Is Equality Anti-Biblical?

I received this very strange response to my article Context Rules: The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible Confirmed by someone using the handle “primitive futurist”. He began by dismissing equality as “over-rated”:

Big deal. Equality is so over-rated. Bible has it right, moderns have it wrong. Get over it.

I responded:

Actually, it is a very big deal. Equality is the foundation of justice and morality. The Bible is wrong on this point. We moderns are beginning to get it right, after thousands of years of error. As Dr. Martin Luther King said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

I referenced the “moral arc” because it is the title of Michael Shermer’s recent book The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. It explains morality from an atheist perspective. Steven Pinker referred to it as a “sequel” to his book The Better Angels of Our Nature saying it “explores all our spheres of moral progress, not just the decline of violence.” Here is a snippet of his review found on Amazon.com (link):

Shermer has engaged the full mantle of moral progress and considered how far we have come and how much farther that arc can be bent toward truth, justice, and freedom. The Moral Arc is a thrilling book, one which could change your view of human history and human destiny. Through copious data and compelling examples Shermer shows how the arc of the moral universe, seen from a historical vantage point, bends toward civil rights and civil liberties, the spread of liberal democracy and market economies, and the expansion of women’s rights, gay rights, and even animal rights. Never in history has such a large percentage of the world’s population enjoyed so much freedom, autonomy, and prosperity.

Moral progress driven by the advancement of science and reason was my main point, but there were other ramifications echoing from that rich phrase. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would never have had to fight, let alone die, for equality if it were something that was effectively taught in the Bible. There is no way a whole nation of Bible believing Christians could have instituted slavery and racism if it were not somehow endorsed, or at a least allowed, in their “holy book.” The moral arc of the Bible is “justice” in the form of retribution rather than reconciliation. The narrative is a bloodbath orchestrated by God himself from Genesis to Revelation, where he finally finds satisfaction by watching his enemies tormented forever in the Lake of Fire:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12, 15)

Getting back to our interlocutor’s comments, he responded by ignoring everything I wrote except the reference to Dr. King:

Dr King would be the first to reject your anti-biblical so-called justice.

I responded:

So you say that Dr. King would reject equality as the foundation of justice and morality? Seriously?

It appears your devotion to the Bible has blinded you to the nature of justice and morality. If equality is “anti-biblical” then the Bible is fundamentally immoral.

This apparently encouraged him to tell us what he really thinks about anyone who doesn’t posit the existence of some sort of god, whether it be Allah, Yahweh, or Zeus doesn’t appear to matter. If you don’t posit a supernatural whatsit, you are lost in a world consisting of nothing but atoms colliding in the void with no meaning or morality possible. Here is how he explained his view:

Blah blah blah. White middle class first-world dilettante posturing. Go down to Mexico and have this discussion with the cocaine cartels who will machine gun a family without thinking twice. There’s your atheism.

First he rejects equality as “anti-biblical” and now he is casting my reference to Dr. King’s call for equal rights as a “white middle class first-world dilettante posturing”? What’s he trying to say? That middle class first-world Caucasians cannot authentically promote equality? That would rather ironic in light of our primary gift to the world being freedom and equality and justice for all. Whether we fall short matters not; it is what America is all about! They are our highest ideals.

His leap to atheism is equally absurd and non sequitur. Indiscriminate killing is a common feature of ignorant, primitive  humanity driven by fears and superstitions, such as we find in the Bible. Theirs were the tormented minds that created the God of eternal punishment we see in the Abrahamic religions.

And this brings us to his most densely packed sequence of non sequiturs, unjustified assertions, and ignorant caricatures of what atheism entails:

There’s your evolution. Survival of the fittest is the only law in the jungle. Shit happens as Richard Dawkins says. Get over it. The gazelle doesn’t whine and whinge about equality when the lion takes it down. Eat or be eaten. Might is right. The rest, if you are an atheist, is just posturing. There is no equality. DNA doesn’t care.

Beginning at the top: Survival of the fittest, or natural selection, is simply a fact that is abundantly confirmed. It would be true whether or not there is a god. It does not imply that “might is right.” That would a category error that contradicts what we mean by the word “right”.

A gazelle does not “whine and whinge about equality when the lion takes it down” because gazelles do not possess the faculty of language and reason, which are prerequisites to moral philosophy. This error probably has its roots in the arguments of William Lane Craig, as I explained in my article Why Most Animals are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God. The fact that Craig has been repeating these elementary errors for many years shows that he is truly incorrigible, and is a corrupting influence on the mind of believers who repeat his errors without thinking.

Now we come to his central assertion: “The rest, if you are an atheist, is just posturing. There is no equality. DNA doesn’t care.” The fact that DNA “doesn’t care” is no more relevant than saying that the software that made his comments possible “doesn’t care.” We are not our DNA simpliciter. Our DNA is a critical part of us, but we are much more. We have form, and our form is involved in a dynamic biological process that makes us what we are. His assertion is no less fallacious than saying that a pile of bricks is identical to a building. It is the fallacy of composition.

His main error is to assume that atheism implies materialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Atheism entails nothing but the absence of theism. An atheist could be as “spiritual” or “mystical” as anyone. But all of that is irrelevant, because morality and meaning is based on what we are and has nothing to do with any god. The God On/God Off game makes this pretty clear. Clap your hands, there is no God. Clap your hands, there is a God. Did you notice the difference? Me neither. There is nothing about any god that would make an otherwise meaningless universe meaningful. If a future life makes this life meaningful, what makes the future life meaningful? If not another future-future life, then it must be an end in itself. If the future life could be an end in itself, why not this life?

Throw out the bible, and all you have left is Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law. Everything else is just trendy fashionable this-year’s-model. Women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights. What about the rights of the tuberculosis bacteria? When are you going to stand up for its equality? The only morality outside the Bible is self-justifying attempts to placate the conscience, but if evolution is all there is, your conscience is nothing but illusion. Get over it, head down to Mexico, and start making a killing. What have you got to lose? Your eternal soul? Ha Ha. Not if it doesn’t exist.

The assertion that the Bible creates meaning is quite absurd, given that it says countless people will be tormented forever in hell. What would be the meaning of their lives? Unfortunately, Christians have an answer for that. They say those suffering in hell have meaning because they are glorifying God by showing his “justice.” And so we reach the bottom of the abyss of Christian apologetics where “divine justice” is revealed to entail an eternal evil of infinite injustice.

And now we come to the crowing incoherence of the Christian dogma that there would be no morality without the God of the Bible. If that were true there would be no morality, for they are saying that nothing is actually right or wrong, but only because their God said so. This error has been understood for about 2400 years since Plato wrote Euthyphro. Dr. Craig’s attempts to avoid it by positing “God’s nature” as the definition of “fair, good, and just” is utterly ludicrous, because it would imply that the meaning of those words does not depend on objective reality. I explain this in my  article Morality is Objective, Like a Pair of Scales: Another Fatal Flaw in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God.

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34 Comments

  1. primitive futurist
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Let’s start with some reviews of Shermer’s book from Amazon which aren’t quite as “thrilled”:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2ZPEZVNR3QNC2/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0805096914#R2ZPEZVNR3QNC2

    “As a fan of critical thinking, an avid reader, and a bit of a skeptic myself, I fell for the promotional blurbs that accompanied the publication of this book. Most persuasive was the statement, “In The Moral Arc, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism — scientific ways of thinking — have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world.”

    Unfortunately, I was deeply disappointed. Instead of feeling enlightened by this 533 page work (439 pages of text followed by almost 90 pages of end notes, bibliography, and acknowledgements), I was stunned by its self-indulgence. The author gives us overviews of history, philosophy, religion, evolution, and everything else that pops into his mind – all through a clouded lens. Also thrown in, seemingly because no one could stop him, are anecdotal bits about his own family history (the sculptor aunt, his father on board the USS Wren during WWII, etc.), none of which enhance or advance the author’s thesis.

    And what about that thesis? It gets lost in the many surveys and overviews and in the overwhelming minutiae the author was too undisciplined to wisely excise. Shermer would have us agree with him – and perhaps many readers already do — that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” that we are living in “the most moral period in our species’ history,” and that this “moral progress” results from the development and application of reason and science on our world.

    But the author does not carry his argument. He ignores his thesis for pages and when he picks it up again it is only to assert it in conclusory terms. When the going gets really tough, as it does many times but never more dramatically than in his discussion of our treatment of animals, he declares his unexamined, unreasoned, and nonscientific, personal preference and moves on to another subject. In discussing “A Moral Science of Animal Rights,” he states, “At this point I have a confession to make: I am a speciesist — I eat and wear members of other species. There are few foods I find more pleasurable than a lean cut of meat — a trip-tip, a tuna or salmon steak, a buffaloburger.” Now, understand that the author himself, several hundred pages earlier, defined food animals as “sentient beings” and stated that “the survival and flourishing of sentient beings is [his] starting point, and the fundamental principle of this system of morality.” He is “troubled by” documentary films that show the similarity between factory farms and Auschwitz. But he differentiates them according to the “motivation of the perpetrators,” and then defines the “perpetrators” of factory farms as the farmers themselves, whereas a strong case can be made that consumers of factory farmed meats (among them, Shermer himself) are the true perpetrators, without whom the entire enterprise would be abandoned. Are science and reason leading the moral arc toward justice for the billions of such animals living in horrific conditions their entire lives only to be brutally killed at an unnaturally young age? Why was the author not able to discuss this issue with more insight and incisiveness, indeed, with more reason and science? Was giving up that tri-tip too hard to seriously contemplate?

    Shermer then relates a story about his own assignment to gas to death lab rats who needed to be “disposed of.” He states that “Today the treatment of lab animals is less loathsome,” ignoring the ongoing instances of animal abuse in scientific laboratories that prove the contrary. And then he moves on. No reason. No science. No soaring moral arc.

    The reader is constantly reminded that it is Shermer who is driving this bus, authoring this heavy tome. When he fails to wrangle with hard issues, there is nothing the reader can do about it beyond reading on and hoping for something better in a later chapter. But that something better never came for me. I was not satisfied with the author’s overbroad reach, his irrelevant details, his glossing over the toughest issues, his very human but unfortunate tendency not to see the fallacies in his own reasoning and the failure of his own assertion of the facts. The book seemed not so much scientific and rational to me as opinionated. Perhaps the author has been too successful for too long and has become complacent. But I did not see in him a consistent ability to question his own thinking and hone his argument in order to achieve a truly persuasive work.”

    and here:

    His book The Moral Arc, though, deserves unflinching criticism. The Moral Arc is being presented as a scholarly book. It is not. Its departures from scholarship are significant and those departures render the book incapable of directly contributing to the advance of knowledge or morality. Rather, the book will mislead many naïve and ignorant readers.

    In short, Shermer makes virtually no mention of previous applications of his ideas, and he grievously misrepresents history, Judaism and Christianity. The last is no small offense in a world where antisemitism is on the rise and Christians are, worldwide, the most persecuted population for their group identification.

    My complete review of The Moral Arc can be found on the web. It is too long for me to post the entire review here. I will post only the opening. The rest is available online.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Moral-Arc-Science-Humanity/product-reviews/0805096914/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_1?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=helpful&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=one_star&pageNumber=1

    another
    It’s an unfortunate thing that so many people have bought this book when Shermer clearly has no knowledge of what the bible actually says. Is the world truly a better place? Maybe in Shermer’s comfortable little corner of California, but in the rest world, the violence and murder is increasing at alarming rates.

    another
    “Shermers early work was great. Now he’s a politician posing as a scientist. He lost me at “It’s Israels fault Iran wants a nuke” Puh-lease…”

    another

    “Michael Shermer makes it clear that atheism still bears the stink of eugenics. White Western Capitalists are the pinnacle of humanity, and must lead their inferiors in the rest of the world to the Promised Land of unregulated capitalism. Climate change? No problem. Racism? No problem. Income inequality? Hell – that’s a good thing! But the one true and dangerous threat to the utopia of worldwide Western domination is – you guessed it – Islam. Because of those Muslim meanies, rich white men don’t feel free to make cartoons ridiculing the muslim faith. That is barbarism. Drones are not barbaric. Global environmental devastation is not barbaric. CIA torture is not barbaric.War for oil is not barbaric.Mass incarceration is not barbaric.The hoarding of half the world’s wealth by 87 people is not barbaric. Nope. It’s all Islam’s fault. And where was ISIS before we invaded Iraq? Never mind. If we could just eliminate Islam and get those black folks to take personal responsibility. the Garden of Eden would be restored to us all. Atheists are just as dangerously dogmatic and blind as religious fanatics.”

    had enough?

    “Anyone who considers themselves to be a skeptic as does Prof. Michael Shermer, should be skeptical of anything Shermer writes. In his book “The Moral Arc” Professor Shermer, an avowed atheist, continues his relentless and nonsensical attack on religion. In doing so he hides behind the cloak of the “scientific method” but his application of the method is flawed. His concept of the “scientific method” is that if it cannot be seen, heard, touched, tasted, or felt through the physical senses, it can’t be scientific. Thus, if it cannot be explained (to his satisfaction) it is therefore, superstition. But then Shermer, a psychologist, isn’t a scientist . Psychology which is based on subjective observations alone is not a science as are the physical sciences.
    Professor Shermer’s problem is that he cannot see the forest for the trees. His chapter “Why Religion is Not the Source of Moral Progress” is an example of his lack of understanding of religion and its role in history. Any reasonable person and particularly anyone who has studied Western Civilization would easily conclude that the religion is the basis of all morality today. But not Shermer. He nitpicks religions looking for any flaws regardless of how trivial they are, in order to attack religion. For example, the Bible teaches its adherents “to love thy neighbors as thyself” but Shermer states that it originally meant only your group members. What has that have to do with the price of tea in China? Even Shermer admits that today it is interpreted as applying to everyone. But he refuses to attribute that to religion and instead rationalizes that was evolutionary. That only shows his lack of understanding of religion because religion has always been evolutionary as humans gain a better understanding of God.
    Shermer relies on a number of Bible passages to illustrate his point that the Bible is not a source of morality. But the passages he quotes are often the subject of several interpretations and Shermer chooses either selectively or out of ignorance, interpretations that most illustrate his attack on religion.
    Shermer dwells on the few bad apples in the barrel of religion to condemn it. No doubt there are many instances when humans did not apply or misapplied the principles of their religion but that does not mean religions are the bogey man. If humans had scrupulously applied the principles of their religion; the world would be a much better off. But because religions have not been completely successful, it doesn’t mean that religion should be abandoned, just that their adherents need to try harder to correctly apply their religious principles. What Shermer proposes in religion’s place is a moral compass without any poles for the needle to point to. At least religions have an ultimate goal, which despite its setbacks, their adherents need to keep striving to attain rather than give them lip service. If Shermer wasn’t so blind to religion, that is what he should be urging.”

    plenty of people finding it to be deeply flawed:

    “And for a former evangelical Christian, his words about religion bite pretty harshly. He ridicules religion, criticizes Christians, belittles the Bible, and mocks Mormons. It looks like his spleen needed venting. But to call the Bible one of the immoral works in all literature seems more like a moral judgment than anything based on science or reason. It didn’t surprise me to see Richard Dawkins in the list of people who blurbed this book. The pages about religion called his book to mind.

    One of the other blurbs also caught my eye. Bill Nye, The Science Guy, said that “Michael Shermer connects the arc of the rise of reason and science with a country’s economic success, and the overall worldwide decline in violence and suppression of our fellow humans, especially women.” I didn’t see anywhere in the book where Michael Shermer tied economic success to the rise of reason and science. Did he even read the book?

    I did, and frankly I wish I hadn’t.”

    am I cherry picking? more folks not buying into it…

    “Sherman makes the dubious assumption that “improvements” in society (as measured in human terms or the author’s terms) are the result of new knowledge and the application of science & reason to our lives. Then, according to his cherry-picked data…he demonstrates that, by certain measures, some subsets of humanity are “better” than they once were. But where is the long view?

    He notes that, for example, the murder rate has gone down…though in many states that is recently coincident with legal concealed carry laws. But is that the only measure of the moral character of our society? What about property crime, street drug usage (making certain street drugs non-criminal merely clouds the statistics), the now legal pornography industry – which is almost indistinguishable with the movie industry, the breakdown of marriage and the family and, of course the 1.5 million premeditated murders of unborn babies every year?

    Is Sherman too short-sighted to recall the era before 1960 or so when homes could be assumed to be secure without deadbolts & alarm systems. Cars were often left in driveways unlocked with keys in them and they were there in the morning. Women and wives were RARELY physically abused. Many fewer children were born out of wedlock! The statistics exist to verify our memories of the not distant past.

    Sherman also highlights improved civil rights and elimination of slavery as examples… But, the primary impetus to improving the rights of human beings (in western civilization at least) has been the moral courage undergirded by the Judeo-Christian ethic (religion!) and the framework of our government (The Constitution) which was also founded on the tenets of faith in God and that human beings were created by God. Science is amoral. Reason, when it affects the “moral arc”, is more likely to be guided by the costs & benefits of maintaining, modifying or continuing a policy.

    The “Great Enlightenment” is now into its 4th century. And, if you measure progress by material wealth…one might be seduced into thinking that the track for humanity is ever upward – if we rely on science, reason and government. However, before we buy into that notion, I’d like to recall a bit about the most recent century. It was the bloodiest century EVER. Well over 100 million people were killed directly as a result of wars. Governments, using science and reason, developed new means of mass killings – nuclear bombs, genocides, germ warfare, gas warfare, etc. and new ways to deploy these weapons. In THIS century there is no reason to be optimistic about the beneficial application of science and reason if you look at the dramatic growth of Islamic terrorism – as an example.

    Those who believe in secularism and governments designed to enforce the secular humanist agenda are betting the future on the “betterment of humanity” by, somehow, our pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. In the history of the world that theory has never worked. Only when we humbly subjected ourselves to God’s Laws and acted accordingly was there an obvious track towards stability and peace. It is not logical to assume that ‘people are basically good’. What is obvious is that people are flawed and need God’s grace and guidance.

    My background is physics, astronomy… and I certainly have no issues with science, per se. It’s good at what it does. But, science is blind and can be used or abused. To believe that science and reason alone is capable of building an ever more moral society is a foolish supposition.”

  2. Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Let’s start with some reviews of Shermer’s book from Amazon which aren’t quite as “thrilled”:
    … blah blah blah …
    and here:
    … blah blah blah …
    another
    … blah blah blah …
    another
    … blah blah blah …
    another
    … blah blah blah …
    had enough?

    Yes, I’ve had more than enough of your silly demonstration that you can copy and paste. Wow. That’s really impressive.

    This seems to be a habit of yours. I mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and you copied and pasted a whole article praising his roots as a Bible believer. Then I mention Michael Shermer and you post a huge pile of cherry-picked negative reviews. Meanwhile, you yourself have not even tried to interact intelligently with the substance of my article.

    It seems that you are mistaking quantity for quality. I could just as easily post ten thousand quotes detailing all the absurdities in the Bible. Would you find that convincing? If not, why do you do the same thing? If you want to convince someone, you need to clearly present your argument in compact form so it can be discussed and settled. Dumping a truckload of quotes proves nothing because then we have to discuss their validity. Why not go straight to the primary point of dispute and settle that? Case in point: You asserted that “Dr King would be the first to reject your anti-biblical so-called justice.” Do you stand by that assertion? Do you really believe that equality is “anti-biblical”?

    Now if you want to challenge my philosophical foundation of morality without God, I invite you to read and critique my articles on that topic:

    The Logic of Love: A Natural Theory Morality

    Why Most Animals are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God

    Morality is Objective, Like a Pair of Scales: Another Fatal Flaw in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God

    The Golden Rule and the Foundation of Objective Morality

  3. bibelverse
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Richard, I have two questions for you. Are you searching for the Author of life? And if yes, do you think the Author of life can reveal Himself to His creation?

  4. bibelverse
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    primitive futurist, religions that promote false gods need to be rejected, not embraced.

    Searchers for truth, anyone who doesn’t find the holy bible worthy of daily, diligent study has gone astray. Richard has cycled into atheistic territory and continues to make too many “friends” on his travels.
    What happened to the Richard who used to write sensibly? What happened to the Richard who wrote passionately and profoundly about the validity of God’s word?

  5. Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Richard, I have two questions for you. Are you searching for the Author of life? And if yes, do you think the Author of life can reveal Himself to His creation?

    Of course not. Why should anyone think there is an “author of life”? Are you searching for Allah? If not, why not? Answer that and you will understand why I am not searching for Yahweh.

    As for your second question, it sounds like you are trying to use presuppositional apologetics which begins with the presupposition that there is a god and that god can reveal himself to his creation in such a way that we can be “certain” that our beliefs are true. It is an abject case of fallacious circular reasoning. I wouldn’t go there if I were you.

  6. Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Searchers for truth, anyone who doesn’t find the holy bible worthy of daily, diligent study has gone astray.

    So says every cult member on the planet. Why should anyone believe your religion over any other? Do you have any evidence?

    What happened to the Richard who used to write sensibly? What happened to the Richard who wrote passionately and profoundly about the validity of God’s word?

    I woke up and smelled the stench of the doctrine of eternal hell. I knew it could not be true because if it were then Yahweh would be a demon-god who delights in roasting human flesh for eternity in his wicked torture chamber.

    You reveal your deep bias when you say I used to write “sensibly” merely because my words tickled your ears and confirmed what you want to believe. Such bias is the root of much delusion.

  7. Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    am I cherry picking? more folks not buying into it…

    Yes, you are cherry picking. That follows by definition. There are 75 reviews of Shermer’s book on the Amazon page you linked. The large majority (54/75 = 72%) give either 4 or 5 stars. You ignored most of the evidence and carefully selected quotes that only confirmed what you wanted others to believe. That is deliberate deception. You might want to think about that next time you read about the fate of liars in the Bible.

    Moral Arc review

  8. bibelverse
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Richard, you always ask: Why should anyone believe your religion over any other? Do you have any evidence?

    My answer is always to refer you to the sinless Son of God. I always remind you to listen to Him, for He can answer all your questions and provide evidence that what He teaches is true.

    Richard, Why don’t you cycle to Him? When He says He is the truth, you are welcome to pedal towards Him. Rejoice for He is alive and can restore your soul!
    Richard, will you cycle to Christ? Will you grab Rose and cycle to the Author of life with her? Will you and Rose hunger and thirst for Him?

    Richard, no amount of saying that you have woken up will result in you truly waking up, for only the Author of life can wake His creation up.

    You smelled the teachings on hell and got on your cycle and started to cycle away from the Author of life.
    Instead of asking the LORD to teach you the truth, you said in your heart, I don’t want to listen to these teachings that I have found in the Bible!

    I also find the teachings on hell very challenging, but I’m determined not to run away from the best teacher of all. He is a person who rewards richly, but also punishes much more heavily than we are often able to grasp. Richard and Rose, turn back to the Teacher of teachers and be blessed by Him.

  9. Posted May 10, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    My answer is always to refer you to the sinless Son of God. I always remind you to listen to Him, for He can answer all your questions and provide evidence that what He teaches is true.

    And as I’ve explained dozens of times, the Mormons say exactly the same thing. Here is what they describe as the “testimony” that God gives them (source):

    A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.

    Now look at those words. You agree with everything they say up to where they say the “Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the Gospel”, right? So why should I believe your claims instead of theirs?

    Richard, Why don’t you cycle to Him? When He says He is the truth, you are welcome to pedal towards Him. Rejoice for He is alive and can restore your soul!

    Come on Reine! You know my answer. I have been there and one that. I was a Bible believing Christian for 17 years. I prayed on a daily basis. I finally woke up and realized that I was talking to myself. There is no god. It was all a product of my imagination. I had deluded myself with cognitive errors like cherry picking, confirmation bias, and so forth. I realized I was wrong. Talking with you only confirms my conclusion, because you are rubbing my nose in the fact that you have no evidence or answers for basic questions. You have nothing but blind belief. I am not willing to go there.

    You smelled the teachings on hell and got on your cycle and started to cycle away from the Author of life.

    I smelled the stench of that doctrine, and realized it could not be from the “Author of life.”

    Instead of asking the LORD to teach you the truth, you said in your heart, I don’t want to listen to these teachings that I have found in the Bible!

    Not true. I’m perfectly willing to listen to any answers you think you might have. The problem is that you have not offered any.

    I also find the teachings on hell very challenging, but I’m determined not to run away from the best teacher of all.

    Thank you for admitting that truth! It makes me hope that authentic conversation with you is possible. Please explain how you understand the doctrine of hell. You keep telling me to ask Jesus. Why don’t you ask? Then you can give me the answer.

    And most important – please explain why you think the Bible is true at all. What convinced you in the first place?

  10. MichaelFree
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    This is my response to Richard’s article “Context Rules: The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible Confirmed” and also my response to Primitive Futurist’s comment on that article:

    Richard,

    Another great article that I can’t see any fault in. Great job.

    You said:

    “Actually, it is a very big deal. Equality is the foundation of justice and morality. The Bible is wrong on this point. We moderns are beginning getting it right, after thousands of years of error. As Dr. Martin Luther King said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

    Equality amongst human beings, regardless of our gender, religious preference, atheism, ethnicity, nationality, or sexuality, are indeed the foundation of justice and morality. Each of these groups are to be treated the same way, that is what equality is.

    Everyone has different abilities, therefore a specific woman may be a great police officer, but a specific man may not be a great police officer. This is what equality means, equality in opportunity,

    Equality in how we treat one another according to the Golden Rule: not lying to one another, not stealing from one another, not physically violating one another or each others’ property, and being rehabilitative in justice instead of being vengeful (an eye for an eye makes the world go blind). It doesn’t matter your specific abilities or lack of specific abilities to be treated the same way as everyone else (True Golden Rule).

    Primitive Futurist,

    You said;

    “Big deal. Equality is so over-rated. Bible has it right, moderns have it wrong. Get over it”.

    And then you have the nerve to say:

    “Dr. King dreamed of a day when America lives up to its creed, when all people sit together at one table, and when freedom and justice reign”.

    And:

    “Biblical promises of “peace on earth and goodwill toward all” were Dr. King’s antidote to despair”.

    I know you’re a true bible believer because your statements contradict each other, and are both good and evil.

    You said:

    “Dr. King’s commitment to the Bible as his primary source book was nourished in his childhood when Bible stories told around the dinner table held the King children in awe. Those stories sustained him until the end of his life”.

    If that’s the case I bet the King children only heard the good stories and all the bad stories were passed over.

    You said:

    “Blah blah blah. White middle class first-world dilettante posturing. Go down to Mexico and have this discussion with the cocaine cartels who will machine gun a family without thinking twice. There’s your atheism”.

    What does Richard’s race have to do with anything? Your by “faith” and not by “works” concept of salvation, your “get-out-of-jail-free-card” is equivalent to the atheist who does not believe in a supernatural judgment in the afterlife. Try again and try not to disparage atheists who abide by the Golden Rule because that is what makes for peace within all families. Your religion does not own the Golden Rule.

    You said;

    “The gazelle doesn’t whine and whinge about equality when the lion takes it down”.

    If you were as perfect as the animals you would not see transgression in the animal kingdom, for there is none. Animals are perfect. Humans have a choice.

    You said:

    “Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law”.

    That is the whole of your law, which is only believe in Jesus, a lawless law which cares not about works. It is why a so-called “Christian” Nazi can repent for killing thousands of Jews 5 minutes before they die, and your religion proclaims they go to Heaven, while your religion proclaims that all the thousands of innocent Jews the Nazi killed go to hell. Your religion is lawless and does not adhere to the True Golden Rule.

    You said:

    “What about the rights of the tuberculosis bacteria? When are you going to stand up for its equality?”

    When is your prayer going to defeat tuberculosis? Modern medicine has tuberculolis beat, it usually involves taking antibiotics for 6-12 months.

  11. primitive futurist
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Start with equality. Two things can only be equal if they are identical. As a mathematician, Mr McGough, I will be surprised if you would dispute this, but perhaps you will. Identical. The same.

    Is 27 equal to 27? Yes! both sides are identical. The same.

    Is 7 = 11? No. They are different.

    Are we in agreement so far?

    Now, is an apple equal to an orange?

    No. An apple is different from an orange, so they cannot be the same.

    Are we still on the same page?

    Is an orangutan equal to a grasshopper? No, they are different. Is Neptune equal to Pluto? Again, nope.

    Now: is a man equal to a woman? Well, let’s see: are they the same? Are they identical?

    No, they are not.

    So right out of the gate, the claim of equality of men and women stumbles and falls. They are not equal.

    They are not equal.

    But I suspect this is not what you mean anyway. What you mean, I suspect, is that things that are unequal should nevertheless be allocated equal political rights. Here is the weakness of moral arguments based on equality: when things that are not equal are granted equal rights, there is no stopping. You want things that are not equal to have equal rights. Ok, well keep going. Shermer trips up on the same point:

    “When the going gets really tough, as it does many times but never more dramatically than in his discussion of our treatment of animals, he declares his unexamined, unreasoned, and nonscientific, personal preference and moves on to another subject. In discussing “A Moral Science of Animal Rights,” he states, “At this point I have a confession to make: I am a speciesist — I eat and wear members of other species. There are few foods I find more pleasurable than a lean cut of meat — a trip-tip, a tuna or salmon steak, a buffaloburger.” Now, understand that the author himself, several hundred pages earlier, defined food animals as “sentient beings” and stated that “the survival and flourishing of sentient beings is [his] starting point, and the fundamental principle of this system of morality.””

    This equality business is a slippery slope. Some folks won’t eat animals because they “equate” them to humans, and thus extend equal rights. Others like Shermer define equality differently, and won’t extend the same rights to animals. What about plants though? Why not extend these same rights not to be eaten to plants? All attempts to deny these equal rights to plants are based on some arbitrary choice. They aren’t sentient. Really? Are you sure? They don’t feel pain because they don’t have a nervous system. Really? What if one day your science finds that plants do feel pain? Will they get the same rights to be not murdered, not eaten?

    Why stop with plants? I picked the example of the turberculosis bacteria. Why does it not have equal rights? If your definition of “equal” is rubbery enough to make things equal that are not identical, not the same, then why stop? The tuberculosis bacteria ought to be considered equal to a human being. It ought to have rights. If evolution is the a fact, then why privilege humans? if evolution is fact then indeed we are equal to any other living thing. Even the tuberculosis bacteria. We ought not to indiscriminately kill it, just because we don’t like what it does. We don’t kill lions because they eat gazelles. That’s fine. But tuberculosis kills a human, and we get all steamed up. This is the place that logic will take you once you accept that things that are not equal can be considered equal.

    Your article on objective morality fails on this very point. Your basis for morality having an objective reality is simply this false notion of equality. “Something is just and moral if it is equitable, fair, reasonable, impartial…Morality is grounded in rationality and so is, by its very nature, objective.” So morality depends on equality, but your definition of equality is as fuzzy as you want it to be. Does it include animals? Does it include plants? Does it include the tuberculosis bacteria? Wherever you draw the line is simply an arbitrary decision based on your own personal choice today. It may change tomorrow. For Shermer, animals are not included. For others they are.

    All of these attempts to find an objective basis for morality are just attempts at self-justification. They are just buttresses for self-righteousness. They are simply attempts to placate the voice of conscience, to find a way to pacify the feeling we get of good and bad. But these are just feelings. Nothing more. They certainly are not objective, no matter what high-falutin’ philosophy you want to spin on it. But in fact, most people don’t bother even to do that. They just get on with doing whatever they can get away with.

    “Good teacher” they said to Christ, and he rebuked them, saying “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Christ did not try to defend his own goodness.

    You can argue all you like, but the practical day to day reality is that people lie, cheat, steal, whenever they can get away with it. 500,000 children died in Iraq because of sanctions. Drones now rain death down remotely based on an arbitrary decision thousands of miles away. Nothing or no one stops any of this. There is always a way to justify it. Where is the objective reality of morality that saved the Iraqi children? Nowhere to be seen. It is a phantom, a mirage, an illusion. It is nothing but the self-justification of the self-righteous. Then, having written one’s book, one goes out for a steak, blissfully untroubled, like Shermer, that a sentient creature was murdered. Or a carrot, which died, so we might eat a vegetable. Or a tuberculosis bacteria, which was callously slaughtered so one of the precious human lives can be extended.

    That’s where equality ends. Equality is no basis for morality, because there is no equality. Things are different.

    Thus, if equality is all you’ve got, then there is no objective morality. The Mexican cocaine cartels understand this perfectly. Kill or be killed. There are no consequences. Might is right.

  12. MichaelFree
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I said:

    “If you were as perfect as the animals you would not see transgression in the animal kingdom, for there is none. Animals are perfect. Humans have a choice”.

    I should’ve said:

    “If you had discernment you would not see transgression in the animal kingdom, for there is none. Animals are perfect. Humans have a choice”.

    Atheists have to live in families or work in communities and to do that they must get along with other people. It is our species’ orientation to seek peace amongst other people in order to get along and to be productive. It’s our nature. Therefore no religion owns the Golden Rule. It is what it is. It is the method to achieve peace in the world and it’s a path of truth. True. Peaceful. Righteousness. We have what belongs to us in this world and we are not supposed to take what is not ours. This means to know your place in the world and to recognize the place of everyone else in the world, and to respect it, and not violate it. These are root transgressions when they are violated and therefore things that God judges. When a Christian liar, thief, or murderer, is proclaimed to go to Heaven when they pass, while a truth telling, giving, and life preserving atheist is proclaimed to go to hell, your religious doctrine transgresses in that you initiate harm in the form of hell to atheists who were peaceful their whole lives. The initiator of harm is the transgressor. I do not worship transgression. And this is also why I don’t libel God-being by attributing transgression to it.

  13. primitive futurist
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    “That is deliberate deception. You might want to think about that next time you read about the fate of liars in the Bible.”

    I made no claim to have portrayed the majority opinion. I said “Let’s start with some reviews of Shermer’s book from Amazon which aren’t quite as “thrilled””

    So you’re accusation of deliberate deception is unfounded, and you have made a false accusation.

    Fascinating that you do not hesitate to invoke the Bible as the arbiter of my alleged moral failing. Does not your “objective morality” extend to a prohibition on making false accusations?

  14. MichaelFree
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    primitive futurist,

    “Might is right” is not the way that atheist households are ran. Their households are as peaceful as religious people’s households. Maybe even more so as the bogeyman doesn’t scare the s out of the kids or the adults.

    Atheist places of business are the same way. Same with atheists’ public and private behavior. Peace is objective morality. That which is peaceful is objective. That which is peaceful feels good. This good feeling is objective. Feeling good is worth working for and protecting.

  15. Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:07 am | Permalink
    “That is deliberate deception. You might want to think about that next time you read about the fate of liars in the Bible.”

    I made no claim to have portrayed the majority opinion. I said “Let’s start with some reviews of Shermer’s book from Amazon which aren’t quite as “thrilled””

    So you’re accusation of deliberate deception is unfounded, and you have made a false accusation.

    You specifically asked “am I cherry picking?” I answered in the affirmative and proved the truth of my words. Cherry picking is one of the most common forms of deception. Why did you ask that question if not to imply that you were not cherry picking? If you did not realize you were cherry picking then you are either self-deceived or ignorant. If you did know what you were doing, then you were deliberately deceiving others. So you have a point – it is possible that you were not deliberately deceiving others. I’m sorry if I’ve erred on that point.

    Fascinating that you do not hesitate to invoke the Bible as the arbiter of my alleged moral failing.

    I did not invoke the Bible as an arbiter. I was simply exposing your inconsistency as a Bible believer who does not practice what it preaches.

  16. Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    So right out of the gate, the claim of equality of men and women stumbles and falls. They are not equal.

    By your logic, no two people are equal. Bob is not equal to George. No serious moral thinker would stumble on such an elementary point.

    When speaking of moral equality, we are talking about how all humans are equal as humans simpliciter. We use language like “All else being equal, person A should be treated like person B.” The basis of morality is equality, but there are many complicating factors that come into play, such as mental competence, that may make it difficult to work out in practice.

    But I suspect this is not what you mean anyway. What you mean, I suspect, is that things that are unequal should nevertheless be allocated equal political rights. Here is the weakness of moral arguments based on equality: when things that are not equal are granted equal rights, there is no stopping.

    You could not be more mistaken. I do not say that unequal things should be treated equally. I say that all humans are equally human, and that is the basis of their moral equality. Issues then arise about what defines a human in extremis. E.g. should a human body without a brain be considered a human person? Things like that. But those are on the fringes of the moral garment. The fabric itself is the essence of simplicity. Every child understands the Golden Rule: Put yourself in the place of the other. How would you feel if I did that to you? Justice! Fairness! Equality! I can’t believe I need to explain such elementary moral facts to a Bible believer. The best part of the Bible emphasizes these very points. The book of Proverbs was written to teach “wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity.” Your opposition to the concept of equality as the foundation of judgment, justice, and morality is absurd both intellectually and biblically.

  17. Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    That’s where equality ends. Equality is no basis for morality, because there is no equality. Things are different.

    Please explain what you think is the basis for morality.

  18. Posted May 11, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    All of these attempts to find an objective basis for morality are just attempts at self-justification. They are just buttresses for self-righteousness. They are simply attempts to placate the voice of conscience, to find a way to pacify the feeling we get of good and bad. But these are just feelings. Nothing more. They certainly are not objective, no matter what high-falutin’ philosophy you want to spin on it. But in fact, most people don’t bother even to do that. They just get on with doing whatever they can get away with.

    Your comment makes no sense at all. My moral theory is based fundamentally on the symmetry of the Golden Rule, of evoking the voice of your conscience by putting yourself in the place of the other. It is our empathy that pricks our conscience when we hurt someone else. How could that be used to placate the voice of conscience? It is the very voice of conscience itself! It is how we teach morality to our children. We ask them “How would you feel if I did that to you?

    Your comment makes no sense at all. I get the impression that my “high-falutin philosophy” went totally over your head.

  19. bibelverse
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Michael, repentance is a gift of God. It doesn’t come from the will of man. God is just, so it will only be given because the LORD
    decided to give it. His decision making is always correct!

  20. Posted May 11, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Michael, repentance is a gift of God. It doesn’t come from the will of man. God is just, so it will only be given because the LORD decided to give it. His decision making is always correct!

    If it doesn’t come from the will of man, then why do you keep telling me to do things like pray and seek God? Obviously, nothing I could do will change anything if God has not already chosen me. And if he has chosen me, then there’s nothing I could do to avoid being saved.

  21. bibelverse
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Richard, man shouldn’t rely solely on his will power to come into a living relationship with the Lord, for the ability to hunger and thirst for God is His present to man.

    If man hasn’t a hunger to know God, then God hasn’t blessed him with that present.

    If man could come to the Author of life, by dint of his own effort, he would boast about it! The Lord forbids this, for everything pertaining to salvation is His gift to man.

    The Lord commands His creation to submit his will to the will of the Lord, for only a man desirous to submit to the will of the Lord will welcome Him to be Their teacher, Savior, Lord, God and cherished companion and friend.

  22. Posted May 11, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Richard, man shouldn’t rely solely on his will power to come into a living relationship with the Lord, for the ability to hunger and thirst for God is His present to man.

    If man hasn’t a hunger to know God, then God hasn’t blessed him with that present.

    If man could come to the Author of life, by dint of his own effort, he would boast about it! The Lord forbids this, for everything pertaining to salvation is His gift to man.

    Yes, I understand. That is what your religions teaches. It is pure fatalism. There is absolutely nothing anyone could do to get saved. It is entirely up to God. Therefore, all preaching is absurd.

  23. MichaelFree
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Lying, stealing, physical assault, rape, murder, torture, and enslavement, are all objectively immoral, across time, gender, religion, atheism, ethnicity, nationality, or sexuality.

    God in the garden didn’t appreciate the transgression, neither did Isaac, Abel, the Jews under Pharoah, Jesus on the cross, the Jews in Nazi Germany, the Palestinians in Palestine, the Muslims in the Middle East, and my atheist father Gary who is in heaven.

  24. MichaelFree
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    When I say the names of characters in the bible, including “God”, I am referring to a book.

    When I say that my father Gary is in heaven I am referring to a belief that I hold.

    I do believe that there is a supernatural intelligence, but I don’t know it’s nature, or its purpose. Again, this is a belief. I don’t need to convince anyone of my beliefs. I’m just trying to do the best that I can in my remaining years here on Earth, honoring not lying and non-violence, while still enjoying a good boxing match, watching boxers who love their profession with all of their heart. An occasional psychedelic can be fun. And rock and roll is awesome.

  25. Gnade
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Richard, the LORD isn’t a teacher of fatalism. Fatalism is a lie.
    We are not robots! Every human being is able to hunger to get to know Their Creator.

    Every human being has many opportunities to listen to the sinless Son of God! And how blessed are they when they do this! Enjoy the picture!

    Josef Sefton

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxSiSdYeUIIyOC0zR0poRFpLdXM

  26. MichaelFree
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Many philosophical discussions stray from the subject at hand and is mind-numbing.

    Objective meaning : existing in the real world.

    Morality meaning : conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct; of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical:

    Since there are more than one human beings in the world, how do human beings interact with one another in a MORAL way?

    Well, how do we as human beings AFFECT one another?

    In our WORDS and in our DEEDS.

    How do we do our WORDS and our DEEDS that AFFECT other human beings in a MORAL way?

    By valuing each and every INDIVIDUAL HUMAN BEING we realize that lying, stealing, physical assault, rape, murder, torture, and enslavement, are all objectively immoral, across time, gender, religion, atheism, ethnicity, nationality, or sexuality.

    All of these immoral acts are acts that are not AGREED to by the victim.

    Do unto others “as you would have done unto you”. When each individual is afforded the Golden Rule then each individual OWNS “as you would have done unto you (unto themself; how they AGREE to be treated by others)”. Only when we transgress, such as committing a murder, do we forfeit our right to not be physically restrained (a type of physical assault) by other people. It is righteous to physically restrain murderers but it is not righteous to murder murderers; so do not become what you hate.

  27. MichaelFree
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Regarding my last comment:

    This is why the INDIVIDUAL matters first and foremost.

    The Golden Rule describes the inherent rights of each INDIVIDUAL human being. In other words, we all matter, each and every one of us.

    Everything that is a detour away from the True Golden Rule takes us further away from “the truth”.

  28. bibelverse
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    What matters first and foremost is are we desirous to hallow God’s name? Are we witnessing that His throne is in heaven?
    Are we desirous to submit our will to His will? Do we see the Author of life as Our King?

    Are we looking to Him to supply our daily spiritual needs? Do we realize that our daily need is to be forgiven by Him, for we sin daily.

    Do we praise Him, for Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross? Are we aware that we sin against our fellow man? Do we acknowledge that the LORD is a glorious LORD who has the will and power to bless us body, soul and spirit?

    Truly our first priority is to seek a living relationship with the LORD who reveals Himself in the holy Bible, then as He purifies our heart, thinking and soul we will increasingly love our neighbor as ourself.

  29. primitive futurist
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Richard,

    You don’t hesitate to accuse me of “deliberate deception”, and call me a “liar”, “self-deceived”, and/or “ignorant”, for merely citing some negative reviews of a book you happen to like. How unpleasant. How unnecessary. How unkind. How immoral. And it’s not just me, is it: you really do seem to have a problem with playing nicely with others, unless they agree fully with whatever position you are defending today. Offer a different view, and you go straight for the jugular like a rabid attack dog. That’s kind of fascinating, in the context of the discussion. This rush to pile on ad hominem attacks, shows that your waffle about the “golden rule” is just intellectual posturing. You don’t actually live it. You don’t actually mean it. You don’t stop to consider that it actually might apply to you too! The golden rule is purely a theoretical construct to you, and doesn’t actually influence your behaviour. There’s a word for this: you are a hypocrite.

    You set yourself up as an authority and teacher on morality, but if everyone was like you, this world would be a horrible place to live. I’ll stick to Christianity, thanks, where the ideal is “love your enemies”, rather than your religion which is more like “stick it to your enemies without mercy”.

    Have a nice day.

  30. Posted May 14, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    PF: I made no claim to have portrayed the majority opinion. I said “Let’s start with some reviews of Shermer’s book from Amazon which aren’t quite as “thrilled””

    So you’re accusation of deliberate deception is unfounded, and you have made a false accusation.

    RAM: You specifically asked “am I cherry picking?” I answered in the affirmative and proved the truth of my words. Cherry picking is one of the most common forms of deception. Why did you ask that question if not to imply that you were not cherry picking? If you did not realize you were cherry picking then you are either self-deceived or ignorant. If you did know what you were doing, then you were deliberately deceiving others. So you have a point – it is possible that you were not deliberately deceiving others. I’m sorry if I’ve erred on that point.

    PF: You don’t hesitate to accuse me of “deliberate deception”, and call me a “liar”, “self-deceived”, and/or “ignorant”, for merely citing some negative reviews of a book you happen to like. How unpleasant. How unnecessary. How unkind. How immoral.

    That’s not what happened. I simply reviewed what you had done and stated the implications. You had asked “am I cherry picking?” and I answered in the affirmative, and went on to explain that cherry picking is deceptive. Your attempt to defend yourself by saying “I made no claim to have portrayed the majority opinion” is absurd because it directly contradicts your rhetorical question “am I cherry picking?” which is a figure of speech meant to imply that you are not cherry picking.

    You can’t blame me for the web you have woven.

    And it’s not just me, is it: you really do seem to have a problem with playing nicely with others, unless they agree fully with whatever position you are defending today.

    Don’t be ridiculous. I have no problem whatsoever when people disagree with me for good reason. The problem with you is that you have utterly failed to give good reasons. You don’t even bother to engage the questions I ask! You copy and paste thousands of irrelevant words and totally ignore the main line of argument. You came in here like a gangbuster, claiming that all atheists, myself included, are ignorant, immoral, hypocritical fools who are merely “posturing” when we speak of morality. YOU are the one who dismisses anyone who disagrees with your ludicrous and unjustified religious dogmas. You have been doing the very thing you accuse me of. And so you are, by definition, a hypocrite of the first order.

    You came in here dismissing everyone who disagrees with you and then you have the audacity to say I am the one who does not “play nicely” with others? Is it possible that anyone could be as blind to their own behavior as you?

    Discourse on these matters is not a “game” to me. I take truth and reality very seriously. And I am delighted when people find errors in my writings because only a fool would deliberately hold to something that has been proven false. That’s why all who believe the Bible is the “inerrant Word of God” are fools.

    Offer a different view, and you go straight for the jugular like a rabid attack dog.

    Ha! So now you want to pretend you were merely “offering a different view” when you rejected my serious questions and well-developed moral theory with “Blah blah blah. White middle class first-world dilettante posturing“? No wonder you are now wetting your pants. Apparently you have been posting on websites that allow you to spew mindless blather without any serious repercussions. That won’t be happening here. I don’t abide such behavior on my blog. I invited you to rational discourse. I asked a number of questions that you simply ignored.

    That’s kind of fascinating, in the context of the discussion. This rush to pile on ad hominem attacks, shows that your waffle about the “golden rule” is just intellectual posturing. You don’t actually live it. You don’t actually mean it. You don’t stop to consider that it actually might apply to you too! The golden rule is purely a theoretical construct to you, and doesn’t actually influence your behaviour. There’s a word for this: you are a hypocrite.

    Ha! There you go again, accusing me of doing what you have done. You began your mindless attack with false assertions of “posturing” and here you are repeating them. If anyone has proven their morality to be hypocrisy, it is you. I would be absolutely delighted if you treated me the way I have treated you. You asked questions, and I answered them with logic and facts. You didn’t do anything like that in response to my questions. You deliberately dodged my questions and spewed out mindless rhetoric, copying and pasting mountains of words that you thought would discredit Shermer (who was not even the central point of our discussion) while totally ignoring every question I asked you.

    You set yourself up as an authority and teacher on morality, but if everyone was like you, this world would be a horrible place to live. I’ll stick to Christianity, thanks, where the ideal is “love your enemies”, rather than your religion which is more like “stick it to your enemies without mercy”.

    I do not set myself up as an authority on morality. I’m just a man who has thought about it a lot and have taken the time to clarify what it’s really all about. You have not challenged anything I’ve written. You began your brilliant, Christian, intellectual response with the words “Blah, blah, blah” and it went down hill from there.

    You’ve really shown how truly you follow the Christian ideals in this thread. Thank you!

    Have a nice day.

    Absolutely! I’m always happy when a Christian comes here and shows the world the kind of damage dogmatic religion does to the minds and morals of believers. Thanks! :)

  31. MichaelFree
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    I read your comments and primitive futurists’ also (minus all the copy and pasted reviews, I didn’t read those).

    It’s clear that PF was asking the question about whether or not he was cherry picking reviews in order to say that he was not cherry picking reviews. Cherry picking: picking the parts that support your hypothesis while ignoring those that do not, especially when those that do not outnumber those that do by a significant margin. Then you did the math on the reviews, most of which are apparently positive reviews.

    You even clarified and apologized:

    “You specifically asked “am I cherry picking?” I answered in the affirmative and proved the truth of my words. Cherry picking is one of the most common forms of deception. Why did you ask that question if not to imply that you were not cherry picking? If you did not realize you were cherry picking then you are either self-deceived or ignorant. If you did know what you were doing, then you were deliberately deceiving others. So you have a point – it is possible that you were not deliberately deceiving others. I’m sorry if I’ve erred on that point”.

    And then PF said this in his last comment, even after the clarification and apology:

    “You don’t hesitate to accuse me of “deliberate deception”, and call me a “liar”, “self-deceived”, and/or “ignorant”, for merely citing some negative reviews of a book you happen to like. How unpleasant. How unnecessary. How unkind. How immoral”.

    When someone clarifies and apologizes it’s good for the other party to accept it, in all logic and sincerity, and move on. I didn’t see that from PF.

    It’s not good to judge people on their perceived demeanor. The truth is worlds apart from petty things like attacks on one’s perceived personality. I bet you get of sick it as I’ve heard the accusation leveled more than once at you: the accusation that you have some kind of problem with your personality.

    I’m not supporting you in order to gang up on anyone, I’m just calling it as I see it. Ganging up sucks. The truth rocks. Rock on brother.

  32. Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    When someone clarifies and apologizes it’s good for the other party to accept it, in all logic and sincerity, and move on. I didn’t see that from PF.

    It’s not good to judge people on their perceived demeanor. The truth is worlds apart from petty things like attacks on one’s perceived personality. I bet you get of sick it as I’ve heard the accusation leveled more than once at you: the accusation that you have some kind of problem with your personality.

    I’m not supporting you in order to gang up on anyone, I’m just calling it as I see it. Ganging up sucks. The truth rocks. Rock on brother.

    Hey there Michael,

    Thanks for the review. It seems pretty obvious that “primitive futurist” was not interested in a rational discussion of morality and the Bible. The irony, of course, is that he was guilty of the accusations he threw at me. If we review our interaction, this is what we see:

    PF: Big deal. Equality is so over-rated. Bible has it right, moderns have it wrong. Get over it.

    RAM: Actually, it is a very big deal. Equality is the foundation of justice and morality. The Bible is wrong on this point. We moderns are beginning getting it right, after thousands of years of error. As Dr. Martin Luther King said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

    PF: Dr King would be the first to reject your anti-biblical so-called justice.

    RAM: So you say that Dr. King would reject equality as the foundation of justice and morality? Seriously? It appears your devotion to the Bible has blinded you to the nature of justice and morality. If equality is “anti-biblical” then the Bible is fundamentally immoral.

    PF: Blah blah blah. White middle class first-world dilettante posturing.

    And it went downhill from there. Note he didn’t answer any of my questions or try to reason with me in any way at all. He just spewed out insults and mindless Christian stereotypes about how atheists have no foundation for morality (as if his genocidal demon-god could provide one).

    I agree completely that it’s not good to “gang up.” Thanks for calling things as you see them.

    Shine on!

    Richard

  33. MichaelFree
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    This is completely unrelated to the topic, but I was wondering what you thought about a particular video on YouTube. It talks about what may be the astrological (astrology) origins of the Gospel story. The video is short, less than ten minutes.

    If you feel like it maybe you can watch it and compare it to your existing knowledge about the topic, if you’ve thought about it that is, and either vouch for the accuracy or the inaccuracy of what is being told in the video. I want to know if the video is truthful. I think you do a lot of study in regard to these things. If you don’t feel like watching it I completely understand.

    It’s called “Jesus, the Bible, Astrology, and the Egyptians”.

    Here’s the link:

    https://youtu.be/8BUj7J5POCk

    Thanks.

  34. ed evans
    Posted August 31, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi there R.A.McGough. I hope You don’t mind. I saw a statement made on this comment thread that I thought maybe I could shed some light on. You made the comment “If it doesn’t come from the will of man, then why do you keep telling me to do things like pray and seek God? Obviously, nothing I could do will change anything if God has not already chosen me. And if he has chosen me, then there’s nothing I could do to avoid being saved.”

    Just to clarify. Unless a person born is a physical descendent of the Biblical Jacob, then they are not ‘chosen’. ‘Many are called but few are chosen’, means that the whole world is called to return to the God they have fled, at a soul level from, but only a few are chosen and they are the Biblical Israel, who are instructed to follow the Biblical commandments of Jewish Scripture. Jesus gave some things that needed to be done in order to be saved, just as God gave Israel some things to do before they could receive covenant of Abraham, which is still in the coming.

    I’m sorry to see that You have temporarily walked away from the faith of our Saviour Jesus Messiah, but through heaven and hell, Jesus won’t let go. All souls came from a Creator and all souls will return to Him and be accountable for every thought, word, deed….because at a soul level You do know what You are doing, as does everyone, but our flesh is completely deceived by ‘knowledge’ which is not wisdom, and does puff up because it allows us to make excuses to do what we want to do in this world which is not life, but a judgment for what You and I have done before this….namely leaving the presence of the Father of all Creation, who is not a man, but in whom is all forms of creation, which is why man and woman are not equal, but together they are One. Blessings to You.

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