CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Just last month I wrote about an atheist gunman who shot and wounded four students and teachers before killing himself. The atheist was apparently upset after getting suspended following an argument over God's existence that devolved into a physical confrontation.

More tragic news came from Finland today, where another apparent atheist gunman went on a shooting rampage at his high school, murdering eight people and wounding more than a dozen others. The bodies of five boys, two girls, and the headmistress of the school were found on the scene. The gunman was also found on the scene, mortally wounded by a self-inflicted gunshot.

Atheism apparently was part of his core philosophy and perhaps his motivation. He reportedly described himself as an "anti-social social-darwinist" and a "godlike atheist." Two of his heroes and, apparently, inspirations were atheist serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Kozinski (the unabomber). As for his explicit motivation, he had posted text on the internet describing himself as "a natural selector" who would "eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection."

I here run the usual disclaimers about how most atheists are fine people and good citizens. However, I do wonder--and sometimes worry--whether these are inklings that their bank of moral capital may run dry sooner rather than later.

39 comments:

It is sad to see that the Christians try to get a mileage out of horrendous act of a mentally disturbed non-Christian. When crazy Christians kill, I don't see any articles or moral contemplative on this site.

We all know WWJD, I propose a new acronym for cases like this.

WWJT (=Where Was Jesus Then)

Besides, this was all a part of The Big Plan. God works in mysterious ways.

He was not atheist, he believed he was God therefore he cannot be atheist.

GOD DID IT!

Well, consider it an opportunity to explain how we can condemn what he did as wrong, using atheistic principles. {s} So, he wasn't being non-rational and/or non-moral enough? Not survival of the fittest enough?

When Christians do things we think are wrong, we can say they weren't being rational or moral enough, and still (in theory) be synching up with various kinds of theism per se, at bottom (even Christian theism). Even sceptics can launch criticisms on that ground, with reasonably good plausibility, and on a wide spectrum. (I'm often accused by sceptics, tacitly or explicitly, of not being Christian enough, myself. I accuse myself of that on a pretty regular basis, too. {s!})

So, how was this fellow not being atheistic enough? (Considering himself to be a "godlike atheist" doesn't count as 'believing he was God therefore he must have been a theist', btw. Which I shouldn't have to point out. But it's beside the point either way.)

JRP

Lots of anonymous comments today.

Anon1,

It makes sense to ask whether a Christian who would engage in these kinds of acts was mentally disturbed because his actions would be completely contrary to his belief system. As Jason asks, if you replace a Christian belief system with an atheist one, can you say that his actions were completely contrary to his belief system? I don't think you can.

I also suspect that if we had two school gunman in two months whose actions were directly linked to their sincere Christianity that we would be hearing about it a lot on atheist sites and it would probably be addressed by one of our posters.

Also, since Christians are over one third of the earth's population and atheists a tiny part of the earth's population, the odds are that you actually will get some mentally disturbed Christians doing bad things. Are atheists overrepresented in school shootings in 2007?

Anon2,

Well, if Jesus had been in the troubled boy's heart, this shooting likely would not have happened.

You seem to be attacking some form of Calvinist theology there. I am not a Calvinist. I believe God gives us free will and that includes the ability to cause harm to others. But whether a Calvinist or Arminian, Christian theology holds that we live in a fallen world and so the existence of such evil is entirely consistent with Christian belief.

Anon3,

He did not believe he was God. He said he was "godlike," perhaps like those supermen that the atheist Nietzsche wrote about though not with the results imagined by Nietzsche. A superior man transcending the old morality of Christianity and replacing God. He is beholding to nothing but his new morality premised on power and strength. Darwnism? Natural selection? The strong picking who lives and dies?

Anon4,

Not sure where you are coming from.

JRP,
Would you please define what you define as "atheistic principles"?


bk,
Would you please define what you define as "atheist belief system"?


I also suspect that if we had two school gunman in two months whose actions were directly linked to their sincere Christianity that we would be hearing about it a lot on atheist sites and it would probably be addressed by one of our posters
Every day Christians murder, rape, divorce, molest children... I have not seen this site addressing this issue. Maybe you could address the Christian morality on one of your posts.

atheists [are] a tiny part of the earth's population
Buddhists, non-religious and atheists make up about 20% of the world population.

if Jesus had been in the troubled boy's heart, this shooting likely would not have happened
Would you also speculate that if child molestisting priests would be atheists, they would not not commit those crimes?

Anonymous,

BK has not commented in this thread.

Would you please define what you define as "atheist belief system"?

The belief that there is no God, gods, or supernatural beings.

Every day Christians murder, rape, divorce, molest children... I have not seen this site addressing this issue. Maybe you could address the Christian morality on one of your posts.

Maybe you should read the blog before claiming to know about which subjects it does or does not post. For example, BK's A Call Out to Christian Bloggers: Child Sexual Abuse.

In any event, I think you are missing the point about the post. Christians have a basis upon which to condemn those within its ranks who commit crimes and hurt others. These actions are clearly contrary to Christian morality. What the atheist gunman did was not contrary to atheist morality. Indeed, I question whether there can be any such thing in a philosophical sense.

Buddhists, non-religious and atheists make up about 20% of the world population.

I did not say Buddhists. I did not say non-religious. I said atheist.

Would you also speculate that if child molestisting priests would be atheists, they would not not commit those crimes?

An atheist would not likely be a priest. If a priest who was a child molester was a closet atheist, I see no reason to believe why his atheism would cause him not to commit these crimes. Indeed, it might provide him with some guilt relief.

Anon,

Every day Christians murder, rape, divorce, molest children... I have not seen this site addressing this issue. Maybe you could address the Christian morality on one of your posts.

Christian morality is simple - Gal. 5:19-26. The problem here though is not that someone is doing something wrong per se. What you are ignoring is that, whenever a Christian does these things, they are going completely contrary to the system which they claim to follow. When an atheist does this however, they are not going against anything. The Christian belief system, if truly followed, would prevent this kind of activity. The atheist belief system, while certainly not leading to this necessarily, offers no prevention either. This whole issue was already pointed out.

Buddhists, non-religious and atheists make up about 20% of the world population.

I'm not sure I get your point. He said atheists are a tiny part of the world population, and this is true (they make up less than 8% of the world). Tossing in Buddhists and the non-religious is not a counter argument, or an argument at all. It's a different statement altogether.

Would you also speculate that if child molestisting priests would be atheists, they would not not commit those crimes?

See my last comments - if a priest is a child molester, I don't see how being an atheist would stop him. You seem to imply that a child molesting priest is acting like a Christian just as much as the priest who serves others all the time and does good deeds for people. This simply is not the case. Christianity is completely contrary to these types of evil acts, and what clearly pulled this child into doing this was that he was convinced human life was without inherent value. The criminal priest is pulled into it not because of Christianity, but in fact in committing such acts he is denying his faith. This child, on the other hand, was pulled into this because of the type of things that atheists such as Dawkins teach - life is without meaning.

id...

It is sad to see that the Christians try to get a mileage out of horrendous act of a mentally disturbed non-Christian. When crazy Christians kill, I don't see any articles or moral contemplative on this site.

Yes, it's so inspiring that atheists took the high road and never did that with 9/11!

Maybe you should read the blog before claiming to know about which subjects it does or does not post. For example, BK's A Call Out to Christian Bloggers: Child Sexual Abuse.
I stand corrected. I retract my comment about you not addressing the Christian morality. The linked article was good.

I think we all agree that atheism only addresses the issue of belief in god. It does not tell you what kind of moral system a person follows; it could be Buddhist, humanist etc. At least I don't understand what is atheist principles or belief system. leslie also seem to think there is a atheist moral system or belief system...

leslie, most Buddhists and non-religious people don’t believe there is a god (are ~atheist).

J.L. Hinman, you got a point. Note that 9/11 was done to do the will of god and those people believed they get rewarded for their actions. Like people doing witch burnings, gay killings and starting religious wars believe they are following god's will and they will get their reward for doing it. Believing that you get a reward for killing or hurting others is usually highlighted by atheist. If crazy atheists kill, they do not believe they get rewarded, proving their actions crazy.

{{Would you please define what you define as "atheistic principles"?}}

Wouldn’t that be better done by the atheist at this point? I already gave two possible examples of criticising the boy in comparison to fundamental properties and behaviors of basic reality if atheism is true. If I invite atheists to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate how to properly criticise the boy in light of the proposed reality of atheism, it seems odd for an atheist to defer the question and ask me to expound on the topic moreso than I had already done as initial possible examples! I’ve had my turn already. It’s your turn now: “how was this fellow not being atheistic enough?” I think the question is fairly straightforward.

{{Buddhists, non-religious and atheists make up about 20% of the world population.}}

Not entirely sure why you’re bringing in Buddhists (unless you mean non-religious atheistic Buddhists), but it does seem possible that atheists (in some fashion) currently make up at least 1/6 of the Earth’s population: China and other much smaller communist nations do strenuously encourage that belief, to say the least. {s}

{{Would you also speculate that if child molestisting priests would be atheists, they would not not commit those crimes?}}

As noted previously, it’s entirely possible to criticise those priests on not being theistic enough. If an atheist is going to criticise them on something other than borrowing theistic moral capital, though, then by tautology it’ll have to be on specifically atheistic moral ground (even if the end-result overlaps). That proposed specifically atheistic moral ground (synching with the belief that fundamental reality, on which all our own behaviors depend, is non-rational and non-moral) is...?

JRP

I think we all agree that atheism only addresses the issue of belief in god. It does not tell you what kind of moral system a person follows; it could be Buddhist, humanist etc. At least I don't understand what is atheist principles or belief system. leslie also seem to think there is a atheist moral system or belief system...

That's interesting. If you actually mean what you have said (and I always acknowledge that people can mis-speak even when typing) then you are saying that there each atheist is free to form their own morality. But that's the very thing that I believe that the blog is pointing out as a short-coming of atheism.

leslie, most Buddhists and non-religious people don’t believe there is a god (are ~atheist).

I'm not entirely sure where you get that idea. I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong, but I've lived in Asia (Japan specifically) where at least a form of Buddhism is the major religion, and those people are not atheists. Now, Japan does have a lot of secularism, but for the ones who follow Buddhism, there is, in some form, such a thing as god. As for Jason's comment about China, I have a problem tossing them into the equation. Christianity is growing quite well in China right now (I have several friends doing mission work there) which suggests to me that a China is opening up to religion, seeing its benefits and b a large portion of those who might claim atheism there due to gov't restrictions are not truly atheists.

I think we all agree that atheism only addresses the issue of belief in god. It does not tell you what kind of moral system a person follows; it could be Buddhist, humanist etc. At least I don't understand what is atheist principles or belief system. leslie also seem to think there is a atheist moral system or belief system...

I think BK answered this well. I'm not saying atheism is a moral system per se, but it certainly has its effects on the person's morals, especially when it continually drives home the point that life is without meaning, and if you follow Darwinistic evolutionary thought, the gunner would actually be correct in stating that all life is not worth protecting (since it is, after all, survival of the fittest).

J.L. Hinman, you got a point. Note that 9/11 was done to do the will of god and those people believed they get rewarded for their actions. Like people doing witch burnings, gay killings and starting religious wars believe they are following god's will and they will get their reward for doing it. Believing that you get a reward for killing or hurting others is usually highlighted by atheist. If crazy atheists kill, they do not believe they get rewarded, proving their actions crazy.

Okay, here's the thing - if an a Christian believes he will get rewarded for killing someone, you can easily look to the basis for his Christianity (Christ, the Bible, etc.) and tell that he is wrong/nuts. In other words, he is not following Christianity - he's following his own made up version of it. When an atheist, on the other hand, goes and does something like this, he is also following his own made up version - but since atheism is not a moral system, that's perfectly okay. Not only that, but in the case of this child, he was actually going along with Darwinistic evolution and other things that are usually deeply rooted in atheism - things that inherently lead to despair if you actually take the time to think about them. This kid was simply acting upon the despair such ideology causes. Perhaps this has not explained well, so I'll try it again: if a Christian kills, he's not acting like a Christian. If an atheist kills, he's not doing anything contrary to atheism, and thus this is part of the problem with it.

Actually, historically speaking, it has only been a very narrow and very limited body of believers in Yeshua who stood against killing per se--and those Christians who did, again historically speaking, were violently killed, violently maltreated, or considered non-Christian/anathema by the vast majority of Christians. I am Mennonite. I come from the Anabaptist tradition. I know a little bit about this kind of thing... The fore bearers of my tradition were hunted down and assassinated by the church almost to extinction. If it hadn't been for the kindness of some Pagan kings and countries who sheltered us (or our ability to hide from the church at large, both Catholic and Protestant), we would have fallen to the Christian sword just like everyone else did. Even the faith of so-called Christian humanists of the past (like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who supported the assassination of Hitler) were not against violent slaughter of others. Historically speaking: to kill is very Christian indeed. I am thankful that in the 1600s, Michael Sattler drew up what would be called the Schleitheim Confession, which was one of the first declarations by a so-called Christian to make the doctrinal statement that use of the sword was against Christian faith--even though he and his followers were put to death by other Christians for doing so.

So to sum up...unless someone is part of the small minority groups that were considered heretical or anti-Christian by all the major theologians, leaders, and movements of Reformation Christianity as well as Catholicism, then it is inherently wrong to state that a Christian who goes out and kills others is acting against his own moral system and faith. The opposite is the case. It is, by definition, part of Christian faith to support and take part in the violent slaughter of others. The thousands of trials and executions of those who disagreed throughout time is evidence enough that this is so.

Leslie says a Christian who thinks he is going to be rewarded for killing is nuts. And yes, I do believe Luther, Calvin, and all the rest were nuts--because I actually do believe that killing is against Christian faith and I proudly stand against historic Christianity in its support of the sword against infidels, pagans, and those within its own fold--even if it means I stand against normative, orthodox, traditional Christian faith.

Most Buddhists believe in supernatural entities, or at least supernatural forces (i.e., reincarnation):

The Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering.

On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods, and very shortly after his death a devotional element formed within Buddhism. Stupas were built to contain relics of the Buddha and pilgrimmages were made to places where he had walked.

Soon the idea of past and future Buddhas developed, with Maitreya, the Buddha yet to come, being especially important. In the Mahayana system, a variety of celestial Buddhas and bodhisatvas came to be revered and looked to for assistance on the path to enlightenment. Especially devotional is Pure Land Buddhism, a subdivision of Mahayana that began in China. Pure Land Buddhists revere and call on the name of the Amitabha Buddha, who will grant them entrance to the paradisical "Pure Land" after death. {3}

As Buddhism spread into cultures with existing religious beliefs, it incorporated local deities and religious practices into the Buddhist system. For instance, in China, a popular boddhisatva became the female deity Kuan-yin, the giver of children. {4}

Finally, Tibetan Buddhist cosmology features a "vast number of divine beings (each with its own family, consort, and pacific and terrifying aspects), which are considered symbolic representations of the psychic life by the religiously sophisticated and accepted as realities by the common people." {5} There are six realms of existence in the Tibetan cosmology, one of which is the realm of the gods. The gods enjoy the fruits of good karma in a paradise until their karma runs out and they are reborn in a lower realm. In fact, gods must be reborn as humans to attain enlightenment.


http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/beliefs/atheism.htm

bk,
f you actually mean what you have said then you are saying that there each atheist is free to form their own morality.
No, that is not what I'm saying. Atheist do not have a single moral system. I think our moral system comes from nature/nurture. If moral is defined as right code of conduct, then there seems not to be a clear common christian one either. Christians do not agree on abortion, euthanasia, divorce, use of violence, turning another cheek, requirements to get to heaven and many other things. The bible does not address many moral issues and christians follow slightly different laws and customs in different countries.

jason pratt,
how was this fellow not being atheistic enough?
I don't know, he might have been a theist. I don't know how one can not believe in god "enough" It is easy to criticize that boy from different moral angles. He broke the law (code of conduct) for example. Just following the local laws and customs keeps you out of trouble. You also seem to propagate the myth of "borrowing theistic moral capital"...


leslie,

Nice to hear that you have lived abroad. I have lived in Thailand and Hong Kong and at least there Buddhist don't seem to worship a god.

atheism .. continually drives home the point that life is without meaning
Some atheist have written about this issue, but where do you get your ideas about continually driving this point. I don't think you have been in the atheist meetings.

if an a Christian believes he will get rewarded for killing someone, you can easily look to the basis for his Christianity and tell that he is wrong/nuts
like slaveofone pointed out, you seem to have ignore the Christian history. You should read what true Christians started to do late 4th century and continue reading about heretic killings, crusades, witch burnings, force conversions etc. Even in 20th century Catholic Church kidnapped Jew children who were babtised for some reason. Note that the Catholic and Anglican Church still protect pedophiles from prosecution in the 21th century while all Christians claim moral superiority.

When an atheist ...goes and does something like this, he is also following his own made up version - but since atheism is not a moral system, that's perfectly okay
You should attack his moral system. Like I pointed out Christians have many views on morality, so also most Christian moral views must be "made up". Christians don't even follow the 10 commandments...

Darwinistic evolution ... inherently lead to despair
Huh, where did you learn this?
Does cDesign inherently lead to the happiness?

if a Christian kills, he's not acting like a Christian
Bible tells many stories where god orders his followers to kill other people. If god would appear to you one day and would order you to kill someone, would you do it?

...at least there Buddhist don't seem to worship a god.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by god. I know that at least some of them essentially worship dead ancestors, and they definitely will pray to them. Either way, I would not really classify them as atheists, or at least not all of them, and probably not the majority of them. As was pointed out, they usually believe in the supernatural in some form or another, if nothing else.

Some atheist have written about this issue, but where do you get your ideas about continually driving this point. I don't think you have been in the atheist meetings.

There are two options, God or no God. If there is a God, then we have purpose. Even if we could not know what that purpose was, we would still have a purpose at least. Without a God however, we are a cosmic accident. Life is inherently non-telic (this is the type of thing I was talking about in saying "Darwinistic evolution"). I don't mean this rudely, but I couldn't care less what the atheist writes or talks about on this issue. It is a logical necessity that, if we are truly an accidental byproduct of an accidental universe, then we have no true purpose. Our lives would be like the following formula: (x+y)*0 = 0 . No matter how great a thing we did in our lives (x+y), it would all be ended by death eventually (multiply by 0), thus making it all meaningless (= 0). That is the simple and objective fact of the matter. Incidentally, I'm not sure you could even assign anything to x or y, since you have nothing objective to determine good or bad. But regardless of my thoughts, Dawkins already said it for me in his oft-quoted words - "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference." That's what you are left with, in a world without God. So is it really that big of a surprise that a kid, realizing this and being convicted of its supposed truth, would do what this one did? I don't think so. And more potently, the foundational worldview of atheism can neither condone nor condemn it. It can only look at it and shrug.

Concerning your comments on Christian morality ...

My issue here is neither about what Christians nor what atheists do. I'm not saying "atheism made this kid do this." That would be silly. I'm pointing out that atheism really has nothing to say about the matter at all. Christianity, on the other hand, does have something to say about it. If people throughout the centuries went on these so-called "holy wars" then that is their problem, and they will have to answer for that. The fact is, objectively, neither Christ nor the Bible is behind them in this. I think that was slave's point. On the other hand, as I already pointed out, atheism can say nothing of value about things of this nature, without borrowing from a theistic worldview, or else just being inconsistent.

You list examples of the OT and reference Christians not following the 10 commandments. Consider this: If I made an agreement with my brother about something, and in a few months the agreement is changed, should I then do things as if the old agreement was still in place? Of course not, and it's the same with Christianity. Under the old covenant with God, things were much different. We are now under a new covenant, paid for by the blood of Christ, and that is what true Christians will follow. If someone uses the OT to justify some killing, they have missed one of the most important points about Christ's sacrifice.

If god would appear to you one day and would order you to kill someone, would you do it?

This would not happen, so the question is irrelevant.

leslie,

you have nothing objective to determine good or bad
Christians claim that the Bible is the source of objective moral. I see Christians not following Jesus' teaching, but putting their own morals above Jesus' morals. I hope you are not hypocritical and have sold all your belongings and given the proceedings to the poor. I hope you have followed Luke 14:26 and have no problem with slavery to show that you practice what you preach.

I'm pointing out that atheism really has nothing to say about the matter [kid's action] at all
My humanist (~atheist) friends have highly developed morality and would claim your have not researched the issue. For example Peter Singer is worth reading.

It is unusual and refreshing to see that you as a Christians reject all OT and 10 commandments. Well done!

If god would appear to you one day and would order you to kill someone, would you do it?
-- This would not happen, so the question is irrelevant. --

I see Christians always dodging this question. If you have an objective moral system this question would be easy to answer.

I couldn't care less what the atheist writes or talks about on this issue
That is kind of a conversation stopper. Then you should talk to people from other faith systems. It is always good to talk to people with different views.

Anonymous,

Christians claim that the Bible is the source of objective moral. I see Christians not following Jesus' teaching, but putting their own morals above Jesus' morals. I hope you are not hypocritical and have sold all your belongings and given the proceedings to the poor. I hope you have followed Luke 14:26 and have no problem with slavery to show that you practice what you preach.

This is a very simple way of looking at it. Theists may in fact find their morals within certain Holy Texts and teachings, but the moral argument is a philosophical one, not a reading list.

Atheist have no objective standard of morality from which to derrive their moral values. Objective meaning: Something other than by mere whims or wishes and that transcends humanity. In fact, it seems a necessity for Atheists to claim subjective morality, though this ultimately makes morality meaningless.

While you may be able to counter by stating that the Theists morality is equally subjective, you can only go about doing that by eliminating that which the Theists places their moral values in (i.e. God).

Also, simply because people are hypocrites or disagree with particular moral codes does not mean that these moral codes are nullified.

My humanist (~atheist) friends have highly developed morality and would claim your have not researched the issue. For example Peter Singer is worth reading.

Your Atheist Humanist friends may be very moral, but if they cannot provide an objective standard for that morality then their morality is ultimately meaningless.

It is unusual and refreshing to see that you as a Christians reject all OT and 10 commandments. Well done!


The "rejection" of particular ethical codes within the Old Testament first should be viewed in light of what "Old Testament" means. The Testament is translated into "Covenant". A Covenant is a contract between God and certain (or all) human beings. Contracts can change over time or become voided depending on the plans of God.

The Old Covenant Laws were not all meant to be followed till the end of time (though I'm sure you can find a passage that says otherwise, but then we will discuss that). When the New Covenant was established, certain regulations were no longer needed to be followed because those particular regulations were simply there as symbols of the reality that was the New Covenant (which is why the Old Covenant is obsolete). This does not mean that we just "throw out" all of the Old Testament, however, because there are still rules and regulations that have not been changed and that still do apply. Many Theologians tend to view the Old Testament Laws in three sections: Judicial Laws, Ceremonial Laws, and Moral Laws, of which the third of these are still kept to this day.

So while your tone may suggests that we simply just go through the OT, cherry picking things we don't like, this is not the case at all. The OT regulations we no longer follow are based on a 2000 year Theological tradition that began with the Church Fathers.

I see Christians always dodging this question. If you have an objective moral system this question would be easy to answer.

The answer to the question is YES, but the question itself is a Red Herring. From your tone it is obvious you are going to imply some sort of immoral judgement on Theists now because we would follow the orders of our God if He told us to do something; as though all of us now are going to strap bombs to ourselves and blow up nursery homes.

Except the question itself is a simplified view of the reality of many Theists beliefs.

There are also strong Theological views that come into play that guide many Theistic moral values that have been thought to be sanctioned by God. So if some being came along and told me to muder someone, while the Theological tradition of God's commands ever since the religion was etablished say that "murder is wrong", then I would need some sufficient evidence to know if this being that is talking to me is God or not.

So it would only be something horrific if Theists just assumed little voices talking to them were God and went out and starting killing people, but this is not the case. Many Early Church fathers saw visions of angels and things that looked Holy, telling them to do things that seemed contradictory to the teachings of their Faith. The Church fathers would question these visions and these appearances until they realized that the messangers were not of God at all, but of Satan.

So please try to think beyond your simplistic view of how people believe in God.

Sorry for any typos or grammatical errors. I just woke up :P

Anon,

...I hope you are not hypocritical and have sold all your belongings...

You seem to be smarter than this, so I have to wonder why you would pull all this stuff up as if it was contextually or exegetically sound. I feel confident that you know better than that. It's like I'm conversing with the skeptics annotated Bible. Suffice to say, there is more in all of this that you have failed mentioned, and it would simply take too long to explain all of it.

My humanist (~atheist) friends have highly developed morality and would claim your have not researched the issue. For example Peter Singer is worth reading.

Yes, humanists do have morals. The problem is, the foundational belief (i.e. atheism) does not provide for those morals and so everything after it is simply subjective. If there is a creator God, then all creation automatically has worth. If everything is not created but simply an accident, it has no inherent worth and all worth thereafter assigned is only opinion, not fact. Therefore, the humanist can condemn this kid, but not objectively. The humanist could just as well decide that the boy was right, and the foundational belief would have nothing to say about it.

It is unusual and refreshing to see that you as a Christians reject all OT and 10 commandments. Well done!

I didn't say I rejected all OT or the 10 commandments. I believe both still have value for Christians today, so long as they are in accord with the new covenant delivered. Chrysostom pointed out that the OT is like an outline of a drawing, while the NT is the coloring which fills in our understanding. That's more of how I see it. The old covenant makes sense in light of the new covenant. As the Hebrew writer states, it was a "shadow of things to come."

I see Christians always dodging this question. If you have an objective moral system this question would be easy to answer.

Yes and it was easy to answer. Under my objective moral system I know that the moral law giver would not do what you have suggested.

That is kind of a conversation stopper.

I see why it came off that way, but I didn't mean it like that. I have talked to other people. This is not a conclusion I came to because I ignored other positions or presupposed something - it was a conclusion I came to after searching. In fact, right now I am in the middle of a discussion with a friend from college, who has since become an atheist. My point is simply that the atheist has no grounds for objective values. I have read and listened to atheists talk about this, but their thoughts are irrelevant because none of them has ever (or can ever) provide a basis for objective values. The only option they have is to accept morality has a brute fact, which would be about as useful to the discussion as me just accepting God as a brute fact.

I think I will end my part in the conversation here. I don't want it to seem like I'm trying to get in the last word though, so please feel free to respond to any of this. I just don't see this going anywhere, and I'm sure both of us have better things to do. :)

m,

Atheist have no objective standard of morality from which to derrive their moral values. Objective meaning: Something other than by mere whims or wishes and that transcends humanity.
You seem to re-define the meaning of "objective". You can base you moral objectionism on UN human right declaration for example. No god needed.

I argued the your morality is subjective if you only partly follow Jesus' teachings. When you have made a conscious decision not to sell all your property and give the money to the poor, you do not follow Christian morality and your morality is subjective. You do not have any credibility if you endorse and propagate a moral code you yourself do not follow.


The Old Covenant Laws were not all meant to be followed till the end of time
Yes, first there were pre-Adamic people. Then god made covenant with Adam, then another with Moses, then Jesus changed moral code. OT regulations have also slowly faded away. Many early Christians did follow all OT regulations. All biblical moral codes seem to be temporary ones and I don't see then objectivity. Your moral code seem to include that you should not kill unless god tell you to do so. Again that is not objective moral code.

Theists now because we would follow the orders of our God if He told us to do something; as though all of us now are going to strap bombs to ourselves and blow up nursery homes.
Some Theists follow their god's orders and bomb abortion clinics. The question surely was not a Red herring as it demonstrate how that again when people think they follow god's orders have objective morality.

simply because people are hypocrites or disagree with particular moral codes does not mean that these moral codes are nullified.
You are right. Most Christians do not value "Christian values" and Jesus' teachings. Interestingly same Christians claim that Christians morals are superior and objective.

Both m and leslie seem to be ready to kill for their god. So are many other Christians and Muslims. It is easy to see why so many holy wars happened. Clearly at least some people are ready to kill for an imaginary friend... Atheists looking from the side lines while been criticized having lower morals are shaking their heads...

Anom,

You seem to re-define the meaning of "objective". You can base you moral objectionism on UN human right declaration for example. No god needed.

False. Subjectivism relies souly on the opinions and the feelings of the individual(s), whereas for something to be objective it relies on neither of these and is right or wrong regardless. It transcends human beings.

Unless you wish to offer us the correctdefinition rather than just say "you're wrong", then I stand by my statements.


I argued the your morality is subjective if you only partly follow Jesus' teachings. When you have made a conscious decision not to sell all your property and give the money to the poor, you do not follow Christian morality and your morality is subjective. You do not have any credibility if you endorse and propagate a moral code you yourself do not follow.

Well, for one, whether I choose to do something or not does not determine whether morality in general is subjective. If there is in fact an Objective Standard of morality then morality is not subjective. If I choose to not follow that standard, it doesn't nullify the standard.

And your assumption that I woul have no credibility if I am a hypocrite is fallacious. Let me give you an example. If Hitler told you that killing jews was wrong, but killed them anyway, would we say that he was wrong to say that killing Jews was wrong?

That's ridiculous. As for your critique of my own morality, you seem to believe that all Christians must sell their belongings and live under bridges. I suppose you are taking reference from a particular passage with Jesus speaking to the rich man. First I must say that I tire of the sheer simplicity and lack of intelligent thought put forth towards religious thinking and texts.

Why is it that no one things beyond their face value readings? This goes for many Christians and skeptics alike. It is truly annoying. I always hear skeptics complaining about the lack of understanding regarding Evolutionary Theory and wanting people to have more intellectual integrity, but it seems many of them to not apply the same criticisms to themselves.

Moving on, Christianity, historically speaking, had quite a few rich individuals. These individuals were responsible for housing other, more poorer individuals as well as holding services within their homes. The passage regarding the Rich Man and Jesus telling him to sell his possesions was for that rich man and that rich man alone, being that the individual's main problem was his greed and materialism. If we were all called to sell our belongings and become hobos on the street then it would be rather difficult to help the poor, now wouldn't it?

But of course, I'm just making excuses right? I don't really know anything about my own religion. Only skeptics that spend the majority of their time bashing my faith rather than learning about it really know what they're talking about.

In some sense, the whole credibility charge actually works here.

Yes, first there were pre-Adamic people. Then god made covenant with Adam, then another with Moses, then Jesus changed moral code. OT regulations have also slowly faded away. Many early Christians did follow all OT regulations. All biblical moral codes seem to be temporary ones and I don't see then objectivity. Your moral code seem to include that you should not kill unless god tell you to do so. Again that is not objective moral code.

Certainly, the early Jewish Christians followed the OT regulations, but Gentile Christians did not (for obvious reasons, because they were not Jews). It took, perhaps a few decades, for the entirety of the Church to realize that the Old Testament codes were no longer applicable to the New Covenant. It wasn't as though someone woke up one day and went, "Hey, let's just not follow the Law anymore and come up with a new religion!"


And yes, my moral code does include exceptions to killing. This does not make it subjective. An objective moral code can have exceptions and still be objective as long as those exceptions are set in stone.

If I were to say "No killing allowed unless for self defense", does this make it subjective just because there is one exception to killing? No. It still is an objective law. It would only be subjective if one day it said "No killing allowed for any reason at all" and then said "Killing is allowed now.".

You have not shown any reasonable justification as to why we should accept your interpretation of the Biblical Ethical codes. If you truly wish to convince us that your expose of the OT to NT ethical standards is factual than provide evidence.

You are right. Most Christians do not value "Christian values" and Jesus' teachings. Interestingly same Christians claim that Christians morals are superior and objective.

That's not even what I was implying.

Both m and leslie seem to be ready to kill for their god. So are many other Christians and Muslims. It is easy to see why so many holy wars happened. Clearly at least some people are ready to kill for an imaginary friend... Atheists looking from the side lines while been criticized having lower morals are shaking their heads...



You're right, I am willing to kill for my God, but not for just any reason. My belief in God does not include me strapping bombs to myself and running into innocent people. My belief in God does not condone me unjustly killing another person. The God I worship, whom I believe to be the True God, is the God of Love and Peace and is the only Being allowed to be Judge.


So how is it that I am willing to kill for my God? I'm willing to kill if it means protecting another of God's creations; including yourself.

So what are you willing to kill for? What reasons do you have that aren't just equivalent to your taste in ice cream that stop you or don't stop you from raping someone, killing another person out of anger, etc.? What's the difference between you and Stalin, other than the fact that Stalin just liked to do things differently than you do?

We Theists sit here on the sidelines shaking our heads at the fact that Atheists have the audacity to mock us and label us as "immoral" when they don't even have a meaning or reason for morals to begin with.

m,

Sorry I did not understand your Hitler comparison...

Why is it that no one things beyond their face value readings?
Who knows what the correct reading of passages are, even the Christians cannot agree on how "selling everything" should be taken. Jesus took it litterarily. Most people read it to suit their life style...

If we were all called to sell our belongings and become hobos on the street then it would be rather difficult to help the poor, now wouldn't it?
If everyone would give their belonging to the poor, nobody would be poor any more. The society might become communistic..

It wasn't as though someone woke up one day and went, "Hey, let's just not follow the Law anymore and come up with a new religion!"
You are right. Christian moral compass changes slowly over the years. And it keeps on changing...

You imply that you are moral objectionist and you are ready to kill if your "True God, the God of Love and Peace" asks you to kill. This means that then you can not condemn Muslims for killing for their god, as they use your moral criteria.

Nice for you to stereotype and compare me to Stalin, and implying my world view is like Stalins... You know there are some atheists that are not like Stalin.

Atheists have the audacity to mock us and label us as "immoral" when they don't even have a meaning or reason for morals to begin with
At least I did not call you immoral, I suggested that you might be moral subjectivist. You also ignored my explanation how atheists can be moral objectivists.

Anom,

Sorry I did not understand your Hitler comparison...

I'm not surprised. You don't listen and you're only looking for things to criticise.


Who knows what the correct reading of passages are, even the Christians cannot agree on how "selling everything" should be taken. Jesus took it litterarily. Most people read it to suit their life style...


So what. Once again, just because people interpret differently does not mean that there is not one true interpretation.


If everyone would give their belonging to the poor, nobody would be poor any more. The society might become communistic..


Yes, and we all know how well communism works...


You are right. Christian moral compass changes slowly over the years. And it keeps on changing...


Once again, twisting my words for the sake of your rabid skepticism. Please allow yourself to have more integrity than that.

You imply that you are moral objectionist and you are ready to kill if your "True God, the God of Love and Peace" asks you to kill. This means that then you can not condemn Muslims for killing for their god, as they use your moral criteria.

Those people that believe in suicide bombing do not follow the same moral criteria as I do. Sorry.

Neither do most Muslims.

I can condemn their actions if want to because I do not believe they are following the True God.

Nice for you to stereotype and compare me to Stalin, and implying my world view is like Stalins... You know there are some atheists that are not like Stalin.

Once again, not listening. I don't even think you really take the time to think about the things I'm writing. This is getting frustrating.

I never compared you with Stalin. I asked you, on account of an Atheistic worldview, how an individual can distinguish between Stalin and say, someone like yourself who ISN'T like Stalin, appealing to something other than mere preference.


At least I did not call you immoral, I suggested that you might be moral subjectivist. You also ignored my explanation how atheists can be moral objectivists.

I never called you immoral either. Read what I write instead of looking for excuses to respond.

I never ignored anything. You haven't provided me with one shred of evidence for an Objective Standard under Atheism.

m,

So what. Once again, just because people interpret differently does not mean that there is not one true interpretation.
So there is one correct Christian interpretation, but it does not matter that we don't know/agree on that. That is not a base for any moral system.

Yes, and we all know how well communism works...
I totally agree. Jesus' instructions to sell everything just does not work, so people just ignore it.

Once again, twisting my words for the sake of your rabid skepticism.
Please explain how the Christian moral compass has NOT changed over the years, if you claim that I twisted your words.

I can condemn their actions if want to because I do not believe they are following the True God.
Muslims can say the same thing about you. Any religion can use your objective criteria "you can kill for the True God" if they claim to believe in the True God. Christianity has not the exclusivity to the True God claim nor was it the first to claim it.

I asked you, on account of an Atheistic worldview
I explained above how atheist can be objective moral system, but you seem to have ignored my argument. My world view does not allow me to mass murder people and do deals with the church or sneak up in the middle of the night to the church.

Anom,

So there is one correct Christian interpretation, but it does not matter that we don't know/agree on that. That is not a base for any moral system

Why is it not a base for a moral system? All you've been doing is saying that I can't do this and that without any sort of evidence.

I totally agree. Jesus' instructions to sell everything just does not work, so people just ignore it.


I've already explained this passage above. Why you continue to ignore everything is beyond me.

Please explain how the Christian moral compass has NOT changed over the years, if you claim that I twisted your words.

Don't try and change the burden of proof around on me. You're the one who first made the claim. Provide your evidence. You have yet to do so.

I'm really growing tired of this conversation. I have tried to explain myself a number of times and all you seem to do is ignore everything I write and continue to assert things without evidence.

Either you do otherwise in the next dialogue or this discussion is over. I don't have time to waste with someone who doesn't want to hear what the other person has to say.

the same thing about you. Any religion can use your objective criteria "you can kill for the True God" if they claim to believe in the True God. Christianity has not the exclusivity to the True God claim nor was it the first to claim it.

Of course they can same the same thing about me, but this doesn't mean they are right or that we're both wrong simply because they can disagree with me.

You have yet to understand this. You seem to believe that just because people disagree with one another that it automatically nullifies truth or something.

an be objective moral system, but you seem to have ignored my argument. My world view does not allow me to mass murder people and do deals with the church or sneak up in the middle of the night to the church.

There was no argument. All you said was that Atheist can listen to the UN. How is that an argument?

Who knows what the correct reading of passages are, even the Christians cannot agree on how "selling everything" should be taken. Jesus took it litterarily. Most people read it to suit their life style...

That's actually very funny. If I read you correctly, Anonymous, you don't believe that the Gospels accurately portray what Jesus said or did anyway, so on what basis do you believe that Jesus took it literally that people should sell all they have? I don't believe it possible that you can make such an assertion.

bk,

If I read you correctly, Anonymous, you don't believe that the Gospels accurately portray what Jesus said or did anyway, so on what basis do you believe that Jesus took it literally that people should sell all they have? I don't believe it possible that you can make such an assertion.
My beliefs do not matter. The Gospel tells that Jesus did not own much and did not even carry money. Judas kept everyone's money and it was used when needed (sort of communism). To me it looks like Jesus followed this particular teaching. In a story he was face to face with a rich man and told him to "sell everything". If a Christian would meet Jesus face to face saying "sell everything", I think they would. Thats why I think it is literal. What's you take on it?

-Peter

The World's Most Notorious Atheist in the 20th century was Professor Antony Flew.

I think he is to blame.

m,

I'm really growing tired of this conversation.
Sorry about that. Let me try one more time. I don't want to waste your time, so let me tackle first only one of the issue you raised.

Don't try and change the burden of proof around on me.
Sorry, that was not my intention. I made the claim, I have a burden of proof.
My argument was: Christian (bible based) moral compass keep on changing, thus showing that there is no Christian absolut or objective morality.
My evidence was: Various covenants, no heretic killings/kidnappings any more and Christians can not agree on core issues like abortion and eutanasia.
You can refute my comments or provide counter evidence or both. As you did not refute my argument, I challenged you to provide counter evidence. If you do not engage my argument, I can not even claim I made my case well.

If you feel I'm not wasting your time, I'm happy to comment the other issues.

-Peter

Peter,

I apologize if I became frustrated with you. You have to understand that I deal with individuals on a daily basis that are only trying to discuss matters with me for the simply purpose of trying to justify their intellectual superiority over people who believe in God.

While I do not automatically believe everyone I speak with and disagree with is in this category, the defensive position I take has become almost instinct.

I will like to discuss this more with you in a bit. Before I do, I just wanted to say that.

-M-

Steve Carr shoots, he sc . . . . well, we're still trying to figure out what he was shooting at.

Peter,

I will give you my a partial response to your question in a second, but the problem that I had was your insistence that Jesus somehow literally wants everyone to sell everything when you don't believe that the Bible correctly records what Jesus said or did. You cannot insist in your discussion with M or anyone else that your take on the Bible is the correct take and that the differences of opinion as to what Jesus meant cannot be justified when you don't even believe that Jesus said or did these things.

Now, I am not going to fully answer your question because I am not going to do a full Bible study in this short space. However, I will tell you how your question should be approached. First, read the passage (Matthew 19:16-26)about "selling all you have" closely. What was the young man's problem? What does Jesus say about the ability of the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven? Does that mean that the rich can't enter the kingdom? What is the focus of verse 26?

How many places does Jesus say to sell everything (*hint* -- the only other place other than the differing accounts in Luke and Mark is Luke 12:33)? If Jesus' focus was to have us sell everything, why does he say it only twice? If Jesus expects everyone to sell everything, why does he give the command to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's? If we have no money, what do we have to give? Why are so many of Jesus' parables about money and the handling of money?

I could go on, but the point is this: To properly understand Jesus' words requires not just a flat reading of one verse of scripture, but a review of the entire teaching of the Bible in context and read together.

My conclusion, based on years of study of the entire teaching of the Bible, is that Jesus wants us to put aside anything that stands between ourselves and a full love of God. If that is possessions, then that is what ought to be surrendered. It is not, however, a general command to sell everything and become paupers.

bk,

bk said:
the problem that I had was your insistence that Jesus somehow literally wants everyone to sell everything when you don't believe that the Bible correctly records what Jesus said or did
You raised an interesting point should the non-believers have a strong view of Jesus' teachings. You clearly have studied the Bible and related documents more than I and your theological views are better developped than mine making you more likely to have a correct view than I. On the other hand I would also treat Bart Ehrman's, Dan Barker's and Robert M Price's view (what ever it is) with respect even when they might not be believers. At the same time Christian appologist regurarly refute Muslim and Mormon teachings, even when they don't believe in those and I think everyone is entitled to their opinions and right to express it. I think we all agree that if we read a fictional childrens book with a moral teaching, everyone has a right to insist what the teaching is. I'm also an ex-Christian and formed my early views as a Christian. Regarding this teaching I have not changed my view (right or wrong).

My thinking is/was that Jesus would not do things half way. He was all or nothing guy. I think there are two things people have that get between them and god. Other people and earthly posessions. (Most cults have realised this). Jesus also taught to leave your families and friends without saying good bye and sell everything, which fits this thinking. Sects/cults in Jesus' time like Essenes, Qumran group also endorsed this view. Mark 7:11-13 does not support my view, so I can see your view is also valid.

I think we digressed off the topic, so I'll leave it to this.

-Peter

Peter,

I think that what you just said is very thoughtful. Even though we disagree on your bottom line, I respect your effort to understand. Thus, I will simply applaud your effort to look at the verses reasonably and honestly.

I agree that Christians need to be careful in critiquing Islam and other religions. I just posted a piece about the Islamic community and wife beating and tried to be very careful in saying that the views on Islam I expressed were based on my understanding. If a Muslim wants to come along and demonstrate to us how I am wrong in my understanding, I would accept his reasoning provided it doesn't try to turn black into white. After all, Muslims are best at explaining what Islam means, but they must be able to take into account the appropriate verses from the Koran and the teachings of the Islamic leaders in doing so. If they can do that, then I will certainly accept their interpretation of their religion over mine.

(But it should be noted that Weekend Fisher, who has studied Islam quite a bit, has chimed in that the views expressed about wife beating in the article linked are the more liberal/progressive view in Islam based upon her study.)

Sorry for the delay; been out sick.

Slav: {{Actually, historically speaking, it has only been a very narrow and very limited body of believers in Yeshua who stood against killing per se}}

That’s true. Not least because the Biblical testimony seems to run against non-violence per se. The debate has usually been about when it is or isn’t morally correct to kill, with an acknowledgment that ideally it would be better not to. (However, Leslie was inadvertently oversimplifying his statement I think, Slav.)

In any case, even your example of Christians killing Anabaptists can be morally rejected by appealing to standards that at least point in the direction of theism. The situation is admittedly debatable, but it isn’t as though anyone is going to be arguing that in doing this those Christians weren’t being non-rational enough; or non-moral enough; or not survival-of-the-fittest enough, etc.

Ideas have logical corollaries; so if I reject that the ground of all reality is sentient and moral, then by tautology that leaves me only a non-sentient, non-moral ground to appeal back to ultimately. Anything I might choose to appeal to, in terms of rationality or morality, has to be done despite the actual fundamental behaviors of basic reality: the behaviors on which my supposedly rational or moral standards depend, and indeed which (per atheistic naturalism) they are soley constituted by.

Slav: {{it is inherently wrong [except in the case of the small minority pacifist groups] to state that a Christian who goes out and kills others is acting against his own moral system and faith}}

Depends on the reasons or lack thereof. There aren’t many (I would expect no) branches of “normative, orthodox, traditional Christian faith” that are going to sanction what this boy did, Slav, as you ought to be perfectly well aware.


I think the Buddhism discussion has kind of petered out, so I won’t comment on most of that, except to note that insofar as a Buddhist affirms that the base of reality is somehow sentient, then the Buddhist is in fact being theistic.

This is obscured, however, by a strong tendency to promote outright contradictions (intended to be outright contradictory as such) in order to try to get across the notion that nothing specific can be said about this final reality; which leaves them in effect able to say anything and everything they want to say about it, depending on the sect (while then denying, if pressed, that what they’re saying about it is true). A cynical observer could just as easily equate this with non-theism as with theism, even in cases where the type of Buddhism isn’t specifically atheistic (as it is in mainland communist China.)

What I do think every Buddhist philosopher (per se) would agree on, is that (over against the appearances reflected in popular belief or expressions) there is no such thing as an ontologically supernatural reality. In that regard, even Buddhists who are being theistic would certainly not be talking about the same kind of God as any supernaturalistic theist would be talking about.


Peter,

Incidentally, I don’t call Thor “thor”, even though I don’t believe Thor was even a god much less the ground of all reality. I don’t call Buddha “buddha”. I don’t even call Satan “satan”, etc. If you’re going to flout standard English name/title conventions to show disrespect to someone’s beliefs, you might as well go the distance and stop capping “Jesus”, too.

Peter: {{It is easy to criticize that boy from different moral angles.}}

All of which involve standards of rationality or (by tautology) morality, yes?

Per atheism, though, the fundamental behaviors of reality are not moral, and neither indeed are more (merely) complexly aggregated behaviors of reality up to some human point (or some generally sentient/rational point, not excluding other sentient entities). Then the ‘moral’ behaviors somehow occur; but they’re still all dependent completely upon (and indeed constituted completely by) the non-moral behaviors.

Peter: {{[The boy] broke the law (code of conduct) for example. Just following the local laws and customs keeps you out of trouble.}}

Most people recognize that local laws and customs, though they may be indicative of morality, aren’t necessarily constitutive of morality. Otherwise we would be wrong to say that Jewish sympathizers did right in smuggling Jews out of Nazi territories (to borrow the argumentum ad Nazium, as I think Exapologist once put it. {s}) Had this boy not been caught, then he would have, by tautology, “kept out of trouble”, too. On that ground, the only relevant ‘moral’ criticism is that he shouldn’t have gotten himself caught! (The Zodiac killer or Jack the Ripper couldn’t be morally criticised on that ground. Nor could the Christian authorities whom Slav was complaining about, who clearly didn’t get caught by anyone.)

Law, then, is not in itself an objectively moral reality.

To which I expect you to reply that neither is scriptural law, either. To which I have no disagreement; nor would St. Paul, for that matter! But (some sloppy theologizing notwithstanding) no one here is worshipping the Bible.

I sympathize with your attempts to argue against the notion that the scriptures are themselves an “objectively moral standard”, and I understand why you would think some of the respondents here were trying to present and defend the scriptures as such. For one thing, many preachers (and even apologists) do try to present and defend the scriptures as such, because they don’t know any better; and even when they do know better they sometimes say so anyway, for various secondary reasons.

But even those people would probably agree, if they were sat down and made to go over the issues by someone they trust, that the Bible per se is not in fact an objectively moral standard, and that any morality it has is derived from the real objectively moral standard, which is God.

Peter: {{You also seem to propagate the myth of "borrowing theistic moral capital"...}}

I’m an analytical metaphysician, so I “propagate” logical corollaries; and what I’m talking about here is one of them. (I recently went into this at very great length, and with a significant amount of sympathy to secular ethical theory attempts such as Singer’s though not by name, in an extended series of posts starting here.) I do in fact care about what atheists write or talk about on this issue; which is why I asked you (or anyone reading the comment thread) for a specifically atheistic ground on which to criticize this boy, pointing out that this would be a good opportunity to give one for discussion.

Peter: {{If god would appear to you one day and would order you to kill someone, would you do it?}}

This question wasn’t directed to me, but I’ll answer it anyway.

Assuming it was God, my answer would have to be yes.

Since the field for deception and misunderstanding, though, is fairly wide, I would want to be sure that it really was God, and that I was understanding the order properly. For instance, I would expect Him to be expecting me to have mercy on my enemies and to give them fair play and fair credit--it’s not impossible that He might require me to join Him in sacrificing myself for their sake, if that would help save them from their sin.

While I don’t hold to quite the same old/new covenant theological disjunction as others here do, I do understand that it can take a process of time (and maybe a protracted time, with false starts and fallbacks as the agents do better and worse over time) to get a population (much moreso than a single person) to grow to be more merciful and fair than they started off being: a process not limited to some kind of division between Old Testament Jews and New Testament Christians.

That’s part of what the whole ‘just war’ debate is about. Which is not Christians dodging your question, btw.

I want to point out, though, that I could answer ‘yes’ to God, on an order to kill someone, without reference to any “objective moral system”! I could do it for sheerly pragmatic reasons, for instance. (Incidentally, I don’t think any “system of morality” is or can be itself objectively moral in quality. At best it is a reflection of objectively moral reality; hopefully a useful reflection, but nothing more than that.)

On the other hand, if I do make reference to what I believe to be objective moral reality (which I do not consider to be ‘the Bible’ per se--I am no Bible-worshipper), then I would be instantly suspicious of any supposed order (from ‘the Bible’ or otherwise) that implicitly or explicitly involved a permanent denial of atonement with my enemy, or that expected me to treat him in any non-fair way. An angel could show up pretending to be God or to have an order from Him, too; not all angels are loyal ones. Some are rogues. (Incidentally, I wrote this before realizing M had said much the same thing. {s} To which I would add that ‘murder’ is always by definition wrong; the question is what counts as murder, i.e. unjust killing, in a given case. The basic commandment in the OT and NT has always been against murder per se.)

Meanwhile, I have no problem at all believing that your atheist humanist friends are “very moral” (as a charitable first assumption of agreement anyway). But then, I believe there is an objectively moral reality for them (as derivative creatures) to be relatively moral to. God’s actual existence has implications in favor of your friends and the possible rightness (including ethical rightness) of their beliefs, even when they don’t believe God exists. (I had a lot to say about that in my extended series, too.)

Peter: {{I hope you are not hypocritical and have sold all your belongings}}

When God calls me personally to become an apostle or someone with similar levels of authority, and adds that I should sell all my belongings, then I’ll do that, thanks.

(You say “Jesus took it literally”, but you totally ignore story contexts while doing so. Your thinking may be/was that “Jesus would not do things half way”; but the story contexts simply don’t bear this out, in this case. Ditto for leaving their families. As you noted, whether the story is fictional or not is irrelevant to the character representation. If that complexity doesn’t happen to fit into the typical sect/cult paradigm, then that’s just how it is: truncating story details to make it fit, isn’t doing justice to the data, even if the data is regarded as being fictional.)

Meanwhile I’ll stick with tithing, and I’ll keep in mind that whatever I have doesn’t belong to me anyway so I had better not get primarily attached to it and forget the One from Whom it (mediately and immediately) comes, nor forget that while He cares for material things He cares more for persons--so I had better put a priority on treating them rightly.

So, what were your ultimately non-rational, non-moral grounds for doing your own tithing, then? (I’ll assume that you and your friends, being very moral people, do give regularly to charity, both institutionally and personally. Your specifically atheistic grounds for doing so are...?)

Peter: {{You can base you[r] moral objectionism on UN human right declaration for example.}}

If I recall correctly, the UN human rights declaration simply takes human worth as a given assertion, more-or-less recognized (or expected to be recognized) by member states; which is not in keeping with logical corollaries following from atheism being true.

I don’t simply mean that they make such an assertion without reference to atheism being true; I mean that if they tried to actually apply basic atheistic principles concerning reality, an assertion of human rights and worth would be a convenient illusion at best (if not outright gibberish). Everyone understands that a bunch of merely reactive chemicals doesn’t have any rights per se; but if atheism is true then we are not in fact anything more or other than a bunch of merely reactive chemicals. Any ‘emergent’ characteristics from this bunch, have to be consonant with the constitution of this bunch; whereas at best, the properties needed for ‘human rights’ conflict directly with their constituent source material properties.

No God is referenced. That’s different from no God (or god) being needed.

A moral objectivist (that’s “objectivist”, not “objectionist”, by the way) is someone who believes an objectively real and objectively moral reality exists. Humans may be agreed to be objectively real, but you’re going to have a hard time contending on grounds consonant with the logical corollaries of atheism, that humans are themselves objectively moral, in the sense required to function as a standard of morality.

It would be even weirder for an atheist to appeal to a document like the UN human rights declaration as being itself an objectively moral standard. But the indefinite article “an” highlights another problem: when someone else comes up with a different text, saying something different about human rights, how are you going to judge between them? Mere feeling-preference? That would be pure subjectivism! Some objective criteria? Then which specifically atheistic criteria would you go with?

Peter: {{Nice for you [M] to stereotype and compare me to Stalin, and implying my world view is like Stalins... You know there are some atheists that are not like Stalin.}}

And yet, this is not an answer to M’s question, which was (in essence) why do you believe you should do other than Stalin did? What are your grounds for doing so? (Because a group of people got together at the UN one year and drafted a statement on human rights that happens not to mention God?)

{{Christians can not agree on core issues like abortion and euthanasia}}

Incidentally, those are only “core issues” in political circles. They are very far from being core theological issues; and the disagreements actually depend upon supervening agreements. The reason Christians disagree on euthanasia (for example) is precisely because we do agree that the elderly and terminally ill ought to be cared for. We disagree about the best way to do that. (And then people on various sides paint each other as not caring about the elderly and terminally ill, but that’s for rhetorical convenience. It doesn’t have much to do with the reality of the debate.)

JRP

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