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Why People Justify Immorality and Make Excuses for Bad Behavior

Updated on January 13, 2014

immorality

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Fundamental Immorality

It’s increasingly difficult for me to either accept or ignore the fact that theists (in this particular case Christians) are able to follow logic just fine – until it gets to a certain point, and then they’re simply unwilling or unable to follow it any further. I find myself going around and around on certain points without making any headway, even when both of us have made what seemed like significant progress up to that point.

I also find it difficult to rationalize how Christians can be skeptical of most other aspects in their lives, whether it’s about another religion’s beliefs, or other fantastic claims made by other people – they have no problem admitting that they think the claims are silly, but they are not able to see how that presents a logical error in their own thought process when it comes to their own beliefs. How do personal beliefs escape the foundations of logic? How can skepticism be present and accounted for but not in terms of personal faith? How can you admit that certain things defy reason or probability, yet still believe in them?

It’s also disturbing to encounter some people recently who seem to have this errant opinion that no one who lacks a belief in god can possibly have a fundamental morality. They believe that their morals come from a holy book or a preacher or their own personal faith and find it impossible to accept that an atheist or agnostic could be moral. I find it impossible to understand how someone can claim the Bible as the ultimate moral guideline for not only their life – but the lives of everyone else on earth throughout history up to the present. I find it bordering on abuse to give the Bible in its entirety to children and tell them that it’s the “good” book. And I find the excuses that many believers give for some of the Bible’s teaching to be absolutely ridiculous – and against their own beliefs. When you point that out to them, however, you’re in danger of being told that you simply don’t understand because you don’t believe in it. In my case, however, I used to. Then I decided to use my brain, and I couldn’t explain certain things away anymore.


Source

Specific Equation for Biblical Immorality:

Within my discussions, I’ve uncovered a series of questions that seem to lead people along a particular path, but when you get to a certain point, you encounter a roadblock that is nearly always insurmountable. I’ve only gotten past this barrier once or twice, and I’ve discussed these issues with dozens and dozens of people ranging from fundamentalist to the more-progressive episcopal. The funny thing is that none of them have actually given me the same answer in comparison to their other believers – yet all their beliefs are based upon the same book. How can a book commonly believed to be the inspired word of god inspire so much contention among its followers? If you were an all-knowing, all-powerful deity, wouldn’t you think that you’d know better than to be so ambiguous? There’s not a Bible 2.0 that clarifies some of these positions. This is all there is – yet the believers can’t even agree, so how are they supposed to convince anyone else? Isn’t that the ultimate goal – to win every soul in the world for Christ? My questions are predetermined to the equation and are listed below, followed by the answers I’ve usually been given by Christians of multiple denominations.

Question 1: Do you believe that the Bible was inspired by god?

Answer: yes

Question 2: Do you believe that the Bible is infallible?

Answer: yes

Question 3: Do you believe that God is all-knowing, all-powerful and in all time?

Answer: yes

Question 4: Does God change?

Answer: no

Question 5: Can you think of any circumstance in which owning another human being is moral? -or- is slavery moral or immoral?

Answer: no. It’s immoral.

The equation:

Slavery is Immoral (x) + God (via the Bible as predetermined above) endorses slavery = God is immoral.


The Justification:

Usually at this point, the conversation goes in one of two ways, and it’s almost predictable exactly what the Christian will say in order to overcome the obvious cognitive dissonance within their own beliefs. Never mind the fact that anyone who is attempting to justify slavery or excuse it away on behalf of their deity is immoral, period.

Argument #1:

God does not endorse slavery

Answer: “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 onto 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

“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 were 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

“When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property” Exodus 21:20-21

God did not have any compunction about dictating things that people were not allowed to do, such as the 10 commandments where it is clearly stated “thou shalt not…” If slavery is immoral, as you claim that it is, and God endorses it and dictates laws that describe who you can own, who you can’t own and how badly they can be beaten, that God is not moral.

Argument #2:

That was in the Old Testament, and those laws were changed when Jesus came to earth.

Answer: Oh really? There are a few points to make in response to this kind of blanket statement.

a) If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and in all time as you previously claimed, why make laws that would then be changed when he sent his son to earth as a human sacrifice back to himself. Why create such a flawed system? If God does not change and God endorsed slavery in the Old Testament, then it stands to reason (reason being the imperative word) that he would still endorse it to this day. Additionally, Jesus himself said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

b) If you’re going to chuck out the entirety of the Old Testament, you not only abolish the majority of your case against homosexuality as a sin worthy of death, but you also get rid of all the prophecies that you claim establish Jesus as the Messiah as well as the 10 commandments. You cannot say that the Old Testament is invalid, yet still use it to defend your position. Not to mention you stole the Old Testament from the Jewish faith – and Jesus himself WAS a Jew. Without the Old Testament, you have no foundation to rest the New Testament upon, and if the Old Testament was truly out as you claim, it would not be referenced repeatedly to back up the claims of Jesus in the New Testament by the gospel writers, Paul and more.

c) It’s not just the Old Testament that condones and endorses slavery.

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” Ephesians 6:5

“Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them” 1 Timothy 6:1-2

And, in the words of Jesus himself (allegedly): “The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty he refused to do it. But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given” Luke 12:47-48

It’s also important to point out that Christian slave owners were not advised or taught to set their slaves free. Rather, Christian SLAVES were told to respect their masters even if they were fellow Christians – and that their religious beliefs should not be an excuse for disrespect. Clearly the Bible has not changed its stance on slavery between the Testaments.

Argument #3

(This one is particularly sickening) When the Bible mentions slavery, it doesn’t mean the type of slavery you’re thinking of in North America. It was referring to indentured servitude.

Answer:

First of all, you’re just completely wrong. Going back to the verses I listed above, the Bible was VERY clear about who could be enslaved. You were allowed to own people from other tribes that resided within your reach. It was only OTHER JEWS that could be considered indentured servants in order to repay a debt, and that could only be enforced for a period of 6 years. Additionally, however, God was kind enough to provide a loophole for even that. If you gave your indentured servant(slave) a wife and he didn’t want to go free without her, or they had children and he wanted to stay with his children – you were able to accept his offer of eternal slavery graciously, pierce his ear – AND THEN YOU WOULD OWN HIM FOREVER.

When the Bible discusses how you can beat your slaves and to what severity, it sounds EXACTLY like the slavery we’ve read about in North America. You’ve taken foreigners that happened to be on your land (the land that you TOOK from them, incidentally) and enslaved them. You can beat them whenever you like – as long as they don’t die within two days. If they die AFTER the two day waiting period, you’re good. If they are just severely injured and don’t die at all, you’re good as well – after all, they’re your PROPERTY.

Argument #4:

Well that was a difference in culture. Things have changed since then.

Answer:

If the Bible is only culturally relevant in certain scenarios, who decides what laws were due to culture, and which laws should still be followed? How do you believe that any of it still applies? This argument also does nothing to cut down the fundamental truth that slavery is immoral, god endorses it and that makes god immoral. The fact of the matter is that the ONLY reason you consider this to be a cultural difference that no longer applies is that in order to survive, Christianity was forced to evolve and separate itself from a lot of its horrific past. Christianity simply could not survive the age of enlightenment and reason if it still clung to its ideals about slavery and continued the inquisitional age forward. The slave owners in the confederate south claimed that slavery was their right dictated by god and the abolitionists were the ones that were the ones going against God’s word. Technically speaking, as difficult as it may be to hear, they were right. That doesn’t make slavery moral. That makes the Bible immoral, cruel and barbaric. It’s a 2000+ year old book that is NOT the foundation for morals as society knows them today.

Argument #5:

Well God’s ways are different from our ways. Some things we’re just not going to be able to understand until we get to heaven and he knows best.

Answer:

So you’re okay with slavery being enacted again, since you want to follow the letter of God’s law? Additionally, I would argue that any moral code that dictates that people are going to be held accountable for its following when they have repeatedly demonstrated that they are incapable of understanding it is inherently immoral to begin with. To go back to the verse that I quoted from Jesus, he’s advocating that people that didn’t know they were doing anything wrong should only be punished lightly – but punished nonetheless. How can you possibly justify punishing someone who doesn’t know that what they’re doing is wrong? In modern society, we treat people who are mentally ill differently than we treat criminals. They don’t have to stand trial, in a lot of cases – if they do stand trial, they are often declared not guilty by reason of insanity. They’re not given the death penalty. They’re not shoved into a prison cell in general population with all the other criminals. They’re put in a mental institution where they can receive treatment, medicine and observation. Justice dictates that the only way someone can be held accountable for their actions is if they are mentally competent enough to understand them.


Closing Thoughts:

While it’s rare to have the conversation continue all the way up to this point, it has been known to happen on rare occasions. At this point, you see an almost visible line go up behind the eyes of the Christian that they are simply unwilling to cross. This is called cognitive dissonance. Things are beginning to crumble – even if they’re not willing to admit it. Some people are able to move past this kind of conversation and pretend that it never happened and never give it a second thought. Some people have a nagging doubt start in the back of their minds that they’re never quite able to shake. Others simply start applying logic and skepticism to their own faith (like I did). Regardless of the outcome, the goal is not to force anyone away from faith. It’s to start an open dialogue where some of the problems in blind faith can be examined in depth, to open the eyes of people who have chosen ignorance over intelligence. It’s to apply rationality to every aspect of life – including religion. In the end, it’s about understanding morals. As soon as I realized that I as a person was more moral than the god I was raised to believe in, I stopped believing in him. I’ve never looked back since.

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    • vveasey profile image

      vveasey 4 years ago from Detroit,MI

      Amen Brother!

      I know just how you feel and what you mean

    • berghianl profile image

      berghianl 4 years ago from Bonham, Texas

      "Regardless of the outcome, the goal is not to force anyone away from faith. It’s to start an open dialogue where some of the problems in blind faith can be examined in depth, to open the eyes of people who have chosen ignorance over intelligence." OK

      I actually enjoyed the article very much! Well done! I'm going to take your words for it then!!

      I do appreciate a well thought argument myself as well. However, if having faith is ignorance, then we indeed have nothing to talk about!! Do we? I struggle with faith the same way you struggle without. Don't say you don't... you'd only disappoint me!! What is the difference between us?? Is your non-faith helping you any better?

      I perfectly understand your reasoning, but there are many reasons why no culture makes sense in entirety to another; whether slavery, weapons of mass destruction, wars, abortion, homosexuality, etc. It just does not!

      What is the difference between faith and blind faith, anyway?! If "good" faith adapts well, then it is indeed a mere prop not worthy of a name. If it is blind faith then at least it's virtuous--not that I condone or understand your definition of it anyway.

      Moreover, why do you equate reason with intelligence? You live in a culture that just like your regular christian, it fails to support its arguments whenever it decides not to.

      We are indeed two ignorant sprouts springing forth from the same seed. What is the difference between us really?? Bigotry?? Double standard or simple faith?

      I admire your passion to illuminate us! I do! You succeeded in throwing us off! Good for you! Now... again... how is this going to help us???

      I hope you don't fail to understand my heart in all this! And, though I doubt it, I truly hope that its working out for you!

      Wish you all the luck in the world!!! You'll need it!

      Wish me faith:)))

    • vveasey profile image

      vveasey 4 years ago from Detroit,MI

      berghianl

      (Origin: Faith

      1200–50; Middle English feith Anglo-French fed, Old French feid, feit Latin fidem, accusative of fidēs trust, akin to fīdere to trust.)

      So faith is trust, confidence or belief. If you have rational or factual reasons, or evidence for your faith or trust in something or someone. Your faith is not blind.

      But if you don't have factual or rational reasons or evidence supporting your faith or if there are factual or rational reasons and evidence against your faith and you still have faith.

      I'd say your faith is blind faith.

    • berghianl profile image

      berghianl 4 years ago from Bonham, Texas

      veasey thank you kindly for your response!!!

      You are right, your definition of faith (i suppose you did not just come up with it however!!) is what we commonly hold as trust or confidence.

      The faith I am talking about is one that goes in spite of changing evidence, one that gives me hope that thorough fire and without any evidence or possibility of escape, I shall try anyway. The one that gives the "lost at sea" strength to fight another hour without water, and tells the parents of the kidnapped that he/she will ultimately turn up again.

      Please don't tell me it mere survival instinct... It is faith that transcends mere reason. It is confidence, but not in the things that make sense in that moment, but things hoped for. It is assurance, but assurance above what we can see (Heb. 11:1).

      Who needs faith that trusts only what makes sense? Now, you can call it blind faith if you'd like, but I don't want to be in your skin when all your evidence fades away and you are left to hope... for something... anything!! Then, you turn to faith:((

      Faith is an exercise of the will into acting upon certain presuppositions--whatever those may be and most times against clear evidence--toward a certain outcome.

      The power faith has upon us is exactly that: while reason stands to fail us eventually, faith shall never do!!

      Listen, we may truly be the cockiest and sometimes the most stupid people you'll ever talk to, but please don't insult our humanity!!!

    • vveasey profile image

      vveasey 4 years ago from Detroit,MI

      berghianl

      No insult intended, just enjoying the conversion and trying to help clarify the issue.

      I would say that the "faith" you're referring to could be called hope.

      Or maybe a conjunction of faith and hope (faith, hope and charity)

      Hope is idea that maybe things will change this time and if they don't change ,maybe they will change next time and so on and so on.

      That's how the battered spouse syndrome works.

      Spouse A beats up Spouse B.

      Spouse A vows to never do that again.

      Spouse B believes it.

      Spouse A does it again and apologizes and Spouse B accepts it and hopes Spouse A won't do again.

      This pattern keeps repeating itself again and again, because Spouse B keeps hoping against hope that this time Spouse A will be different.

      Faith against all odds is romantic and has in some cases helped some of us to survive or to succeed when it looked like we wouldn't do either.

      But on the other hand, some of us had faith we would survive and still went down with the ship.

      It's seem like you would rather have faith that you will survive even as you're going down with the ship.

      If you're gonna a die why not die happy, right?.

      So I'm not dissing blind faith, faith or hope, (to each his own) unless it's going to cause harm to others.

      But sometimes wouldn't you agree that hope or faith can keep you hanging on too long?

    • berghianl profile image

      berghianl 4 years ago from Bonham, Texas

      You've certainly chosen a great example of "faith gone wrong"... gush that really sounds like a great show!! I said it first:)))

      It sure looks like faith or hope against ALL odds, but it is faith nonetheless. Lofty just as well:)) I'd say you can't fight faith and love for that matter, which kind of complicates things in this instance. Would not LOVE do the same, though?! But we never say love in itself is wrong, but a beautiful thing that could turn ugly from time to time.

      Everyone needs someone who would believe in them no matter how hopeless the cause don't you think?! Reason has little to do with it. It's rather a human thing! I'd say it's who we are!

      In the same way, faith can turn ugly, but it is still faith!

      Can't throw the baby with the water.

      Anyway, we should get our own hub if we're gonna turn this into a conversation:)))

    • vveasey profile image

      vveasey 4 years ago from Detroit,MI

      I talked about various kind of faith not just "faith gone wrong". I was just illustrating how faith or hope can operate in various scenarios

      And I don't see a baby to throw out or any bathwater

      I didn't say anything about reason in relation to faith.

      But you say "reason has little to do with. it's human thing"

      Reason isn't a human thing? (this is not a rhetorical question)

      You say "in the same way, faith can turn ugly, but it is still faith!"

      I don't really understand why you're arguing this point, unless you think I said if faith turns ugly it's not faith, but I don't think I said that did I? (this is not a rhetorical question)

    • chip1775 profile image

      Brett Wood 4 years ago from Atlanta

      Well written hub. I would consider changing the title though.

    • profile image

      Bob 4 years ago

      I think a good point was made that even an atheist needs more faith to believe that there isn't a God. As for slavery of course it's wrong but look at the time that the old testament was written or can't we use our brain to do that? The Jewish people themselves were made slaves by the Egyptians and God used that to unite them and then of course he set them free by his own hand when he knew the time was right ( again he never said he wanted their to be slaves he knew the hearts of man the slave owners and delivered his people from them. Similarly look at the new testament times and see that the Jewish people were conquered by the Romans and were hung on crosses as any punishment for rebellion. So many were hung on crosses that they ran out of lumber and had to ship it in. Slavery had become a common practice in those times... God never said take ye up there ye slaves in fact when Israel was first given the promised land they were to go in and wipe out every tribe (of course you will say this is genocide) that was not of God and who did not believe in the true God... it is also noted that aliens were allowed to convert to Judaism and many did and their lives were spared. Note also that the tribes which were wiped out performed infant and human sacrifices... can anyone of faith and non-faith say this is a good thing to kill a baby? Also note that because of their greed and failure to do as God commanded the Jewish people began to take slaves. Which takes us up to the new testament times in which the Jews themselves were taken again to be slaves by the Assyrians and other countries because of their lack of faith and disobedience to God. Also note that then and up to the time of the New Testament many slaves were white or of any color so race was not an issue... in those days to truly defeat a country meant to take as many slaves as the conquering nation desired. You will never read in the Bible where God ever said you should have slaves... he knew the hearts of men and as is similar with divorce he allowed (he did not condone it or set things up to be that way) them their shortcomings (instead of just obliterating them and the rest of mankind off of the planet for disobeying). Also he saw fit to spare peoples lives or allowed slavery instead of death because a dead person can't find repentance or as you say "faith in God". So if you go to the culture of the New Testament you will find Jewish slaves (note your common Jewish person was too poor to even think of owning a slave), Greek slaves and every other kind of slave in the known countries surrounding the Roman Empire. And yes to strike a nerve, Paul and the other followers of Christ were only addressing the culture of the day where free and slave lived together and being a slave was often a better life than having nothing (which again is not condoning slavery) it is just addressing the culture of that time. Could Paul or any other believer of Christ who were persecuted themselves stand up and say stop it ... stop it all now cause I said so? Paul nor any of Jesus' followers ever had slaves and if their was one in a household they would have been treated as family... so in that time the idea for a Christian household who owned slaves was to undermine the idea of slavery and if the slaves weren't treated like an equal part of the household, the owners were not obeying God. Also, their being part of the household allowed them to know Christ before slavery ( a flawed system that man created) was finally abandoned in later centuries. Adapting to a culture instead of wiping it out completely does show God's mercy and hand of providence. Again we can not answer all of these questions because we weren't there and didn't live in that time. I'm also sure that people will say Hitler used Christianity as justification to carry out his plans for mass genocide. Can we blame God for that too...? You see slavery and every other evil that is done by man, whether they claim to believe in God or not is the result of their not believing and obeying God to the full letter of the the law and that Jesus himself said was summed up in these two commands... Love the Lord they God with all of thy heart, mind and soul and Love thy neighbor as thyself. Likewise, the slave owners of early America whether they claim to be Christian were certainly not obeying God but only used the bible like Hitler did to justify their greed and power. Please make note of all the former slaves who have given us generations of good Christian believers in spite of the hypocrisy that they saw from their disgusting slave owners and note also some slave owners were good God- fearing Christians who were afraid to let their slaves go free because they knew they would be treated terribly in another household. I agree the whole thing was a mess and slavery never should of happened at anytime but at the same time many lives were spared because true God-fearing people born into that time period had faith and eventually slavery was ended at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives in the Civil War. To further emphasize my point that all evil like slavery is a human thing and not a God endorsed thing some of my God-fearing brothers from Africa have told me that the only continent today that still practices slavery and they have seen it with their own eyes is Africa. Again this is a human thing involving humans who love power, and others to serve them and or make money for them. I'm sure some non-believers will begin picking apart what I've written but it all comes down to the truth. God hates slavery and every other kind of evil but some evil initiated by man he has used to his benefit to unite and divide the true and the false. Furthermore, allowing one Jewish person to take another Jewish person as a slave in an agreed contract for 6 years to pay off a debt is a totally different matter from forced slavery( this is the only mentioned authorization of slavery in the bible which later generations have perverted). Which evil men have used like they have with rest of the bible throughout the ages to pervert the true word and spirit of the living God.

    • profile image

      Lybrah 4 years ago

      The Lord works in mysterious ways. His ways are not our ways.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      so what you're saying is that it's okay for god to be an immoral tyrant and you'll just excuse his behavior because you want to think that he exists, and he's good.

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      Lybrah 4 years ago

      God is God. He does what He wants when He wants. Your problem is that you cannot submit to that.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Why should I submit to that? A god that murders, that kills children, that commands others to rape, murder and torment at will is not a god deserving of worship.

      Hitler killed people at will. So did god. Do you think that Hitler was good?

    • profile image

      Lybrah 4 years ago

      God will wreak havoc on all of His enemies.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      That's nice. The thing is, I don't believe that god exists anymore - so I'm really not afraid of imaginary vengeance. Why don't you seem to be able to grasp the fact that even though people know all about your vengeful, angry god - they don't have to follow him.

    • profile image

      Lybrah 4 years ago

      They don't have to follow Him. But they will be sorry.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      So now you're threatening people for not believing in your god? You recognize that's an argument called "Pascal's Wager" and it's been thoroughly debunked, right? I've even written a hub on it.

      I'm not sorry. If the god of the bible is true, he's a jerk, and I would never demean myself and lose my own morality to follow an evil, immoral dictator. I am more moral than that god.

    • profile image

      Lybrah 4 years ago

      I have no idea what you're talking about.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      yes, i know - and that's the problem. That's the difference between an atheist that has attended theological seminary, studied the bible in the original languages, read the entire bible more times than I can count, taken courses in apologetics, been a missionary and then rejected that belief - and a believer who just believes regardless of the problems and accepts what they're told to be true, rather than finding the truth for themselves.

    • profile image

      Lybrah 4 years ago

      Well, Satan has you all wrapped up around his finger. I will pray for you.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      and I will THINK for you. I don't believe satan exists either - so I'm really not afraid of him any more than I'm afraid of your god.

      Consider this. If your god is real, he created satan. God is ultimately responsible. Chew on that one for awhile.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      God did not create Satan, God created a most beautiful angel that had free will and in that free will had pride and went against God and God cast him out of His presence. God is a just God always.

      When you close your eyes for the last time on earth you will them in front of Jesus..."every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord"

      Just because you do not believe does not mean He does not exist..just like not believing in gravity then test it by stepping off of a 10 story building.

      Jesus died on cross and rose from the dead, after He rose He spent time with the apostles and over 500 people saw Him. He is the risen King.

      God is a great God, if you do not want to believe in Him you do not have too. God does not force His creation to do anything, including Satan and including you.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      FSlovenec -

      a few problems with your comment.

      1) If your god is omniscient and knows everything - then he knew satan would fall, and created him anyway. The story of satan's supposed "fall" is not biblical. In fact, it's nowhere in it - all you have is stories from Jewish mysticism and early christian history. The "devil" in the old testament is not portrayed in the same light as the "devil" in the new. Satan, or the adversary, acts only with god's permission (as in the story of Job)

      I get that you believe in jesus. I don't care. You can't prove that any of it is true, and my hub is not the correct place for preaching, fear tactics or "you'd better repent or else".

      If I die and come face to face with the biblical "god" - I will no longer be able to say that I don't believe he exists - but I won't have to worship him. I never could. If I am more moral than a god, and I know that killing millions of people by divine command is NOT a good reason for genocide, rape and slaughter, then that being is not god.

      Can you prove that jesus ever existed at all? If you could, it would be great - since historians don't seem to validate that belief.

      Are you worried about Allah really existing? How about any of the Hindu gods, or Zeus or Apollo? If a god exists at all, you have a much higher chance of being wrong than I do. 50/50 chance that a god exists. There are hundreds of thousands of proposed gods. so your 50% chance of being right is lessened considerably when you factor in all of the other god claims. I say you have a .01% of being right. If you've spent your whole life worshiping the wrong god, you're in much more trouble than the person that just no longer believes at all.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      He knows that I am going to write this ... that does not make me do it.. prove? Jesus died and rose showed Himself to hundreds of people it is well documented...Love you brother...God Bless You

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      It is only well-documented in the bible, and the biblical accounts have been proven time and time again to have been altered, subtracted, added to and deliberately forged. I get that you want to believe it. That doesn't mean that you have justification to.

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      I find your post interesting. It seems you have decided that there could not be the God of the Bible based upon the argument of morality. Also, if the followers of Christ (Christians) cannot answer your objections to your satisfaction then there must be no God of the Bible... nor any reason to follow Him if you, by chance, thought He might exist.

      "They believe that their morals come from a holy book or a preacher or their own personal faith and find it impossible to accept that an atheist or agnostic could be moral." I do not personally believe that an atheist or agnostic has no morals, and a big part of that reason is because I believe in God. If you do not believe in God then what are you basing your morals on, what standard do you use? I believe the conscience, God placed inside of all of us, is a great indication that there must be a god. How would a person know anything is moral or not based upon nothing? It makes no sense. Which I wonder at your assertion: “As soon as I realized that I as a person was more moral than the god I was raised to believe in, I stopped believing in him. I’ve never looked back since.” So, what moral measuring stick have you used to come to this conclusion? I understand that you believe God has endorsed slavery in the “good” book (the Bible)… so, are you indicating that you have done nothing worse than God? He has broken your moral standard?... Or perhaps society’s moral standard?

      I might ask also, to what worldview do you hold? You must see the morality perspective through some lens. Naturalism perhaps, do you think matter got us to where we are? Deism, maybe god spun the world into existence and left it to spin on its own. Pantheism might work, a world that came into being with god already packaged in it. Perhaps what might work best for your moral struggles is to go back to the beginning and find out what is true. Where did we all come from in the first place?

      Be it known that I am not talking down to you, I simply believe that your perspective does not hold water because the morality issue does not make sense. If there is a god, who gave morality to people, how can people be more moral than that deity? If there is no god, and people made up morality, what standard is morality based upon? The circular argument sends my head spinning.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      It's not circular logic at all. I refer you to a talk that an acquaintance of mine has done all over the country on the superiority of secular morality - and it explains where morality comes from (the construct of society) and why you don't need a god to be moral. In fact, you're often more moral without one. http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2010/10/matt...

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      At this time I will not be watching the 78+ minute video. But perhaps you can help me with a summary of the video. Perhaps you can also answer some questions and concerns I have with the idea that society is our measuring stick/plumb bob/level (I have done construction work, those just make sense to me).

      What if what you want is not what society dictates you should do? Does that automatically mean you are wrong, perhaps immoral? Also, who in society deems something moral... perhaps government, schools, parents, philosophers... etc.? And, what if there are multiple viewpoints on any one topic within society? Which perspective is correct? What makes a perspective the correct one (or moral one)?

      If the government makes the moral standard then how far can it go without breaking its own moral code? You see certain things are legal now that did not used to be years ago and vice versa. If the people make the moral standard, same question. People have held to perspectives now that they did not used to have years ago… (even people as individuals have held a standard and changed their standard to something else) were they wrong and immoral then, or now?

      I would also be curious to know: in what way is secular morality superior? And to what is it compared? To all religions: to morality held by theists, deists, pantheists, polytheists, dualists, etc.? Also, how is it more moral? Does society dictate how secular morality is better than religious morality? How is this determined/measured?

      Also, how are you ‘often more moral’ without a god? Are you comparing the moral compass of all gods… it seems the ‘often’ you mentioned may infer that sometimes morality might be better with a god. Which god is the most moral?

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      If all you want to do is give someone who believes something different than you the third degree without doing any of the research (like looking up or watching the source I provided) or doing your own research online on secular morality or secular humanism, etc or even the history of morality, I'm really not inclined to hand you the whole concept on a silver spoon and answer each of your questions thoroughly.

      I get the feeling that you don't really WANT the answers - you want to see where the atheist will mess up and give you an open door to argue with to prove that your side is more "right". I don't want to play that game.

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      I apologize if it seems like I’m trying to just burn you with questions. These questions have actually come from research and have come as logical barriers to my understanding of morality outside of a deity. To me the inability of atheists to address these questions with a measurable standard is how they ‘mess up’. However, my point is not to trounce you into the ground, or put anyone down, just to get people thinking about what a godless world would look like. I will move on to address a few other points in your hub, as that seems best at this time, as to not cause an impasse of conversation between us.

      My first thought regarding Christians and their faith. This ‘faith’ word is thrown around an awful lot by both Christians and non-Christians alike. People use it in passing and seem to have ‘faith’ in about everything and then some. Faith is seen as, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (from Hebrews in the Bible), but is deeper still in how we understand it today.

      I have faith that my truck will start up in the morning, when I go to work. Why? Because it did yesterday and seems to be in decent working order. Better example yet: I have faith that a rock will drop to the ground when I let go of it. Faith can be just as simple as that, having a belief that something will happen based upon experience and based upon truth. The faith that I have as a Christian comes from this knowledge that the evidence points decidedly towards a deity, that the Bible is reliable, and lives being changed for good have been produced for centuries based upon faith in Christ Jesus and in the Christian belief. The faith part is simply following where truth leads and accepting it as truth.

      Atheism requires faith as well. You do not know for sure there is no god, you only suppose there is no god based upon… perhaps your experience and perhaps some type of evidence you think points away from a deity. The faith part comes in the turning away from the idea of god toward a materialist perspective and holding to it, even in the face of evidence that may not line up with that point of view.

      About the Bible… three quick points: 1) It would be foolish to toss out the Old Testament because it is a part of the Bible, God’s Word. Instead, understand it with this in mind… there are three types of laws in the OT: 1) Cultural, 2) Ceremonial, & 3) Moral. A person uses the context of the text to determine which is what. Also, the New Testament supports the Old with additional information, ideas, verses, and passages.

      Point # 2) Just because something is mentioned in the Bible does not mean God condones it. Along with this point, if God did condone something it might be prudent to take a minute and ask why. If there is a god, and it is the God of the Bible, then He is a good God (starts with ‘G’ instead of ‘g’), and He has reasons for things that might be above and beyond us… but is often simply in the text of His Word (the Bible). If this God exists then perhaps a look at own standards needs to be scrutinized to better understand why we are not in step with His standards.

      The slavery aspect that you have become stuck on is not all it seems. Though God wanted slaves to be subject to their masters it is to honor God in all they do, not because slavery is so great. This does not mean that a time to end slavery should not take place. It was actually Christians who helped to eradicate slavery in this country. In fact this was one of the reasons which the Founding Fathers listed to the King as to why they were declaring independence… because the King would not allow slaves to be free in the U.S. (before it was the U.S.).

      Point #3) Sins, morally corrupt actions/inactions people do, which are displeasing to God and are morally wrong are not always just listed in the Old Testament… we have many lists of items in the New Testament that are even expanded from the OT. Such as homosexuality, since you mentioned it. Romans 1:24-26, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:10 all mention this as something that doesn’t line up with God’s plan for people. In 1 Corinthians you might note that particular actions don’t disqualify a person from coming to God, but He will free people from issues that hold them back from Him… so, not condemning someone that is in one of the OT or NT lists of ‘sins’, just that we all have a tendency to go away from God because there are forces that push us away… even just the fact that admitting there is a god, especially the God of the Bible, means we have to change how we are living (and that is often not easy… never easy I mean).

    • Brandon Tart profile image

      Brandon Heath Tart 4 years ago from North Carolina Sculptor

      Slavery, as you pointed out, is in the Biblical sense, far different from early African American Slavery. Purchasing "servants" is a better way of thinking of this. Knowing this is so, however, does not mean that all "servants" were treated well, and the word "slave" has different connotation today. One cannot reasonably, or, logically deduce that to be a "slave" automatically indicates that the person is mistreated, whipped to the point of bleeding, or worse - beaten to death. In the name of ownership, many slaves were purchased to cover their debts, then they became an indentured servant, working off their debts to their master. You leap illogically to the conclusion that slave automatically connotes malfeasance is taking place.

      As for LOGIC. Consider doing an etymological study of John 1:1 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." The word, "Word," comes from the Greek LOGOS. From this, we get Logic, and logic leads us to REASON. A path of reason is found throughout the Bible. But it is a tradition of Atheists, myself included, to overlook other Biblical writ that explains other moments - Roland Barthes, dead French literary critic, pointed out in one of his works that much of the Pentateuch is highly editorialized - and many external parts explain the text itself. If in the beginning was the Logic, and the Logic was with God, and the Logic was God, this does not necessarily mean that all believers are well-read enough to be logical scholars, and are in dire need of a Shepherd...and they have one - "The Word became flesh, and dwelt amongst us."

      Christ came to "flesh out" the OT, and in so doing, he told them the meaning of the LAW, and that the meaning was that it was to teach them compassion, mercy and forgiveness. However, Jews loved their Law and their Moses...in other words, they loved to take credit where credit was not due. The New Covenant Logic, is Christ for starters, but its doctrinal LOGOS is that humans are granted eternal life as a gift that the LOGOS provided. Logic holds sway, whether you believe it or not, morality and law can't save a soul, and Christian's bad behavior is to be expected, quite honestly and as a matter of fact. Even Paul, a very LEGALISTIC man had to learn that it was not about him and his own "goodness." Rather, Paul asked - "what can separate me (and he was a Christian) from this body of sin and death?" He goes on to point out that its the finished work of the Word, who, and only who could live out the letter of the Law. Paul also said - "That which I know to do, I do not, that which I hate, that thing I do." We are, even as believers, only human, but we strive for greater morality as a sign ONLY, that we have repented.

      Repentance comes from a Greek word, too - metanoia - which means: "to change one's mind." Behaviors can't and won't change until one posits and intellectual stance as to why, through LOGIC, that he should avoid that behavior. Never the less, the Law still won't serve to save him. Without understanding through Reason, and Logic, no believer will stop what is destroying him. The Spirit of God does not coerce us, and quite literally doesn't judge the sinner, but will lead the believer out of certain styles of thought that allow for the behavior to persist.

      God, as it were, is unadulterated Logic, yet, can make no deduction since He is said to KNOW ALL. Quite Logically, sin is simply illogical thinking leading to illogical behavior. SO, if one thinks his morality can save him, he stands in the same situation spiritually as the extremely perverse and wicked. Solomon wrote, "as a man thinks in his heart, so too is he." He also wrote "why be overtly wicked, why die before your time; why be overtly righteous (self righteous) why would you desire to ruin yourself?" Christ, Logically, is the cure for this - He grants the spirit of LOGIC to enable deductions, but that does not mean that all will be logical, or Slaves of Logic. As the cure, He becomes my righteousness, and He also absolves my wickedness. Christ told those who followed Him - "Something greater than Solomon is here..." Note the something... this is easy to miss in the English, but the Greek reveals that His speech toward Himself is Genderless. This is a very subtle thing not to be ill-regarded. He was speaking of His deity.

      Logic belongs to Christians who read the word, contemplate it, and do not forget that in the grand scheme of things they are still people. Christians are often stale and off-putting, especially in their hyper moral states. I have a hub about how morality is often more offensive that blatant social taboo behavior. If one desires to follow after Christ then he needs to "Take up his cross, and follow." I think that this is a clever statement that means that we can't walk around with it in a way that shoves others onto one for their having been immoral. Believers need to be merciful just as mercy has been given to them... this is a fair and just quid pro quo. So, sure, be moral, be Logical, and for the love of God, be a slave to REASON. WHY, because if a believer has not by the time he stands before an audience of unbelievers, reformat his hard- drive and then download some Logical software, then all should BE-ware! Without Logic, Christ cannot hold water, which He is said to be. What's more, without Logic, they'd still be trying to live the letter of the Law with Moses' followers, and failing at that, too.

      Logic is from beginning, to end, the Word of God. Or is an all knowing entity able to behave illogically, since it is a logical fallacy that anything that knows all things could think at all...

      As a man thinks in his heart, so too, is he. God does not think, He knows - He is the Logic for humans' sake, and hard to see because of it. We love our morality as it suits our ego, and our eyes! But I, on the other hand, will take Christ at His LOGOS.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Brandon - did you actually read any of what I wrote, or are you just interested in preaching on some atheist's page?

      Sojourner - been busy at work, I'll respond soon.

    • Brandon Tart profile image

      Brandon Heath Tart 4 years ago from North Carolina Sculptor

      Sure I did. You know, I guess we've all read enough Christian commentary on hubpages to feel a "tone" that may not actually be in it from time to time. I meant no disrespect. I will go on to explain, so, I won't think your retort is presumptuous, if you don't think that what I am doing is - "Preaching."

      I'm not. Imbedded in what I wrote, or, implied at least, is a great deal of agreement with you. Thing is, JMcF... I happen to side with a WHOOOLE lot of atheists in spite of what I may, or may not believe. Atheists have a brand of faith, so, I think they can often side with me on my take on Christian faith.

      For instance - ever see CONTACT, where Ellie explains that she is a MORAL person, but the scientist that was chosen simply lied and said that he believed in God (implied it, actually), and was the forerunner. His belief was established by a WORD... that word ... GOD. Ellie, a committed atheist, and honest about it, was the better of the two. Morality, as you point out, is something that I merely explained to trump morality per se, not you, your Hub, its veracity or the atheist community at large.

      Quite the opposite really, and perhaps I should have kindly included that, I am a firm believer that atheists are often more Godly for relying on Logic to guide them... the voice of Reason is arguably "GOD." Unreasonable people, believer or not, are aptly described as GODLESS.

      Truth be told, your hub is fantastic. I was remiss to have had to stop where I did but had to run an errand....

      As for the beatings, Law allowed for punitive measures, not arbitrarily beating the FUCK out of others. I understand what you are saying, even why you may think that I was preaching and why it may appear that I did not read the hub.

      It is highly unfortunate that there is not a chat by video phone on HubPages. In a dialogue, vis a vis, we could clear this up far easier - but I'll be honest, I hate feeling like you need to know so that I have to sit here and type an explanation, let you know your hub is compelling (swell job by the way) and lastly - that I wouldn't preach at you if were were -- VIS A VIS, in close quarters in conversation.

      No need. There are plenty of Preachers - I left seminary to go to art school if that tells you anything. That happens to be what saved me from what the church does to people. I was in a bad place emotionally due to leaders that could not read, and they read all the time.

      LET ME QUOTE YOU...

      "Others simply start applying logic and skepticism to their own faith (like I did). Regardless of the outcome, the goal is not to force anyone away from faith. It’s to start an open dialogue where some of the problems in blind faith can be examined in depth, to open the eyes of people who have chosen ignorance over intelligence. It’s to apply rationality to every aspect of life – including religion. In the end, it’s about understanding morals. As soon as I realized that I as a person was more moral than the god I was raised to believe in, I stopped believing in him. I’ve never looked back since."

      "Brother," I've been right there. 8 years after seminary I had a pretty clear vision of what the church can't see because their always so deep and damned close to the text. I ran from God, Bibles, Christians and all things "holy." The smell of sanctuaries is the worst of all. However, I witness something from a distance that the inside of the machine could not reveal. LOGIC. But a logic to morality, and the expressed intention of Law that Paul and Christ spoke of. Dude, if you don't believe, I am not going to try to convert you... that is a humans free will... if the spirit compels you, then by all means... welcome back.

      I totally get your hub, its worth and its voice from the inside back out... that was my own walk, journey... call it what you will. But conventional Christianity can't answer questions that we all have... due to that, we have to take a walk sometimes and get fresh and necessary perspective.

      What my lengthy harp of a ranting jaunt of pontification was, JMcF, was a way to share a thought on why morality is the result of Logical thinking...

      My sincerest apologies, but so you know, preaching does no one any good. Not even me. I have much, or as much love for you man, as you - perhaps - have for me.

      B

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Brandon - here's the problem, though, that makes me not want to read more than your first few sentences. The hub specifically addresses the argument about indentured servitude versus slavery - and you ignored that whole part and just reiterated the argument I was refuting. That's why I simply can't accept that you tread it thoroughly because the evidence points to the opposite.

    • Brandon Tart profile image

      Brandon Heath Tart 4 years ago from North Carolina Sculptor

      :) That's fine, JMcF - you're "free" to feel that. I won't "strike" at you for it. My affirmation to you over your quality writing was not derivative of your have done anything other than your homework.

      As you say on your own profile, you love to argue. Here is what I say on my profile page.

      "Often enough I find that I want to make an outrageous statement to stir things up a bit. They say not to stir certain things up, so pay close attention. I have never been a big fan of paint as an artist, finding grey-scales to be enough to portray just what needs to be told. Black and White - we humans love the facts to be given to us this way. But facts and truths are two different things. FACT - some of the things I say are outrageous, off-putting and egregious 1, and egregious 2. (e·gre·gious /iˈgrējəs/Adjective 1 Outstandingly bad; shocking. 2 Remarkably good.) TRUTH, I like to be honest about that fact, especially when what comes out of my mouth, and yours, "Often enough," is number two. Black and white? No, I just painted everything I say in perspective for you, which in truth, IS REMARKABLY GOOD!"

      So, if you don't believe my words, take them as number two, and take me up on my intentional double entendre. But when someone purports something as fact when it is a matter of truth, then that's just plain old number 2... it's shit.

      Egregious as my response may be - either 1, or 2 - the fact remains that my intentions have been well overlooked. Again, EGREGIOUS HUB, JMcF.... but in all writing there's a good bit of shit, and a lot of bullshit...

      Remember, I said it first. :)

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Brandon....sorry for jumping the gun without reading your entire post. It was my mistake...and I shouldn't have done it. No excuses, guess I'm just jumpy today for some reason.

    • Brandon Tart profile image

      Brandon Heath Tart 4 years ago from North Carolina Sculptor

      "Slavery, as you pointed out, is in the Biblical sense, far different from early African American Slavery. Purchasing "servants" is a better way of thinking of this." BHT

      Yeah, it was in my first sentence, man... But like I said... I've love for you.

      I never thought that you were jumping the gun. In fact, I was second guessing my own ability to read well. On that, the truth is that I do often miss things when I read. I still love the hub, and from time to time --- I AM full of shit... so you were not far off to begin with.

      At almost any moment, you could easily get away with saying - "Brandon, you're full of shit."

      So, I laugh at myself for my own initial comment, and I look forward to more from you. This is obviously an older one of your hubs, but you answered a question today that made me like the way you write/think, so I looked you up.

      I don't accept your apology, because you don't owe me one. NOT AT ALL!

      I owe you an apology - I should have taken my own HUB advice, and remained succinct. Out of that, we may have begun to follow one another.

      On that, however, I'm not so sure I've given up, JMcFarland. You're a fabulous wordsmith.

      Take care.

      "Apologetic" B

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      I understand on the soon to come response as life gets very busy. I had an unfortunate/unforeseen basement flooding situation last night and perhaps could even write a hub now about how to take care of 'back-ups'. I see too that Brandon has kept you a bit busy :)

    • Brandon Tart profile image

      Brandon Heath Tart 4 years ago from North Carolina Sculptor

      Man... seems none of us can avoid disaster or other "acts of God." I had to leave to go on an errand last night and totally lost my flow. Sojourner1234, I really didn't want to make waves - even though you may have inadvertently made some in your basement... made me think of Fight Club.

      I once got pissy with an architect that could not give me five minutes. 5, I mean... Jeez.

      This was a good hub! Said so, say it now. The first sentence usually is the last one we remember. I focused on slavery since we all feel, at times, like we are glorified slaves under Capitalism's Invisible Hand.

      I liked it when John Nash said Adam Smith needs revision.... No matter how true the Nash Equilibrium was regarding economics, that the best result will come when every man does what's best for himself and the group (A Beautiful Mind).... it still feels like the "father" of modern economics has the whip -- it appears we're all still doing what is best for ourselves. We have to, so for the Group's sake, I'm writing a hub to try to build a bridge between both camps... since, after all, Jesus said:

      "Blessed are the peacemakers...."

      JMcFarland already proved that with his profound delivery of an undeserved apology. I think that means more than his own hub if we'd all see the outcome of such a difficult thing to do.

      My only sorrow is that I think I would have been less of a man/human/woman than that. GOOD FORM JMcFarland.!!! Good form!

      "...they shall be called sons of God."

      Hope the basement dries up. Nothing worse than low resale due to water damage... or having to repair it.

      1234... Sojourning myself... I must go now, this was all temporary, though I wish I could stay and type.

      Peace!

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      Just FYI Brandon & JMcFarland, got the basement situation pretty much resolved. The plumber was finally able to come out and 'snake' the issue, but not until I had removed about 900 gallons of water & gunk (technical term); I did have some help at least. Now my attention can be redirected back to important thing (like hubpages). Thanks!

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      ugh....that's not pleasant. I'm working on a response but I can't seem to make myself focus on it at the moment. too many things swimming around in my head.

    • coldsolder profile image

      coldsolder 4 years ago from manila, philippines

      maybe you should try to ask him about anything http://www.elisoriano.com/ at first I was not convinced that he was a sensible preacher but after many tries of watching him, it convince me that he answers every question logically.....just make sense about the bible. Whatever the question is, if the earth was 6 billion years old? If GOD accepts the non believers? If GOD was truly a GOD of justice....his answers was very logical. First time I've encoutered a preacher that answers every question based on the bible but not on his own thinking. And I promise you he made sense...Maybe you should try it? try a different view....

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Sojourner -

      Have you ever studied secular morality in depth? Have you read the Moral Landscape by Sam Harris? A lot of your questions have actually been answered in depth by people much smarter and more versed in the subject than me. I don't know everything, and I'll be the first person to admit it.

      Atheism does not require faith. I wrote a whole hub on the topic. Atheism is a lack of a belief in a god. That's all. You're confusing "faith" with "belief or trust". I don't have faith that my car will start in the morning. I believe that, since I keep it well maintained and keep it in good condition that it is more likely that it will start as opposed to not starting. Does that mean that one morning it won't start? Sure. It happens. Atheists can believe in lots of things. I trust that my partner will tell me the truth and be faithful. That's not having faith. That is examining the past and choosing to take her at her word in the present. That's not faith. Faith is believing in something without any evidence to support that faith. Faith is blind. Trust and belief are not.

      I'm curious to know why you claim that the bible is reliable. What is it reliable in?

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      I can see that your perspective is faith is different from trust and belief, but that does not mean it lines up with what faith actually is in reality. Also, many people may have blind faith, but those people don’t define faith either, they only define it for themselves. One can have a blind faith and leap out at nothing hoping to land on solid ground… and is there a time to leap? Perhaps there are times to believe and understand a leap of faith might be necessary, but it’s not because there is no basis for that faith, it’s because you know the leap is in the right direction and that there is something to grab onto when you take that leap.

      My perspective is greatly different than yours in terms of faith it seems… just that my faith is based on what I know to be true. Faith pushes me towards truth and it pushes me towards the pursuit of truth and God when I might be hesitant to do so on my own. You see, just because someone believes in God doesn’t do anything for them in terms of religion… and just because someone believes in Jesus Christ, and even believes He was resurrected, does not mean they are a Christian. It is the action of following the Lord Jesus that makes someone a Christian. So, the faith part is not just believing it is true, nor trusting the truth will sustain you, it is a deeper understanding which turns into an action of moving with the truth. Faith is a response to something one believes.

      The Bible is reliable in a Historical sense, through Archeology, and is reliable in informing us of God’s involvement in the world in times past and even His present involvement now. It is not just a ‘good book’, it’s the prime way we know God’s plan for people. Some have said it is God’s ‘love letter’ to us, others that it is his ‘instruction manual’ for people… both are true. He has provided Biblical law, which is what law should be based upon, and provided an answer when we fail to follow that law (both in consequence and redemption). If we understand that the Bible is ‘God’s Word’ we can understand where God is coming from, and what we need to do in response to His Creation and His redemption plan for salvation for people.

      So, the whole Bible is reliable, it is infallible, and historically accurate. It does encompass different types of literature and has an overall context as well as the context of more precise passage texts… it must be understood in context. There are sections that are written in the Bible where God is not approving things/issues, but is merely recorded in the Bible to show people did this or that… and it is possible to understand which areas He is giving history on and what He is approving. The Bible is split up into two sections: the Old Testament & New Testament… the reason for this is because God sends His Son, Jesus Christ, in the New Testament and He fulfills the law, creates a new covenant with His people, and brings about a permanent way for salvation (without the need for further animal sacrifices).

      Let me know if you have additional questions on this matter. Thanks!

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      The bible is absolutely NOT historically, archaeologically and scientifically accurate. Have you read it? It flies in the face of known history. Tell me something from the supposed life of jesus that can be corroborated historically by contemporary historians. Archaeology proves the bible? How? Because places mentioned in the bible have been archaeologically discovered? So since New York City exists that means that all the stories about Spiderman are true?

      Put it in this perspective. Homer wrote the Odyssey and the Iliad. Some of the places mentioned in those tales actually exist. Does that make the story true?

      I'm not trying to be rude - but have you read it? I have studied it in college - at one of the most well-respected christian schools in the country. I can read Greek, Hebrew and Latin. I've read it in the original languages. Can you? It is well documented that certain parts of the gospels were added on later - none of them are written by the people whose name is listed on the cover and it's been politically motivated from the time it was canonized to now. Even biblical scholars agree on these points. They also agree that, apart from the gospels, there is no contemporary evidence to point to the person of Jesus Christ. Do you claim to know more than they do?

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      Well, JMcFarland, I hate to argue with you, but you are wrong about the Bible not being archeologically and scientifically accurate. I have read it, and it compliments history, as it is a part of history (not apart from history, as you seem to indicate).

      Here is one example of Christ being mentioned by another source outside the Bible (there are others as well):

      “But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also” (Cornelius Tacitus {born A.D. 52-54}, Annals, XV. 44).

      Good one about Spiderman… though the logic is a bit off, but I get the connection you are trying to make.

      To “prove” the Bible by archeology is not the point, because even if the Ten Commandments were found and authenticated it could not be proven (necessarily) that they were hand written by God… only that they exist. My point is that archeology provides evidence which lines up perfectly with the scripture of the Bible.

      A couple of examples of archeology and the Bible: The Gedaliah Seal- “The nearby city fortress of Lachish provides clear proof that it had been twice burned over a short period of time, coinciding with the two captures of Jerusalem. In Lachish the Imprint of a clay seal was found, its back still shows the fibers of the papyrus to which it had been attached. It reads: “The property of Gedaliah who is over the house.” We meet this distinguished individual in 2 Kings 25:22, where we are told: “And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchandnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah… ruler.” (Quoting John Elder, 41/108-9, Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense, pg. 105).

      The Cyrus Cylinder- “Finegan remarks: “The spirit of Cyrus’s decree of release which is quoted in the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2-4) is confirmed by the Cyrus cylinder, where the king related that he allowed the captives to return to their various countries and rebuild their temples.””(Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense, pg.105-106).

      Babylonian References to Jehoiachin and Sons- “Albright reports: In recently published tablets from a royal archive of Nebuchadnezzar, dating in and about the year 592 B.C., Jehoiachin and five of his sons, as well as at least five other Jews, are mentioned among recipients of rations from the royal court. It is significant that Jehoiachin was still called “king of Judah” in the official Babylonian documents.” (Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense, pg. 106).

      You may have noticed that these are all from the same book, in basically the same location. It’s not to show that I have put no effort into finding these examples, because I looked them up from a book I have read… what I want to relay is that it was not difficult to find just a few examples of archeology complimenting the Biblical historicity. There are many more examples, in additional books, with new evidence piling up each day (and none to the contrary)… there is even an Archeological Study Bible, which I have as well. Perhaps you can think of examples to the contrary, maybe some contradicting evidence proven by archeology and history to go against my examples, evidence, and information.

      Mentioning Homer’s “Odyssey & the Illiad”, it has the 2nd most manuscript copies of any book of antiquities… with about 643 or so, maybe 645 now. Do you know what book has the most manuscript copies? You guessed it: the Bible… with about 24,000 (maybe it’s 25,000 now… looking at an older book to be honest and need to look it up in a couple newer ones and online to get update… but you get the point). The overwhelming amount of historical evidence should at least get one thinking about why this book seems to stand the test of time, perhaps a Creator and Lord had something to do with it.

      Again, yes, I have read it. I also studied it in Hebrew & Greek. You got me on Latin, though it was not an original language of the Bible. If you could read Aramaic then you’d be able to read the entire book of Daniel as well, in the original language. I will say though that the scholars who have translated the Bible have done a pretty good job, though understanding the original languages does add value and a deeper knowledge of the Word of God.

      You indicated: “It is well documented that certain parts of the gospels were added on later - none of them are written by the people whose name is listed on the cover and it's been politically motivated from the time it was canonized to now.” What documentation do you have for this inference? Also, what gospels were added on later, and what timeline are you referring to? When is later? Defend the politically motivated indication.

      You also wrote: “Even biblical scholars agree on these points. They also agree that, apart from the gospels, there is no contemporary evidence to point to the person of Jesus Christ. Do you claim to know more than they do?” What scholars agree, and on what do they agree specifically? There is historical evidence to point to the person of Christ and I don’t need to know more than they do, I just pay attention to the evidence readily available to anyone who is willing to look.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      As far as the number of manuscripts - sure, the numbers seem impressive until you consider something. for up until 300 years after christ's death, there were no professional scribes to preserve them. According to renowned scholar and author, bart ehrman, there are more differences in our manuscripts than there are words in the new testament. While minor spelling mistakes are relatively insignificant, there are also a huge amount of deliberate alterations that need to be taken seriously. There are no existing New Testament manuscripts from the 1st century, and there are no originals. the first documents that we have are fragments - not entire copies, and they date to 100-200 years after the 1st century. There is around a 300 year period of nothing at all - and any number of changes, alterations, additions or subtractions could have occurred the early stages.

      Additionally, there are evidences of forgeries in the new testament itself. Paul's letters warn against false teachers that are writing in his name. This goes to show that textual forgeries were already occurring at the time the earliest pieces of the New Testament were being written. In fact, a large majority of biblical scholars today discount half of Paul's letters were not written by paul - in addition to the letters of James, Peter, John and Jude. Although christian apologists claim that a lot of people wrote scripture under a famous or recognizable name, the practice was almost universally condemned in the ancient world - sometimes to the point of death.

      Lee Strobel in the "case for christ" is quoted as saying: "What the New Testament has in its favor, especially when compared with other ancient writings is the unprecedented multiplicity of copies that have survived...the quantity of NT material is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity" Which seems to be the exact argument that you're using.

      However, the oldest complete texts of the bible are the Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanus - which date to the 4th century. That's hardly a few generations after the death of christ. It's a gap of 3-400 years.

      The earliest "manuscript" in existence is, in fact, a scrap. It's called P52, and it could fit on a credit card. It's a scrap of the gospel of John, and it has no complete sentences - and only has one complete word - the word "and". That fragment is dated at the earliest to 150 AD. A whole hundred years after christ's supposed death and resurrection.

      None of the remaining fragments in existence date earlier than 125 Ad - so none of them exist from the lifetime of eyewitnesses. The SECOND oldest fragment, after P52 is the Egerton Papyrus 2 does not come from any known gospel at all. When you count fragments as documents, the number is inflated to impressive numbers, sure. The uncomfortable fact remains that for the first thousand years of christianity only fragments and scraps remain, and they cannot possibly assist in the reliability of the original manuscripts. There simply are not entire books of the new testament dating from the first century lying around to be examined.

      the 24000 manuscripts seem impressive - until you realize that they all came centuries later. The 2856 greek text manuscripts (or fragments thereof) were all written in the 9th century - or even later. All of the 24000 intact copies are younger (by several hundred years) than the oldest complete bibles mentioned above, which themselves date back to 300 AD or later.

      I'll respond to the history/archaeology points later.

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      JMcFarland: I will respond fully later, as I must be away with me for now soon enough (but will return).

      What documents of antiquity have 'originals' still around today? How many have complete manuscript copies? How many were less than 100 years old or older manuscripts (for other books)?

      You said: "In fact, a large majority of biblical scholars today discount half of Paul's letters were not written by paul - in addition to the letters of James, Peter, John and Jude."

      A large majority? Really? Who? I have read the works of many scholars and I think you might be thinking of secular scholars attempting to denograte the Bible from without, without having the evidence to do so. More later. Thanks for the discussion!

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      If you're going to toss out the work of all secular biblical scholars like Bart Ehrman because they're wanting to "denigrate the bible from without" then you also have to toss out all of the christian bible scholars because they have a belief and bias to protect and propagate. Do you see how that's a double-edged sword?

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      So, because the Jews were affected by the Holocaust their research is biased, and the account of the Nazis is just as legitimate (what the Nazis claim about the situation). The argument you make may seem logical on its face, but one bias can actually help to produce evidence (because the pursuit of legitimate evidence is present) while another tries to throw it out because it does not line up with one’s worldview. What I am saying is to follow the evidence where it leads. The evidence is decidedly pointing toward a historically accurate Bible. One’s opinion about the evidence, such as the fact that the Bible names places which we know to have existed, does not change the fact about the archeological evidence.

      Also, to address your Spiderman inference a bit more, because really to me it was just taken as a bit of a joke and a playful jab… but for the benefit of anyone reading it would be good to give more input. The fact that places in the Bible have actually been confirmed as true is just part of evidence pointing towards accurate historicity. There is other corroborating evidence as well that compliments locations. The supporting evidence points toward people being alive who are specifically mentioned in the Bible. We can also see events that occurred, according to archeological evidence, line up with scripture. Dates which events occurred line up as well, such as with Jehoiachin, as previously mentioned. Cultural relevance, with time periods, also helps support the Bible.

      As far as Spiderman, we can note that New York might be mentioned in a comic book… However, do we ever see his name in a historical document, or identify other individuals who are named (like Doctor Octopus, or Sandman for example), or events that happened in the comics which can be verified with other outside source evidence? Unfortunately, for Spiderman and Marvel Comics, we cannot determine the historical accuracy of Spiderman… especially compared to that of the Biblical account.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Biblical scholars don't follow "evidence where it leads". I again point to Bart Ehrman. Although he is not agnostic, he is a world-renowned biblical scholar and teaches New Testament at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He is world-renowned in his field and has been called to authenticate extra-biblical works like the gospel of Judas, etc. It sounds like you would discount his vast array of scholarly work - just because he's agnostic. He can say things a lot better than I can. I recommend two of his books "Misquoting Jesus" and "Forged" He can expand on your points with much greater depth and scope than I can ever hope to accomplish in a hub comment. He also believes that Jesus was a historical figure, and recently wrote a book on that subject as well. I'm not claiming or asserting that there was no "jesus" figure ever. I'm simply pointing out that there is no contemporary historical evidence for him, and the gospels cannot be considered either contemporary or reliable due to how they've been changed, etc - a point of fact which is blatantly obvious - and scholars agree on that point no matter what side of the coin they fall on. I'm still compiling my research on the Tacitus passage that you mentioned above, but I don't have a lot of time to devote to these comments during the work week. I enjoy the dialogue, however, and hope that you don't take my inability to respond as me blowing you off or disinterest. Far from it.

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      JMcFarland: I enjoy our discussions, though they may be a bit argumentative, and would not take an inability to respond as you blowing me off or disinterest... I appreciate your continued replies and appreciate your search for additional information. Though Bart Ehrman may be someone who studies extra-biblical works and may be a very smart individual that does not discount the Biblical and extra-biblical studies of others... who have indeed followed the evidence properly towards the Bible. The Bible, & gospels & books within, can indeed be used as historical evidence. Actually, the point of the Bible being changed is not so obvious, and not all scholars agree to this point by any stretch of the imagination. Anyway, more to come, as I know you will have more input as well. Thanks!

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      You missed the point. Bart Sherman IS a biblical scholar. A degreed, professional biblical scholar and he DOES follow the evidence, even when the evidence process that the Bible is not a history book (which it never claims to be) or paints an accurate picture of Jesus Christ. How can you discount the mountain of his work just because he doesn't believe in it? Does that make hum less credible? Absolutely not. You want to claim that Christian scholars are always right, despite their obvious bias and their need to prove that their claims are true DESPITE contradicting evidence.

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      Though a person is a Biblical scholar, it does not mean that he is more learned than other Biblical scholars, nor does it mean he is less biased. He has a bias, just as all other humans do. The situation is that the mountain of evidence is, in reality, on the side of the Bible. You indicate that I should read his books... perhaps you should consider reading books like: The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, and Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis... and if you like the Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel, you would like the Case for a Creator... for example. These are just a couple examples of books that are out there which provide insight into history, science, and philosophy that have to do with a Theistic perspective and also in relation to the Bible. Anyway, there is not contradicting evidence, as you claim, with regards to the Bible... it simply is not there and not so. Thanks for the continued discussion.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      I've actually read all three of those books you mentioned. How many books on the opposite side of the coin have you examined? There is a LOT of available opposition to Lee Strobel's book out there for the searching, and the majority of it is written in depth by high-profile scholars equal to his caliper. If you refuse to examine conflicting evidence and only go for what you want to believe, then that's fine - but then there's nothing further to discuss. You keep pointing out things that I should research and read - the problem is that I already have. You refused to listen to the source I originally provided. You don't want to read Ehrman's work. You don't seem to want any documentation or sources that disagree with your position. I'm sorry, but to me that is the pinnacle of intellectual dishonesty. You only want self-verifiable and unfalsifiable evidence. you keep saying that the majority of material supports the bible - well sure, when you only want to read material written by christians that have an innate desire to propagate and continue their own beliefs. I care whether or not what I believe (or disbelieve) is true. Therefore I examine ALL of the evidence and judge it on it's own merit. That's how I got to atheism in the first place. I'm not meaning to be rude or judgmental here, but it doesn't seem like we're on the same page here. If we're not both willing to do the same amount of research with an open mind, then we really don't have anything more to discuss. We're at an impasse. You claim that there is simply no contradicting evidence, where I've shown you in a few posts that there's a mountain of it. You just discredit it without even looking into it because it goes against what you want to believe so you want to deny its credibility.

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      You presume too much JMcFarland. It seems your comment is quite an attack, but the truth does not change no matter how many books you read... it remains. It is fine to be learned and to study, that is good. I have learned and studied much more than you give credit for, but the point is not overturning every rock under every new book written. The evidence has been weighed by scholars and lay persons for years. The fact remains that the scientific evidence for a Theistic God is mounting, the archeological proof showing further evidence for the historical realitability for the Bible is mounting... I have read sources opposed to my own, why do you think I am responding to this hub (for instance)?

      The situation, from my perspective, is exactly opposite what you’re indicating. I have studied and have come to know truth. Trying to toss an additional sum into the equation doesn’t change the answer in this case. It is certainly not that I don’t want to read or study… that’s accusatory at best; there may be an impasse because I am not willing to give to your assertions that the Bible is unreliable just because I don’t read every book you suggest. I suggest a re-reading of the Bible for us both… I am reading it presently, why don’t you do the same? Perhaps upon further personal study you will find more to it than you previously thought.

      The thought has also occurred to me that though you claim to have all of the proof you need for contradictions of the Bible, you have yet to disprove anything about it… and are relying upon the words of a particular scholar to explain it to me for you. You may think this is a knowledge or book reading contest, and thus if you can name more books than I can then you must be right… wrong.

      For one, I didn’t name every book in my library, I haven’t stated every argument, nor given every source of information… that would be ridiculous and lengthy indeed. Second, the truth of the matter will remain the same despite who believes it. The evidence should be examined until a conclusion can be drawn as to what makes the most sense in light of this evidence. The evidence for the reliability for the historicity of the Bible, as well as the existence of a Theistic God, is overwhelming. The moral understanding makes most sense as well… understanding that the moral aspect of humans comes from a divine input of some type rather than from society. The overall evidence for why we are here, how we got here, and our purpose simply adds up when we read the Bible… and no other explanation can account for the science, history, and moral reasoning like Christianity.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      How can anything I said possibly be construed as an attack? You throw out any sources I list that refute your claims without any consideration and then turn around and say that there isn't any evidence to refute your position because you just ignored it. That's not keeping an open mind. That's not following the evidence wherever it leads. That's finding complimentary evidence to confirm your pre-existing bias. Its not honest. You can say that history, science and archeology confirm the Bible all you want, but an assertion does not make a sentence true.

    • Sojourner1234 profile image

      John Marshall 4 years ago from Ohio

      Not an attack on me personally, but your attack on my perspective and information is certain. The fact is I could easily use your same argument about throwing out my sources just with a simple statement of, “many scholars agree”… even, “all scholars agree” as well as simply sweeping evidence under the rug by trying to discredit proven information. That’s not keeping an open mind.

      I will say that two issues rise here in this discussion: 1) bias & 2) evidence. I think we can both agree that these two points play a major role in how we see things. Both of us feel the other one may be trying to sidestep points we have made, agreed? It seems obvious that these two key factors may be in play and our perspectives may simply not be lining up… not that either of us is fully naïve to facts. Let me explain…

      Bias, everyone has a bias, as we have discussed. The question about bias is, ‘can one be objective and maintain a bias (because it’s there whether we admit it or not)?’ I believe the answer is yes… though the bias will determine what angle we look at things from because it is developed and maintained by our worldview.

      The other issue is evidence. We both know there is a mountain of evidence relating to the topic of the Bible and even how we all got here (the beginning if you want to call it that). The issue relates then back to our bias and being objective when observing the evidence. We basically have access to the same evidence, but will see it differently. Is there evidence that will change the perspective of either of us? Interesting inquiry… perhaps there is evidence that might help us understand a topic and come to a more objective conclusion, but evidence alone is not necessarily enough.

      The situation is I have read perspective that go against my own, I have studied evidence that both sides have presented, and the reality is that though I may read the books you have mentioned it is not as though new evidence has emerged that the ‘scholar’ has discovered. Though you have studied it also does not mean you have looked into the evidence from my perspective as much as I would like. Have you seen the TrueU series with Stephen Meyer? Have you continued to read the Bible daily to research it? Have you continued to study books by C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel’s other books (like Case for a Creator), other Josh McDowell books, etc.? I may toss out the same challenge and say, ‘continue to study from the books I study’, but does that negate your bias… does your challenge to read books you list seem to be a legitimate reason for you to keep your perspective if I don’t read them and study them to your satisfaction… what if I read them and say, “I still don’t agree”… how will that even affect you… would you change your stance immediately, probably not.

      So, at this juncture I would say, as you stated, we are at an impasse for now. I think the discussion has been good (don’t know what you think about it), and I have enjoyed it because it’s good to discuss these issues. I will look forward to our future ‘talks’ (as it is really ‘writings’). Thank you JMcFarland! {I will be available to respond it appropriate to further inquiries/concerns of yours.}

    • Brandon Tart profile image

      Brandon Heath Tart 4 years ago from North Carolina Sculptor

      I'll pitch a recommendation. --- "Dr. Chuck Missler, The Science of God" - YouTube Search. 30 year U.S. Missile Defense Director of the Pentagon, Scientist and Theologian -- This set of videos, amongst others that he has, will not only be of help, but I can assure that anyone who is willing to take the time to watch the series will not only see compelling evidence to demonstrate that "reality" is a created thing, but will also make other Theologians sense another side of what faith really is.

      Enjoy -- Seriously -- it will be hard not to.

    • DaceyD profile image

      DaceyD 4 years ago

      Very compelling and interesting hub, riveting commentary -ignoring the interruptions of threats and preaching.

      I might have to write a hub on secular morality. I have to say all in all I was enthralled by the conversation and I'm glad there was no chat as that would deprive the rest of us.

      I'm going to admit right now that I haven't read all the comments (though I fully intend to!!) I stopped right where JMcFarland brings up the forgeries in the bible. I believe there are 6 letters in dispute, some thought to be written by Paul's followers after his death. I don't know if you guys got into that but I look forward to reading it when I have more time.

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      HattieMattieMae 4 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      hmm...just a point I've found out myself, logic is with your brain. Some things you only know from your heart. People always told me when I was younger logic was everything. Use your head they would say, and lose the heart. Fortunately, I've learned logic can be very tricky, your mind can create just about any thought, and story. Whether it be gossip, persecution, creating you as a monster, evil, etc. Logic causes confusion, fear, and basically you hear what the world tells you no matter what culture you live in, society, religion, family, friends, etc. You are molded to believe certain things, even negative or positive. So when you realize we are gifted with a heart, emotions, feelings, perhaps intuition, you seem to know what is right or wrong about what ever message is front of you. You agree with it, or you don't. So fortunately just be my experience: I've learned don't listen to everything you hear, don't believe everything you read, and even when you see something, you never know what is really going on behind the scenes. I go with logic and my heart. If it's to chaotic, i go with my heart and my feelings whether it feels right or wrong. So of course arguing with people about religion, logic and thinking can't explain everything. Everyone has different experiences, and some may have been created, while others may have actually happen with no explanation. That scientists are just studying now, but it's not heavily publicized about people being healed, or lives changing or miracles. I think in the next twenty or so years scientists will discover new things, and there will always be more questions. I do respect logic and reasoning, but I also have found some times the heart alone can tell you whether you're in danger or not. Perhaps I'm a soulful fool, but It's just what I've experienced personally while others may not have.

    • Thomas Swan profile image

      Thomas Swan 4 years ago from New Zealand

      I find the selective skepticism of theists remarkable too. As someone who has spent a lot of time in academic circles, I've been able to discuss it with religious scientists of all people! It seems like a contradiction, but they actually exist. To cut a long story short, they are able to use science perfectly, but when it comes to an ultimate cause, they reserve a space for God.

      Cognitive dissonance has been tested in religious settings. It tends to cause believers to strengthen their beliefs. Essentially dissonance is an unpleasant feeling of anxiety arising from situations where one could be considered foolish. I think it's far better to be subtle and subliminal than confrontational and direct.

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      I agree that no matter what your beliefs (or lack thereof) a polite and respectful approach is generally preferable. Then again, there is a time and place for everything and I've met a multitude of atheists who are atheists now because someone "rocked their foundation" and shocked them into rethinking some of the things that they believed that they knew to be true - only to find out that they were anything but.

      Personally, I use both. It depends on the person, how well I know them, how open minded I know them to be. I'd much rather have a conversation than an argument, but if it comes down to a debate, I know I have my bases covered for that too. I know both approaches can work. I'm not sure about subtlety. Being an atheist that is "out' makes subtlety nearly impossible. I think people have such a negative stigma about atheists BECAUSE my very existence means that I'm challenging personal beliefs. It's so easy for believers to think that everyone "knows" there is a god - they just differ on which one.

    • bipolartist profile image

      Amy Magness Whatley 3 years ago from United States of America

      This is brilliant. Does it come in a pocket version? That'd be great.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Hiya Julie!

      A couple of questions if I may:

      i. Have you any idea what the consequences were for abducting and selling any individual into slavery in ancient Israel? What about for the homicide of a factotum?

      ii. Precisely what system of slavery makes it possible for slaves to amass wealth? ( Leviticus 25 :49 )

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      First of all, we need to be aware that there were two types of slavery in ancient Israel. A Jew could "enslave" another Jew, and this form of slavery was considered to be an indentured servitude type of slavery. The second type involved a Jew enslaving someone from a conquered people - and this slavery was very different from the first type.

      i. The answer to this question depends on the type of slavery that we're referring to, and you did not clarify. Since God himself (according to the OT) commanded the Israelites to take slaves of conquered people (Deuteronomy 20:10-14: 10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.) , I'm assuming that there were no consequences. These verses are a reference point:

      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)

      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)

      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)

      When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

      The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

      ii. again, this depends on the type of slavery. Indentured servants were, in fact, paying off a debt that they owed. They can be redeemed (or their debt could be paid) by a family member - or by themselves, if they have managed to earn a wage in addition to the payback of their debt.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      I don't follow. How does any of this expressly answer my queries?

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Because it depends on the type of slavery that you're inquiring about.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Just how precisely is that germane to the penalty imposed on those in ancient Israel who were found guilty of abducting individuals and then selling them into slavery or for the homicide of a factotum?

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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      So god ordered them to abduct slaves from the people that they conquered, and gave them permission to abduct women as female sex slaves, but then inflicted a punishment for doing what he told them to do? I'm failing to see your point. I don't think you're actually making one.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      You lost me. Where do I claim any of that?

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Why don't you tell me, with supporting documentation, of course, what the punishment was for those in ancient Israel who were found guilty of abducting individuals and then selling them into slavery or for the homicide of a factotum, so I'm not able to not use what you actually say. For the record, I don't think this is getting anywhere. You're running around in circles and making it exceedingly difficult to follow you anywhere. I've provided references and asked questions that you've refused to answer several times now, and now you're saying that I'm saying that you said something that you didn't say. Semantic nonsense and word salad is not the way that I like to carry on debates.

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      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Abducting anyone and then selling them was punishable by death:

      "If anyone kidnaps and sells another person, he will be put to death. If he still has the person with him when he is caught, he will be put to death." -Exodus 21:16

      Anyone killing a factotum was themselves subject to death:

      "And if a man strike his bondman or his handmaid with a staff, and he die under his hand, he shall certainly be avenged." -Exodus 21:20

      What's more, cruel and abusive treatment of factotums was not tolerated. Anyone maimed by their boss was immediately released from his duties:

      "And if a man strike the eye of his bondman or the eye of his handmaid, and it be marred, he shall let him go for his eye. And if he knock out his bondman's tooth or his handmaid's tooth, he shall let him go free for his tooth." -Exodus 21:26,27

      Finally, when any factotum was released from his duties he could not be sent empty handed:

      "And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty; thou shalt certainly furnish him from thy sheep, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of what Jehovah thy God hath blessed thee with shalt thou give unto him." -Deuteronomy 15:13, 14

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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Exodus 21:1 is not talking about slavery per se. It was talking about kidnapping someone and then selling them to someone else. God specifically said to take slaves from conquered lands, preferably women so that makes this first point a bit moot. I find it interesting that you pointed out this verse, but god does not consider taking someone from a conquered people and forcing them into slavery to be kidnapping, and since it is mandated, it is certainly not punished as seen here: 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)

      As to your second verse, you left out an all important second part.

      When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB) You also inserted the assertion that killing a slave from excessive beating would be punishable by death - but that's not what it says. It simply says they will be punished - it does not specify how. It also goes on to say if the slave does NOT die after a few days, it's okay, since the slave is its master's PROPERTY.

      Deuteronomy does not say what you think it says, and you're ignoring the context completely, which is something that Christians always accuse atheists are doing. Deuteronomy 15 is about the 7 year celebration of canceling debts. Furthermore, this specifies that it's only for Hebrew indentured servants, and there's also a loophole that you're failing to take into account. If you have a Hebrew slave that owes a debt, you're to let him go - but it's only him. It does not include his wife and children if he was married after becoming a slave. If he wants to stay with his wife and children, he has to pledge himself to you forever - demonstrated by an awl through the ear - and he will remain your property forever. 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)

      I don't think you're being entirely honest in your strategy here. You're deliberately leaving out context, adding words, and changing things to mean what you want. Maybe you think that I just don't know the Bible as well as you so you can get away with it. Sorry to say, that is not the case. Sorry.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Your animadversions are precipitous. After all, on what objective moral basis do you dare condemn anyone's actions or moral values? Who made you God Almighty?

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Straw man AND An ad hominem. Is there any purpose in continuing, since you don't seem to have any sort of a value rebuttal?

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      False charge of fallacy since it appears you are merely expressing your own personal biases. Unless, of course, you can prove that yours are really objective moral values and duties. Can you?

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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Inferring that I must think that I'm god, and therefore can claim certain behaviors are immoral IS an ad hominem by definition. As to the rest of your post, you're going to have to rephrase. I don't know what the heck you're talking about, and I'm not entirely sure that you do either. It just seems like a bunch of words strung together in a way that they don't truly belong. I wonder what exactly you think my "personal biases" are.

      In the discussion on slavery, I put the verses you put forth in context, and added the additional verse to support my point. You did not do the same. It seems to me that you're just interested in making assertions with no support whatsoever and ignoring context and historical clues whenever it suits.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      What part did you not understand?

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Actually, by definition, it's not an ad hominem since I've made no comment on your person or character. I've simply highlighted that your personal biases make a poor standard from which to judge the actions of others as moral or immoral because they, by definition, are not objective criterion but purely subjective.

      That is to say, objective moral values and duties must be independent of anyone's personal predilections and so, by definition, must be independent of man.

      Accordingly, objective moral values and duties can only come from God Almighty himself.

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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Joseph, considering your behavior in another hub, the fact that you only posted these comments today after Two weeks, and the fact that you insinuated on the other hub that I am a bigot, you are no longer welcome on my hubs. You may continue to talk to yourself, if you wish, but further interaction on my hubs will not be allowed. Seems the only person getting upset and throwing a temper tantrum is you.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Julie,

      I am so very, very sorry. My comments were not showing up on your hub and I simply concluded you were censoring my comments the way Pay2cEM enjoys doing.

      Please accept my humblest apologies for my misperception :(

      I hope we can continue our dialogue but if not, I understand completely ...

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Joseph, just one question. Doe you think your misperception even if it ended up as correct warrants an accusation of bigotry?

      Your comments did not automatically appear because of the setting on my page that comments have to be approved before appearing, mainly because of this type of behavior I've encountered. I I am at work and can only view hubs as time permits, I had not seen them yet. I don't believe that is justification for how you behaved.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      If our roles were reversed and I censored comments from Atheists for no other reason than the fact that I disliked them (as is Pay2cEM's practice with theists) would you really think I was being receptive, equitable and impartial?

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Except I am not pay2, and treating me poorly by default because you're upset at him, and the fact that I didn't censor any of your comments at all means you're comparing apples and oranges, and the fact that you're unwilling to answer a simple question about your behavior without throwing someone else under the bus makes me believe your apology was insincere. Conversation over.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Which is why I've apologized profusely for my misperception. I'm sorry you won't accept it :(

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      I think you're confusing accepting an apology with a willingness to continue a conversation with someone who resorts to those kinds of tactics. Your apology is accepted, but you can understand my hesitance to continue a conversation with someone who displays that type of behavior.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 3 years ago

      Julie,

      Were you aware that, generally speaking, Atheism is reputed as a hate group: http://bit.ly/1bu2CrY ?

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Firstly, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Secondly, a foreign language youtube video is not exactly data to be analyzed. Thirdly, who cares? I'm an atheist, and I don't hate anyone. I don't blow up buildings, hijack airplanes, kill abortion doctors or tell anyone who disagrees with me that they're going to burn forever. A hate group? The only thing all atheists have in common is that we lack a belief in a god. Politically. Socially we're as diverse as Christians are. That has absolutely nothing to do with what we were talking about or your discussion with pay2.

      If you want to think that atheism is a hate group, go right ahead. But that doesn't make it true, and I don't really care what you think about me or any other atheist on the planet as long as you do not try to interfere with my freedoms and my rights.

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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Joseph, I have tried to be patient up till now. I will not tolerate a long list of horrific "atheists" that have nothing to do with the subject that we originally began speaking about. I could list hundreds of believers who have done horrible things as well, but that has nothing to do with anything either, and it's pointless trying to discuss it with you. I am an atheist because I lack a belief in a god. Period. If atheism is a hate group due to any atrocities carried out by any atheists in the past, the church is equally so. With the churches bad history, you choose to still align yourself with them.

      Our conversation is over. I have no interest in comparing atrocities with you, or bringing up a long list of names of people who did bad things on either side. What point does it serve? Since you're unable to stick to topic, you think that calling atheists a hate group and thereby discrediting them an dthen insinuating bigotry whenever you don't get your way by throwing a juvenile hissy fit, there is nothing more that I am willing to entertain from you. Good day.

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      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

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      lukemosse 2 years ago from Bristol, United Kingdom

      Interesting question - I have been wondering about this question which you mention of whether someone who doesn't believe in God can have a sense of morality. I am an atheist and have not thought about it before recently. I think one way of looking at the issue is as 'moral relativism' versus 'moral absolutism'. In a sense the bible or any religious structure represents a moral absolutism, which, right or wrong, is some kind of moral structure. Even if the moral structure is not consistent, belief in a (moral) deity implies that some kind of moral structure, an absolute moral structure, actually exists. The scientific approach tends to lead to the view that only what is material exists, and so concepts, such as 'justice', do not physically exist, and if they do, are reducible to patterns of molecular behaviour. So if the abstract/subjectively experienced concepts do not exist, then no form of absolute morality can exist as concepts are non-existential, but are circumstantial to human experience and human consciousness (which many scientists/atheistic rationalists dismiss as epiphenomal). This raises issues though, because what about abstract concepts such as for example triangles, or squares. Although these don't exist in physical form, can we say that they truly do not exist? A scientist would probably concur that even though they don't exist materially, they are consistent, useful and predictive in the material world. Furthermore it's conceivable that a non-human intelligence could also discover them. So the question of whether these non-material concepts exist becomes tricky. Do the laws by which the universe unfolds exist, even if they are not represented in physical matter? So similarly, the scientific materialist view which most assume correlates with moral relativism, needs to ask the question - do morals exist without humans there to experience them? And I think (personally) the answer is yes, because many of our social rules are algorithmic, and our ethics can be conceived of as an elaborate form of game theory, game theory being essentially mathematical. Even the political representations of left and right wing are representations of the dove versus the hawk, the cooperative versus the competitive approach. Just as evolutionary strategies of animals over long periods deal with these game theories as their mathematical substrate, these forms of ethics could be underpinned by the same mathematics. So in that sense, I would argue that ethics and morality are as real as triangles and squares and mathematical concepts. So I think what a lot of religious people have a firm conviction about is the moral absolutist viewpoint, but not necessarily the consciousness or self-understanding to articulate precisely why they feel it has to be that way. I personally don't see the need to create a deity construction in order to make my own judgements about my attitudes to moral absolutes, but I think that for the majority of people, it is better to have some kind of absolute structure there, even if it is faulted or inconsistent in places. Rather than thinking of religions as truth claims, I would say it is more useful to think of them as inherited culture and ethics codified in narrative. Also, the representations of god in the old testament can be harsh, but if you read these stories as speaking of the human being's relationship with a reality which is unpredictable and unfair, they start to become a lot more insightful.

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      lukemosse 2 years ago from Bristol, United Kingdom

      Also - with regard that Iron Chariots link you put up above. I've read that and I think the article misses the point. The arguments about 20th century atrocities come up because it's a common attack on religion by atheists to say that religious beliefs lead to wars and atrocities. The 20th century examples of atrocities from for example Russia are brought up to provide examples of atrocities have an atheistic rather than religious backdrop. They are not brought up to accuse atheism of leading to atrocity. So the entire page seems like either a deliberate obfuscation of the thread of reasoning between the two parties in the discussion in order to win, or a genuine confusion. Some scholars do point out that the dismantling of belief structures in the soviet union left a void into which rushed fundamentalism. The argument there isn't against atheism as such, but against the wilful destruction of religious culture and the belief that people can construct a functional set of moral values as a culture 'on the spot' and through reason alone. I think the page you've pointed to doesn't really give proper consideration to the views it is attacking. The new atheist movement seems to be into this whole thing of labelling arguments and passing them around - a sort of "let me consult the manual, oh, Dawkins says that's the straw man, or the courtiers response". This is quite lazy, and its intellectually dishonest as well really.

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      Nancy Madore 2 years ago from Boston

      Boy did this ever hit the nail on the head!

    • Katherine Franke profile image

      Katherine Franke 2 years ago from Indiana

      Oh my GOD I loved this post!

      Seriously, you're awesome. I've tried to have this conversation with all the religious people I know (which is, unfortunately, most of my family) but I never get very far. They just start yelling, "You're wrong! You're wrong! You don't understand! You have to be a scholar to understand scripture. A SCHOLAR!" or some garbage like that. No... I don't have to be a scholar to use simple logic.

      I tell my mother all the time that God is immoral and provide the necessary evidence FROM THE BIBLE to support my claim. But...sadly, she is stubborn. I don't think I'll ever get through to her. It's frustrating. Anyway, great post!

    • JMcFarland profile image
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      Julie McFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      My parents are both very religious as well, but we are not very close and don't talk much. Go figure that two missionary adoptive parents would have a gay, atheist child. If god did exist, it doesn't seem that he likes them much :-) Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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