As part of the promotional tour to launch his bestselling book "God Is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything", author Christopher Hitchens issued the following challenge:
"Name me an ethical statement made, or an ethical act performed, by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer."
He claims (although we only have his word for it) that the challenge had no takers.
Anyone here like to take a shot?
I killed Satan! Ooooohhhhhh Yaaaayyyyaaaa!
Well done, Sandra. You win the prize!
Er .....Wait a minute, though. Before we hand over the trophy, where's the *evidence*?
You're right: I don't see him anywhere.
But then I didn't see him before either.
Well it cause I was busy fighting Satan since the turn of the centruy and ummm....I had him locked up in my basement and stuff. Soooo......and then I slayed him! Cause I knew this challenge was coming and um....well...aaaa....Prize....come on....
Thom Carnes wrote:
"Name me an ethical statement made, or an ethical act performed, by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer."
I don't see how this statement has anything to do with the existence of God. Does he think that there are people who consider ethics and ethical behavior to be proof of the existence of God??? The existence of God is totally independent of any actions of believers or non-believers. I don't get his point.
Well a believer can pray to the Lord and know that they have been heard( because they believe) a non believer cant pray because they do not believe that there is anyone to pray to..... fairly simple ")...but if a non believer were to pray,God would hear them anyway because God is Great!! are we confused yet?? and once again, there are those foolish words again..Religion poisons everything,what a cop out, it's not Religion it is mankind influenced by the Devil.plain and simple. You can take anything in the World that is good and someone can tell you why they think it is bad. ya know this is nothing new it's been going on for a very long time, just read the Bible, it explains it all.
So, the answer is no then? You are unable to answer the challenge. How is praying an ethical act?
How is it not? your smart, just think about it. I will give you a better challenge, open your heart to God and i mean for real and see what happens. You would be in for a great surprise. Then the best selling book would be the Bible and you could actually live a happy and fullfilling life instead of a feable attempts to promote what you really dont know about. I could write a book on the foolish Athiest and make money, but that is'nt what life should be about. People should be helping each other instead of trying to prove each other's beliefs are at fault. It seems to be such a waste of time and what does it solve anyway? there are far more important things in life besides trying to prove that God is not real. lets just say for a moment that God was not real and the Bible is not real, Why is something that promotes things that are so good, like the ten commandments and careing for others so wrong? Why put the effort into telling people that it is'nt real, what do you get out of it?? money?? thats certainly what life is all about! This is the only thing that this wonderful world cant take away from me is my belief. I will pray for you and when God comes to you, that voice that tells you the truth and askes that you listen with all your heart, just give him a chance, you might be suprised. Have a nice day ")
It takes a believer to love the Lord God with all their heart, mind, and soul. No atheist could do that.
Since neither you, nor Christopher Hitchens gave any underlying circumstances for the basis of these "ethical statements" or "ethical acts", (such as faith based or non-faith based ethical acts/statements), I shall assume that there are none, ergo my answers are thus:
1.) Willingly giving up your life by allowing yourself to be crucified for the sins - and the
salvation of all Humankind.
2.) Praying for the benefit and welfare of all peoples, regardless of race or creed.
And yes, this also means praying for one’s enemies.
That's probably the best answer yet, I think.
As you say, it pre-supposes a particular belief-system before it makes any sense - but within that context it does tick the boxes.
(Although I'm not totally convinced that "praying" could be construed as an ethical statement or act.)
I am so happy that you think so, Thank you.
As to your doubts concerning prayer being construed as an ethical statement/act, I offer the following clarification for your consideration:
"To pray" for someone, is an actual, conscious, physical act that you "do". Especially when one is folding their hands in gesture of prayer - which is, in and of itself, a physical act. And to do such an act for the betterment of family, friends, enemies, humankind or the world, constitutes an ethical and benevolent act that only a "believer" can do.
Hope this clears things up.
With deepest sincerity,
Hmmmm .... I suppose it all depends on whether one accepts your definition of "prayer".
I have to say that I regard prayer as little more than an imaginative exercise with little actual substance behind it: a sort of supernatural homeopathic remedy, I suppose.
Is the administration of a homeopathic remedy an act of medicine - or simply an exercise in wishful-thinking?
But this raises an interesting point....
If someone genuinely and sincerely performs an action which they regard as "ethical", does the action become "ethical" for that and no other reason? Or does there have to be a beneficial "end product" distinct from the beliefs of the person performing the action?
Anyone else (Jenny, Mark, Misha...?) got any ideas on this?
Well it was not specified in Mr. Hitchens' challenge that it had to be an ethical statement or act that absolutely *everyone* agreed upon to indeed be "ethical". Please remember that approximately 95% of the world's population believes in a Higher Power of some sort. So the chances that most people would consider praying for others to be an "ethical" act, is very high.
In this particular circumstance, you asked a *believer* (Me), to give you a statement or act that is considered to be "ethical". Ergo, I responded with the answers that I did. Of course a non-believer would have difficulty accepting prayer as an ethical act, simply because a non-believer would never consider praying themselves. But like I said before, when a person gets on their knees and folds their hands in gesture of prayer - that is an actual, physical act. There are no two ways about it.
Now that we have the "act" part firmly established, let's look at the "ethical" part a bit closer.
Let me ask you a question Thom... If you genuinely and sincerely love someone, is that love real because you *think* so... because you *feel* so... and for that and no other reasons? Or does your love have to be evaluated and determined by society as "love" to make it so? Does there have to be some beneficial "end product" of your love that is distinct from your beliefs, to make your love a bona fide emotion? Well the same thing can be said of praying for the benefit of others. If a genuine and sincere intent is present within the heart and mind of the individual who is doing the praying; and that individual honestly believes that he or she is giving forth beneficial aid through the power of prayer - then who is to say that is not real?
Perhaps Mr. Hitchens...?
Do you honestly believe that people who pray, do it because they have nothing better to do with their time? That they don't *really* believe that there will be any actual good that will come from their praying? Or could it just possibly be that those who pray are actually are taking their time and energy to pray, because they truly *believe* that it is "real" and worth every bit of their time?
You stated that you regard prayer as "little more than an imaginative exercise with little actual substance behind it: a sort of supernatural homeopathic remedy" and asked the question, "Is the administration of a homeopathic remedy an act of medicine - or simply an exercise in wishful-thinking?" My answer to that? Something of "little actual substance" is STILL substance - is it not? Even though it is "little" - it is still there. A "homeopathic remedy" is STILL substance - is it not? Things of "substance" are *real* - are they not? Therefore, prayer is real by your own definition.
I have used homeopathic remedies on myself and my entire family for over 20 years, with an excellent rate of success. So do homeopathic remedies work? You better believe they do! Heck, if our ancestors survived for millennia on natural remedies, there must be *something* to them, wouldn't you say? And is not the administering of medicines to people who are in need of healing, an "ethical" act? Is praying for others who desperately need aid in their life not "ethical"?
I would suggest that you read the works of Masaru Emoto - all of them. And even watch his documentaries as well, for further proof of how the power of prayer/positive thinking works.
One last thing I would like to submit for your consideration, and that is that you, a so-called "non-believer", an Atheist - actually does believe in something. And that is, *Nothing*. You are firm in your belief that when you die, nothing happens. You believe that there is no God.... that there is no "power of prayer".... and that my friend IS a form of belief/faith. So there are actually no "non-believers" because in actuality, we are all "believers" of some sort, to one degree or another.
In All Sincerity,
Aside from the obvious point that the placebo effect is completely demonstrable, and I used it with my kids when they were little (and still do, actually), so administering saline or a sugar tablet is "medicine" is you are simply going by results ...
... I would say you need to think about your definition of "ethical".
Philosophy regards ethics as referring to " that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions."
Other definitions refer to "moral values", "right and wrong", and "good and bad".
Fundamentally, your original question is asking "Is there a set of beliefs about what is right, wrong, good and bad, which is sufficiently universal that it is held by both believers and non-believers?"
If there is, then any "ethical" act performed by a believer could also be preformed by a non-believer.
Alternatively, the attribution of "rightness" and "goodness" is so embedded in cultural relativity that there are significant differences between what believers and non-believers consider to be "ethical" acts.
So, believers offer up the example of prayer, and non-believers say "that's not ethical because it doesn't actually accomplish anything good". Believers say "yes, it does!"
Non-believers offer examples of non-believers laying down their lives to save others, and believers say "but Jesus laid down his life to save EVERYONE". Non-believers say "no, he didn't!"
I would say that the only way to address this question is to start by agreeing on the definition of an "ethical act", and an agreement as to whose version of "good and bad" we will adopt for the purposes on the conversation.
From there, we can draw up a list of ethical acts, and test each one to see if it could equally well be done by a non-believer.
If we don't take a rigorous approach like this we could talk in circles until the Third Coming.
Here's my counter challenge for Hitchens and all other Anti-Theists: Before we address Hitchens challenge, logical thinkers must ask:
If Hitchens and others like him don't believe in a ultimate standard (that is above and beyond mankind i.e. God) for what's ethical and what's not ethical, then how can even pose his challenge?
If there's no ultimate standard for what is ethical then the very term "ethical" doesn't exist, it's irrelevant!
Think about it and for more info on this topic, read my hub "If it wouldn't work in a court of law why would it work with God?"
There is nothing logical about this statement.
Why should the ultimate standard be above and beyond mankind?
We all know what is ethical or unethical. Given our current culture. Although, I rather agree that the word "ethical," has no real meaning.
And using your somewhat confused logic, "If a court of law can get it wrong, so can god, therefore logically, god is a construct of the human mind."
And it's a shame you are attempting to claim some sort of higher purpose and association with the "true," god, because I rather like what whoever you have copied all your ideas from has to say. Unless you are, in fact, Jay Ricci? In which case, they are your ideas?
Take the whole idea of god and opening your heart to Jesus out of it and it makes sense.
That makes no freakin sense at all. But that's just one opinion.
Actually, I wish MOmmagus had posted here what she posted in this thread:
I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you are talking about Thom, but if so, there are others of these types of things in other threads. Patty Inglish had a great one in another thread, where it was escapes me at the moment. I have shared others of my own with you in other threads, but I have, of course, many others.
Yes, any atheist could have performed the acts performed by the people praying, but I suspect the results would have been somewhat different. Do these things qualify as "ethical acts" such that they would answer your question.
I suppose the terms ethical statement and ethical act are a bit arbitrary. I need an example, I suppose.
Caught this on the radio this morning. Sounds like it must be an old joke, but new to me. Epitaph on an atheist's tombstone:
'All dressed up with no place to go.'
Peter M. Lopez: I see by your profile that you are a
defense attorney. I myself have been accused of original sin. I say I am not guilty. I say I am innocent until proven guilty. I say apparently I am in need of a good defense attorney. So I am wondering if this is a case that you would take? Pro Bono of contention - of course.
I'm flattered you would ask, of course, however, as far as I am concerned, you have the ultimate advocate at your disposal: Jesus Christ. I do not presume to be able to offer the same defense He would, but I would give it my best. I may be able to get you off on a technicality, but I believe He would wipe the slate clean. Plus, He would do it pro bono, I would charge.
Wow! I think I got a match lit under my own butt. Thanks...so much irony in reality, the timing of which the book was offered for me to read, and how I feel like a fireman, or the last drop of water that made the cup overflow. So there are many ways to burn a book, as the out cast, the minority which eventually becomes the majority, the lowley, the humble, missunderstood, rebels all doing what we do best, lighting fires even Bradbury.
More interesting is the comments, I left before how I never came accross this book before, I wondered why? When I was in highschool I was in the last year that the district would allow Catcher in the Rye, so while reading the after notes by Bradbury, I realized why this book never made it my classroom, which I must say many years later is a legacy all to Bradbury alone.
So, nope I wont burn it (which I really didn't think I would anyways) but the thoughts are now burnt to ash and I feel better, it leaves a feeling of legacy in me as well.
Well you're a good man Peter M: But I am afraid Judge Judy would not recognize a dead attorney. Since I am indigenous, I suppose I can I assume you will not be taking my case then.
I assume you mean "indigent" but I will certainly take your case.
Cool. I am wondering what your defense will be. If I may assist in my own defense, I am supposing the prosecution
may begin with something like: 'Saint Peter don't you call him 'cause he can't go. He owes his soul to the company store.'
All this is very interesting (as always) - but nobody is responding to the challenge!!
I suspect that Hitchens issued the challenge in the first place because he is so racked off with people insisting that morality is only possible if based on, and sustained by, religious belief.
I don't believe that myself. I just thought that somebody here possibly might - and be able to provide an example.
How about: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
The idea behind this is that there are many ways in which we are unequal from a human perspective, for instance we all have different levels of intellect and physical ability. But when we look at the difference between us and God it makes the differences we see between each other utterly superficial. (This isn't the only justification from a theistic point of view but it is the most encompassing which is why I'm using it)
Without a belief in a higher power it seems to me that it is impossible to justify any type of egalitarian society. After all there are many ways in which we are unequal as I noted before.
And these inequalities have been used throughout history to justify things from slavery to genocide to segregation. The Nazis argued they were more highly evolved than everyone else and used that to justify enslaving and killing millions. The Japanese empire did the same. The popular American eugenics movement of the 1920s and 30s used the exact same logic. And on a lighter note even the book the famous Mr.Scopes taught from stated that "At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man ... the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America"... Although maybe thats not a lighter note.
But regardless I just don't see any way for atheistic or darwinist philosophy to logically refute the claims of the Nazis, Japanese empire, Eugenicists, or even Hunter's Civic Biology Book (from the scopes case).
Maybe I'm missing something... But I doubt it.(also this is not the only moralistic challenge to atheism that I have)
The problem with the question is that it does nothing to address the existence or nonexistence of God. Beliefs do not determine the existence of God. It's unimportant what one believes about God compared to knowing God...and that knowing comes entirely by one's personal experience.
No one can fully transmit their own experience to another thus it is impossible for one person to prove God's existence to another. We can only prove it to ourselves.
It's a proving worth pursuing.
The best to you.
It's quite interesting, I think how people keep skirting around this question without ever actually answering it!
Beliefs may not determine the existence of God - but they do (or are supposed to) determine people's behaviour. That's what the question is about.
if that is the case, then I would mistake an atheist for a christian if I never stopped to ask. how 'bout them apples.
An atheist shows more christian quality than a christain.
Not everyone is skirting around the question, just the people who are unwilling to admit that there really aren't ethical acts that can't be performed by the religious and non-religious alike. It seems a logical conclusion to me, since there also are not any atrocious acts of evil that can't (or haven't) been committed by religious and non-religious.
That's the mistake...it's not beliefs that necessarily determine behavior. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.
So if you try to match up a set of beliefs with a corresponding set of behaviors as a means for discovering God's existence, it doesn't work.
We know God through experience. The experience of God can't be transferred; it can only be experienced. We can trust another, if we choose to, who says they have experienced God and use that as a motivation to experience it for ourselves.
Why does it work that way? Because God gives each of us the freedom to choose either to experience Him or not to experience him. I believe...please note that this is just my belief, and any belief can be incorrect...that each of use chooses at some point to have that experience.
The best to you.
sometimes we chose, other times, God choses for you. either way, you are right, it can't be transfered.
But to Thoms question, neither determie each other. Every rose has it thorn sorta thing, and athiest can be just as bad as a person who really tries to do good.
Ever though I give Christians a lot of crap, I still think all of them are beautiful in thier own way even Sirdent, because trying and failing and trying again is what they believe God ask of them, and because they really do try, I think it makes them beautiful people.
If athiest are effortless of the humanitarian front, well don't rub it in or chose to correspond a person beliefs with thier behavior because you may know them for what they are, but you don't know them for who they really want to be.
So a lot of people have gone corrupt, don't pass the blame on, I believe that real good christains and any other religion alike, really do try to not make the mistakes of the pass, but there are other forces that block them and anyone for that matter, from living up to thier true potential.
Well, seriously, how can you possibly provide an example?
Belief in a deity doesn't change anything about the way human beings function.
Therefore, what is possible for a believer is also possible for a non-believer.
Any crackpot belief wrapped up in a religion could equally well be held by someone who came up with it from the bottom of a whiskey glass.
Any noble sentiment spoken in the context of religion could equally as well be spoken by an atheist. As the great religious philosopher, William Joel, said "The Russians love their children, too."
The Bible itself contains the story of the Good Samaritan, remember? The outsider who treated the unfortunate traveller like family/tribe when all custom said not to?
I would say that the question is constructed to be an untestable hypothesis. A counterexample cannot be produced, even in a thought experiment.
Therefore, it is a meaningless challenge, and proves nothing.
Statistics - murderers by religious affiliation, worshippers of graven images by religious affiliation, perjurers by religious affiliation, adulterers by religious affiliation - now THAT might produce meaningful data.
Although my money would be on there being more believers in ALL those categories than there are atheists ...
I attempted to answer above, Thom. Are these not the types of examples you were asking about?
Fair enough. Then, no, I don't believe I am able to answer this.
But, I will give it more thought.
When it comes to "defending the faith," I don't feel like I have to do that anymore. God is all powerful, so if He wants someone on his side, he will recruit them, and He may use another person to do this, but this person is usually not me! I use to try to convert friends and perfect strangesr, alike, but, I found it to be ineffective and actaully damaging to the relationhip. I've always believed that God is love, so now I just love on people and if they want to know more about my spiritual beliefs then they will ask. I am very put off by church people who are so judemental and "righteous." Don't make me feel bad for having a drink! Afterall, Jesus turned water into wine right? I guess they forgot that part. As far as the first question:
What about mother Theresa? Any kind of service to God really losses meaning if you take God out of the equation. What about worshiping, praising, singing to God? All pretty meaningless if done by someone who doesn't believe there is a God. I probably didn't answer your question, but i tried.
I agree with most of what you say Mommagus. As to the recruitment idea, I would add that many Christians have unrealistic expectations about recruitment, thus the frustration. Recruitment is about sowing and reaping. Most people want to sow and reap in the span of 15 minutes. Most times the sower and reaper won't be the same people.
You continue to sow, let God do the watering, and someone else will harvest. Sometimes you will get to harvest what someone else sowed years ago, but don't give up sowing because you don't see immediate results. God's perspective on the harvest is considerably broader than ours.
We are having a lovely, good, friday here in Missouri. The weather is beautiful, but there may be snow tomorrow.
College Politico -
I don't really understand how this is a moralistic challenge to atheism and certainly doesn't answer the challenge the OP offered:
So, clearly, you are missing something
A belief in a higher power has also been used throughout history to justify all sorts of inhumanity:
The Auto da Fe
Hitler was a self-proclaimed and baptized Christian, “I had excellent opportunity to intoxicate myself with the solemn splendor of the brilliant church festivals. As was only natural, the abbot seemed to me, as the village priest had once seemed to my father, the highest and most desirable ideal.” -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
And in fact, his hatred of the Jewish race stemmed from his belief that white Aryan Christians were a "higher" race:
“By helping to raise man above the level of bestial vegetation, faith contributes in reality to the securing and safeguarding of his existence. Take away from present-day mankind its education-based, religious- dogmatic principles-- or, practically speaking, ethical-moral principles-- by abolishing this religious education, but without replacing it by an equivalent, and the result will be a grave shock to the foundations of their existence.” – Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
"Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars. Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition." -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
I could continue, but I trust that you will accept the fact that a belief in a higher power in no way justifies an egalitarian society. Quite the opposite in fact, promising as it does, rewards after death.
Superiority is the entitlement to steal from and control the inferior.
I'm saying that I see no logical way for atheism to refute the claims of the groups I listed below. Thats the challenge... in other words how does atheism or naturalistic darwinism justify egalitarianism or at the very least refute claims of natural superiority.
I hope that makes my challenge clearer.
Also I accept that religion has been twisted and used to justify horrible acts. Yes, even by hitler himself... In fact the nazis used all sorts of twisted philosophies to justify their atrocities. But belief in a higher power, properly understood, DOES provide justification for egalitarianism (which is outlined in the quote from the Declaration of Independence below) and atheism DOES NOT.
Now that I have (hopefully) more clearly outlined the challenge perhaps someone can provide a response?
College politico, in my post explaining the Theory of Evolution I showed that evolution is very clearly about changing, not "improving".
A species expands because it breeds more than it dies.
That does not make it "better". It simply makes it more suited to the current environment.
The Theory of Evolution explicitly says that humanity is bound by the same natural laws as the animals, and that if and when the environment changes, humanity may well become extinct.
There are no subspecies of humanity - any two fertile humans of opposite genders will produce viable offspring. That means that the Theory of Evolution does not discriminate between subgroups of humanity.
P.S. If you use Darwin's definition of "fittest" to mean "most superior", then the Chinese and the Indian subgroups are far "superior" to the white populations, which have declining birth rates everywhere in the world. But, of course, Darwin never meant that "fitter" - growing in population - was equivalent to "better" in any way.
You didn't answer my question though... how can you use atheism or darwinism to justify egalitarianism? How can you use it to refute a claim of superiority?
For example... if the Chinese and Indian "subgroup" is the most superior then why shouldn't they rule over the other "subgroups" from a darwinistic perspective?
Heres another example... say me and a 300 pound professional football player are stranded on an island. Unfortunately for me not only is he bigger and stronger than me but he is also significantly smarter. Now, from a atheistic/darwinist point of view, why should he not enslave or rule over me?
I honestly can't see a logical answer to these questions.
Ummmmm ... there ARE no claims of superiority in the Theory of Evolution. It explicitly talks about reproductive success, without making value judgements.
You are the one who keeps going on about "superiority" as though it is real. It isn't real. Please get over it. No human being is inherently superior to any other human being, full stop.
*eyeroll* THEY DO!! Sheesh. How many times do I have to explain this?
The birth rate of whites is falling. The birth rate of Chinese and Indians remains higher than replacement rate. From a Darwinistic perspective, this means that the Chinese and Indians ARE "fitter" than the whites and ARE displaying "superiority".
The ONLY measure of success, fitness - or "superiority" if you insist on using that word - taken into success by the Theory of Evolution is reproductive success. That's it. Nothing else. No poetry, no art, no cuteness, no moral worthiness. Value judgements do not enter into it.
Breed more, die less = fitter.
I can't speak for atheists in general, but as a Darwinist I would think that since you are female your only hope of reproductive success would be to breed with this football player. Otherwise you will fail to reproduce, rendering yourself "unfit" in evolutionary terms. Now, if you have relatives who breed, they will share your DNA, so the loss of you as an individual without offspring won't stop those genes from carrying on. You'll just be an unfortunate footnote.
The Theory of Evolution isn't a social doctrine - it is an explanation for why species change over time. It makes no comment about relative worth or power dynamics, particularly at the level of individuals.
That is because you are doing the equivalent of asking a stethoscope whether or not you will find "twoo wuv". Wrong instrument.
The Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory, not a moral philosophy.
Atheists do "morally good" things for their own reasons, and none of those reasons include "because the Theory of Evolution says I should".
1. I am not a female.
2. You're missing my point. If someone has the ability to rule over me why shouldn't they? Furthermore why should we consider everyone to be equal to ourselves?
I don't understand how this answers my question... could you explain it more?
well if you understood evolution or the theory of natural selection, or survival of the fittest, or understood the meaning of Lot in you Bible, then I wouldn't have to expalin anything to you, so College Politico, I think you have a one track mind one that is not well read and certainly not open to the nature of what it is to be human in the first place. I think you are backwards in thoughts and if the ideas that you are talking about are being taught in the schools that you attend, then I have to say, you are getting the wrong lessons of life. But hey, how you chose to live your life is your own and that is Your Lot.
Well, in that case if you and a male football player end up on a desert island you are both equal failures as far as the Theory of Evolution is concerned. How you spend the rest of your wasted lives is of no concern to the future of the human race.
Ummm, because everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, maybe?
And because everyone IS equal - don't we, as a secular state, separate from any church, hold this truth to be self-evident?
I can't answer the challenge I'm afraid because in my opinion religion doesn't equate to morals. While all religions have moral and ethical codes written into their doctrine it doesn't mean they create more moral people. Atheists and religious people aren't any different when it comes to ethics.
Ethical statements and acts come from our personalities. And while religious awakenings do change a person's core being so can simple faith in humanity.
Ethics can't be forced on people.
Look at how many Priests have committed abuse, how many Catholics kill and then use confession to seemingly absolve themselves, how many Christians commit all kinds of heinous acts but justify everything because Jesus died for their sins etc, etc, etc.
Ethical behavior is a result of someone deciding to take responsibility for their actions and the consequences that those actions produce. This can happen through a spiritual revelation or a non-spiritual revelation. They are simply different paths. Equally valid, equally moral and sometimes equally degenerate.
However, I don't believe that Christopher Hitchens challenge in any way validates his theory that "God Is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything".
I am a much happier, nicer, more compassionate and less stressed person because of my religion. I will say my ethical code has never changed but my actions I believe are more in line with that code now because practicing everyday reminds me of the person I want to be.
And Sandy: You Rock! Lol.
I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing. I like the idea of utilitarianism, i'm sure i spelled that wrong, the ethical theory that states the correct course of action is that which does the most good for the most people. like....hmmmmmm....universall health care!
The term "fittest" in evolutionary terms simply means the most suitable (to its environment) rather than the strongest or most superior.
Even if what College politico says is true (which I don't believe it is), it doesn't mean that the theory of evolution is false: it just means that its consequences and implications are not very palatable. Which is not the same thing.
I'm not sure why everybody is getting caught up on arguments about evolution... thats really not the point of what I'm talking about. All I'm saying is that darwinism has been used to justify genocide, slavery, and segregation. How do you refute their claims without relying on a higher power? Further more how would an atheist justify egalitarianism?
(On a side not in practical terms what exactly is the difference between the most suitable and the most superior? How are they not one in the same?)
Actually religion has been used to justify genocide, slavery and segregation.
Ok... Thats not the point though. Sure, you can twist anything to justify anything and people have throughout history. The difference is that you can logically use belief in a higher power to refute genocide, slavery, and segregation and also to justify egalitarianism. You cannot do the same without a higher power... atleast not that I can see.
Certainly that would be more ideal, but that isn't what has happened now is it?
Yes but the original question of this thread was "Name me an ethical statement made, or an ethical act performed, by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer."
I said that ""We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a statement that I can't see an Atheist making logically.
I don't see how an atheist can logically justify egalitarianism...
How about now?
And it is worth bearing in mind that these words were written by men who owned slaves.
This will most definately be too simplistic for the likes of someone in such a sophisticated box such as yourself but here goes:
I hold reason to be a higher power than my other faculties in making ethical choices because I choose to.
Anything that is gravely unreasonable is an evil to be avoided if at all possible.
I would not want to be killed
It seems other people do not want to be killed
Wiping out whole classes of people indiscriminately is unreasonable
Genocide constitutes the wiping out of whole classes of people indiscriminately
Genocide is unreasonable
Servitude without just compensation (reciprocity of some sort) is gravely unreasonable. For example a slave being treated like dirt for year's on end and never being put in a position where he can earn money or tradeable goods so as to gain his independence.
Slavery is servitude without just compensation.
Slavery is gravely unreasonable.
Segregation based on skin color that leads to grave hardship is unreasonable. All men are of necessity equal as regards right to live based on skin color (all things considered).
A man is a man regardless of skin color
Tom is black
Tom is a man
Why should tom be segregated?
As far as twisting anything to justify anything, aye, you are correct, the press does that every day. However, that is no cop out when faced with the inevitable extrapolation people make at the expense of other people's very live's and physical safety when they take literally certain things in the bible like genocide. If I start from the premise that genocide is good in certain rare scenarios that only God can dictate, then should one of those situations arise that would constitute a rare situation where god would dictate genocide then the natural extrapolation will inevitably result in genocide.
I do find it interesting that when confronted with the problem of slavery most x-tians or others who don't have enough intellectual honesty to admit they support slavery will revert to just asking what you mean by slavery and then saying "no thats not what I think slavery is" and keep doing that until you paint them into this ridiculous corner that you both agree is ridiculous which in some very narrow sense constitutes slavery and which has absolutely nothing to do with slavery in general.
People are very good at evading a direct answer when they would prefer to thought stop themselves at the risk of cognitive dissonance if they do not.
While asking for an exact definition of slavery certainly may seem impressive to some, the hair splitting of it is not designed to answer the question but to escape no matter the most absurd corner the one trying to reach a non vague answer paint's the others understanding of slavery.
Beat around the Bush aka Half Truth aka Mental Reservation. It just makes people better at lieing to two classes of people, themselves, and everybody else.
Well you keep on bringing up "darwinism," as though it was some sort of alternative lifestyle choice rather than a scientific theory of what happens in nature. And as we have already agreed, a belief in a higher power - the Christian version anyway has been used to justify genocide by Hitler. So I am not sure why you would think that an atheist who believes there is no God would not wish for or strive towards an egalitarian society. This is what the bible says of slavery:
"However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way." (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)
"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment." (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)
"If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever." (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)
So, I don;t see how a belief in a higher power has anything to do with an egalitarian society either. In fact, the atheist is more likely to strive towards it because he is not fettered with these sort of instructions. i.e. that slavery is God's will.
Yes it is true that the bible has passages which regulate "slavery"... but of course it never endorses or condones "slavery". And of course the "slavery" of biblical times was FAR different from the slavery we are familiar with. But here is a site that explains all of this much better than I could: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html
But this is all beside the point. I gave you atleast one logical reason why a belief in a higher power refutes claims of natural superiority and justifies egalitarianism. My request is that someone do the same thing from a perspective that there is not higher power.
But the problem is that you have not done so.
And you are still insisting that "natural superiority," as defined by Darwin is a choice.
I guess you didn't read Jenny's post explaining the theory of evolution?
And you didn't answer the OPs question.
If I take out "created" and "creator," I can make the same statement.
And you are twisting, "Survival of the fittest." To read "Natural superiority."
This was my justification from a theistic perspective:
[How about: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
The idea behind this is that there are many ways in which we are unequal from a human perspective, for instance we all have different levels of intellect and physical ability. But when we look at the difference between us and God it makes the differences we see between each other utterly superficial.]
Also the darwinism I have talked about which influenced the nazis, eugenics movement, and Japanese empire is more akin to a mix of evolutionary theory and social darwinism. They basically claimed that you can equate what they perceived as physical superiority with social superiority and that you could either enslave or exterminate the inferior.
Now, I see logical reasons for believing all are equal in light of a higher power but without that higher power how do you justify that all are equal?
You say that you can remove created or creator and still make that claim. So you end up with "All men are equal" which is an unsubstantiated claim... I don't doubt that you believe it but the thing I want to know is why are all men equal?
But the claim that all men are equal is clearly false - whether you believe in a higher power (God) or not.
To paraphrase George Orwell, "All men are equal. But some are more equal than others."
It would seem we are in accord to a certain extent.
Your original quote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
How can all men be created equal? Doesn't make sense form a purely logical point of view, or a theistic point of view.
And I don't see why a belief that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness also relies on a belief in God. I believe that everyone should have a right to these things and I don't believe in God.
Whether they get these rights is another question and people have been preventing others from attaining these rights far longer than either Chistianism or "social Darwinism," were even coined.
And not everyone has a right to life even, according to some Christians/Americans. The same country that was "founded," on your opening statement has the death penalty.
A much higher quality argument than our usual also
Claims of a moral right bestowed by that very same higher power have been used to justify genocide, slavery and segregation, too.
All you are showing with this particular example is that human will use whatever they can lay their hands on to justify unethical actions.
As evidence, it weighs equally on both sides, or, in fact, probably more on the side of religion being used to justify atrocities, for no other reason than it has been around longer than the Theory of Evolution.
By the way, when you say "Darwinism" in this context, you are actually referring to what was called "Social Darwinism", which was nothing to do with Darwin or the Theory of Evolution.
Social Darwinist theory went like this: Darwin says the fittest survive. We are clearly superior, therefore we must survive. Blast these inferior races and lower-class peasants who are breeding faster than we are. We must put a stop to this, because we are superior and therefore we must rule the world ...
Today, the Social Darwinist would say "we should nuke the Chinese and Indians now because our rightful place is to be superior and they are outbreeding us".
See how completely OPPOSITE this is to the REAL Theory of Evolution?
The REAL Theory of Evolution would say "I know you think you're superior, chums, but the numbers are on the board and they do not support your belief. Get over yourselves."
Oh, my God, and you call yourself a Christian?
How can you even ASK such a question?
egalitarianism has nothing to do with a higher power if the higher power segregates or devides people. In which case poorly understood beliefs are not egalitarianistic they are on the contrary.
Ok... but I and the writers of the decleration are claiming that the higher power does not segregate or divide. Quite the contrary actually... the claim is that you need a higher power to logically justify equality.
No you don't all you need is people who are willing to put forth the effort with or without God, to make it happen because God is not going to come down here and then suddenly, everyone is equal. Our certain undeniable rights are that we are allowed to believe in the things that brings us happiness, that none such person has the authority to take that away.
Accepting all the differences is the body of evidence that in this way all man was created equal. And none shall have the authority to change it.
If there is no higher power then why do none have the authority to change it? Who exactly is endowing these undeniable rights? And who is enforcing them?
But I'm pretty sure we are talking about different things. I'm talking about logical justifications for equality and you seem to be talking about how to practically ensure that those rights are respected.
I think this is our fundamental point of difference.
Clearly, College Politico, you personally do not SEE that everyone is equal, and therefore you rely on your religion to guide you into ACTING as though all are equal.
On the other hand, out of the motley collection of agnostics and atheists who are trying to open your eyes, I would say that the majority simply SEE all humans as equal. To me, it is self-evident, just by looking, that everyone is equal, no matter how different they are from me.
We don't need an external authority to command us to ACT as though all humans are equal - we do it naturally because we genuinely see them that way.
It is perplexing to me that anyone would require JUSTIFICATION from any outside authority to treat other human beings with courtesy and respect, as equals.
I must confess, it's been somewhat painful trying to catch up on the day's activity. You guys are running around in circles. I think you all know my position re whether there is or isn't a God, but a belief in God is not a prerequisite to believing in the equality of man. Nor does the idea that all men are created equal actually mean that all men are equal. The problem in enforcing this equality, in my estimation, is uniquely man's. I believe we are all equal in the eyes of God, but certainly not man's.
Mark, re slavery in scripture: bondage in any form is inherently evil, be it addiction, control, good old fashion slavery, even adherence to religious rules. Although the mechanism for deliverance from bondage is readily available (faith in Jesus Christ), there will be no scriptural prohibition against bondage until Satan himself is bound. Satan has free will and free reign as much as you and I, presently. Where Christians have failed is in ministering deliverance. They point people in the right direction, but rarely ensure they arrive at the destination God has waiting for them.
I realize unbelief in God necessarily translates into unbelief in Satan (a belief which I formerly shared), but I only offer this to address any concerns that slavery is endorsed in the Bible.
Didn't Sandy kill Satan already?
And from my very small hill there is no view of Satan either. I can't say I believe in God yet, but I can say with certainty I don't believe in Satan...
This is a tough one. I actually understand where you are coming from. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure in which thread, I was somewhat skeptical about whether there was/wasn't a God, but the whole concept of a devil seemed utterly ridiculous to me. I had this very argument with as many Christians as would argue with me, even pastors and youth pastors. There is a great line from The Usual Suspects where Kevin Space says something like the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. I'm sure this statement predates the movie, but if you had asked me this question 2 years ago, I would have agreed with you, Misha.
It's not my intent to try to persuade you of Satan's existence. Admittedly, I cannot say I have met him personally, but I have had the good/mis fortune of encountering 3 of his minions. That was bad enough for me. If you have not yet experienced him, I'm grateful. I'm also hopeful you never will. I will continue to hope and pray that your encounter with God will come first. I'll let Him sort out with you whether there is or there isn't a Satan. He has a much kinder and gentler was of teaching things than does the enemy. However, it was the only way I could have learned this very important lesson.
I encourage you in your search for truth, Misha.
Seems to me that if you believe in God (which I don't) you must necessarily believe in Satan(which I don't either).
Paradise Lost is another book to add to your list if you haven't already read it Misha
Hey I beleive in God but not Satan. Ohh My God! how many people are gonna reply, no,no,you are telling lies. LOL! Dorks (not you)
True, if you believe in the Christian God, this is required, but if not, then not. I do, so yes, I do, but I spent a good deal of my life not. Now, I do.
And I know very well I may change my thoughts later, but so far this ugly guy does not fit my beliefs
Much above my intelligence here.
All men are created equal: Well, don't we all start out as helpless little Babies???
Some things are useless to argue, and a waste of time.
How about writing a Hub?
Some of you seem to be a little too stressed, just my opinion. Okay, bye. bjp
Try praying and see how far it gets.
Well Mark, I might offend you and stuff, but here goes. You are gonna go to Heaven whether you like it or not whether you believe in God or not, too bad!
Betty, how many kids do you have? I have three, and all of them are not equal and never been. And never been helpless, too
Although I don't agree with what College politico is saying (does anyone?) I have to acknowlege that at least he has made a stab at coming up with a response to the original challenge.
As Mark has correctly pointed out, a couple of textual amendments would make the statement he has quoted perfectly acceptable to a non-believer - but College politico has made a serious and determined effort (the only one?) to take up the challenge, and I think we should all congratulate him on that.
Hey, it's Easter Sunday, folks - I'm trying to be magnanimous here!
I suppose you all want to know: I have three kids. Not a bit alike.
BUT: they were all born as helpless little babies, couldn't feed themselves, or change those messy diapers.
Come on, We are All born Equal, Helpless little babies, Is this not true?
I skipped reading most of your comments. My Bible says you should not get into useless and vain conversations.
My prayers come from inside, and that's where my God is, and everywhere. So, Mark, I guess it really doesn't have to go far.
I had open-heart surgery two years ago, yes, little ole me! I went into surgery smiling, because either way, I knew I was okay.
Yes, also believe there is a Satan. But, no, I don't believe just because a person dies they go to Heaven. Don't count on that Mark.
As someone else said you might, sorry to pick on you.
I read the King James Version of the Holy Bible. I'm not forcing anyone else to.
I can pray for you. I'm Betty Jo
Come on Betty, you contradict yourself You just said your kids always were not a bit alike - means they are not equal. Granted , we all do same things - but we all do them differently - we are not equal...
Oh, and about the helplessness - don't you remember how they forced you to do things they needed?
I know, but how can you believe in God, but not Satan?
And this is my own version of what has probably been said before:
If it never gets dark - how do you know when it is light?
well fair question. but in the light there is no such thing as dark unless you chose to turn around and find it. Hence, never look back.
I agree with this completely. In my opinion there is light and dark in everything. I don't believe though that things are 'evil'. Even the most heinous criminal on earth is still human, they have just given in to their dark side which we all have.
I believe to walk in the light you have to acknowledge the dark. Yin and Yang, night and day, positive and negative they exist in everything.
Absolutely Just to extend it a bit further - there is winter and summer, winter being dark and summer being light - and they combine together to form year. Russians have a special word for combined day and night, too - and it would have illustrated the point even better.
Anyway, in this analogy for me place of the God is year, not summer or winter. This places the God beyond good and evil, and allows the God to incorporate both...
I think in today's world, just about anyone can believe just about anything.
Need evidence? Look at the posts on this thread alone!
Belief in God is plausible depending on how you define the word. Paul Tillich defined it as either "The ground of being" or one's "ultimate concern." I think that what concerns most believers is to preserve a sense of transcendence and the intuition that there is a spiritual dimension to life. Personally, I happen to believe there is an objective referent for "mystical experience." What "that" is, I don't pretend to know.
Christianity does not claim non-believers can't do ethical deeds, they can. It is all in the motivation, why are they doing them. They do them for selfish reasons, before I get attacked believers do at times also, but we are capable of doing ethical deeds because we have been forgiven in Christ. This will be denied by the atheist but the denial will be of selfish motivation as well.
Well, we atheists just can't win, can we? If we do good deeds, we're doing them for selfish reasons - and if we deny that believers do good deeds because they "have been forgiven in Christ" (whatever that means), well, it seems that's just plain selfish too ....
It seems to me that to perform a particular action because of fear of punishment or hope of reward may be a sensible or prudent thing to do, but I'm not convinced it's a moral one. To perform a moral act for no ulterior reason - no storing up brownie points in heaven, no ingratiating oneself with some invisible supernatural being, no fulfilling some arbitrary set of instructions set out in a miscellaneous collection of Middle-Eastern, late-Bronze-Age folk tales - but solely out of a shared common humanity with our fellow creatures, with no supernatural or "higher" justification or motive - now *that* seems like a moral act to me.
Well you certainly are a good guy. Now send me a couple of hundred bucks.
There is no earning anything in Christianity, Christ has earned it all for us. You are correct, you are in a no win situation, and God has made that clear in His word:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
The Holy Bible : English Standard Version., Ro 1:18-25 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).
I pray the Lord would open your eyes and soften your heart to His truth, which is the only truth there is.
And this truth has nothing to do with christianity
I think I am more atheist, the only reason I can't say I am atheist is because I believe in God, but not all this gibberish about you have to do this, or that, bla, bla, bla. Just something better.
Maybe I don't believe in God, I just believe in something. Yip, I think it is the safest way to go.
You know the way spammer make Hubs?
Grab a bunch of stuff they have seen elsewhere and jam it together?
Original thought not required. In fact, a liability, because it slows you down.
I embraced the fact that I'm going to hell a long time ago. Now I just enjoy the ride. Lol
I have been very clear in what I have said and the scripture is even more so. If you do not understand what I or the Bible proclaim then it is because God has chosen not to open your eyes to it.
So the scriptures are clear and not open to interpretation and all the churches agree then ?
Here are a few obvious ones that might be open to interpretation - possibly:
God is seen and heard
Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/Ex 24:9-11
God is invisible and cannot be heard
John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
God gives freely to those who ask
James 1:5/ Luke 11:10
God withholds his blessings and prevents men from receiving them
John 12:40/ Josh 11:20/ Is 63:17
See? Real easy to see which is clear there.
And you are missing the rather obvious alternative - that god does not exist
Back to the baby thing.
Lay a newborn baby down and walk away from it and what happens. It is totally helpless. I win.
Okay, atheists, say that one.
I understand what you are saying there, I really do, and yes, I was a wonderful and fantastic mother, Of course!
But I have also heard many babies die from just a lack of love.
You are the one not understanding me.
Are not all human beings born as little babies incapable of taking care of themselves?
EQUAL - ha ha.
I love laughter. It's good.
Now, I'm off to other wonders of computer-Land. My real world. bjp
Yes, they can't take care of themselves directly. All of them. And nope, they are not equally helpless Some of them survive, some die - obviously far from being equal...
It's just irritating the way believers look down upon atheists and vice versa. I really don't care of my brother or sister believes or not, as long as they are nice folks. I like to believe God does not care, too. He's not a politician who goes around counting votes and conducting surveys.
Well, as this one has fizzled out, did anyone manage to answer the challenge or is it safe to say that Thom has proved his point?
It is not possible to name an ethical statement made or an ethical act performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer.
Well, let's see here. Not even an atheist can get around God. Because saying you don't believe in God implies there is a God. If there is no God, then how can you dispute it?
The healings and exorcisms and raising of the dead performed by Jesus and his disciples were ethical acts, were they not? Have there been similar acts performed by non-believers?
Yes, indeed, many.
I know several non-religious medical staff who have revived people who were clinically dead, and I am aware of several people who have produced their own miraculous cures through a process of meditation and "faith-healing", but are not religious at all. They believe it is simply a natural human capability.
I, myself, cured myself of the traumatic effects of a childhood trauma, and as a result in my 30s grew 5 centimetres taller.
And I am a complete non-believer, in that I don't even believe with 100% certainty that *I* exist!
Not sure I agree that bringing people back from the dead is an ethical act. If this happened all the time, there would be no room for the living. And there is a good argument that none of this happened.
No. There is no need to prove a negative. I am disputing others' statements that there is a God. I acknowledge God in no way whatsoever other than to dispute people's claim that there is one.
Science is merely observation and making a conclusion from those observations. It exists. Period. And how many times have you thought you were in love only to discover it was jealousy or infatuation or some other emotion.? Of course, then we have the problem of defining love
And of course it is a challenge of logic. But one thing is clear - you do not need to believe in a God to behave in an ethical fashion as we understand ethics
This must be some strange new meaning of the word "lives" that I was previously unaware of as in, "Jesus lives in your imagination."
Which is hard to argue with
Still not an ethical statement though.
Well. All I was asking was a question. Which you have avoided answering by using a stock phrase which is unfortunately meaningless to me. For several reasons.
So please explain how your previous comment is ethical in any way.
And thank you, I am not as smart as I think sometimes, but I have thought about it. How is praying an ethical action? I just do not understand. Please explain rather than tell me to read a book I have read, studied, dissected and made my decision about.
I am helping people. The sooner you distance yourself from this attachment to a nonexistent God, the sooner you will be able to bask in the glory that is the genuine truth. You will feel more comfortable with yourself, be less anxious about things that are unimportant and untrue.
Atheism is the way forward for a happier, healthier more productive life. Just imagine the wars that could have been prevented and the suffering that could have been avoided if no one believed in God. All I ask is that you open your heart to the truth. It will set you free
Just think how much good all that money in the church could do if it was used in an ethical, atheist fashion instead of building monuments to the glory of God.
More people were killed in the name of atheism in the twentieth century than in all previous centuries combined. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot just to name a few.
Hitler was a self professed, baptized, practicing Catholic whose hatred of the Jews stemmed originally from his bible learnings.
And I don't see how you can kill some one in the name of atheism? Care to elaborate?
Also, you need to take those figures as a percentage of the population. I think the South American tribes such as the Inca's would disagree also.
Ans I was just responding to some one who told me to read the bible and all would become clear LOL And was avoiding the original question.
Mark Knowles wrote:
I agree with you here, reading the Bible is not going to make things clear for you, only God opening your eyes will make things clear
Have to disagree with you there. Do you remember learning about the crusades? Hitler was religious and majority of wars in history were fought in God's name. How many indigenous people have been killed in history because they choose to follow their own religion and not God's word? What about the Salem Witch Trials? Joan of Arc?
Even wars started for non-religious reasons a lot of the time were and are instigated by highly religious political leaders. Being religious does not equate to being ethical or peaceful.
Need I mention the "wrath of God" that so many Old Testament Christians believe in and perpetuate.
Well, I started this particular topic because I thought Chritopher Hitchens had issued a really interesting challenge and I was curious to see if anyone could respond to it in a serious, meaningful way.
I have to say that I don't think anyone has - although there have been one or two valiant attempts.
Mark is absolutely right, of course, when he says that praying and quoting huge swathes of Biblical text are not ethical acts. But, more importantly, I think the whole question of morality highlights an extremely interesting dilemma for religious believers.
The issue, I think, is this:
Are certain actions right because God commands them?
Or does God command them because they are right?
If the former is true, then God could make any action right or wrong for no other reason than that He declares it to be so. We all think, for example, that child abuse is wrong. But why is it wrong? If it is wrong for no other reason than that God says it is, then presumably He could equally well declare it to be perfectly acceptable.
The religious believer, of course, would say that God could never do that because God is incapable of condoning an evil or immoral action. But that would imply that there is a moral imperative that even God has to acknowledge, and that the "rightness" or "wrongness" of an action is independant of God's decision. In other words, God is totally superfluous when it comes to determing matters of morality. But that won't do either, will it?
I think the question of morality is a veritable minefield for religious believers - much more so than for non-believers - and they should tread therein with great caution and not simply make sweeping statements that have no validity apart from within the context their own belief systems.
There is a 3rd possibility as it relates to this specific question: both are true.
Sorry, Peter, but I just don't get that - or, at least, not without a considerable degree of moral contortion.
The two questions seem to me to be mutually exclusive.
Care to elaborate a little?
It's a fun question, to be sure, but ultimately a false dilemna, a distinction without difference. In my humble opinion, God can only fo what is good AND it is good because God did it.
...I'm not sure if this is any clearer. It makes perfect sense in my head, I'm just not sure if I communicated it well...
No, it's not any clearer, I'm afraid.
Sure, you can *say* that the two questions are one and the same and that it makes perfect sense to you personally (after all, anybody can say anything!) - but that doesn't mean that what you are asserting has any independent rational meaning.
It sounds a bit like you are trying to have your moral cake and eat it.
But, as you say, a fun question ....
I don't think God has anything to do with good or bad actions.
You just are what you are.
Why on Earth anyone would believe that using God as an excuse is God worship.
I don't believe but a few people have ever gotten to hear or see God.
I think that lack of acceptance of other people, is more like a lack of faith.
I think that hinting that someone will go to hell for not believing something that has proven nothing other than mans inablilty to accept and be nice to each other, is not God at all.
I think, that calling peoplel liars for believing what they believe as true makes you a liar.
I think no one has the exact same opinion of God or what God is.
I think preachers and priest and pastors and such do not have what it takes to lovingly accept people as they are, I think you couldn't find it in yourselves to just love them they way they are, without feeling like you have to change them.
I think the battle for the kingdom of heaven revokes you right to the Kingdom all together.
I think that loving people, even ones full of hate and rage and hurt, is very well qualifying to God.
I think that anyone who tells you that you are a spirit of Dark, or a fallen Angel, or Satan, is full of the same spirit of dark.
I think that any path to God will do if you heart is in the right place.
I think everyone goes to the same place, so if you think I am going to Hell, then so are you, if you think that I am going to Heaven, then so are you, if you think that I will just decay in the ground then so will you, if you say I will come back as something else then so will you, if you think I came from God, then so do you.
I think God is for everyone, not your interpretation of God. I think it rediculas that a baptist talks smack about Jahova, or calvanist, to mormon, or mormon to orthidox, etc. You all believe in the same God, so who cares. Your way is not better then their way, and if their way works for them, don't tell them you are wrong, because guess, what, you are wrong.
I could go on and on.
Thom - I think that would only make sense if you are a believer
So if God tells you to do something it is "right," because God tells you to do it. But this is a different sort of "right," and not to be confused with something being right and God saying to do this.
It helps to believe that whatever God says is "right."
I am not religious, but rather spiritual. Has anyone seen
'The Apostle', 1997, Robert Duvall? My opinion - great.
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