explicitly named in the New Testament wouldn’t be able to save it from your amazing criticisms, as there are just too many trinities which harm the Trinity’s originality, consider 3 Men and a Little Lady (the mighty Tom Selleck trinity), the third scary movie in the Scary movie series, and the once popular TV show Two and a Half Men. . .which although isn’t a triad of men, certainly is close enough to work as an argument to convince you. Though considering how I remember Angus Jones (the half man in two and a half) outed himself as a Christian awhile ago, maybe Christians could somehow score a few points by way of him. Accept the challenge, John, you and Allallt against myself and xPrae on the topic “Does Two and a Half Men disprove the Trinity?”

          “So, you are trying to say Jesus is God. Despite many verses which say the complete opposite, I really couldn’t care less.”

          Are you certain this time around, John? Are you certain there are verses which say “the complete opposite”, have you read the nearby words this time? Because that’s kinda important. Honestly, you don’t need to write how you couldn’t care less, readers already knew that by the way you seem to tamper with Scriptures, refuse to reference, refuse using words properly, post from books you clearly haven’t read and generally have nothing original to say (oh the irony).

          In all candour, I like you, John, hopefully any fun I poked at you and your points hasn’t been taken to heart. I want good things for you and your loved ones, that means I want Jesus in your life, so read the things you’re posting, don’t just post things you haven’t properly read, start capping the word Bible (joking), open your own copy of the Scriptures, give the material in the Gospel of John real care, don’t harden your heart to the Scriptures or read in an embittered way. Jesus loves you, me, Allallt and xPrae (yes, even xPrae! 😛 ) when genuine love is in short supply.

        33. ”this goes to show the event an actual historic one, rather than later tampering.”

          Err, how? Regardless, what has this passage got to do with anything?

          ”Are you certain this time around, John? Are you certain there are verses which say “the complete opposite”, have you read the nearby words this time?”

          Well, Yes, I am. The contradiction (Jesus implying he is god, and Jesus saying he’s not) is clear. In John 14:24 who, exactly, is Jesus saying “sent him”? He sent himself? In John 8:26 who did Jesus “hear” things from? In John 12:49 who is this person Jesus is saying he’s speaking for? In John 7:16 whose doctrine is Jesus saying he’s reciting?

          It makes about as much sense as this:

          Of course, the Hebrews were (and still are) quite certain Yhwh is one god, an aseitic being. “Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one [echad]!” Deuteronomy 6:4. Just to confuse matters, though, he is, of course, just one of the Elohim, I know that Yahweh is great, more than all the Elohim. (Exodus 18:11, LT)

          Confusing, huh?

          Still, this is all beyond the point. Trinities/Monotheism/Pantheons/God on earth/Sons of God/Dying-Rising gods are not new. The various plotlines are, no doubt, as old a religion itself.

          Now, I gave you some specific examples from which I was hoping you would begin to focus you’re actual attempts here. It seems that has fallen on deaf ears.

          If, however, you can think of something, anything, genuinely new or original Jesus “said” or “did” then I’ll be happy to review it.

          Did Jesus offer up any truly revolutionary thought?

          And to repeat, this is important from the perspective of this post. We are trying to establish if there is any grounding at all to the claim that Christianity comes with a genuinely unique set of moral drivers. That appears to be a false claim as it’s been demonstrated that Jesus said/taught absolutely nothing that hadn’t already been said/taught by sages, philosophers, and even playwrights long before him… and often said much, much better.

        34. John, I’m really impressed you have all these examples seemingly at your fingertips. Just out of curiosity, how do you do it? Is it your field of study and you have it all memorized or written down in an organized fashion? Is there a reference book you use? Or are you really good and fast at searching the net?1

        35. I’ve written on this before. It’s an ongoing research project, which is why i’m open to any and all suggestions. To date, and apart from the ATM fish, no one has been able name a single genuinely new or original thing Jesus said or did.

          Now, that’s not to say there isn’t anything. As I’ve repeatedly said to Oldschool, there is no trick here.

        1. How about ““You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

        2. Hi Cat

          Unfortunately, no, that’s not original, either. Lao Tze taught on that exact matter and said:

          It is true that you commit no actual crimes; but when you meet a beautiful woman in another’s home and cannot banish her from your thoughts, you have committed adultery with her in your heart.

          And here are a few more:

          “Continence is to regard the wife of another as one’s own sister or daughter” (Jainism. Kartikeya, Anupreksa 337-39)

          “From lust springs grief, from lust springs fear; for him who is wholly
          free from lust there is no grief, much less fear” (Buddhism. Dhammapada 212-16)

          “When all the desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.” (Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.6-7)

          “Realising that pleasure and pain are personal affairs, one should subjugate his mind and senses.” (Jainism. Acarangasutra 2.78)

          “Regard old women the way you regard your mother. Regard those who are older than you the way you regard your elder sisters; regard those who are younger than you as your younger sisters, and regard children as your own. Bring forth thoughts to rescue them, and put an end to bad thoughts.” (Buddhism. Sutra of Forty-two Sections 29)

          “If out of the three hundred Songs I had to take one phrase to cover all my teachings, I would say, ‘Let there be no evil in your thoughts.'”(Confucianism. Analects 2.2)

        3. Yes, thank you.

          You know, there’s no shame in saying, “Jesus didn’t say or do a single new or original thing.”

          It’s OK to admit that. It’s just a fact, and there’s really no point being embarrassed or upset with facts.

        4. Answered… again and again and again and again and again and again… Seriously, Zande, I’d take you a lot more seriously if you’d simply recognize that (1) I have a point with which you disagree, and that (2) if I don’t accept the validity or relevance of your question, then I’m in no position to answer it as you wish me to. Yet, good sport that I am, I did, indeed, answer it. Again and again and again.

          See, this is why I was able to trounce your tunnel-visioned, blinkered backsides up one side and down the other: You’re all ego and no real principle.

          It’s all: Must save face! Must save face! Must save face! with you guys.

          You apparently lack the capacity to understand that you just might not be the holder of absolute truth, so you twist yourself into the most convoluted of knots trying to beat the ones you call such pipsqueaks. To such an extent that you finally end up with an astonishing post, like the Allallt’s, alleging that Christianity, a belief system that for more than 2,000 years has preached unconditional, universal love of all people for all people is somehow morally and ethically inferior to another system, Islam, whose adherents think they have divine permission to stone rape victims to death. Among other things.

          Since, you’ve brought yourselves excruciatingly to this pass yourselves, I see no reason to let you off the hook.However, I did think it sporting to let you know that in siding with the monsters of the world — whom you deem ethically and morally superior to Christians — you look more than a little silly. And it’s starting to make you seem unhinged.


          — x

        5. Okay, thanks Praetorius. As I said, if you ever manage to think of a single genuinely new or original thing Jesus said or did then be sure to let me know, and I can review your suggestion then.

          Until then, don’t be embarrassed.

          I understand, and can even sympathise with this thoroughly awkward position you’ve found yourself in. It is, after all, a tremendously uncomfortable fact to face. I mean, here you are trying to say this person, Jesus, was the greatest human being in all of human history, yet you’re now having to admit that he didn’t say or do anything actually new or original.

          That’s embarrassing. I get that. I understand.

        6. Like i said, if you ever think of something you believe was actually original, the let me know.

          Don’t loose too much sleep over it, OK….

        7. The word is “lose,” not “loose.” Sheesh! One of my pet peeves. 🙂

          As for the rest. Whether or not Jesus said anything original is perfectly meaningless, so I won’t be pursuing that. For, what, the 100 time?

          Man! It must be tough carrying all those rocks around in your head. What with always overbalancing and all.

          On second thought: what someone says and does is comprehensible only within a context. Since Jesus was the only incarnate Son of God, then quite literally everything he sad and did was perfectly original. So there you go. I answered it for you.


          Oh, that’s right… I already said this. Please refer to the comment several sentences back… the one about rocks.



          — x

        8. Whether or not Jesus said anything original is perfectly meaningless

          So you’re admitting Jesus didn’t say or do anything new or original.

          Thank you.

          See, that wasn’t too hard, was it?

        9. I’m admitting that your question is stupid and irrelevant.

          I also explained to you — though you might not have heard it through the rocks between your ears — that everything that Jesus said and did was original. By definition.


          — x

        10. I did. Wait a sec. I’ll say it louder. The rocks must be in the way: “I DID.”

          There. Did you hear it? I can type it more slowly, if you’d like. Or, I could write it with bigger letters (Not sure if this edit window will reproduce that.)

          Maybe, I could put it into a nursery rhyme for you. Would that help? I’ll see if I can put something together.

          Here goes: E V E R Y T H I N G
          J E S U S S A I D A N D D I D
          W A S , B Y D E F I N I T I O N ,
          N E W A N D O R I G I N A L.

          Were you able to understand that? Maybe you didn’t see it because the babysitter was calling you. I’ll try it again, only this time in red (again, I’m not sure if the edit window will render it properly)


          Here goes. (Why don’t you sit down, and take a hit off that cigarette to settle the rocks a bit).

          E V E R Y T H I N G
          J E S U S S A I D A N D D I D
          W A S , B Y D E F I N I T I O N ,
          N E W A N D O R I G I N A L.


          — x

        11. You’re a fan of writing nonsense, aren’t you?

          Sorry, but nothing Jesus said or did was original. It had all been said and done (and often said and done much, much better) by sages and playwrights and philosophers long, long before him.

          Of course, you could always try to name something genuinely new or original which Jesus said or did.

          You seem utterly terrified of trying.


          Over to you. I look forward to reviewing your answer…

        12. You said: “Sorry, but nothing Jesus said or did was original.”

          Since this is perfectly irrelevant to anything, I won’t pursue it further.

          ‘Sides, I already answered it, with the obvious answer: By definition, everything that Jesus said and did was perfectly original. I even explained why.

          You’re a leftist, aren’t you? They’re complete half-wits too… like what you’re showing yourself to be.


          — x

        13. Why is this so frightfully hard for you, Praetorius?

          Surely you can name just one thing Jesus said or did which was genuinely new or original.

          Just one thing.

          One thing.

          Don’t be afraid. Don’t be frightened. Suggest something and I’ll review it.

        14. Lol! Still yipping, Zande?

          Here… I’ll throw you a bone. (Get it?) Ready? Everything Jesus said and did was, by definition, new and original.



          Whew! I’m glad that’s over!


          What a moron that Zande is! Couldn’t he see that you’d already answered his moronic question like a dozen times already?!?

          Stop, inner voice! Cut that out! That’s not nice! It’s not nice to speak that way about Zande. He didn’t ask to be born with rocks in his head!

          Okay, Okay… I’ll cut it out… Hey, didn’t I hear his babysitter calling him for his nap a while back?

          Yes, inner voice, yes you did. He apparently ignored her.


          — x

        15. You are boring me to tears. Honestly, you take pathetic to a grand new level.

          But, if you ever think of something genuinely new or original which Jesus said or did then be sure to let me know. If it’s genuinely new or original I’ll be the first to say so. That I promise.

          Until then, try not to be too embarrassed by your pathetic diversionary display here.

        16. Okay, fine. Here’s one thing that Jesus said, that’s perfectly original, and that even you will admit is perfectly original:

          That silly Zande is a rock-headed, pompous, air-headed blowhard, and you could put his intellect and a brick into a coffee mug, and still have room for an espresso. But I still love him, and I hope he comes back to Me in the near future. There’s something I’d like to discuss with him about his nap time.

          There. Even you have to admit that no one else ever said that!

          All done. Now, you can go take your nap.


          — x

        17. I don’t recognize those words of Jesus. Can you point me to book and verse?

          Really guys. It’s like watching two elk smash their heads together again and again and again…

          Haven’t you heard that repeating the same actions and expecting differing results is one of the signs of insanity?

        18. Indeed. Praetorius is, without question, the worst apologist I’ve ever encountered. In many ways, this is a good thing. By his jejune behaviour he does more to bring down his religion than I could ever hope to do.

          At the very least, you are trying, Cat, and for that I salute you.

        19. Lol! I understand that I’m one of the targets of this well-placed comment. And, cat, you’re absolutely right.

          You will note, I hope, that I’ve been suggesting the very same thing to Zande for some time now.

          Zande’s posed his irrelevant “new and original” question time and time again, and I’ve answered it time and time again, and suggested that, having received his answer, he move on. The only response: the same dumb question! So, I’ve just been having some fun with him for a bit.

          Zande’s problem is that he didn’t like the answer I gave him, so suggested that I hadn’t answered the question. That’s nutty.

          There’s history to this: Zande has been posing this same irrelevant question for a very long time, over many threads. He thinks that the answer he supposes is the correct one, proves something. The point: Zande thinks that Jesus never said or did anything original, and was therefore no one special.

          That’s why Zande can’t let go of the question, despite having received answer after answer. He’s heavily emotionally invested in receiving the answer he supposes is the one that proves his point.

          The problem: even if one were to give the answer Zande supposes is the correct one, it means nothing. Because, as I mentioned several times: Anything Jesus said, He said in his capacity as the only incarnate Son of God. That made absolutely everything He said perfectly unique and original.

          An example: If I tell you, “the sky is blue,” then the most you can possibly conclude is that my perception of the sky has led me to believe that it’s blue.

          If, however, Jesus tells you, “the sky is blue,” that means that the sky is, actually, blue, and that it would behoove you to find out what Jesus means by “blue.” Because then you will actually understand the color of the sky.


          — x

        20. I can see your point and you are right. The problem is, if anyone ever said “the sky is blue” before Jesus, then Mr. Zande is also right. The key here is that originality is irrelevant. Man breathed before Jesus; Jesus breathed. Because it was the right thing to do. Saying that Jesus “copied” someone is such cases is silly; if He had said, “wait, this breathing stuff may be useful, but I’M going to be different”, that would have changed the story considerably. Jesus did and said what he did because it was what God led him to say and do; not to be different but to be “right” (according to God; Man might have a different opinion).

        21. Saying that Jesus “copied” someone is such cases is silly

          I have not said Jesus “copied” anyone. I’m almost certain he’d never heard of, for example, Lao Tze. My point is simply this: nothing he said or did was genuinely new or original. This fact should raise all sorts of red flags for people who want to believe this person was a god. A god would introduce new information, surely. Jesus did not even correct the ludicrous cosmogony believed by all 1st century Jews. Surely he could have at least done that. And before you say such information would be beyond people, the theory of the atom (devised by the Greek Atomists) had been in existence for 400 years before Jesus. The Greeks had also long before figured out the earth was a sphere, yet the Jews (and evidently Jesus) believed it was flat.

          That being said, if you’re fine with this awkward fact, then fine.

        22. Where, in the manual of godhood, does it say God has to come up with new stuff? Or speak against man’s misconceptions of anything other than God?

        23. a) address errors about God and improve the way one relates to God
          b) reinforce the the stuff man was doing which pleased God and illuminate the stuff He was not happy with

        24. Perhaps you should read your bible, and by not saying anything Jesus is advocating, self-evidently, for it.

          As Praetorius said quite clearly, he came to continue the Law. That Law sanctions and encourages slavery.

        25. I’ve read it, thanks. And although the Old Testament does not absolutely prohibit slavery (which probably would have been ignored, as slavery was integral with most of the cultures of the time), it did attempt to encourage a more humane slavery. Sanctions, perhaps, but not encourages. As for Jesus, He did not “continue” the Law, He fulfilled it, that is, replaced it. The Law was a way of educating people about sin. It could not and did not absolve them; Jesus sacrifice was and is the only to absolve people for sin.

        26. You’re somewhat mistaken here. As Praetorius even says above, Jesus did not change the Law. And here is a theologian saying exactly that:

          What Christians most often forget is how to read the whole Bible as the complete Word of God. For some, there is a misunderstanding that the Old Testament no longer applies to Christians. That would be a mistaken understanding because Jesus came to fulfill the “Law and the Prophets” (the Old Testament), but not to change a “jot or tittle” of it. Jesus did change some of the incorrect ways that the Jews were practicing the Law, but did not change the Law itself.

          And your allusion to humane slavery is ludicrous. Exodus 21:16 concerns Hebrews abducting Hebrews, with some rules applied, and Exodus 21:7-11 concerns some restrictions concerning female Hebrews (who could be sold by their fathers and enslaved for life). Abducting and selling non-Hebrews was not a problem (Deuteronomy 24:7), and slaves from surrounding countries could be kept as property forever (Leviticus 25:44-46). Indeed, the children of slaves were born into slavery (Exodus 21:4). And Deuteronomy 20:10-15 details how captives of war can be thrown into slavery, including all the women and children of the conquered.

          So, if Jesus thought this was morally wrong then he didn’t say so, and by not saying anything he was tacitly supporting the practice.

        27. If a person followed the Law perfectly, what would happen when they died?

          No, they would not go to Heaven/the Kingdom of God. Nor would they be punished. They would go to a “waiting room” (Abraham’s Bosom). Only upon meeting the requirements from Jesus could they go to Heaven.

          The Law was not the route to salvation. It was a GUIDE. It educated the people on how to behave, both for their best life in this world (God does not care if you eat shrimp; it was just that in those days they did not have the knowledge or technology to keep the shrimp safe to eat), and to approach acceptability to God. God does not care about what the sin(s) is/are, He repulses any sin. Once the “education” of the Law was complete, Jesus replaced the Law; following His requirements provides salvation (entry to Heaven).

          People claim the Law is still in effect? Provably not so. The Law became IMPOSSIBLE to follow in 73AD, with the destruction of the temple. No temple, no priest class, equals no redemption possible under the Law. If the Law was not replaced by Jesus, then every single one of us alive after 73AD was and is and will be doomed. You think the CURRENT system is unfair…

        28. It was happening and not argued against. You said God would correct people on what displeased him when he came to earth.

        29. I don’t know where Zande is going, but if Jesus didn’t teach anything new, then every teaching was knowable by human conversation.

        30. Lol! This is one of the funniest exchanges I’ve ever witnessed! This zande dude seems like a complete idiot. XPrae has answered his question over and over again and then zande asks it again. Zande CANT be that stupid!
          The inner voice thing that xprae did was too funny! I almost fell out of my chair and spit my beer through my nose. When you get an overmatched loser like zande into a fight with someone obviously a lot smarter its just rewally funny to watch.

          Keep it up you guys. I will keep watching.

        31. Ah, Praetorius, I see you’re writing under a different avatar again.

          Didn’t we already bust you for doing this?

          Weren’t you embarrassed enough being caught out the first time?

          Obviously not.

        32. xPrae has not answered the question. We’ve had an excuse–“it’s completely irrelevant” (translates to ‘I don’t want to play this game because I don’t think I like where it is leading)–and a content-free sophist’s dodge–“everything Jesus did was original by definition” (translates to ‘I’m right by definition, don’t question me, I’m infallible’)–but nothing like an answer or coherent dodge.

        33. @Zande: Why would, as you say, “a god” need to advance new information? Rather than, as Jesus did, coming simply to reiterate the existing, correct, information? Jesus made it plain: He was not there to overthrow the law, but to be in perfect continuity with Old Testament law.

          However, He did bring the New Covenant, which didn’t change our relationship with God one iota, but rather allowed us to get back into God’s good graces after falling out of them.

          As regards your “copying Lao Tzu” quibble. You shouldn’t play those silly games. You know what cat meant. He meant that if Jesus had said the same thing as, for example, Lao Tzu.

          The sophist must struggle to grasp any straw, and your “copy” quibble is straw-grasping.


          — x

        34. Rather than, as Jesus did, coming simply to reiterate the existing, correct, information?

          I see. So, for example, Jesus believed slavery (the buying and selling of human beings) was fine. Got it. He believed the rapist got to marry his victim. Understood. He believed people of other faiths should be put to death. Okay.

          That’s interesting.

        35. Praetorius said he was here to continue with the Law. If he wanted to make some changes, some amendments and updates, then a word toward those changes might have been in order, wouldn’t you say? Something like, “Buying and selling human beings as property has to stop. It’s wrong.”

        36. As a sadomasochistic can of autoerotic asphyxiation, I don’t think you’d want me to love others as I love myself.

        37. @Zande: You said:

          Jesus did not even correct the ludicrous cosmogony believed by all 1st century Jews. Surely he could have at least done that. And before you say such information would be beyond people, the theory of the atom (devised by the Greek Atomists) had been in existence for 400 years before Jesus. The Greeks had also long before figured out the earth was a sphere, yet the Jews (and evidently Jesus) believed it was flat.

          This is just more flailing, Zande.

          Jesus had a ministry of about three years. He couldn’t correct every misconception, cure every disease, fix every bad thing in the world that mankind had been racking up since time immemorial. His concern was with Man’s relationship with God. The flatness, or not, of the earth was way, way secondary to that.

          Whether or not Jesus knew that the earth is not flat, if He had said it was not, that would have opened up an entirely new, distracting, thought process. He was not here to correct those misconceptions, but rather those that people like you hold. 🙂

          The story of Jesus’ ministry is one of intense focus on His mission: to save all of Mankind. He managed to put in place the possibility of the success of that mission in a mere three years. And it wasn’t by busying Himself correcting “ludicrous cosmogonies.”

          Not too bad.


          — x

        38. If you’re comfortable with that excuse for the total absence of him saying a single revolutionary thing, then so be it. Good for you.

  2. I don’t see a usable argument that “Christian” ethics are inferior. Perhaps the first step is to specify what is meant by “Christian ethics” and next specify what methodology is used to determine the superiority of a set of ethics.

    1. Christianity permits everything. That is the definition of a bad system. But it also purports to be a system, meaning it is blocking other potential systems.

      1. Permits everything? Not so much. It does not permit anything which is antithetical to God, which is of course kind of hard to quantify. And it does not permit anything which is unnecessarily harmful to others.

        1. But it all comes with a loophole. That’s what I talk about when I compare the upstanding irreligious person and the heinous religious person — only one of them goes to Heaven.

        2. There are allegedly “rules” on how to get into Heaven. From our point of view, they suck, but we are not the landlord and our opinion does not count. The Christian ethics provide a guide on how to behave and when we screw up, a way to make it right. With the only entity which matters with respect to Heaven. It is up to us what punishment is appropriate for transgressions against each other.

        3. oldschoolcontemporary and Silence of Mind are both talking about this as if you have to have to surrender your autonomy to God; to develop a relationship with God in such a way that makes you want to repent what you have done, not because that’s the way into God’s good graces, but because what you have done is wrong. Now, I’m discussing with them what it is I disagree with there. But, you offering intellectual assent to the existence of God is actually insufficient. My unbelief is no different (according to them) from your seemingly nonchalant intellectual assent.

        4. @Allallt: There is, of course, no such thing as a “loophole.” Something is either in accordance with the law, or it is not. If something is in accordance with the law, then it’s not a “loophole.” Simple as that.

          Here, Allallt. I’ll try to make this easier for you to understand by a story:

          A young boy approaches his father and says, “Dad, what would you do if I went over to the rich neighbor’s apple orchard and took a basket of apples for us?”

          The Christian father responds, “I would make you bring them back to our neighbor, do some more chores for him by way of punishment, then confine you to your room after school for a week. Then I’d spend as much time as necessary discussing with you why you should not steal.

          The Muslim father says, “I would kill you.(An aside: Really the Muslim father would cut off the kid’s hands. Let’s say that it’s the daughter who approaches the father and says, “What would you do if I told you that neighbor boy raped me?” Then, of course, the father would say, “I’d kill you.”)

          The Atheist father says, “Oh, I don’t know. I have nothing to say on the subject. You decide for yourself whether you should do that or not. I personally don’t approve of the plan, but who am I to say what’s right or wrong for you? I’m no one, that’s who. You have to figure all this out for yourself, using your best judgment and instincts, and all that I’ve told and shown you. Good luck with our decision. Don’t muck it up.

          – * – – * – – * –

          The first scenario — the one with the Christian father — introduces the idea that the youthful wrongdoer can be redeemed. That he might be reformed and turned from his bad path onto a good path. That his soul and his eternal happiness might be assured.

          The second scenario — the one with the Muslim father — admits of no possibility of redemption, and the father kills the kid. But, as Allallt pointed out, it’s consistent! Islam is full of just killing consistently people … like rape victims. And anyone who doesn’t necessarily believe in Islam. And those who leave Islam. And those who are inconvenient in any way. And those who look cross-eyed at the local imam or thug (but I repeat myself). Or whatever. Remember: the Muslim assumes that when he kills someone, he’s dispatching him to eternal torment. (a commenter i this thread, I believe, took exception with the idea of eternal torment. Allallt, though, finds it “ethically superior.” After all, it’s consistent,)

          Islam is all about dispatching others to eternal torment. Christianity is all about reclaiming everyone’s (no exceptions — not even the murderer, or the mass murderer) eternal happiness. In Islam — no choice. Off you go to the lava lake! In Christianity: All sorts of choice. If you blow it, it’s only because you yourself chose to blow it.

          The third scenario — the one with the atheist father — allows anything to happen whatsoever. Allallt makes the point that Atheism allows people to improve their nature. Sure, but that’s only if they choose to improve.

          Atheism likewise allows anyone to degenerate. Human nature being what it is, most will choose the easier path of the degenerate, something for which the Twentieth Century surely provided ample evidence. While the small minority of atheists are choosing to be better, the degenerates will be busy killing them off. It won’t take much effort, because the good ones will be a small minority. Heck, even if they’re a big majority, the degenerates will be violent psychopaths, and the good ones will be, well, good. Might will make right in Allallt’s atheistic utopia. But, that’s okay, because — despite Allallt’s sophistry — it is atheism, and its silence on morality that permits all things. And why? Simple: the atheist is perfectly consistent with his viewpoint if he says, “Who the hell are you to tell me what’s right or wrong?!?” And, since as Allallt says, atheism is silent in the realm of right and wrong, the atheist with the gun about to end your life, and maybe that of your family, is acting perfectly morally and perfectly ethically. After all, with no God above, then all belief systems are subjective, and the answer to the atheist thug’s question — “Who are you?” is: “We’re no one. No one at all.”

          You don’t have to take my word for it. Atheism and Islam are both on the rise in the world, and the world is plainly, a cruder, coarser, more violent, more brutal brutal place. And going downhill fast.

          The atheist Allallt has already admitted that he’s all about killing Granny as soon as she asks him to. Go ahead, try to take that back once you’ve done it.

          In increasingly atheistic Europe and America, we slaughter babies wholesale. Now, though, in Europe we’re slaughtering children. They’ve lowered the “age of consent” for euthanasia to 12-years old. Every angst-ridden pre-teen is completely competent to decide whether she should just die, right? Some in Europe are lobbying for the “right” of a kid younger than 12 to ask that someone kill him. No problem! I mean after a few years, he can just change his mind, can’t he? Oops. Nope. Needless to say, Christians oppose this FREAKIN’ WHACK-A-DOODLE LUNACY. But, for Allallt and Zande, slaughtering children is “ethically superior.” As long as it’s consistent, and there are no “loopholes!”

          Why, just out of curiosity, are atheists so all-fired in love with death, death, death and more death?!? Oh, don’t believe me? Here’s the info: (Yes, it’s National Review, but it’s mere matter-of-fact reporting. And, besides: Oh, look! A source! That’ll be the last one, at least for the moment.)

          Hey, Hitler was “consistent!” He never wavered from his long-stated belief that anyone not of the Aryan race was inferior, and was unfit to survive, as, he assured us, evolution moved humanity ever onward to greater improvements in the species. According to Allallt’s logic, the militant atheist — and consistent! — Hitler, and therefore Nazism, were superior — ethically and morally — to Christianity.

          In this post, and in the subsequent comments, we find Allallt, and Zande standing up in stalwart support of all that is “ethically superior” in a belief system that allows — encourages! — the crucifixion of little children, the stoning of rape victims, burning people alive, sawing the heads off men, women and children, burying men, women and children alive.

          Allallt and Zande are stalwartly defending the “consistency” of those “ethically superior” Nazis, Islamists, Stalinists, Maoists, Ho-ists, Kim-ists, Castroists, and their wonderful … consistency. They oppressed you and they killed you — in the tens of millions! — but they were … yep: consistent. Oh, and they had no “loopholes.” No wiggle room from, those great and consistent — and ethically superior! — mass murderers, torturers, maimers, maulers and dismemberers. They killed you fair and square! And if they got the wrong person … oh, well. What’re ya gonna do? Can’t really take it back now can ya? Get over it.

          This was fun, guys — watching you find common cause with some of the vilest scum ever to walk the Earth, and then watching you pretend that it puts you whack-a-doodle sophists on the side of the “ethically superior.”


          — x

        5. First of all, Christianity invented Hell. The Jews already had a Heaven, so the Jews can claim Judaism is all about saving people (the idea that it’s merely a textual analysis of fictional work stands, though). But Christianity invented the eternal torture, so it becomes an awful lot harder to defend the claim Christianity is about saving people. (I know you can assert it, but what’s that worth really?) And, how much opportunity for redemption is there for a person once they are in Hell? And so, what’s the point?
          As for your 3 scenarios, firstly I find it laughable that you make the atheist a relativist. American laws are entirely secular, in principle. UK law is entirely secular, in practice. Neither of which are relativist (and both are surprisingly common).
          But, also, lets look properly at scenario 1: why does the child go through all that punishment? That’s not at all consistent with what Jesus teaches. The child would simply have to be apologetic. Maybe that means returning the apples, but maybe the child becomes apologetic too late and has already eaten them all — but all the punishment you describe is not something consistent with the teaching of Jesus. But it is consistent with most Western secular legal systems.
          The child of the Christian could steal the apples, get caught, kill the neighbour, and then just be really sorry and the father wouldn’t, if being consistent with the teachings of Jesus, punish the child at all. The child can do anything so long as they have a change of heart after the fact.

          As for the Muslim system: yes, I’d prefer ‘your Christian’ system. But, we’ve talked about how ‘your Christianity’ isn’t the point here. If you want to describe justice in a way that is defined with the support of hundred of years of insight and progress, and call that Christianity, my issue is that your complete mislabelling of justice is providing cover for the people who actually engage with the barbarism of Christianity.

        6. You really have no concept whatsoever of what Christianity is, Allallt. Why would you presume to argue about it?

          Obviously, Christianity didn’t “invent Hell.” If Hell exists, then it is part of Creation, and God created the structure for its existence if, perhaps, not Hell itself.

          As for your disliking of my three scenarios, I accurately portrayed each one.

          You quibble about the atheist scenario, but you yourself said that “Atheism makes no pronouncement on morality.”

          You yourself also admitted to my statement that all is permitted to the atheist, which you then contradicted with your — really silly — assertion that all is permitted to the Christian.

          And, this that you said, is incorrect as well:

          The child of the Christian could steal the apples, get caught, kill the neighbour, and then just be really sorry and the father wouldn’t, if being consistent with the teachings of Jesus, punish the child at all.

          The reason: the key is the phrase “be really sorry.” Yes, Christianity allows for the kid to “be really (truly) sorry,” and to beg God’s forgiveness, as well as that of his victim’s survivors, and reclaim his path to Heaven. It does not exempt the kid from earthly punishment, in whatever form that might happen. Jesus, indeed, suggests that men demonstrate mercy whenever the opportunity permits itself. But the kid doesn’t get off for murder. If he is actually sorry, then his punishment will occur in his conscience — something Muslims and atheists are exempt from having — for the rest of his life.

          And so on. I keep getting the feeling that I’m talking to a third-grader, Allallt.

          Your ignorance of Christianity is vast. Possibly the only thing more vast is your preening, cocksure vanity that you have any understanding of it at all.


          — x

        7. ‘Bout time someone on your side found something relevant!

          Too bad, though, it’s not the log-speck-eye thing.

          And Zande’s been obsessing over the perfectly irrelevant “original” thing for how long now?

          Keep trying, though, Allallt. After all, even a blind pig digs up the occasional truffle. (I wanna play the apothegms game too!)


          — x

      2. For a belief system that “permits anything,” there are sure a whole heckuva lot of “Thou shalt not’s” dotted about the landscape.

        You just mailed this in, Allallt. This wasn’t even a half-serious attempt.


        — x

        1. You sound like Donald Trump. You half-arse a point then throw in ad hominem instead of critique.

          We both know the Bible teaches that a murderer goes to Heaven if they accept Jesus Christ. “Thou shalt not…” unless one is real sorry about it later. That’s the loophole. And that’s why it’s inferior.

        2. Again, it is rather more than just “being sorry”. And again, these are the rules which God set up. Don’t like them? Tough. You are welcome to punish the murderer in this world; God is in charge of any punishment in His world.

        3. That’s not exactly true. We have Yhwh killing lots of people, even in the NT he murders Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, for lying.

        4. Actually, that’s not exactly right. You expect a good god to be a just god, correct? If it can be shown that this god is not just, then we have every right (and duty) to complain.

          The question then exists: Was Yhwh’s killing of Ananias and Sapphira consistent with the crime? Said in another way, was the killing fair justice from a god who is claimed to be the embodiment of justice and ultimate arbiter of truth? (See 2 Thessalonians 1:6, Jeremiah 17:10, Job 36:6, Acts 17:31, 1 John 1:9, Romans 3:23-26, Deuteronomy 32:4, Chronicles 19:7, Romans 9:14)

          For justice to be meaningful (for it to be good) it has to be consistent. If we cannot rely on this consistency then we do not have “justice,” rather some haphazard, arbitrary dispensing of punishment according to the erratic emotional states of the judge and executioner.

          If Yhwh was a consistent god, a dependable and just god, then we should expect him to repeat his behaviour. In matters of justice and punishment we should see no deviation in his actions, and so we would expect him to execute all people for the same “crime:” lying.

          So, have we seen a consistency in this god’s behaviour before, and since? No. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, lied to Yhwh, but did he execute her? No. Abraham lied to Pharaoh and to Abimelech, but did Yhwh execute him? No. Jacob lied to Isaac, but did Yhwh execute him? No. Laban lied to Jacob, but did Yhwh execute him? No. The Potifar’s wife lied, but did Yhwh execute her? No. Rahab lied to everyone in Jericho, but did Yhwh execute him? No. Saul lied to David, but did Yhwh execute him? No. Hitler lied to Chamberlain, but did Yhwh execute him? No. George W. Bush lied to the world, but did Yhwh execute him? No. If I lie tomorrow, should I expect to be executed by Yhwh? Can I depend on Yhwh to behave in the same manner as he did with Ananias and Sapphira and strike me down dead? I doubt it, and this is an inconsistency in Yhwh’s behaviour.

          It is erratic. It is untrustworthy. It is, therefore, not the stable and dependable execution of justice.

          Demonstrably, Yhwh is an inconsistent god, and if he is inconsistent then he is not a just god, and if he is not a just god then he is not a being worthy of admiration, let alone veneration.

          The corollary then follows:

          1. A good god is a just god
          2. For justice to be meaningful it has to be consistent.
          3. The killing of Ananias and Sapphira is not consistent with the crime
          4. Therefore, Yhwh is not a just god.
          5. Therefore, Yhwh is not good.

        5. From our point of view perhaps. Our point of view does not trump God’s point of view. He is postulated as being outside of time, and thus able to know the results of any action. He acts/allows us to act in ways which further His goals. We don’t have the capability of seeing the whole picture, so any analysis is inherently flawed.

        6. If so, then this particular god should never have even tried to be known, and most certainly should never have claimed to be a just god. See 2 Thessalonians 1:6, Jeremiah 17:10, Job 36:6, Acts 17:31, 1 John 1:9, Romans 3:23-26, Deuteronomy 32:4, Chronicles 19:7, Romans 9:14.

        7. Well, it’s the language used in the bible, not mine. It’s the claims made by this particular Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, not mine.

        8. Good question. We’ve ruled out consistency and justice as reasons to respect this god, so what’s to say it’s goals aren’t wicked?

        9. If you want God to treat you optimally, that would seem to be the wisest course. If you don’t care about God’s opinion of you, then you needn’t pay any attention to His preferences. Of course, then you give up rights to complain about His treatment of you…

        10. Sure, you can choose to put it that way, since His “tyranny” conflicts with your preferences. I presume you are against the tyranny of parents (you must eat your broccoli or else) and the tyranny of the IRS (you must pay your taxes or else) and the tyranny of stop signs and all the other tyrannies which seek to prevent you from doing whatever you want.

        11. Really? I don’t know how it was in your household but my parents didn’t accept a vote from me. And the IRS is not known for allowing voting about whether or how much tax to pay. And I don’t know any place where you can vote to not stop at a stop sign.

        12. You don’t think tax rates are affected by democracy? Do all the American President candidates have the same tax policy?
          I don’t remember my childhood too well, but my little brother and sister get a reasonable say in basic running. It’s not absolute, but they certainly get a say.
          There’s a vote today on police commissions in the UK, and that affects the placing of stop signs.

        13. Your examples, have democratic influence. But my examples do not.

          If the IRS rules determine that you owe $1111 in taxes , there is no capability on voting whether to pay it or on how much of it to pay. If (some) parents say “eat your brocolli”, the kid saying, “wait, let’s vote on that” does not result in a vote. And if a stop sign is already installed, you can’t vote to not stop at it.

  3. How do you judge that one ethical system is inferior or superior to the other?

    You mention that atheism is not an ethical system. I don’t say atheists are unethical, but atheist ethics is not derived from atheism. How does atheism fit into the row of compared ethical systems? Is this comparison valid?

    1. It’s more a response to how the discussion frequently goes. I don’t think atheism naturally fits into this discussion, but it is contrived into the conversation by people who wish to denigrate the people criticising their religion, instead of presenting a fair defence.

  4. Christian ethics is based on natural law theory which is guided by divine law.

    For example, Aristotle, the author of natural law theory could not bring himself to see that slavery was evil.

    Slavery was such an ingrained, ubiquitous, ancient and totally human institution that Aristotle believed it to be a part of human nature.

    But divine law as exemplified in the Bible holds that slavery is a great moral evil.

    It is no coincidence that the two greatest events in the Bible are God freeing the Hebrews from slavery to Pharaoh and Jesus freeing humanity from slavery to sin.

    Also of note is that slavery, so prevalent in the Roman Empire, almost completely disappeared in Christian Europe and was completely annihilated in the Christian United States of America via the Civil War.

    Abraham Lincoln understood the natural law theory written into the Declaration of Independence and used it as the universal standard of human ethics to argue that slavery was indeed evil.

    The actual facts of history and Christianity refute the arguments made in this post.

    For as usual, like all atheist arguments, the ones presented in this post are based on one, two or all three of the following:

    1. Logical fallacy
    2. Falsehood aka the atheist said it therefore it must be true.
    3. The atheist presents personal opinion as if it were the Gospel truth.

    1. Natural law is not at all based on divine law.
      The fact that Christians played a role in the abolition of slavery doesn’t reflect what the Bible actually says about slavery.

      1. I never claimed that natural was based on divine law.

        I stated the fact that natural law is guided by divine law.

        And what does the Bible actually say about slavery?

        You haven’t the foggiest idea, do you.

        1. You consider ‘take slaves from the foreign populations’ and ‘if you beat them, make sure they don’t die from their injuries in the next 3 days’ sufficient to be called ‘treated like human beings’?

        2. Abducting and selling non-Hebrews was not a problem (Deuteronomy 24:7), and slaves from surrounding countries could be kept as property forever (Leviticus 25:44-46). Indeed, the children of slaves were born into slavery (Exodus 21:4). And Deuteronomy 20:10-15 details how captives of war can be thrown into slavery, including all the women and children of the conquered.

          There’s more, but you get the point.

    2. Also of note is that slavery, so prevalent in the Roman Empire, almost completely disappeared in Christian Europe and was completely annihilated in the Christian United States of America via the Civil War.

      Serfdom existed in “Christian Europe” for a long time. It’s a form of slavery. The landlord owned the serfs — they were considered his property, he paid taxes on them, for instance, and could buy and sell the serfs. Serfdom was abolished in Russia in 1861 for reasons far from Christian ethics. It was a cornerstone of the economy in many European countries for a long time. I think slavery was abolished, in the first place, for economic reasons. Ethical reasons were secondary. I would neither credit Christianity for the abolition of slavery nor blame it for condoning it. Slavery, in my opinion, exists independently of religion. The Bible deals with it as much as it is a part of reality.

      Slavery has not been eradicated even today.

      1. Argudinsky,

        Serfdom is not and never was, slavery.

        And though slavery still exists it is considered a crime against humanity.

        Until 150 years ago slavery was an institutional mainstay of the human race.

        And Christianity is the reason that slavery is now a crime; not atheism, not Buddhism, not Hinduism, not Islam.

        1. That weird. I thought Christianity had been around for 2,000 years and that God has been talking directly to humanity for somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000.
          But, hey, in the last 150 year, slavery became illegal in the West. Must be Christianity.

          Imagine this: imagine I mapped the spread of Christianity and on the same image I mapped the abolition of slavery. Do you think they’d follow the same lines? Starting 2,000 years ago in the Middle East and slowly making it’s way West via Europe and then America? Is that the history you imagine is true?

        2. Allallt,

          Since when do you get to schedule God’s actions or human history.

          It simply isn’t just to condemn someone because they don’t act the way you think they should.

          Thinking that way is you taking it upon yourself to take the place of God.

          Are you now claiming that you are God?

        3. How is serfdom different from slavery? The landlord literally owned serfs. They were his property.

          And why do you credit Christianity for the abolition? What documents imply any significant role of the church in abolition? Was the Bible quoted to support it?

          It’s more of a question than a statement. If you have references to support your thesis, I’d be glad to educate myself.

        4. SoM doesn’t do supporting evidence. He normally demands you’re an ignorant fool who should do your own research.
          SoM also doesn’t like to explain seemingly arbitrary distinctions he draws in order to create cases out of special pleading. He often prefers to tell you the distinction is obvious and the fact you can’t see it is because you are part of some atheist conspiracy or lying.
          But, good luck, nonetheless.
          (See, what he’ll do now is attack this comment instead of addressing yours. Because, when you’re stuck, what’s better than a distraction?)

          (I’m not trying to obtusely end your conversation with SoM, I’m hoping this still stop SoM from making the same pre-rehearsed responses. I get that it’s risky and he may start attacking me instead of addressing your comments, but, from experience, he was never going to properly address your comments anyway.)

        5. @AGrue — who the hell is Jack the lad?!? What kind of source is that? Seriously? Jack The Lad?

  5. You leave out a few things. ;o) The entire Christian system of morality is to obey, to obey God. The sytem then has rewards and punishments, the ultimate ones being Heaven and Hell. Good luck making it to Heaven. the Bible tells us that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is appropriate, as is “Judgment is mine, sayeth the Lord” as is “turn the other cheek” and “Love thine enemies.” Apparently you can lose if you chose to revenge a wrong … or not … but these show you are not really getting any real advice there.

    It is also interesting that Christians didn’t invent Heaven; they inherited it from Jews. But they did invent Hell. The Old Testament has no Hell in in. Sheol yes, but eternal torment, no. I can grant any high moral standing to a system that includes Hell. Is there any justification for eternal torment?

    1. Steven,

      Christianity is all about the individual fulfilling his human nature.

      The ancient Greeks figured out that happiness results when a person fulfills his human nature.

      Christianity teaches human nature reaches its fulfillment in God.

      What’s not to like?

      1. You’ve taken Natural Law, and assert that Christianity defends the same idea. Well, if it does, it still came about after Natural Law Theory — so at best, it’s derivative.

        1. Allallt,

          The Christian culture of Western Civilization, based on natural law theory is unique and far superior to anything the ancient Greeks came up with.

          But I’m only stating the obvious.

          The ancients never got past slavery and the beast of burden as engines of their economies.

          Now, because of Christianity, slavery is a crime against humanity and the common man rides around in chariots that the royalty of yore could never even imagine.

          Yes, the foundation for modern science was laid down in Europe during the Christian Middle Ages.

        2. Allallt,

          You need to take a beginning course in the history of Western Civilization.

          It is impossible to argue against willful, brutal ignorance.

        3. Allallt,

          Western Civilization stands on the shoulders of Christianity.

          The Church stepped into the breach left by the collapsing Roman Empire and ushered in Christian Western Civilization.

          These are the simple facts of history that you are free to look up and learn for yourself.

  6. I have to admit, I get a wry chuckle from this.

    I’m imagining Allallt escaping from that nominally Christian hellhole, England, and dragging his silly atheist backside to a country like, say, Iran, and then seeing how his silly atheist backside fares in that place governed by the “superior code of ethics” that he believes Islam to embody.


    Enjoy either your conversion to Islam, or your stoning, Allallt!


    — x

    1. Someone is proudly ignorant of the conversation I’m actually trying to have. You already know I believe the relative safety of Western countries has precisely nothing to do with Christianity, but instead to do with secular and Enlightenment values eroding the actual content of Christianity from a culture.

      1. Allallt,

        Like the Universe itself and like life itself, the Enlightenment didn’t happen all by itself.

        The Enlightenment happened in Christian Europe.

        Still, the atheist can’t explain how everything just seems to happen all by itself.

        1. An Enlightenment of sorts happened in Muslim Iraq in the 7th century and lasted hundreds of years (before they were attacked by the Mongol and allied army in the 12th century). That has precisely nothing to do with Christianity. The intellectual centre of the world was Muslim.
          Then, the Christian part of Africa and the Middle East (the birth place of Christianity) haven’t had any thing resembling an Enlightenment. So, actually looking at the history of countries by religion shows no correlation to support your argument.

        2. Allallt,

          Tell that to the victims of 9/11 or the tens of thousands of innocent people who are slaughtered each month around the world by disciples of the Prophet.

          Further, Africa has not advanced because unlike Europe, its cultures did not have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants – the Greeks and Romans.

        3. What should I be telling the victims of 9/11? That looking back at the history of the values that encapsulate the the Enlightenment, the closest thing you get to a correlation with religion is the cultural rejection of religious authority?

          Okay, if it’s that important, I’ll make the call. Can you get John Edward for me? He’s the guy who talks to the dead, right?

          Of the Enlightenment-like events of human history, one was pre-Christian (Athenian golden age, with Socrates and Plato etc), one was political (the Renaissance), one was in an Islamic country (Islamic Golden Age) and the thing we call ‘the Enlightenment’ was, in part, a project in rejecting Christian authority.

          So, you may have done a beginners class Western History, where someone pointed out that ‘the Enlightenment’ happened in a Christian Europe. Now you need to do a more advanced history lesson.

  7. In the Christian tradition, Allallt, conversion would be accompanied by a renovation of the new believer, hence a regenerate sinner who (at least for time) would no longer experience desires and behave in ways contrary to God’s moral commands. That’s not to say people would slowly develop a distaste for shellfish or ceremonial washing (that’s to confuse the ceremonial with the moral), rather they’d love their neighbour as themselves, their neighbour being defined as even they who the listener perceives as an undesirable ethnic “other.” Certainly, as you’ve explained, someone can only be dubbed “regenerate” if indeed there are such things as objective moral values, sinful behaviours, duties, God, and the like, which is why atheism fails so badly on these issues. Insofar as your post goes, you being a “cornerstone of society” doesn’t really mean anything, right? To be the cornerstone of one society means being an undesirable in an other’s society, stoning homosexuals somewhere in the now gains one man an indefinite life sentence, whereas somewhere else you’re again “the cornerstone” of right moral conduct for doing the very same act. You I’d imagine would be open to admitting your own perceived moral failings, though it’s those same failings, even evils, which are part of you being made separate from God. Atheism, on the other hand, is only advancing further and further into relativism. Hence your and my need for Jesus as our personal Lord and rescue, in fact, the murderous, dishonest and abusive person (as you’ve described) wouldn’t merely give intellectual assent to the idea of God so to be redeemed, that’s unbiblical, rather they’d be convinced of their evils and be driven in shame and regret to ask God in Christ for their rescue. They’re in that better than any charity worker or do-gooder who find nothing about themselves they’d discern as morally imperfect, in fact, we’d already find that a moral imperfect in the person. It’s normally people behind plastic glass who’re raving “I’ve done nothing wrong!” or “My mother touched me!” They’re certainly justifying their dodgy dealings, though in no way owning it. Which is what’s so odd about your article, as you’re supposing people should “continue the conversation” after destroying the very fact of God who facilitates the conversation at all. It’s like asking me why I refuse to have a conversation in your mansion, at which point I insist you’re living in a cardboard box, for which you’re asking for the impossible, by then however you’re closing the flap and saying “Good day, sir!”

    It’s that need to “produce fruits worthy of repentance” that people who find Christianity unappealing would wrongly write is so distasteful, as it’s a combination of joy that Jesus loves you personally (you personally, Allallt), in harmony with you being His murderer, that’s not something people are open to experiencing, it’s painful, frightening and wonderful to actually believe those things. While enjoying much of your material, I’d have to chime in by writing there were a fair too many errors in the above to truly enjoy the above material. Especially if indeed you believe Mohammad to be better attested historically than Jesus, in fact, the Quran, being cobbled together by various sources (e.g The gospel of Thomas, Talmud etc) isn’t useful with regards to confirming anybody bar it’s compilers historically, who of course weren’t Mohammad. Hadith material is even worse, containing so much plagiarism and make believe that the most noted compiler of Sahih traditions (Bukhari) pointed out of the narrations they’d received, 98% had been fabricated, yet even the 2% they’d deemed authentic we’ve found to have been copied from the Bible/invented and so on. Not to forget the noteworthy manuscript burning sessions plainly accepted in Islamic traditions to their own hurt, thus hampering our study of the Muslim texts, and as a consequence Mohammad.

    1. Oh, to have my own cardboard box. I wonder what the ground rent would be like in Bristol…
      I was excited to see you’d left a comment; you’ve shown yourself to be a polite, well-thought-out and articulate commenter. Welcome over to the blog.
      I appreciate (and think I grasp) the Dr Who interpretation of conversation (and, presumably, confession and prayer), in that they are seen as regenerated in the eyes of God, which is why their sin doesn’t stick to them (assuming their knowledge of God leads to the ‘right’ relationship with God, which I shall come to). However, in many ways, that’s my point: there’s a moral loophole. The only actually unforgivable thing is to not believe, all else can be swept under the rug, so to speak.

      I don’t grasp, and am not sure it’s ever made explicit in the Bible, the distinction between ceremonial law, moral law and tribal law. It seems self-selecting. By that, I mean that if you were to consider the teachings of Buddhism (which pre-dates Christianity) or the reported experiences of LSD users, then you come back to this same ‘oneness’ and not wanting to do harm unto others. Silence of Mind (commenter, below) mentioned the same idea by referencing ‘Natural Law’ (also pre-dates Christianity). But, when an explicit imperative in the Bible does not conform to an interpretation of Natural Law or ‘Oneness’, then it is grouped as ‘ceremonial’. There’s nothing clear in the Bible for this distinction (so far as I can tell), but uses entirely extra-Biblical (and, I would argue, Humanist) ideas to do.

      I also take issue with the idea that a ‘true’ believer in Jesus would certainly be apologetic of their past. A person on LSD is likely to give a rather consistent account of how they feel at one and have a particular moral insight, and as someone who practices meditation I feel a certain familiarity in listening to those accounts, so there is some moral phenomenon in the universe, even if it is just a consistency in neural networks (although I think it is more than that — perhaps a conversation for another time). However, to think believing in Jesus takes a person to the same place, metaphorically speaking, is to transpose your own experiences onto other people. (Or, in some cases, to simply assert this rhetoric without having fully thought it through or having such a transformative experience.) I doubt either of us have to exhaust our imaginations to think of people who sincerely believe in Jesus and sincerely believe in stripping the rights of certain people away.

      There is a certain ‘pseudo-Buddhist’ theme running through how you and others talk of Christianity, in that one has merely to reach this enlightened epiphany before death in order to go to Heaven. The moral trail one leaves behind is redundant. But that epiphany doesn’t have to be belief in Jesus, and belief in Jesus does not necessarily result in the epiphany you allude to. This is part of the reason I don’t believe God owns the mansion we should be having moral discussion in (to torture a metaphor).

      (I don’t have too much interest in how you can offer such extensive scepticism to Islam on the grounds that chapters seem plagiarised and to have been doctored along the way…)

      1. Man, that’s as heart-warming an introduction as I’ve received anywhere. I’m happy to be involved in the discussion. By a brief side note, there’s an awful lot of comments I’ve yet to read above mine, and although I’d love to read every one, that’ll have to wait until the weekend. So, if ever my reply is touching upon something you’re already embroiled in, Allallt, you’ll understand. Nevertheless, let’s begin by going in reverse, starting by the topic you found least interesting, namely Islam. You explained: (I don’t have too much interest in how you can offer such extensive scepticism to Islam on the grounds that chapters seem plagiarised and to have been doctored along the way…)

        Instead of scepticism being aimed against Islam (although that’ll certainly result if my claims are accurate), my previous message intended to cast doubt upon your earlier claim, which read (to paraphrase) “Mohammad is better attested historically than Jesus Christ”, due to claims of that kind my message ended by me explaining you’d made the odd blunder in the original article. When people make the mistake of believing Mohammad to be better attested (or documented) historically than Christ, they’re ordinarily (perhaps not in everybody’s case) having a cursory glance upon wave after wave of Hadith material, material in which everything from Mohammad’s (please pardon the frankness) love stained clothes, to precisely how many stones they’d use to cleanse their privates appear to have been recorded. The reader usually misunderstands just in what context Muslim traditions have been formed, and the same being highly politically charged made coming to an accurate historical portrait near impossible. Plagiarism furthermore matters insofar that the traditions, though consisting of doings and words set by later generations upon the lips of Mohammad, offer no actual advancement in knowledge of the man himself. An example of the traditions which would lead to no advancement would read like so:

        Narrated AbudDarda’: I heard the Apostle of Allah say: If any of you is suffering from anything or his brother is suffering, he should say: Our Lord is Allah Who is in the heaven, holy is Thy name, Thy command reigns supreme in the heaven and the earth, as Thy mercy in the heaven, make Thy mercy in the earth; forgive us our sins, and our errors; Thou art the Lord of good men; send down mercy from Thy mercy, and remedy, and remedy from Thy remedy on this pain so that it is healed up. (“Sunan Abu Dawud”, Book 28, Number 3883)

        Sounds familiar, as people can find for reading the New Testament, written over 600 years prior:

        “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13


        Narrated Abu Umamah: Allah’s Messenger said, “Blessed is he who has seen me, but seven times blessed is he who has not seen me but has believed in me.”

        Which clearly plagiarized:

        “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” John 20:29

        Brain Adam’s “(Everything I do) I do it for you” doesn’t make Robin Hood better historically attested than you or I because The Price of Thieves soundtrack sold millions upon millions and spent forever as a UK’s no. 1 hit, similarly, unreliable volumes of Muslim writing, so much so as to make people wonder why others would record such banal and disturbing details of an individual’s life, only go to show how far politics and wanting “an Arab prophet” can drive communities into doing the strangest things, no better (though possibly worse) than Mormons, who made America and Americans the center of their preaching, and rasta men who made Africa “the promised land”, even imagining an ingathering where every black man would return home. The Quran is guilty of being painfully vague, avoiding the quotations of previous prophet (yet pretending to stand on their authority) and names whenever possible, whereas the traditions, at least insofar a Mohammad is concerned, are absurdly detailed in their portrait of the colour of their thigh, his beard, absolutely everything no matter how trivial, which in every culture is a tell-tale sign of invention. Not to forget early Muslim fears (or perhaps justified paranoia) over people abandoning or splintering within the camp, hence the murder of apostates, all of which of course led to the unfortunate case of manuscript burning.

        Once again, and methinks you too are likely to agree when phrased properly, you’re making two mistaken claims when you write firstly: “Based on the evidence, Christianity and Islam are about equally likely to be right (with a slight advantage to Islam, as Mohammed is better documented than Jesus).” In addition to an even more unlikely claim: “But, as all religions have about equal evidence in their favour, it’s more likely that neither Christianity or Islam are the right religion (even if a religion is true.” By way of point number 1, you’re leading me to believe, given an outright choice, you’d embrace a turban before the Cross (say it isn’t so!) 😛 Secondly, considering there’s a wealth of religions which postulate an eternal universe, surely they’re far less likely on balance to be right than the three famous monotheistic religions. Due to which I’d added the odd criticism.

        The “moral loophole”, insofar as I’m understanding you, would explicitly be God’s salvation involving His grace, that and not the believing person’s deeds. Just thinking on your post, “loophole” implies your criticism, as people would often say “there’s a loophole in the tax law” etc, by which they’d mean someone, most likely an individual with suitable intellect/resources, has found some way to breach the spirit of the law by the letter of the law, hence the definition reading “an ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules.” It’s in that that you’re first making me wonder, as an inadequacy, flaw or failing, thus far, would only be something which violates either God’s mercy or justice, anything which wouldn’t undermine either couldn’t be described as involving inadequate loopholes. Rather their perfect law, a form of rescue based upon Christ’s goodness, would only appear inadequate to the creaturely will that imagined him or herself as a sufficient source of righteousness, which they’re not. In fact, an abandonment of their duty to produce saving righteousness upon their own behave would be how an unsaved person would perceive such a law as this, due to which they’d be unsettled by an uncomfortable “Moral loophole.” Though, it’s by imperfect (even immoral) spectacles through which people might read an inadequacy into so perfect a covenant. I’d imagine the above being most painful in the life of an upwardly mobile, positive, otherwise wonderful appearing man, the kind who’s the first to drop that dime in a jobless person’s cup, or to give from their wealth, they’re as people would understand him “good”, the corner stone, yet he’s an unrepentant, unregenerate man nonetheless, as was everybody one time or another. The ability to be redeemed is something Christians supposed because there’s the reality of behaviour contrary to the divine standard (AKA God’s nature), whereas atheism cannot even begin to picture people redeemed of their evils, as that’ll take supposing evil. To summarize, the loophole is only a loophole to you and I until we’re prepared to give that man a penny without imagining we’ve won some great moral victory, or reject a 5p plastic bag at the supermarket without adding the self-congratulatory “Saving the planet and all that stuff!” Rather you’re doing those deeds or abstaining from that harmful (albeit convenient) behaviour because you’ve already been rescued, it’s pure gratitude which moves people to behave in the way God commands. God, insofar as an unregenerate person is concerned, has robbed them of their righteousness, their good works by which they’re firmly justified.

        Which neatly leads into your point regarding sin: “The only actually unforgivable thing is to not believe, all else can be swept under the rug, so to speak.” Rather, to briefly contradict you, you’d only be right if by believing you meant both “believe that” and “believe in”, as believing in is impossible without first believing that, and believing that isn’t suitable for salvation. Belief that God exists, which would be just another item on the dashboard of a person’s mind, is not suitable for rescue, as the Bible explicitly states: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” As explained by more thoughtful writers than myself, “they shudder” implies the divide separating regenerate from rebellious would be something in their affections, one side resists or is repulsed by God’s perfect mercy, even Their justice and essential virtues. They find believers as contemptible hucksters, God as dictatorial and Christ’s sacrifice being self-centered, even utterly undesirable (as they either implicitly or explicitly would have themselves in the center). They could believe that God exists, but believe in Him?! Never. The only sin therefore is not to trust, although “believing that” is a prerequisite to “believing in”, the kind of belief God truly can save by. Only by so awesome a covenant as outlined in the New Testament manuscripts, and events so special as those which transpired at the cross, could God’s justice and mercy find harmony, surely then the inadequacy, or deficiency, would exist only in every God concept which couldn’t reconcile perfect love and flawless justice, as Christianity has.

        You’ve shared more too: “I don’t grasp, and am not sure it’s ever made explicit in the Bible, the distinction between ceremonial law, moral law and tribal law.” In answer to the above, I’m thinking of three different books of Scripture which work towards affirming a diversity in moral commandments and dietary regulations, regulations which were commanded only to ensure Israel remained distinctly their own people, rather than being drawn into and absorbed by the neighbouring polytheistic nations. Material from the book of Acts next, although Mark 7:15 and the letters of Paul would also go to strengthen my understanding: ‘About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”’

        A nifty commentary on the passage explains like so: ‘In the strongest possible terms and appealing to Ezekiel 4:14, Peter faces what he may view as a temptation or test of loyalty. He refuses, announcing his firm resolve to live in ritual purity (compare Mt 16:22; Lk 22:33): “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Lev 10:10; 11:1-47; Deut 14:3-21). That is, I have never eaten anything that is accessible to every human being (NIV “impure,” literally “common”) but by divine mandate is forbidden to me as part of God’s holy people. Such food is “unclean,” not only because God declares it to be such but also because if I eat it I will become ritually defiled, unfit to come into God’s presence in worship.’

        So, finally retracing the footsteps of our exchange, I’m yet of the mind that the regenerate believer wouldn’t develop a hatred of either clean or unclear sorts of forbidden foodstuffs, rather they’d be conformed into the visible image of that invisible “Oneness” which people interpret as being many things, though isn’t any sort of a thing, but the presence of God and/or His moral law knocking upon hearts. To continue, you’re presupposing Christianity is false when you write Buddhism predates the Christian teachings/movement/religion, since if Christianity was in fact true, even an ongoing event in the history of Judaism, then it would be who people today name “Orthodox Jews” who would be pre-dated by Buddhism (particularly enough), whereas Christianity, which remained thoroughly Jewish for many hundreds of years after Messiah’s advent (even now by the Messianic Jews), would simply be an evolution in the very same school of thought/religion. You wouldn’t say the new details accumulated between the books of Exodus and Isaiah required you naming the two very different and very new religions, meaning anything other than Judaism which emerged in between Exodus and Isaiah you wouldn’t write pre-dated Judaism merely because they’d pre-dated the writing of Isaiah. Similarly, it’s the intrinsic dignity which humanity loses if having not been made and having had communed God’s essential virtues which would reduce humanism to the justificationless position of speciesism. God, the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition, in a shocking twist becomes the absolute affirmation of these wonderful ideas you already values, how extraordinary!

        When you explain “The moral trail one leaves behind is redundant.” you’re neglecting the behaviour of the believing person would involve keeping God’s commandments, commandments formed as a consequence of Their character. By the new believer laying down their arms they’re doing both the most moral (and most difficult) of actions for who we’d call a commonly good person to do, even letting slip their weapons of charity, love and goodness, as they’ve realised they were never truly theirs to begin with.

        1. As I’m aware I’ve addressed other comments since you’ve left this one and I think I’m unlikely to address your comment today, I’m just leaving a quick comment to say I haven’t forgotten about you and will make efforts to get back to this as soon as possible. (Sometimes it helps to let an idea sink in over a hearty meal or a sleep.)

        2. Upon further reflection, it’s occurring to me how your original article should be understood as (rather than against Christianity) against the lesser defended position of easy believism. Easy believism, as the derogatory sort of usage often implies, is understood as being justified in Christ solely on account of the “believer” providing their ordinarily blasé intellectual assent to various propositions. I’m also aware of there being a wealth interpretations of the Scripture, having done an unpleasant study of “queer theology ” recently. Although it’s precisely that same study which confirms the easiest person to fool is ourselves, and homosexuals interpreting the Bible in light of their desires, rather than interpreting their desires in light of the Bible, only enforces my view on the sheer bankruptcy of many an interpretation of Scripture. Ditto easy believism. Easy-believists can ordinarily be found in line waiting to get an abortion, writhing at the front of a Pride parade or at a nearby Bible burning session, wherever good times are had!

        3. I agree that people who think there is a pro-gay way of interpreting the bible are guilty of considerable wishful thinking, rhetoric and careful selection. But I also think the bible is completely wrong on the issue. Still busy and will get to a considered approach of your longer comment (and this one) soon.

        4. Considering Monday has already rolled around, I’ve been expecting a delay on your reply, no worries. On the subject of same-sex attraction, we’re all hip, happening 21st century something or others, for which assuming anybody on the yea side would move could be extremely wishful thinking on a person’s part. However, I’m so thoroughly involved in the subject at present, there’s a real belief I could reach someone. I’m confident there’s a great, non-Biblical case to be made against the behavior, and an excellent Biblical case against the “identity” so often attached. I’d like some real healing to begin in the lives of the same sex attracted.

        5. Okay, so, in brief form:
          (1) You seem very willing to accept the idea that the ‘spirit’ of God’s law in basically unknowable.
          (“Rather their perfect law, a form of rescue based upon Christ’s goodness, would only appear inadequate to the creaturely will that imagined him or herself as a sufficient source of righteousness, which they’re not.”)

          (2) I commented to Madblog suggesting that if we assume the ‘spirit’ of God’s law is to promote the most ethical behaviour as it possible from humanity, we can then evaluate whether the ‘letter’ of God’s law contains loopholes. I think it does for the following reasons:
          (a) Death bed conversions and absolution does not require a single ethical act in the entirety of the individuals life, yet they gain the rewards to perfect moral behaviour.
          (b) Extraordinarily moral people, who are shining beacons of the behaviours Christians claim to aspire to, get the punishment of perfect immorality if they do not believe in the efficacy and virtue Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.

          (3) By way of analogy, I have no expectation that my reverence for the need of law or the authority we should afford to police will ever absolve me of a crime I commit.

          (4) I’m not sure you can defend the idea that it is through immoral spectacles that I judge the ‘letter’ of God’s law to have loopholes, neither, do I think, can you defend the idea that people whose goal it is to ‘safe the planet’ are doing so in a self-congratulatory way (without also indicting Christians and all of human nature of the same thing; careful with definitions where you respond).
          (a) I know you can counter-argue that human nature is sinful and prideful because of the fall, but on that note you’d have other Christians to argue with. EquippedCat, for example, claims to have chosen Christianity because it conforms to human nature, not corrects for it. Silence of Mind makes a similar argument on my newer post.
          (b) All it takes is your interpretation of just one non-Christian, humble person who sacrifices his own wealth for others. Does that person go to Heaven, or not?
          (i) If you doubt the existence, or even possibility, of such a person, you are shutting yourself out from the very conversation I am trying to have. I’m not saying you hold to that position, but if you do, question whether you are entering the conversation honestly.

          (5) To clarify a point, I am not saying that Buddhism and Christianity have the same essential message, and Buddhism came first. I am saying you describe Christianity in such a way that resonates strongly with Buddhism (and LSD use). If, in fact, the essence of your presentation of Christianity is the ‘true’ one, I have all sorts of other questions about why God needed to come to earth and sacrifice himself (involuntarily, for crimes against the state…) to reaffirm a message already written and understood.
          (a) I don’t know how old you think humanity is, but even if we think it’s 10,000 years old, this covenant has only existed for 2,000. That leaves 8,000 years where either there was no salvation or something akin to the Buddhist teaching of an understanding of oneness was the path to salvation.
          (b) That raises the question of why God needed to come down, take care of one group of people especially, set up a load of short term laws just to over throw them, and then sacrifice himself for no obviously greater reason than to offer a symbol or homage to the ‘oneness’ teaching you seem to attest to and that humanity already had.
          (c) Mentioning LSD use wasn’t a flippant comment. If you take the position that human nature is fundamentally fallen and sinful, it does raise the question of why the sorts of epiphanies you are alluding to are discoverable through LSD use.

          (6) I’ve written on the issue of humanism and speciesism. It was a long time ago and not excellent, but it does address the accusation. The premise I offer (although I can’t find the post now) is that humanism is not about the favouring of the human species, but acknowledgement that human intelligence can allow us to uncover morality — which increasingly is including animals rights.

          (7) Although I think the Bible is explicitly anti-gay and no one who disagrees has given me a compelling Biblical reason why, yet, I arguments I hear in support of being gay are compelling. I believe they are not hurting others, that homosexuality is not ‘curable’ and not an affliction, and gay people have every right to love who they want and act, consensually, in accordance with that. So, for the removal of any doubt, I am pro-gay. I just think people who think the Bible supports such a position are mistaken.

        6. The bullet point approach ignores far too many nuances for me to discern anything overly bothersome to my position, due to which I’m going to resist replying in kind, instead choosing to pick out an assortment of what I found to be interesting claims. Though for the back and forth I won’t neglect any hopefully.

          Considering you’re pleased to ignore how we’re to affirm some standard of goodness beyond the natural, you’re happy to presuppose actually unjust behaviors without the outside referent. With which Christians, Muslims, Humanists and the like are asked to produce some sort of means whereby the ne’er-do-well can achieve their desired absolution. Believers in these various competing explanations due to supposing evil are then being asked by what mechanism or ritual are persons to make right their various bad behaviours. Now, you’re thus far of the mind that the Christian answer is in some wise unworthy of God, man or thinking people, as if to say it’s not actually fit for purpose. Whereas I’m writing to explain no other system actually offers you the necessary composite parts (for lack of a better description) to bring about a redemptive happening in anybody. Your favourite, the persons behind the enlightenment, have deconstructed (perhaps dismantled) the logically sound beliefs of their forefathers, with which they are technically unjustified in everything they do, from making laws to teaching children “good” behaviours, they’ve evicted God from their hearts, though not the head. Everything is lost in relativism and arbitrarily done therefore. Modernity simply isn’t allowing it’s head to admit to the consequences of the things now believed, as to follow modern beliefs to their logical conclusion would unmake humanity.

          By “unknowable” you may mean to write incomprehensible, incomprehensible insofar as the human/angelic mind is concerned, as if to say “The ocean is unknowable”, meaning you’re incapable of perceiving the totality of the ocean from a vantage point upon the shoreline, rather you and I perceive the ocean, with which I’m justified in supposing the entire substance of the thing humanity commonly describe as “the ocean”, whereas you’re distrustful as to whether what you and I are experiencing in different measures isn’t just an awfully big pond or a mirror reflecting a clear blue sky. You’re being prompted by God to perceive and recognize, doing so by religious experience, moral intuition and even rational inquiry. Others writing below you and I have brought you by bite sized messages to bedrock differences, for which I’m grateful, as the stumbling blocks you’re seeing as an impediment to faith don’t appear particularly powerful. Which is to me a relief.

          You describe to concede to God’s position as above of our own as “pandering”, even “pandering to the character that can send us to Hell if It wishes.” by which pandering means to indulge an immoral taste. Is God guilty of having distasteful of immoral fancies? Surely not. So, in what way is conceding to the authority of an omnibenevolent person pandering when it’s Their intentions for humanity (intentions people are hard wired to discern as being “good”) which are the cause of Their demands that humanity worship Him? This insofar as I’m reading is bedrock.

          The Scriptures explain how man’s chief end is to glorify God, not for the sake or benefit of the angels or God or God’s divine economy, rather, in accordance with the Scriptures God “destined humanity in love” so to convey upon the elect every joy associated with fellowshipping with Him in eternity. In plain speak, God created humanity so to have their lives enriched by Him. Imagine how wonderful they must be in order to desire that for you, john zande and xPraetorius (yes, Allallt! Even xPrae), yet as I’ve already explained, and as you’re happy to agree given Christian and Jewish truth claims,Their creation has from even within the angelic ranks been afflicted by the curse of freedom of the will. God, of course, wouldn’t have Their handiwork any other way, for which my description of curses isn’t fair, rather Their character, a character which humanity is pre-programmed to discern as “the good”, in the same way we’re hard-wired in other ways, demands a kind of creation of the like we are involved in. You’re free, with which you’re accountable, whereas atheism/humanism, which today are ordinarily accompanied by determinism, denies humanity that same freedom, with which their requirement to postulate mortality evaporates. You’re indeed correct when you describe how atheism doesn’t suppose to answer moral questions, rather atheism undermines the very question itself, destroying the need for an explanation altogether. According to Christian teaching we’re at liberty to fail, or even succeed, to obey or disobey God, in whose hand is surely the only authority deserving of our submission. However, because They’re as we discern “good”, and have made man free according to Their good pleasure, free creatures are capable of having their affections go astray. Take your own affections as the briefest of examples:

          1. “There must be a judgemental God who somehow dictatorially defines good and bad.”

          2. “Well, if that’s the kind of twisted tyranny being asserted, I’m glad there’s no good argument in defence of it…”

          3. “So, at bottom, it is about conforming to the subjective whims of a tyrant.”

          The tyranny of Heaven, though nothing more absurd or self-refuting could be conceived if God and Heaven are actual, is how the unredeemed would perceive God’s otherwise clear authority in their haze of autonomy and violent rebellion, they’re (to the Father’s hurt) wanting to be the impossible, that being to stop the unstoppable, or unseat who could never be overthrown, they are in truth destroying themselves by contending. Now, by my left-hand side, I’ve got a copy of Christopher Hitchens’ “God is not great” book, they too share your use of language, adding “dictatorial”, “tyranny”, and the like whenever the moral indignation at being told by a divine tyrant to stop destroying himself arose. The firebrand journalist explained in print: “Religion is a totalitarian belief. It is the wish to be a slave. It is the desire that there be an unalterable, unchallengeable, tyrannical authority who can convict you of thought crime while you are asleep, who can subject you to total surveillance around the clock every waking and sleeping minute of your life, before you’re born and, even worse and where the real fun begins, after you’re dead. A celestial North Korea.”

          Considering the reality of God, Christopher’s affections, affections which valued fags, booze and women more so than God, were truly misplaced, and I’ve arrived upon that conclusion for what follows directly after “Who wants this to be true?” Christopher rhetorically asked, insisting further “Who but a slave desires such a ghastly fate?” Who indeed would. The above isn’t me standing in judgement over either yourself of Christopher, rather I too value or have valued the bad, and I’m not referring to cookies and the odd bit of littering. By mine, your and Christopher’s minds, we would of course imagine “loopholes” where there were in fact none, assuming God had made some terrible error in not laying salvation in our capable hands. Yet, to compare God’s Kingdom to North Korea only shows one thing, that being that the person doing the comparing imagines God’s authority to be somehow illegitimate, undeserving of having authority over their pure autonomy, their uninterrupted choice to do and say and be whatever is it they’re desiring to do so say or be, they’re not playing second fiddle to God’s plan for their lives, nor can He make them. They are their own rescue from the jaws of sin, and if not, they’d sooner have none than bend knee to who they perceive as a tyrant, even a tyrant bloodied, beaten and clothed in thorns on their behalf. “The tyrant” is of course no tyrant, they’re Jesus, and it’s Jesus who loved them all along. How miserable their rebellion is suddenly appearing.

          This is in answer to your deathbed conversion complaint, because at bottom that’s your prime complaint, you’re inclined to highlight an atheist’s good behavior, behavior which is in a superficial fashion in concert with the authority’ character (as they do indeed do good), after which you’ll suppose the believers superficial bad, insisting the atheist once gave to charity, yet the believer, as a contrast, utterly failed insofar as good deeds were concerned. You’re imaging the unbeliever in as good a fashion as you’re able, and the believer in as bad a light as possible, yet neither imagining is reflective of reality. It is in fact fantasy. Rather “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Meaning no side is without sin, for which an answer to both parties wrongdoing is in order. G. K Chesterton, the Catholic believer, once wrote something to the effect of “He’s a pagan, and like most pagans they’re a good fella.” It’s not them being a good guy which is my concern however, that’s irrelevant, so your point with regards to the humble, charitable and generally pleasant unbeliever would be again one of those things which doesn’t discomfort the studied believer, as it’s not their or the unbeliever’s goodness which is barring their relationship with God, it’s their short temper, quick fists and secret adulteries, my question to you is is the unbeliever ashamed, and if so, who is their remorse directed towards? Do they regret sleeping with their neighbor’s wife when it was the husband himself who facilitated their meeting, and the wife who clearly enjoyed herself. They were consenting adulterers, so, who did the unbeliever upon his deathbed wrong, and to whom does he apologize to? Nobody. They’re satisfied. Yet, again consider the Catholic teachings, which are not far from untrue, in their church marriage is a sacrament, the consenting adulterers have harmed their relationship with God, dishonoured the vows they made before Him, and ultimately committed not merely crimes against man, but God. God then demands satisfaction, for you harmed His beloved creation, you harmed yourself, and have lived as an affront to His perfect justice.

          Insofar as I’m reading, you imagine some tension in the law and grace, perhaps because you’re failing to separate the Old covenant from the covenant of Grace. I’m also of the opinion that Madblog shared, that being that you should be more immersed in the study of the Atonement. The book of Romans explains:

          “What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

          Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

          We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

          So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

          So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

          OSC: The law is a mirror, one which makes a person’s inadequacies known, for which both believers and unbelievers are at liberty to either obey or disobey the clear commands, the same law however, for being a product of God’s perfect character, cannot be fulfilled in man, but by Christ’s atoning sacrifice, the law on your behalf is satisfied. You insist however, even without God, writing an extremely interesting claim with regards to humanism: “human intelligence can allow us to uncover morality”, and of course both believers and atheists (perhaps even yourself) are likely to find the concept a tad difficult to swallow. Modern man is saying by our intellect people can undress the universe, exposing “just is” morality which exists independently of anything else, a sort of self-existent realm of ideas (Platonic even). You’re an atheist, for which the newly discovered moral dimension couldn’t be grounded in someone, meaning they’re abstractions. Yet the notion itself is unintelligible, in fact, to say “the moral value of justice just exists” is akin to asking what red tastes like or what sounds are shaped as. Moral values are properties of persons, not abstractions. In addition, as explained by many philosophers, if indeed I were to agree and postulate bizarre abstractions of goodness, mercy and forbearance, they’d yet lay no obligations upon our shoulders, in fact, to imagine an abstract or “just is” love/mercy would mean admitting to the just so reality of selfishness or other nasty sorts of unavoidable abstractions, and neither would demand our conformity more so than any other.

          In closing, as I’ve got so much more to share and am concerned of lecturing you, I’d briefly like to quote you: “So, for the removal of any doubt, I am pro-gay.” Unlike in the case of much of your bullet point list, you’ve provided many nuances with regards to your views on the same sex attracted person. So, you deny the people who do claim to have change their same sex attraction? You deny the existence of an ex-gay?

        7. There’s a lot there.
          You argued that the failure of other system to provide a moral system leaves Christianity as the reliable one. (“Whereas I’m writing to explain no other system actually offers you the necessary composite parts (for lack of a better description) to bring about a redemptive happening in anybody.”)
          Indeed you accused the Enlightenment thinkers of relativism (“Everything is lost in relativism and arbitrarily done therefore.”)
          To these, I suspect we are to disagree about the definition of morality. It is not merely about ‘doing the right thing’. You have introduced the concept of redemption as part of the metric of morality, which I’m sceptical of. I would more likely use wellbeing and liberties.
          I should admit to using “the Enlightenment” in very broad terms, instead of just the phenomenon that started in the 17th Century. I use it to describe a culture of criticism, scrutiny and intellectual freedoms. It is in that culture that Athenian democracy (flaws and all) initially sparked, and ‘Natural Law’ was recorded. It almost always tend towards secularism (as shown by the Islamic Golden Age being weakened by religious fervour, before ultimately being ended by the Mongolian and allied army in the 13th century). And countries with strong roots in the 17th Century Enlightenment were the earliest adopters of gay marriage, full suffrage and democracy. These are the same cultures that extend (limited) rights to animals first. I would argue that what you call ‘relativism’ is actually the slow intellectual discovery of ‘Natural Law’. The epiphany available to those who meditate, use LSD or are devoutly Christian. Morality is ultimately discoverable, and it’s more readily discoverable in places that do not take unquestioning authority.
          Yes, it may be a bumpy road, trying to get people to come to epiphanies without force and fear. But, actually, the history of humanity is one where that can be done. In part, that’s why I lament the regressive politics recently taking over Turkey, and why I lamented the BNP’s success a few years ago; luckily they turned out to be but bumps.
          You also talk of the failure of secular morality to oblige a person to the moral standard. (“neither would demand our conformity more so than any other.”)
          To which I wonder what your point is. Some people believe the Earth is flat. Others believe the universe is less than 10,000 years old. Some people think homoeopathy can be show to be an effective medical treatment. Objective reality doesn’t compel people. So, why are you making the ability to compel people a necessary attribute in the understanding of morality? You seem to have taken the idea that an authoritarian idea, even if it’s a bad one, is better than an unenforceable good idea. I think the ancient Greek started us off on a discussion of good ideas when they spoke of Natural Law.
          Lastly, and this may be the most important point, why is relativism considered the fatal criticism? Let’s imagine you are right and that without God’s grace everything is extreme moral relativism (something I hope to have convinced you I don’t accept). Should we accept an objective scheme on bad reasoning, because we don’t approve of moral relativism? That’s the problem with pointing to the failure of other system to support your own: there’s a chance it is all relativism at bottom. Nature doesn’t owe us something palatable. Arguable, God does, but nature does not. Why should we reject the answer intellectual scrutiny gives us? Because we don’t like it?
          I’m not sure in what ways redemption differs from forgiveness. I’ve written about forgiveness before ( — and there’s two links in there, it may be helpful if you want to skim them).
          You imply that God must be good, or, more specifically, cannot have distasteful or immoral fancy (“Is God guilty of having distasteful of immoral fancies? Surely not.”)
          Firstly, God very much can have a distasteful fancy. That much is clear from how I clearly find vicarious redemption distasteful (and immoral). I’m going to skip a few steps (hopefully with some success) and assume you think God can’t have immoral fancies because of Aquinas’ ‘omniGod’ arguments in defining perfection. In this, Aquinas argues that perfection must include, as a subset, omnibenevolence. And, not to thrash around too much, is it good because God does it, or does God do it because it is good? Could God sin? Yes and no are both problematic answers. If yes, then there’s a problem with the claim of omnibenevolence. If no, then there’s a problem with omnipotence.
          The best answer I have ever heard to this is to make the task a paradox, not the solution. In this case, it would probably work like this: the concept of God sinning is a paradoxical and therefore not a fair challenge. Whatever God does will be good. That gets around the issue of competing omnipotence and omnibenevolence, but makes the idea of ‘good’ entirely vacuous. It’s the perfect caricature of a political tyrant, defining there own behaviour as good or using their status to excuse themselves from moral criticism.
          Now, these philosophical debates have gone on for centuries and there are many rabbit holes, so I’m going to stop second guessing your position and let you clarify in a future comment (if needed). But the omniGod may be intellectual masturbation anyway, as the God of the Bible seems quite human in nature: It gets surprised, jealous, angry… that doesn’t make sense for an omnitemporal God. But I digress.
          My position, at this point, is that God does not work to define morality, unless one takes the definition (and the method by which one is redeemed) on tyrannical and authoritarian reasons. That’s not just distasteful, it doesn’t make sense that we would be created with moral intuitions so far removed from that.

          Another objection I have, at bedrock level (it would seem) is this idea that no one can be good enough in their own right (“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)
          You’re right in that I describe a hypothetical in which two people, let’s call them both unbelievers, live very different lives. One is as charitable and as good as anyone who has lived, and the other is heinous. Upon their deathbed, the heinous one has this epiphany and is given absolution and goes to heaven. The good person has no epiphany and goes to Hell (whatever Hell is, see conversation with Equippedcat). Firstly (and as a new point this this conversation) the good man had no say over whether he had an epiphany, let alone the right one (my meditation never revealed the Goodness of Jesus to me, and neither does my brother’s LSD use). Secondly, if the intention of the the moral law is to produce and reward ‘good’ behaviour, then this is a loophole (which was the initial comment that sparked so many people’s intrigue). You dismiss these are completely superficial descriptions, as both are actually heinous (compared to the glory of God). I’ll refrain from the ‘smug Bastard’ criticism of expecting God’s glory (err… clearly I won’t fully refrain from it). But we do now get into the theology of the question. Creationists get off easily here, because they get to assert a literal Adam and Eve, with a literal garden of Eden, with a literal tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. (Where does knowledge of goodness come from? Because the Bible says it comes from a tree.) But, even in the literal creationist sense, sin does not enter the world because Eve ate an apple. Eating the apple was also a sin; their want to be like God was a sin. These sins precede the eating of the apple. The world was created fallen, not created perfect, and then fell after someone ate an apple.
          You might not accept that argument, so I’ll posit the possibility that the world was created “perfect” with a massive vulnerability in it (questioning the definition of perfect). I don’t accept the second description, I think theologically you can only posit the world was created fallen, that’s why the apple (grape?) ever got eaten at all.
          So, here’s the issue: we’re being held to an impossible standard, having been created imperfect. It’s entrapment. I can’t say it’s immoral, because you only accept morality as defined by God. But I can say there is no way human intellect and discussion can justify it as good without begging the question on whether whatever God does it good. And when you necessarily rest on a fallacy to defend an argument, the argument is not held rationally.
          Finally, there probably is such a thing as an ex-gay. The ones I’ve seen in interviews appear repressed and maladjusted, but they were probably picked for interview and edited to meet the agenda of the documentary maker. Perhaps there are some ex-gays, but there are also people quite damaged and doing nothing more than pretending to be ex-gay. Some ex-gays are actually ex-sexual, as their ‘therapy’ was chemical castration. But, in general, I don’t think it is alterable (psychology is weird, and there’s always exception) and when alterations are attempted, I find they are often damaging. And, I don’t see the harm in homosexuality. Perhaps you could write your view on homosexuality down somewhere, and we could discuss it under that post.

        8. Now, I’m pleased by how you’ve shared so much of the foundations of the secular “morality” insofar as you’re naming it that, as in so doing you’re exposing everything the secular framework unmakes as actual things (e.g redemption, evil, good, actual morality), rather in what an atheist can permit in their “metric of morality” isn’t what’s commonly understood as morality in the least, although even the sorts of thing you’re trying to include you wouldn’t have for actually following your views through to their logical conclusion. That’s where you’re misunderstanding a point of mine, you’re writing, to paraphrase “You attacking my imperfect and unworkable moral standard doesn’t justify your tyrant.” whereas I’ve never been trying to justify God, rather it’s those “composite parts” I’m nudging you in the direction of. It’s in God where you can find the ultimate affirmation of the abstractions I’d assumed you’d need to make your morality applicable to the world, unfortunately for yourself you’re avoiding even an assortment of abstractions so to justify yourself, instead going by what you’re calling a criteria defined by well-being and liberties (which bodes far worse for the position). You’ll be pleased to read I’ve addressed almost everything you’ve shared in your previous message, putting it together like a jigsaw of sorts, so enjoy.

          Originally you highlighted me “accusing” the enlightenment thinkers of relativism (as opposed to it being their thought which led to relativism), as if to write my observations weren’t founded, however, you later insist upon gingerly defending relativism. Your message insisted “why is relativism considered the fatal criticism?” with which everybody remotely knowledgeable of morality and relativism would have their eyes bugging out of their head by this point in the reply, as to suppose the sort of question you have asked is akin to writing “Why is the systematic, wholesale slaughter of the mountain lion necessarily the extinction of the mountain lion?” it’s almost a tautology which to ask is an answer in itself. Moral relativism undermines the objectivity of moral values and duties, rendering humanity adrift in an unworkable sea of preferences, meaning it’s not that I and the relativist have two different sets moral inclinations, such like how Muslims and Jews have, rather the relativist has by their own framework no morality in the objective sense altogether. The believer can postulate the reality of good, evil, redemption and atonement, necessary components to the plan for Salvation, the relativist denies every one of these. So, what were you trying to say, methinks I know.

          You’re protesting everything isn’t “extremely relativistic” insofar as you’re concerned, writing how it’s something you hope to have convinced me of, you’re however alluding only to an objectivity of something other than morality, as you’re certainly defending “moral relativism”, even going so far as to write “there’s a chance it is all relativism at bottom”, for which whatever you’re defending as not classed in the realms of relative couldn’t be morality. Thus far an objective answer hasn’t been provided outright by way of your message, although inexplicitly you’ve shared your belief of how some moral framework could be advance based upon “well-being and liberties.” Of course! The objectivity doesn’t exist in that actions or states of behaviour are truly morally evil, rather insofar as utilitarianism is concerned an individual isn’t maxing the well-being of themselves by conforming to some certain behaviours (it’s so clear). Meaning your “morality” isn’t moral like how the plain meaning goes, it’s a redefinition of moral in non-moral terms!

          Yet the flourishing of humanity or life as an ultimate end goal isn’t just arbitrary, it’s also implausible, as given your atheism, causing an environment to be more conducive to human survival isn’t any better than providing hospitable lodgings for ants or crickets or any other creature, why believe inflicting harm upon another member of the animals world wrong? The question remains: “Why would it be wrong to harm another if atheism was true?” To insist the flourishing of man is more moral than that or snails is the very definition of arbitrary (not to mention making people again guilty speciesism). Yours is as philosophers rightly point out just an implausible to do list (or shopping list) of behaviours the utilitarian demands without cause or defence as to why they’re insisting upon “the morality” of the list itself (unbelievable!) Sociocultural relativism rules by your beliefs (as you lack the abstractions, justification or defence for the behaviours you’re commanding). You “lament” BNP politics not because they’re morally repugnant, you’re unable by your own world-view to make such claims as “morally” behaviours are X, Y or Z, moral experience doesn’t enter into anything, instead you’re wholly concerned with the rule of expediency with regards to favoured species (favoured by yourself, of course).

          Finally answers to the sense in which “objectivity” has affirmation in the secular world-view are being highlighted, which thoroughly explains when you wrote “redemption” as belonging to the “metrics of morality” isn’t something you’re prepared to accept. You’re prepared not only to dismiss redemption, but as a consequence of modern atheism you’ve already evicted the reality of the morally good, morally evil, justice and inalienable rights from the “morality metric”, an unreal redefinition of morality! Even morality without any content of morality. An example of the tactics involved in the redefinition of morality would read in the following fashion:

          Silence of mind, a fresh-faced student enrolls in the humanist academy of moral imperatives, it’s an austere institution characterised by a great many commands hung upon its walls, “Thou shall not smoke”, one plaque reads, “Thou shall not drink” another says, they’re “moral evils” insofar as they’re not conducive to the flourishing of the human machine. “Liberties” are also meaningful in the curriculum, they’re sadly inventions, unjustifiable whims and fancies, nonetheless, they’re touted as being important. Silence of mind however isn’t fitting in in the academy, they’re considered an ignorant student by school standards, as evidenced by the way in which they’re likely to answer questions. “What’s the best way to get to Bristol?” Asks the headmaster sternly, “I know this one!” Silence of Mind replies, upon which they explain the tourist trail leading up to the city, insisting in detail to recount the wonderful attractions potential travellers might happen upon if only to chance a glance one way or t’other. “Wrong!” The headmaster replies, after which they produce an old-fashioned map, highlighting the most expeditious route to the city itself. Silence of Mind by “best” wanted to highlight the area’s natural beauty, historic significance and unique features, headmaster humanist however hadn’t considered anything of the sort, instead only expeditiousness remained the interest of theirs. As outlined by your model you’re inventing useful fictions in the form of liberties and moral imperatives (fictions undeserving of being obeyed from day one) because of the expeditiousness of the fictions in the preservation of the survival of humanity, so, whereas philosophers who reflect upon moral experience (and Christians) find no more reason to distrust the reality of the experience than to discount an assortment of other senses (e.g sight, touch, hearing), modern thinkers in the academy of moral imperatives withhold trust in the moral experience and won’t inform decisions by anything other than criteria centered around well-being (totally bypassing actual morality altogether). There’s “objectivity” only in that yes there’s indeed an optimal way to not shoot someone, yes, there’s an optimal way in which not to starve, yet, none of the things described as in fact the moral experience, rather morality doesn’t exist under your view (it’s totally unreal and relativistic). Expediency with regards to arriving at a particular outcome does in reality lead to any sort of behaviour being defined as “moral”, raping and torturing two little children so to preserve three little children is “moral” because it is an action furthering human well-being, how twisted! The implications of what to regard as moral are under your view extended to almost anything. Relive again, if you would be so kind, my earlier example of the consenting adulterers, according to your criteria neither the husband or wife who broke their marriage vows are morally blameworthy, nor would the third party who so perversely misused others sexually be morally accountable, rather both the husband and adulterous third party would be “morally guilty” because of catching syphilis from the wife! Wow.

          Yes, it may be a bumpy road, you assure sceptical onlookers, you’re insistent however, humanity can come to the epiphany, and that’s something Nazi eugenicists in Germany would have totally agreed with too. “Yes, you may call us fascists because we have got no right to do the things we’re doing, and sterilizing those women we judged as being unworthy to reproduce might be taboo by your standards, nonetheless, it’s not about how moral or immoral people believer our behaviour to be, it’s about creating an illness free world. Killing those people with down syndrome, although they might claim to have a good quality of life, is going to make the world a better place, we’re making the hard decisions so you don’t have to.” Making the tough choices, are you certain you didn’t vote Tory in the last elections, my friend? 🙂 One voice, one world, one happy family modern man cries while they’re scrambling babies and sterilizing each other, and believers are accused of being wishful thinkers. Surely it’s this utopianism which is driving humanity into the arms of something truly evil. As it’s the potential utopian, which may include yourself, who must eradicate impediments to “morality” being “discovered” (invented?) thus they must remove church bells by the feeble pretense of “requiring materials”, or even open up youth clubs on Sunday to lure children away from Church, worse yet others in times gone by cancelled Sundays (Yes, Sundays cancelled!) You yourself are following the blueprint when you write “morality” is discoverable, by which you mean the most expedient methods are being found to preserve the human machine, which you presuppose so to be “morally good” without involving either morality or the moral good. Though it’s the part hereafter which ought to chill you to the bone, as you confess to your redefined morality being best discovered in places that don’t have an unquestioned loyalty to the divine standard, meaning it’s in an atheistic state, one “freed” from the shackles of religious belief and the moral experience that your views can truly excel. My goodness, haven’t our liberal societies beaten the curse of communism yet, or are unbelievers yet insisting they need apartheid and cages to keep the religious animals locked up? Despite you clearly being moral (as my arguments are not trying to suggest otherwise), I put it to you that what you hate, what you really lament, resides in a corner of your own mind.

          Christopher Hitchens in The Rage against God (pages 134 and 135) explained the inevitable (unintended) outcome of your desires:

          “Chamberlain notes that until 1929, Article 4 of the Soviet constitution guaranteed a ‘right to religious propaganda’ as well as the right to anti-religious propaganda. After that date, the faithful were only allowed to ‘profess’ faith, not to propagandise for it. But the Godless kept their right to campaign.”

          OSC: Is this not very much like secular England? I have a job in which I cannot speak my mind, as minds like my own have been deemed wrong or dangerous or somehow not conducive to the public good (and why wouldn’t they be, the public have been trained to react in hostile a mode to the entire thing), whereas ideas and behaviours which directly erode Christian beliefs are allowed or even promoted by the supposedly Christian state. They continue:

          “Priests and their families were subject to severe persecution. A priest’s children were barred from the middle or higher schools, or to state employment, unless they renounced and broke off all connections with their fathers. Priests, along with criminals and the insane, were disenfranchised. They were also denied ration cards, often necessary for survival in periods of shortage. Chamberlain also detailed the communist campaign against Christmas, a festival which, because it is so much loved by children, arouses the special hostility of utopian despots at all times and in all places. Pointing out that the sale of Christmas trees was then strictly forbidden in Moscow (except to foreigners in special hard-currency shops) he quotes form a little pamphlet aimed at schoolchildren, ‘Against the Christmas Tree’. This publication was one of a series called ‘The Liberty of the Young Atheist’, whose time has plainly almost come round again. It contains this severe warning:

          “Millions of little children are bought up by very strict religious grandmothers. For such children the Christmas tree represents a very real danger. . . not one young pioneer detachment, not one school and not one group of young atheists should leave children of preschool age unattended during the Christmas holidays. The struggle against the Christmas tree is the struggle again religion and against our class enemies.”

          “By the time I lived in Moscow at the very end of the communist era, 60 years later, few had any knowledge or memory of Christmas as it had once been celebrated. Trees were sold in street markets, but they were not Christmas trees. They were for the wholly secular new year festal which was by then the principal holiday. Christmas was more or less dead. Middle-aged, middle-class Russians generally viewed religion with a sour contempt taught to them repeatedly since their earliest childhood.”

          OSC: “Sour contempt” taught concerning religion from the earliest age, Christmas being secularized so to be more palatable to the pitiless godless, how familiar to modern England you and I are certain to notice! No wonder Christopher titles a nearby section “The destruction of beauty and custom”, and by how you understand morality, the above people were doing nothing immoral, though you’re contradicting yourself in some wise, as you renounce authoritarians while having no justified authority so to implement the moral frameworks you’re attracted to, yet it’s the goal to have such a utilitarian utopian, an unworkable view without an authoritarian figurehead or institution to implement the entire system. You’re flirting with the very danger you claim to hate, how our flirtations differ is that I know my authority deserves my love, worship and devotion, whereas you know yours doesn’t deserve anything of the sort (they’re truly without authority). Again, to drive the point home, despite you being moral (as my arguments are not trying to suggest otherwise), I put it to you that what you hate, what you really lament, resides in a corner of your own mind.

          Your claim is to say we two differ on our definitions of morality, yet it’s rather that I have an actual definition of morality, and you do not, rather you have a stealth concept you’re redefining morality as, moreover, despite defining the Enlightenment and morality out of their original contexts, you’re pleased to do likewise to the natural law (redefining the thing as relativism). You counter me by insisting my message touches upon the secular society’s inability to enforce some moral standard, though that is again to misunderstand my point, rather it’s an abstraction of good/mercy/forbearance which couldn’t or wouldn’t impose itself upon an individual, meaning it’s pointless to punt to abstractions. Although to bring secular societies into the discussion, they too have no right to enforce themselves upon anybody, as you would readily admit, meaning if ever there is “complete inferiority” it would be on the side of the system which made morality a non-issue, lacked any authority so to be applied, and altogether consisted of arbitrary, implausible commands (atheistic humanism!)

          Reality doesn’t care you explain, about which I agree, moreover, reality not caring only reflects badly upon your points, as you write (to paraphrase) “God’s vicarious redemption is distasteful to me!” Well, so? God replies “I Am That I Am.”, all the credentials needed. No beginning, no end, loving, just, powerful, generous, perfect in goodness and dying so that you can have a chance to be His friend. To which you reply “You owe me something palpable!” Yet God’s elect by the Holy Spirit explain “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

          Nonetheless, you continue by way of the famous (and well answered) Euthyphro dilemma: “is it good because God does it, or does God do it because it is good?” The dilemma is in truth a false one (as you explain, even making God’s case for Him), as there’s a third option, namely, God wills something because He is good. God’s commands have always been an expression of His own immutable nature and essential attributes. So, moral values aren’t to be recognized as operating independently of God, rather God is eternally compassionate, impartial, kind ect. Your question of “can God sin” (again as you almost answer fully) is actually answered in the Christian tradition, God cannot sin, nor even lie (Titus1:2). Therefore, to supposed that they could do something which you yourself believe to be morally reprehensible would be akin to asking “How many sides does an act of murder have?” or “If there are non-things that are things what sort of things would they be?” It would be logically incoherent. Nonetheless, you have finally arrived, after an ongoing battle with yourself and an array of arguments and counterarguments, finally the objection, “Your good is vacuous!” Vacuous, as in showing lack of thought or intelligence? So, you reject the God of the universe because They haven’t had to reason from premises to conclusion, rather it’s simply Who They are to be loving, kind and just, for which you’re displeased, preferring instead non-morality which describes itself as morality while rendering everything as morally neither this way or that. You reject God, in whom resides the eternal properties of love, mercy, goodness, loyalty and forbearance, making the properties really real and valuable, in favour of non-moral, unjustifiable authoritarian humanity who don’t possess the actual properties or ability for non-subjective love/redemption because they’re not actual properties of the material universe, rather you invent and attach the useful fiction of love/mercy etc to selected situations (some of which are clearly reprehensible) based upon your preference for utilitarian purposes, purposes you arbitrarily defined as “morally” good while denying morality from the outset.

          Despite everything already shared you blast the sky, fist raised in triumph, shouting “You, God, are the perfect caricature of a tyrant, defining your own behaviour as good and using your status so to excuse yourself from moral criticism!” You don’t mean. . .like how you’re defining your desires and unjustified behaviours as the moral good?! To be God isn’t “status” or something being “used” just objectively speaking, you’re in no way facing the situation honestly to attempt to level moral criticisms against God almighty, in reality, as is clear by your moral inclinations, some part of you already knows and agrees to God having authority (deserved authority) over your life. “No!” You counter, God is jealous, angry and surprised by events, they’re just as human as the Bible authors, undeserving of my praise and worship. However, to be jealous isn’t immoral or even petty, that’s envy, they’re not synonyms, rather envy would be the desire for something which isn’t your own, whereas jealousy would count as when something you rightfully own is wrongly being separated from you. Exodus explained:“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” God reminds man they have been made for worshiping and attaining every good thing which comes as a consequence of knowing Him, “Smug bastard!” can be the only reply as defences become less sophisticated, as would be the case considering God’s omnipotence. An omni attributed God isn’t the product of man’s imagination operating apart from the Scriptures, rather it’s directly influenced and produced by Scripture. Similarly anger is not unrighteous, as Paul explains, writing “Be angry, but do not sin.” meaning God’s anger upon witnessing the immoral is to be expected.

          “People don’t have any say over their epiphany.” You imagine afterwards, mistaking Christian beliefs whilst doing so, as due to humankind having been provided ample reason whereby to believe in God in some wise (not necessarily Christ), an honest chance for Salvation would be available to everybody, extending so far as to the native American and the Jew in first century Palestine (in answer to an earlier question of yours). General Revelation, meaning God’s operations in nature and conscience, would be ample evidence to bring people into His saving grace. Rather the “epiphany” would be part of your life just so long as you are willing to allow it to happen, although the degree in which the thing is made manifest would differ, even happening today if you truly want Him (Knock and the door will be opened.)

          You again complain “Entrapment!” adding “theologically you can only posit the world was created fallen” (contradicting your earlier point about God being surprised, although as in the case of anger and jealousy God not being impassable suitably answers the criticism), meaning insofar as you’re concerned, due to writing entrapment, God induced Adam and Eve to commit an act of sin they wouldn’t have committed otherwise (otherwise as in having not been created), though that’s an awfully 21st century liberal understanding of entrapment, as if to say because you’ve been caught by an undercover male cop in a dress (you did say you were pro-gay 😉 ) that you’ve somehow had your volition unfairly removed or been unfairly led into doing something you wouldn’t have done otherwise. Even to insist upon such complaints, why would sinners wanting not to exist preclude God from either creating sinners or judging sin which they had readily committed, similarly, why would their sayings perturb God’s creation, a creation which due to there being free rebel creatures brought for time the maximum number of people into a love relationship with God? Just because your great great great great great great grandfather’s grandfather was an atheist who couldn’t care less about whether or not they were created, God wouldn’t preclude him because He can already foresee the day in which you finally love and accept Jesus as your King (Glorious day!)

          Lastly, you wonder about the grape, which I’ve actually heard interesting argument for it being a fig, although that’s just an unsure sort of thing. Here’s the summation: I’ve got a dog, an aviary and some plant pots (aka justice, duties, love, the composite parts you value), whereas you have a large cat, you however call her a dog, you’re so committed to the act you even teach her how to fetch, bury bones and so on, you’ve got plant pots, but they’re plastic (yuck), and your aviary is an open trash can pigeons eat from (aka arbitrary and implausible utopianism fueled by atheistic humanism in which morality is not morality). My reply to you is why not buy a dog, they’re so awesome, in fact, you should purchase an aviary, dog, proper plant pots and everything to replace those things you’re wrongly calling your dog ect. I’m not saying buying so vast a wealth of substance would be easy, neither is it something that’ll happen quickly, nevertheless, it’s totally worth it to say you actually own a dog. . .instead of telling everybody around town that German Shepherds, Labrador retrievers and Bulldog aren’t actually dogs. In short, I’m hoping you found my take on your views generous, my criticisms even handed and my post an enjoyable read. It’s a Sunday tomorrow, man, the perfect time to visit your local church of England, they need thinking men and women. 😉

        9. I am enjoying this exchange a great deal. Please allow me to insert my mini-epiphany here.

          It seems to me that one of the fundamental objections that atheists and skeptics have could be boiled down to this: “What is the big freaking deal with our behavior, or for that matter our belief, anyway? Why is God supposedly so hot on making sure I do what he thinks is right?” In other words, why don’t God and his believers leave me alone? Why do they care so much about what I believe?

          And the answer illuminates their basic misapprehension of the God-man relationship. It is noteworthy to me that every time I comment (here and elsewhere) regarding the fact that the issue is not one of bean-counting morals but of personal relationship…that line of discussion meets with crickets and deers in headlights. . Likewise when I use an illustration which puts the issue in an interpersonal light. Perhaps the issue is purposely avoided, or perhaps it makes no sense to committed non-believers.

          The answer to the atheists’ question of what’s the big deal IS relationship. In a nutshell, God cares what we do because it matters. It matters because people matter so much. There are real consequences to you when you refuse his relationship, and he loves you very much. He cares what happens to you. He likewise cares when you or I harm another person because he loves that other person too. So it matters when people do not believe the Truth because that disbelief ultimately winds up harming the disbeliever and other people as well.

          In the OT, why did God punish nations, and allow or even command genocides? It is a complex question not to be understood fully, and not at all to those who refuse God’s wisdom. But one of the reasons was because human beings MATTER. We are intrinsically of inestimable value. And beliefs and actions which are obstinately contrary to God’s revealed truth and will are always, always harmful to the human beings He loves.

          The degree to which what we do matters is the measure of how much we matter. We have an absolute value and therefore our welfare, especially our eternal welfare is about as important a thing as there can be.

          I don’t know if I’ve expressed what I wanted to, but I hope so.

        10. “In other words, why don’t God and his believers leave me alone? Why do they care so much about what I believe?”

          Um, no. That is you creating a narrative which you feel comfortable with. It has no particular truth in reality. The truth is this:

        11. Possibly the same reasons you’re here:
          Morality matters.
          Religion and it’s assumed special place in society matters.

        12. In respect to your blog, to correct your atrocious misuse of language in fabricating false narratives built upon lies.

          You continue to use the word “kill” and “murder” regarding abortion, yet you have not once explained to me how you can “kill” something that cannot “die.”

          You lie. I will always be there to call the liar out when they’re trying to meddle in the operations of our secular societies. In case that’s not clear, please read the meme again.

        13. So let me be clear. There are two bloggers here who 1.) do not believe in free will, and 2.) cannot establish a defensible objective moral standard, who yet find it possible to go about correcting bloggers of faith because we’re harming society. Where to begin? I don’t have all day.

          Jz: I have not lied, and your behavior in repeatedly accusing me of it is childish and immoral. I also never, ever used the word “murder” as I have also pointed out.

          Your meme falls apart if there really are unicorns in my shoes. If there really is a God just as the Bible reveals, then your trying to shut us down is just misguided bullying.

        14. Knowingly creating a false narrative is lying. You also intentionally lied when you implied I’d said “A fetus is not alive until 28 weeks gestational age.” That is a bold-faced lie, as I have since pointed out to you.

          If you don’t want to be called a liar, then stop lying. It’s really that simple.

          Regarding an objective moral truth, do you support slavery?

        15. John, your answer here is also the answer that refutes your stated reasons for roaming the internet for windmills. You rarely engage with the content of the posts where you comment; instead, you fling repeated non-sequiturs in order to derail the discussion towards your far-flung thesis. Our last encounter on my blog is a perfect example. You almost never even make an attempt to discuss the subject of the post, but instead hang the discussion up with your misunderstanding of where my quote bean and ended, then calling me a liar because of your inability to read properly.

          There was no false narrative. You never commented at all on the narrative!

          At another time, you can perhaps explain how my supposed mistaken application of your position doesn’t mean what I said it did, even though you go on to say precisely the same thing throughout your comments. Please don’t follow that here though; be kind to these people.

        16. First up, as I was the subject of that particular post, I addressed your lies first. Second, I’d happily delve further into the subject… Just as soon as you answer the question: How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”? Without establishing that, your entire post is entirely meaningless. It is a pantomime.

          Now, do you support slavery? Yes or No?

        17. (1) We’re on my blog; you came here. I’m not trying to turn that into some sort of a smear.
          (2) You don’t accept my defence of objective morality because you are completely tied to a theistic defence and definition. That is not the same as not being able to defend.
          (3) Did I accuse you of harming society? Err…

        18. I apologize. My comment was actually directed toward JZ’s comment, but I believe it was you who said that you didn’t believe in free will? I ought to have been more careful as to what I was saying to who!
          Also, I do not want to overstep on your blog. I am a guest and I apologize if I have been rude.

        19. I’m not trying to enforce some sort of rules. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of treating going to someone else’s blog to have a provocative conversation like it’s a bad thing, on one else’s blog.
          I appreciate the apology, and assure you no offence was taken (or intended, I am sure).
          I apologise for my somewhat short reply. I was in the middle of composing another reply to a rather frustratingly dishonest comment, and it shouldn’t have been any reflection on you.

        20. All I can say is that I didn’t think I was doing that, just answering Zande’s accusation that I am one of many who need to be stopped from “meddling” in society and such. I am sensitive to “bad guest” behavior over at my own blog, so I’m very sorry if I seemed to be a bad guest myself. I won’t do it again. Thanks.

        21. Honestly, you’re not a bad guest. My frustrated reply was to oldschoolcontemporary (the comment is now up, if you want to see what frustrated me and why). I just came back on site to refer to something, saw your comment, thought it was addressed to me (until halfway down where you explicitly say it’s to JZ) and whipped out a reply too fast.
          Also, I point no fingers, but you may have noticed I permit “bad guests”. It’s not actually my house, no one is going to hit anyone, and everything obtuse or ignorant anyone writes stands as evidence.
          But, for your piece of mind, I’ll let you know if you’re doing something that might be a “bad guest” thing.

        22. Thanks–I appreciate your understanding and any future possible cautions. lol
          We all manage our blog homes as we see fit and your philosophy seems a good one.

        23. A fetus can’t die? Either it is immortal, which seems provably not true, or it is not alive, so would seem unable to become a living being. The only remaining option is that it is alive. Now whether it is sentient is another question entirely.

        24. Madblog, I asked you a question. You raised the issue of “objective moral truth,” so i’d like to know if you support slavery.

          Yes, or No?

        25. Everything is part of the living system. Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and hasn’t been interrupted since. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly becomes organic. Death (the legal, scientific, medical definition) is the cessation of EEG activity. Until the foetus begins to exhibit sustained EEG activity (week 24/25), but more accurately, achieve full bilateral synchronisation (week 28) it cannot meet the legal, scientific, and medical definition of death.

        26. If you change that to “death of sentience”, we can at least discuss on the same level.

          As long as you use the simple term “death”, we have a problem. Go out. Find a pretty flower. Check it’s EEG. No response. Is it dead or alive? I claim it is not dead, your scientist seems to be claiming it is dead, although it does not exhibit any other symptoms of “death”. Spray some poison on it. It will exhibit other symptoms of death, implying that is changed state to “dead”. Which implies that previous to the poison, it was “alive”.

        27. We’re not talking about flowers. We are talking about the human organism, and the legal, scientific, and medical definition of death is not in dispute.

        28. Please. Death of HUMANS. There are many other things which are alive, and some lawyers and most scientists and doctors will agree that just because they don’t have an EEG, they are not “dead”. Plants, animals, insects, bacteria and so on.

          Furthermore, all an EEG can tell you is that the brain is not or no longer functioning. Go ahead. Monitor a person who is dying. At some point, their EEG will indicate that the person, is indeed, dead. By any definition. But many of the cells which make up the body of the person continue to live for some small period of time. None of them exhibit an EEG (and they did not before the death of their person), but they continue briefly just as they did when their person was alive.

        29. Again, we are talking about the human organism. This is the legal, scientific and medical definition of death:

          In 1979, the Conference of the Medical Royal Colleges, “Diagnosis of death” declared: “brain death represents the stage at which a patient becomes truly dead.”

          This was updated in the 1980s and 1990s to state that brainstem death, as diagnosed by UK criteria, is the point at which “all functions of the brain have permanently and irreversibly ceased.”

          Further still updated in 1995 (to present), “It is suggested that ‘irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness, combined with irreversible loss of the capacity to breathe’ should be regarded as the definition of death’

          This is mirrored in US law:

          U.S’s Uniform Determination of Death Act (§ 1, U.L.A. [1980]) states: “An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory function, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead.”

          It is also mirrored in Australian law:

          The Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) Statement on Death and Organ Donation define death as: a) Irreversible cessation of all function of the brain of the person; or b) Irreversible cessation of circulation of blood in the body of the person.

          As Professor Goldenring (a leading anti-abortionist) stated in the New England Journal of Medicine:

          “When the coordinating and individuating function of a living brain is demonstrably present, the full human organism exists … After brain death what is left of the organism is once again only a collection of organs, all available to us for use in transplantation, since the full human being no longer exists.”

        30. That is the legal, scientific and medical definition of death of a HUMAN, yes. And a good one it is.

          It cannot be used to claim a fetus prior to 28 weeks “can not be killed”. Neither circulation or brain activity has “ceased irreversibly”; and in fact, both will almost certainly start by itself in less less than a half year. Since the fetus can be claimed to not yet meet the criteria for human death, it must default to the more general, non-human, definition of death. And so CAN be killed. Just like a bacteria can be killed. Just like a plant can be killed.

          Now is it murder? A case can be made either way. Oh, and by the way, that legal, scientific and medical definition of death of a human seems to imply that killing a fetus at or beyond 28 weeks IS murder.

        31. Yes, Zande should have used the word “murdered”, not “killed”.
          A fetus is not a human that can be murdered. Thus, abortion is not murder.

        32. Yes. And it’s a crime. And calling to extend that deadline further is extreme. And I’ve got a post coming up (ages from now) where I argue that it should be shorter.

        33. Whereas “murder” is just staggeringly wrong, “killing,” too, is simply incorrect. In terms of the human organism, it simply cannot be rationally, legitimately justified.

        34. A foetus can be killed. Just like disinfectant kills mould. A foetus is alive, in the biological sense. It’s that you are not killing a human life.
          And to a certain extent, trying to spell that out to people (as I have done before) actually does feel like an inelegant bit of sophistry aimed at creating a loophole:
          Killing a foetus is not the killing of a human, because human death is not defined in such a way as to permit its death until brain stem activity.
          That is literally the most elegant I get this, and it feels a little tortured. I’m open to your suggestions, though.

        35. I have never denied a foetus is part of the living system. In fact, I’ve been at pains to say it is. A foetus was never inorganic. I am talking here about language use, and if someone tries to argue a human organism is being killed, or worse, murdered, then that is just patently false.

        36. A quick language fix: there might be a distinction between a human and a human organism that anyone could pull you up on here. I’d argue that a foetus is a human organism. It is an organism made entirely from human tissue. And, the distinction between a human organism and a human may drag this conversation out of the legal framework you’re offering, and into a broader moral one. (Thus, disarming you of the legalistic defence… not that other defences don’t exist…)
          I struggle with the idea a human organism isn’t being killed. I think it very much is. It is the death of a human organism. Absolutely.
          But it is not the death of a human. The death of a human is the cessation of a human brain stem. That is not happening in a foetus.

          To be honest, though, your initial question was “How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?” Now you accept a foetus can die. And thus, be killed…

        37. A collection of developing organs can be stopped, yes. Never said otherwise. However, given the clear definitions of death (replicated and shared around the world), a foetus (until sometime between week 24/25 and week 28) cannot die. If it cannot “die” it cannot be “killed.” It cannot be turned “Off” if it is not “On.”

        38. Okay, then we disagree here.
          It cannot be a dying human.
          It can die.
          The definition only extends to humans, and specifically defines the death of a human. If one insists the foetus is a human, then it’s not dying.
          But it is dying. It fulfils all the criteria of MRS GREN definition of life:

        39. Absolutely, a foetus was never inorganic and suddenly becomes organic. At no stage does “life” magically appear in the zygote, blastocyst, embryo, or foetus. Ever. It is part of the single living system that began on earth 3.8 billion years and hasn’t been interrupted since.

        40. Oh, this is becoming a bit too Buddhist for me.
          If I kill you, my defence in court is not going to be that you weren’t an individual life, but merely a part of the 3.8 billion year old living system. You are an individual living thing. A human, too. A foetus is also an individual living thing. (But not a human.)

          For the record, if I kill you, my defence in court will be that you are Australian and so doesn’t count. (I’m British, I can say that.)

        41. Then we simply return to the question: How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?

          You see, this is why the lexicon used by pro-forced-birth advocates is, at best, inherently flawed, and at worse, an outright lie.

        42. You can “kill” a foetus because it can “die”. There are numerous legal and many known but illegal ways of doing this. (All my coat hangers are plastic.)

          The points are this:
          If it’s human:
          * It has no brain stem activity and therefore cannot die or be killed. This is the consequence of legal and medical definitions the world over pertaining to human death.

          If it’s not human (even if it is a human organism):
          * Murder is legally defined thing pertaining to particular circumstances of death for a human being.
          * But you can kill it. Just like you can kill mould.

          I think there’s an important point to add, one that I think everyone will agree with. Abortion is not a fantastic thing to be celebrated. It is a difficult decision for anyone who has to consider it, and it can cause both emotional and physical harm. I don’t think anyone is arguing it’s some moral excellence.
          What I’m arguing is that it’s not a moral equivalent to murder, or even killing a cat. It’s a bad whose moral worth is abrogated by the good of female reproductive rights. It’s one of those ‘pick between these awful options’ thing. And ceasing female reproductive rights (or stopping them forming in the first place) is decidedly worse than abortion.

        43. Mould is a complete organism (colony?), so yes, it can be killed. A zygote, blastocyst, embryo, or foetus (until full bilateral synchronisation) is not a complete organism. It is potential. Potential can be stopped, not killed.

          That being said, I do understand where you’re coming from.

          And yes, saying someone is “pro-abortion” is like saying someone is “pro-amputation.”

        44. I’m sorry, I’m not an elk (or an Elk) or SoM, and I’m not going to endlessly butt heads with you. I have stated my position clearly and accurately, and if you insist on making provably incorrect statements anyway, there is nothing I can do about it.

        45. You have stated your position, yes. I generally agree with that position. None of my statement, however, are incorrect.

        46. Yes, “murder” does not apply if it is not (yet) human, or perhaps more generally, sentient. But “killing” is a very precise, very accurate description of the act of removing the life from anything which has life. And it is a fairly neutral term. You “kill” weeds, you “kill” flies and someone “killed” the source of your hamburger. You even “killed off” that leftover Kung Pao Chicken. And nobody (well there are a few exceptions) thinks these are bad actions.

        47. Well, no, a case cannot be made either way as no human organism is being killed. Period. But, with all due respect, this subject does not interest me here. Madblog brought up “objective morals,” so I’d like to hear whether or not she supports slavery.

          It seems to be a question she’s not terribly certain on as this is the fourth time I’ve asked it, and she keeps evading what i would consider a fairly simple question to answer.

        48. I was not the person who introduced objective morality; it had been the subject of discussion for awhile, hence my comment on it.

          It’s a non-sequitur, it has no connection to anything, and it’s a pointless question, unless you’re you, and you want to lead me along your obvious garden path. I’m not biting.

        49. You raised it in this particular thread, and I’d like to know if you support slavery.

          Is that such a difficult question for you to answer?

          It appears it might be. Are you unsure whether or not your support it? Are there doubts in your mind?

        50. I did not; it was being discussed already…and the non-sequitur comment I just made was in reference to your stupid question.

        51. You said: “So let me be clear. There are two bloggers here who 1.) do not believe in free will, and 2.) cannot establish a defensible objective moral standard, who yet find it possible to go about correcting bloggers of faith because we’re harming society. Where to begin? I don’t have all day.”

          You see, you have raised this, and I’m asking you about your statement here.

          So, please answer the question:

          Do you, Yes or No, support slavery?

        52. I’ll be honest, it might just be easier to say “No, I don’t support slavery. The denouncement of slavery is part of my interpretation of the teachings of Jesus to love one another and the covenant described in the New Testament”.
          It’s a chess game, I suspect with predictable moves, where JZ then asks where Jesus specifically denounced slavery, especially given the fact the Old Testament tells you where you can take slaves from and how you can treat them and that slaves should honour their masters and then Jesus said he’s not here to overturn any of that.
          And then it’s your play. I don’t where it goes from there (I’m on JZ’s side). But whatever you say to dodge the slavery of the Old Testament and accept your interpretation of the new covenant will (I suspect, rightly, but I’m open to persuasion) be accused of being some level of moral relativism.

          Given that you probably know that’s the game and it’s a pretty harmless one, it’s probably easier to whip down that path to see if it drills to interesting territory.

          But, that’s your choice, of course.

        53. Thanks for saving me the bother 🙂

          To cut to the chase: Madblog’s particular religion is, demonstrably, not the source of a single objective moral truth, and her moral repulsion of slavery is, self-evidently, the product of an evolving cultural meme that has sought ways to reduce suffering within human societies.

        54. There’s a transition period. That much I’m sure we can agree on. A woman’s egg nor a sperm can be thought of as living human. Both could die (as cells can die) and routinely do without anyone demanding medical equipment keep them alive.
          Once they meet (conception) they still aren’t a living human being (and even the most extreme anti-abortionist isn’t calling for medical equipment to save the human lives of fertilised cells that never fix to the uterine wall or otherwise die).
          There is a point at which the combination of those two non-living-human cells combine and multiply and become a living human. Zande is simply taking medical science, and saying you can’t ‘kill’ a living human without brain stem activity. It is the cessation of brain stem activity that constitutes death of a human being.
          Human being are declared medically and legally dead at the point of cessation of brain stem activity.
          Fetuses before ~24 weeks don’t have brain stem activity.

          Therefore they are not a human that can die.

        55. I agree with everything, except the last 3 words. A case can be made that the pre-28 week fetus is not human. But It can provably be killed and die according to the broader definition of death which applies to everything living.

        56. You are, perhaps. I am attempting to encourage proper usage of the words “kill” and “death”. You are focused on one particular subset of these meanings, resulting in you seeming to state things which I hope you really don’t mean to say.

        57. Actually, it is met with cricket (from me, at least) because of two things:
          (1) You can’t tell me what my relationship with God would be, post religious epiphany. You can’t reliably say that people who think God told them to kill people aren’t sincerely following their sincere relationship with a God. All you can say is that your relationship with God doesn’t compel you to do the same. But, what if you don’t have a relationship with God at all, which brings me to point 2.
          (2) Oldschool has discussed the kinds of things one would want to do, if they had the same epiphany and subsequent relationship with God that he has. He discusses it in a slightly romantic way, assuming God’s commands do actually line up, in general, with the moral intuition God gave us. But, those same actions and an emotional understanding/epiphany of why those actions are ‘good’ are equally available to people who meditate or take LSD. So, there’s no need to assume a God or a personal relationship with a God to reach the same moral ideas. And finally…
          (3) I may not have discussed this with you before (although I thought I had), but where I have discussed it, the people I discuss it with do rapidly turn morality into some sort of bean-counting and ‘thou shalt not’ structure, as opposed to the ‘relationship’ they’d just been promoting before challenged. When God is the only way there, it’s a relationship. As soon as there are many paths, some of which are secular, it becomes a technical issue where Jesus is necessary.

        58. I do not agree that any sort of epiphany is needed. Likewise no emotional response is necessary. Oldschoolcontemporary has not been asking you to experience what he experiences. He has been explaining just the contrary…that there is objective evidence and reasonable intelligence to a true belief in God. Without an assent to that objective intelligence, there is no belief.
          we have not been telling you that there are many paths to some equivalent experience, we’ve been telling you that there is one path to objective reality.
          I can tell you that someone who believes God told him to kill someone is deceived, and is not being told by God to kill because there is God’s objective Word which mitigates against it; it is the guide and proof-text for believers.

          Again, you may be confusing the two issues of belief and morals. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, the Life and there is no other; anything else is illusion.

          As for there being another source for moral ideals, I think Oldschool is handing that.

        59. So… it is bean counting?
          That’s my point. It’s “a relationship” when it suits you, then it’s objective and technical when that suits you instead.

        60. Sure enough I have left out an important piece in my train of thought just below. It mattered how God’s then-chosen people, the apple of his eye, the Israelites fared in the context of the pagan world they struggled through. God’s measure of retribution for her enemies was an expression (for one thing) of His love, care and protection of His people.

        61. I’ve enjoyed the conversation myself too, it’s been faith affirming, informative and productive in terms of further understanding modern atheism. Although I’d have to confess to being disappointed by how sour it’s turned so quickly, in fact, I’d been working on an everso brief post on justification so to offset the rather lengthy criticism of various atheistic beliefs regarding morality. Alas, I’m not sure it would be received in the right spirit tonight. Christians, as it’s often misunderstood by atheists (calling Nazis “Christian” is an example of this) are motivated by love, they’re not trying to seize power, they’re not asking people to stop killing babies in the womb because it’s a power grab, it’s simply love. In reality, God caring for non-believers, as you explained, would work as yet another factor making Christianity so different from Islam, as Allah loves only believers in the Islamic tradition (thus making Allah deficient in love). Verses like “Allah does not love the unbelievers” (Qur’an 3:31-32) in addition to Allah creating their own mercy (yep, Allah creates what should be eternal attributes/virtues) means Allah the merciless would be possible in Islam, sadly western atheists in the popular culture have their guns aimed at Christ far too often to notice anything of the sort in Islam. The contrast is so glaring, so intense as to make people wonder how strong an act of denial it takes for people in the highest offices of government and the media to ignore it.

          Commentators often notice the partial, unloving nature of Allah’s character, after which they quote Jesus’ description of types of love as found in Matthew:

          “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

          OSC: Allah’s love, the scholars and commentators explain, doesn’t extend beyond the love Jesus spoke of sinners and tax collectors having, they’re in actuality no greater than any man who robs, cheats and steals, only loving their own kind and refusing to extend that same love to people outside of their club. Of course Allah being so deficient in love is no surprise, as they were invented by a man who would behead people and kidnap their wives. It’s in the knowledge presented throughout these posts that it’s shown how neither Islam, nor atheism can provide any sort of system worthy of being called moral. On a side note, and perhaps as advice to believers, Matthew 7:6 informs an awful lot of my discussions, like the one above, as I’d hate to make the words of Christ or myself hated in the life of someone, it’s an often misunderstood verse (though you’ll get it).

        62. ”they’re not trying to seize power”

          Really? American Reconstructionists (Dominion Theology) advocates nothing short of supplanting secular western governments with “Biblical theocratic republics in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God’s law” (David Barton, Reconstructionist theologian). Or as Gary North (a leading Christian figure and so-named Tea Party Economist) put it:

          “The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant–baptism and Holy Communion–must be denied citizenship.”

        63. Perhaps every group would like to be able to force their preferences on those who don’t share them. Christians would like their view of God’s wishes to have the force of law, which is kind of sad. “I, omnipotent God, can’t get you to not do x, but puny man with his legal system can?” What say we let God enforce God’s laws as He chooses, and we concentrate on laws for the benefit of Man and his society? And of course, a significant majority of Muslims think Sharia Law should be the law of the land (whichever land they are in). Back to the 7th century, anyone?

          And frankly, there are at least a few atheists who would like to have the force of law behind THEIR preferences.

        64. Oh, surely, there are plenty. I feel that way about freedom of expression, tendency towards direct democracy, and open free debates. I think suppression of ideas and people, and tyranny (both religious and secular) should be fought (politically and economically — not by war, ideally) globally.
          The thing is, I’m quite liberal. I’d love the law to reflect my position, one with fewer restriction on people, not more.
          I want the UK to retract the blasphemy laws.
          I want the UK to open the Bishop’s seats in the house of Lords to non-religious figures.
          I want drugs to be legal (even though I don’t want to take them).

          That’s different from people who want more laws and to enforce them. Those who want more laws are actually restricting the actions of others. If we legalise drugs and you don’t like them, don’t take them. Don’t agree with blasphemy? Don’t do it. Are you a Bishop who is worthy of a position in the House of Lords? Then what are you worried about?

        65. No he wasn’t. He wrote: “Christians, as it’s often misunderstood by atheists … are motivated by love, they’re not trying to seize power, they’re not asking people to stop killing babies in the womb because it’s a power grab, it’s simply love.”

        66. I do apologize to you also, for my part in its “turning sour.” I do regret it; suffice to say JZ and I had several exchanges, one very recent, and I allowed the shorthand version of my comments to him rather than explaining some background to the rest of you.
          I enjoyed your conversation and I was sorry to see that some of your best thoughts weren’t picked up and engaged. Understood.

        67. Your comment is full of rather childish and not-well-thought-out accusation. I started addressing some of them, and they just became increasingly numerous and inane. So, I don’t address all of them. Some of what I write, especially early on, is in prose. Later on, it is not as I come to terms with the fact that valued writing in prose more than you valued making efforts to understand my argument. That’s not an accusation. That’s explaining why there’s a stark change in writing style.

          You seem to be begging the question on what morality is. Yes, relative morality would undermine objective morality. But morality isn’t necessarily objective. I maintain―with some trepidation (which you seem to have interpreted as self-contradiction)―that morality is objective and can be known, as the ancient Greek discussed and many societies since have progressed, through the subject of ‘Natural Law’. But, if full investigation were to find that morality is actually relative, then that’s what morality it. You seem to have a circular system of asserting morality is objective and that only God can lead us to objective morality’s composite parts and that God grounds morality, which is objective.
          To make sure we’re using language in the same way, there is a slight problem with the term ‘relative morality’ in its ability to actually reflect what it means. Morality founded on wellbeing is “relative” in that the exact actions and considerations that best promote wellbeing will be relative to the situation and individuals involved. However, that is not the same as “relative morality”, as that term would better be described as ‘subjective morality’. But, that’s the linguistic legacy of the thinkers that precede us. So, when I say relative morality undermines objective morality, I am referring to the morality that would be down to the subjective whims of each individual and culture. I am not talking of the ‘relative morality’, like wellbeing based morality, that would still permit itself to objective investigation. (I am aware that may have been clear, but it is worth spelling out.)
          So, back to that initial comment I am addressing (“Moral relativism undermines the objectivity of moral values and duties”). Well, so what? Although I agree that morality is objective, we disagree on how to get there (or even whether each other’s proposals do get us there). Left only with theistic objective morality, I would argue that is actually relativism (in the literal sense, in that it is subject to the whims of an entity: God).
          Sorry to continue to go through this shameless self-promotion, but I have written about this before: I think wellbeing based morality is a tautology, as it is exactly what we mean when we say morality ( I’ve also argued that the position of thinking morality is some magical domain that can only be understood through a God is a type of nihilism (inspired by the work of Nietzsche, obviously: the world is nihilistic except through God.
          Just like the fact I don’t think the criticism of ‘relativism’ is actually enough to undermine an argument, I don’t think suggesting the facts point toward nihilism is enough to say the facts are wrong. It wouldn’t be ideal, but we very well could like is a relativistic or nihilistic world; that’s not impossible and suggesting a person’s argument leads that way doesn’t invalidate the argument.
          There is nothing subjective about the morality I am proposing (or, parroting from a series of political thinkers, utilitarian ethicists and Sam Harris’ ‘The Moral Landscape’ as a summary of those thinkers). I’ve been told it is moral relativism because I can’t necessarily convince others of this definition of morality. I don’t see that, as an accusation, sticks. You can’t convince me of theistic morality, but you wouldn’t accept that as evidence what you are proposing is relative. I can’t convince all people the world isn’t flat, but that doesn’t make the geometry of the Earth a matter of relativism either. So long as some views can be said to be wrong, the topic can be said to be objective. And about the issue, some people are just wrong. Conservative Islam simply does not increase or safeguard morality in a multicultural world, for example.
          There’s another apparent misunderstanding that I think I should take a moment to clear up. You mention the idea of a maxim of “maxing the well-being of themselves”. That is not what any utilitarian ethics I have ever read about discusses. It is about maximising the wellbeing of everything: promoting, safeguarding and maximising wellbeing. In a practical sense, it’s regarding the wellbeing of all conscious creatures involved, not just the actor (“themselves”). I find it hard to imagine calling ‘moral’ something that deviates from this goal. In principle, could the maximal suffering of conscious creatures, or the action that leads there, be considered moral? In what you have said to me so far, the answer is yes. God could have defined morality in a way that the ‘moral’ action leads towards maximal suffering. Again, I don’t know what your response to this would be, but the normal response I receive is that morality, defined by God (or a relationship with God) will always lead to maximal wellbeing (or peace or some other semi-pseudonym). In that case, God is doing no more than articulating the same morality I am discussing. (Other responses include: God is unknowable; and ‘yes, it could lead to abject suffering, and puny humans are in no position to judge.’ This does start us on a conversation of ‘for what possible reason should I care, then? If morality isn’t knowable, why should I care about your interpretation? And if it could lead to the abject suffering of all people, why would I invest my energy in that? I’d rather live in the world where people invested in wellbeing, and suddenly the only reason to care about God’s morality is the self-interested fear of being sent to Hell. I know you’ve argued that a proper relationship with God will lead you to wanting to do God’s will for its own sake, but you’ve argued that in the romantic sense of it still overlapping with the protection and fostering of wellbeing.)
          You argue that all this is to talk what is “moral in non-moral terms”. Again, I say that accusation is begging the question. It assumes the proper ideas and language of morality belong to God: redemption, salvation, faith etc. But that assertion belongs to the very topic under debate, and so is question begging.
          You then ask the question, with a short explanation, as follows: ““Why would it be wrong to harm another if atheism was true?” To insist the flourishing of man is more moral than that or snails is the very definition of arbitrary (not to mention making people again guilty speciesism).” To which there are several answers and point to clarify:
          Firstly, I could return the question asking why it is wrong to offend God or violate Its will. I suspect the answer will be ‘because that’s what morality is’. And if you are going to remain steadfast in that position without analysing further why God’s will is moral, or what compels God to call certain things moral, then we are at an impasse. If wellbeing compels God’s moral commands, then he is a messenger of the morality I am discussing; if God’s moral commands can deviate wildly wellbeing, then the Euthyphro dilemma stands: why call It good?
          Offering this question to me as a challenge highlights that we need to go back a step and see whether we have any common ground at all on the definition of morality. You seem to speak of “redemption” and “inalienable rights” as if they are self-evident metrics in moral discussions. But that’s exactly the kind of claim you should be defending, not assuming. No right is inalienable. No person is owed redemption. Nothing about the system I am presenting violates justice. Near the end of the comment, you imply that the system I am proposing will turn into religion-oppressing soviet-style tyranny, while remaining the same system as I am proposing, and still be moral in that sense. And, I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. You cannot get there from what I am saying. You are so obsessed with the idea that the system I am talking about is meaningless that you refuse to accept it has any content and demand it will be overthrown by a powerful regime. Every step in that is to completely violate the system I am presenting. The further down your comment I got the more convinced I became that you simply don’t have a clue what I’m saying. I am frustrated to read that you will take the lies of the soviet propaganda and simply superimpose the consequences of that over what I’m talking about, instead of actually addressing what I am talking about. I’ve shown you the courtesy of not showing how religious rhetoric lead to oppression and horror and not to completely misrepresent what I understand of your argument, so I really struggled with why I should invest time having a conversation with someone who can’t do the same.
          You can throw dung in the hope that some of it sticks, or you can think your accusations and explanations through more carefully. I can tell the difference. (Also, “if atheism was true”, really? I expected a little more awareness in the way you asked that question. How could atheism be “true”? It’s not a claim or a statement.)
          Secondly, there is no suggestion in what I have written that only human wellbeing is relevant. I’ve written about this before, too ( ― that’s just a list of posts on the subject; feel free to read as many or as few as possible). Entire ecosystem still relate back to wellbeing of consciousness at some level. Deforestation for palm oil relates back to Orangutans. Pastoral farms are directly related to the wellbeing of the farmed animals. Even arable farms have a wellbeing relationship to a conceptual ecosystem that could otherwise have existed in that area (and also the humans it goes on to feed).
          Thirdly, as the first post I linked discusses, I don’t think it’s arbitrary at all. I think it is exactly what we talk about when we use the word ‘moral’. And that, if I’m not mistaken, is what a word is. I would actually argue that you are not arguing for God’s ‘morality’ at all, because that’s not what people mean when they talk of morality. I would argue that you believe there is some essential idea of how God wants us to behave, and you believe that expectation from God is hugely important (for reasons of brute-fact, not of self-interest and fear of Hell). Our point of disagreement, then, is about which is more important: morality or what I once termed the “divoodine” (God’s prefence for our behaviour ―
          It is these disagreements, where I suspect we have little to no common ground on what we think morality is ― expect that it relates to behaviour ― and that we are discussing entirely different concepts that leads you to make accusations that simply don’t map onto the view I am discussing. You say “you’re unable by your own world-view to make such claims as “morally” behaviours are X, Y or Z”, where I think it would be more accurate to say that you don’t accept the legitimacy of such judgements. Remember, I don’t accept “‘coz God” is a legitimate defence of something as moral. You might say that me not recognising God’s authority is irrelevant, because God simply has the authority, but that’s overly simple too. Not only do I not think God exists, but if you were to take me exactly as I am now and change only whether I believed in a God, I still wouldn’t accept God’s authority. As it is, it isn’t even a case of ‘God says X’, it’s a case of ‘Person A says character B in Book C says God says X’. Person A might be mistaken in their interpretation, character B could be mistaken or making it up or have misinterpreted Book C. Book C might not reflect what God says. And, God could be mistaken about morality. Or, all of society could be mistaken about whether God is even making pronouncements on morality or divoodinity.
          I simply don’t recognise your characterisation of morality as I present it. How do you justify going from what I described―morality based on wellbeing―to the asinine things you go on to list in your humanist academy? How did liberties become “whims and fancies”? How did suffering become “not conducive to the flourishing of the human machine”? How do you, in your analogy, defend equating the potential wealth of human experience with modernist, pragmatic “most expeditious route to the city”? How do you so entirely bypass my point, so smugly? The irony of your analogy is that your character Silence of Mind is the one who defends experience over going through the motions. Somehow, you think your position is reflected by Silence of Mind and it is my position that is modernistic and pragmatic. But, your position is the one going through predefined motions, and mine is the one valuing the wealth of experience and “wonderful attractions”. I’ll be honest, it is difficult to read elegant and articulate prose that so severely miss the mark in terms of content. (And that’s not just because I’m dyslexic.)

          As a key question: what is this moral experience you keep talking about? What is the uniquely Christian moral experience that makes wellbeing so apparently not a part of the picture? What should be as accessible to me as sight and touch that tells me wellbeing is redundant to discussions of morality? What is it? Because my experience tells me nothing could be more important to morality than wellbeing. But, when I say that, I imagine you becoming massively disinterested in what something as subjective and intellectually vacuous as personal experience can mean.

          Eventually, you completely lose the plot:
          “that’s something Nazi eugenicists in Germany would have totally agreed with too.” The Nazis were Christian. Oh, and wrong. Eugenics is not the way maximal enjoyment and wellbeing. Eradicating disease at the cost of people’s right to a family, reproductive right, and the cessation of pregnancies against either parents’ will is not a path to increased wellbeing. I’ve written about the problems of tyranny before, and how the promise of a utopia on the other side of the fuck-awful is immoral (
          “raping and torturing two little children so to preserve three little children is “moral” because it is an action furthering human well-being, how twisted!” Yes, how twisted indeed. Oh, and wrong. Ignoring the fact that such a situation where raping and torturing 2 children to save 3 won’t happen without the careful orchestration of a person who, as a result of this orchestration, can be said to have severely lowered wellbeing, what is the Christian answer? Let the 3 children die? Or rape and torture the 2? Am I meant to find peace in the idea the orchestrator of that demented little scenario is permitted by a God to carry it all out, but will eventually be sent to Hell for recompense? Or not, if he find God before his death. And, are you trying to indict the person who is forced to decide between allowing 3 children die or raping and torturing 2? Is that the person you’re indicting? Also, from a technical standpoint, are you arguing that 3 deaths is better or worse than 2 rapes and tortures? Because, I couldn’t say with confidence which is less awful. (That doesn’t undermine the objectivity of my proposal; I couldn’t say with confidence which is heavier: an average apple or an average nectarin. The fact of that matter is still objective.) Have you actually thought your throught experiment through?
          “both the husband and adulterous third party would be “morally guilty” because of catching syphilis from the wife! Wow.” Yes, wow. How did you get into this victim blaming nonsense? Where did you get off the train of thought where the moral guilt rests with the victims? Look, I get that if you were writing a newspaper article or if this were a public debate, you’d possibly win some points by slipping this complete strawman past an audience member or two. But that raises the question of what your intentions are in this conversation. Are you trying to “win” by rhetoric and sophistry, or do you actually care about the topic?
          “As it’s the potential utopian, which may include yourself, who must eradicate impediments to “morality” being “discovered” (invented?) thus they must remove church bells by the feeble pretense of “requiring materials”, or even open up youth clubs on Sunday to lure children away from Church…”
          Where on Earth do you get the idea that (a) impeding religious freedom is compatible with morality as I describe it or (b) directing children away from Church is the worst thing ever done in the name of chasing a utopia?

          Following is a rant:
          So, your comment starts veering off into politics. You repeat the “human machine” nonsense, again stated that morality as I describe it doesn’t map onto morality as you describe it and then start jabbering about an “atheistic state” (has someone simply forgotten the word “secular”? Or does one really misunderstand me that severely?) and communism (not your worst smear attempt this comment) and the “shackles of religious belief”. I mean, why don’t you just accuse me of being some sort of “militaristic soviet commie cunt” and move on? It would map onto my actual view about as accurately as what you have written, and is about as deserving of a response. Your comment, in its length, is stepping further and further away from anything I have said or alluded to, or even the logical consequences of what I have said. And, by this stage, you’re not even discussing the consequences of the strawman of my view you began with. Even your strawman and these consequences are a non sequitur. Somehow wellbeing has become eugenics and fascism and Naziism. You characterise our disagreement on what morality is as ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’I might have been the first person to swear, but you were the first person to not take this discussion seriously. And it is frustrating from a person who has shown that they aren’t so stupid, so incapable of following an argument, so impaired of nuance as the argument they then shamelessly offer demonstrates. And the stupidest part of it all is that you thought I wouldn’t see that your presentation of my ideas has nothing to do with my ideas. No, this paragraph has nothing to do with the discussion at hand: morality. This paragraph is wondering whether you’re worth continuing a discussion with when you so shamelessly have no intention of honestly discussing.

          Right, so, rant over. Hopefully you’ll take some of those concerns seriously, else I don’t see the value in continuing this conversation. I would argue that the one “following the blueprint” of utopianism is you, with your support for “unquestioned loyalty to the divine standard”. I am arguing for a free, open, democratic and informed discussion about what is right and wrong. You are arguing for following the preset rules, regardless of what the rules are, unquestioningly. I believe unquestioning reverence to an authority, historically, has been a problem. Both a religious as a secular problem. The thing is, there is nothing inherent about an unquestioning authority in secular ideas. If I am to believe your argument, Christianity does have unquestionable authority inherently at its core. Your smear doesn’t stick, not only because it doesn’t map onto what I’m saying, but because the accusation does stick to what you are saying.

          “I have a job in which I cannot speak my mind, as minds like my own have been deemed wrong or dangerous or somehow not conducive to the public good (and why wouldn’t they be, the public have been trained to react in hostile a mode to the entire thing), whereas ideas and behaviours which directly erode Christian beliefs are allowed or even promoted by the supposedly Christian state.”
          I’m an MSc student who used to be teacher. I very much value open discussion where everyone involved has equal onus to defend their position. I rarely get into debates like this in real life, but in the few events where it has happened, open debate has been accused of being censorship. I challenged a Muslim student on the idea that a God would compel us to punish ‘apostates’ in life, given that Allah already had an after-death punishment set up, making Earthly punishment a redundancy. A fair argument, I think. And my argument received no criticism, so I still believe it. What the Muslim girl did instead was shriek that she has every right to believe apostates should be killed, and that my challenge of her was a violation of her free speech. Well, I call bullshit on that. I don’t know what your experience is, obviously. But Christianity is still the majority religion in the UK and the Prime Minister still talks of “Christian values” and a “Christian country”, so I can’t help but believe you are making the same mistake the Muslim girl made: confusing debate with censorship.
          During my undergraduate years, a creationist student did the same ‘shared elective’ as me (it’s a module you get to do from another department): it was called “Human evolution”. She then complained that creationism wasn’t included. And the elective has now (6 years later) been removed, despite being popular. I doubt that’s causative, but the idea that a creationist can opt to go to series of ‘Human evolution’ lectures, not once speak up to defend her view, and then feels the right to complain that it was disrespectful of her religion, in a facility of higher learning, without even attempting to make an intellectual defence of her claim ― that idea reflects what I hear when you say you’re not allowed to discuss your Christianity. I could be wrong, but my experience tells me Christians who claim to be censored and have their religious freedom violated tended to expect their religion to occupy some sort of special place that abrogates my right to criticism.
          You can say it, and I can say it’s nonsense. Just like when I say something, you have the right to completely misrepresent it. Humanism is, in part, about religious freedom. And free speech is something that was won from religious authorities by secular movements. Again, this equating of secularism with soviet oppression is dishonest and not conducive to any real discussion. And you treating a secularised Christmas like it’s a problem, or imposed, is a nonsense. Which of the following parts of Christmas, which have existed for decades (and centuries in some cases) are Christian: Bringing an evergreen tree in doors; a fat man dressed in red bringing presents; the exchanging of gifts; yule log; a massive feast? It’s not a sign of impending doom, it’s always been this way. It’s like me saying a blue sky is evidence of my neighbours conducting research into nuclear bombs: the reasoning isn’t sound, but the conclusion is scary enough to get people to listen.

          “Your claim is to say we two differ on our definitions of morality, yet it’s rather that I have an actual definition of morality, and you do not, rather you have a stealth concept you’re redefining morality”
          Oh, the classic ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ argument. If only I’d thought to implement that first.

          “despite defining the Enlightenment and morality out of their original contexts, you’re pleased to do likewise to the natural law (redefining the thing as relativism).”
          Oh goodie, a criticism of a position I never articulated. If only I’d thought of redefining your view and saying how my strawman is bullshit, therefore you’re wrong.

          “if ever there is “complete inferiority” it would be on the side of the system which made morality a non-issue, lacked any authority so to be applied, and altogether consisted of arbitrary, implausible commands (atheistic humanism!)”
          So, the failure of secular ethics is the lack of authority? Wait, wait ― is the inferiority of heliocentricism the fact I can’t convince everyone if it? Or that I’m not allowed to go to war to make sure people are right about the issue? Authority has precisely nothing to do with whether morality is objective or real. It simply comes down to whether one person can be said to be wrong about morality, and they can.
          I don’t which orifice you pulled the concept of ‘implausible’ commands from. I’m not even sure why you’re characterising morality as ‘commands’. I’m certainly not.

          “Reality doesn’t care you explain”
          No. Reality doesn’t owe you something you like. I’m fine with being paraphrased, but attempt to actually present me idea.

          ““God’s vicarious redemption is distasteful to me!” Well, so? God replies “I Am That I Am.”, all the credentials needed.”
          Perfectly meaningless. Thank you.

          “To which you reply “You owe me something palpable!” Yet God’s elect by the Holy Spirit explain “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.””
          Perfectly meaningless. Thank you.

          “Nonetheless, you continue by way of the famous (and well answered) Euthyphro dilemma: “is it good because God does it, or does God do it because it is good?” The dilemma is in truth a false one (as you explain, even making God’s case for Him), as there’s a third option, namely, God wills something because He is good. God’s commands have always been an expression of His own immutable nature and essential attributes.”
          Do you think that actually answers the question of what ‘good’ is? When you say “well answered” do you mean “frequently responded to”? Because that answer is circular. And circular answered are not good ones.

          “Despite everything already shared you blast the sky, fist raised in triumph, shouting “You, God, are the perfect caricature of a tyrant, defining your own behaviour as good and using your status so to excuse yourself from moral criticism!” You don’t mean. . .like how you’re defining your desires and unjustified behaviours as the moral good?!”
          Are you of the impression I intend to burn you alive if you violate my considerations of what is good?

          “God is jealous, angry and surprised by events, they’re just as human as the Bible authors, undeserving of my praise and worship.”
          This is an argument against the concept of an omniGod. I don’t how you’re characterising or what your point is. But as your attempted (yet circular) solution to the Euthyphro dilemma was to posit an omniGod, that just is good, and not actually addressing the question of whether that “good” is defined by whatever God happens to be or whether God ascribes to it, whatever it is. The omniGod answer asserts goodness and God are identical (or share an identity) but doesn’t actually answer the question of what good is, or what God’s nature is, without simply referring to each other and pulling themselves up by their own boot straps.
          I’m saying there’s no morality described here, because the omniGod answer you allude to is a content-free nonsense in the question of morality. How does the answer ‘God is good because good is God’ exclude child-rape from being ‘good’? The wellbeing based morality excludes that. Yours doesn’t. The God definition of morality doesn’t achieve that. You have bring all your own “moral experience” premises to have anything like an argument. God plays no role in that. Your “moral experience” argument by itself, completely devoid of a God, does more work than God does in your argument. God’s redundant.
          You’re misunderstanding of the entrapment, surprise and world created falled argument works to your advantage. I’m not saying you’re right (not even close). I’m saying pretending to not understand gave you a lot of room to write nonsense.

        68. We’ve shared many good-natured messages, due to which I’m surprised rather than give my reply the benefit of the doubt you’re first prepared to imagine deception, spitefulness and point scoring on my part. So, let me reply in brief, I’m actually dyslexic myself, 🙂 and if ever you have misunderstood my words (or I yours) let’s agree to that being friendly fire. I’ve repeated twice in the reply just so to be clear “Despite you clearly being moral (as my arguments are not trying to suggest otherwise),” you replied nonetheless ‘I mean, why don’t you just accuse me of being some sort of “militaristic soviet commie c***” and move on?’ My apologies if the form my reply took caused upset or hurt in you on an emotional level, as that’s never been an intention of mine. When you reply saying you’re not sure as to whether or not you would like to continue conversation, that to me reads as either you being frustrated or upset or something similar, though it’s never my intention to upset anybody. Your compliment about elegant and articulate prose was beautiful, I’ve valued that, and although your reply reads a little raw, it’s only because these are tough subjects and you’re passionate about your beliefs.

          Hopefully you’ve found good in my reply also, lots of humour, love, perhaps even reason to reflect. How my exchange ended with John I’d like to have done here too, although with luck the conversation can continue. I’ve valued your time and I’m wishing good things in your life, enjoy your Sunday.

        69. Perhaps I have over-reacted, and your comment was more of a practice in intellectual showmanship, showing off that you are aware of certain socio-political history and have read certain books. But, looking back at your comment can you see the depth and breadth with which you missed the mark of what my comments were? Can you see how a conversation I have invested considerable rumination and writing time to (as I’m sure you have) culminated 6 written pages of seemingly intentional complete mistakes about what it is I actually wrote?
          This isn’t about me being passionate about the subject (although, I am). This is about me having invested hours reading and understanding your comments and replying, only to find your response was completely off the wall. I admit my reply was overly emotional, and for that I apologise. I should have slept on it.
          But, to equate my ideas to the rhetoric of tyrants throughout history, tyrants who have clearly not implemented the ideas I am discussing, and treating that like it might be a reflection on my ideas defeats the object of me actually writing out what my ideas are.
          You can’t get from what I’m saying to eugenics, or the suppression of religious freedom. The only step, and history agrees with me here, is if the person who says things like the ideas I’m discussing suddenly goes “Right, that hippy-nonsense seems to have gotten us all the power we need. Kill them all.” You get from the things I said to tyranny by lying when you say the things I said and then doing something completely different. (That can be said of anything.) But you treated it like it’s an actual logical consequence.
          The reason I ponder whether or not to continue the conversation is because your comment worked out at 6 pages, size 10 font, single spaced, and so my reply, to address that, must be of comparable size. But you didn’t show any particular desire to address the ideas I shared. You forced my ideas into philosophically and historically misinformed frameworks. As a result, you’re not discussing my ideas. So, where’s my incentive? I’m open to criticism, that’s why I write this stuff. I am less open to being hooked into a time consuming debate where you go largely off the wall, suddenly.

          As you can imagine, our conversation was time consuming; that’s why I offered “bitesize” responses to others while reassuring you I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m sure your comments were time consuming, too, which is why I read them carefully, tried my hardest to understand them and pointedly did not force your ideas into preconceptions. So, my condition for continuing this conversation, if that’s something you want to do, is that you either keep nonsense comments a lot shorter (and I mean, a lot shorter: “You’re like Hitler”. That sort of length) or keep longer comments more sensible with better ties to what I’m saying to where you think it leads. If you’re unclear about my view, or think an element leads somewhere extreme, replace the several paragraphs of talking about the horrors of the Soviet Union with a question. Seriously, it helps and saves time.
          If you think my ideas will lead to tyranny, somehow, explain it instead of just equating ethics as I described them horrible people who did not show those ethics.
          Perhaps the least thoughtout mistake you made was thinking that all morality that is not Godly morality is interchangeable. Situationists are not the same as utilitarians are not the same as Kantian ethicists. You can’t just label all ‘other’ systems as “relative” (wrongly, by the way) and then equate that to any other nihilistic or relativistic system or regime, and expect me to take you seriously.
          (You can do it, you’re comments won’t get blocked. But you can’t expect to be taken seriously.)
          Raw, though I admit my comment was (and, again, I apologise for that) I think it’s accurate. You made little to no effort address what I presented, you just addressed other things entirely and related them to what I presented (in a tortured fashion).
          A lot of what I said I stand by. We disagree on the definition of morality. You can’t seem to see that you beg the question on your definition of morality necessarily including redemption, salvation and inalienable rights. You do seem to confuse a lack of forceful authority with a lack of objectivity. Those are points we may want to iron out before we attempt to progress. After all, if you won’t budge on even the smaller details of your definition, what are we discussing?

        70. Also, having just read the comment back to myself, despite the use of the C-bomb, it was neither as sloppy nor as aggressive as I recall it being.
          I completely stand by my use of “fuck-awful”.
          Happy Sunday to you, too.

        71. Let’s have ourselves an exchange about Sam Harris’ “Moral” landscape, because you’re writing: “There is nothing subjective about the morality I am proposing (or, parroting from a series of political thinkers, utilitarian ethicists and Sam Harris’ ‘The Moral Landscape’ as a summary of those thinkers).”

          Harris’ views aren’t supportive of moral values existing as abstract Platonic object, which isn’t bad, as they’re already best discounted as things to be postulated (for the arguments already stated), as an alternative Harris in their landscape tried to ground moral values in the natural world, very interesting. Although considering how the natural world (of which we’re a part) is clearly morally neutral, as explained by Harris’ critics, there’s seemingly no sense in attaching moral dimensions to its various states of affairs. Harris as noted by everybody has redefined what is meant by “good” and “evil” as “what supports the well-being of conscious creatures.” (something which historically the moral good has never meant). There appears to be patterns of redefinition forming here (e.g morality, the Enlightenment, atheism). My reply today is actually fairly short, meaning the density is really due to me quoting Harris at length, for which you hopefully won’t feel any pressure to try and recreate the sort of message length you sometimes feel is required to meet my replies. It’s quality, not amount.

          So, Harris is making certain claims, one of which is to say “the moral good” simply is another expression of “whatever supports the well-being of conscious creatures”, with which let’s turn to pages 125 and 126 of their Moral Landscape book: “It is also conceivable that a science of human flourishing could be possible, and yet people could be made equally happy by very different “moral” impulses.” How interesting, although I’m unsure as to what Harris means by different sorts of “moral impulses”, let’s continue therefore: “Perhaps there is no connection between being good and feeling good—and, therefore, no connection between moral behavior (as generally conceived) and subjective well-being. In this case, rapists, liars, and thieves would experience the same depth of happiness as the saints. This scenario stands the greatest chance of being true, while still seeming quite far-fetched.” Rapists, liars and thieves, according to Harris, are having “moral impulses” by indulging in their character traits and behaviours which define them as rapists, liars and thieves?! Surely not. There’s perhaps no difference between feeling good and being good Harris muses, for which there’s no connection between “moral behaviour” as generally conceived and subjective well-being, meaning subjective well-being simply is the “objective” morality under Harris view, as it appears we’re entering into topsy turvy land, wherein up means down and subjective means objective merely because the subject is objectively speaking of objectively feeling something subjective! Are rapists “moral”? Harris ties these highly damaging thoughts together by yet another fact, that being that over three million Americans are psychopathic, meaning to say they don’t care about the mental states of others. Rather they enjoy inflicting pain upon others. Harris’ later attempts to rescue their landscape involve neurology and an insistence that because we’re each supposedly not so different, due to our shared evolutionary heritage, there’s no need to concern ourselves in the now with alternative behaviours if we were to imagine beginning afresh and rewinding the evolutionary process, this of course only goes to highlight the obvious, that a very different landscape would emerge if indeed they did do so. They conclude, or perhaps concede the point:

          “However, if evil turned out to be as reliable a path to happiness as goodness is, my argument about the moral landscape would still stand, as would the likely utility of neuroscience for investigating it. It would no longer be an especially “moral” landscape; rather it would be a continuum of well-being, upon which saints and sinners would occupy equivalent peaks.”

          Once again, rather than being “moral”, the landscape would be merely a “continuum of well-being”, one whose peaks aren’t occupied by people feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and curing illnesses, but rather rapists, liars and thieves, due to which, just speaking in terms of pure logic, morality and Harris’ utilitarian ethic aren’t one and the same, they’re in fact different. There are conceivable worlds or states of affairs wherein Harris’ peaks are occupied by thoroughly evil people, but, as Harris critics point out, “this entails that in the actual world, the continuum of well-being and and morality aren’t the same”, and all merely due to the fact that “feeling good” and “being good” are in Harris’ model the exact same thing. Harris actually insists this has the greatest chance of being true! Critics of Harris model rightly explain how identity is a necessary relation, meaning there’s no possible state of affairs in which entity A is not identical to A, so if there’s any hypothetical state of affairs in which A (the landscape) is not identical to B (Morality), then it follows that A isn’t identical to B. Two opposing sets of behaviours are both being described as occupying the peaks of the continuum, meaning rapists, liars, thieves and their opposites can in theory experience “the same depth of happiness as the saints” (in Harris’ own words). This is of course due to people being psychopaths, in addition to “feeling good” being selfsame “doing good” under Harris framework, meaning in one fated paragraph Harris has both made the most repugnant behaviours “moral impulses”, and undone their entire claim to objectivity.

          Their motivation? Harris explained by way of page 126: “Currently, most scientists believe that answers to questions of human value will fall perpetually beyond our reach—not because human subjectivity is too difficult to study, or the brain too complex, but because there is no intellectual justification for speaking about right and wrong, or good and evil, across cultures. Many people also believe that nothing much depends on whether we find a universal foundation for morality. It seems to me, however, that in order to fulfill our deepest interests in this life, both personally and collectively, we must first admit that some interests are more defensible than others.”

          “in order to fulfill our deepest interests” meaning the interests of the Western, liberal, political person (not a slur, just commentary), Harris writes “we must first admit that some interests are more defensible than others” meaning their desires as an axiom are more worthy of being defended and propagated than that of Mormon interests in life, Hindu interests and even perhaps my own, or even as you wrote: “Morality is ultimately discoverable, and it’s more readily discoverable in places that do not take unquestioning authority.” So, as atheism must increase, certain sorts of theism must decrease. Despite your earlier emotional outburst, my material has been honestly interacting with your position from the very beginning (as I’d not have it any other way). You may write you find the consequences of the view appealing, or that you’re not holding to their conclusions, nonetheless, it’s an inescapable and logically sound conclusion, even one shared by Harris himself.

          Harris begins by concluding: “For nearly a century, the moral relativism of science has given faith-based religion—that great engine of ignorance and bigotry—a nearly uncontested claim to being the only universal framework for moral wisdom.” Now, apparently the religious are on the choo choo train of ignorance and bigotry straight to crazy island (Harris’ ignorant name calling aside), whereas non-bigoted and reasonable people, reasonable by their own redefinition, are being called upon to increase and put an end to the religious people’s monopolising of the language surrounding morality, the only stumbling block is well-being by Harris’ own confession isn’t identical to the moral landscape. By granting the continuum of well-being isn’t identical to the moral landscape Harris has undone any chance of rescuing the objectivity of their claim, rather it’s as I’ve already explained in my earlier supposedly offensive message.

          In an earlier message of yours, you described me as childish, inane, writing bull****, moreover you continue, accusing me of being smug, sharing lies and writing asinine material, in addition to “victim blaming” (how liberal of you), straw manning and debate point scoring, you went on, accusing me of rhetoric and sophistry (which funnily enough is what you’re often accused of when people can’t debate you), nonsense, jabbering, smearing and shamelessly having no intention of engaging honestly, you’ve also accused me of competently misrepresenting you, and pulling words from an “orifice”, although you don’t know which one! Lastly you to the sweet irony of the entire post accused me of dung throwing (as if these attacks weren’t dung enough for everyone!) I’ve truly engaged with your views, or perhaps the consequence of your views, for which I hope you consider my messages well.

        72. It certainly would be interesting to have a conversation about Sam Harris’ ‘The Moral Landscape’, but as I’ve mentioned before, and as your criticism that wellbeing has “historically the moral good has never meant” we need to start such a conversation by getting to the bottom of what you think ‘the moral good’ did historically (and presumably still does) mean. The vaguer sense in which it is often described is that morality defines what ‘one ought to do’. But that’s perfectly content-free. If you have a wallet and I want it, I ought to ask you for it. If you say no, I ought to take it by force. Given the goals of Nazi Germany (as you brought them into your conversation), eugenics and genocide are what they ought to have done. This historical definition seems exceedingly lacking. Your challenge that “Rapists, liars and thieves, according to Harris, are having “moral impulses” by indulging in their character traits and behaviours which define them as rapists, liars and thieves?” is answered with a ‘yes’ if we take the ‘ought to do’ definition at its word. Later in this post, I come on to why the answer is actually ‘no’ under ‘The Moral Landscape’.
          Instead, we recognise that a moral person wouldn’t want to take a wallet by force. There is some value we appeal to when we talk of what is morally good. Despite your analogies in the humanist academy, we recognise those values somehow map onto liberties and looking after conscious wellbeing (which, by the way, cannot reasonably be interpreted as the function of ‘the human machine’). I argue, as Sam Harris argues, that when you drill these values down to their cores, by open and free conversation, you uncover that what people mean when they talk of morality is of safeguarding wellbeing. Sure, each individual has selfishness and fear in them too, but they can recognise which of those feelings relates to selfishness, which is moral etc.
          The thieves, murderers and rapists are strong challenges to the ‘ought’ definition of morality, too. Consider it in terms of the Hume is-ought problem. Hume argues that some cannot get from what is to what ought to be. And so, morality immediately evaporates. Hume argues God and Its will can plug the gap, but that’s imply investing another ‘is’. The concept is undermined by Hume’s own argument. As you can imagine, I’ve written on this before, too (
          So, before we have such a conversation, and particularly before I am to accept your criticism that Harris is making up a new definition of morality that doesn’t map onto any historical definition, I need to know what you think the definition is. I suspect that you think it’s about ‘divinity’ is some respect, as if that’s a complete definition with content and is somehow self-explanatory. As I’ve said, I think it’s not.
          As for this idea that I’m redefining stuff, I disagree. For brevity, I shortened ‘The Enlighten values’ to ‘the Enlightenment’ and when that caused confusion I had to expand on it. I did this from habit, as I’ve done a project on this recently. As for atheism, I don’t think we’ve described it, I don’t think it pertains to our conversation, and as historical definitions include the word “immoral” I don’t think we’re going to complain about using a more recent one. As for morality, well, we’ll see where this conversation takes us, but it is the very nature of the conversation we are having. To tell me I’m redefining is to say that you’re already right. Harris’ argument is that it has never been properly defined because definitions have either had significant flaws or people have been content with vague statements. His work is to drill down the actual values that underpin morality to create a definition that works. And I think he’s right. I was a moral relativist before I read the book, convinced morality was simply impulses afforded to us by evolution and nothing more; not even an approximation of something more. I’m not just parroting views I already agreed with.
          So, let’s do what you want to do: let’s look at some hypothetical and unpalatable potential implications of ‘The Moral Landscape’. Let’s assume that human psychology changes and evolves in such a way that actions today considered ‘grievous bodily harm’ before actions that people cherish and applaud; assailants feel pride and victims love the sting of a good beating; that this causes no evident long-term psychological damage and that society functions well and all people remain well-adjusted. In this, the shape of the moral landscape is not changed, but the actions that occupy it are. Morality still relates to wellbeing, but wellbeing responds different to input. Now what? Are you going to argue that in this world GBH is still immoral, even though it make all involved sustainably happy?
          See, ‘The Moral Landscape’ doesn’t give imperatives about the actions you are and are not allowed to do. It says there is this phenomenon―wellbeing―than can change based on the decisions and actions you make, objectively, and that it is good to make efforts to safeguard it. It doesn’t say shooting a person is always bad, which is why I wrote that big about distinguishing relative morality (as it is actually defined and read, what I explained as “subjective morality”) and relative morality (as it would be understood by a person familiar with those words but not the concept, a morality that is relative to its circumstance). To take an analogy from medicine (as Harris also likes to do), medicine is relative: whether or not you should be taking antibiotics depends on your situation. But that doesn’t afford you the wiggle room to say battery acid is healthier than milk. The the objective answer depends on circumstance (i.e. is relative) doesn’t make it subjective.
          Or, let’s take this exactly to the quote you share, where rapists can be as personally happy as the saints can. Well, my brother has my copy of ‘The Moral Landscape’, so I can’t check, but I find it curious that this passage focuses on the wellbeing of the individuals. There is this frequent criticism that Harris is arguing for selfish behaviour, that which benefits the actor instead of wellbeing in its broader sense. If Harris were making this claim, I would disavow myself from that position entirely. It seems, indeed, that there is this prima facie argument that self-interest leads to the highest personal wellbeing. And, indeed, unless we are expected to lug around fMRI machines how can we be expected to operate on more than prima facie intuitions? But the answer to this is severalfold. Firstly, plenty of research shows most people get the greatest personal satisfaction from altruism; caring about wellbeing means eschewing that self-interested intuition. Second of all, nothing about ‘The Moral Landscape’ argues for acting only with one’s own self-interest in mind. It is about the sum total of wellbeing, as a collective thing. Ideally, I’d have the book to hand, but my suspicions are that the book goes on to make similar arguments to what I just did. If not, and your interpretation is accurate, I disavow myself of that argument.
          Where Harris argues the conceivable possibility of evil reliably leading to safeguarded wellbeing, I think he’s undersold his argument. I do diverge from Harris on this point. Anything you think of as “evil”, that reliably leads to increased wellbeing, is not evil. Rape, for example, is evil precisely because of its relationship with massively damaging wellbeing: fear and pain in the immediate term, emotional scarring in the long term, societal fear of a seemingly random and damaging act etc. If that relationship didn’t exist (and I can’t see how it couldn’t, given human psychology as it is) then it wouldn’t be evil. Given a rewinding of evolution and for every element of human psychology to change, the moral landscape would be unrecognisable to us, and we would be incapable of understanding it. But the same values would underpin it.
          If Harris were right in identifying this as a weakness of his argument, I’d accept that he has done nothing more than shown wellbeing is a good approximation of morality, given psychology exactly as it is. But, if Harris were right, I would also expect this to become an argument for God; a teleological argument of the fashion ‘how fortuitous that our wellbeing and moral intuitions line so precisely with morality!?’ But I actually think Harris has misjudged the power of his own argument (if, indeed, he does argue as you interpret; again, I don’t have my copy of the book to see whether he clarifies on later pages).
          I also disagree with your characterisation that “our deepest interests” are somehow exclusive to the liberal West. This is why ‘The Natural Law Theory’ is so powerful. Most people, given open discussion, tend towards the interests alluded to. In the cliché extremes, I think women in Africa tend towards not wanting their clitoris removed. There are cultural differences that make certain practices interact with our wellbeing differently; I don’t doubt that. Even wearing shoes indoors causes offence and upset in some cultures. But in terms of broader themes of freedom and rights and respect, in an open discussion, given time, the whole point of the Natural Law and Human Rights is that people tend towards wanting those rights for themselves and extending them to others. This is not some imperialist rant; this is acknowledging our social progress rests on the back of an historical accident (i.e. The Enlightenment in Europe not being stopped by war, like it was in Iraq in the 12th Century, and in Athens in 3/4th Century BC etc). This is a lucky privilege, not a cultural imperialist march. And if North Korean farmers openly and freely tell me they like their subjugation, I’ll adjust my views. But, given the impassioned outrage of the Chinese students and South Korean students and Russian students have had about the regimes they’re from, I have considerable evidence in favour of the Natural Law.
          We start to venture towards religious freedom, and how you think my argument is one that will censor it. But that is to not take my argument seriously. I’ll tell you who can’t have their religious freedoms: Islamists. Check my Glossary page, Islamism is different to Islam; it’s the spread of political conservative Islam by force. That freedom is not permitted. Neither is the freedom of ‘Honour killings’ or persecution on religious grounds. Christianity has been through this exact reduction, to make its followers fit into a moral box. But we (even the modern Christians) tend not to lament the cessation of killing gays and spreading across Europe to find and kill heretics. You can believe what you want and you can continue to attend Church or Mosque or Mandira. But you get no political clout (except in democratic numbers). The same is true for atheists; there is a profound difference between an atheistic state that censors religion and a secular one that affords all religions and non-religion the same freedom.
          You get to believe in an unquestionable authority, and you not-have-bum-sex accordingly, just as the Muslims and Jews won’t eat pork, and conservative (both politically and religiously) women won’t have abortions. But you don’t get to say “‘coz God” to place those restrictions on others. You’d have to offer a secular argument for that. (And that’s not the same as offering an atheistic argument.)
          To equate secularism with a totalitarian, militaristic Atheistic state is not, for an intelligent and well-informed person, an honest mistake. Now, politics might not be your bag, and you might not be well-informed in this area. But, I’ve read a lot of what you have to say and although brevity isn’t a tool of yours (not always a criticism, complex ideas need a greater word count), intellect clearly is.

          I suppose at least one paragraph is deserved to address the sourness this conversation developed into (despite me wildly having broken my personal rule of brevity). I didn’t accuse you of victim blaming; you said “both the husband and adulterous third party would be “morally guilty” because of catching syphilis from the wife!” and I asked you how you’d defend that position. You did blame the victims, and I wanted to know how that fit into my ideas at all. You did entirely miss the point of what I was saying; assuming there is no difference between open and free debate and a militaristic Atheistic state is wildly off-mark. To think I condone both, or that they’re even compatible is wrong. Writing about the heinous thing that are the antithesis of my point as if it were the same point is a smear. I enquired as to whether that was debate point-scoring. You reclaimed “wellbeing” as functioning of the human machine. This is particularly dishonest of I am to believe you have read The Moral Landscape (as you are quoting from it) and therefore know how far from the mark you are. You’ve discussed The Moral Landscape on your own blog in a debate with someone else, so I can’t see you’ve an excuse to accidentally be so far from the mark. Thus, I think I’m right in saying that attempted redefinition was sophistry. The complete switch, where your religious character values “wonderful attractions” and “natural beauty” (which, I take, given the metaphor, to mean the breadth and depth of potential experience) and the humanist, apparently implementing the ideas I’m sharing, only cares for modernist pragmatism is a nonsense.

        73. “If not, and your interpretation is accurate, I disavow myself of that argument.”

          It is. I’d certainly enjoy reading you’ve distanced yourself from certain aspects of the positions of Harris, until you actually have your book returned, I’ll wait on something more substantive, in addition, perhaps you’ll get around to addressing the purely logical criticism levelled at the landscape, as you’ve ignored it entirely.

        74. I don’t think the identity problem exists:
          “Where Harris argues the conceivable possibility of evil reliably leading to safeguarded wellbeing, I think he’s undersold his argument. I do diverge from Harris on this point. Anything you think of as “evil”, that reliably leads to increased wellbeing, is not evil. Rape, for example, is evil precisely because of its relationship with massively damaging wellbeing: fear and pain in the immediate term, emotional scarring in the long term, societal fear of a seemingly random and damaging act etc. If that relationship didn’t exist (and I can’t see how it couldn’t, given human psychology as it is) then it wouldn’t be evil. Given a rewinding of evolution and for every element of human psychology to change, the moral landscape would be unrecognisable to us, and we would be incapable of understanding it. But the same values would underpin it.
          If Harris were right in identifying this as a weakness of his argument, I’d accept that he has done nothing more than shown wellbeing is a good approximation of morality, given psychology exactly as it is. But, if Harris were right, I would also expect this to become an argument for God; a teleological argument of the fashion ‘how fortuitous that our wellbeing and moral intuitions line so precisely with morality!?’ But I actually think Harris has misjudged the power of his own argument (if, indeed, he does argue as you interpret; again, I don’t have my copy of the book to see whether he clarifies on later pages).”

        75. And while we’re making requests, a definition of morality, or at least the benchmarks and language use you’re going to hold my answer to, would be really useful in having this conversation.

  8. Yet again, the pernicious habit of atheism to sit back, twiddle-thy-thumb, bring nothing morally to the table and claim victory or in this case superiority.

  9. When atheists flail, they feel an unstoppable urge to begin furious fabrication.

    That’s why people like Allallt and Zande can credit “Humanism” for all human progress.

    Humanism is a belief system for which, perhaps, one person in a thousand could give you a workable definition. While Christianity dotted a million churches across the American landscape, and taught hundreds of millions of people that they need to love their neighbors, forgive those who wrong them, and love their enemies. Even the most stubborn sophist, as well as the most ignorant shut-in, knows of these teachings of Christianity. Go ahead and do a man-in-the-street interview and find out how many people can tell you the basics of “Humanism.”

    Christian teachings have been around for 2,000 years, while “Humanism” — whatever it is — has been around for, maybe, a century or three and has affected — actually affected about 37 people, give or take.

    From this midget movement, Allallt imagines a vast tumult, while of Christianity, the belief system that has provided salvation, healing, incalculable charity, humanity, mercy and altruism for billions of people over two millennia, Allallt says, it hasn’t really had any noticeable effect at all.

    Allallt pretends that “Humanism,” of which most Western people have never even heard, gentled Christianity, the doctrine that had dominated Europe for almost two millennia, before the recent rise of Western atheism, and its concomitant savagery.

    And, we watch now, as “Humanism” takes over in Europe — shorn of the now out-of-favor Christianity — and as Europe embraces the idea of killing twelve year-old children (touched upon earlier in the “slaughtering children” comment in this thread). All of which Allallt insists is “morally and ethically superior.”

    When an atheist is out of gas, as Allallt and Zande have been for some time now, he must flail and fabricate, and he doesn’t do it half way!


    — x

    1. Did you read that, Zande? We fabricate things, and xPrae knows that because in his superior and infallible knowledge, he knows humanism to be about 1 century old and he knows Christianity to unambiguously teach that one should love and forgive.
      We’re fabricating things because xPrae’s mummy only ever let him go to a PG-13 American history lesson and Sunday school. He wasn’t allowed to learn about commie European history, or the Enlightenment (oh, the blasphemy!).

      Now, that might seem condescending, but remember the alternative is that xPrae is actually reasonably well informed and bullshitting on purpose. But it can’t be that, can it? There’s a commandment against that. (Unless he’s Muslim, Muslims are allowed to lie to spread Islam to the infidels. But that would make his strategy one of bare-faced lying as a part of a false flag attack to discredit Christianity…)

      1. Lol! Not bad snark, AllAllt… not as good as mine, but not bad.

        And, yes, you are fabricating things.

        But, why not, since you’re unmoored from any rules system except that which you choose for yourself at any given moment? Therefore, you are, as you so admire, perfectly consistent. And, therefore, in fabricating the codswallop that you do, you’re acting according to your “morally and ethically” superior systems.


        — x

  10. *Giggle*

    This is the funniest thread I’ve ever read. Zande you shoudl quit while you’re only down by a thousand, but I don’t want you to.

  11. @Allallt: you make the basic mistake of confusing “forgives all” with “permits all.”

    Forgiveness, a key component of Christianity, can be offered only to someone who has done something forbidden. If something is permitted, as Allallt suggests that everything is in Christianity, then there’s no need for forgiveness.

    It’s important to understand the nature of forgiveness, as well.

    First: Forgiveness is, first and foremost, of benefit to the forgiver. His forgiveness allows him to put the other’s transgression, along with the pain, suffering and bitterness associated with it, firmly in the past, where it can do him no more harm.

    Second, forgiveness is for the transgressor, so that, faced with nobility in reaction to his own perfidy, he might learn by the example, and be a better person.

    Third: the recipient of forgiveness can receive it only if he understands that he has done wrong. If he’s convinced that his offense is not an offense at all, then he’d scorn the proffered forgiveness. “What? You forgive me? I didn’t do anything wrong!”

    However, if he understands that he’s done wrong, then he’s learned a valuable lesson and he himself can make progress as a person.

    Look: the key component of humankind’s greatest accomplishment — Western Civilization — the “civilization” part of the phrase “Western Civilization,” is: Christianity. Forgiveness is a key component of that civilizing influence.

    And again, one further indication of this is: as the Western world continues to shed Christianity — in response, surely, to the efforts of people like Allallt and Zande — the Western world moves to embrace nihilism, death, crudeness, sexual weirdism … Anythinggoes-ism.

    Or: as the Western World moves to embrace militant, evangelical atheism, it is, obviously, moving toward, as Allallt says, permitting all.


    — x

  12. I’m grateful to Allallt for posting this, as I was looking for an answer to a question that has nagged at me for a while: why do atheists love death so much? I posed it earlier in this thread, and Allallt and Zancde ignored it completely. Now, though, I think I have the answer: Atheism leads to paranoia. It would explain why those ideologies infected with atheism slaughtered tens of millions of innocents in the the last century.

    One would think that the atheist would embrace life, and the lives of others, fanatically — since there is nothing afterward. But they don’t. An aside: Allallt himself has admitted that he favors shuffling Granny out the door as soon as she asks for it. Can anyone doubt that that would be followed by the state deciding when people should be shoved out the door? Yet, Allallt, surely knowing all this, insists he would kill Granny out of “compassion.” This, he assures us, is “morally and ethically superior.”

    The hypothesis: for the atheist, his own life is infinitely important, since that’s all he has. Any other threat must be dealt with extremely carefully or — just extremely, due to the infinite importance of his own life.

    Any atheist fashioning a government with atheism as a key component — Socialism and all its various strains — would view external threats the same way, and would establish his government to reflect this. Hence, it’s not surprising that Stalin, et al would slaughter others wholesale.

    The atheist leaders of the militant atheist system would view others as potential obstacles to their own survival, and to the survival of their system. Others’ lives — because there’s nothing afterward, and because they have no worth outside of their ability to contribute to the system — are perfectly expendable. More to the point: it would be desirable to get rid of any obstacles in order to ensure the survival of the régime and its leaders.

    Being atheists, such leaders would view their people through the lens of their own atheism, assuming that the people would regard them the same way as they regard the people/b> — as potential threats to their own survival. Therefore, to the atheist, everyone is a potential threat.

    Now, look at the basic premise of Allallt’s original post: that Christianity — the most important pillar of humankind’s greatest achievement, Western civilization — is “morally and ethically inferior” to bloodthirsty Islam and human-crunching Atheism. It’s a whack-a-doodle premise, and Allallt had to undergo some amazing contortions to get to it. These contortions are possible, it appears, only through the lens of paranoia. If you read all Zande’s “contributions,” you can draw no other conclusion. They’re stuffed to the overflowing with paranoia.

    Atheism, it would seem, leads directly to paranoia, and that would explain the slaughtering sprees conducted by the militant atheist régimes of the Twentieth Century. I’m thankful to Allallt for opening up what seems to be a potentially fruitful vein of exploration in trying to understand the psychosis of the great atheistic régimes of recent history.


    — x

    1. I’m thinking that the slaughter of innocents is not limited to atheists; there are more than a few bodies in the footsteps of the highly religious. And paranoia (real AND justified) is not excluded from the religious mindset. It is just as dangerous to think “God says to kill them” as it is to think “I’m going to get them before they get me”. And thinking both is dangerous squared.

      1. Here’s just a short list of the atrocities committed by Christians as they spread their “faith” across Europe through bloodshed:

        315 CE. Christianity becomes legal.

        From now on Pagan temples are increasingly destroyed by Christian mobs. Some famous temples that are ruined include the Sanctuary of Aesculapius, the Temple of Aphrodite in Lebanon, the Heliopolis, the Temple of Serapis in Egypt, and many others. Christian priests such as Cyril of Heliopolis and Mark of Arethusa become renowned as “temple destroyers” .
        Pagan priests are increasingly murdered, together with their heathen congregations.

        356 CE. Pagan services are punishable by death. The Christian Emperor Theodosius even murders children caught playing with the remains of heathen statues.

        Pagan philosophers are cruelly murdered. Perhaps the most revered heathen martyr is Hypatia of Alexandria, daughter of Theon the mathematician. Urged on by St Cyril of Alexandria, a mob of Christian fanatics dragged the world-famous philosopher from her chariot, stripped her naked, hauled her to the church, and there murdered her by scraping the flesh from her bones with sharp oyster shells. Her mortal remains were then burned before the screaming Christian hordes.

        The slaughter of the Saxons

        c. 550 CE. Germanic beliefs are outlawed in the Frankish kingdom. All heathen temples and symbols are ordered to be destroyed. Heathen songs, dances and holidays forbidden under pain of extreme punishment.

        719 CE. Frankish Christian missionaries ravage Frisia with fire and sword.
        January 774 CE. Charlemagne vows to convert the Saxons, or, failing that, to wipe them out.

        780 CE. Charlemagne decrees the death penalty for all who fail to be baptised, who fail to keep Christian festivals, who cremate their dead, who are hostile toward Christians, etc etc.

        782 CE. 4,500 Saxon nobles are beheaded in one day at Verden on the Aller for refusing to convert.

        804 CE. The last heathen resistance in Saxony is put down. In thirty years of genocide, from 774 to 804, two thirds of the Saxons have been killed.
        The British Isles

        597 CE. The Augustinian mission arrives in Kent. Its aim is to convert heathen kings, who will then force the new religion on their followers. The situation is confusing, because kings seldom live to a great age, and their successors often repudiate the alien faith.

        616 CE. Athelfrith, heathen king of Northumbria, defeats a huge Christian crusade at Chester.

        617 CE. Athelfrith slain at battle of River Idle. His neurotic rival Edwin becomes king, and is subsequently converted to Christianity, forcing his subjects to give up their old faith.

        653 CE. King Sigibert foists Christianity on heathen Essex.

        654 CE. Penda of Mercia, the last great heathen Anglo-Saxon king, is slain by Christians at the battle of Winwaed. Only Sussex and the Isle of Wight hold out (for a short time) against Christianity.
        Late 8th century onwards. Heathen Scandinavians settle all parts of British Isles.

        1066 CE onwards. William the Conquerer is still passing laws against paganism. Its last redoubt, in practice if not in theory, is the Border counties which form a buffer between England and Scotland.

        1603 CE. James VI of Scotland becomes also James I of England. He crushes the Borderers and destroys their separate culture.


        994 CE. Olaf Tryggvason adopts Christianity in exchange for accepting a vast amount of protection money from the English. Through a brutal campaign that tolerates no opposition he “converts” Norway to Christianity. With Norway fall Shetland, the Orkneys and the Faroes.

        c.1000 CE. Olaf holds prominent Icelandic pagans hostage and demands that Iceland accept the new religion. Iceland falls.

        After 1000 CE. On the death of Olaf Norway returns gladly to paganism.

        1016 CE. Olaf the Stout, later called St Olaf, seizes the throne of Norway. He murders, blinds and maims heathens. Heathen temples are ruthlessly robbed and destroyed.

        Twelfth century CE. The great temple at Uppsala in Sweden is destroyed by Christian fanatics.

        The only reason Christians aren’t killing people today in Europe is because the enlightenment saw rational individuals wrestle power from them to do so.

        1. Thanks, John, for this illustrative post. It’s a case in point about the Zande paranoia. I could almost rest my case on this post alone.


          — x

        2. @Zande: it occurred to me that your entire list above was the equivalent of one single, solitary, kinda slow day of mayhem and killing in the life of the militantly atheistic Soviet Union, or the militantly atheistic Communist China.

          You mistake Christians acting badly (if indeed they were in your list, but let’s stipulate that they were) for a fault in Christianity, rather than in Christians.

          A perfect doctrine — Christianity — implemented by highly imperfect adherents — Christians — will produce an imperfect, messy result. Every time.

          A crap doctrine — Atheistic socialism — implemented by highly imperfect adherents — atheistic socialists — always produces a hellhole. Every time.

          I think I’ll call that xPraetorius’s Fourth (I think) Law. (The First: “Nature abhors an empty hard drive”)

        3. Oh dear, Praetorius, you buggered up rather embarrassingly here…. posting as, yet forgetting you just posted the same comment below as yourself.


          That’s unfortunate.

          So tell me, exactly how many online personalities do you have and switch between, pretending to be other people? Ten, or is it more?

        4. Finally: Allallt, you and Zande make the very basic mistake of confusing the person with the doctrine. If, indeed, Zande’s list, above, is a compendium of Christians behaving badly (and let’s stipulate that it is), then that’s an indictment of the Christians themselves, not of Christianity.

          A perfect doctrine — Christianity — implemented by imperfect human beings — Christians — will always, always, always give an imperfect result.

          However, a crap doctrine — Atheistic Socialism, Islam, Socialislam © — implemented by imperfect human beings will (apparently always if the 20th Century is any indicator) result in a slaughterhouse.

          A slaughterhouse that Allallt, apparently, believes to be “morally and ethically superior” to Christianity.


          — x

        5. You confuse the person with the doctrine all the time. You ask me if I’d feel safer in a Muslim country or a (Western) Christian one. That doesn’t reflect the doctrine, though, it reflects the people.

        6. Hogwash, Allallt! Muslim régimes are always repressive. And, as it’s plain, something built in to Islamic doctrine allows adherents to do things like saw people’s heads off and crucify children.

          There is nothing like that in Christian doctrine which has to be tortured to allow for any kind of mischief whatsoever toward anyone else.

          In the case of Christianity, there are a few malefactors dotted about the landscape who do, indeed, contort and twist Christian doctrine in order to attempt to justify vile acts. Their rarity — the Westboro Baptist people to whom you and Zande make frequent reference, for example — persuasively supports my point.

          Yet, when polled some, what 40%? or something (more, possibly?) of the Muslim world “approves” of what the gibbering baboons of ISIS do.

          Sorry, Islamic doctrine is crap. Besides, it’s just an excuse to obtain power on earth anyway. It’s all a big sham, not even a real religion. As mentioned asbove, it’s really “Socialislam”: a way to attach divine approbation to an earthly power grab.


          — x

        7. Yes, Islamic doctrine is crap. I’m not challenging that at all.
          Christian doctrine is not what the Western world characterises, though.

        8. @Zande: is my e-mail address. I don’t hide that from anyone. It stands for ‘Acoustic Guitar Player.” Though, my friend Joe tells me it stands for “Awesome Guitar Player.” Lol! Just thought I’d toss that in there. I’ve seen many times where a commenter replies with his or her e-mail address rather than on-line handle. You should be able to understand that. It’s not too difficult.

          The Ag.Player post was from replying to this thread in yet another remote locale, and confusing the Name and E-mail fields. That’s all. You do keep your eyes open for the irrelevant, don’t you?!? One of the first signs that you’re out of gas is that you start trying to read imaginary things into IP addresses, e-mail addresses and the like. So, I have one online persona, and an e-mail address. Yes, I am xPraetorius and

          Earlier in a different thread on this very blog, from another remote locale, I typoed my ID and the WordPress edit box let it through. I think I typoed xPraetoriusx or something, and you had vapors over that one too.

          I understand the urge, though, Zande. You don’t really have anything of substance to say, so you try to distract and deflect. It’s typical.


          — x

        9. So, you replied under a different name, citing yourself as if a different person?


          Friend, whatever your name may be, seek medical attention. And please use only plastic spoons to eat. Oh, and stay away from children. You’re not well.

        10. I would, happily, if Praetorius was only caught out doing it once. I’d have a giggle, think him an idiot with mental and/or emotional issues, but leave it at that. The problem is, this is not a one-off. In fact, it’s a repeated pattern of behaviour. Whoever this guy is, he logs in as different people (but on the same IP) and praises himself. That’s just a little worrying, don’t you think?

        11. Try at least some of the time, Zande, to remain on-topic.

          As mentioned before, I swapped the e-mail and name boxes while posting from a remote locale. In doing that, it would appear as if I were posting as “ag.player.” So,yes, the ag.player post was done in error.No nefarious intent whatsoever.

          Unlike you, who sit around in your PJ’s all day, sipping hot toddy and not working, I work — several jobs — and more often than I might like, post in some haste. Is all that really so hard to understand? Are you that internet illiterate?

          This silly pursuit of the irrelevant, and of the simply wrong, does, though, supply persuasive evidence of my “Atheism pushes the atheist to paranoia” thesis.


          — x

        12. Ah, so you often write comments (under different names) praising yourself?

          I see.

          Give it up. This, of course, is not the first time you’ve been busted doing this.

        13. How do you get notifications of replies and the ability to reply beyond the natural indent without being fully signed in with an account?
          Not an accusation. An actual question. If you have to type your name each time, it means your not signed in and your activity isn’t tied to an account. But you still manage to reply a levels of indent not allowed by my comments setting, which means you’re replying from a notification bar.
          I can’t fathom what set up you must have.
          (Again, honest question. Not an accusation. I tend to be quite technically minded but can’t figure this one out.)

        14. At a remote locale, I simply go to the page. When you put in a valid e-mail ID, the WordPress interface forces you to authenticate. If you put in a valid e-mail address and a valid user ID, but not one on file with WordPress, it just goes right through.

          Since, I’m occasionally dodging, ummm “projectiles” launched with hostile intent, I might confuse one or the other. simple.

          I get “notification,” either by receiving actual WordPress notifications, or by reviewing the blog posts and seeing which ones have replies. It’s all right here in black and white.


          — x

        15. @Zande: I have, of course, never been “caught” doing anything deceptive, because (1) I don’t need to deflect or resort to cheap tricks. I’ve been mopping the floor with you — during those odd times when you actually address the topic — for a very long time.

          And (2) I’ve been the target of your paranoid fabrications quite a few times. I understand that you can’t stay on topic, because every time you do, you get your gluteus maximus handed to you, but why don’t you just bow out gracefully and let the adults play?


          — x

      2. Strongly agree with you, cat.

        Needless to say there are plenty of personal and individual exceptions. All things tend to push, prod or persuade us in a direction or directions.

        Humans are absolutely able to, and certainly many do, resist the temptation to paranoia that atheism seems to exert.

        However, I wonder whether an entire governmental system founded with what I call “evangelical atheism” as a vital component, can resist the tendency to be murderous.

        The Twentieth Century leads one to think that such governments are, by their very nature, and with atheism as a key ingredient, unable to prevent themselves from killing.

        Solzhenitsyn seemed to suggest that as well, when he said that Stalin was a product of the system, rather than the other way around. Now, I think, I might understand why.


        — x

      3. The above list of yours, Zande, is the equivalent of one single, solitary ho-hum, kinda slow day of slaughter in the militantly atheistic Soviet Union, or the militantly atheistic Communist China.

        And, of course, Islam makes your list look like a walk in the park with a cute blonde.

        Yet you, Allallt, suggest that Islam and atheism are “morally and ethically” superior.

        The contortions you had to go through to come to that conclusion were interesting, and showed you to be a sophist’s sophist. While Zande just comes off as desperate, as oldschool toys with him as a cat with a ball of yarn.

        But, the real proof of the feebleness of your position remains: I don’t see you or, really, anyone, running off to live in the ethically and morally consistent paradise that Iran must be.

        Your words are slippery and eel-ish, as they struggle to find and use any possible obscure meaning in any word, that might allow you to escape from being pinned by the opposition … while your feet — standing rock-solidly in (nominally at least) Christian England — give you away.

        Yes, yes, yes, you say that you prefer what Christianity has wrought over time in the parts of the world where it has held sway for any length of time, but you prefer it because it’s better. That’s all.

        Say what you wish you like Christianity and its legacy a whole lot better. And this is simply because, obviously, the greatest, gentlest, most humane, most giving, the freest, most radical, most actually progressive (meaning having achieved actual progress) achievement of humanity — Western Civilization — is the achievement of Christianity, and you’re just too afraid to lose face to admit it.

        You say that Islam and Atheism are ethically and morally superior, but you stick close by (nominally at least) Christian Mother England’s bosom. You plainly don’t believe your own words.


        — x

    2. Many of the ills of humankind can be traced to an exaggeration of animal traits. Most animals will kill for food or protection; they react to stimulus. Man has the capability of extrapolating; not “that man is trying to kill me”, but “those men may try to kill or otherwise harm me”; not that “I am hungry”, but “those people have something which would be of benefit to me”.

    3. I’m just going to let the commenters and readers themselves decide whether they think this lines up with what I have argued, here or else where.

  13. My one comment, then you may all carry on. There is no loophole. Every crime is punished, every debt is paid, every transgression exacts blood. No one gets away with anything. The only question to be answered is who pays, who is punished. We may receive the just reward for our offenses ourselves, or we can accept a proxy. The perfect penitent, Jesus, took all the punishment for all crime because he was Himself free of guilt. In thanks and recognition of His gift, I willingly become His.
    That’s how it goes. No loopholes.

        1. Vicarious redemption is the obscene concept that man need not take responsibility for his actions as another will pay that debt.

          1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

          1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit

          Hebrews 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant… since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant

          Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

          2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

        2. So your reading of God’s grace is that it’s a “loophole”…Even though punishment is exacted for every sin. And every debt is paid.
          Have you never been on the receiving end of forgiveness? Apparently not, or if you did it made no sense to you.
          I suppose then, if you have children, that each time he commits some transgression, and he comes to you ashamed, in real repentance, you reply” Haha! Now I have you where I want you—you will pay and pay for what you did!”

          To believe that, and to believe that being forgiven relieves one of any responsibility for one’s actions, is to substitute legalism for relationship. Which is entirely likely considering the base and simplistic nature of atheism.
          BTW, in order to assert ethics, system, you would need a belief system.

        3. Punishment is “exacted”? I thought all sins received the same punishment. That’s not exacting, that’s a blunt instrument.
          And the whole point is that a deathbed conversion means the punishment for all sins are not exacted. That’s precisely the point.

        4. It IS exacted upon Christ. Are you familiar with the thief on the cross? This account is the demonstration that no works can justify us, that what justifies us is our faith, our trust in the Person of Jesus Christ. But don’t be deceived. Much is required of us: we must understand just what he has done, we must reckon ourselves in his debt, we must identify with him to a shocking degree…we reckon ourselves dead and buried with him, raised and resurrected with him.
          He Himself, not adherence to a set of laws, is our justification. But we must identify with Him.

        5. It’s exacted upon Christ? A single death, that only lasted a few days, is the exact punishment of the entire human species throughout time?
          And despite that exacted punishment, it is exacted by heaping on a whole lot more (a concept that undermines the very idea of ‘exact’) on people who do not accept the virtue, efficacy and truth of a particular human sacrifice?

        6. Of course your perspective disallows Christ’s divine status. Of course it doesn’t make sense in that case.

          As for some people receiving the due for their own offenses: if one refuses a gift, they do not then possess that gift. Forgiveness of personal offenses is a free gift; it cannot in any way be earned, else we would be burdened with not only the obtaining, but the maintenance of our forgiven status.

          The reasons that Christ was able to effectually obtain peace, reconciliation and forgiveness, and also justice and righteousness for all mankind is not to be understood without a recognition of his fully divine nature. God is love, and love includes mercy, utter selflessness, and a whole lot of other good stuff which is actually hard for us to completely comprehend. God’s theme through Jesus is “my life for yours”…”greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friend”…and then he goes and does exactly that. But his self-sacrifice was good, acceptable as payment because he was sinless, crimeless, blameless; and he was in very nature God….

          Is someone else paying your bill that difficult to understand? After they do so, don’t you feel grateful? And when they refuse to be repaid, does that just not make sense? Or can you imagine someone extending grace, generosity and selflessness?

        7. Yep, Jesus paid the price for every sin ever committed, being committed and yet to be committed, by every person who has lived, is living and will live. All sin has been paid for. And each person acknowledges that gift and can approach God, or rejects that gift which pushes them away from God. Yes, from out view it is a sucky system. Our view doesn’t matter; only God’s view does.

        8. Making the meaning of the word “good” completely vacuous.
          And, I don’t reject the gift. I doubt its existence and its currency. I don’t believe human sacrifice is virtuous or efficacious. I don’t think Jesus is the son of God. I don’t think a death that lasted a few days (as opposed to a permanent one) is more meaningful.

        9. All reasonable reasons to reject the gift. Just because you do not believe the gift exists or you don’t think it is valid does not mean that you did not reject it.

          In every single case where something is offered to you, no matter what it is, no matter what the conditions, there are only two possible responses – you accept it or you reject it. You can delay the response, you can sometimes even change the response. But eventually one of those two possible responses is locked in.

        10. That’s quite a simple philosophical error. Accept/reject is not a true dichotomy. Accept/not accept is the true dichotomy. And not accept does include rejections (“That’s heinous offer. Vicarious redemption is unacceptable.”) as well as not being aware enough to accept it (e.g. I didn’t turn away the package, I didn’t hear the doorbell when the delivery man arrived) and not convinced.

          I don’t accept the offer is real. Because I don’t accept the offer is real, I haven’t rejected it. I have to acknowledge it is real before I can reject it. If I was convinced it was real, I would probably still fail to accept it. My moral stance doesn’t allow me to accept that Jesus’ death absolves me of anything, I find that abhorrent. As much as I am sure I would want to accept it to save my own skin, I’m not sure I sincerely could. So, even in that situation, I’ve not chosen to reject it; I’ve failed to accept it because I don’t think I can convince myself a horrible thing is actually a good thing.

          The accept/reject dichotomy is simplified to the point of not being meaningful.

        11. I think you are right; I’m weak in philosophy. Accept/Not Accept seems the correct dichotomy.

          Not being aware of the choice is a often a hard sell. There are some who really have not heard of it, but this very discussion shows you are fully aware of it.

          Thinking the offer is likely not real is a valid reason to delay the choice of acceptance or even conditionally reject it. If it ever becomes adequately real to you, then there is not a valid reason to delay the choice further.

          Rejecting it? I can relate; I rejected it the first time I heard it, for pretty much the same reasons you do. It took a science fiction novel to make me realize that my opinion doesn’t matter in the things of God. From engineering and human points of view, it really is a pathetic system. I have to accept that it works for God.

        12. That sounds like what Oldschoolcontemporary, in the previous thread, called ‘intellectual assent’, but is not the relationship or emotional epiphany he thinks is required. I get that is a theological discussion, and theology starts after the acceptance of a God, so if I play along with that discussion I’m treating it like a literature discussion, but still…
          I’m not fully compelled by Oldschool’s argument, but I do think by comparison there is something insincere about what you’re presenting. You don’t seem to ‘feel’ that it is right, you just acknowledge God, which can send you to Heaven or Hell, has this preference. If Oldschool is right, that assent without the epiphany won’t be enough to get you into Heaven.
          Can you answer to questions for me, though?
          (1) What’s the book?
          (2) Can you clarify your position on a person like me, who is aware people claim the offer exists, but doesn’t believe it exists? What is your understanding of what happens to me? I haven’t rejected it, I don’t believe I’m being offered it. That doesn’t fit into ‘choosing Hell’.
          (I think I would reject it, if I thought it really were being offered. But, I can’t overlook the idea there would be a considerable change in how I view morality if I suddenly came to believe there was a God who sent his own son to death… But, more importantly, I am not/cannot be rejecting it until I think it’s actually being offered. (Let me know when I’m over-killing the distinction between rejection and not-accepting; I’m aware you were very receptive to changing the dichotomy.))

        13. It’s not insincerity; it is the conflict between my engineering background and my more recent religious views. From an engineering perspective (and from the human perspective) it is a really poor system. But I have come to realize that it is God’s system and as such, I don’t have the right or responsibility or capability of evaluating it.

          1) If you mean the book which removed a major roadblock to my Christianity, it was Earthborn, by Orson Scott Card. In it, the “Keeper of Earth”, presented as god-like, followed the requests of a family about their son and he kept causing worse and worse problems (for the inhabitants of the world). When the family finally gave up asking for what they thought was right for their son and asked the Keeper to do what it needed for all the people, the son was sent through an experience (“borrowed” from the conversion of Saul/Paul) which showed him the error of his ways and encouraged him to work to fix the results of his actions. Obviously, a work of fiction did not change my factual outlook, but it did resonate enough to remove a long held opinion.

          2) You have been presented with the choice. If you do not pick the Jesus path, you are headed away from God. What exactly that means is open to interpretation, but the best that can be hoped for is to be forever separated from God. Note that pretty much the decision you have made or not made so far is probably not final; the deadline for your final choice is your death and if no choice is made by then, the default applies. Allegedly, there is an “unforgivable” sin which would block you ever making the “right” choice, but I don’t really understand what it is and why it is so much worse than any other sin. Also, in Revelation, it states that if you take the “mark of the beast” which is required to buy and sell, you then can no longer reconcile yourself to God. This at least is an “understandable” block to choosing God (that is, enlisting with His “enemy” in a permanent manner).

          Rejection is definite. I believe the gift of salvation is being offered to me, and I reject it. If you don’t believe the gift exists or is as described, the concept of accepting OR rejecting it is moot. But if you die without believing and accepting it, the results are claimed to be the same as if you deliberately rejected it. Sounds unfair, but if the goal is to generate faith, and you are allowed to “sample” the next life and then choose, then no faith is generated.

        14. The actual definition of loophole has a component of “unintentional”; that it the (usually) law has a flaw which is being exploited contrary to the intent of the law. In this case, as in many cases, it is being misused because the user disagrees with the intent of the law. If this is the system God set up, then it is not a loophole, by definition. It may suck from our point of view, but that is our problem, not God’s.

        15. Let’s make the assumption that God’s goal is not to be narcissistic and simply to acquire worshippers, but to foster the most ethical behaviour as is possible from humanity.
          (You can, of course, reject that assumption.)
          A loophole is an inadequacy or ambiguity, usually in law. It allows a contradiction of the spirit of the law (or the intention of the law) without violating the letter of the law.
          If so, absolution on one’s deathbed gets one the rewards of the most ethical behaviour, without actually performing accordingly.

        16. You are assuming that the ethical behavior is what deserves the reward. But what if the conversion, deathbed or earlier, is what deserves the reward? Then not loophole.

        17. Exactly. Romans 4:

          “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

          It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression…

          Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham.

        18. Then we should at least have the contrition to stop calling it morality and admit it’s not about what is ‘good’ but what is pandering to the character that can send us to Hell if It wishes.

        19. Just because the morality alone does not guarantee one a reward, or flaunting the morality guarantees one individual punishment, does not mean that the specified behavior pattern is not a good guide to morality.

          And God does not “send” people to Hell. There are two paths, one to Him and one away from Him. Each person CHOOSES which path they will follow; they have only themselves to blame if they don’t like where they end up.

        20. The issues are several fold:
          (1) I think what you’ve just said is an admission that there’s a loophole. There’s morality and then there’s a way of playing the game. The law and morality do not line up. There’s ‘good’ and there’s the path to Heaven, and they are not the same.

          (2) People do not choose to go to Hell. I cannot choose to believe a magic man existed, was killed by the state as a political dissident, that death was magic, and that the magic man’s death means I can avoid punishment… so long as I believe the aforementioned claims.

          (3) There is still no good reason for Hell. Hell could be abolished and death–as the atheist sees it–could be utilised instead. You can either join the club (Heaven) or actually die, instead of being sent to Hell. Vengeance is the only reason for Hell, and that isn’t just.

        21. Yes, you do choose. You may have excellent reasons for that choice, but you still make a choice. You may not want to make the choice, but everybody makes a choice or accepts the default. You may detest the choices available, but you still make a choice. It may turn out that the choice does not actually exist or is incorrectly presented, but you still make a choice. And you have to live with the consequences of your choice, be they good, bad, incorrectly described or even non-existent.

        22. You don’t choose what you believe. You are convinced by evidence and experience and neurology. Neurology and experience may bias a person, meaning the evidence doesn’t hold fair sway, but they’re the major players in how a person becomes convinced of a thing.
          What you’re saying is predicated on the idea I can choose what I am convinced of. I don’t see that can be accurate. Because I have to convince myself of may things before I make any sort of ‘choice’:
          (1) That Jesus died for our sins (instead of ‘died because he was nailed to cross for the crime of being a political dissident’)
          (2) That death was voluntary, and not imposed by the Romans.
          (3) The voluntary death can be considered a sacrifice.
          (4) Sacrifices of human life can work.
          (5) Sacrifices of human life can be virtuous.
          (6) Jesus’ sacrifice fits these criteria.
          These are simply claims I have to believe before I can look into accepting or rejecting the ‘gift’. If I do not believe these claims, I am not rejecting the gift, I am simply not convinced the offer is being made. That’s not a rejection.

          If I accept all those claims, my choice will then be predicated on a series of other claims I have to accept:
          (7) Vicarious redemption is virtuous.
          (8) Attempting to live a virtuous life is not virtuous (enough).

          And it has to be sincere acceptance of all these claims. I can’t believe the first 6 and feign the last 2 (which may be what I choose to do).

          I think you need to consider the complexities of what it is you think the ‘gift’ really it.

        23. Actually, I think you do choose what to believe.

          A claim is made. Research shows that there is neither adequate proof for or against. At this time, you either deliberately, or often unconsciously, choose to believe it or disbelieve it or that at this point in time, neither belief or disbelief is appropriate.

          1) That’s a tough one. Certainly he was nailed to the cross for the crime of being a political dissident. But did he ALSO die for our sins and the Romans were merely the agency? Inadequate support for either case.

          2) I’m surprised there is any question about this. Jesus knew it was coming and allegedly had the power to prevent it or avoid it. The account makes it clear it was completely voluntary.

          3) Voluntary death for someone else’s benefit is unquestionably a sacrifice. Pretty much by the definition of sacrifice.

          4 & 5) Sacrifices of human life can obviously work and be virtuous – for humans. The person who throws himself in front of the truck to knock the child out of the way. The nurse who cares for Ebola patients and dies from it. A better claim to consider is whether sacrifices of human life can work for God. Which requires proof of God and understanding of God which are beyond our comprehension.

          6) depends on the previous ones, particularly 1 and the God part of 4

        24. I should have clarified 4 & 5*. We’re talking about ritual sacrifice, not life-saving actions that happen to lead to the death of the actor. Jesus had to die by the very principle of the proposition. The actors in your scenarios died as a result of circumstance, and it would be no less heroic if they took the risk and survived.
          There is no evidence that ritual human sacrifices work for humans; they don’t seem to bring rains or luck to the tribes people or a better crop. The only question is whether they work for a God. And your answer–correct me if I’m mistaken–is that you simply do not know. Given that, do you really believe or is it a theatre on the off-chance it works?

          Perhaps I’m not understanding you fully. But it seems that you treat the whole ‘vicarious redemption’ part of Christianity as if you simply have it on good faith that that’s the rules God enforces, regardless of whether that’s a ‘good’ thing. I know this is considered a cop-out when atheists say this, but this is the first time I have ever said it sincerely: what I understand of what you have said sounds like your position on your religion is held out of fear, and not a loving relationship with God (which is what other people attest to).

          *I’m sometimes accused of being legalistic, sophistic or overly technical in the way I write. But, I don’t see that there was reasonable room for misinterpretation in 4 & 5, and so that I was wrong and clearly there was room for misinterpretation makes me think it was sloppy writing on my part. But, part of me suspects you wrote your answer to 4 & 5 knowing I’d say there’s a difference between the sacrifices you mentioned and Jesus’ sacrifice.

        25. Yes, your revisions make more sense in context. My response was to what you wrote and was an attempt to whittle down your list to the “tough ones”. As to whether your revisions are easy to dismiss, as you point out, sacrifice to other gods are proven to not be useful or virtuous. Human sacrifice is mostly rejected by YHWH, so it seems likely that in most cases it is neither useful or virtuous. Jesus was a special case, so I say the new versions of 4 and 5 do not apply either.

        26. I also meant to say something about choice as to what we believe: I did say there’s more than just evidence playing a role. I said neurology and experience also play a role (and maybe a biasing role). So, that people make decisions on insufficient evidence is not evidence they chose what they believe: it is equally evidence that natural individual biases (neurology and experience) out-weighed the low-level of evidence.

          There’s a deeper question about choice. I don’t believe in free will at all. But when I said I don’t think we choose what we believe — that, instead, we are convinced against our will — I was trying to operate within a paradigm that accepts free will in the basic sense. (Because the free will argument trails off into discussion not strictly relevant to the post.)

        27. I agree that a “choice” to believe is often not made consciously, and is always based to some degree on factors other than just the aspects of the belief

        28. Perhaps. My definition of choice is, presented with a selection of whatever, one or a subset of that selection is decided upon. The METHOD of deciding can vary widely, and may be completely thought out, or completely unconscious or somewhere in between. It can be based on concrete reasoning or it can be personal preference. It can be positive (I like this one) or negative (I dislike that one) or a combination.

        29. I have doubts that something subconscious can be seen as choice. I see intentional agency as a key part of choice.

        30. Of course the choice must be consciously made, and usually expressed (if only to yourself), but at least some part of the reason for the choice may be subconscious.

        31. We see no good reason for Hell. Does not mean that God does not have a good reason for it. Also, we may not correctly understand Hell. It may be (probably is) beyond our comprehension and our attempts to describe it have given us a incorrect view of it.

        32. “Does not mean that God does not have a good reason for it.”

          Hell was created for Satan. Matthew 25:41 (ESV) Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

          And here is Luke (12:5) saying it’s Yhwh, and Yhwh alone, who does the sentencing.

          But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

        33. You seem to be in love with the concept of “loophole”. Ok, go ahead and massage the definition of the term to fit your perspective.

          Just out of curiosity, do you think that there is a “Gun Show Loophole” in the law requiring background checks?

        34. I’m in the UK, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
          But can you explain where I have stretched the definition of a loophole?

        35. Sorry, no, that would not be something you would be familiar with there in the UK.

          In the U.S., if you buy a gun from a licensed dealer, you must pass a background check before the sale can complete. There is an outcry that there is a “Gun Show Loophole”, whereby a person can go to a Gun Show and buy a gun without going through a background check.

          This claim is misleading either deliberately to mislead or from ignorance of the law and/or the meaning of the term “loophole”.

          If you go to a Gun Show (or anywhere) and buy a gun from a licensed dealer there, you must go through the background check. If you buy a gun from a private party at a Gun Show (or anywhere) you must follow all applicable laws, of which going through a background check is not one.

          Is it a problem with the law? Debatable. Is it a loophole? By no means.

          So in this case, God has set up a system for HIS desires. It sounds crazy to you (and frankly, to me too), but until you can show that it is being used contrary to God’s intentions, it cannot be labeled a “loophole”.

        36. So, I’ve done some research into this, and I think it is a loophole, in that it is an inadequacy in the law. The law that governs Federal Firearms License holders is meant to create a record of gun ownership (which is why there are serial numbers and sales recorded) and stop unlicensed residents owning a gun. (Where control of guns is constitutional is another question.)
          Where an exception exists that creates provisions to entirely ruin the credibility of that gun-owner’s register, the law that creates the gun-owner register can be said to contain a loophole.
          Equally, that gun ownership is controlled (or, at least, should be, but isn’t adequately or reliably done as a result of the Gun Show Loophole) can be said to be a loophole in the second amendment (but I’d need to read the second amendment, which I haven’t done yet. I don’t know whether it permits unfettered access to guns, or treats guns more like a controlled substance.)

        37. There are two laws here. One set is the laws governing the operation of a FFL holder. The background check law is a separate law; which states that a FFL transfer must conduct a background check prior to completing the transfer.

          So not requiring a background check is not a loophole, by definition. A case could be debated whether the background check law is meets its purpose or not, but the background check law is always being applied it was intended to be. The requirements of the FFL dealers is what is used to create a non-centralized registration of a large portion of the guns.

          The problem here is that the purpose of the background law was NOT to create a registry of guns; that is a byproduct of the law, and that is why some people are against adding a law about background checks for private transfers. Because that would be a defacto registration, and registration has always, so far, led to or aided in confiscation.

        38. Background check laws do not apply to private party sales. That could be argued to be an inadequacy, especially in the given context of all other sales being regulated.
          I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as your initial comment suggested.

        39. If the background check were just a background check, and a private party could perform one, and they did not tie a record of the gun to the transaction and keep it on file, I might agree with you. Since the background check can only be performed by a FFL holder and the government keeps track of the sale (defacto registration), it is neither practical or wise to require it for private sales.

          Registration “sounds” like a good idea. It is just that if all guns are registered, it makes confiscation easy and an almost certainty.

        40. This is why I made the comparison to alcohol sales in the UK. That private sales are allowed at all is the loophole.
          In order to say it’s not a loophole, you seem to be arguing that there is no intent to control or register gun sales. But there clearly is such an intent. All private sales violate that.

        41. Of course there is an desire on the part of some people that all guns be registered; those people consider the failure of that legislation to be imposed results in a “loophole”. But in order to be a real “loophole’, the intention and purpose of the legislation would have to be to require complete registration. And that legislation does not exist to have that loophole. It matters not if even every single person thinks that law SHOULD exist. In order for a loophole to exist, there must be a law whose intent and purpose is capable of being circumvented.

          No such law = no loophole

        42. I think we could debate the intention of existing legislation all year and still miss the point. We might just have to be content disagreeing.

        43. Kind of hard to debate what is written down in English, er, Legaleze, but its ok with me. The point is not any particular law anyway, but the definition of loophole.

        44. In other words, I AM stating in no uncertain terms, that there currently is no legal intent (on a Federal level; the state of Illinois has had that law since I was a puppy) to register private sales. Many people desire that to become law and some are working on causing that to become law, but until the law is written, it is not possible to have a loophole in it.

        45. I should clarify. The Gun Show loophole is a loophole, so far as I can, but is misnamed because all private party sales, where the vendor is not permitted to perform a background check, is a loophole.
          I don’t know how it works in the US, but in the UK you need a license to sell alcohol, even privately. (But you can give alcohol away for free — which is also a loophole, because all sorts of transactions are legally ‘free’, like exchanging wine for food at a dinner party, or being offered a beer after helping someone tidy their garden. That’s arguable an exchange, but not covered by alcohol licensing laws.)
          More accurately, you cannot sell alcohol privately. That what vendor licensing should look like. (But, really, guns should not be allowed to exchange hands at all, without a background check and a record made on the register. That gets around the ‘give it away for free’ loophole — but that’s the opinion of a person in a country where guns are near-none existent, tightly controlled, and legally have to be kept in a safe.)

          So, yes, private party sales of guns is a loophole in licensing and recording gun ownership. It is an exception that makes the entire law inadequate.

          (Although, perhaps we should make sure we agree the definition of a loophole. I’m quoting this from Wikipedia, but it agrees with most places I have looked and my previous understanding: “A loophole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a system, such as a law or security, which can be used to circumvent or otherwise avoid the intent, implied or explicitly stated, of the system.”)

        46. Last one, I promise. I have access to Lexis Library and Westlaw through my university. Both are legal databases. Lexis Library has a glossary function, but “loophole” is not there. The best I can do is search for the term in context and there’s nothing obviously there that adds or detracts any value to or from the Wikipedia definition.

          Regarding God, though, here’s our impasse (I suspect). You are taking at face value that God wants you to dump your sins on Jesus (intentionally crude language, but I don’t think, technically, inaccurate). You don’t seem to think we can know why, or whether that is ‘good’. I appreciate your honesty. I think that’s wholly inadequate for a variety of reasons, mostly from other religious people: as I’ve said, Oldschool seems to think what God actually wants is for your to have an epiphany whereby you do understand (as opposed to mindlessly obey). If you read through my comments to Oldschool, you’ll see I have my own objections here.
          But, from hosting and participating in talks of this nature for a long time, I have another objection: ‘we don’t understand God’ is the cop-out. Other religious people tend to claim to understand God all the time, right up until they realise I’m not giving up on my line of enquiry, and suddenly they becomes wholly and conveniently ignorant on the issue. But, before they take the Aquinas cop-out* they definitely claim to know something about God. What they tend to claim to know is that the intention of God’s law is to foster the most ethical behaviour and stable societies as is possible. If one accepts that intention, then vicarious redemption is a loophole.

          *the Aquinas cop-out is to claim God is unknowable, that then ignore any complications that forms in the content of your previous assertions; it’s a two-step cop-out. I made it up just now, and I hope no one has used the term for something else somewhere, because that would confuse the writing.

        47. Cat, that’s not exactly correct. Yhwh is indeed the punisher:

          Psalm 75:7 It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall.

        48. Sorry, I’m not seeing the connection to the conversational thread.

          The scripture quoted does seem to indicate that God is the ultimate judge. What the “rise or fall” referred to is rather less clear.

        49. Rise = Heaven
          Fall = Hell

          You said, “And God does not “send” people to Hell.”

          Well, yes he does. Yhwh is the sole judge. As confirmed in James 4:12

          There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.

        50. Rise = Heaven and Fall = Hell may be what is meant, but just as likely may not be. The Psalm could just as easily mean to help one person to prosper and to help another to fail.

        51. No, I don’t think either interpretation is, I think either interpretation may be. There is not enough information presented in the Psalm to definitively choose either one. The words used in the translation I looked it up in lean a bit towards the non-eternal interpretation.

        52. Suffice to say you misunderstand the atonement very much. It’s basic to Christian doctrine.
          First you box in God as though he were a human being, a creature rather than Creator. Your conception is two-dimensional and limited.

          As to vicarious atonement, in a nutshell. The whole point is that justice and love are both fully satisfied in a manner which no person would ever have conceived.
          The punishment for sins, crimes, offenses is what Jesus bore in his torture and death. He could do this because he was fully human, one of us; and he was fully God, totally without blame. He volunteered to take the rap and suffer the justice of God once for all, on our behalf.
          God the Father as Judge is satisfied completely with the payment, and that is demonstrated by the Resurrection. Since all debts are paid, your terming this a loophole is invalid and wrong.

          Love is satisfied because God in His mercy chose to reconcile us to Himself in this way. I’m sure you’ve heard this one: You are on trial. The Judge declares you guilty and sentences you to pay $1000. Then he gets down from the bench and pays it for you.
          There is no inadequacy or ambiguity. The law is not contradicted, bent, or disregarded. Justice is fully brought to bear on Jesus. He paid it in spades.

          Now you are grumbling because we don’t pay for what we do, if I read you correctly. You fail to understand the extent of our crimes or the terrible penalties we would have to bear.
          Don’t wish it, and I don’t recommend that you insist on paying your own way.

          Again, have you never experienced forgiveness? What was your reaction?
          Did you insist on rejecting the forgiveness and instead performing acts of contrition forever?

          You are missing that too. You are mired in legalism. What God seeks is a relationship, not a bean-counting, list-following contract. The Old Testament’s history is an account of people struggling against God and constantly insisting on a set of do’s and don’ts rather than a real live interpersonal relationship with their God. Long story short, this is infinitely preferable to the burden of “performing accordingly.” We could never perform accordingly enough. Performing accordingly does not justify; it never has, not even when you’re referring to interpersonal human transactions.
          And our sin leaves us with eternal debt which we could never work off.

          Performing accordingly may be compensation but it is never atonement; it never erases offense.

  14. Allalt: “Then we should at least have the contrition to stop calling it morality and admit it’s not about what is ‘good’ but what is pandering to the character that can send us to Hell if It wishes.”

    There are two separate issues here. Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf puts us in right standing with God. It establishes our position, our status. It is eternal and instant.
    Morality is a different track. For the believer, sanctification is something we hopefully work on, in cooperation with God, for the rest of our lives; and the ideal is that that process is a progressive improvement.

    Having a relationship with God does not make us instantly “good” in the sense of well-behaved, but we have a lot of motivation to go so, since we are answerable to a loving Savior who gave everything for us.

    Do you call it pandering when a child obeys a parent out of love for his parent? Is there no possible motivation but to manipulate? That seems to be what you’re suggesting by this line.

    1. Whoa! What the heck?!? That wascally xPraetorius pretending to be Random Sender now! Holy Mackerel! Everything he says must be illegitimate!!!



      @Zande: Now, can you give your paranoia a rest?


      — x

  15. Et tu, Allallt? I’ve already explained that I never posted as anyone else, except once by accident, and now you’re feeding into his paranoia. The Random Sender post was to illustrate my point that anyone can post as anything, as long as he puts in a well-formed e-mail address and an ID.

    Zande’s doing his silly obsession thing, apparently to deflect from the fact that he’s out of arguments. The Random Sender post illustrates the mistake that I made when I posted in haste and mixed up the name and e-mail fields.

    Unlike, apparently, Zande, I don’t always have the luxury of sitting back and swirling a cup of hot toddy as I contemplate my next post. If you were to check my blog, however, you’d see that the e-mail address associated with it is indeed If I were trying to dupe you, I’d obviously do something a whole lot less transparent.

    Zande’s out of arguments, so he’s doing nothing more than deflect.


    — x

  16. This post sounds as if it’s trying to steer the minds of atheists more than it is trying to convince rational people of an actual argument. This is very similar to propaganda.

    Alike propaganda, no factual narratives are presented, and when views are actually provided, they are in the strict view of the propagandist narrator, and it is presented in a way to dis-include any rational discussion, both for Christianity and Atheism. Once again, as we can see from this propaganda, the propagandist strictly defines their own terms. For example, he says “atheism doesn’t answer it, so there is room for intellectual progress”, however looking at society, we all know that all morals purported by the pathetic rise of secularism has raised teen pregnancy rates. STD rates, crime, everything bad, and no moral beneficiaries have been pushed. Rather, society is clearly going downhill.

    Christianity does in fact provide a sound, and straight toward moral system that any Christian Scholar can tell you about. Because this person is not a Christian Scholar, rather more likely as a kike faggot, with no advances in the real world, propagating their worthless opinions, he fails to understand. It doesn’t take more than reading a single Gospel, let alone the entire Holy Bible to understand the very clear and straightforward moral values advocated by Christianity. Heck, even a quick Google search of all of the quotes of Jesus will allow one to figure it out. Islam of course, is also inferior.

    1. As far as I can tell, your comment can be split into 2 arguments: increasing secularism brings bad with it, and the Bible gives a clear moral message.

      Let’s deal with argument 1 first, with a little fact checking:
      The United States is the most religious developed country, and has the highest level of teen pregnancy. Also, over the last 2 decades, while religiosity has been declining, teen pregnancy has also been declining (

      Crime rates have also been declining along with religiosity. And, the comparatively secular European continent doesn’t have any cities in the top 50 most dangerous cities, while the much more religion America has 4. (

      Per capita new STD diagnoses are also less prevalent in Europe compared to the much more religious USA (

      This map of World Happiness shows the more religious countries are less happy (

      So, there’s that addressed. Let’s move on to whether the Bible gives a clear moral message by asking simple moral questions:
      (1) My child refuses to do homework and when I was firm and insisted they must do homework before I let them have any leisure time, they told me to “fuck off” and threw a shoe at my head. How should I respond?

      (2) I saw my neighbour fixing his wife’s car last Sunday. What is the appropriate action for me to take?

      (3) I have a slave. Exactly 1 week ago I beat him with an iron rod for not unloading the dishwasher. He is still alive. Is this okay?

      1. 1) Your duty to the child and to society is to nip that behavior in the bud (if he does not respect his parents, he won’t respect anyone). Some combination of explanation why that behavior is unacceptable and alternate behavior will be beneficial, spanking, incarceration or loss of privilege. Whatever would really make the point that such behavior should be avoided in future.

        2) Ask if he will help fix yours. I suspect you are referring to the “not doing work on the Sabbath”, but Sunday is not the Sabbath. And even if you saw him doing it on Saturday, the Law of Moses is no longer the path to righteousness, much less salvation.

        3) No, slavery is illegal and so is beating someone with an iron rod.

      2. Clearly, your statistics on crime, STD rates, and teen pregnancies are outdated. In the last 1-2 years, as I’ve been watching Jason A’s YouTube channel, all these things had a sudden massive jump. Statistics are easily available. Here’s one:

        Not very hard to find.

        As for your three questions. Clearly, I can already get the gist. Clearly, these Old Testament traps aren’t going through. Now, because you are obviously Biblically illiterate, I will explain what Christian Scholars have been trying to explain to you nutjobs about the Old Testament for the last two thousand years.

        If you’re illiterate, just watch this video:

        If you’re not illiterate, keep reading. According to Exodus 19, God instilled the Law on the nation of Israel, to remind the Israelite’s that they were the chosen nation of God, in which the Messiah would come out of their people. In other words, the purpose for the existence of such Laws was to make sure they stayed under God, until the Messiah came. Now, the Messiah did come, 2,000 years ago, and His name was Jesus Christ (Christ is a Greek word, which in Hebrew, means Messiah, because Messiah is a Hebrew word). Thus, Jesus continued to fulfill the prophecies in regards to the Old Testament Messianic narrative, and thus fulfilled the Law.

        Secondly, even if the Messiah had not come yet, and we were still to follow the Ceremonial Law of the Old Testament, we WOULDN’T, because this Law was specifically for the Israelite’s. Are you a Jew living in Israel? No? Then no need to stone your children.


        1. Bring the kid to your priest, and then stone him
        2. Neighbor fixing a car? Cars didn’t exist in the BC era. Let’s change it to “goat”, LOL. Stone him, for he worked on the Sabbath (or was it a different execution?)
        3. Yes, for the slave is the masters money


        1) Your choice. Discipline needed.
        2) Your choice
        3) Yes

        1. You may have missed a large part of my point: the US is the most religious country in the developed world. It is difficult to pin problems in America on secularism.

          No one has ever explained to me what it means to fulfill a law, but Jesus said he had not come to change it.

    2. Religion seems to be on the decline.
      And yet GDP, GDP per capita and life expectancy are all on the rise.

      Where are you getting your data from? What made you think secularism is linked to anything bad?

      1. If you actually read my comment, you would not have posted such an ignorant statement. STD rates are up, teen pregnancy rates are up, murder is up (especially in that mess called Chicago), it’s all up. Between 1900-2000, the Western average IQ dropped by 14 points. Religion, worldwide, is on the rise of course. Non-religion, in 1970, made up 20% of the global population. That’s 16% today in 2016, 13% in 2050, and 9% in 2100. The economic growth of the West seems to be diminishing, rather the growth is happening in the developing world, where religion is as high as ever.

        Atheistic values have caused the collapse of civilization. Divorce rates are up in America, from 4% before the end of traditional marriage, to 50% today. Abortion rates are sky-high, and its been documented that women who get abortion are (not only murderers, but) 6x more likely to commit suicide than a women who does not commit abortion.

        The family unit is also destroyed. A couple decades ago, 25% of blacks were born to a single mother. That’s 75% today (thanks secularism). The rates have also skyrocketed for Whites and Latinos, but not nearly as much as those blacks.

        In 1900, 75% of all Christians lived in Europe. Thankfully, Christianity relocated to the rest of the world, and now about 20% of Christians live in Europe. We were able to relocate before the West collapsed, due to the failure of secularism. Now, we make up the majority of Latin America and Africa, with sky-high numbers in China, the Phillipines, Indonesia, and explosive growth in countries like Iran. Secularism will die off eventually, because the secularists simply have so little babies. LOL.

  17. As we’ve just seen, Christian morality is understandable and fixed, not some mushy thing you can do whatever you want with (like secularist morality). Christianity is the most superior morality. Might as well delete your post, as I had clearly demonstrated you are wrong in your ridiculous, nonsensically stupid claims.

    Murder isn’t up in America? You must be joking yourself. In the last year, murder went up on average of 17% (which is huge) in the top 50 largest counties in the U.S. Watch this video, which contains relevant statistics (although it about a different topic):

    Not to mention in Europe, the ridiculously low fertility rates (because of the rise of secularism), and the pouring in of mass numbers of Muslim refugees, whom have committed TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CRIMES. Because of 2% of the Swedish Muslim population, Sweden is now the rape capital of Europe. Anyone who claims that Islamic ethics even compares to Christianity, which is the source of all good (as well as God of course), is joking themselves. Simply pathetic. Would you rather live in Canada or Afghanistan?

    As for Jesus not abolishing the law, but fulfilling it. Yet, as I said, He FULFILLED the law, by fulfilling multiple Old Testament prophesies on the Messiah (consequently proving Christianity is the one true religion because of all its miraculously fulfilled prophesies), and thus the answers I gave, unless you can show me with the Holy Bible are wrong, stand.

    Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus then fulfilled many prophesies. We should trust Him.

    1. (a) i Prager University is not a university. It is a YouTube channel. And nothing more. That video asserts numbers, but does not reference them.

      (a) ii Let’s play Devil’s advocate and assume the crime rates have gone up. In fact, let’s simplify it and say they’ve gone up by 20% in all cities. Here’s a graph showing long term trends:

      The 1 year flux is not relevant, in statistical terms.

      (b) As Sweden has one the lowest rape conviction rates in Europe, you can’t claim its related to Muslims or atheists. Sorry. You just don’t have that data.

      (c) I still don’t see how fulfilling a prophecy overturns a law.

      (d) I don’t accept the Bible is true because it has some nice story tropes in itself.

      (e) Read the post again. It has nothing to do with the societies. Although you’ve managed to get me to talk to you about that topic (and, by the way, beat you at it!) the post is about the philosophical implications of what the books actually say. There’s a bit where I talk about the only reason modern day Christianity is socially acceptable, and it has nothing to do with Christianity.

      (f) There are unfulfilled prophecies. I like Tyre.

      (g) I’d rather live in Switzerland. Lowest crime rate in the world, and bottom 10 in religious observance. But you are right, Canada is more irreligious than Afghanistan.

      1. LOL. I never claimed PragerU is an actual university. I’m subscribed to the YouTube channel, and I am well aware of this. However, the video DOES CITE REFERENCES, it is literally mentioned right in the video, and so I am flabbergasted that you could say such a thing.

        Now, it’s clear to see although you’ve done a neat job lettering your points, it’s clearly disorganized. For example, c responses to prophecies, then the next few points have nothing to do with prophecies, and then you talk about prophecies again in f. Crazy. As for how fulfilled prophecy changes laws, I already explained that, did I not? You need to work on your memory. The Ceremonial Law was instilled upon the Israelite’s to remind them that the Messiah would come from their nation. Thus, once the Messiah (Jesus) came and fulfilled prophecy, the reason for God placing the Ceremonial Law on Israel was completed. As for Tyre’s prophecy, that was fulfilled centuries ago, LOL. It just so happened to get rebuilt and reinhabited by different people since then (rather than the pagans that were destroyed).

        It’s also too hilariously sad to see you defending the terrorist muzzies and their ridiculous religion. Indeed, you’re like those politicians who flood our countries with immigrants in the name of “multiculturalism”. Truly, you and your ideologies are the death of Western civilization. The rape figure of the Swedish Muslims are well documented.

        There are multiple sources. Is it really a coincidence that Sweden, which not too long ago had the least rape in Europe, is suddenly the rape capital of Europe? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want to mention Cologne, and the 1,400 women sexually assaulted by the “migrants” in one night… Clearly it triggers you.

        As we’ve seen, Christian morality is the most superior morality. This blog has no purpose, as the fact is the opposite of what it claims. Best deleted rather than misleading the readers. You tried to catch me off guard with those questions, but I was a step ahead of you.

        1. Sorry to break it to you, but I have a mostly very reasonable audience. All this gesturing is not going to get you anywhere. Even the religious people here will point out a bad argument where they agree with the conclusion or side with what you’re defending.

          Here’s the two things I’m most impressed by in your comment: you consider questions attempts to catch you off guard and use that excuse to ignore them; you open with a criticism of the order I listed my points in and not their content.

          So, we’ll go back over it — the video is right there. Anyone not sure whether it cites it sources can go check for themselves. A PragerU video is a soapbox.
          No, you did not explain how fulfilling a prophecy changes laws. You stated that it does. There’s a big difference.
          The Tyre prophecy was not fulfilled:
          Ez 26: 21 “I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more. You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the Sovereign Lord”
          It also states, in Ez 26: 7, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon will destroy Tyre. But it was Alexander the Great.

          Now, I’m explicit in this post that Islam teaches heinous things. It’s right there for you to read.

          You ignored my point about the actual video not being a critique of societies that identify as different religions. It was a critique of taking the ideas expressed seriously. The conclusion was that Islam gives a clear but awful set of instructions, atheism gives no instructions but leaves a space for open discussion, and Christianity undermines itself by having a vicarious redemption loophole.

          If I wanted to discuss societies, the hierarchy would be Secular > Christian > Muslim (which is defensible, simply off the crimes states and societal health data). But, I didn’t: I wanted to discuss the philosophies themselves and it goes Secular > Muslim > Christian. My reasoning was ‘Open discussion’ > ‘Awful commands’ > ‘Blocking open discussion with contradictory commands that are subject to a loophole anyway’.

          Where would you rather live: Zambia (95.5% Christian), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (92% Christian) or Norway (22% religious belief of any kind)?

        2. This is a funny one:

          “Sorry to break it to you, but I have a mostly very reasonable audience.”

          LOL. This reminds me of a verse in the Holy Bible.

          Romans 1:22; “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools,”


          You go on to accuse me of ignoring your questions on the excuse that I identified they intended me to catch them off guard, but this is merely a lie. Anyone who reads my replies will quickly realize that I answered all three of your questions, both in application to an Israeli, pre-Christian era, and on the application of a global post-Christian era.

          You go on to accuse me of not showing how Jesus fulfilled the law, although I explicitly posted a verse from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus says He has not come to abolish but to fulfill the Law. Furthermore, in regards to Tyre, I have pointed this out to you before, it WAS destroyed. You seem to somehow think because it has been rebuilt, that it was never destroyed, but historically it WAS IN FACT destroyed. Even the twatty youtuber The Amazing Atheist youtube admits this. In regards to Ezekiel 26:7 and Nebuchadnezzar, considering your claims, I’m now convinced you believe whatever you read on propagandist atheistic websites. Try this reference for a change:

          There is no “redemption loophole” in Christianity, as we’ve seen. This is nothing but a stupid re-interpretation, not from a non-biased perspective, but from a heavily indoctrinated atheistic and biased perspective on Christianity.

          By the way, Norway was built by Christians. After the Christians built Norway, some fakers left Christianity. I’d rather live, in terms of quality of life, in Norway, but in regards to just being a Christian, I’ll go with the Democratic Replublic of Congo. Too many heathen here in Canada.

          This is how it goes.

          Christianity > Actual Garbage > Secularism? > Islam

          Christianity is what created the modern world. Nowhere else. Without us Christians, the entire world would be a huge Pakistan or Afghanistan or Somalia or something. You’d be bathing in your own piss if it wasn’t for us.

  18. RE: Tyre
    (1) It wasn’t destroyed by the person God claimed it would be destroyed by.
    (2) It was rebuilt, even though God said it was to “never again be found”.
    The reason I declared this my favourite prophecy is because so little of the prophecy came to pass that anyone with an impartial eye would note that the prophecy cannot be called ‘fulfilled’. But, apparently, just enough of it came to pass to make Christians bandy about this prophecy. Of 3 criteria (a. Be destroyed; b. By Nebuchadnezzar; c. Never to be found again) one is met. And it’s the predictable one, as most civilisations and settlements from 2,000 years ago no longer stand.

    RE: Whether Old Testament laws still apply
    (1) I’ve said several times that I don’t know what it means to fulfil a law. Based on your lack of an answer, I assume you don’t either. But, we can apparently agree that “fulfil” is not the same as “overturn”.
    (2) Jesus came not to change the old law one jot or iota.
    (3) By what reasoning do the 10 Commandments still apply?

    RE: The vicarious redemption loophole.
    (1) There very much is a vicarious redemption loophole. You have not even attempted to show otherwise.
    (2) Up on death, where do the following people go?
    a. A serial murderer who finds Jesus after his murders?
    b. A charitable woman who doesn’t believe in Jesus?
    (3) Your description of Canada being filled with Heathens and the DRC being an opportunity to be Christian speaks very much to this exact judgement. The comparative crime rate do not show your preferred country in a good light.

    RE: Who built is the places with a high quality of life?
    (1) It doesn’t matter that Christians built the place, because it is highly secular now and it is topping wellbeing and societal heath charts now.
    (2) To look at why it doesn’t matter what its history is, see whether you are convinced of Islam’s influence in making Baghdad the former intellectual capital of the world.
    (3) Having had a look at the history of Norway, there is no clear increase in development in Norway around the 11th Century. This is when Christianisation took place.

    RE: Christianity making the modern world.
    (1) Enlightenment values built the modern world, in terms of democracy, science and technology.
    (2) Countries that exhibit the Enlightenment values are not uniquely formerly Christian countries.
    (3) Christian countries don’t have a track record of some kind of inevitable ‘giving way’ to Enlightenment values.
    (4) Part of the Enlightenment was about rejecting the ‘authority’ of the Church and other religious authorities.
    (5) It was after the transition to Enlightenment values that social, political and technological progress was made in Europe. Not before.

    RE: The PragerU video.
    (1) The the topic under question (whether there is a rise in murder rate in the US), the video does not cite its sources.
    (2) It is conspicuous by its absence of a reference.
    (3) A short-term spike like the one being described cannot be explained by gradual long term trend in change of religious observance.

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