Is atheism a necessary precondition for genocide?

There exists a common charge against atheists and atheism that atheism is instrumental in the genocides of the Western World, in the 20th century. If you let the debate run on long enough, the key actors in this argument are Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, the Kims of North Korea and Mao. The exact tyrants they name depend on the level of understanding of history they choose to present, and how skillfully they think they can argue a particular person is an atheist. You may come up against rhetoric like “are you going to argue ‘tyrant X’ was a good Christian?” as a way of defining someone as an atheist, which is a language game I think is too obvious to argue with: what does one mean by “good Christian”? What does one mean by “good”, in this sense? Is a bad Christian not a Christian?

One strange interlocutor took this argument a step further, arguing that atheism is a necessary precondition for the horrors of the 20th Century in the Western world, alluded to by mentioning the tyrants above. I want to make a series of points against this: not all the people mentioned can confidently be said to be atheists; religious people have led atrocities; and atheism is a poor focal point.

The reason this matters is because the claim being made is that atheism is a “necessary” precondition; if the people at the helm of atrocities are not exclusively atheist, then it cannot be said that atheism is a “necessary” precondition. To a certain extent, the premise being argued defeats itself: the simple fact the parameters are so limited in time and in geography shows a selective sample that is contrived to exclude certain events.

Thanks to xPrae, I was caught up in exactly this debate without knowing it. I’d become exhausted with his contorted logic, disregard of basic philosophy and willful ignorance of facts. I had simply decided to irritate him. Poor form, I know, but letting him express his sense of self-worth was a lot more fun than giving him facts and well-reasoned arguments (that he’d simply call “sophistry” anyway). Meanwhile, xPrae, according to himself, had a university debate moderator scoring our exchange. He won, according to the moderator (according to xPrae), but that’s like having a referee declare a 3rd League High School Basketball team the winners against an NBA team who were taking a walk in a park; one team wasn’t even playing.* Even then, the blog post xPrae wrote about shows signs of a biassed moderator. (Read for yourself.)

Who can we not say was an atheist?

I want to look at two groups of people in the suggested tyrant list: those we cannot confidently say are atheists, and those we can confidently say are religious. These groups work to cast doubt on and entirely destroy the premise offered, respectively. Hitler and Pol Pot are both difficult to claim as atheists. The Kims are religious.

Hitler made numerous recorded public and private declarations of faith. The Nazi movement was perpetrated on Hitler’s proclamations of Christian faith. One can blindly speculate that Hitler’s actions exclude him from being a Christian, but his actions did not convince the Catholic Church or a variety of other Christian leaders that Hitler wasn’t Christian. Not only did Hitler say he was Christian, but he also managed to convince a lot of people within Christianity that he was Christian. Not just the leaders and authorities within different Churches, but also the German people. There is nothing about Hitler’s actions that convinced people at the time he was not a Christian. The historical revisionism needed to make that claim now should be staring people in the face.

The entire argument that Hitler was not a Christian comes from some of the people closest to Hitler claiming that his ideas and attitudes did not conform to their own definition or standard of Christianity. But, that is a person’s own definition of Christianity, one that the Church clearly did not recognise at the time. Is Goebbels’s definition of Christianity really the authority on this? Is Goebbels’ opinion robust enough to exclude Hitler not just from Christianity, but deism in the broader sense? Even if you trust Goebbels’ standard of measuring Christianity by action and not on belief, and Goebbels’ conclusion that Hitler didn’t meet Goebbels’ standard of Christianity, that does nothing to exclude Hitler from broader theism. But there is a lot of philosophical work and historical revisionism required to even get to that stage.

Pol Pot was a raised a Buddhist and acted like a Buddhist right up to the point he became a dictator. There was no obvious denouncement or even gradual falling out of Buddhism; no transition. It’s difficult to say he was a Buddhist at one point but stopped being a Buddhist at any point before he was a tyrant. That said, he did persecute Buddhists first. I find this far too mixed a picture to be able to say confidently that he was an atheist.

The Kims aren’t atheists. They are Gods of a religion. A dead Kim is still the leader of North Korea, because the religion (which, I don’t think has a name) doesn’t accept that he died. That’s not atheism. I don’t think that point can be overstated: atheism is not the elevation of one’s self to the position of a God or to assume God’s authority. If that’s the approach one takes to indict atheism of the atrocities, then one is mistaken.

xPrae, for example, argues that committing an atrocity is “seeking to be God”, and that this makes one an atheist. Every step in that reasoning is absurd: some atrocities are the result of defensible interpretation of passages of scripture, and Christianity has a loophole written into it that means no deed is unforgivable. It’s not seeking to be God if one plans to make amends afterwards, that’s simply playing the game. And, for the record, Humanism doesn’t have a loophole like that in it. Seeking to bea god doesn’t even mean you don’t believe in another God; there’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition. Didn’t the Devil seek to be God, knowing full well there was a God?

But that still leaves Stalin and Mao as likely atheists. I could be done here, as once I have demonstrated that the call of exclusivity of atheism in these atrocities cannot be reasonably exclaimed, I have completely done away with the idea that atheism is a “necessary” component.

Religious people have led atrocities

The fact that not everyone on the list can be said to be atheists is not the only way to demonstrate that atheism has no exclusive position at the helm of the atrocities. In fact, they could all be atheists and that still wouldn’t support the premise of atheism being necessary. The other way is to point out that people we can confidently say are religious have led atrocities. The Solomon empire, the Inquisition, Witch Hunts, Jorge Rafael Videla, and The Lord’s Liberation army are all pretty well-known examples.

But we also live in a world where Jihadists are committing genocide, Sunnis and Shi’ites are committing genocide against each other, Christians are committing murder against huge numbers of Muslims in the Central African Republic, Buddhists are exterminating Muslims in Myanmar. I’ve written before about the ways in which religion can inspire violence: it’s role in defining a tribe as well as it’s actual commands to violence. Religions are difficult to interpret, and Abrahamic religions are even more difficult still to interpret peacefully. When someone says a religious murderer or tyrant simply got their religion wrong, they are making the profoundly arrogant assumption they are getting the religion right; different to how people throughout history and modernity have interpreted it, they know what’s right. (Are they claiming themselves a God? Who knows?)

xPrae has a response to this: that people who commit atrocities are usurping the authority of God and are therefore atheists. If that’s the language game you want to play, then xPrae’s conclusion is incontrovertible. But, I think the sophistry xPrae is employing unravels as soon as you choose to think about it. Being a tyrant doesn’t mean usurping God’s authority, especially when God commands such things (Sharia law, the Canaanites’ extermination); that’s a surrender of moral autonomy to God, explicitly. But, even if one does usurp the authority of God, that’s not atheism; they might plan to make amends near the end (the Christian loophole) or be assuming a new covenant with God; they could deny God’s authority in this life but accept it in the next. The only way to follow xPrae’s argument is to change the definition of all the keywords. (Ironically, if one tries to hold him to the real definition of the keywords, then that person is the sophist, not xPrae.)

Religion is very much still a prominent factor in many wars and atrocities across the globe. And that’s not to mention that the religiosity (Christianity) of the Nazis was a necessary precondition for the Holocaust. They needed to be Christian to be convinced they could justify what they were doing and of Hitler’s speeches (even if all they were was rhetoric). For all the debate to be had about Hitler, the actual foot soldiers were Christian.

These examples may fail to meet the criteria of the premise: Western. But I’d argue that is an entirely contrived parameter, written in for the implicit purpose of excluding these examples. Not only are the Kims, Mao and Pol Pot also not “Western” (leaving only Stalin―and only arguably―in the argument, which isn’t much of an argument at all, is it?) but such a limit undermines the whole idea of atheism being a “necessary precondition”. If atheism were necessary, it would not be so context-specific as to exclude nearly all the atrocities that are actually happening.

So, not only are all the “atheists” not atheists, but they are also not the only people that commit atrocities.

Why try to focus on atheism at all?

There is a clear agenda present in trying to make atheism the focus of modern atrocities. It involves a contorted logic to exclude religious tyrants, and to try to make atheists out of people who are not atheists, and it serves a goal (which might explain why it’s so important to some people). But atheism is precisely not the issue. The issue is what people actually believed, and in every case, what the person at the helm believed, and convinced others of, was basically religious.

Take Stalin, the most likely person in our list to have been both atheist and Western (although, it’s a bit of a stretch on being Western). He was anti-theistic. You may think that being an atheist is self-evident, if we accept he’s an anti-theist. I disagree. I do not have to withhold belief or disbelieve in the government of North Korea to dislike it. Equally, Stalin does not have to withhold belief or disbelieve in God to be anti-theistic. Stalin probably was an atheist, but that’s not the necessary step. And, if you refuse to focus on the necessary step, you may as well pick some other arbitrary feature; after all, all the named tyrants breathed. Is breathing a relevant necessary precondition? Why not make efforts to focus on what is relevant?

The relevant claim that the tyrants believed and convinced others of was this: there is a better world available at the other side of this action, therefore, this action cannot be thought of as bad. It was an unwavering belief in a utopia existing at the other side of an atrocity. It is this dogmatic certainty and willingness to follow through that is the concern, and that which I am characterising as religious.

A better Cambodia exists, for the survivors, and it is just on the other side of eradicating intellectuals and those who refuse to farm; a better race exists, and can be realised and purified, and it will inherit a utopia once there are no Jews, black people or disabled people in Germany; the world is a purer and more faithful place without heretics, and so there’s just one little thing we need to do to create a utopia; 72 virgins and bliss await the martyr…

The religious claims of certainty in a utopia do not exclude more traditionally religious beliefs; if anything, they foster each other. Only theists can claim to have such special access to knowledge. There is nothing about Hitler’s belief in a superior race that excludes him from being a Christian; if anything, the idea that God has a chosen people is supported by the Bible.

Short of immediate self-protection, we should be immediately sceptical of anyone who says they are willing to kill for a greater good. That person is not selling atheism, that person is selling religion.

 

*If you think that’s simply the ‘I could have won but I wasn’t trying’ dodge, then you’ve missed the point. That is only a dodge if you then never offer to demonstrate what you can do when you try.

Advertisements

227 thoughts on “Is atheism a necessary precondition for genocide?”

  1. Hitler was a “good enough” Catholic that the Pope declined to excommunicate him (even post mortem). So, enough of that.

    And Hitler was a notorious vegetarian. You add that to all of the felons in our prisons who ate peas and carrots as a child and, well, there you have it.

    It must be atheists who commit genocide because Yahweh says, time and time again that genocide is forbidden. You may not wipe out an entire people and all of their goats and anything else they own that walks the earth, no, no, it just cannot be done, we have god’s own example, uh … never mind.

    1. Lol! You’re obsessing again, Allallt. For someone who means so little to you, and for whom you have so little respect, I’ve sure occupied a lot of your time! Oh, and hundreds of your blog comments, as well as fully seven now (and counting?) full-length blog posts! Wow! How do you deal with people you do take seriously?!?!? 🙂

      Oh, and I typically just ignore “strange interlocutors.”

      Quick note — You said:

      The entire argument that Hitler was not a Christian comes from some of the people closest to Hitler claiming that his ideas and attitudes did not conform to their own definition or standard of Christianity.

      Good gracious! Can’t be using those “people closest to Hitler” for information, now can we?!? What could they possibly contribute in terms of information about … ummmm… Hitler?!? 🙂

      You just dismissed something like 90-95% of all historical research, Allallt!

      Bullock’s quote about Hitler’s having used the language and trappings of Christianity to advance his own myth. What — seriously — do you find vaguely objectionable about that conclusion?!? Think long and hard about it before you try to suggest that it’s not true. Your credibility hangs in the balance.

      Others and I covered all this in detail before. No, no one can truly read another person’s mind, but anyone who believes that “Hitler was a ‘good enough’ Catholic” is plainly either ignorant, or desperate to believe something that he thinks buttresses his point of view, no matter how ridiculous it is.

      Hitler was, obviously, an atheist.

      Steve: your really silly last paragraph was well debunked in these pages as well.

      You, Zande and Allallt are funny. You keep saying the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. I gather you’re hoping that somehow all that mindless repetition will make it true, despite it’s having been effectively countered many times. You share that characteristic with a whole bunch of historical personages who also understood the Big Lie theory.

      Zande’s funniest one is his obsession over his perfectly irrelevant question “Did Jesus say or do anything original?”

      I’ll confess, I enjoy these exchanges because I absolutely do allow them to challenge my viewpoints. If someone expresses something well and/or clearly, and in a way I’ve not encountered before, I do look at it seriously.

      You three plainly don’t do that.

      The “Hitler was a good Catholic” canard is such a stupid, long-discarded, embarrassingly basic bunch of flapdoodle. And the “God wiped out the Earth before, so it must mean that God approves of genocide” non sequitur are such basic nitwitteries. If you had real arguments, you’d have unceremoniously discarded these sad clinkers long ago.

      Yes, an intelligent five-year old might pose those questions, but not an adult who professes to be knowledgeable about Christianity.

      Best,

      — x

      1. You were nice enough to quote the whole sentence, so why not address to the whole sentence: “…their own definition or standard of Christianity.”
        Also, you haven’t taken up much time. You may remember this post was addressed to you as a comment about 3 months ago. That’s when it was written. All within the weeks we were still talking at length.
        This is the last one, though (I think). And although I do use you as a case study, I hope you don’t think these are about you. These are about the ideas, that are strangely commonplace, you shared.
        Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’ve enjoyed being the focus of attention.
        As for the “sad clinkers” you think I should have discarded–The “Hitler was a good Catholic” canard… [a]nd the “God wiped out the Earth before, so it must mean that God approves of genocide” non sequitur–are both things I haven’t brought up. So, I’m going to let you continue boxing your strawman. When you want to engage with the ideas I have shared, there’s a good change I won’t be taken you seriously any more. It’s not personal; it’s a boy who cried wolf scenario.

        1. Lol! Not a real strong comeback, Allallt. However, if you wish, I’ll pretend that all those posts with my name in the title, and with my name sprinkled throughout the text, and with the attempts at insults directed at me — aren’t about me. 🙂

          Ooooookay.

          As for your “their own definition of Christianity” silliness, this is the sophistry that I constantly point out to you. Newsflash, Allallt: Everyone who has ever even heard of Christianity is then operating from “their own definition of Christianity.” Duh! Your phrase is perfectly meaningless.

          Sheesh, Allallt! No, you didn’t bring up the clinkers, but you did argue on their behalf — in this very post! Man! You’re the sophist’s sophist’s sophist! And the sophist’s mother’s COUSIN’s sophist! You’re the emperor of sophists! 🙂 (Oh, and would you please put some clothes on?) You constantly play the silliest games with words to try to wriggle off the hook you’re constantly setting in your own lip!

          As mentioned before, I particularly enjoyed the “Stalin wasn’t an atheist, he was an anti-theist” dodge!

          Don’t you get tired of having to resort to transparently weak dodges all the time?

          Best,

          — x

        2. I also didn’t argue Stalin wasn’t an atheist. In fact, I admitted he probably was. Look, I know I’ve been breaking my personal rule against writing long posts when you are the case study of a moron I’m using, but I didn’t expect your reading comprehension to be that poor.

          And, okay, Hitler doesn’t conform to Goebels’ definition of Christianity. So what? I accept that. But if everyone is operating from their own definition, how can you be saying he’s not a Christian.
          Now, I think I can take a guess at what you’re planning to write. I don’t think you believe it, I just think you’ve learned it’s a good dodge: I think that by using your own words to explore an idea, you will claim I am a sophist and again not explore the content of what I am saying.
          I didn’t even allude to clinkers. Not once.
          I’m not the sophist you think I am. I’m a lot simpler. Maybe this is on you; you’re surrounded by politicians so often that you’re not used to taking words at face value. But I’m pretty straight talking. Some of the ideas are nuanced. But I’m writing as clearly and directly as I can.
          You’re still boxing a strawman. And, to be frank, it’s boring me and probably the readers too (if there are any). I’d wager that even the religious people here can note that your criticisms fail to map onto the content of my posts or comments. It’s be great if you could grow up a little.

          And yes, there are 7 posts now that mentions you. They were all written months ago. This one rests in your comments section somewhere, from months ago. Surely you can admit to it being familiar. You simply haven’t taken up that much time. You’ve provided good fodder. If anything, too much fodder, now my posts are planned for the next 3 months, because the fodder you offered took up 7 weeks worth.

        3. You did try to draw a large distinction — in fact a distinction that, you seemed to figure, diminished the culpability of atheism — between what you called “anti-theism” and atheism.

          It’s a distinction without a difference, though. Anti-theists are atheists as well.

          If you’re conceding that Stalin was an atheist, then you make my point for me.

          Yes, yes, yes, I saw your attempt to debunk the “atheism is a necessary component of genocide” (I believe I used the term: “mass murder.” Different from genocide, but let’s not be sticklers.) by suggesting that the Kims and Pol Pot are not atheists, since they declare themselves to be gods.

          Quick question: Why, pray tell, would you insist that an atheist dictator would have any qualms about declaring himself to be a god? Or an angel? Or some other kind of super-being? Or a duck? Or any old thing he chooses.

          In a backwards agrarian society, a Kim, or a Ho, or a Pol Pot has, obviously, the best chance of maintaining his power by choosing which of the aforementioned, do you think?

          Let’s stipulate that it’s not “the duck option,” and figure that it’s likely going to be the “phony god option.”

          Still an atheist though.

          Hitler pulled it off too. Hmmmm… let’s revisit (roughly) that quote. “Hitler used the language and trappings of Christianity to advance his own myth.”

          Heck, he even buffaloed you, Zande, Ruiz and Ark! Not that I’m surprised that you believe Hitler — look at all the other twaddle you believe! 🙂

          Best,

          — x

        4. “Hitler doesn’t conform to Goebels’ definition of Christianity.”

          Nor, apparently, to that of many others. 🙂

          I think the phrase was “people closest to Hitler.” I gather that there were, actually, fairly many people — not just Goebels — “close to Hitler.”

          Best,

          — x

        5. Only Goebels in quoted in the source provided.
          But, to the question, what does Goebels’ definition of Christianity have to do with anything — especially in terms of the broader question of theism?

  2. “One can blindly speculate that Hitler’s actions exclude him from being a Christian”

    So this rules out pretty much all of Christian history (the terrorism they conducted against pagans, other churches, and Muslims) up until the point secularism wrestled power from them and they were no longer allowed to murder on whim and start wars.

    And what is a “University Moderator”? I’m assuming this is yet another Praetorious avatar in the ever-so crowded head of his.

    1. John,

      The logical error you are using with Hitler and the Christians is called, moral equivalence which is closely related to your staple fallacy of comparing apples and oranges.

      That the atheist can’t tell the difference between the Christians and the NAZI’s proves that the atheist has no moral compass whatsoever.

      And one of the prerequisites for genocide is, you guessed it, no moral compass.

        1. Lol!

          How many times, in how many ways, does this silliness have to be debunked, for you to lose this kind of basic error of yours, and move on, Zande?

          Best,

          — x

        2. Yes, six-million stamped shiny metal objects professing Christian faith should be ignored, shouldn’t it, Praetorius….

          Keep it up, you’re objections are tremendously persuasive.

        3. Physical artefacts are always trumped by testimony, JZ. That’s how history works. Unless the physical artefacts tell the story I want better, then the artefacts trump testimony.
          It’s all about creating the narrative you want.
          Jeez, learn2history.

        4. You’ve never addressed the idea the actual Nazis were Christian. You’ve tried to deal with Hitler, but not the actual Nazis.

          You seem to only be able to imagine a limited number of argument. And so you seem to be shoehorning different or nuanced points of view into arguments you think you can address.
          Try harder to engage with a broader set of ideas instead of making everything try to fit the narrow views you already have.

        5. Good point, Allallt!

          Finally! It’s about freakin’ time!

          I was getting ready to feed you the question, because you all were so mindlessly obsessed with trying to defend the ludicrous on its face “Hitler was a good Catholic” canard.

          So, what about all those Christians who went along with Hitler?

          Brief background comment:

          Now, while it’s a good point, it occurs to me that I, or someone else, actually did already answer this in another thread, so I’ll be brief here. I understand that all five of you — Zande, Ark, Ruiz, PT, Allallt — are either illiterate, or as several have admitted already (Ark and PT) don’t actually read what we from the theist thought tendency write. It’s a serious indictment of your credibility. You question my (and our) veracity, credibility, intelligence and/or sanity, but then you kind of indicate that you don’t even read what’s posted.

          As in the Soviet Union, when they couldn’t really accuse someone of anything substantive — ie: they were trounced intellectually — they simply declared the dissenter insane and tossed him into the loony bin. As you do here.

          You’re not serious commenters.

          End of brief background comment.

          Back to your question: Well, there were, first off, different Christian reactions to the whole Hitler phenomenon.

          Of course, there were many, many heroic Christians who attempted to resist Nazism by doing what they could to shelter Jews and others from the thugs.

          Then, there were the Christians who just left the country.

          Then there were those who were ignorant of the real Nazi plan.

          You may say, “How could this be?” It was everywhere! Yet, look at those here, in these very pages, with whom I sometimes interact. Also inexcusably ignorant of so much that is so important … but worse! Acting as propaganda agents to try to accuse, yes, you guessed it, Christians! of all sorts of nefarious plots and vile acts.

          So, that last group of Christians that I mentioned has no excuse, but one can understand, despite the lack of excuse, how they were able to stay ignorant.

          Then there were those Christians, to whom Allallt refers, who actively collaborated in the Nazis’ atrocities.

          What about them?

          Again, that’s easy. First, there were few, obviously. Certainly, however, their number is not zero.

          These are, as others and I have mentioned before, the “Christians behaving badly.” By the way, that is all Christians at one time or another in their lives.

          Every Christian in his life, and a lot more than once, finds his acts to be on the “Bad Behavior Continuum.” And the “Bad Behavior Continuum” covers quite a range of behavior, up to and including mass murder.

          It’s why we ask for forgiveness of our transgressions. As part of that prayer for forgiveness, we commit, importantly, to not doing the transgression again. It’s the “Go, and sin no more” part of asking for and receiving forgiveness.

          But, the point is: Christians do behave badly, even though they’re commanded, unambiguously, not to.

          Your suggestion that Christians’ bad behavior somehow condemns Christianity is the same as suggesting that the existence of the murderer means that the law against murder is somehow faulty.

          I hear you already! “Ah ha!,” you say, “By your own words right there, you can’t indict atheism if a bunch of atheist leaders commit mass murder!”

          Yes, I can. And so should you.

          By your own words, Allallt, in atheism, there is no prohibition of any kind against any act whatsoever. When the Christian acts badly, he generally knows he is acting badly, and that he is going against Christian doctrine.

          I will concede to you that the first half of my last statement also pertains to atheists. They generally know they’re acting badly, but it is only against man-made rules and customs that he’s acting.

          And don’t give me any of that “atheism is content-free” hooey. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, et al would not have been so obsessed, over their entire careers, about something that was “content-free.”

          Atheism is a content-packed doctrine, stuffed full of a bunch of flapdoodle like “anti-theism,” “militant atheism,” “evangelical atheism,” “aggressive atheism,” denial of the existence of God (not just skepticism of His existence), actual prohibition against belief in God, and more.

          And, that last allows the atheist concentration camp guards, and the masters of The Gulag, and the minions of Mao, of the Kims, Ho and Pol Pot, to believe that they were/are actually doing good by committing atrocities. This last is the idea that, as you mentioned before, “they believed they were going to produce a better Cambodia” by killing those they considered to be in the way. (rough paraphrase.)

          Bottom line: the Christian — who actually believes himself to be a Christian, and isn’t just saying it — generally knows when he’s behaving badly, and has to cross a pretty bright line in his mind to do the bad thing. It acts as a brake against the bad behavior. Not always a successful brake, but a brake nonetheless.

          The atheist possesses no such brake, unless he produces it himself. Even then, society is at the mercy of the atheist’s whim as to whether he continues to believe in his “brake” from dsay-to-day, and even from moment-to-moment.

          At this point it’s a numbers game. The Christian always has two brakes against bad behavior: his country’s laws and customs, and Christianity. The atheist has only one such brake, and that one’s’s dependent on his own moral fiber, as well as the solidity and quality of his country’s laws and customs.

          The bloodthirsty Bolshevik coup d’état couldn’t have been, and wasn’t, done by Christians. Lenin, Stalin, Bukharin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, et al couldn’t possibly have squared any of their actions or states-of-mind with Christianity. They, plainly, had no brakes against atrocious behavior. This should be uncontroversial.

          It all — the ruthless and bloody Bolshevik coup d’état, the savage, blood-stained régime, The Gulag — required atheists.

          Christians do behave badly. To their shame. Atheists do behave badly … but have no need for shame.

          Between you and me, I’ll be trying to find out more about Malenkov in the future. Here’s the tantalizing tidbit in the Wikipedia entry:

          After that Malenkov fell into obscurity and suffered from depression due to loss of power and the quality of life in a poor province. However, some researchers say that later Malenkov found this demotion and exile a relief from the pressures of the Kremlin power struggle. Malenkov in his later years converted to Russian Orthodoxy, as did his daughter, who has since spent part of her personal wealth building two churches in rural locations. Orthodox Church publications at the time of Malenkov’s death said he had been a reader (the lowest level of Russian Orthodox clergy) and a choir singer in his final years. He died at age 86.

          Malenkov converted to Christianity! Wow! I wonder how, after his conversion, he thought of his previous life and career as one of the most prominent members of one of the bloodiest, militantly atheistic régimes in history.

          Best,

          — x

        6. There is not “Hitler was a good Catholic” canard. As you’ve insisted on getting that wrong several times now, I’ve read no further than that.

        7. You think it would beyond Hitler’s moral character to stamp these buckles even if he didn’t believe in God?

          Of course, Hitler will claim God is with him to the extent it served his purpose.

        8. Hitler was indeed a Christian. In fact, he considered himself a very, very good Christian, and many Church leaders agreed.

          I can provide you ringing endorsements from:

          Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber
          Bishop Hans Meiser
          Catholic Hierarchy of Austria
          Cardinal Theodor Innitzer
          Fulda German Bishops’ Conference
          Bishop Rackl of Eichstätt
          Kirchenrat Leutheuser
          Cardinal Adolf Bertram

          And

          Father Senn, who published these words on the 15th of May, 1934:

          [Adolf Hitler is] the tool of God, called upon to overcome Judaism…

          The tool of God. Quite an endorsement.

          Further, you’re free to peruse the New York Times article, “Atheist Hall Converted,” from May 14, 1933, concerning Hitler’s outlawing atheistic groups in the Spring of 1933.

          You’re also free to peruse the Associated Press Story, “Campaign against ‘Godless Movement'” from February 23, 1933, in which the author writes about Nazi’s “Positive Christianity.”

          These are all contemporary affirmations of Hitler’s Christian faith, and the Nazi’s Christian orientation.

        9. I see you are quoting Catholic sources before Hitler showed his true colors.

          Moreover quoting a single priest? Yes there were anti-semitic priests in Germany just like there were anti-semetic people of every profession in Germany.

          Few outside of Germany were on to Hitler in 1933 and 1934. You can quote glowing review from many people and institutions in 1933 and 1934.

          The fact is the Church was one of the first if not the first major institution to condemn Hitler for his racist policy on March 10th 1937 with the encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge” Which the Vatican had Priests pass out to Catholics in Germany condemning Hitler and Nazi racism.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mit_brennender_Sorge

        10. Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, meeting of Bavarian bishops on his meeting with Adolf Hitler, December 13, 1936:

          “The Führer commands the diplomatic and social forms better than a born sovereign. …Without a doubt the chancellor lives in faith in God. He recognizes Christianity as the foundation of Western culture. …Not as clear is his conception of the Catholic Church as a God-established institution.” As a result of this report, the conference votes to “once again affirm our loyal and positive attitude, demanded by the fourth commandment, toward today’s form of government and the Führer.” They assure the Führer they will provide him “all available moral resources his world-historical struggle aimed at repelling Bolshevism.”

          Catholic Hierarchy of Austria, March 18, 1938:

          We are also convinced that the activity of the National Socialist movement has averted the danger of an all-destroying atheistic Bolshevism. For the future, the bishops confer their heartiest blessing on this activity, and they will instruct the faithful to this effect. …it is for us a national duty, as Germans, to vote for the German Reich, and we also expect all believing Christians to demonstrate that they know what they owe to their nation.

          Bishop Hans Meiser of the Bavarian Evangelical-Lutheran Church, May 18, 1938:

          Pastors in the Bavarian regional church are required as public officials to perform the following oath: ‘I swear to God the Almighty and All-knowing: I will be loyal and obedient to the Führer of the Reich and Volk, Adolf Hitler, I will obey the laws, and I will conscientiously fulfill all my official duties, so help me God.’ This law is effective immediately.

        11. It’s Allalts comments setting, and I agree. It’s atrocious.

          So, you’re argument is, of course, Hitler was not a TrueChristian™

          Well, we have external sources saying otherwise.

        12. Whether someone is a christian or not can become quite blurred. Hence we have centuries of disputes in Christianity. Was his new “positive Christianity” really Christianity? Well it had some views in common with many churches but also many quite at odds with every existing church.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity

          Here is a quote from Wikipedia which is quoting the Nazi minister for church affairs:

          “In 1937, Hans Kerrl, the Nazi Minister for Church Affairs, explained “Positive Christianity” as not “dependent upon the Apostle’s Creed”, nor in “faith in Christ as the son of God”, upon which Christianity relied, but rather, as being represented by the Nazi Party: “The Fuehrer is the herald of a new revelation”, he said.”

          So they replace Jesus with Hitler. Now from some of your anti-christian posts you may not think that is a big deal, but for most people I think they would agree that is pretty far from Christian.

          My own view (based on the considerable amount of reading I have done) is that Hitler knew he couldn’t just erase Christianity so he tried to replace it first and gradually wean people off of it.

    2. Yeah, I don’t believe the moderator was there, either.
      And I agree that the modern definition of Christianity that people are defending today is one that society didn’t accept until after secularism took hold and religious morality was told to bugger off.

  3. It was Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union who said that atheism was “necessary for the communist program.”

    And it is a simple fact that all communist regimes in all areas of the world and in cultures of the world, used genocide as a routine tool of statecraft.

    1. In Acts, it is clear that the first Christians were communists.

      >(Acts 4 32-35) “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

      1. There is much in Socialist doctrine that is highly worthwhile in interpersonal relations. Certainly not the coercion, the violence, the atheism, the theft or the killing — but the concept of the equality of all people’s value in God’s eyes.

        When it becomes a governing system, however, Socialism, when fueled by atheism as it ultimately must be, is the bloodiest, most murderous governing system ever devised. To implement and enforce such a system, militant atheism is an absolute requirement. The 20th Century allows no other rational conclusion.

        Zande: you’ll notice that what caused there to be “no needy persons among them,” was no human thing, but — by your own quote: God’s grace.

        One of your great skills, Zande, is finding quotes, sources, memes and things that neatly prove my points, and those of your opponents. You are useful for that at least! 🙂

        In God’s kingdom, you are correct, there are definitely many “Socialist” characteristics: no need for money; no need for personal property; no need for hierarchy or echelons of power…

        And, that would be the case on earth, too, if everyone had perfect faith in God, but as you demonstrate rather neatly, that’s not how it is on earth, now is it?

        Best,

        — x

      2. John,

        If you want to become a priest or a monk and live a communal lifestyle, no one is stopping you.

        But haven’t asked yourself, that once everyone sells their property and gives it to blessed and honored leaders like you and comrade Mao, where will any future wealth come from?

        I can hear your swift intake of breath (GASP!) and then a big “DUH-zilla” as you exhale…

        …and realize why mass starvation, mass poverty and mass social disintegration all come come part and parcel with atheist ideology (communism, fascism, socialism).

        1. I don’t know that that’s how it’s meant to work. I get that is how Mao did it, but that’s like saying Putin represents democracy.
          In a communism, resources are meant to be allocated according to need. People are not meant to be allowed to starve.
          That certainly has many draw backs, and I increasingly don’t like communist ideas because I don’t believe enough people will do difficult jobs if they don’t come with some level of meritocratic recognition, whether it be pay or status. It’s a case of what appears ‘fair’. Why should I have to be doctor for my allocated resources when someone else just gets to be a street cleaner?
          There are certainly problems with communism in principle. But what you described is not one of them.

      1. Communism

        Marx: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”

        Christianity

        Acts 2:45: “All that believed were together, and had all things in common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”

        Acts 4 32-35: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

        1. @the little apostle of atheism

          And so………
          -here we have an attempt by a man (you) to speak for a God who YOU SAY is non-existent
          -here we have a man (you) quoting from a book (the scriptures) WHO says is fraudulent…….
          -citing an event (the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ) that he says never happened…

          While TRYING to teach or explain that which he finds comedic. Even the devil must laugh.

          Don’t bother with a reply, as your clock has been cleaned and tossed to the basement of irrelevance.

        2. I’m truly sorry jz, but it’s like watching you in a boxing ring boasting that you will knock out Ali in his prime, while your hands are tied behind your back, your legs have a thousand lb. weights, you are blindfolded, tied to a chair, hanging upside down, and your tongue still boasts that YOU are the greatest………

          And I’ll give you more food for thought when you admit there is a God above all, with whom you have to do.

          Until then, the word of God is a sealed book to you. That is a fact of life.

        3. So, as long as we believe already, you’ll be able to convince us? That’s like saying you’d be able to beat Genghis Khan in a fight; he’s already dead.

        4. ColourStorm, this is the weakest retort that is commonly employed by religious people.
          You’ll notice atheists don’t do it. When religious people quote the Dawkins ‘pitiless indifference’ quote from ‘The God Delusion’ or Darwin’s concerns about the mind of human compared to that of an ape in ‘The Ascent of Man’, atheists don’t demand that you not quote that book because you don’t believe it.
          What the Book says is relevant. If a Christian hates socialism, the fact the Bible endorses it so clearly is relevant.
          So, get a better argument than ‘I’m not listening to you’.

        5. Allallt-

          Did you ever try to talk to a rock in your garden? They are kinda dull and heard of hearing, and speak with a lisp.

          You, zande or any body who sits in judgment of scripture are at a supreme disadvantage; it’s not an insult, tis a fact. Proof? Yep. Try discussing Calculus with a two year old who can not add 4 plus 3…. There is no context for understanding.

          Sooooooo, when you or anybody speaks of ‘Hitler as being the model boy scout or christian………you may want to read how scripture defines believers and how they are evident. The grace of God is the magnum opus of Christianity. The grace of God and Hitler? Eh………keep looking, maybe the rock will give you some insight.

        6. ‘Hitler as being the model boy scout or christian’
          No one said it. Hard of hearing, are you? (Also, you talk to rocks and, lisps or not, they talk back to you?)
          Lay it on me, ColourStorm, because I’ve heard a dozen definitions of Christianity in the last 2 weeks. How do you define Christianity?
          And, just like Goebbels, why should I care about your definition of Christianity?
          If your response is ‘you’re too thick, allalt’, the one not ready for a conversation is you.
          You can refuse to define Christianity for me, be my guest. But it does raise the interesting question of why you come here. It never seems to be to have a conversation. It seems to be to tell us we can’t talk on the matter.

        7. Just sarcasm allalt.

          As far as defining Christianity, I alluded to it earlier: the grace of God, which was clearly demonstrated by Christ Himself, defined, and taught completely in the New Testament, in which it appears highly unlikely that Mr. Hitler ever read: love thy neighbor as thyself.

        8. Love thy neighbour?

          That’s not a unique Christian precept. 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.”

          Want to try again, Colourstorm?

        9. Uh zande, I answered allalts quest, and it was far MORE that you allege.

          The context is the false narrative of Hitler, and I stated without abiguity that if he ever read the New Testament……….

          None of your false religions or lame suggestions can make an unjust man just; none of your religions can make an unrighteous man righteous; and none can take a liar and transform him into a person who loves the truth, at whatever cost.

          Your heroes of the past are dead and gone; it was Christ Himself who PROVED greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

          The so called ‘love’ of your philosophers is not the ‘agape’ love of scripture; and I can’t show this to you, but God can if you are sincere.

        10. You quite clearly said Christianity is “love thy neighbour.” That slice of moral guidance (and good guidance it is) is not Christian.

          Period.

          It was so common it was even reproduced in popular culture (Homer’s Odyssey) 500 years before Jesus.

          So, John, please give a definition of what Christianity is.

          Surely, this must be the easiest thing ever to answer. It is your religion, after all, and I’m assuming (naturally) that you can define it.

        11. John, I don’t know how to put it to any plainer. Christianity is defined by the directives as laid out in the New Testament.

          God’s word is not so small that one can define it in a thimble.

          But here’s a bonus truth. Christ, as a rejected Head, has a body on earth, where members are one of another, each having different functions, purposes, and fields of operation.

          The Head, that is, Christ Himself, equips His own. His gifts can not be purchased at Benny’s Local Mart.

          No amount of learning can impart gift to He who God saw fit to withhold; as the doctrine of the Body of Christ is genius and a testament to inspiration.

          There is NO other doctrine and belief such as true Christianity, and for what it’s worth, it is written: the gates of hell shall not prevail against this building.

          Proof? Uh yyyep, you are reading one of those proofs. And of course, doctrine as laid out in the epistles, begun in the gospels, such as redemption, propitiation, sanctification, atonement, glorification, are further proof that Christianity was never man’s idea.

          No man on earth left alone to his own devices, could write the book of Romans or Hebrews, and most people know this.

          And all orchestrated by a rejected Head.

        12. So, I’ve written about this ‘love thy neighbour’ thing before. (https://goo.gl/kTWXcN)
          I don’t think that’s a clear definition. Also, I’m not sure to say that it was demonstrated by Jesus Christ is true. He may have been an example, although I have reason to doubt even that much. There is a difference between what you have faith in and what you have good reason to believe, and to say that Christ believed in Christ isn’t all that insightful.
          Not only that, but Jesus was meant to have been virtuous in his own right; that is the example he set. The narrative seems to suggest that no human can be virtuous in their own right; they have to do it by vicarious redemption.
          That seems to leave us this two options:
          (1) Jesus is simply an example of what it means to be Christian, and not the definition itself.
          (2) Jesus is literally the definition and therefore no one is a Christian.

        13. Yep, seen it before.

          If you do not agree that the New Testament is unlike any other document on earth……then I cannot help you to see the night and day difference between biblical ‘love,’ and all the infatuations of the world combined.

          Perhaps a fresh reading for you, unencumbered by the hideous whispers suggesting: ‘Christ never lived……Moses never lived…Abraham never lived……Jacob never lived……Daniel was a fraud…..Paul was delusional…….. and such claptrap.

          Saul of Tarsus was a hired hand……….becomes Paul the apostle……gee, I wonder what happened? Could it be the love and peace of God that passes understanding? In other words, off the charts in brilliance.

          You are not sure ‘love’ was demonstrated by Christ eh?

          Hmmm, yet, while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

          Christ died for the ungodly.

          The just died for the unjust, that we may be brought to God.

          No other man on earth could by his own righteousness, bring another to God. Not demonstrated huh?

          Greater love hath no man than THIS………

        14. I’m not sure how you decided I said Jesus didn’t show love. I never said that. Try again.
          There has also been a long exposition of feigned outrage from a few religious commenters saying the fact there is nothing original in the Bible isn’t important. Now you’re telling me there is something new in there. So… what?

          In fact, I’m not sure what you’re saying maps to my comments or posts at all. It’s almost as if you just had something to say and were going to say it regardless of what my reply to you was…

  4. Sigh, must we have the “loophole” discussion again? You may think the Christian system is flawed, but in order for it to have an actual loophole, you must show that the system is being used contrary to its intention. Is it being used to “get away with” bad behavior towards man? Sure, it may seem that way. But is the purpose of the system to control behavior in this world and towards man? Prove it, because that would have to be it’s intention in order for your “loophole” to exist.

    Definition of loophole: A way of avoiding or escaping a cost or legal burden that would otherwise apply by means of an omission or ambiguity in the wording of a contract or law.

    In this case, the “cost” would be “excluded from Heaven”. But the Christian system (usually) does not say you get to heaven by “being good”. It says you get to heaven by having the sins (that no person can avoid doing) being forgiven through true repentance and acceptance of Jesus. Sin is sin, and it matters not (to God) whether it is a few small ones or many big ones. As an aside, a person who deliberately “does bad” through his life with the intention of “accepting Jesus on his deathbed” is almost certainly doomed to failure. 1) A majority of people die unexpectedly and 2) a person who intends to do evil is unlikely to be able to validly accept Jesus; he can CLAIM to do it, but God can tell if it is real.

    1. Nicely, and succinctly, said, equippedcat! I commend you for packing a whole lot of substantive meaning into fewer words than I usually use! It’s, sadly, a failing of mine.

      Best,

      — x

  5. This is a very good post.

    I often think and feel — I try to include both neurological activities simultaneously and/or independently — that an issue or topic can be argued (well?) both ways. For me, this shows a person’s remarkable ability to coerce, to sell it, to inspire, to influence, to pander, to justify ends over means, etc, etc, BECAUSE doing so with emotion or passion ticks our 300,000 years of group-recognition primate wiring. Whether the interpretations or interpolations, deductions or inferences are based in factual reality, perceived from an easily LIMITED human neuro-receptor system… consciously or unintentionally it may not matter to the person(s). Hence, rampant “faith” of religious minions. Oops, sorry. I mean religious Followers. 😉

    For me personally, much of this aforementioned theistic mindset or Abrahamic-religions-world-view is a clumsy practice of intellectual suicide primarily based in human emotion rather than powers of A) collective testing & observation, and B) collective critical-thinking. There’s an important C factor too: it apparently takes a LOT OF COURAGE and wisdom to be an iconoclast! Hahaha. So much so that one could/does pay for it with their life! 😦

    …religious people have led atrocities;

    That might be the understatement of the year! Hahaha. Many scholarly historians have stated that throughout all of known pre-Antiquity, written, and video-audio recorded history that other than warring over life-sustaining resources, RELIGION or human-excluding ideologies have been the single most scourge of humanity ever! The Abrahamic religions are perhaps the epitomy of them all because they still exist today are are not in significant decline. A very sad state of affairs. 😦

    The rest of your post is an excellent examination into atheism and its effects on the world. Bravo!

    1. Oh, and by the way, “Professor Taboo,” I hope to all heck that you’re not a real professor. That post is some of the worst, the most illiterate, pompous, grandiloquent writing I’ve ever read! Congratulations!

      Sometimes, I take the abominable scribblings of internet commenters and show them off on my blog. This one is a possible prize winner!

      Please, please, please tell me you don’t actually teach anywhere. Though, based on the abysmal level of writing in that post, I fear that you’re a respected academic in America.

      Best,

      — x

      1. At first, I thought there was no need to reply to this “pompous” baiting comment because it is clearly directed at Allallt, or mistakenly entered under my comment when it belongs as a seperate comment to Allallt. Then I thought twice about it… it would be rude of me to assume xPrae made such a blatant error — i.e. he/you xPrae might take it wrong. And I am a firm believer and practioner of etiquette, internet etiquette as well. Thus, I shouldn’t take a chance of being discourteous. Therefore…

        Though I didn’t expect to receive any reply from anyone other than Allallt — since my comment was addressed to him specifically — I certainly do enjoy hearing/reading ALL SIDES of a subject or issue; yes, even though I did not request it/yours. However, strictly in that context I appreciate your point-of-view and comment. As I stated initially, and it deserves repeating:

        I often think and feel — I try to include both neurological activities simultaneously and/or independently — that an issue or topic can be argued (well?) both ways.

        I do realize I’m repeating myself here, but there were simply no question-marks in THIS particularly comment xPrae.

        Once again, I appreciate your thoughts and I wish you the best. 🙂

    2. I do worry about the ability to two people to give contrary but convincing arguments. The arguments can be made, but often one person is being selective or distorting or outright lying to make their point. It reminds me of the tobacco industry’s campaign arguing that there isn’t evidence smoking is harmful, even though the evidence was very much in; they simply exploited the limited access the public had to the science.
      The same is true in xPrae’s thesis that atheism is a necessary component in genocides. If you look at how he uses language, you see that he defines religion to exclude Islam from being a religion, and defines all heinous acts as being a declaration of the actor to say there is no God. I don’t know how to argue with some one who changes the meaning of all the key words to fit their narrative, and then accuses me of being the sophist for sticking to the real word.
      Aside from the word games that get played, it’s amazing to see how Donald Trump behaves; he just lies with confidence. And then, immediately, people take it seriously. The argument can be made, of course, but it is a hijacking of human cognitive errors. Some of those errors are necessary and serve a function; in evolutionary times, certain lessons had to be learned by rote and so it paid to trust seemingly ‘wise’ people. It appears the human mind is not so good at identifying who is wise or what ideas have merit.

      I haven’t looked so much at the effects of atheism, but I am tempted to look into the effects of the Enlightenment in a future post.

      1. Some very good valid points. Let me start with your very first sentence and paragraph.

        In my recent studies and examinations of Quantum Mechanics/Physics, paradoxes are to varying degrees embraced; embraced by opposing theories, if that makes sense. Take for instance time travel. Einstein proved (in theory) that it absolutely is possible or exists. However, the application of it is yet to be done by anyone. Therefore, opposing or incongruent theories of time travel are (highly?) plausible. But…

        …in the case of religion, as xPrae himself stated:

        The teachings and the doctrine have changed very little over the millennia.

        Score a few points for xPrae, but not too many… from strictly a general “Christian” Scriptural exegesis POV, he is correct. Canonical scripture hasn’t changed since 325 CE at Nicene, and so by default the theology, doctrines, and practices shouldn’t either, correct? No, not at all. There are now approximately 30,000+ denominations of “Christianity” — granted some similiar or near identical — but there certainly isn’t ONE church, or one bible for that matter. Therefore, from a purely exegetical POV, xPrae is semi-correct in his above statement… though don’t lift the veil(s)! 😉

        Regarding the human brain and its cognitive abilities, I did a post within a series of 6 or 7 total posts about that very subject, and just how incredibly gullible the brain actually is when it comes to ‘processing’ various neural-receptions and stimuli. Utterly fascinating stuff those fields of science are discovering and proving. Truly, our ‘evolved intelligence’ still has a VERY long way to go primarily because we STILL have so much difficulty getting outside ourselves (our relative subjective experiences), outside our immediate environments, and defintiely outside our own familial, regional, national, and continental paradigms! Hahaha.

    3. A quick note, PT: Allallt has spent considerable time and effort in trying to defend the proposition that atheism is “content-free.”

      Therefore, at least according to “llallt, it could have no “effect on the world” whatsoever.

      Atheists, surely, but not atheism.

      If this guy, “Professor Taboo” is merely Allallt being a sock puppet and trying to add some support for his point of view, then he’s done nothing more than contradict himself, and, essentially, make my point for me that, indeed, atheism is “content-stuffed,” and has had a very definite, and very bad, effect on the world.

      Best,

      — x

      1. Your “quick note” has been noted.

        I assure you xPrae that this “Professor Taboo” is no one other than the person and alias he claims, writes as, and has been blogging since 2011. Furthermore, if you compare our writing styles, I think even an 8th grader could deduce we are two different people/writers. Further on furthermore, if you yourself had done a little extra reading of just my “About” page alone, it would be glaringly obvious we are on two different continents. There’s a well-known, wise and simple quote I like and try to follow:

        Read thrice, think twice, speak once.

        In that order, and ONLY in that order does it work best… for all concerned. You might try it. Following it has saved ME from many an embarrassing moment.

        Therefore xPrae, your entire last sentence/paragraph is null and void; it doesn’t apply to me. Irrelevant. And it could well be irrelevant. However, I will give you this: your imagination is very active. As a general rule, authors of fiction often produce excellent stories of entertainment. You’ve entertained me with this comment. 🙂

        I wish you well.

        1. Kudos to you, PT, for your measured response to my admittedly pointed snark.

          Your prose, though, is so awful — and I mean this with no disrespect or disdain whatsoever — that I figured it was intentionally so.

          If I was correct about the intent, then there was an agenda there.

          My speculation came from the fact that Allallt (Rhys?) and Zande were so thoroughly out of their league, that they had long ago reduced themselves to desperate accusations that I had taken on several identities.

          I thought it possible that Allallt, or someone, had decided to do the sock puppet thing to “show me,” or deflect, or the like.

          Please, please, please do not take any of this as snark… writing is not for everyone!

          You seem to be a reasonably intelligent person, with an obviously above-average vocabulary. But your writing is awful. So awful that it’s a delight to read, and it was a delight to lampoon as well.

          The problem, your protestations to the contrary, is that I still can’t say that you’re not just “Allallt” or “Rhys” trying to add the above-mentioned academic patina to some pretty poor argumentation.

          Don’t be disconcerted by this, if you’re not!

          In a recent thread on this very blog, I proved to the singularly rock-headed Zande that I was one person, and he still couldn’t understand it, and professed not to believe it.

          In fact, once in a recent thread on this very blog, I posted three successive posts/replies, from three different continents — Africa, Asia and Europe. They all seemed to originate, though, from the same IP address.

          I have a very, very low-tech way of accomplishing this, and of removing any possibility of someone’s discovering my identity.

          I’ve made this identity-concealing method available to some friends, who, also, post from my same IP address. That made the out-of-gas Zande suggest that all those friends were me, and to suggest, therefore, that my sanity was in doubt.

          Once I had asserted that I was only one person, and shown how anyone else could also counterfeit my identity, I returned to doing what I was supposed to be doing: addressing the content of posts, not the character of the commenter. (Hmmm. echoes of Martin Luther King, Jr., there!)

          It’s what you should do too.

          And, you should suggest that Allallt, who seems to be your friend, should enforce some basic standards of decorum on his blog and forbid scurrilous accusations, constantly repeated questions (after they’ve been answered many times), inappropriate language, and an impolite, ill-mannered exchange.

          I mean, is he interested in intellectual pursuits, or is he just a vulgar lout?

          Allallt (Rhys?) has allowed Zande to turn his blog into a sewer. Worse, to Allallt’s vast discredit, he then endorsed a bunch of Zande’s nitwittery, and, still worse, joined in.

          You seem to have some influence with him, do something!

          Best,

          — x

        2. Ummm… scroll down to the bottom of the page xPrae. In other words, go down as far as necessary and look for a comment that is addressed specifically to you. I could not reply to one of your last comments up above, for some technical reason.

        3. Sewer? Not so much. I would not apply that pejorative unless there were swearing and/or foul images. Hodgepodge, perhaps, repetitive, sure, argumentative, of course and even insulting on occasion. But none of those can really cause “a sewer”.

        4. Okay, Cat. I confess. I might have lapsed a teentsy-weentsy bit into hyperbole.

          I have to admit that I become annoyed with the sheer childish silliness of Zande, as well as the acquiescence, by Allallt to sid silliness, and even his outright defense of it.

          I was hoping for a meaningful exchange, and at every point where that was possible (you were a potential positive catalyst, I might add), Zande came back with his, “Let me know when you have something new and original, blah, blah, blah.

          I mean that had been answered every possible way from Sunday, except, of course, the way Zande wanted.

          Any normal person would have said, “Gee, maybe I need to re-think it all based on the input I’ve received about ‘new and original’ not being all that necessary and all.”

          But, no … Zande shot back: “Let me know when you can propose something new and different…etc.”

          It did become frustrating.

          Also, I don’t know if you’ve been here through all the posts, but Zande was the first to start name-calling, and Allallt joined in.

          Ark did, for a while, actually, turn it all into a “sewer,” according to your parameters, above. I largely refrained, and this was over some six or seven posts.

          Then, as according to a previous post in this thread, I said to myself, “To heck with it. Might as well join in too.”

          So, I did.

          Best,

          — x

        5. Yes, people on here can be, how can I phrase it nicely, single minded. And yes, that can get annoying. But as followers of Jesus, are we not called to show a more positive image than do they? If we behave no differently than those without Christ, how can we claim to be “better” because of Him?

        6. Lol! This is “viewer” posting from the same IP and identity as xP! I’m LOVING this exchange! It’s so funny I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying it!

          I’m “foursquare.” Im here too. we’re having a blogging party and just enjoying ourselves. WE have the stereo on and we’re having some chips and salsa and we’re bloggin and watchin each other blog. It’s fun! Don’t you have any friends you can have a blogging party with professor?

          This is FreeThinker. I write on racial issues for the blog. I’m at the party too. Loving the Yuengling and chips! I guess that xp has mentioned that we’re all posting from the same IP address. Heck, we’re all in the same POST! Interestingly none of us is in the same room, and two of us are on entirely different continents! Aint technology grand?

          Okay, okay… Thanks, guys. xPraetorius here again. Apollo, and others, couldn’t make it to the online blogging party, but he might be here tomorrow. Anyway, I hope this makes a small point. It’s entirely possible that I made up all these friends, or that they’re very real. You couldn’t ever possibly know. Therefore, you might as well just address the content that appears and forget about trying to deflect.

          Best,

          — x
          viewer
          foursquare
          FreeThinker
          Apollo (in absentia)

        7. It’s entirely possible that I made up all these friends, or that they’re very real. You couldn’t ever possibly know.

          LOL!… that’s the spirit xPrae! That’s the active imagination I was referring to earlier! Good fiction. Well done Sir.

          Goodbye, take care, and enjoy your weekend.

        8. @Equippedcat: You said:

          Yes, people on here can be, how can I phrase it nicely, single minded. And yes, that can get annoying. But as followers of Jesus, are we not called to show a more positive image than do they? If we behave no differently than those without Christ, how can we claim to be “better” because of Him?

          You are, of course, absolutely correct. I’ll try to do better.

          I do note that in previous of Allallt’s posts, I announced that I was going to dial it back, and maintain a much more civil tongue. I then did so, but that caused no resulting change in the deportment of the others, so it was frustrating.

          To some extent, also, it’s a question of communicating as effectively as possible. I truly think that Zande is best reached — or least poorly reached — if one responds to him with the same scornful, contemptuous tone that is his preferred means of disagreement.

          Bottom line, I’ve tried a lot of different tones with this bunch, and Zande still obsesses over irrelevancies, and Allallt still refuses to recognize the many contradictions and deficiencies in his thinking, even when overtly pointed out to him.

          Last bottom line, I think I’ll have to go elsewhere to find substantive material for my project. This place is all smoke and no fire.

          I’ll come back when they post overtly about me, as Allallt has been doing these past months, but then it’ll be just for the fun of it.

          Best,

          — x

        9. Nobody (sane or realistic) ever claimed that being a Christian was “easy”. And it is not up to us to correct those with whom we disagree. We can provide information; we can show flaws in thinking. If the other party chooses not to, or is unable to, accept our help; that is not our problem or our failure. The most effective thing we CAN do, is show them the love of Christ and the difference in us coming from following Him. If we are “no different” from them (that is, our actions are at odds with our claims), then our words will be meaningless to them, and actually worse for the Kingdom.

        10. Hmmmmm… some good points, EC.

          I do need to consider them.

          We do have several models from Jesus for our behavior. There’s the “Jesus with the money changers” example, where He simply didn’t put up with fools and scoundrels.

          And then there’s the example of Jesus’ being gentle and tender as He does His ministry … as with the adulterous woman.

          In each case, His love for the recipient, or recipients, of His lesson was the same, but His approach was dramatically different.

          On this blog, those on the other side have, I think, consciously played the “fools and scoundrels” part on purpose. For example: Zande’s constant harping on the “new and original” silliness, and the long, equally silly “Hitler was a good Catholic” nonsense.

          Then PT jumped in with his toweringly silly, but also inflammatory, post about “the most scourge” thing.

          It was, you’ll admit, a target-rich environment, in which the atheism side began by fighting dirty (see the original post itself) and continued the dirty fighting.

          Your point, however, is extremely well-made and important,: Only Christians could be having the discussion you and I are having. There’s just no imaginable context in which a couple of atheists could say to each other: “Hey, let’s be nicer so that we can be good examples of atheism for these Christians.

          If for that alone, I think you’re correct, and I’m in the wrong.

          I’m going to have to adjust my behavior accordingly.

          Best,

          — x

        11. The money changers in the temple were much beyond “fools and scoundrels”. They were deliberately skewing the word of God for their own profit. He treated them as He treated demons, for much the same reasons

        12. Another good point. I wonder whether that still means that such behavior as Jesus exhibited at the temple is, sometimes, warranted in places such as these.

          Remember: These are people who have rather vociferously defended this proposition: “Christianity is morally inferior to both Islam and atheism.” (here)

          I’m not sure what kid gloves and gentleness one can use effectively in the face of such half-wittery. 🙂

          With that said, it’s important to state the obvious: that I’m not Jesus, so wouldn’t be able to do the tables-overturning thing with His authority.

          More evidence, I suppose, in favor of your suggested milder approach.

          Best,

          — x

        13. Yep, people can not only make, but insist on really silly statements. Maybe they are just trying to get you hot and bothered; allowing them to get your goat does nobody any real good. Maybe they really believe it. The optimal courses of action would be either to ignore them (in the first case) or to lead them in re-evaluating their statement (in the second case). Maybe they can be shown a better view. Maybe you can realize a a weakness (like me, who used to be firmly of the opinion that Atheist and Agnostic did not overlap at all).

          So I would say that “boxing gloves and roughness” are never an effective technique, although admittedly it is difficult or impossible to avoid stooping to that level sometimes.

        14. Lol! But I like to rumble!

          An important point to make: My goat is impossible to get. I truly am impossible to offend. This is a blog, fer cryin’ out loud! 🙂

          Any approach I take is purely tactical; it’s my way of trying to find the best way to obtain information and perspective.

          Don’t forget: these exchanges have been occurring over more than half-a-dozen blog posts by Allallt, and several at my own blog, all of which, added together, have elicited probably more than a thousand total comments in reaction.

          Part of the problem is that Zande’s and Allallt’s contributions have been so pointless. If you were to sum up Zande in a few points, it would be (1) Zlork (don’t ask), and (2) “new and original,” while with Allallt, it would be all obsessing over “sources.”

          The “heat” of the exchanges, in all that time, has ebbed and flowed quite a bit. I’ve tended to blend in — tone- and tenor-wise — to that established by the moderator and his commenters.

          For example, I remember one essay of Allallt’s in which the body of the post essentially said that all Christians were idiots (or something like that). Then, the very first comment out of the box — by Zande, of course — amplified on the post, and overtly called me an idiot.

          As I said, I’m impossible to offend, but that was more of an invitation to a nice, fun rumble than I could turn down.

          At that point, I think that
          Allallt and Zande were actually hoping for a rumble, and I obliged.

          It’s just when they start to come out on the bad side of the rumble, they start to blubber about the tone and all. So, there is some history to all this, over the past few months or so.

          You, however — durn ya! — reminded me that I need to be the best possible Christian in these dealings. And, of course, in all my dealings.

          Your critique is meaningful, particularly because it comes from a professed Christian.

          Actually, though, I much prefer a serious exchange. It’s just more conducive to obtaining information and perspective.

          Best,

          — x

        15. I’ll stay true to form here: ” I remember one essay of Allallt’s in which the body of the post essentially said that all Christians were idiots”
          Got a source?

      2. What content does atheism have? By definition, it has a lack of belief in God or gods existing. At the “strong” end, it has the belief that no God or gods exist, with the implication that those who do believe in God or gods are ignorant, insane, deluded and/or “out to get them”, with a side of the desire to “fix” these poor souls. Is any of this “content”? What else is content?

        1. Good questions, Cat!

          Please forgive the multi-person post above that appears to be addressed you, it is not. It was used to demonstrate how several people could use the same IP address to post various posts, and actually be on different continents as they post — again, all from the same IP address.

          I’ll address your above post in a bit.

          Best,

          — x

        2. The “content” is in the affirmative belief that there is no God. It’s a fundamental principle in the entire idea of “scientific socialism.”

          Marx, Lenin, et al, were clear that mankind needed to adhere to standards of morality based on mankind’s own reasoning, not to be limited by the restrictions placed on it by God. Hence, God had to be banished in some way.

          It’s why the atheist Socialist totalitarianisms of the 20th Century — every last one of ’em! — didn’t have a simple “live and let live” relationship with religious belief, but rather did their level best to stamp it out.

          Can’t, after all, have people adhering to different — or heaven forfend, higher — standards of morality than those endorsed by the leadership.

          One can see their point. You really can’t have a bunch of belief in things like “Thou shalt not steal,” or “Thou shalt not commit murder,” out and about in a Socialist country! Especially since those restrictions would be on the the government as well, because they come from an even higher authority.

          Socialist totalitarianisms are not all about tying their own hands, or limiting their scope of action in any way!

          Furthermore, Socialism is all about stealing the fruits of the labor of people and transferring control of it to the state. Socialism is nothing more than serfdom, with the leadership’s power madness and greed concealed in a blizzard of pretty words like “equality” and “justice” and “the people” and “social justice.”

          Socialism requires atheism. It can’t require something that is … nothing.

          Best,

          — x

        3. Atheism also includes those who do not have any belief about gods, sometimes referred to “agnostics”.

          I’m not sure that this is “content”; is it not just the definition?

          I’m also not sure there is a one to one correspondence between socialism and atheism. Are all socialists (particularly the leadership) atheists? Perhaps. Are all atheists socialists? Definitely not.(I was an atheist; I’ve never been a socialist)

        4. Good points and questions!

          Atheism is, I believe, an essential component of Socialism, because Socialism is an amoral doctrine. If mankind is not the ultimate authority, then the legitimacy of the totalitarianism to which Socialism inevitably leads is always subject to challenges by an authority higher in the people’s minds than the government. No totalitarianism can ever permit that. Which is why, they always atheistic totalitarians are constantly prone to installing themselves as “gods.” It allows them to, rhetorically at least, foreclose the possibility of any “divine intervention” ever coming down on them. This has been true through history. It’s just a whole lot easier to rebel against “the king” than against God.

          I never considered Agnostics to be atheists, but I’m certainly willing to entertain the notion. I think that I kept them separate for two reasons. (1) They see themselves as separate — not dispositive, I know — and (2) when I asked a good friend of mine who calls himself an Agnostic, why he didn’t consider himself an atheist, he said — direct quote: “Atheism is just another religion.”

          I know, I know… fraught with potential contradiction and such! Like: How could the Kims be atheists if they consider themselves to be gods? That kind of contradiction. (a contradiction that I responded to as well.)

          However, the zealous reaction to viewpoint challenges in this locale sure seems to lend credence to his assertion.

          Best,

          — x

        5. When I was Agnostic, I did not consider myself an Atheist; at that time the groups seemed to be separate. Since then, I’ve been educated, and know that the term “atheist” has been expanded (or corrected) to include many who used to eschew the term. At first I resisted the distinction, but when you get right down to it, there is some logic behind the term. The “A” prefix means “no”, which implies a binary condition. So if a theist has a belief in God or gods, then an atheist does not have a belief in God or gods. Agnositic, a term about knowledge, is nowhere in that spectrum of belief about God or gods; rather introducing a “gnostic” (knowledge) spectrum.

          So a person can be atheist and believe there is no God or gods, or they can have no belief about gods because they don’t know (have enough information) to believe one way or another. Thus being an “agnostic” is a reason to be an atheist and some people still prefer the term because it does not have the negative connotations which can be applied to those atheists who treat the belief in no gods like a religion.

        6. Good points all, Cat!

          I’m a visual person. Sounds as though, bottom line, you consider “agnostic” and “atheist,” to be like two intersecting circles, with neither contained entirely within the other. Close enough?

          Best,

          — x

        7. I’m not quite sure. A case could be made that Agnostic is a subset of (completely contained within) Atheist, and a case could be made that if you graph god belief, with the zero axis through the point where theist and atheist are delineated, that Agnostic overlaps the lower end of both theist and atheist, and “gnostic” covers the high end of both. The problem is the knowledge and belief are similar but not identical, so relating a belief scale to a knowledge scale is not absolute

  6. “…religious people have led atrocities;”

    Thanks for this, PT!

    And PT joins the crowd of those neatly supporting my, and our, various points.

    Probably not a good idea to do a little comparison of all those atrocities committed by religious people — presumably Christians?(1) — over all time, versus those atrocities committed by atheists in just the last century.

    It isn’t a numbers game. It’s simple: if a Christian commits even the tiniest act of evil, it’s the Christian’s fault. He is expressly forbidden by Christianity to do that act of evil. Always has been. The teachings and the doctrine have changed very little over the millennia.

    An atheist is under no such celestial prohibition, and must choose every time not to do even the tiniest act of evil. The atheist has no fear for the danger to his immortal soul, and he has no recourse to texts pertaining to his immortal soul to which he would grant any credibility.

    Bottom line: if an atheist is not a bloodthirsty scumbag — as so many of them are — then it’s sheer luck.

    When Christians are not bloodthirsty scumbags — as so many of them are not — then there can be many reasons, but at least one of them is, obviously — Christianity.

    Best,

    — x

    (1) It’s debatable whether Muslims are religious. A study of the founding of their belief system looks a lot like the story of someone trying to spackle some invented divine spin on some very earthly pursuits. Hence the term I coined: Socialislam, or Fascislam. Look at the governments various Islamic groups propose to establish, and those already established, and the system looks a lot like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany

    1. “the founding of their belief system looks a lot like the story of someone trying to spackle some invented divine spin on some very earthly pursuits.”

    2. Hi xPraetorius,

      Is it too late for courteous introductions? 😉

      Though I didn’t expect to receive any reply from anyone other than Allallt — since my comment was addressed to him specifically — I certainly do enjoy hearing/reading ALL SIDES of a subject or issue; yes, even though I did not request it/yours. However, strictly in that context I appreciate your point-of-view and comment. As I stated initially, and it deserves repeating:

      I often think and feel — I try to include both neurological activities simultaneously and/or independently — that an issue or topic can be argued (well?) both ways.

      You have supported my opening premise. I genuinely thank you for that.

      And PT joins the crowd of those neatly supporting my, and our, various points.

      Umm, this statement is quite confusing. What “crowd”, specifically, are you referencing? I could infer what “support” I am giving sure, BUT since I am not psychic, nor do I do remote viewing (to understand where YOU’RE coming from), what “support” are YOU defining? Support for this post and claims here? If that, then of course. That’s stating the obvious. But to give you the benefit of the doubt, perhaps you are referring to more? “Our various points”? If you mean Allallt’s points in THIS post here and only this post, then I’m confused by your use of “Our”. If you mean your points over on your blog, and/or some other forum… then again, I’m not psychic nor am I gifted with remote-viewing.

      I recognize that you MIGHT be making that confusing statement with extreme sarcasm too. I can appreciate that too. For the sake of comedy value on a scale of 1 to 10, ten being rib-shattering hilarious… I give you a 2.5. I’m feeling generous. 🙂

      All poor joking aside, and all common internet etiquette aside (given or not given), I know NOTHING about you xPrae and equally, you know nothing about me — unless of course you’ve gone to my blog and read 75% to 85% of my entire content. But I’ll make a wild guess here… you have no desire whatsoever to read that much, nor such reading from someone ‘like me’… judging by some of your later comments/statements about whether I am a practicing paid professional Professor. Hahaha. But I could be wrong; it is a WILD guess on my part.

      That said, you wrote next…

      Probably not a good idea to do a little comparison of all those atrocities committed by religious people — presumably Christians?(1) — over all time, versus those atrocities committed by atheists in just the last century.

      “…not a good idea”? Okay, sarcasm again? So I’m thinking I shouldn’t take you serious? 😉 “Presumably Christians?” Yes, now you nailed that one; very good xPrae. However, my general statement covered Faith-Followers of any theistic religion, particularly the Abrahamic religions, WITHOUT going into large amounts of detail here — a practice of redundancy I’m sure. Tons of detail were not required from. I’ve read much of his blog here and he and I agree on many topics and most certainly fall together in contrast to Greco-Roman Christianity (i.e. post-325 CE) and its Christ-Followers, particularly modern Fundamentalist Evangy Christ-Followers.

      Regarding your “…(1) – over all time, versus those atrocities committed by atheists in just the last century” I was hoping you’d elaborate on that later in your comment, even so in your 2nd following comment, but alas… I was wishing upon a star that was not going to arrive. That’s fine. However, it would have been polite to at least give 3, 4, or 5 quick examples of those modern “blood-thirsty” Atheists to support your statement. I have some ideas about what you were possibly saying, but it is foolish to infer too much… to the point of putting words into other’s mouths, or writings in this case. I strive to avoid that. It’s why I always ask many open-ended questions. By the way, there’s no real need to list those blood-thirsty Atheists here — that’s a topic between the two of you. Thanks anyway. 🙂

      You wrote next…

      It isn’t a numbers game. It’s simple: if a Christian commits even the tiniest act of evil, it’s the Christian’s fault. He is expressly forbidden by Christianity to do that act of evil. Always has been. The teachings and the doctrine have changed very little over the millennia.

      Alright, now I’m losing interest. Why? The quick answer is simply that I am a Freethinking Humanist — so I do not agree with that proclamation for several reasons — and therefore, I don’t usually speak a Xian language, terms, and concepts (theology) on an atheist’s blog. The long answer is… to me you’ve presumed a LOT with your paragraph there. If on my blog, or if I commented on your blog, I would have several (many) questions, some of which would be somewhat contentious. BUT… we are not on my blog or yours.

      With that and with respect, I honestly don’t have any interest to read the rest of your comment; too many unknown apriori issues from the get go. Hah! 😉

      Nevertheless, I appreciate your thoughts xPrae and I wish you the best.

      1. Handled like a Gentleman, good sir.
        Welcome to the blog-proper. It’s been a bit like this over the last few weeks, I’m disappointed to say. There’s one or two commenters that are insightful. Most of them have been ushered away by the likes of xPrae who likes to give people a bad name.

        1. Thank you.

          I’m sorry to read of your blog’s less-than polite or civil discussions/comments. I’ve always been perplexed when people say (my parents included) ‘politics and religion are not to be discussed in any serious length at the dinner table‘ or at all because it is a risky topic of great offense. Yet, if someone is firmly convinced of its HIGH VALUE to their life, then why on Earth can’t they freely discuss it or answer questions in a civilized manner!? And then there’s the question of all the Christ-like virtues thru the Holy Spirit, etc, etc. (scratches head)

          Sadly and too often, I see hyper-sensitivity about “faiths” rather than empathy and due respect for any and all, i.e. how to treat unbelievers or enemies(?) — which in my near 10-years of Christ-following, years of Seminary, and more years of grad-level Scriptural exegesis — was SUPPOSED to be the over-riding theme of the faith to exemplify. So why the hyper-sensitivity if it is unshakeable within someone or possibly a perceived Universal truth??? :/

          Like on a used car lot, if the salesperson is trying overly hard to get me EMOTIONAL about my purchase, I quickly realize “This is a red-flag!” Humanly perceived truth shouldn’t need so much emotion to ‘sell’ it or defend it, in my opinion.

          Yet here we are… and back on subject, millions and millions of people across the entire planet have died, are dying, and will die because of religious ideologies, not truth. It greatly bothers me if for no other reason than the humanity of it. I don’t get it and likely will not.

          Anyway, looking forward to more of your posts and discussions Sir.

        2. Politics and religion are the question where you should want to help other people, right? Both are supposed to have answers about how individuals will prosper best. And yet, in both cases, few people seem as willing to lay the case out in a convincing manor as they are to simply exclude dissenting voices altogether from the the discussion. How am I to be helped by the great redemptive truth they promise if they can’t even describe it in a coherent fashion? (Applies to both religion and politics.)

        3. Well stated.

          There are indeed some global standards of logic, reasoning, scientific methods, etc. This is evidenced by the increasing fact that Homo sapiens are learning to act a little more as a Superorganism — granted with some serious flaws still to work out; i.e. the purpose of this post. However, if one looks at this progress over just say 15,000 years, Homo sapiens are indeed learning, collaborating, and inching closer (albeit slowly) towards Superorganism behavior. By comparison, 18 other species on Earth are doing it, doing it EXTREMELY better than us, and have been for over 100,000 years! Haha.

          Eeehh, we do have a long ways to go! 😮

          But your point is VERY well taken. For one example to your point, one of my all-time favorite Naturalist and Biologist, and founder of the Biodiversity Foundation, simply surmises about us Homo sapiens:

          “Exclusion makes us suffer. Inclusion makes us thrive.

          Sadly, one of the critical and primary tenets of Christianity states:

          I [Jesus] am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. — John 14:6

          I doubt it gets anymore explicit than that, AND so opposed to the immeasurably diverse Natural world and Cosmos. :/
          Perhaps that is why those Faith-followers seem to be apathetic toward you? Maybe? I can come up with 10 different reasons, but this one seems to be the most appropriate for our/my discussion.

          P.S. In my previous comment, about “near 10-years” of Christianity, seminary, etc, I meant to add “past 10-years”. I am no longer a “Christian” according to John 14:6 and many other Old and New Testament passages. I am now — and have been since 1990 — a Freethinking Humanist; thank all the stars and the galaxies that hold them! 😉

        4. Lol! @PT: You may not have the background for all this. Here’s some background:
          • I always maintain decorum at my web site, but Allallt (this Rhys bloke?) enforces no standards of politeness.
          • In my interactions with Allallt and his confers, Allalt has been the best-behaved, but his friends Zande and Arkenaten are ill-mannered, loutish clodpoles who have no qualms about directing personal attacks and juvenile insults at those who disagree with them.
          • I refrained for a long time, then said to myself, “What the heck! When in Rome…” So, I joined in on the sneering, jeering, dismissive tone of which Allallt too had become all too guilty.
          • At that point, they all — to a halfwit! — started whining about how mean I was. Allallt questioned my sanity. Zande just began, trancelike, to repeat stock phrases over and over and over again. Ark went home to his baby-sitter, because his thumb had been un-sucked, and his navel un-contemplated for hours!
          • It was into that raucous climate, with lead flying around from all directions, that you inserted your ummmm… less than coherent first post. (I’m being polite too 🙂 )

          So, (1) if you didn’t check out the lay of the land, gauge the temperature, test the waters, first, then that’s your fault. At the same time, (2) if Allallt were to maintain some basic standards, then you wouldn’t have to do all that background checking before commenting.

          And… (3) also at the same time, you regurgitated this whopper:

          That might be the understatement of the year Rhys! (about religious people and the atrocities they have committed over the years) Hahaha. Many scholarly historians have stated that throughout all of known pre-Antiquity, written, and video-audio recorded history that other than warring over life-sustaining resources, RELIGION or human-excluding ideologies have been the single most scourge of humanity ever! The Abrahamic religions are perhaps the epitomy of them all because they still exist today are are not in significant decline. A very sad state of affairs.😦

          Whether you wish to admit it or not, that is an inflammatory paragraph, signaling that you are joining in on the lead-slinging. If you were not, then you’re just not any good at expressing yourself. Your opening comment suggests just that.

          Furthermore, it’s an incomprehensible paragraph, so its meaning has to be inferred. It appears that you’re trying to say that religious people and non-religious people (“RELIGION or human-excluding ideologies” [ie: atheistic Socialism] ) — ie: all people — are “the most scourge of humanity ever,” whatever all that means!

          The phrase: “The Abrahamic religions are perhaps the epitomy of them all because they still exist today are are not in significant decline. A very sad state of affairs.😦” is obviously meant to be inflammatory.

          Again, if you were’nt trying to be part of the lead-slinging, then you’re particularly inept at expressing yourself.

          Oh, by the way, no “scholarly historians” have ever said that, “scholarly historians have stated that throughout all of known pre-Antiquity, written, and video-audio recorded history that other than warring over life-sustaining resources, RELIGION or human-excluding ideologies have been the single most scourge of humanity ever!

          What a bunch of flapdoodle! You were trying to add faked legitimacy to a conclusion you had drawn yourself, and were to chicken to own up to it.

          Your faked concern for the quality and content of Allallt’s blog is silly. Allallt controls it entirely, and could demand that half-wits like Zande and Ark adhere to standards. And you, I might add.

          One quick penultimate note: The atheistic totalitarianisms of the 20th Century — the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, the Kims of North Korea, Vietnam’s Ho and successors, and so on — are indicted in the murders of more than 120 million people in the 20th Century. This way eclipses the number killed by anyone calling himself a Christian. That was the basis for the comparison comments.

          And the last note: Like Ark, you admitted to not even reading the comments addressed to you. You admit, therefore, to being an unserious commenter. Ark admitted he doesn’t read comments; Zande has deteriorated into half-wit land, and you admit that you purposefully limit your knowledge. That leaves only Allallt, who has moments of seriousness in this conversation. @Allallt: You sure know how to pick your friends!

          And, it’s “epitome” Get a dictionary, man!

          Best,

          — x

  7. @Zande: You said:

    “Love thy neighbour?”
    That’s not a unique Christian precept. The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE)

    You have to get off this “new and original” thing, Zande. It’s perfectly irrelevant. It’s one of the reasons you are stuck in your inability to understand Christianity. Here’s a little thought exercise that might help:

    • Imagine that people had been around for quite a while, and God had let them know what the rules were and how they were to behave.
    • Now, imagine that people were really bad at obeying God’s commandments, so He sent someone like Jesus to us, to reiterate what God had already said before. (“reiterate” 🙂 )
    • Now, imagine that this person like Jesus adds a little gift to the mix: He will take on himself the punishment for our failures. All our failures. And if we accept His gift, we can have eternal life and happiness.
    • Now, ask yourself, what in that scenario would require this emissary, like, say, Jesus, to say anything whatsoever that’s new and original? Even the offer of salvation doesn’t need to be new and original. Someone else could have suggested that he brought salvation as well.

    Opps! That is how it happened!

    The real difference of Jesus is that He actually did bring salvation with Him. So, yes, that is unique to Jesus. But, no, I can’t prove it. Believing that requires faith. However, that faith is not blind. Everything Jesus said and did, though not necessarily new and original at the individual phrase level, supports that faith, up to and including His triumph over death.

    So, bottom line, Jesus didn’t need to do or say one single, solitary, teentsy, weentsy thing that was new and original, and He could still be our Lord and Savoir! And He is.

    Consequently your quest to try to drag “something new and original” out of Christians will be forever frustrated. That’s at least one reason why you’ll find us being mystified at your quest for something new and original from Jesus. No one cares. It’s not meaningful.

    A couple of other remarks. A simple truth: Everything that anyone says or does is new and different. You don’t factor in the uniqueness of the person saying and doing things, as well as the time and place at which something is said or done, and you need to.

    For example: I say the word “and” all the time. But at no time in the history of humanity or of the universe for that matter (that we know of 🙂 ), has that word been said by anyone else at that time and in that place.

    My utterance of the word “and” — and of all other words — whenever and wherever I do it, represents an occurrence that is perfectly unique in all of time and space. Never seen before, and never to be seen again. By definition.

    As are all your utterances and acts.

    Yes, yes, yes, I understand it’s kind of a quibble, but who are you to say at what point or level I need to define “newness and originality?” And, yes, yes, yes, I understand that I risk turning into as much of a sophist as Allallt.

    The point: one needs to agree on the scope and meaning of the concepts being discussed, and if that agreement is not in place, then there can be no meaningful debate.

    It is simply true that anything that Jesus said and did — from lacing his sandals to preaching the Sermon on the Mount — was perfectly new and original… because He did it. And He was perfectly unique and original. As are you and I.

    Or, you could say — as you do — nothing He said or did was new and original, because others had already said or done those same things at some point in history. That, by itself, means that your entire quest for this “new and original” from Jesus is … meaningless.

    So here is an answer you might like: Based on the terms of your question, as I believe them to be, I concede that nothing that Jesus said or did was new and original. At least as far as what is claimed by others is concerned. I doubt the veracity of the other claims.

    Based on my understanding of what “new and original” means, at least as it pertains to what people say and do, then the answer to your question is: Everything Jesus did was new and original.

    And… Whether Jesus didn’t say or do anything new or original has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not He is the Messiah. 🙂

    One more quick thing about saying and doing new and original things: If one says, “That building is on fire,” there is nothing new or original in that. However, the phrase means two entirely different things when one factors in time and place, as well as circumstances.

    If one says, “That building is on fire,” and there are people in it, that means something entirely different from “That building is on fire,” and it is a controlled burn for Fire Department training purposes.

    In light of that, again, absolutely everything Jesus said and did was new and original, and all at the same time, absolutely nothing Jesus said or did was new or original.

    Best,

    — x

      1. Dude, he has admitted that according to a common definition (and the one you use) there was nothing new or original Jesus said or did (except for the ATM fish). To ask the same question again really does not advance your viewpoint at all. If you really feel the need to continue, perhaps it would be of more benefit to show WHY that point of agreement is of value. He points out how not saying/doing anything original does not invalidate Jesus’ deity. Why do you disagree with that?

        1. Not “a common definition,” but rather the definition of new or original.

          And my comment stands: if Praetorius ever stumbles upon something which he thinks his alleged super-being, Jesus, said or did which was genuinely new or original, then he should let me know and we can review it.

        2. Ok, we’ll keep an eye out for that unique saying or action. In the meantime, why not educate us on why it makes any difference at all whether Jesus said/did something original?

        3. I have, but not on this post. The subject only came up here because of Colourstorm’s claim that “love thy neighbour” was somehow unique to Christianity.

        4. Your continual gripe is very boring. Ever read the New Testament? Ever understood the message?

          Christ died for the ungodly……………… this means you. This means I. He could say ‘love thy neighbor,’ because the only truly fit man who lived, did it.

          Btw, x-p’s responses to you on this very topic, here, were off the charts excellent. He met and exceeded your complaints, with clarity, power, and truth.

        5. He admitted his super-being, Jesus, didn’t say a single new or original thing. No new message. No new information. No new knowledge. No new wisdom. No new philosophy. No new moral directive. No new scholarship. Nothing at all that wasn’t already known. Not even a cautionary note as to environmental conservation and the delicacy of the biosphere.

          The rest of his comment was just rambling nonsense; a hastily arranged excuse designed to sweeten the embarrassment of admitting that his super-being, Jesus, was nothing but a tremendous (quantifiably so) disappointment.

        6. “John of the Andes” ?

          You need to work on your geography.

          Re-read my comment, and if you can prove a single word of it incorrect then by all means, demonstrate my error in a quantifiable way.

        7. Prove a single word is incorrect?

          Too funny. After you prove the sky exists. Certain things are so obvious it hardly needs comment, and your assessment of the man Christ Jesus is to be pitied.

          And the ironic thing? Scripture has fore-casted people like you……….gotta love the genius of God
          in pointing out the insolence of man’s pride and willful blindness.

          Every comment of yours confirms the truth of God, so keep them coming. Some of your friends are well on their way to fleeing the clutches of atheism because of your help, so tkx for that.

        8. “Disappointment”? To whom? To you, obviously. But since it seems you don’t believe in Him, that is of no importance. To use it as “proof” that He was not what He claimed is invalid, unless you can prove that it is a requirement for any god to provide us with something “new”. Good luck with that; the best I think could be managed would be to show that a god can not provide us with something incorrect (as an incorrect prophesy shows the prophet to be invalid). .

          In any case, Jesus is not a disappointment to ME, and does not appear to be a disappointment to anyone I know who believes in Him.

        9. Cat

          If you’re happy with this alleged super-being not saying a single new or original thing, then good for you. There was never a right or wrong answer here. I can’t stress this point enough. There was no trick, and no “gotchya.”

          If you’re satisfied that this god, God, purposefully crossed the metaphysical divide and came to earth and bothered to conduct a three year ministry, calling people in because he wanted to talk to them, wanted to tell them things, wanted to speak to them, but in all that time failed to actually deliver a new or unique message, then fine. If you’re contented in the fact that in this three year ministry (1,095 days and nights) Jesus failed to deliver a single bit of new information, or disclose a single scrap of new knowledge, then great. If you’re perfectly comfortable in the fact that in this god’s three year ministry (26,280 hours) he failed to express any new wisdom, speak of any new philosophy, or divulge any new or unique moral directive, then wonderful. I’m glad you’re at peace with this. I’m glad it doesn’t bother you. I’m glad it doesn’t register as strikingly odd, especially considering the effort this god, God, put into conducting a three year ministry (1,576,800 minutes) in which time he apparently said an awful lot of things… just none of it even remotely new or original.

        10. Yep, I don’t count on Him for “new” concepts; I count on Him for “true” concepts. And “truth” tends to be be timeless.

        11. Deuteronomy 22:28-29. It commands the rape victim marry her rapist. Horrid law, but a law nonetheless, and one, among many, Jesus didn’t seem at all moved to speak out against. You said “I count on Him for “true” concepts,” so I’m assuming you believe, therefore, that is a true concept.

        12. Actually, it more accurately commands the rapist to marry his victim. And prohibits him from ever divorcing her. Sort of “you broke it, you bought it”. I’m not thrilled with it, but at the time, women tended to have less control over when and whom they marry, so it is not quite as horrid as you present it.

          So yes, I believe it was a true concept in that day and culture, and I believe that Jesus replaced that requirement, along with all the other requirements of the Law. You will quote the “no jot or tittle” statement, of course. My reading is that the Law was the way “righteousness” was maintained until Jesus did His thing. His sacrifice replaced “righteousness” and the Law with salvation. Note that those who died in righteousness did NOT get to Heaven (were “stored” in Abraham’s Bosom until Christ came to provide salvation).

          Don’t agree with that assessment? Then explain how we get to heaven/please God these days, since it became IMPOSSIBLE to follow the law in 73AD with the destruction of the Temple.

        13. “So yes, I believe it was a true concept in that day and culture, and I believe that Jesus replaced that requirement, along with all the other requirements of the Law. You will quote the “no jot or tittle” statement, of course. My reading is that the Law was the way “righteousness” was maintained until Jesus did His thing.”

          The important words here are “My reading…” Your reading is an interpretation… a guess. It is not clear and can be easily and convincingly challenged. It is thoroughly ambiguous, so how can something so vaporous be a “truth”?

          I’ve already pointed you to a theologian’s interpretation of the Law that fundamentally contradicts yours.

          Is confusion a part of your super being’s “truth concepts”? Is clarity beyond his capabilities? Is it fair and just to cause and then promote such confusion?

        14. Easily challenged, sure. Convincingly? Not hardly. Again, it comes down to, if the Law is still in effect, every single person alive after 73AD has no way to be “righteous”. It became IMPOSSIBLE to follow the Law after the destruction of the Temple in 73AD, because a key part of the Law REQUIRES the Temple and the Priest class from the tribe of Levi.

          Yes, I recall that theologian, who completely failed to address the above. He took an interpretation of the words and ran with it, ignoring the logic of the situation. Could he be right and I wrong? Sure, but then I could be right and he wrong.

          Is the confusion intended by God? It must be, if He is all “omni” as claimed. Why? I don’t know, but somehow it suits His purposes. We don’t like it? Well, we are given the freedom to reject Him. Just like if we don’t like our nose, we are free to cut it off.

        15. A chance to redo this, and attach it to the proper comment. Allallt, please feel free to delete the other one like this one.

          Lol! Zande, in this very thread, you said:

          Okay… Be sure to let me know when you want to propose something genuinely new or original Jesus (your alleged super being) said or did.

          Then, just a couple posts later, you said:

          He admitted his super-being, Jesus, didn’t say a single new or original thing.

          ROFL!

          You don’t even read what you write!

          Best,

          — x

        16. @Zande:

          Since others and I have answered your meaningless question from numerous different angles, I won’t address it again.

          There are three possibilities here: Either (1) you’re too IQ-deprived to grasp the answers you have received, or (2) you don’t read the responses, or (3) you’re being purposely dumb as a post. I can’t rule out that all three might be true.

          Here is the answer to your other attempt to evade writing anything of substance. Equippedcat said:

          Ok, we’ll keep an eye out for that unique saying or action. In the meantime, why not educate us on why it makes any difference at all whether Jesus said/did something original?

          To which you replied:

          I have, but not on this post. The subject only came up here because of Colourstorm’s claim that “love thy neighbour” was somehow unique to Christianity.

          Lololol!!! Then it should be easy for you to summarize here. And, others and I mopped up the floor with your silly backside on the “Hitler” thing, the “new and original” thing and more, yet still you insisted, again and again and again that we answer these things again and again and again. Now, why don’t you follow your own rules and answer Equippedcat?

          No need, I’ll take care of it for you. Here’s your “reasoning” behind the meaningless “new and original” question:

          You would think that a deity would do or say something original during his time on earth. Something. Anything at all.

          Answer: Why? I see no reason at all that Jesus would have had to say or do anything other than what His Father had already said or done.

          Equippedcat already answered this for you as well. Your premise doesn’t hold up.

          Try a little thought exercise with me: If, for example, Jesus were to change His mind and come around again in the same capacity as He did the first time, then He’d have no need whatsoever to do or say anything different from what He had done or said at His first coming. Yet, needless to say, everything He might say or do, by virtue of who He is, would be perfectly new and different.

          See if you can fathom that, Zande. I said it in really basic terms.

          Best,

          — x

    1. Lol! Zande, in this very thread, you said:

      Okay… Be sure to let me know when you want to propose something genuinely new or original Jesus (your alleged super being) said or did.
      </blockquote.
      Then, just a couple posts later

      , you said:

      He admitted his super-being, Jesus, didn’t say a single new or original thing.

      ROFL!

      You don’t even read what you write!

      Best,

      — x

  8. For xPrae —

    @PT: You may not have the background for all this. Here’s some background:

    My original comment was directed to Allallt, about this post. Not to anyone else. Therefore xPrae, if I had been interested in “the background” I would have asked. I didn’t ask, hence, I am honestly and with respect NOT interested in this lengthy background between you xPrae, Allallt, or at this juncture anyone else here. My valuable time — as is the case with anyone else — is quite limited, so I purposely chose to stay in the wings addressing Allallt only. Additionally, when I am addressing someone else specifically, I address them specifically.

    I hope I’m making myself clear to you xPrae. I’m trying to save you some time and wasted effort.

    Furthermore, it’s an incomprehensible paragraph, so its meaning has to be inferred. It appears that you’re trying to say that religious people and non-religious people (“RELIGION or human-excluding ideologies” [ie: atheistic Socialism] ) — ie: all people — are “the most scourge of humanity ever,” whatever all that means!

    LOL… goodness, you got that all wrong. Sorry you jump through all those hoops writing it. :/

    Skimming over the rest of your comment above, it is once again obvious you are overly and easily unnerved based on your language and expression, as well as your ‘aggressive defense’ of religion/theism. I’m unsure why you feel threatened by skepticism or criticisms of these topics — are you taking them personally? If so xPrae, relax.

    Again, I did not direct my comments to you personally. Yes, the post and content included you, but I was commenting to Allallt. Now you’ve wasted your efforts and time on 1-3 comments to me. I thanked you the first time for your thoughts. I’ll be courteous (again) and say I appreciate and understand your ‘energy’ about atheism, religion, theism, Christianity, etc, BUT I already know you see this world and existence drastically different than I do. Because I know very little about you other than what your personal blog divulges, and your comments here to me, it also appears you know equally little (nothing?) about me… so I think it wise we allow each other silent peaceful passage. Agree? 🙂

    As another courtesy, I’m letting you know xPrae I will soon ignore your comments to me, should they continue to be directed at me. Fyi.

    Best wishes to you and yours.

  9. Oh, fer cryin’ out loud, PT. Don’t be a big crybaby! If you do a post with my name in it, then you don’t get to pretend that I have no right to respond to it. Where did you get that thoroughly bizarre idea?!?

    Do you have any idea how blogs work?!? I mean, if you don’t want me to respond to you then don’t post in a blog thread in which I’m participating. Duh! Or else, be prepared to defend the ideas you are advancing. Simple.

    Please feel free to ignore any comments I direct toward you. I’m not using these blog posts for their effect on the direct participants anyway.

    Just so you know, I feel threatened by nothing; certainly not as it pertains to my Christianity. I don’t care whether you direct your comments at me personally or not. I’ll do the best I can to give as good as I get. This is a blog, not real life. Grow up.

    On this particular blog, though, I find nothing but the superficiality of Allallt (Rhys?) the flailing and rock-headed ignorance of Zande, and the pompous grandiloquence of … you.

    If you read my post here, you’ll understand why I came here. But, there’s another reason as well. See the next.

    I was hoping I could find some intelligent conversation, and opposition to my views and understandings. Instead, I found nothing more than a bunch of shrinking violet, fragile crybabies with nothing but derivative arguments (Hence, my avoidance of “sources”), and nothing new or original that I hadn’t already heard in the third grade.

    Great!

    I can see that I need to find a much more intelligent, less pansi-fied, less intellectually tunnel-vision, group.

    The problem: I’ve been searching for such a group for some time now, and this rather pathetic assemblage is the best I’ve found up to now.

    I have a project in the works… Television documentary and book. However, the “atheist side” of this whole thing has been such a pathetic joke, that I don’t know where I can find substantive content to make it all work. Can you, possibly, point me to some web sites, or other online content, that might be less abysmal than this crowd?

    Best,

    — x

    1. Thanks, PT!

      Coward.

      We record your defeat — a fairly routine, typical one — in our Wins and Losses ledger, as a rather decisive win for the good guys.

      Interestingly, we haven’t lost one yet! And this is against the hyper-fashionable, hyper-chic, generally leftist, super-in atheist crowd!

      We note that if you respond, with “Go ahead and record anything you want, I don’t care,” or some variation of that capitulation, then we get to add ten points to our score. If you don’t respond, we note that we get to add 20 points to our score.

      🙂

      Best,

      — x

      1. I don’t think lack of response deserves extra points. It may not be a conscious act; for instance, if a person gets returned to their place in an asylum and cannot reply, how is that worthy of extra points?

        How many points if they say “I’m not going to respond” and then do respond? 🙂

      2. (yawns more</em)

        xPrae,

        You are thick and bull-headed. I'll give you that. LOL

        Your comments — particularly from the start — remind me of elementary school playgrounds where little upset boys toss out name-calling to another with each wanting to have the last word and willing to go to ridiculous lengths to have it. Actually, when I think upon this sort of… unripe behaviour, it is also reminiscent of Frat-boy behaviour too.

        If that is what you mean by “coward”, then by all means stand center stage. The show is yours.

        Since you have shown little courtesy and blogging etiquette by at LEAST getting to know the person or audience you address first (or for that matter attack), I will tell you that in my adolescense, collegiate and pro futebol career, I have been heckled with so many names and songs in a plethora of languages they could all fill a 3-story library.

        Therefore, if you perform well good Sir, as a gentleman I can and will chuckle and applaud you for cleverness and a show well done. 😉 Otherwise, I yawn. If you are below sub-standard, I will snore.

        That said, to this point I am unimpressed and your written demeanor was from the start… well, can only be defined as immature — so how wisely will/should you spend your time and energy with me? Seriously?

        Let’s both move along. Agreed?

        1. Just out of curiosity, PT … how did you expect me to respond to your illiterate, but highly snarky first post?

          You know, the one where you called believers like me “minions,” and suggested that my faith should disappear because it’s “the most scourge of humanity?”

          Should I simply have swooned at your surpassing wisdom? Should I have said, “Oh no! That bunch of incomprehensible codswallop completely disproves everything I’ve been saying!”

          You jumped in the middle of a free-swinging exchange, added a churlish, incoherent rant, over-stuffed with a hot mess of pseudo-intellectual flapdoodle and expected us on the other side just to roll over at its brilliance?

          And then you have the unmitigated cheek to suggest that I was immature, and that we should all just “move along.” I’m okay with that, but it should be recognized that you’re really simply saying, “No mas!” and “The water’s too hot in here! I want to go home to my mommy!” 🙂

          Best,

          — x

        2. Just out of curiosity, PT… how did you expect me to respond to your illiterate, but highly snarky first post?

          (rolls eyes and takes a long exhale)

          That is quite a revealing question about you xPrae. However, I do still have a little bit of patience with you. You’re in luck. LOL

          As I’ve told you 2 or 3 times now xPrae, my initial comment was not directed specifically to you. Do you understand the concept of “general” statements on this blog addressed to Allallt? Did you read your name in my first comment anywhere? No. Are you the single representative of the ‘general group’ I was referring to? No. That’s a rhetorical question by the way. So it begs the next question… Were you offended in some way? If so, please explain how it personally rubbed you the wrong way? Remember, I am a total stranger to you. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you do not speak to total strangers as you have been here. 😉

        3. Excuse me, PT. If you post to a PUBLIC FORUM, you cannot expect that nobody except the addressee to read it, and if they have an alternate point of view, point it out in that same forum.

          If you want a private message, you must use a private form on communication, or at the least, a code known only to you and the desired recipient(s). If you don’t do either, then you have no justification for objecting to others “horning in” on your “private” conversation.

        4. Hello equippedcat.

          I agree with the ‘spirit’ of your interjection. Thank you. However, there are perhaps other points you’ve made that are debateable…

          “Public Forum” is a relative term; relative to the website’s audience and popularity. For example, speaking or writing to a political party’s national convention is not the same as speaking/writing to the PTA at a school auditorium — though both are (generally with security conditions) open to the public. The United Nations General Assembly would be another good example. Not in anyway to undermine the number of blog-followers — I do not know how many he has — but this “forum” here is not the same as say the Top 8 social-media platforms Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterist, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. The “public forum” of WordPress is way way down the list. Therefore, whether THIS is by precise definition a Public Forum is quite debateable, by comparison maybe untrue. Yet, I do agree with the ‘spirit’ of your point.

          …and if they have an alternate point of view, point it out in that same forum.

          You are completely correct there equippedcat. But that is only a small portion of the entire equation; HOW one offers their point-of-view (language) often determines whether the dialogue will be constructive and enlightening, let alone respectful, or a waste of everyone’s time. Antagonistic — or “inflammatory” to borrow another’s word-usage — really only digresses the dialogue and subject, as well as the instigator and participant(s).

          If you don’t do either, then you have no justification for objecting to others “horning in” on your “private” conversation.

          Correct. But I can request or suggest the common courtesies usually offered to complete strangers. My initial comment about this post did not bother Allallt. If someone was bothered or offended by the ‘general group’ I addressed, HOW they offer their first objections determines the progress (or digress) of benefits gained or lost… for EVERYONE within earshot, or in this case on the blog. As I stated in one of my above analogies, when an auto salesperson tries overly hard to get me emotional about my shopping and purchase (annoying propoganda?) it’s a glaring red-flag for several ‘suspicious’ intentions. Does that make sense?

          If you disagree equippedcat, I am happy to read your counter-points. 🙂

        5. I don’t much disagree. This forum is public enough that you, I, John Z, CS and xP, among others, “got in”. And I completely agree that politeness and respect is deserved by all who take the time and effort to participate. Its bad enough when people disagree; if one or both parties are insulting and/or crude, the chances of resolving anything are even more miniscule.

        6. I don’t consider 5-10 people a public forum. Barely semi-public. Five to ten people to me is a small (intimate?) group. That size DOES offer many opportunities for positive constructive discussions, perhaps because for some personalities it isn’t as ‘intimidating’ or risky for one’s public image as it is in front of 1,000, 10,000 or 500,000 people.

          I must agree with the rest of your comment equippedcat. Would you care to share how YOU would have first responded to xPrae’s first two comments to me? Or give an example of civil discussions involving opposing views?

          As a footnote, I will acknowledge I have a competitive edge being an athlete all my life, including a pro athlete and career. Fortunately though, I learned 25-years ago how utterly endless and exhausting it is to participate in and/or perpetuate it. The majority of the outcomes accomplish very little in the end, or worse lead to behaviour similar to that of primates in jungles, if not exactly identical. LOL Yes, as you state perfectly… resolutions become “more miniscule” if not non-existent.

          Thanks equippedcat.

        7. If there is even one person other than the one or ones you are addressing who have access to your medium of communication, then unless you have a code worked out, “public” reactions must be considered possible.

          And yes, a somewhat reliable picture of a person can be generated from their words; the wider the subject field, the more complete the picture while repetition can increase the reliability (based on consistency). But what does that have to do with asking someone for a “fact” about themselves? Sure, it would usually be possible to somewhat reject a response of 4 or 94, but usually not a response of 44.

          How you respond to xP is entirely your business. I suggest that not being insulting or focused on unrelated minutia might maximize the chances of having any positive effect, but that’s your call. I don’t chide you for your methodology, because I have not seen you claim to represent a class of people whose image is at odds with your behavior.

        8. …“public” reactions must be considered possible.

          Possible is the operative word there. “Possible” does not mean definitively as you are alluding.

          Whomever would be considered “Public” in such a TINY data sample as 5-10 people, or even 20-30, cannot be considered an objective survey or reality. My “consideration” was based upon the number of Commentors for this post. If you can show me that number is much greater, more public, THEN your point is relatively more valid. Otherwise, equippedcat it is inconclusive at best.

          ..a somewhat [or most?] reliable picture of a person can be generated from their words; the wider the subject field, the more complete the picture while repetition can increase the reliability (based on consistency).

          I agree. The bigger the data-set, the better… or in this case closer to slightly semi-public. 😉

          But what does that have to do with asking someone for a “fact” about themselves?

          When two people are discussing/debating a subject, it greatly helps both parties to have a factual understanding of WHO you are communicating with — to know what sort of language and/or approach the other understands. It is also a good rule-of-thumb (in the arena of mutual respect) to acknowledge a person’s dignity and character BY KNOWING FIRST the person, and second the various sides of a debate. As I mentioned in my examples earlier with a Brit, American, or Chinese… and an astrophysicists with a inmate/felon, in order to communicate with each other, you both must speak/write a basic courteous fluency with each other. Otherwise, the dialogue becomes a minefield and too often irrational EMOTIONS take over as was the case with xPrae.

          Thanks equippedcat for your input.

        9. If you are person A and you are talking with person B, and person C has access to that clear communications channel, there is always a chance that person C will decide to jump into the conversation. A sample size of 3. And of course, the odds are greater if the conversation involves a subject C feels strongly about. The only significance of a larger sample size would be a higher chance that someone would feel the need to jump in.

        10. …there is always a chance that person C will decide to jump into the conversation.

          If it is a small setting, small group… yes, it is more likely. If it is a huge gathering, seminar, or convention with hundreds or thousands of people, less likely.

          My dual point with the debate of “Public Forum” or not Public Forum was that in a more intimate small setting, total strangers 9 times out of 10 do NOT easily act so emotional or act as if they are so easily offended from the get go — they ask questions first. Questions that are structured with less ‘aggression’ or to borrow a word used: pompous. I don’t think I can explain or elaborate my point and posture on “Public Forum” in the context of this blog any better.

          Thanks equippedcat for your input. 🙂

        11. Correct. If I wasn’t as clear on that, i.e. how the response is made, then apologies.

          In another sense, I was saying that if one gets upset about something said in a small intimate setting like this blog — when they were general broad statements over a subject chosen, to one person and no one else — then replying with language that resembles a semi-tantrum, whether or not what was originally stated might be true or untrue, or somewhere in between… coming across hyper-defensive (when it wasn’t a direct assault on a named individual) doesn’t portray a position of impregnability or soundness. What people respond to when at odds about something is stoic composure, civility, sense of humour(?), and a willingness to ask dignifying questions first, gaining clearer understanding before going into an ‘counter-attack mode’, if an attack is even necessary so early on. xPrae and I were and are TOTAL STRANGERS to each other. I don’t think my original comment warranted an immediate hyper-defensive semi-tantrum from the get go. That’s all. Going there immediately makes productive follow-up dialogue tenious and unlikely. And making useless derogatory gestures about one’s (possible) occupation/title is… well, to be honest: childish.

          Hope that makes more sense equippedcat. 🙂

        12. What I will say is that this forum comes back in publicly made searches on Google and Bing, has 400(ish) subscribers and visitors that haven’t subscribed.

        13. Ahh, good to know. Thank you.

          Just respectfully curiousity, what do you remember being your most popular post, and subsequent (large?) number of commentors on that post? I’d like to read it if I may. 🙂

        14. Not that xPrae needs the ego boost, but 2 of the things I’ve written in response to his persistent ideas (and I use that word loosely) have been the highest two. The quality of conversation has been low, though.
          the complete inferiority of Christian ethics. (xPrae: how I defeated you so soundly (part 5))
          xPrae: How I defeated you so soundly (part 1: introduction and atheism)

          And then there’s an array of other things. The same problem arises; lots of comments are not a consequence of conversation flowing well. I don’t expect you will necessarily read all of these, but feel free to jump to the interesting looking titles.
          Why is God good?
          On Politeness and Accusations
          What is a God?
          Is a Miracle Unscientific?
          God Vs the Universe: which is more worthy of our admiration?
          Ethics by Discussion or by Fiat
          Why it’s impossible to argue that God is immoral

          Some of the ones I’ve been more proud of have received little to no traction at all. For some of them, that is because they don’t address religion (what my followers normally subscribed for). Some of them just didn’t capture people’s imagination in the same way.
          The Human Ecosystem: knowledge and philosophy
          Deep Ecology, Eco-Moral Nihilism and Meat Eating
          The Most Influential Biologist (?)
          Game Theory, Rational Acting, Politics and Nature
          Mythos and Religious Practice
          In Defence of Nihilism
          No Contemporary Accounts of Jesus (nor Edith)

        15. Lol! However, I am a member of an “Abrahamic religion” that you consider “one of the most scourges” (whatever that means, but I can infer), and therefore I am, as you hinted, “a minion.” Etc.

          No, you didn’t address me directly, but your comment was addressed at those like me. And it was on the topic under lively consideration at Allallt’s blog.

          Let me give you an example: Persons A, B, C and D are in the middle of an exchange. You are person E, observing the exchange.

          A and B disagree with a belief held by C and D. Let’s call that belief: Fluffnich.

          A puts out a post that you consider well done. In you come, Person E, with a post directly complimenting A on his post, and suggesting not only that believers in Fluffnich are minions, or followers, but that Fluffnich itself is “the most scourge of humanity.” You used a nonsense phrase but, again, the meaning can be inferred.

          Do you really think that C and D are not invited to reply to that snarky post, just because you didn’t direct it to them personally?

          Seriously? If you do, then I can conclude only that you don’t do much of this blogging thing.

          I was in no way offended. It’s impossible to offend me. However, if you’re going to dish it out, you shouldn’t whine when someone else dishes it right back.

          Best,

          — x

        16. I am a member of an “Abrahamic religion” that you consider “one of the most scourges” (whatever that means, but I can infer), and therefore I am, as you hinted, “a minion.”

          Which Abrahamic religion are you xPrae? As there are at least 5 different Jewish sects, there are some 33,000 Christian denominations (i.e. various forms of non-Denoms, Protestants, Marginals, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglicans), and some 19 Islamic sects… please give specific details/titles of your’s xPrae. And feel free to share your specific synagogue’s or church’s or mosque’s mission statement for further clarification.

        17. Lol! My faith isn’t relevant to the discussion. This is a blog, not a social. We’re not trying to get to know one another better.

          It kind of looks a bit as if you’re trying to show off all your piles of erudition, PT.

          Best,

          — x

        18. Okay. As I’ve said a number of times in various ways…

          Let’s move along and stop wasting each other’s time. Once again, best regards to you xPrae.

        19. That depends on which Praetorius you’re talking to, Professor. You see, Praetorius has a number of online personalities. He logs in as different people who then, worryingly, praise Praetorius for his clever rebuttals. These personalities (who don’t have blogs, and all just so happen to post from the same IP address as Praetorius) praise Praetorius and high-five his brilliance.

        20. Thank you John. That helps. I have been told by friends that I sometimes have way too much etiquette and patience with people. Admittedly they are right. 😉

        21. Irrelevant question. No one cares. It’s simple: address the content.

          Allallt and Zande fell into the trap of doing the IP Address thing, questioning sanity, raising all manner of irrelevant questions about me that evaded their having to address the things I said.

          Don’t play that childish game.

          That’s why this should be easy, PT — the words on the screen are the words are the words are the words. They’re right there. Just agree and support, disagree and try to refute, or ignore.

          Simple.

          Best,

          — x

        22. Should I assume then you are embarrassed or ashamed to share your age, or you are unaware of your birthdate? I doubt that. It could be implied that you’re not proud to share it, but surely that’s not it either. The reason I ask is simple: I could guess based upon what you’ve written here and some of what you’ve written on your blog, but I think you’d agree that acquiring concise factual information is very helpful in human interactions. Yes?

        23. Concise FACTUAL information is certainly very helpful in human interactions. “Factual” is a challenge in online interactions such as this. xP could claim to be 4 or 44 or 94 and what difference would it make? Unless you have a way of verifying that “fact”, what is it’s value? And if you assign it “fact” status, are you not at risk of being sent down a “wrong” path if it is “reality challenged”?

        24. “Factual” is a challenge in online interactions such as this.

          It is indeed. That wonderful 2013 film “Her” with Joaquin Phoenix, amply demonstrated exactly what you speak of: challenging when not face-to-face. Being live on a phone still has its limitations, but it’s still much better than social-media by long way.

          However, one CAN draw plausibilities; some compelling, others not so much, based on the available information. People do have ‘styles’ of writing, speaking, and behaviour that over time and diverse circumstances begins to paint a picture with sharpening resolution/focus. A 4-year old writes, speaks, behaves differently than a 94-year old. In time, a Brit from Great Britain generally shows signs and hints they are not American or Chinese. An astrophysicist eventually gives signs/hints different than those by a member of a drug-cartel or felon/inmate after serving 10-years.

          What difference would it make? A lot equippedcat. If one pays close enough attention to all the details, determining plausible and highly-plausible facts/info, they will indeed give an accurate profile. The only time that does NOT hold true is when a person(s) are playing an imitation game, or intentionally presenting a FALSE image. And then, what does the latter say about that person’s character or mental state?

          I am very at ease, at peace with a fluid state of existence, state of information, and state of human behaviour. It reflects the mechanics of organic nature and biodiversity, this planet, and as science is discovering every year: the Cosmos too.

          My developing theory of xPrae is only based upon what he presents, honestly or dishonestly. He is in control 24/7 of the image and character he portrays and how others interpret that portrayal.

          Thanks equippedcat. 🙂

        25. Well, I guess you can assume anything you wish. Since it’s irrelevant to anything in this context, I don’t know why you’d want to assume anything at all. Nothing disrespectful intended whatsoever in that, by the way.

          I agree that “acquiring concise factual information is very helpful in human interactions“, but we’re not necessarily trying to have a human interaction here. Or at least I’m not. My hope is to obtain information and perspective. Nothing more.

          I have plenty of human interactions in my life without adding more of them.

          As mentioned above, my goal is to obtain information for a project that, more specifically, I’m pitching to some television network execs. I don’t really have time to establish relationships via blog posts.

          Best,

          — x

        26. Well, I guess you can assume anything you wish.

          That is generally true when someone like yourself will not explain why full disclosure is such an obvious problem for you.

          Tenha uma boa semana. Ciao. 🙂

        27. Sigh…Complete non sequitur. I explained why I wasn’t about to tell my age or what the name of my faith is. I have no problems at all with “full disclosure.”

          “Full disclosure,” as you say, is just not relevant. There are cans of worms that are appropriate to open on forums such as these, and others that are not.

          Details about me, or my age or the name of my faith are perfectly irrelevant, and do nothing but cause silly people such as Zande, and perhaps you, to draw all kinds of impossible to know conclusions about me that I’d then have to waste my time and effort in denying or refuting, etc.

          It’s like my IP address, and other irrelevancies. Zande, Allallt and Ark went down that rabbit hole in a desperate attempt to derail the subject, and I have no desire to re-visit any such rabbit holes. That’s all.

          Best,

          — x

        28. There is nothing in the way you conduct yourself here that would lead me to believe you are here for information and perspective. I say that because you have consistent misrepresented my views and baited conversations instead of attempting to make points that map to other people’s views.

        29. xPrae is, and this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt called ‘According to xPrae’, a retired athlete, author of approximately a dozen books and cosy with a number of high-level politicians. That puts him around his 40s at youngest. He is, taken with the same pinch of salt, 6’2″ and a sports commentator.

          To answer the suggestion of your question: he’s not young enough to be as ignorant as he comes across.

        30. Hah! Thank you for your assistance. I see now what you meant by…

          It’s been a bit like this over the last few weeks, I’m disappointed to say.

          If one is at the theater trying to enjoy the show along with everyone else, and someone in the audience is incessantly answering and talking on their cell-phone — and brought their cymbal to constantly bang on 😉 — it is really hard for everyone to truly enjoy the show, or in this case, the educational value of your various topics.

          I hope it does improve Sir. 🙂

        31. There’s certainly been no discussion, in over 100 comments, about whether atheism is necessary for genocide (xPrae did mention he recalls not referring to genocide, but to ‘mass murder’ — a clarification I’ll happily repeat, but it’s not exactly relevant).
          Perhaps it will improve, I certainly don’t want to start banning people to maintain a conversation here. I used to be happy having people make an arse of themselves, suffer the ridicule and move on. Alas, that immune system is breaking down.

        32. I think I pointed out that theists have more than a few corpses in their footsteps. Often not truly “genocide” by it’s definition, but I think the Kurds had some actual genocide attempts against them by Muslims, who would seem not to be atheists.

        33. Zande wrote:

          That depends on which Praetorius you’re talking to, Professor. You see, Praetorius has a number of online personalities. He logs in as different people who then, worryingly, praise Praetorius for his clever rebuttals. These personalities (who don’t have blogs, and all just so happen to post from the same IP address as Praetorius) praise Praetorius and high-five his brilliance.

          PT then responded to Zande as if what he said was true. Zande’s goal achieved! Derailment complete. The first tactic of the guy losing the argument: talk about something else! Anything else! Just don’t make me really have to defend my thinking.

          So, PT, I am part of a think tank with a small but growing stable of writers. You have interacted with, and heard from, only me on this thread. I do allow other friends and acquaintances to post from the same source as that from which I post. Those friends and acquaintances are, like me, writers of a similar ideological and philosophical bent.
          That they would “high-five me” should not be surprising. This is not even remotely uncommon, but you’ve allowed Zande to libel me in these pages, without responding as you should have, with: “What you (Zande) say about IP addresses is unknowable, therefore an illegitimate accusation.”

          I can only surmise from the fact that you, PT, immediately agreed with Zande’s hogwash (which I’ve re-labeled: “fogwash”) that you, like Zande, are out of gas intellectually. I accept your graceless concession.

          This is the problem with Allallt’s “moderation” of this blog. He allows not only the spurious ad hominem attacks, but pathetic derailments like Zande’s above. I long ago proved that what Zande alleges about “multiple personalities” was either untrue, or unknowable. Yet, he continues to assert it. I’d never allow that kind of unsubstantiated and, more importantly, unsubstantiatable attack or accusation to appear on my blog as is.

          If faced with that kind of transparent attempt to derail a conversation that he has lost, I’d allow the post to appear, and then edit it to make it known, in bright red font, in the same post that the charge being made is either false or unknowable, and therefore that the reader should ignore its content. I do this so that I can claim, correctly, that I don’t censor anything.

          I did that with Ark, who peppered his “contributions” with unacceptable language and transparent nitwittery. After a while he gave up the unacceptable language, and when forced to defend his “thinking” seriously, found himself seriously outmatched, and crawled back under his rock.

          Presumably, I could reveal in these pages, Zande’s ugly habit of molesting small farm animals, and not only would Allallt allow the unknowable accusation to appear, thereby granting it legitimacy, but Zande might feel forced to counter it, thereby allowing me to achieve my goal of derailing the conversation. Further up, Allallt laments that there have been “no posts on the actual topic” in a long time.

          Well, if you can determine how long Zande has been on his infantile IP Address rant, I’ll bet you’ll find out just about how long it’s been since there’s been an on-topic post.

          Allallt would be well-served to do the same on his blog as I do. He might get fewer blog responses, but he’d cull out the riff-raff like Ark and Zande, or at least force them to put forward sincerely-held thoughts and ideas, and not the sludge — like the half-witted IP Address thing — that is their all too frequent output.

          Best,

          — x

        34. Dumb comments stand as dumb comments. The thing that grants them legitimacy is not completely free speech, but replying to it.
          For example, the mistake I made is pointing out that these discussions about atheism I’ve had in the 6 posts that mentions you are related to you. (Although, now I really don’t know if that’s a plural or not.) I’ve accidentally granted you legitimacy, despite the fact that your comments are remarks are asinine.
          You may also have noticed that when I am accused on things like having contradictory thinking, I simply request evidence and move on. I’ve been bad at that, because you’re a successful troll that baits a conversation and moves from relevant stuff to accusations and inflammatory comments when the heat is turning down. Falling for that is my mistake.

          But if you think what Zande is saying is irrelevant, ignore it. If it’s patently irrelevant, all readers will make that judgement themselves. Stop being a part of the derailment, if that’s what you think it is.

        35. Apologies if this double posts. I experienced a browser failure upon posting it the first time. — xP
          ———————————————

          Zande wrote:

          That depends on which Praetorius you’re talking to, Professor. You see, Praetorius has a number of online personalities. He logs in as different people who then, worryingly, praise Praetorius for his clever rebuttals. These personalities (who don’t have blogs, and all just so happen to post from the same IP address as Praetorius) praise Praetorius and high-five his brilliance.

          PT then responded to Zande as if what he said was true. Zande’s goal achieved! Derailment complete. The first tactic of the guy losing the argument: talk about something else! Anything else! Just don’t make me really have to defend my thinking.

          So, PT, I am part of a think tank with a small but growing stable of writers. You have interacted with, and heard from, only me on this thread. I do allow other friends and acquaintances to post from the same source as that from which I post. Those friends and acquaintances are, like me, writers of a similar ideological and philosophical bent.
          That they would “high-five me” should not be surprising. This is not even remotely uncommon, but you’ve allowed Zande to libel me in these pages, without responding as you should have, with: “What you (Zande) say about IP addresses is unknowable, therefore an illegitimate accusation.”

          I can only surmise from the fact that you, PT, immediately agreed with Zande’s hogwash (which I’ve re-labeled: “fogwash”) that you, like Zande, are out of gas intellectually. I accept your graceless concession.

          This is the problem with Allallt’s “moderation” of this blog. He allows not only the spurious ad hominem attacks, but pathetic derailments like Zande’s above. I long ago proved that what Zande alleges about “multiple personalities” was either untrue, or unknowable. Yet, he continues to assert it. I’d never allow that kind of unsubstantiated and, more importantly, unsubstantiatable attack or accusation to appear on my blog as is.

          If faced with that kind of transparent attempt to derail a conversation that he has lost, I’d allow the post to appear, and then edit it to make it known, in bright red font, in the same post that the charge being made is either false or unknowable, and therefore that the reader should ignore its content. I do this so that I can claim, correctly, that I don’t censor anything.

          I did that with Ark, who peppered his “contributions” with unacceptable language and transparent nitwittery. After a while he gave up the unacceptable language, and when forced to defend his “thinking” seriously, found himself seriously outmatched, and crawled back under his rock.

          Presumably, I could reveal in these pages, Zande’s ugly habit of molesting small farm animals, and not only would Allallt allow the unknowable accusation to appear, thereby granting it legitimacy, but Zande might feel forced to counter it, thereby allowing me to achieve my goal of derailing the conversation. Further up, Allallt laments that there have been “no posts on the actual topic” in a long time.

          Well, if you can determine how long Zande has been on his infantile IP Address rant, I’ll bet you’ll find out just about how long it’s been since there’s been an on-topic post.

          Allallt would be well-served to do the same on his blog as I do. He might get fewer blog responses, but he’d cull out the riff-raff like Ark and Zande, or at least force them to put forward sincerely-held thoughts and ideas, and not the sludge — like the half-witted IP Address thing — that is their all too frequent output.

          Best,

          — x

        36. Ah, I’ve just replied to this when it was sent as “Someone”, where you admit there’s many of you…
          (Of course, I know there’s meant to be many of you, as your about talks about there being an aPrae and bPrae and xPrae is meant to be a wildcard… so then commenting as “Someone” while talking about the fact there’s more than one of you, in context, threw me a little.)
          I hope that comment under “Someone” is readable for you, because I’m not going to repeat it here.

        37. Not censorship — just point out where someone has made an unsubstantiated, unsubstantiatable, or an unfalsifiable claim.

          When I put in the made-up “small farm animals” remark about Zande, if I had actually done it seriously there’s no way that Allallt should allow it to stand.

          It would have been an uncalled-for attack — like Zande’s IP address canard — on Zande’s sanity, and therefore his credibility as a commenter.

          Zande fabricated the multiple ID’s, and same IP Addresses accusation, using it as a way to hint that I’m somehow unbalanced, which would, of course, throw into question my credibility as a commenter.

          Allallt then, apparently relieved that there was this sideways attack on my credibility, went right along with it, instead of doing the responsible thing: Calling Zande on it and insisting that he stop it.

          Since he didn’t do that, he, Allallt himself, contributed significantly to the very derailing of his topic that he complained about, a mere two or three posts before this one!

          That’s what I mean about actually moderating a blog. It’s how I moderate my blog, and generally the riff-raff, with little constructive to say, stay away.

          Best,

          — x

        38. Allallt said:

          Dumb comments stand as dumb comments. The thing that grants them legitimacy is not completely free speech, but replying to it.

          Incorrect: You should avoid such dumbnesses in the future. There is a vast difference between a “dumb comment” and the asininity of Zande’s unfalsifiable, unknowable “IP Address” fraud. The fact that PT replied to it, gave it legitimacy. This is a tactic of the “out-of-gas” debate loser as well. Say something unfalsifiable, unknowable and scurrilous about an outnumbered opponent who is, nonetheless, mopping up the field with the others’ lame arguments, knowing full well that the other losers, happy to be able to deflect and derail, will immediately endorse it.

          Again, the correct policy is to point out the unknowable, unfalsifiable, unverifiable accusation and brand it as meritless, because of those same characteristics. Then: insist that it not be repeated.

          You don’t do that, because it keeps an automatic derailment capability at your fingertips for when things go badly, as these exchanges have amply demonstrated. Your ready excuse is to wrap yourself in “Free speech!’ even though there’s no need to enforce free speech rights at one’s own blog. Certainly in one’s country and in blogs in general, but you have no need to submit yourself to the indignity of a bunch of derailing posts and endorsements from like-minded debate losers.

          I certainly don’t consider your blog a place where one can have a serious conversation anymore. For precisely that reason.

          I certainly don’t allow unrestricted free speech in my house, or on my blog. I recognize the temptation to allow the ready-to-hand derailment mechanism, though, because I’ve had blog arguments with others in which I didn’t want to, but had to admit that I had missed a perspective, or said something incorrect, or contradictory, or the like, and I needed to admit it. Those were at well-moderated blogs where Zande’s “IP Address” sham would have appeared only once, and with the accompanying disclaimer from the moderator about the inappropriateness and meaninglessness of the post.

          By the way, your blog allowed my repeated post to go through even in the face of my browser connection failure. As a result, and by accident (obviously, since I signed the post) I posted the previous post under the “Anonymous” ID. That further proves my point.

          About contradictions, I have mentioned them many, many times, but let’s go with (1) your attempts to distinguish between “Atheists” and “Anti-Theists” Or: your attempt to suggest that murder and mayhem are bad, as you have, but somehow that Islam and Atheism — implicated in vast murder and mayhem — are “ethically and morally superior” to Christianity. Or: your admission that Islam is a “crap doctrine” (your quote, agreeing with me) but still ethically and morally superior to Christianity whose two greatest commandments are Love the Lord they God with all your heart, and Love your neighbor as yourself. Now, you try to distinguish between Atheists, Secularists and Humanists. As if the latter two are not subsets of the first category: Atheism. Are you trying to suggest that Secularists and Humanists (or “Secular Humanists — whatever) are somehow theists? Of course not! Or, is this rather just another contradiction, a difference without a distinction, a concession that the term and belief system (on non-belief system) “Atheism” is jam-packed with content? My conclusion: It’s all three?

          Your entire body of “reasoning” (if such it can be called: the “Morally and Ethically Superior” post was purest hyper-defensive emotion.) is a convoluted pile of spaghetti, criss-crossing and doubling back twisting around and contradicting yourself to buttress one point, as another point thuds to the ground.

          About the charity thing. Yes, you said that it was purely money, but still, the indictment stands. There is a reason for which Christians give more: more time, more money, more everything to those in need. That reason is Christ commandment to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” and the belief system is Christianity.

          This should be uncontroversial.

          Best,

          — x

        39. I see, you think I have contradictory thinking because you can’t distinguish between atheists, anti-theists, secularists and humanists. Okay, this is the last time I’m going to spell out something you should — as someone who claims to be insightful and to give a damn about the issue being discussed — already know.

          Atheism the lack of a belief in a God or gods.
          This is perhaps the broadest of the terms as it includes everything from naive atheism (ignorance of the question) to “strong” atheism (the belief there are not gods). However, there are no extra beliefs or tenets one has to accept to be an atheist. There’s no thinking style they have to employ. No books or individuals they have to revere.

          Anti-theismthe stance that belief in a God is harmful, either to societies or to individuals.
          In principle, one could be an anti-theist regardless of their stance on the question of theism. One could be convinced of a God, but still think it’s a belief that causes more harm than good.
          In practice, in terms of population, it is a lot more likely to be subset of atheists. But there is no inherent reason this has to be the case. One could argue that the Devil was an anti-theist, despite clearly believing in a God but rejecting its authority.

          Secularism the belief that religion and politics should not be related.
          This is a position people can hold regardless of religion, and do, even in practice. The Bible teaches that one should: give unto Caesar that which is his. Secularism is a political belief, not a religious one. Many people are secularists because they recognise the value of multiculturalism.

          Humanism the belief that human ingenuity and discussion alone can develop ethical, technological and societal progress.
          This really is a subset of atheism. Although, atheists have no requirement to accept humanism to be atheist.

          As the inferiority of Christian ethics, here’s the argument summarised for you:
          Christianity ambiguous teachings with a loophole based in vicarious redemption. Ultimately prohibits nothing so long as one has the right epiphany by death. Claims to be a perfect answer, so blocks progress.

          Islam – pretty clear but bloody awful: commands awful things; fails to prohibit awful things. Claims to be a perfect answer, so blocks progress.

          Atheism – nothing. Not a thing. Leaving a space for a humanist discussion.

          That you’d even bother to call that emotive is laughable.

          I can’t fathom where you think the contradiction is, unless you’re just wrong about the definition of these words. I know you think that makes me the sophist, but that’s simply your dirty little get-out clause for when you’ve been presenting an argument on poor assumptions.

          C’mon xPrae, I even did a post called ‘What does compassion look like’ where I addressed how the ‘love thy neighbour’ thing is basically a good spark for a discussion. But pretending that’s the whole picture is disingenuous.

          As for Christian charity, I’m glad you say they do it because they are commanded to. There was another commenter who was around for a bit who said it was due to an epiphany as a result of a relationship with God, not because they were commanded. I think that commenter believes in more moral opportunity than you do.

          As for this IP address thing, you keep bringing it up. I was hoping it would die, and I agree Zande has ruined his credibility in repeating that and the ‘new or orinigal’ question. Zande may have been going somewhere with that, and it may have been profound. But people refused to answer and refused its significance. He should have given up. It’s right there in my etiquette page that one should simply be happy to acknowledge people aren’t answering questions: it does them a greater disservice than the questioner.

          Now, I know you’re bringing up the IP thing to implore me to put an end to it but all it really does is makes me want to point out the evidence, again, you created user IDs to create your own fan club. If I waste any word count on that, you will accuse me of derailment, even though my comment includes addressing your point. You equally have this victimhood nonsense to derail the conversation when you don’t like it.
          Instead, what I’m going to do is tell you why I am not going to bring the evidence up again. It’s not because it’s irrelevant, because it is relevant, because you keep allowing the conversation to go that way. You could ignore it. But you’ve made huge swathes of the discussion about that. Instead, I’m not going to talking about it again because PT and Zande are in email communication, so there’s no one left to discuss it with. EquippedCat doesn’t seem to care. Silence of Mind doesn’t seem to care.

        40. See? You’re not a serious interlocutor. You’ve backed and endorsed a fraud that was designed to, and successfully did, derail your topic. Then you whined about derailing your topic.

          I’ll address your contradiction silliness in the next post.

          Best,

          — x

  10. Allalt wrote:

    xPrae is, and this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt called ‘According to xPrae’, a retired athlete, author of approximately a dozen books and cosy with a number of high-level politicians. That puts him around his 40s at youngest. He is, taken with the same pinch of salt, 6’2″ and a sports commentator.

    To answer the suggestion of your question: he’s not young enough to be as ignorant as he comes across.

    Some of this “profile” is true. I resent the 6’2″. I’m 6’4″ tall. 🙂 The entirety of the profile is irrelevant.

    I chuckle at your last sentence pertaining to ignorance. You’re the one attempting to put forward the proposition that Christianity is “morally and ethically inferior to Islam and atheism.”

    Yes, Christians have done bad things throughout history. However, I never mentioned in all these threads about how Christians, also throughout history, have provided hope, medicine, food, comfort and money, lots of money, for many, many hundreds of millions of poor, suffering people around the world. Yes, they proselytized as well, but I guess the impulse to help the suffering has to come from a good source. Christians, due entirely to their belief in Christ and in the faith he brought about, have done many thousands more good things than bad. Christianity also suggests that Christians not trumpet the fact that they are doing good, so the vast amounts of good that Christians have done throughout history tends to fly under the historical radar.

    Allallt himself has admitted that atheists are, well, lets’ be charitable — not a charitable bunch. However, even if atheists were to do have done over history ten times as much charitable work as they have done all of it would be completely counter-balanced, many hundreds of times over, by the atrocities of the last century alone. Atrocities in which atheism played a vital role.

    One more quick observation: Some university or other, I forget which one, recently announced that they will endow a chair entirely devoted to “Atheism studies.” Wait…didn’t Allallt say that “atheism is ‘content-free?'” Apparently this university doesn’t think so. Apparently, the administration of that university considers there to be enough content in the topic to endow an entire professorship! Or, will there be no classes, no books, no lectures in the “Atheism Studies” program?

    Best,

    1. I don’t care whether your profile is relevant. PT asked, you’ve answered it before, so I had the information to share. My apologies for shaving 2 inches off your height.

      “Allallt himself has admitted that atheists are, well, lets’ be charitable — not a charitable bunch.”
      To be taken literally, by the way. Atheists don’t give to charity all that much. Any deeper interpretation of that sentiment is not what I said.

      And, for those interested, it’s an atheism, secularism and humanism class. Atheism is content free, insofar as there is nothing an atheist must accept (no ‘core’). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t periphery argument that relate. But secularism and humanism are very content-laden.

  11. had to chuckle at the troll accusation.

    • Item: Zande asks the same question over and over and over an over and over and over again. It’s answered over and over and over and over again. He probably occupied fully a third of the comments So what does Zande do? Allege that the question was never answered, and asks the same question again. Classic troll behavior. And I’m a troll?!? Lol!

    • Item: Zande fabricates an unfalsifiable, unknowable, unsubstantiatable accusation, designed to question my credibility, and to hint that I’m a liar and, well, crazy. Relevant? Nope. Allallt and PT agree with the irrelevant libel. That occupies probably a sixth of the comments on this blog. I suggest that Allallt do at least a tiny bit of moderation, a suggestion he refuses. Classic troll behavior. And I’m a troll?!? Lol!

    • Item: Allallt and PT junmp all over Zande’s false accusation, thereby both endorsing and prolonging Zande’s derailment/ Then, irony of ironies, Allallt has the brass to accuse me, pre-emptively , of course, of being a troll! Classic troll behavior. And I’m a troll?!? Lol!

    • Item: I explain patiently over and over and over again, at each request, why I don’t use sources. Then, one time when I do — an dI even use Allallt’s source — Zande and Allallt immediately react as I predicted they would, and as Allallt agreed is possible, to try to impeach the source. Then my reluctance to bog down the flow of the conversation in a morass of dueling sources is used by Allallt to name call. All classic troll behavior. And I’m a troll?!? Lol!

    The behavior of the “pro-atheism” crowd on this side has been reprehensible and unserious. And, as mentioned a bit previously: perfectly typical. Typical of Zande and typical, of course, of people who are unsure of their arguments, and feel the need to deflect, to shine the spotlight away from the systematic demolition of their positions being done by those who were invited here in the first place to try to do just that!

    And I’m a troll?!?

    Lol!

    Best,

    — x

    1. Nothing in that comment is accurate or relevant (let alone both).

      I like the accusation that I am simultaneously not engaging in the discussion, and over committing with 6 posts.

      You’ve offered far short of the “insightful” promise made in the tagline of your own blog.

      Feel free to not engage here any more if you feel nothing productive is happening.

  12. Now comes the time for me to confess something. Unlike, I presume, Zande, Allallt and PT, I have been persuaded by something that Allallt said. Allallt does have a point. One point that I was able to discern in all the wasted time and fog of of trolling in which he, Zande and PT engaged.

    Here it is: It’s the notion of exclusivity. Or of 100%. The idea that I advanced that One:: because all the bloody totalitarianisms of the 20th Century were made and brought about by atheists(1), therefore Two: atheism is an inevitable accompaniment to bloody totalitarianisms. That led me down a rabbit hole that, I must admit, forced me into a contradiction of what I was saying, to wit: Islamist societies are bloody totalitarianisms and not secular.

    I had to noodle that about a bit, and came up with the notion that maybe, like Hitler, it was just a bunch of petty tyrants trying to slap the patina of divine approval onto some very earthly pursuits. In thinking further about that, I have to reject it. Plainly there are murderous islamists who believe in a god, and who believe that their bloody acts are approved by that deity. I was wrong about that, and I concede to Allallt that, therefore, atheism is not an inevitable precondition for mass murder. The answer (so far) to your question posed at top.

    I need therefore to re-characterize what I said, in light of my error. After all, there is the stark example of the Twentieth Century’s astonishingly bloody atheist totalitarianisms. Surely atheism doesn’t get off scot-free in all that blood! After all, these were militantly atheistic régimes! Some still are. Religious belief frequently led, simply, to a violent death for the professed believer. Atheism was, and sometimes remains a hugely important part of the governing structure, and most importantly, of the acceptable, publicly expressible thought structure, they imposed on their countries.

    Here is probably a better re-formulation: Atheism represents the intellectual ‘path of least resistance’ for a power-hungry person bent on establishing a state, and forming it in the shape he thinks is best. The reason: As Allallt himself conceded, atheism poses no prohibitions against anyone’s behavior. It is entirely lacking in any moral guidelines, whereas religious belief is full of moral guidelines.”

    However, to Allallt’s point: the fact that all of the Twentieth Century’s bloodiest totalitarianisms were atheism-based — and sometimes militantly so — doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t have to be; that the totalitarians themselves had to choose atheism as an important part of the fabric of the society they were molding. The fact remains, though, that they had a choice, also, not to go down that path. .

    It’s important to note, though, that they did make the “atheist choice.” (“Decision,” “conclusion,” you may choose the label) and the importance of that cannot be understated.

    Surely the bloodiest of them — Stalin, Mao, Hitler, the Kims, Pol Pot, Ho, etc — knew a bit of the various religious belief systems they encountered in life, and rejected them. Stalin and Hitler rejected Christianity; Pol Pot and the Kims were surely aware of the various Eastern belief systems — Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc — and rejected them. Mao, likewise. However, again, they didn’t have to and that was my error.

    In the Notes section, at bottom is the rabbit hole down which Allallt had to chase himself to try to buttress his point of view. It is from that rabbit hole, that Allallt now needs to extract himself.

    Bottom Line: I concede that atheism is not a precondition to genocide (though I prefer the term mass murder — it’s different from genocide.)

    Atheism remains in the dock as — in Allalt’s words — an enabler of genocide. Or, in my words: the intellectual path of least resistance for anyone bent on anything at all nefarious. It is not “content-free” as Allallt asserts. I mentioned the university professorship endowed to study it. Allallt sniffed, as if in rebuttal, that the course was about Atheism, and Secularism and Humanism, or some such. Whatever. I assume the course will spend considerable time on the topic of “Atheism.” Presumably, also, those classes will not consist of a lecture that says something like, “There’s nothing here. Quiz on Friday.” Very few university courses are formulated to study something that is “content-free.”

    Best,

    — x
    —————————————————————–
    Notes:
    (1) Yes, Allallt, it is sophistry to pretend that the Kims are not atheists because they proclaimed themselves “gods.” The reason: They themselves know they are not gods. They know they didn’t create any universes, planets, life or the like, and they know they will die, as they have done right along. Also true of Mao. And Pol Pot learned his worldview in the west, where he became a good atheist Marxist.

  13. Doing a little cleaning up…

    Allallt wrote:

    For example, the mistake I made is pointing out that these discussions about atheism I’ve had in the 6 posts that mentions you are related to you.

    Are you trying to make the case that all the posts that are headed “xPrae: how I defeated you so badly” are unrelated to me? That this particular blog post at top, which mentions me no fewer than ten times is unrelated to me? Isn’t anything that, in your words “mentions me” related to me? By definition? And you call me a “strange interlocutor?’ Sorry, you had that tweaking coming! 🙂

    As the inferiority of Christian ethics, here’s the argument summarised for you:
    Christianity – ambiguous teachings with a loophole based in vicarious redemption. Ultimately prohibits nothing so long as one has the right epiphany by death. Claims to be a perfect answer, so blocks progress.

    This is the basic lack of comprehension that I talk about in you, Zande and, likely, PT. Quite a lot is prohibited in Christianity. That’s the reason for the word “sin,” and for the phrases “deadly sins” and “venial sins,” and heck, most people Christian or not, can name at least two or three of the “Seven Deadly Sins.” These are all things that are explicitly an unambiguously prohibited by Christianity.

    You hold a ridiculous premise: that someone can get it into his head to be an utter scoundrel all his life, but on his deathbed can have “his epiphany,” say he’s sorry and he gets away with it all. Nope.

    A few seconds of thought about such a person should make you blush at the silliness of that notion. First, and easiest: the dude has no idea when he’ll die. To make that bet is to show that one is a complete idiot. If, as you seem to imply, this dude’s a rational actor, who understands the doctrine of Christianity, then he right quickly rejects that nonsensical notion!

    Next: Imagine such a person. Does anyone really think that such a person is typically going to lead an entire debauched life, harming people, committing depredation after depredation, and then just have a real deathbed conversion? Seriously? The real odds of that happening are slim to nil. Anyone with really rudimentary understanding of Christianity would realize that.

    By your scenario, the dude knows the rules, but simply has decided that he doesn’t want to abide by them? Then, nearing death, he does? Remember: this get-out-of-jail-free-card deathbed conversion has to be sincere, because God knows what’s really in the dude’s heart and mind.

    So, there’s no way to argue, rationally anyway, that Christianity prohibits nothing, when it plainly prohibits quite a lot of vile behavior. It does, however, allow for redemption and forgiveness.

    As for vicarious redemption, there’s no such thing. Now, Zande won’t understand this but, yes, Jesus suffered and died for our sins, but that doesn’t mean that I get to go automatically to Heaven after I die. No, I have to accept the gift of His sacrifice — really accept it — and assimilate that gift into my own life. And I need to accept Jesus Himself as my Lord and Savior. The point: If I have truly accepted the gift of His sacrifice, then I will take that gift into my own life, and I will take Jesus’ teachings as my examples for how I should life my life, and if called to do so, I will, as Jesus did, lay down my life in order to spare or save another. There is redemption in Christianity. It’s not even remotely a “get out of jail free card,” it’s rather an additional responsibility that we Christians take on, to pass along the good news of salvation. Salvation is not only offered to a select few, but to every man, woman and child on the face of the earth willing to accept it.

    There is no such thing as vicarious redemption. Jesus’ sacrifice can give you eternal life and happiness if and only if you accept the gift. In so doing, you would make it a significant part of your life. You can’t, therefore, just run around saying to yourself, “Jesus died for me, I’ve got it made! All I have to do is say I’m sorry just before I die, and I’m all set.” Sorry, that’s just not how it works. And it never has.

    These are not advanced understandings of Christianity, but they seem to have escaped entirely those here who pretend they have such a deep understanding of the faith.

    This why it can be frustrating to argue in this forum. People here seem to know the words, but have such an abysmally poor understanding of the meaning — a Third Grade-level understanding — all while pretending to know so much. It’s how I was when I knew everything… and I was eight-years old. That’s why it was so funny for me to read the posts pertaining to how old I am. Here I am facing questions that an elementary Sunday School teacher might face, and then the person asking those questions asks how old I am!

    Lol!

    Best,

    — x

    1. Are you trying to make the case that all the posts that are headed “xPrae: how I defeated you so badly” are unrelated to me?

      No. I’m saying that I framed them that way was a mistake.

      You hold a ridiculous premise: that someone can get it into his head to be an utter scoundrel all his life, but on his deathbed can have “his epiphany,” say he’s sorry and he gets away with it all. Nope.

      I didn’t say “deathbed”. I said “by death”. That could be anywhere from 2 seconds to 50 years ahead of time. Are you saying vicarious redemption doesn’t work? I agree, but I’m not sure that’s the Christian position.

      So, there’s no way to argue, rationally anyway, that Christianity prohibits nothing, when it plainly prohibits quite a lot of vile behavior. It does, however, allow for redemption and forgiveness.

      Name one transgression, where a sincere conversion isn’t sufficient to allow access into Heaven.

      There is no such thing as vicarious redemption. Jesus’ sacrifice can give you eternal life and happiness if and only if you accept the gift.

      Sorry, which is it: There’s no vicarious redemption or there is, in fact, vicarious redemption?

      These are not advanced understandings of Christianity, but they seem to have escaped entirely those here who pretend they have such a deep understanding of the faith.

      Nothing you have said stops a person murdering and raping and entire city in their 20s and having a sincere religious experience in their 80s and dying moments after, going to Heaven.

      1. There are allegedly 2 things which a sincere conversion won’t “cover”. One is taking the “mark of the beast on the back of your right hand or on your forehead”, such a mark being required in order to “buy or sell”. The other is harder to quantify, “blaspheming the Holy Spirit”.

        Some people claim that if you accept Jesus and then reject Him, you can’t accept Him again, but I’ve not seen what that claim is based on. Basically, it appears anything you do to Man can be forgiven (by God); some things you do to God cannot.

        No, nothing prevents that (except one supposes that if a person destroys a city, there would be a serious attempt to find and kill that person). And that was my decision when I first heard the Gospel. Fortunately, I came to realize that my opinion about God’s plan does not count to God; He knows what He is doing and I don’t and probably would not even be able to comprehend it even if He told me about it.

        My answer to your question, then, is “So?”. Sucks for man, but presumably God benefits somehow. You want the people in Heaven to be acceptable to you. God wants people in Heaven who are acceptable to Him.

        1. Darn it all, EC! You always answer better than I do, ya big show-off! Just kidding (about the “show-off” part)!!!

          Well said.

          Best,

          — x

        2. Addendum to the immediately preceding:

          This was particularly well said: “You want the people in Heaven to be acceptable to you. God wants people in Heaven who are acceptable to Him.

          Best,

          — x

  14. I said:

    So, there’s no way to argue, rationally anyway, that Christianity prohibits nothing, when it plainly prohibits quite a lot of vile behavior. It does, however, allow for redemption and forgiveness.

    To which Allallt replied:

    Name one transgression, where a sincere conversion isn’t sufficient to allow access into Heaven.

    Do a simple, little thought experiment with me. Not asking you to agree with me on my premises, but it’s plain that you simply don’t understand some things. I’m guessing you’re way overthinking them? Anyway, here goes:

    Pretend you’re a father: Do you allow all things to your children/ Do you tell them they can go out and rob a bank? If there were no law against it, would you then tell them they could go out and rob a bank? When they are very young, would you tell them they can cross a busy street? Would you tell them that it’s okay to take your neighbors’ stuff, as long as they can get away with it? Would you tell your daughter that it’s okay to steal her mother’s jewelry and pawn it down the street? Would you tell your son that it’s okay to shout racial slurs at passersby each evening? Of course you wouldn’t.

    These are all things that are absolutely, unambiguously prohibited to your children. Along with a whole, massively long list of other transgressions, both large and small.

    Yet, if your children were to do any of these things, would you forgive them? Of course you would. You’d punish them, and them forgive them.

    God, our Father in Heaven, does the same thing. He absolutely prohibits an entire list of bad behavior, up to and including all behavior that would harm another human. Yes, that means that in Christ’s teaching, there is no room for slavery. Split language hairs all you want, Allallt — as is your wont(1) — Christ’s teachings leave no room whatsoever for the exploitation of one person by another, in any way, shape or form.

    God set up the same things that any parent easily recognizes: a system with rules and prohibitions, punishments, and — just like in any parent’s household — the ways to redeem oneself and get oneself back in the parent’s good graces. Again, this should not be all that difficult to understand. It’s pretty elementary stuff.

    Best,

    — x
    —————————————————————-
    Notes:
    (1) By the way, when you do split those hairs in reaction to this, as inevitably you will, it won’t be to make a legitimate point, but rather to try to try to save face, by showing how, with clever use of words, you can “prove” that what is plain meaning, actually is not so plain.

    That’s the sophistry of which I speak. It’s taking advantage of the fact that thoughts and ideas are like clouds, with little definition around the edges, while the words used to convey those thoughts and ideas are like bricks. In building a thought cloud, our only tools are brick-shaped words When we put these bricks together, inevitably there is a lot of cloudy “thought space” left out of what we express. You take advantage of the fact that (1) no matter how articulate someone is, there’s always that unexpressed thought space, and (2) you can choose to define the “brick-words” how ever you want, in order to suggest that people said one thing or another.

    For example, Zande seized upon Christ’s assertion that He had not come to change the law, in order to pretend that Christ approved of slavery, and stoning unruly children. It’s such a stupid assertion that there’s no reason that anyone should be compelled to counter it. But, there you were — you and people like Ark — eagerly pretending that Zande had a point.

    Again, these are the elementary misunderstandings that are so dumb, that it seems pointless to have to counter them. But you were treating that kind of flapdoodle as serious commentary. Along, of course, with the rest of the ostentatiously outlandish twaddle you were asserting. (Hitler was a Christian; Bloody, atrocities-laden Atheism and Islam are morally superior to Christianity, the Kims and Pol Pot were/are not atheists. Next you’ll be pretending that euthanasia is okay! 🙂 ) I was amazed at the embarrassingly wacked-out stuff you were asking me/us to counter!

    Simply put: Christ’s work properly understood, contains nothing that permits anything in inter-human relations resembling slavery, or stoning unruly children, or initiating war, or exploiting others, or anything at all like that. Again, this should be uncontroversial. However, the limitation of words — concrete, defined things trying to express, abstract, hard-to-define thoughts and ideas — allows for the rampant sophistry shown on these pages.

    1. What divine or religious punishment, from God, exists for the 20-year-old in my thought experiment that rapes and murders their way through an entire city, then has a sincere religious conversion in their 80s and soon after dies?

      What is God’s punishment for them?

      1. From God, allegedly none beyond the guilt over what he had done. Sounds unreasonable, but remember, what he did in his 20’s was done to man, and man had the chance to punish him. What he did in his 80’s was done to God, who by all accounts was hoping for it. Punishment for someone doing what is desired is not a particularly effective methodology.

        1. I understand your position, I think. It’s a hard but honest true.
          I do wonder if that means there’s just two completely different ideas of justice poking around this conversation, and it makes me really wonder what it means for God to be just.

        2. Yes, it is a really tough dichotomy. God is claimed to have certain attributes, and based on what we can see and think and feel, sometimes gives us the appearance of being contrary to the claims That is why I tend to go for the interpretations which are least contradictory (with God, not with people 🙂 )

          In other words, in God’s eyes, God is perfectly just. Because we cannot see or even comprehend the environment in which God must primarily reside (because his attributes violate the laws of our environment), we should not attempt to judge his “justness”.

      2. Good question.

        However, your question is also a bit like this question: “Imagine a unicorn is trying to cross a fast-moving, rain-swollen river. In the river are a bunch of potentially slippery rocks all the way across. There’s a bridge across the river, but it’s guarded by a mean, ugly troll who’d just love to eat the unicorn for lunch. What does the unicorn do?

        Unicorns don’t exist, of course, though, I confess, I don’t know that with 100% certainty. Maybe they just haven’t been discovered yet. 🙂 Trolls don’t exist either (but Zande makes me question that assertion).

        In other words, the premise of your question is, itself, highly questionable.

        Let’s look at your question a bit more, though.

        You hypothesize someone plundering his way through a city at age 20, who then has a sincere conversion at age eighty. It might be important to know what happened in the intervening 60 years. Also, presumably the guy did his plundering as an atheist (though, the possibility exists that he did it as a Muslim. The premise of your question precludes that he did it as a Christian, though he might have claimed to be one.)

        You’ve posed an interesting question, Allallt! Did it really require that I say that “atheism is not a necessary precondition to genocide?” before you posted something substantive? Really? That’s kind of a shame.

        Anyway, back to your question: If the dude did his plundering while pretending to be a Christian, then I’m also responding to a “What if Hitler had converted to Christianity at the end?“-type of question. Which, highly obliquely, concedes my point that Hitler was not a Christian. Since he was not any other kind of theist, then he was an atheist.

        If, however, the dude in your hypothetical did his plundering as an atheist, then I don’t have to go that far afield in responding to it. As I would have to do if the dude were a muslim, ie: a theist.

        Remember: your question has a few layers. One, the simplest: the dude did his depredations as an atheist, which seems to concede my contention that atheism is “an enabler of atrocities,” or two: the dude did his crimes as a theist, but not as a Christian. (Keeping in mind your premise, that I find ridiculous on its face, that Christianity is morally inferior to atheism or Islam) That question would have to be answered on at least two levels.

        So, I’m going to respond to it as if the dude were an atheist. Why? There are examples of both types of unicorns — plunderers who convert to Christianity, having been atheists, and those who convert having been other types of theists. But the “formerly atheist convert” has the amazing example of Georgy Malenkov, whom I mentioned in this very blog.

        Malenkov, did have his arms deeply immersed in human misery and blood almost all his adult life, then converted to Christianity (Orthodox).

        He was actually for only a brief time Stalin’s immediate successor, before Khrushchev.

        His time at the top was so brief, though, that history barely records it. Then, after his fall from power, he lived in obscurity in virtual exile.

        At some point, Malenkov converted to Christianity. A conversion which at that time in the Soviet Union was, indeed, an act of real courage.

        Now, having said all that, what is the answer to your question? Well, it’s not a brief answer, because you’re using the question to try to set me up(1). However, as is my hard and fast policy, I’m going to answer it as if you posed it without hidden agenda: Assuming that Malenkov’s conversion was sincere, as there is strong circumstantial evidence that it was, then he will end up in Paradise with God.

        Where, then,” I hear you say, “is the punishment for the atrocities?!? And isn’t that strong evidence to support Allallt’s argument that Christianity permits all behavior?

        For the answer to that, it’s important to understand that God does act in our lives, even when we may not be aware of it.

        For example, the urge to pray is always God-given. The Christian is simply more ready to hear it, and to respond to the request from Him for a moment of togetherness.

        Even if you, Allallt, were to open your mind to the possibility that God is always calling you back to Him, then you also would hear that call, and you might even respond to it. Or you might just rationalize it away as your imagination or some such. We do, always, have the free will to reject God’s call to be with us.

        Back to Malenkov’s punishment. At the moment of Malenkov’s sincere conversion, his conscience, apparently still in good working order (as the twenty-year old’s in your original hypothetical must be, or his conversion cannot be sincere), would take over, and deliver the only punishment that Malenkov would ever need.

        Your question, though, seems to be posed at the other people’s level.

        Where, you seem to be asking is justice for Malenkov’s victims?!?

        Implied in your question is the unstated accusation that if God were real(2), He would smite Malenkov and mete out some kind of long-term, excruciating justice on him — for his victims’ sake. But God’s justice is as much for Malenkov as it is for his victims. And God’s justice is for Him to define, not us.

        We can’t lose sight of the fact that Malenkov’s victims all had the same opportunity as Malenkov to believe in God, and to accept His son Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation.

        If, they had done so, then there never would have been any way in which Malenkov could have victimized them in the first place! Except to have made more brief their already extremely brief time here on earth. After all, a hundred years or so is incomprehensibly brief in the context of eternity.

        Needless to say, for the atheist, a hundred years is the very definition of “eternity.”

        Okay. Back to Malenkov’s punishment.

        A conscience is a really good thing and all good things come from God.(3) Since you indicate in your hypothetical that the eighty-year old man’s conversion was “sincere,” then you imply that the former plunderer’s conscience was, indeed, in good working order.

        I say that in his conversion, he experienced a full dose of punishment from that conscience.

        Then, though, also according to your hypothetical, he died shortly thereafter. Kind of a short duration for a punishment for arociious crimes, am I right? What about that, xP? Huh? Huh?

        There are some who say that the man’s eternal soul goes to Purgatory where he experiences the powerful pangs of regret he surely must have when he contemplates the awful things he’s done.

        There are others who say that he doesn’t experience something like Purgatory. I find it important in some senses, but irrelevant for what I think is the scope of your question.

        The Christian always has an understanding of the eternal that the atheist cannot have. Whether or not the converted evil-doer experiences a Purgatory-like time is nearly irrelevant in the context of eternity. I think your question was posed at the “where does the dude end up?” level.

        Also implicit in your question was, I think: “If God is real (see Note #2), why doesn’t He send the dude to Hell, where he can pass his time in excruciating regret for the evil he did on earth? Too bad about the conversion pal, you still need to pay for what you did!

        Well, the former evil-doer does pay — at the moment of his conversion. He pays as strongly as he can possibly pay: in the understanding of his own wretchedness. In the fall from the commanding heights of the pride that allowed him to play God during his youth, and to treat the lives and happiness of others with callous disregard.

        The man faced with the understanding of his own wretchedness, in light of just how great he used to consider himself to be, is, indeed, heavily punished.

        Remember, he gets to contemplate a lifetime nearly entirely wasted in stupid, evil, meaningless pursuits.

        At the moment of his conversion, he comes to understand that of the eighty years he’s lived, he’s wasted nearly all of them, except for that very day.

        He further understands that he has very little time to make for himself any kind of life at all that might have any kind of real meaning.

        If I were to try to imagine a more rugged punishment, I don’t think I could come up with one.

        Don’t forget: what you and I sometimes consider “justice” here on earth, is frequently really just revenge against the evil-doer to make his victims feel better. It is a major flaw of the American judicial system, that there is very little in the system concerned with re-awakening and making healthy again, the criminal’s conscience.

        Bottom line: The sincere convert is, indeed, thoroughly punished by his own conscience. The conscience comes as a gift from God to allow us to see who we really are — children of God — who we must be, and how much God loves us all.

        When a convert considers a life ill-lived, and contemplates the evil he’s done to others of God’s children, whom God loves as much as he loves the convert, and when the former reprobate contemplates the evil he’s done to God as well — who has redeemed him despite it all — and whom he loves intensely, then the former evil-doer understands fully what he’s done, and his punishment, and redemption, are complete. At that point, he turns his life around, and dedicates it to doing God’s will on earth.

        Best,

        — x

        Notes
        ——————————-

        (1) To try to support your argument that Christianity permits all behavior.

        (2) Remember: I’m answering your question with the understanding that you don’t believe in the existence of God. Or at least, you don’t acknowledge that existence, as you are –at the very least — unsure of it. It’s why I didn’t write: “If God were real, or just” How could I write “just” in there, to someone who doesn’t believe that God is real?

        (3) You could try to make the point that all bad things come from God too, since all those who do bad things were created by God. But, those bad things come from people who were given a really good thing: free will, and misused it.

        1. Before I reply, 3 little housekeeping points:
          (1) I was at no point meaning to make the argument from suffering/evil. I did not meant to talk about why God permits such things, just that, in fact, God does permit them.
          (2) This has been my point about ‘loopholes’ more or less from the start. Sorry if that’s not been clear.
          (3) Thank you. That was one of the more articulate, meaningful and considered answers, much like the ones that initially pulled me into conversation with you.

          Also, a brief aside.
          I don’t know to what extent this was intentional — but you did level a small criticism at God here. It’s a little implied, and so I’ll spell it out and you can let me know if I’ve wildly missed the mark. In reminding me to take a more open mind to the definition of ‘justice’ you mentioned that the US judicial system is sometimes overtly focussed on retribution (something not unique to the US), and that this is a problem (to which I agree). And yet, if my converted-pillager had not converted, he would be sent to Hell. Is that not the same problem? And does not God have the option to just let a person undeserving of Heaven die, the way people like me expect we do?

          I also apologise if you find my characterisation of a sincere conversion to Christianity’s key aspect being a sort of ‘moral epiphany’. It’s a term I employed to try to more fully understand Oldschoolcontemporary’s view (you may recall) which, to an extent, you are echoing.

          To the main point:
          A functioning conscience is something I have. I don’t agree that it comes from a God (as you know). But I do have one. So, it would not be unreasonable to characterise that ‘moral epiphany’ as an element of our own humanity. I’ve never plundered my way through a city (but I am still in my 20’s, so there’s time), but I did drop a glass about a week ago and rather hurriedly cleared it up and the next day my brother stepped on a shard; a fact that I felt guilty about.
          Now, atheism tells us nothing about our moral epiphanies or our conscience. All it is is a clearing of religious answers from the questions. Things like humanism then start conversations about what else those answers could be, and the conscience is perfectly available to that conversation.
          Now, EC’s comment disagrees: EC thinks there are transgressions to which sincere conversion is insufficient. And I’m sure there’s a large theological conversation to be had there about the limits of Jesus’ sacrifice. But to the general theme of your comment — that sincere conversion grants access to Heaven — I’m struggling with the idea that there is some sort of meaningful prohibition there. The only prohibition seems to be ‘don’t die without a sincere conversion to or acceptance of Christianity’.

          Now, I grant that atheism permits everything and anything. But that’s like saying geography permits anything. Morality is simply not the purview of these subjects. Humanism does address questions of morality. And the conscience seems to me to be as available to that as to Christianity. Except, humanism doesn’t give blanket forgiveness. Christianity does. (And Islam calls awful thing moral.)

        2. In the supernatural realm, there may be a law of “conservation of spirit” which makes it impossible for a person’s spirit to be lost. In which case, there has to be some place or set of places where it goes.

        3. That’s a fair proposition.
          It does seem a little limiting though. Assuming God created everything, It created that law too.

        4. Ah, God created everything in our NATURAL world. How could God create the environment He exists in? How could God violate the intrinsic properties of the environment which allows for His existence?

        5. Some quick replies:

          You said:

          (1) I was at no point meaning to make the argument from suffering/evil. I did not meant to talk about why God permits such things, just that, in fact, God does permit them.

          My response:

          I disagree with: “God does permit them” (bad things) As a parent, I don’t permit my kids to do a vast array of things, but I forgive them when they do them. And, as my previous post mentioned, I punish them. That I forgive them doesn’t in any way mean that I permit them to do the things for which I forgive them. If I were to permit those things, there would be no reason to forgive them.

          ———————————–

          You said:

          This has been my point about ‘loopholes’ more or less from the start. Sorry if that’s not been clear.

          My response:

          I still don’t see any “loopholes.” The rules is still the rules is the rules is the rules. 🙂

          ———————————–

          You said:

          Also, a brief aside.
          I don’t know to what extent this was intentional — but you did level a small criticism at God here. It’s a little implied, and so I’ll spell it out and you can let me know if I’ve wildly missed the mark. In reminding me to take a more open mind to the definition of ‘justice’ you mentioned that the US judicial system is sometimes overtly focussed on retribution (something not unique to the US), and that this is a problem (to which I agree). And yet, if my converted-pillager had not converted, he would be sent to Hell. Is that not the same problem? And does not God have the option to just let a person undeserving of Heaven die, the way people like me expect we do?

          My response:

          No criticism of God is intended in anything I write. I’d echo Cat’s words about us wanting people in Heaven to be acceptable to us, while really, God wants people in Heaven who are acceptable to Him. Cat says it “sucks for us,” but I disagree. The gift of life is so astonishingly, vastly, incomprehensibly magnificent, that to question the giver is the height of silliness and presumptuousness. There are people — we all know them — who, if you were, out of the blue, to give them 10 million dollars, would respond, “Why isn’t it 20 million?” That — times a quadrillion — is what criticizing God is.

          Next:

          You said: “And yet, if my converted-pillager had not converted, he would be sent to Hell. Is that not the same problem? And does not God have the option to just let a person undeserving of Heaven die, the way people like me expect we do?

          Great question! Here’s my take on it: God doesn’t so much send the person to Hell, as the person chooses to live out his life, and all of eternity, without God. God does, I believe, grant the person his wish. If you decide to exclude God from your life, then God will stay away, per your request. Hell, I believe, is eternity without God. Is that a conscious existence? I don’t know. If not, then the person is, as you suggest, “getting his wish.” I suspect that Hell isn’t a lake filled with lava, but I don’t know that either. I do know that God gives us the possibilty to avoid having to find all that out, or to endure it, simply by turning to Him and saying, “I accept the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and I accept Him as my Lord and Savior.” In light of all that, it seems pretty silly not to, eh? 🙂

          In that way, God’s justice is really simply fulfilling the promise He made to each of us, that we have free will. That we can decide to do whatever we want, whenever we want. And, of course, there is no such thing as “free will” if there are no consequences for acting on that free will. So, He also told us what we should do if we want to hang around with Him forever. The Christian can think of nothing better than hanging around with God forever.

          ———————————–

          You said:

          I also apologise if you find my characterisation of a sincere conversion to Christianity’s key aspect being a sort of ‘moral epiphany’. It’s a term I employed to try to more fully understand Oldschoolcontemporary’s view (you may recall) which, to an extent, you are echoing.

          My response:

          I suspect that OSC said it better. 🙂

          ———————————–

          You said:

          To the main point:
          A functioning conscience is something I have. I don’t agree that it comes from a God (as you know). But I do have one. So, it would not be unreasonable to characterise that ‘moral epiphany’ as an element of our own humanity. I’ve never plundered my way through a city (but I am still in my 20’s, so there’s time), but I did drop a glass about a week ago and rather hurriedly cleared it up and the next day my brother stepped on a shard; a fact that I felt guilty about.

          My response:

          That is a paragraph pregnant with meaning! First: I believe that your conscience is a gift from God. You can say to yourself that your conscience really stems only from your Humanist reflections, but the conscience that God gave you is still there as well. That you choose to overlook that gift doesn’t mean that it goes away. If, for example, you’re tall, you may choose to think that it had nothing to do with how God formed you, but rather with how your parents’ DNA lined up. And if, as I say, that gift — like all good things — really came from God, your denial of that doesn’t take away the gift of your tallness.

          Next: I have no real problem with the term moral epiphany. God works in mysterious ways. If I were to tell you some of my direct experiences with God, you could call them epiphanies of a sort, and I’d be perfectly fine with that. God works with everyone in the way, or ways, that work best for each person. If an epiphany is called for, then that’s what God will offer.

          Next:
          I’m glad that you’ve never plundered your way through a city. I’d point out to you that your conscience, with which you’re probably justifiably quite pleased, is, still, optional. For the Christian to refuse the gift of a conscience, he has to turn his back resolutely on God. For a Christian that’s just not an option. It would be like turning your back on your mom or dad whom you adore. Oddly enough, plenty of us (yours truly included) still do that way more often than we should! And, oddly enough, we do that to our parents, whom we adore, when we think they’re not watching us.

          Please note: this is also in response to an incorrect assertion of yours a few posts back, about a “Christian’s good behavior being because he is commanded to be good.” A Christian is commanded to be good. More importantly, though: he also really wants to be good. For a Christian, God’s commandments are also what he wishes to do. It’s as if God were to command me to go out and play 18 holes of golf at Augusta National (which I have done, though not, I don’t think, in response to a command from God). I’d say: “Your wish is my command, and off I go!” I have a lot of golf metaphors.

          Next:
          You dropped a glass, cleaned up hurriedly and your brother stepped on a shard, for which you felt guilty. I applaud you for your pangs of conscience. Implied in your story is that you did the clean-up hurriedly, but also that you didn’t have to. If that’s the case, then your pangs of conscience are justified. You should have taken more time, and I trust you learned a valuable lesson. However, if you were hurried in your clean-up, because you needed to rush to the hospital to make visiting hours for a sick relative, then you would have, it seems, no reason to feel guilty. Life is constantly forcing difficult prioritizations upon us, and we’re constantly forced to make hard decisions, some of which have unforeseen negative consequence. God expects that we will do our very best to do the right thing, guided by His word and by love for Him. He never expects us to do that which we cannot do. It’s when we don’t do what we should do, and could very well have done, that we let God down.

          ———————————–

          You said:

          Now, atheism tells us nothing about our moral epiphanies or our conscience. All it is is a clearing of religious answers from the questions. Things like humanism then start conversations about what else those answers could be, and the conscience is perfectly available to that conversation.

          My response:

          Or it, the conscience, is not available. It’s still the atheist/Humanist’s choice. Remember: Lenin, Stalin, et al., did think they were doing the right things. I think if you were to say these things to Lenin, Stalin, et al., to a man they might just respond, “Who are you to tell me I’m not a Humanist?!? I did everything I possibly could to advance the human condition! Sure I made some mistakes, but I really tried to do the right thing!” (You recognized this when you made the same hypothetical case for Pol Pot) And they might believe that too! I concede that it’s also the Christian’s choice to check his conscience at the door. However, again, he has to turn his back on God to do so. The atheist/Humanist has no such line that he understands that he must cross in order to do bad things.

          ———————————–

          You said:

          Now, EC’s comment disagrees: EC thinks there are transgressions to which sincere conversion is insufficient. And I’m sure there’s a large theological conversation to be had there about the limits of Jesus’ sacrifice. But to the general theme of your comment — that sincere conversion grants access to Heaven — I’m struggling with the idea that there is some sort of meaningful prohibition there. The only prohibition seems to be ‘don’t die without a sincere conversion to or acceptance of Christianity’.

          My response:

          I agree: EC seems to disagree with me. I suspect that it’s not a big disagreement. A priest of my faith, when asked whether there was any sin that is unforgivable, responded, “No. None.” I admit that there are disagreements between Christian denominations. Also, priests are not perfect. Did he forget the sins that EC mentioned? I don’t know.

          ———————————–

          You said:

          Now, I grant that atheism permits everything and anything. But that’s like saying geography permits anything. Morality is simply not the purview of these subjects. Humanism does address questions of morality. And the conscience seems to me to be as available to that as to Christianity. Except, humanism doesn’t give blanket forgiveness. Christianity does. (And Islam calls awful thing moral.)

          My response:

          But that’s like saying geography permits anything.” Not really. Geography isn’t a belief system (or non-belief system, if you must) that pretends to tell us things about our very existence. When you say, “Paris is a good deal north of New York,” you make no implications about anything that pertains to how you live your life. When you say, however, “there is no God,” or, “I don’t know whether there’s a God,” or, “I think you shouldn’t believe in God,” or, “Humanism should make the rules by which we abide, not anyone else,” then you make a massively loaded statement about how we should live our lives. Any one of those four statements is a life-shaking assertion for anyone hearing it.

          Or, stated differently: you seem to be saying that “Humanism should replace religious faith as far as questions of morality are concerned.” (<– you should re-read that a few times. It’s a scary thought.) Again, that puts the “ceiling” for morality at whatever level humans feel like putting it at any given point. Needless to say, they’ve failed miserably so far in all their attempts to supplant God. Furthermore, every time they’ve done so, they’ve put in place systems of government that were practically theological in nature. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the Kims, etc… All established, as Khrushchev so delicately put it: “cults of personality.” They all seemed to understand that they needed at least the appearance of divine approval for their acts.

          Have you read the criticisms of Secular Humanism done by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn? They’re worth a deep look. Not only because his insights are eye-opening, but also because, even in translation, he was a whale of a writer. He had, of course, a certain level of authority in terms of how he observed Secular Humanism’s effect on his own life. He said also that Secular Humanism is the precursor to the same kind of totalitarianism that he, and tens of millions of others, experienced first-hand in the Soviet Union.

          ———————————–

          Best,

          — x

        6. A great deal of this has, now, hit bedrock. Our differences lie, majorly, in questions of whether a God exists and whether golf is ever an appropriate metaphor 🙂

          I will butcher my atheism/geography comparison a little. Atheism pushes religious answers off the pedestal of moral questions (and secularism keeps them off!), but Geography doesn’t do that. But in terms of actual answers offered to moral questions, neither offer an answer (and neither is meant to).
          Atheism doesn’t even self-justify on why religious answers are pushed off the pedestal. It takes something else to say morality can be informed by something other than religion.

          I would say, however, I am not so absolutist as to say Humanism should replace religious faith, as far as questions of morality are concerned. That is a question in which I am in deep agreement with EC. There are many ways to have that human discussion to help advise us on what is right, good, true and beautiful. But if it doesn’t rest on a human discussion and evidence, it’s very difficult to see why the actions of all individuals should be forced to comply with the (often conflicting) religious ideas of morality.

          I do have a question, though, about the moral conscience. I’ve explained Natural Law a couple of times, I think, but briefly, I consider it the rules governing behaviour that individuals tend to towards preferring, given comfort or a veil of ignorance to their position in the society… more or less.
          And it’s reasonable consistency over time does point to some sort of majority human conscience. There’s a couple of ways of explaining that, but one is that it’s a God-given conscience. If I play Devil’s advocate and accept that, why do you think some big questions people’s conscience are so very different on, even from people who seem to have tightly calibrated moral compasses? (e.g. The Death penalty, what a ‘just war’ is)

        7. Okay — a quick response:

          You said:

          A great deal of this has, now, hit bedrock. Our differences lie, majorly, in questions of whether a God exists and whether golf is ever an appropriate metaphor:)

          Response:

          Maybe. However, now it appears that we might have some real fun. Golf is always, in every place and at every time, in every circumstance, no matter the topic, whatever the discussion, regardless of who participates, or doesn’t, in all possible eventualities, without any doubt, or even a hint of a smidgen of an iota of a scintilla of a doubt… an appropriate metaphor.

          But, I don’t feel all that strongly about it. 🙂

          —————————————-

          You said:

          I will butcher my atheism/geography comparison a little. Atheism pushes religious answers off the pedestal of moral questions (and secularism keeps them off!), but Geography doesn’t do that. But in terms of actual answers offered to moral questions, neither offer an answer (and neither is meant to).

          Response:

          Okay. If I stipulate to that (which I don’t … yet), then we are in the realm of: “inaction=action.” Remember the accusation directed at Christians after World War II? Why didn’t they do more? To save Jews. To save gypsies and homosexuals, and anyone else. Never mind the fact that they themselves were targets just as much as the other groups. Hitler loathed Christianity and Christians. (as distinguished from his views on Marxism, (which he admired and, to a great extent, emulated) and Marxists, whom he hated. Mainly because they, the communists, were pursuing the same hearts and minds as Hitler was.

          I know I risk reading more into your more picturesque language than you may wish, but in “pushing religious answers off the pedestal of moral questions,” the atheist has made quite a significant moral statement. He has offered a highly consequential “moral answer.” The statement is: “Look to human beings to find your moral answers.” The answer you then give is: “We can offer no credibility to moral answers that you theists claim come from divine authority.” Far from “offering no moral answer,” this is an extremely weighty moral response.

          —————————————-

          You said:

          Atheism doesn’t even self-justify on why religious answers are pushed off the pedestal. It takes something else to say morality can be informed by something other than religion.
          I would say, however, I am not so absolutist as to say Humanism should replace religious faith, as far as questions of morality are concerned. That is a question in which I am in deep agreement with EC. There are many ways to have that human discussion to help advise us on what is right, good, true and beautiful. But if it doesn’t rest on a human discussion and evidence, it’s very difficult to see why the actions of all individuals should be forced to comply with the (often conflicting) religious ideas of morality.

          Response:

          There’s that image again: the image of “pushing religious answers off the pedestal.” An awful lot of pushing and shoving going on for a supposedly content-free belief (or non-belief) system! You then said, in the same paragraph, “however, I am not so absolutist as to say Humanism should replace religious faith, as far as questions of morality are concerned.” I don’t understand. Are you, indeed, “pushing religious belief off the pedestal” or not? If so, then presumably something will replace it? And if you’re not proposing Humanism as its replacement, then what?

          If you’re not “pushing religious belief off the pedestal,” then are you allowing only those believers on the pedestal who aren’t willing to suggest that they propose moral answers because of input from God? That’s the same thing as “pushing religious belief off the pedestal.” It’s what the Soviet Union did when they allowed a compliant, pro-Soviet stump of an Orthodox religion to remain in place, as long as it acted as a lot of Christians were castigated for acting under the Nazis: compliant.

          Christianity is not “compliant.” It is an entirely revolutionary belief system. It is not, most definitely, “compliant” with human belief systems. So, yes, it’s filled with trouble makers, at least as the local government would perceive them, and it got the ultimate revolutionary, Jesus Christ, crucified. I know that is a response perfectly designed to smoke the Great Deflector, Zande, out of his hole to say, “Show me something new and original!” Asked (a few thousand times) and answered (a few dozen times) already! Jesus was new and original, therefore every last thing He said and did was new and original, by definition.

          You said also: “That is a question in which I am in deep agreement with EC. There are many ways to have that human discussion to help advise us on what is right, good, true and beautiful. But if it doesn’t rest on a human discussion and evidence, it’s very difficult to see why the actions of all individuals should be forced to comply with the (often conflicting) religious ideas of morality.”

          My reaction: That’s the point: Christianity doesn’t force anyone to comply. It offers a (what I see as plainly) superior set of moral and ethical guidelines. Christianity is revolutionary in the sense that it doesn’t force you to do anything. Yes, yes, yes, there were people who misinterpreted Christian doctrine to believe that it was okay to punish or persecute non-believers. However, they were wrong. You can say, “Who are you, xP, to tell others they’re wrong?” Easy: forced compliance with a belief system is not real compliance with a belief system. Everyone, especially totalitarians, know that. However, forced compliance with a belief system might bring about relative docility of the people, and stability in the land, one of the dearest desires of the totalitarian.

          Back to your not being “an absolutist” about kicking religious belief off that pedestal. What kind of inclusion is it if your statement is something to the effect of: “You theists, or Christians, can offer perspectives on right and wrong, and true and beautiful, but if you say they come from God, then we refuse to grant your thoughts any credibility?” Sorry: that’s absolutely kicking religious belief off the pedestal.

          You were right about “getting to the bedrock.” If God exists, then, presumably, He has something to say about morality, and just as presumably, we would be wise to listen to it and, probably, comply. If though, as you say, God doesn’t exist, then there is no possible reason that you should ever listen to a single, solitary thing that a Christian says about morality and ethics, because we believe that we should use God’s Word will in every aspect of our lives.

          You, the Humanist, are trying to have it all ways. You’re trying to be gracious and make a place for us “on the pedestal” all the while saying to us, “but, really, we’re not going actually to listen to anything you say that might be important, unless, by some odd coincidence, it agrees with what we’re already saying.”

          That, in a nutshell, is the Humanist position that I’ve encountered over and over and over and over again. And it’s dishonest. If Humanists were to be honest, they’d say: “We don’t grant any credence to anything you Christians say, so go away.” As rude as that would be, at least it would be honest. And it’s where I generally get in all my debates with them. Because they aren’t really listening to what I say on questions of morality.

          —————————————-

          You said:

          I do have a question, though, about the moral conscience. I’ve explained Natural Law a couple of times, I think, but briefly, I consider it the rules governing behaviour that individuals tend to towards preferring, given comfort or a veil of ignorance to their position in the society… more or less.

          And it’s reasonable consistency over time does point to some sort of majority human conscience. There’s a couple of ways of explaining that, but one is that it’s a God-given conscience. If I play Devil’s advocate and accept that, why do you think some big questions people’s conscience are so very different on, even from people who seem to have tightly calibrated moral compasses? (e.g. The Death penalty, what a ‘just war’ is)

          Response:

          I need to try to re-state your first paragraph a bit, because it’s kind of muddled. I think you said, “All things being equal, Natural Law is the set of rules governing behavior that people tend to prefer.” First off, a quick remark: I think you might have to strike the “all things being equal” which is my re-statement of your “given comfort or a veil of ignorance to their position in the society” phrase. People tend, it seems, naturally to set up a hierarchical arrangement in society. Hence, hierarchy itself might be part of Natural Law. I’m not a big expert on what the consensus definition is for Natural Law, though, so I should establish that right now. 🙂

          Then we get to your last sentence, which is also kind of muddled. I think you’re trying to say: “Why do people differ so much on the answers to big moral questions — like the death Penalty, and ‘a just war’ — even people who have tightly calibrated moral compasses?”

          First off, do I understand “tightly calibrated moral compasses” correctly? I take it to mean: people who exhibit great certainty about certain things. Like people who say “all war is wrong” or the Death penalty is always wrong, and the like? I’ll run with that. However, the answer to the question is fairly simple. The conundrum arises when certain situations seem to be composed of injustice wrapped inside justice that is itself wrapped inside injustice, and so on. In the case of, say, war, there are hundreds of thousands of such circumstances. For example: a charitable group like Médecins Sans Frontières goes into a battle-torn country and offers medical aid to injured people — civilian and combatant alike. People can view that as kind and humanitarian, but the opposing side might say, “Yeah, but you’re patching them up so they can just go back out there and shoot at us.” Every person, when asked, would say that he wants the sick to be healed, and the injured to be patched up — until you add in the context. Then, people begin to diverge. Quite a bit. The more complex situations have ever more layers of justice and injustice, good and evil, right and wrong. What determines a person’s willingness to label a war a “just war” or to consider the Death penalty okay, or not, is where he stops on all those continua and says, “this part here is worth it at any cost” or, “this part here is not worth it at any cost.”

          To do a segue of sorts: One: I believe that abortion is never worth it. What, in my mind, is not worth it at any cost? The simple fact that no one can prove that “it” is not a human being. In fact, science is ever more relentlessly providing evidence that “it” is a human being. Two: I believe also that the Death penalty is never worth it. What, in my mind, is not worth it at any cost? Several things: the risk that you might be killing an innocent person; my belief that life and death are not in man’s jurisdiction; the fact that you reduce the convict’s chances to reconcile himself to God. Sometimes, though, you enhance those chances… but it’s not your place to make that determination. And, three: I believe that there are just wars. Take it down to a small scale. If someone attacks your wife, with the intent to rape her, no one is suggesting that you should stand idly by and not engage in the violence necessary to restrain the would-be rapist. But, your attempt to restrain the would-be rapist is an act of war. Not on a large scale, but war nonetheless. So, even the most ardent “anti-war” pacifist is okay with a certain level of violence, a certain level of “war,” in order to maintain at least human safety from violent predators. The only way in which the most ardent anti-war pacifist and, say, Hitler disagree is in where they draw the line. Most people would draw the line somewhere in-between. Most would say that World War II was a just war, even though there was massive injustice committed by the Allied side (Dresden, Hiroshima, etc.). However, there are, indeed, some who suggest that neither Dresden nor Hiroshima was justified. I’m not sure where I come down on those two, by the way.

          So, in answer to your question: people with tightly calibrated moral compasses disagree on big questions mostly because they draw the line in different places. Needless to say, there is plenty of disagreement on fundamental principles within all that as well. Put it all together, and you frequently find two or more people looking at the same issue, each convinced that he is on the side of all that is good and right, and each convinced that the other is an evil scum. The sad part is that, frequently also, one of them is right.

          Best,

          — x

        8. Thanks for your thoughts. There’s a lot there to digest, and not the normal amount of stuff I plainly and unambiguously disagree with.

          What I will say now is RE: Humanism. Theists are not excluded from the conversation of what is right and true and etc. However, claims that relate to an asserted “reality” (for want of a better word) that cannot be demonstrated are excluded.

        9. You say “Christianity doesn’t force anyone to comply” and that is a true statement. However, “Christians” do sometimes attempt to force people to comply. This is the case whenever a law is passed to enforce “God’s Law”, not Man’s law. God says not to murder, and most men think that’s a pretty good law as well. But what about a law prohibiting sales of liqueur on Sunday? I suppose that God would prefer we did not drink booze on the Sabbath, whenever that is. But why is it Man’s responsibility to attempt to enforce that? Is not God powerful enough to enforce His own laws? What benefit to man is there from laws like this (Anyone can buy two days supply on Saturday, can’t they)? What benefit is it to God for us to attempt to enforce His laws? Remember, the desire to sin is just as sinful to God as actually doing it, and no law can control desire.

          People who don’t believe in God are quite reasonably pissed and worried when those of God’s laws which appear to not benefit Man are enforced by Man. And that is why Christians, who often attempt to force their morality on everyone and sometimes have enough power to do so, are disliked and feared more than Muslims, some of whom have even worse intentions, but do not (yet) have the power (some places) to force their morality on non-Muslims.

        10. “Science is ever more relentlessly providing evidence that a fetus is a human being”. Not really. What science is providing evidence for is the POINT IN DEVELOPMENT when it is a human being. Science does not and can not say anything about humanity prior to that point. For instance, the Bible itself says that a child is a child when it is born, because that is what the science and technology of the day could prove. Today, we can prove that a child is human when there is brain stem activity (around 6 months or so). If we have an earlier point in development where say 95% of babies which are premature or removed from the mother and can survive with “reasonable” medical intervention, that might be a point where we could “prove” humanity.

          The death penalty does have all those risks you specify. But life imprisonment or not confining someone who is a significant danger to others has risks as well. Death must be used carefully, but there are times where the risks of killing the miscreant are not as severe as the risks of not killing them.

          An attempt to restrain the would-be rapist is NOT an act of war (A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or groups). It is an act of self-defense, which I claim is about as close as we can get to an intrinsic “right”. Expanding that to wars, “starting” a war is difficult to justify, but responding to an attack would seem to be easy to justify. And in that conflict, equivalent actions would seem to be justifiable, particularly if they are effective and result in less damage overall either directly or as a result of shortening the conflict..

          Dresden bad? How about London? Hiroshima? How about Pearl Harbor?

        11. In Revelation, it is strongly stated that taking the Mark of the Beast (Rev 13:16-17 “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,
          and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”) is really bad (Rev 14:9-11 “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”). I assumed this meant it was unforgivable, but further research indicated that forgiveness for even this might be possible (I would not risk it, but that’s just me). That leaves “blaspheming the Holy Spirit”.(Mat 12:31-32 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”) So there is at least one unforgivable sin against God; there are no unforgivable sins against man.

        12. Ooh, I may be beyond saving. That’s interesting and kind of new to me.
          (I say “may” because I’m not sure what form that “sin” may take.)

        13. It is rather ambiguous. A common interpretation is that if you have experienced the Holy Spirit, and know what can be known about Him, but reject Him anyway, that’s unforgivable

        14. Oh.
          Well, I might jot the passage down and ask the next street preacher (I see 1 every other month or so) or JW (haven’t seen on in a while) for their input. If I get any, I’ll certainly write up the experience.

        15. Sounds right to me, EC!

          I stand corrected. I enjoy “standing corrected.” It means I’ve discarded one viewpoint that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, and taken on another that has a far greater chance of surviving intact as correct. A double “win!”

          Best,

          — x

        16. I apologize! I forgot to address a really important point!

          You said:

          I’m struggling with the idea that there is some sort of meaningful prohibition there. The only prohibition seems to be ‘don’t die without a sincere conversion to or acceptance of Christianity’.

          My response:

          You seem to imply that the malefactor wakes up one day, stretches his arms and says, “Okay, today I stop being a bad guy! Today I’m a Christian! Whew! I got there before I died! I made it! Whoo hoo!”

          Think about it for a moment, and you will realize that that’s rearely how it happens.

          Imagine, for example, Malenkov’s experience:
          • At some point, he does have to arrive at the conclusion, “Okay, today I stop being a bad guy!” That means that he had to have been thinking about it for a considerable time. Absent a “Road to Damascus” experience, someone has to take some time to set about to rejecting all that he’s stood for for many decades.

          • “Now,” says the dude, “I’m a Christian.” Okay — this generally doesn’t happen overnight either! Not, again, without some considerable reflection. And it’s courageous reflection too! A man is contemplating committing to a belief system and a lifestyle that completely reject all he’s publicly stood for over many decades! In Malenkov’s case, it’s a former lifestyle that aided and abetted one of history’s bloodiest, filthiest, most revolting tyrants… and he, Malenkov, had a big part in it all. Such reflection is, if Malenkov’s conversion was sincere, not for the faint of heart!

          • Malenkov might very well have said, “Whoo hoo! I made it!” once or twice. But the rest of the time, he’d spend trying to atone for his previous evil-doing. He might also say, “Whew! I got there before I died!” But the sincere convert would drop to his knees in tears of relieved gratitude, and offer relieved thanks to God that he “made it before he died.” A high official in Stalin’s Soviet Union was not, by any means, guaranteed a long life. Then, he’d pray ceaselessly for the eternal souls of all his victims. As I’ve mentioned previously in this thread, I’d really like to know how Malenkov lived his life, both before and after his conversion.

          Best,

          — x

        17. I’m going to try to reword your view to see if I properly understand it. Marks out of 10 and a brief comment would be appreciated.
          I suppose, on this point, where I say the prohibition is ‘don’t die without a sincere conversion to or acceptance of Christianity’, I’m right but vastly understating it.
          It is seldom a lucky ‘Oh, there is a God and he’s expected different things of me’ moment, but a journey, and a difficult one at that, which forces deep introspection and remorse and regret.
          And, to a greater extent, that journey is your exacted justice. (Not ‘punishment’, I don’t agree with retributive justice — not intellectually anyway, but when I’m wronged I’m all about retribution… for about 20 minutes or so.)
          I think OSC, you and I could be in agreement that such an epiphany is available to people and can be transformative. We could even be in agreement that the transformative epiphany changes your morality not by command, but an internal change to your moral intuitions.
          That does seem to map on to some people’s described experiences — including a friend who had a very immediate epiphany (it really was a moment) to Islam.
          Perhaps having found considerable overlap in agreement and amicably having found what may be bedrock disagreement, it may not be worth addressing a further disagreement, but, I’m going to gamble and here it is:
          Is Christianity better defined by the text or the nature of the epiphany/journey God give you? Because I think there is quite considerable disagreement between literal interpretations of the Bible and the pronounced consequences of the epiphanies/journeys.

        18. If varies; my girlfriend had an epiphany; with me it was a multiyear (if not lifetime) process which started with me having no belief in God (and very poor opinion of many of those who did) to one day realizing “Hey, I’m a Christian”). She can point to a day and hour; I can get it down to a year if I dig though old paperwork (happened during a semester I was taking a programming class).

        19. @EC, you said:

          You say “Christianity doesn’t force anyone to comply” and that is a true statement. However, “Christians” do sometimes attempt to force people to comply. This is the case whenever a law is passed to enforce “God’s Law”, not Man’s law. God says not to murder, and most men think that’s a pretty good law as well. But what about a law prohibiting sales of liqueur on Sunday? I suppose that God would prefer we did not drink booze on the Sabbath, whenever that is. But why is it Man’s responsibility to attempt to enforce that? Is not God powerful enough to enforce His own laws? What benefit to man is there from laws like this (Anyone can buy two days supply on Saturday, can’t they)? What benefit is it to God for us to attempt to enforce His laws? Remember, the desire to sin is just as sinful to God as actually doing it, and no law can control desire.

          My reply:

          I agree that Christians sometimes attempt force people to comply with Christianity. I suspect that it’s never worked, but I recognize the impetus. Sometimes it’s something as simple as, “Well, we may not get this generation, but we’ll get the next.” This is, indeed, how the American political left thinks.

          Also, in this rapidly secularizing (for lack of a better word) time, the laws that will survive, that agree with both human requirements and God’s laws, are those that can be justified mainly as conforming to human needs. As you point out, there seems no need to enforce a law that forbids the sale of liquor on Sunday. Furthermore, there seems no reason for laws against prosititution. Drug use? How about suicide? How about killing babies — as is all the rage in parts of Europe now — up to a couple of years old? After all, they’re not actually “viable.” If, that is, you draw the line at “able to live independently of the mother.”

          As to the question: “Is God not powerful enough to enforce His own laws?” clearly He is. However, His efforts to “enforce” those laws tend to be after life is over. 🙂

          There’s a bottom line. If a person believes in God, then it would be odd to suggest that God has no interest in human morality. I understand that one could concoct in one’s imagination a creator who simply spawns creations like humans, and forgets about them. Zande did something like that, but the resulting creature was a silly cartoon-like entity. All that also, though, conflicts with direct testimony telling of a Creator who takes a great interest in how His creations live the gift of Life He’s given them.

          If, then, a person believes in God, then it’s not remotely unreasonable for him to make the pitch that God’s wishes should be considered in the formulation of the laws that govern society. It’s, of course, just as reasonable that those who don’t believe in God, should have their ideas and thoughts heard as well. At least in the last three generations or more, that has not been a problem. The distancing of God from the thoughts and minds of America is, though, a problem in recent generations.

          I observe that the laws — like that against murder — that come down from God, tend to work on every other level as well: the practical, philosophical, intellectual, moral and ethical. The point: God’s laws tend to be “umbrella”-type laws. There are lots of activities prohibited under the law against murder. As well as those against theft and adultery and the like. There is likely a set of laws that seem to conform only to God’s law — prohibitions against prostitution for example (exploitation of others; adultery; lust) — that don’t necessrily seem to have a compelling reason for existence at a human level.

          Here is what I believe to be my bottom line — and a bigger can of worms than can be opened here: there are laws that conform only to what God wants, that seem to have no reason to exist at a human level, that ought, still, to be in effect, simply because God wants it. I think that if we were to examine these laws closely — the prohibitions against prostitution and drugs, for example — we’d find that, really, they do make sense at the human level, but it’s just not that obvious why.

          In other words, one can make the case that the prohibition against selling liquor on a Sunday at least sends the message that drinking liquor is an activity that should have some limits on it. That’s certainly a good message, and it’s purely at the human level. And it makes sense to give that message, if only to make that statement. I agree, also, that my conclusion in the last sentence is debatable. That seems to make it even more plain that one should accept Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior. After all, you can’t lose if you do, and you can lose everything if you don’t and if you’re wrong. (yes, yes, yes… you recognize therein Pascal’s thoughts. Again, God’s truths work on all levels: the practical, philosophical, intellectual, moral and ethical.)

          By the way, I know of no place where the sale of liquor on Sunday is prohibited. I’m pretty sure they’re out there, but I don’t know where.

          EC — You said:

          People who don’t believe in God are quite reasonably pissed and worried when those of God’s laws which appear to not benefit Man are enforced by Man. And that is why Christians, who often attempt to force their morality on everyone and sometimes have enough power to do so, are disliked and feared more than Muslims, some of whom have even worse intentions, but do not (yet) have the power (some places) to force their morality on non-Muslims.

          My reply:

          As I mentioned above, I think that one surely can make the case that most laws that purport to comply with God’s wishes also act in man’s best interests. Generally it’s an abstract case, and that surely will tick off atheists. However, they — athests — are plainly possessed of a pinched, crabbed, silly vision of the universe.

          Just kidding! (but it was fun to write)

          Yes, I think it’s plain that we Christians are always wrong when we attempt to enforce any kind of morality on others, and we always fail in the effort, because we practically guarantee that we haven’t won the heart or mind of the non-Christian. All totalitarians face that truth. However, not all totalitarians care, and many (most?) are willing to sacrifice the sincerity of their populace’s love for them, in favor of public compliance and stability. Again, with the idea that “we’ll get the next generation.”

          You also said: “Christians … are disliked and feared more than Muslims, some of whom have even worse intentions, but do not (yet) have the power (some places) to force their morality on non-Muslims.

          In saying that, you indicate that those who favor muslims over Christians are … idiots. I agree. If they were to take a look at the behavior of muslims when those muslims seize power in a country, then the admirers would run screaming from Islam. Ignorance — at this time in history — is truly no excuse.

          Best,

          — x

        20. Prostitution affects Man. Many prostitutes are “slaves” to their pimps, are at risk of getting and spreading disease, and lower the overall respect for all women. Drugs are a strange case. On the one hand, they can harm people directly (medically) and indirectly (addiction), and other people (causing accidents or violence), so would seem to need to have laws. On the other hand, cigarettes and alcohol have these negative aspects and are legal, and the attempt to outlaw alcohol was a dismal failure. As for suicide, I think anyone who commits suicide should be executed 🙂 Actually, I don’t know. There really is nothing society can do to a suicide, so having laws against it are kind of silly. Now ATTEMPTED or ASSISTED suicides, that is another story. Suicide is an act of emotional violence against everyone who knows the suicide person, so needs to be made as unattractive as possible.

          Post birth abortion? Anybody who supports that concept should be subject to abortion themselves. After all, if birth is not an incontrovertible limit to abortion, then killing anyone at any time would seem to be allowable.

          Laws are not a good way to change peoples mind about things. If you want the success of the Left in changing children’s minds, go where the children are – schools. Oh wait, Christianity is not allowed there (although in at least one school, a kid had to profess to Islam to pass a course).

          Yes, the ultimate enforcement of God’s law occurs after physical death. But I contend that there IS enforcement prior. Take adultery. That has severe emotional and financial and sometimes physical consequences. Is not the hand of God involved? Take abortion. Have there not been proven to be physical and emotional consequences? Just coincidental? God’s enforcement in this life is inconsistent, because God, for whatever reason, is determined that we not be able to PROVE Him. If there was ALWAYS punishment for sin, that might provide enough evidence to mess with God’s system.

          So, no, a law which is proven to only benefit God must NOT be implemented. God may want us to do some things and not do some other things, but He set it up so we could do/not do them as we decided. There is no way that it is right to apply any such law to a person who does not believe that God does not exist. Just as we abhor laws which say that we must bake a cake for, or photograph, a gay wedding. If God wants such laws, then He must prove His existence enough that no sane person could doubt Him. Also, drop that claim that He allows free will.

          I don’t know anyplace today where Sunday alcohol sales are banned. Today. It was rather more common when I was a kid. Was it known as a “blue law” or was that something else? And no, it does not send any message about alcohol “being bad”. Prohibition about any sales of alcohol does send such a message, but on only one day out of seven? A day special “only” to Christians? Nope.

          Ah, you caught that. Yes, those who attempt to appease Muslims are not only idiots, but insane, even suicidal, idiots. Some Muslims are perfectly fine people, and many Muslims are not violent people. But any Muslim who thinks that “Sharia Law” should be implemented (or continued) is supporting death to non-Muslims. And slavery for Muslim women.

        21. Huge apologies! I thought I had posted this already!!! Obviously, I had not. Again, my apologies!
          ———————————-

          Allallt: You said:

          I’m going to try to reword your view to see if I properly understand it. Marks out of 10 and a brief comment would be appreciated.

          My two cents:

          Okay a quick hack at it.

          ———————————–
          Allallt: You said:

          I suppose, on this point, where I say the prohibition is ‘˜don’t die without a sincere conversion to or acceptance of Christianity’, I’m right but vastly understating it.

          My two cents:

          10 out of 10. Again, ask a parent: Question: do you prohibit your child from doing wrong? Answer, almost every time: Yes, of course! Question: But do you then forgive your child if he does wrong? Answer: Yes, of course! Then, all the rest of the conversation. Again, there is no forgiveness necessary if all is permitted.

          ———————————–
          Allallt: You said:

          It is seldom a lucky ‘˜Oh, there is a God and he’s expected different things of me’ moment, but a journey, and a difficult one at that, which forces deep introspection and remorse and regret.

          My two cents:

          In my humble opinion: 10 out of 10 for re-statement. For a better statement of it, though, I’d refer you to Cat’s response. He brought up the very good point that echoes mine of several posts back: God works differently for everyone. Cat observed that he experienced a process, while his girlfriend reports an “Ah hah!” moment.

          My example of Malenkov would seem to suggest more of a process. After all, there was quite a bit of baggage to wade through there before getting to a Christian conversion. But, I could be wrong. That’s why I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for his conversion experience.

          No matter which — or something else — someone experiences, that is always followed by a journey. Everyone speaks of a “Road to Damascus” experience, but many forget that the newly-minted Paul, after the blinding light on the road to Damascus, wandered around blind for a considerable time as he considered all that he had done and been before, realizing that he could never leave it completely behind, and needed to re-make himself entirely. Hence the new name. Paul then embarked on quite a journey, producing some of the most breath-takingly illuminating, inspiring, writings ever.

          ———————————–
          Allallt: You said:

          And, to a greater extent, that journey is your exacted justice. (Not ‘˜punishment’, I don’t agree with retributive justice ‘” not intellectually anyway, but when I’m wronged I’m all about retribution’– for about 20 minutes or so.)

          My two cents:

          10 out of 10. You’re letting me believe that I might have expressed myself somewhat clearly here, Allallt… despite the deluge of words!

          Justice lives at many levels. A Christian who is all about being a good Christian never requires retribution, because his impulse is to forgive the wrong-doer. For example: the heart-broken survivors of the June 17, 2015 Charleston church shooting, who all came forward, and with tear-stained faces forgave Dylann Roof. They did that on a personal level, and in doing so, they utterly defeated the evil he perpetrated.

          What is properly prescribed at the public policy level, though, is an entirely different thing. Plainly, we couldn’t allow Dylann Roof to wander about freely after having murdered nine people. Forgiveness or not! I don’t think that society should kill Roof, but certainly lock him up for life.

          So, assuming that society agrees with me, and allows Roof to live (which they won’t — he’ll receive the Death penalty), then he’d have the chance to contemplate what he did. When he realizes the enormity of his act, there’s not a force on earth that could punish him more fiercely than he’ll punish himself. But there is God in Heaven who can, by allowing him to re-awaken his conscience.

          ———————————–
          Allallt: You said:

          I think OSC, you and I could be in agreement that such an epiphany is available to people and can be transformative. We could even be in agreement that the transformative epiphany changes your morality not by command, but an internal change to your moral intuitions.

          My two cents:

          5 out of 10. A Christian epiphany does imply a command being added to your life: the command to do good things, in accordance with the will and the word of Christ. A plain ol’ moral epiphany, one where one simply decides one day to stop being a bad guy, is just as easily reversed the next by, for example, someone saying, “So what?” Not possible with a Christian epiphany, in which the new believer understands that he’s now subject to rules, laws and guidelines coming from (1) outside himself, and (2) a higher authority. The mere moral epiphany doesn’t dethrone the human highest authority, the self, who can be as changeable as he wishes. The Christian epiphany dethrones and replaces the previous highest authority.

          ———————————–
          Allallt: You said:

          That does seem to map on to some people’s described experiences ‘” including a friend who had a very immediate epiphany (it really was a moment) to Islam.

          My two cents:

          No points out of 10 here, as I believe you’re not trying to restate anything. As you know, I hold a dim view of Islam. There is, undeniably, something in the belief system that encourages hundreds of thousands of believers to engage in the most unspeakable atrocities, while tens of millions of others sympathize with the these mindless baboons. I’ve said before also that I suspect that there’s more of the geopolitical than the theological to Islam’s founding than muslims would care to admit. However, it’s also undeniable that many of the gibbering baboons who make up Islam do, indeed, believe that they’re drawing their inspiration from God. Therefore, undeniably, there can be people who have “epiphanies” and come to Islam. Just as there can be people who have “epiphanies” and come to Christ… but, as in all faiths, some of those epiphanies were faked, for whatever reason the person chooses. The real test is simple: God knows. People can only guess, and sure enough, we will, and do. Guess, that is.

          ———————————–
          Allallt: You said:

          Perhaps having found considerable overlap in agreement and amicably having found what may be bedrock disagreement, it may not be worth addressing a further disagreement, but, I’m going to gamble and here it is:

          My two cents:

          Again, no points out of ten. You’re not trying to re-state anything here. Nothing wrong with addressing other disagreements.

          ———————————–
          Allallt: You said:

          Is Christianity better defined by the text or the nature of the epiphany/journey God give you? Because I think there is quite considerable disagreement between literal interpretations of the Bible and the pronounced consequences of the epiphanies/journeys.

          My two cents:

          I’m not sure what you mean in the question, so I’ll have to guess. And if I understand your question correctly, my answer is: it depends on the person. I would point to Saint Paul and say that was a forehead-slapping, knock-you-on-your-backside, “I coulda had a V8” moment, followed by an indescribably impressive journey. From the “I-coulda-had-a-V8” moment, Saul/Paul immersed himself in the effort to understand Jesus Christ’s teaching. So, in light of that, how would you answer your question? By the way, I strongly recommend “The Apostle” by Sholem Asch!

          Now, my relationship with God could probably ( <– key word, indicating that you're forced to depend on my understanding of it) be better described as a long series of taps on the shoulder, accompanied by some whack-me-upside-the-head, “Hello!!!” moments. I’ve long understood that if I acknowledged that I believe in God, then that means there are, without a doubt, certain implications for my life and my actions. In my case, I’d say that Christianity has been better “defined” as a journey, wiht some moments of epiphany. Saul/Paul might call his an epiphany and a journey. Others might say that their experience of c oing to Christ has been one or the other (equippedcat, for example 🙂 )

          ———————————–

          Best,

          — x

  15. Great piece! I wouldn’t argue that atheism is a necessary precondition for genocide. Most notably, the Native Americans suffered genocide by Europeans – who were devout Christians.

    A lot of this depends upon one’s definition of “genocide” and what “counts” as genocide. I posted a recent piece on my blog about anti-black genocide in present day America. Would love to have your feedback:
    https://zoneofnonbeing.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/anti-black-genocide-in-the-afterlife-of-slavery/

  16. Some people, thinking of the atrocities committed by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, try to make this a more balanced rhetorical statement by adding a question: Can anyone think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of atheism?

    The new atheists already have their response to those who think that the crimes of Stalin et al. had anything to do with atheism. Richard Dawkins:

    “What I do think is that there is some logical connection between believing in God and doing some, sometimes, evil things, but there’s no logical connection between them [Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot] being atheists and doing evil things. It’s just incidentally true that, say, Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin happened to be atheists, but that wasn’t what drove them. What drove them was a political ideology. It had nothing to do with atheism.”

    Another atheist puts it this way:

    “While Stalin and Mao were atheists, they did not perpetrate their atrocities because of their atheism. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in god. One cannot commit a crime in the name of ‘there is no god’. On the other hand, one can commit a crime in the name of ‘god’.”

    This statement also implies that nothing good can be done in the name of atheism. Atheists can do good things like believers can do good things. The difference is that believers can do good things “in the name of god”. Atheists can do bad things like believers can do bad things. The difference is that believers can do bad things “in the name of god”. But, just like crimes cannot be done in the name of “there is no god”, good deeds cannot be done in the name of “there is no god”. Atheism is not immoral, neither is it moral. Atheism is amoral – it literally has no moral implications.

    Therefore, it is not guaranteed that an atheist world would be a better world. It all depends on the ethics that will be developed in such a world. Moreover, theists and atheists alike can only believe that one ethical decision or even system is better than another. They can never prove this. Science observes and describes facts, it doesn’t morally judge them – we cannot move from what is to what ought.

    https://erikbuys.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/atheism-and-ethics/

    1. That argument by Dawkins is pretty weak. It is sort of like saying removing the buttress did not cause the wall to collapse. The wall collapsed because it was not strong enough. Removing the buttress had nothing to do with the collapse.

  17. The relation between a strong rejection of Christianity and genocide does seem to be a positive one. Mao and Stalin demonstrate that.

    As to Hitler, I do not think he was Christian but I also am not sure he was an atheist.

    I don’t give these wikipedia links as a source of authority but rather as a start so you can begin understanding the issue.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_persecution_of_the_Catholic_Church_in_Germany

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_Nazi_Germany_during_World_War_II

    The Church did condemn the racism of the Nazis long before many political leaders did.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mit_brennender_Sorge

    Consider that almost all the sources say Germany was over 90% Christian. Yet Hitler surrounded himself with so many non-christians. Was that just a coincidence? It is hard for any student of history to accept that.

    That said it did seem that Hitler believed in some sort of God or at least providence. But belief in a God is not really the issue. Some Gods really don’t play a role in morality.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s