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Fox's John Kasich interviews atheist Brian Flemming about the Blasphemy Challenge. Good Job Brian.




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Gosh an issue where religion is used to prey on young people, turning them into very angry young people.

Golly my.

Kasich is a toad in human form.

"I hope you turn around."

That's quite a gutpunch; maybe I'll try it out on a Christian sometime.

Why is that phrase so bothersome?

Holy shit (pun intended).

That was the worst excuse for an interview I've seen.

Even BEFORE Brian started talking, the very first question posed to him was the most outrageous example of poisoning the well I've seen.

"Why are you so angry, why are you so hateful, and why do you eat babies? Go."

Pathetic.

Marc

This tool came to my local bookstore, and he really does speak in that loud, overbearing voice all the time - not just for the cameras. It was a pretty pathetic turnout, just a couple bible-bangers and old people. I knew he was "a FOX contributor"; I didn't know he had his own show. That the guy clearly wants to be Bill O'Reilly should give you an indication of how pathetic he is.

I wonder how many Christians were brought on the show to berate them for encouraging children to accept Jesus.

Also, if this had been focused against Islam would Faux News have been accept or is not believing in that religion okay, but not believing in Christianity just wrong?

As is typical with the tabloid trash found on Fox this was never intended to be a fair interview. Brian did a good job and it looks like he knew what to expect.

i would have declined the interview, personally, expecting such an ambush. however, i'm sure he weighed the options, and having some blowhard windbag berate you on fox news can be a wonderful experience. i would assume it would at least be a wonderful source of comic hate email.

I don't think Brian held up as well as he could have. Instead of saying "I think atheists can play basketball" he should have mentioned some of the charity organizations made by non christians.

That's the real issue with christians. They think atheism lacks any morals and the only thing holding people to theirs is religion.

I've heard worse interviews to be quite honest. This isn't the first time Flemming has gone on Fox News. On Fox News Radio, he talked with John Gibson. Here's the interview (audio).

"I hope you turn around."

He's a pious Christian nutjob, Brian. If you do as he says, please don't bend over!

Thanks for posting this, Norm. Also, thank you for posting that audio interview, Erick.

I just LOVE how John Gibson ended that interview, "Brian Flemming wants to DE-CHRISTIANIZE YOU!"

RUN FOR THE HILLS!

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Flemming is a self-satisfied smirking hipster and therefor should be gagged. FOX is God's news channel.

These clowns always appeal to the false sample argument: I don't know anyone who agrees with you and therefore you must be wrong. You see it flaunted by lots of right-wingers (and even, sadly, some liberals, though fewer of them).

It's the sad legacy of journalism by anecdote.

I thought he held up alright, but what upset me is that he never confronted the charge that he was somehow brainwashing those who posted and also never pointed out that while many of the posters have been young, a just as many have been adults.

I dunno. I would have handled it differently I suppose. He just kind of went all Dawkins-ish without explaining it very well.

He held up better than I would have expected though.

Okay, I was disappointed that Brian was not more responsive and ready to think on his feet. instead of giving the "anchor" the soundbites he wanted hecould have easily just tore apart why the question posed to him makes no sense.

everyone comes away learning next to nothing. the fox news way.

so sad..

I think he did alright. you can't educate the fox viewers in 2 minutes with a guy shouting at you. so anwering in a relaxed way with a smile was the best way to refute the angry individual the fox guy was trying to portrait him as.

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preposterous. a fine display of ridiculous fervor. god is a word that has been destroyed by morons. there is a higher power. it is mystery! it is that which we don't know. to humbly ask for answers, sincerely and with uncertainty, that is spirituality. to say someone else is wrong, for asking, for doubting, is to expose oneself as a non-thinking zealot. am i wrong? praise be to the great whatever it is! love and compassion to all. :)

WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY YOU CHRIST HATING DEMON!?!?!

CHRISTIANS ARE ALL ABOUT LOVE AND KINDNESS YOU FREAKIN' BASTARD SON OF A WHORE!!!!!

NO ONE CAN EVER FEEL LOVE WITHOUT CHRIST!!! WHY DO YOU WANT CHILDREN TO HATE EVERYONE!?!?!

Up Next on Fox, why gays are evil, how liberals want to kill your puppy and what to do when the rapture arrives. Stay tuned...

Now, all these funny G-- deniers should start thinking of replacing their old beliefs with sane and reasonable ideas. Philosophy for example.

But I actually think G-- is the wrong target: religions and the G-- they made up should be their main target. I fear most of them don't really know what their doing, especially the youngsters.

And Fox News is totally shitty anyway.

Ooo... what he said!

The host should have chosen his words more carefully... seems he'll be going to Hell for all eternity along with all those teens now.

Stupid Git - these folks have no sense of irony.

From Mr. Flemming's blog:

"When I realized Kasich was going for the "save the children!" angle, I decided to out-shameless him with my zeal to save those same children."

LOL! Well, I can understand that idea. I mean if you already know that the people watching are probably not interested in understanding your point of view, then you might as well have fun with it.

myword@foxnews.com

I know it's useless but anyway:

==== Dear reader,

It looks to me like foxnews has is not doing well on the "creating unbiased and neutral news" front.

Exactly who are the 'angry atheists (John Gibson, Friday, December 22, 2006)', it all seems in the 'ear' of the beholder.

Especially John Kasich's interview of Brian Flemming is full of prejudiced questions. If anyone looks angry in that particular interview, it has to be JohnK, because it is certainly not Brian who despite the tone and acusations of the interviewer manages to stay very friendly and patient.

Can i kindly ask the John's to stop taking 21century facts as 'attacks by angry atheists' and learn to seperate fact from fiction, it's really refreshing.

The 'branding' of the atheists as being angry should really only be done when a large majority of the atheists actually are angry, so with foxnews so persistant in this i would like to see the investigations/reports/polls with the used critera of these that justify foxnew's doing so.

Kind regards,

Martijn Teunisse

Compare":

"Brian, why are you so angry?"

with:

"You're going to HELL!"

Why oh why are atheists all so hostile.

That Brian gets to go on the air and say what he thinks is a positive thing. The host comes across like the angry one and even though it's Fox news some of it's viewers will see right through it. There are even consevative skeptics and atheists who watch Fox. If they get to see through the host when debating a fellow atheist then that host's credibility involving other issues is diminished.

As far as the interview goes, Brian needs to smile and he should have brought up how he personally was affected by his own indocrination, especially when the host tried to tell Brian what religion is all about (as if Brian doesn't know).

I wouldn't have gone with the "save the children" angle. Instead I would have stuck to my talking points, letting the host get all crazed.

I am very impressed that Brian was able to keep his cool while listening to that nonsense. Wow. Some of those people are so twisted that they cannot see how strange their behavior is. Oh, and that is ostensibly a "news" organization? Super.

Religious charity is the biggest myth in all of human civilization. More good has been done by secular governments in the last 50 years than by all of religion up until now. Religion has been a hindrance to the advancement of mankind, standing in opposition to science, democracy, and free thought—kind of like Fox News.

leftbanker, Your last remark is made out of complete iggnorance. You are entitled to your opinion but you can not dispute facts. An article came out a few years ago in The Guardian (of all places) that clearly showed, with data, how much more religous people gave than secular. I guess by saying "in the last 50 years" you safely exclude the Nazi's. Don't be a fool. Religion, when practiced as it is meant to be, is a good thing and beneficial to soceity. It may not be your cup o tea but to say that it has been a hindrance is silly and uneducated.

All Flemming has to say to people like Kasich is that he, Kasich, is going to hell unless he accepts everything that he, Flemming, believes.

Outrageous?

Not at all, for that's exactly what religious nutjobs say to anyone who dares to deny their faith.

Reasons why cure4pain is wrong about how "Religion, when practiced as it is meant to be, is a good thing and beneficial to soceity."

  1. This is like saying that bombs when used correctly only kill the "enemies"

  2. "the holy land"

  3. Armageddon being a good thing that leads to the rapture.

  4. Evolution vs. Creationism

  5. Stem cell debates.

  6. Blue laws

  7. "as it's meant to be" can be interpreted to whatever you think is best for the world. You want to "save babies" by banning All abortions, even in cases of Incest/rape/life of the mother, is not a "religious" question, and shouldn't be.

Don't give me the "religion teaches love" arguement. I can teach my kids love without fear of retribution of hell or religion at all, thank you very much.

That interviewer was a prick. Typical christian dogmatic response. "Oh why do you want to take away their hope". Fuck of FOX NEWS.

Why mask out the faces?!

By what standard can Fox justify this? Do they mask out the faces of underage religious people espousing their beliefs as well?

Outrageous.

Wow - Granted Fox is usually pretty biased in its interviews, but this was over the top. What was the point of this... thoughtless atheist bashing?

You have to admit though, ALL of this is bit ridiculous. To the Christians, Atheists, Leprechauns, etc. who feel the need to attack; knock it off. Let the urge pass... Truth does not need you to defend It.

Nate, You are by no means an idiot but your response, although passionate, is idiotic not really a refutation of my point.

I don't know of any great progressive thinker (Dennet, Harris etc.) who will deny that the religious have done the heavy moral lifting of our civilization. They acknowledge that there are good things that come from religion. I am aware that there is such a thing as good religion and bad religion. Bad religion is responsible for all of the horrible things that have been done in the name of God.

Your points are not examples of practicing a religion. They are results of bad teaching and dogma.

I have no doubt that you can teach you children about love without fear of hell. It is very immature of you to assume that I (or most Christians) think this way. I will admit that the mainstream Christian movement has displayed some intellectually embarrassing arguments. If you study the history of the evangelical movement in the USA you can clearly see how we have gotten off track. We have made fools of ourselves. We have made silly arguments (evolution). We have shown ourselves to be bigoted at times. But I honestly think that this is changing. We know that just saying; "Jesus saves" is not going to get us very far anymore. We have to have good solid reasons (religious and non-religious) to back up what we believe.

I could be wrong...and you may hope that I am, but I think that there is a real intellectual awakening happening among us. At least for my close friends and me. I mean why do I visit this site? To get different views about life. Views that I may not necessarily agree with. But at least I am not as closed minded like the Christians of "yore." We are as confident in our faith as you are in yours. But this is not a bad thing....it's just different. You think I am wrong and I think you are wrong....SO WHAT!?!? At least we can start to have a discussion.

So to wrap it up, it is foolhardy to think all religion is bad.

Anyway, sorry for rambling. Let the discussion ensue.

Why would someone say "I don't believe in G0d, so see you in hell?"

If you didn't believe in G0d, Wouldn't you also NOT believe in Satan or hell as well?

Flemming also could have rattled off all the TERRIBLE things people have done in the name of religion to explain his position.

Whoa. Back the trolly. John Kasich has his own show now? Great. They'll give anyone a show on that joke of a network. Who's next? Ann Coulter?

cure4pain what are your 'good solid non-religious reasons' to back up what you believe?

Good grief. I'm listening to the clip of Flemming that was recommended up above. What is amusing is that this pompous gasbag (along w/ the Mr. on FoxNews) has no problem interupting Flemming over and over and over and not allowing him to complete any argument, most of which are quite cogent. Thus he ultimately proves nothing for his religious cause. Typical Religious mindset: arrogance, lack of reason, and a determination to not let the opposite side have a complete say.

I emailed him, pointing how biased his coverage was, however I doubt he will respond.

farv, Obviously, given the medium by which we are communicating it makes it hard to fully lay out my Christian world view in succinct ideas. I will save you and me the effort of long, drawn out, philosophical debate and say that it comes down to faith. But not just for me, for both of us. I don't know what you believe, but I guess, for arguments sake, that you are a secular humanist. But even that world view requires faith. Anyway if you have read this far and are still interested then I will go on..... the short version.

Now for future reference, we can talk about specific non-religious reasons why I believe certain things line up with Christian teaching. Anything from, marriage, abstinence, the hot topics abortion and gay unions. But for now I will give you my non-religious reasons as to why I believe there is a God.

I apologize in advance if this bores you. I believe God's fingerprint is all around us. His presence is revealed to us through natural revelation. We all know the arguments for and against irreducible complexity but I think that resigning to the fact that this is all just chance is more out of logic and reason than believing in a first cause scenario.

I look at it like this. I come home from work one day and I notice a box of Alphbits spilled all over the counter. Upon closer inspection I find that my name, address, telephone number and ss# have been perfectly spelled out. Now any logical persons first instinct would not be "gee, what an amazing thing that the Alphabits spilled out of the box in such a way as to perfectly spell my name and so forth." On the contrary, one would immediately assume that someone was behind it. That is how I see this world. Our world, to me, is covered with a "makers" inscription. To me the idea of chaos, given by my example, is a greater leap of faith.

This is just one example. Of course we could get into the theory of universal moral law and law giver, but i will spare you for now. If you have read this far, I thank you for your time.

You suggest that the existence of the universe demonstrates the existence of God. Why? Because everything that exists must have a cause. It is amazing how many people find this argument compelling.

Who is to say that the only thing that could give rise to the universe is a personal God? Even if we accepted that our universe simply had to be designed by a designer, this would not suggest that this designer is the God of Abraham, or that He approves of Judaism or Christianity. If intelligently designed, our universe could be running as a simulation on an alien supercomputer. Or it could be the work of an evil God, or two such gods playing tug-of-war with a larger cosmos.

If God created the universe, what created God? To say that God is uncreated simply begs the question. Why can’t I say that the cosmos is uncreated?

Also, not everyone takes things on faith. If you are redefining faith to encompass hope, speculation, desire, probablities, guesses, and optimism then you are fooling yourself. Beliefs are a conscious acceptance and they also have no 'bilateral symmetry'.

*Note that I use 'bilateral symmetry' to refer to two word meanings that do not possess semantic symmetry. For example, "Believing" and "accepting" do not necessarily mean the same thing. Belief may require acceptance, but acceptance does not require belief.

...So to wrap it up, it is foolhardy to think all religion is bad... - cure4pain

Can I correct that for you? How about, "it is foolhardy to think all religions are equally bad."

At this point in our history, Islam is worse than Christianity -- a millenium ago, it was the other way around. Scientology has ruined a lot of lives, but nowhere near as many as Christianity or Islam -- nor as Judaism, Zoroastreanism, Odinism, or whatever else you'd care to mention. But invariably, when you look into these irrational, illogical dogmas, they all tend to cause a lot of harm. Some just happens to cause more harm than others.

The point is not that all religion is bad, but that indoctrinating children with the idea that they have to be good little Christian believers, or an eternity of punishment is forthcoming.

You are welcome to your beliefs, Christians, but I think Flemming has an irrefutable point in saying that young people are entitled to their own beliefs, including the right to blaspheme against "their" religion

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That guy is such a freaking "Emo kid". "Wah wah wah, mommie and daddie were mean to me and lied about santa clause and the easter bunny, I'll show them! I'll go on YouTube and say jesus isn't real and then cut myself and read vampire novels." LOL,

All that this is, is yet another example of everyone thinking that THEY have all of the answers. This Flemming kid is playing directly into Fox's hands as they try to paint this picture that Christians should vote Republican because Liberals hate Jesus.

This is really childish.

This is really childish.

I find adhering to 1st century beliefs much more childish than actually having the courage to stand up to society and acknowledge oneself as not being afraid and setting an example that you can lead a perfectly moral and decent life without having to believe in fairy tales. This popularity of the challenge translates into a type of peaceful protest against injustices like parent inculcation. Your whining about people's youtube videos is simply myopic, idiotic, and lacks critical thinking. Your name speaks about not having the balls to come out of your fence-sitting and actually stand up to injustice however way you can.

I don't know of any great progressive thinker (Dennet, Harris etc.) who will deny that the religious have done the heavy moral lifting of our civilization. They acknowledge that there are good things that come from religion. I am aware that there is such a thing as good religion and bad religion. Bad religion is responsible for all of the horrible things that have been done in the name of God.

This claim is very ludicrous for the simple reason that many of the immoral positions people take are for the most part supported by scripture. To believe that the Bible’s core message is only love and peace is kidding yourself to a ridiculously high degree. The good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it? As for the meager religious community services, these actions are intended for supernatural purposes (to save souls), and to recruit members into their church, not necessarily for the benefits of a satisfied life.

The Christian, so called, public welfare comes at a cost. For example, Mother Teresa's service, on the surface, looked noble until you realize that the Catholic Church has long fought against birth control and abortion. The population growth as a result of these intransigent beliefs creates far more poor, starving and miserable men, women, and children than Mother Teresa could ever have possibly hoped to save (and Mother Teresa supported the Church in their anti-choice stance). And this is the best example that the Church can come up with. My goodness. Compare this with the thousands of child molester priests that destroy lives, the clergy that actually think prayer works to solve problems, the Church which, if given total control, would take us back to the Dark Ages.

Do you realize that just three atheists (Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and George Soros) give more to charity than all the Christian religions combined? And they don't ask for anything in return. Studies have also shown that non-religious people are more giving than religious people. A good place to fact check would be the United Nations statistical evidence. The 2004 United Nations' Human Development Report, which ranks 177 countries on a "Human Development Index," measures such indicators of societal health as life expectancy, adult literacy, per-capita income, educational attainment, and so on. According to this report, the five top nations were Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands. All had notably high degrees of organic atheism. Furthermore, of the top twenty-five nations, all but Ireland and the United States were top-ranking non-believing nations with some of the highest percentages of organic atheism on earth. Conversely, the bottom fifty countries of the "Human Development Index" lacked statistically significant levels of organic atheism.

Moreover, you claim that religion has done most of the “heavy moral lifting of our civilization.” This is a complete and utter lie. Secular governments, like the United States for example, help control religious bigotry and intolerance. Unfortunately this secularity has been diminishing in recent times and we have unfortunately seen the horrible outcomes that result from this.


Your points are not examples of practicing a religion. They are results of bad teaching and dogma.

With beliefs comes dogma. The only reason we may see many Christians not following the words of scripture that tell them to do abominable things comes from a loosening grip that moderates tend to hold. If we ever achieve a civilization of true equity, respect, and love between the sexes, it will not be because we paid more attention to our holy books. If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, for example, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe (which actually predates Christianity). Bad teaching is inculcation. Bad teaching is teaching faith over evidence. Bad teaching is teaching them about false hopes that death is an illusion and that eternal paradise awaits their beloved instead of teaching them how to mourn.


I have no doubt that you can teach you children about love without fear of hell. It is very immature of you to assume that I (or most Christians) think this way. I will admit that the mainstream Christian movement has displayed some intellectually embarrassing arguments. If you study the history of the evangelical movement in the USA you can clearly see how we have gotten off track. We have made fools of ourselves. We have made silly arguments (evolution). We have shown ourselves to be bigoted at times. But I honestly think that this is changing. We know that just saying; "Jesus saves" is not going to get us very far anymore. We have to have good solid reasons (religious and non-religious) to back up what we believe.

To claim immaturity in this particular topic is foolhardy. Simply because you own a differing tenant of Christianity that greatly shies away from the norm is anything but an immature statement. Much of these accusations are solidified by the ample evidence we have of how closely and sternly the believers in American believe—let alone knowing the ratio of believers to non-believers. To brush them off as insignificant is absurd.

You are correct to call mainstream Christianity embarrassing; however, please note that the loose beliefs of Christianity which you and many other moderates adhere to are simply a diluted version of actual scriptural beliefs. It is not strikingly complicated to analyze why anyone with Christian faith would make such claims about Darwinian Evolution, our solar system, the earth’s shape, etc. Take the belief that we lived in a geocentric universe. Why should it surprise anyone that Christians used to believe this? If in fact God created Earth, and its human inhabitants are of His primary interest, it would make sense to conceive of a geocentric universe and not as a spec on a majestic cosmos. It took the Catholic Church until 1992 for an official apology for how the Galileo event was handled. This slow “progress” happened as a result of seeing how embarrassing it was to hold onto faith rather that actual scientific evidence. Though no one claims science has all the answers, it does not follow that religious arguments win by default either.

The placebo effects that beliefs may deliver bare no evidence to the actual existence of such a deity. Moreover, such effects and the charitable actions can be greatly disputed when weighing them in with the atrocities it’s caused. If we can all live moral lives and have hopes, dreams, and desires without having to make unjustified claims about the universe, what is the purpose of passing these beliefs any longer? The child abuse does not come from atheists like Brian Flemming making blasphemy challenges on youtube or engaging in open-ended critical conversations about faith. The child abuse comes from the indoctrination of parents and peers spreading the meme of religious dogmas onto them.

Well put. I'd love to add, but no need on beating the proverbial dead horse.

It is worth mentioning, that one of the interviewer's arguments depended on Flemming's promise of free DVDs (he doesn't specify that it's one documentary for obvious reasons) was corrupting and inducing children to renounce their believes. I am amazed at Fleming's cunningness. That sly fox with his proimises of a free DVD managed to get those poor kids to forego threats of hell and promises of heaven. I guess if there's one thing that would get a 15 year old to risk a possibility of eternal suffering, it is a free documentary DVD.

"[D]efacing the Bible..."?

If it is your own Bible, is it actually possible to deface one's own property?

Erick, Thanks for your long and well written response. I will try to counter your points as briefly as possible.

If God created the universe, what created God? To say that God is uncreated simply begs the question. Why can’t I say that the cosmos is uncreated?

First you are looking for the origin of our natural world. You can not include God in that because God is super natural. He was not born. He does not carry our humanistic traits. He is eternal. This is where the conversation usually stops. Because it is awfully convenient to play the "God" card. But back to my other post, this is part of faith. I think one of the reasons it is hard for people to grasp this is that they want to view God as an amplified humanity and not divinity.

Also, not everyone takes things on faith. If you are redefining faith to encompass hope, speculation, desire, probablities[sic], guesses, and optimism then you are fooling yourself.

But those things do encompass the very definition of faith. What is your definition of faith then? Provide me with that and lets then see who is doing the "redefining."

..reason that many of the immoral positions people take are for the most part supported by scripture.

Please give an example. I can not really refute what you are saying without some specifics.

To believe that the Bible’s core message is only love and peace is kidding yourself to a ridiculously high degree.

I think this displays you lack of knowledge concerning what is actually in the Bible. Have you ever read a great novel? And in that novel were instances of violence, passion, and love? Did that novel have a moral to the story? Did then the passages contained within the novel "add to" or "detract" from the main message of the novel? I think the same goes for the Bible. It is not all puppies and flowers. Then again neither is life.

Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?

Once again, I think this is just not understanding what Christians actually believe. We do not help the poor because it will keep us from hell. We do it because it is the thing we "ought" to do. And I believe that the "ought" (moral law) comes from God. And when you serve and help the poor you are bringing glory to God and showing people a glimpse of divinity. Of course there are plenty of non-religious reason to do good. One, it just make you feel good. But doing bad makes you feel good too. So I think just because it “feels good” is not reason enough to do good.

Do you realize that just three atheists (Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and George Soros) give more to charity than all the Christian religions combined? And they don't ask for anything in return. Studies have also shown that non-religious people are more giving than religious people.

I give and I don’t ask for anything. Let me ask you this. Joe, a blue collar worker in Ohio makes $40,000 a year. He volunteers his time at a homeless shelter, leads a Sunday school class, and, for the sake of argument, gives $20,000 a year to charity. Who out of Bill Gates, Ted Turner, George Soros and Joe gives more? Joes time and $20,000 or the millions of dollars given by the other 3? Your one study shows the pure numbers of fiscal charity, which display certain truths. But multiple studies have overwhelming shown that religious people out-give in money and time and service. This is something I have even heard Dennet speak of. I do not point this out to prop up religious but to point out a fact.

you claim that religion has done most of the “heavy moral lifting of our civilization.”

Not only I but Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris and other level-headed, honest atheists. It’s a fact. We can argue our opinions on the matter, but we can not dispute facts.

O.K. I have made it about halfway through your post and the rest seems to be different takes on the same arguments. So I will stop for now. I will finish with this though. You seem to make inaccurate claims based on a limited knowledge of the Bible. I will address one more area that I think you were hitting on. That is about the cruelty in the Bible. Especially in the laws found in Leviticus. Yes, these laws are demonstrative and cruel. But let me ask you this. How many times in the Bible were these laws actually carried out? Not many. How many times were the laws broken? Many. A more scholarly answer would be the principle of “having it on the books.” This is done in an effort to display the seriousness that God places on the law. Kind of like when a principal would have a paddle on the wall. Saying that “yes this can be used but you know the rules, obey them and you won’t get spanked.” Back then obeying God’s law was a big deal. Anyway, that gets into a theological discussion and not so much the philosophical ideas that we have been talking about. Thanks for your time.

As much as I respect your civility in response cure4pain, I feel as Richard Dawkins does, is that your excusing of religion and religious docterine is only helping those who teach the "dogma" and cause so much destruction "in the name of Jebus". Religion today (regardless of what it "has done in the past", which could still be argued, but not by me)... Religion today is the "mainstream" bohemoth that calls people "ragheads" and says that "evolution is the devil" (see Friends of God) and indoctrinates children to discard science and learning for the ways of "the good book".

I understand how it works for you, but by your excusing religion altogether allows for the crazies to carry out their religious dogma without question. You of all people should be fighting mainstream religion, take back Jebus and get out of my liquor stores damnit.

First off, I would like to extend the analysis that correlated charity with religion by including the analysis of the destruction brought forth by religion. A case can be made that religion has been behind a large portion of human conflict. Which has led to the death of millions of people, destruction of property, famine, and so on. so it would be intersting to perform a "goodness" evaluation to see if religion is in the black or red when it comes to overall good. If it turns out that religion is in the "red" a case can be made that religion, regardless of individual positive cases, is thus decrimental to the human experience.

I would like to know any christian apologist, to see how their god pases the Epicurian logic test:

"God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, he is weak -- and this does not apply to God. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful -- which is equally foreign to God's nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?"

If the Christian god created all things, including logic, and he can not pass this test... no wonder he/she needs all these lound windbags to defend his/her tenents.

Nate, I don't excuse religion. If you read my earlier post I made it clear that we Christians have really gotten off track. We have some really embarrasing people wearing the badge of Christianity. "Friends of God" is a perfect example. We need to teach that we don't go to the Bible for science lessons. Conversely we need to educate scientists that they don't look to science for values. I think that is fair. I do try to fight mainstream religion by trying to educate myself as much as possible. And engage people who don't agree with me as much as possible.

I'm so tired of everyone arguing with such futile abandon. There is no mutual respect, no attempt to understand alternate perspectives. So convinced of your superiority, you are blind to the holes in your own logic. Frankly, there is a hell...the world we have created for ourselves with all of this vain, useless antithesis of communication.

I don't think it's fair to claim a historical correlation between religion and conflict.

Of course, in nearly every conflict you might study, religion is involved to some degree, but religion is inextricably linked to every aspect of human existence.

Therefore drawing a connection between either religion and conflict or religion and good works is fallacious. It is completely impossible to say that without religion there would be less conflict in history.

It is therefore that many atheists are displaying just as blind a faith in saying "Religion causes war" as religious zealots are in saying "Religion causes much good"

First you are looking for the origin of our natural world. You can not include God in that because God is super natural. He was not born. He does not carry our humanistic traits. He is eternal. This is where the conversation usually stops. Because it is awfully convenient to play the "God" card. But back to my other post, this is part of faith. I think one of the reasons it is hard for people to grasp this is that they want to view God as an amplified humanity and not divinity.

I exactly see your point and is why I remain on reasonable ground to reject any notion of a deity, because it’s ultimately not about evidence but about faith. Surely of course there will be those people who wish to expand the definition of evidence to include faith; however, in doing this we destroy the meaning of the word because now we are attaching wishful thinking and blind trust into its core meaning. You still do not answer why I cannot say that the cosmos is uncreated. You make unjustified claims in your premise about a deity being supernatural and then conclude with saying that it is ultimately a matter of faith. In abovementioned posts, you almost assert by fiat that things in the universe could not have risen any other way besides a creator. Are we supposed to be convinced simply by diving into faith as you have? I cannot do this to myself as I am not a person who puts belief on a pedestal. No one here (except maybe you) is claiming to know why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the “beginning” or “creation” of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself.

But those things do encompass the very definition of faith. What is your definition of faith then? Provide me with that and lets then see who is doing the "redefining."

You entirely miss my point. Faith can lead you to hope, optimism, and a different outlook on life, my point was—and I’m sorry if it was unclear—that we can go through life having hope, speculation, desire, probabilities, guesses, and optimism without the adherence of beliefs. No where do I require faith, and you make a hasty generalization in saying that everyone has faith in something. I think this is due to the fact that most believers cannot conceive of a life in which one can go without having faith, but this is merely a lack of imagination let alone personal investigation. Belief is a conscious acceptance so to say that I, for example, hold beliefs but am not aware of them would belie the very notion of what a belief is.

Please give an example. I can not really refute what you are saying without some specifics.

The sad part in this statement comes from the obliviousness to the atrocities faith has caused. It is true, as the saying goes, that with or without religion good people would do good things and bad people would do bad things. But for good people to do bad things that takes religion. In my previous post, I posted that the religious charity comes at a cost. If you do not buy this then let me take a seemingly benign belief that actually has caused havoc.

The Catholic Church, as well as much of society, holds celibacy as a virtue—something to be emulated. In scripture we find that sex is seen as impure, outside of marriage as evil, and virginity as a highly merited (Jesus born of a virgin; Jesus living a virgin life; etc.). We then of course see that the Church as required priests lead a purely sexless life: no marriage, mistresses, lovers, girlfriends (don’t even think about any other gender), masturbation, pornography (hardcore or soft), even think about “impure thoughts.” There is a practice called “flagellation” where priests and other clergymen commit acts of physical self-punishment so as to discipline themselves and feel forgiven (I’ll spare you the methodology. You can look this up yourself online for pictures and descriptions). In psychology, sexual repression is a known indicator to cause sexual deviance. In Criminology, when we look at criminal sexual deviants, we usually look at their background history and lo and behold there is no surprise that we find a major trend of sexual repression. In Criminal Justice we have a specific term known as ‘priest rape’. Now stop and think about this for a second. We find pedophilia and rape outside of religious institutions. Why do you think there a specific term such as “priest rape?” This is because the largest institution of pedophilia has been known to be the Catholic Church. Ironically we see religious speakers crying out against pornography and the threat it poses on our children.

Traumatized sex arguments simply do not stand up to the evidence. If children really were traumatized by pornography, where is the evidence? Since we have a lot of pornography, we should see lots of child pornography trauma centers, specialists who treat porn shocked kids, and vast scientific studies as to the traumatic effects of pornography. It just doesn't happen.

But we do have specialists for repressed sexuality. Sex research from Freud, Kinsey's reports, Masters & Johnson, to many modern psychological studies have shown that repressing human sexuality and censoring its expression produces unnatural sex. By unnatural, I mean coerced sex. Rape, molestation, or any kind of non-consensual sex is unnatural. And where does unnatural sex stem from? From children raised in sexually repressed families.

By contrast, non-rapists were more likely than rapists to have experienced pornography while growing up and raised in a family where sex was openly discussed and not shamed. (Read Fred R. Berger's "Pornography, Sex and Censorship" in Pornography and Sexual Deviance)

There are many more examples we see where otherwise well-intentioned people commit horrible acts of immorality stemming from hatred of women, gays, and people of certain ethnic backgrounds, all the way to physical abuse and murder.

This does not mean that every Christian behaves this way. Many Christians act in good ways but they carry and spread the memes of religion to their children. It only takes a few Martin Luthers, or Hitlers to cause a lot of damage. Statistically, as I have aforementioned, there exists data showing how secular countries tend to be much healthier than religious ones. If we are supposed to accept your argument that society was lifted up morally by religious dogma we’d have to have evidence for such a proclamation. Unfortunately for you, there exists no such evidence.

Faith, does not depend on any evidence whatsoever and you can have a person who harbors a dangerous belief without religion at all. One day we may see a scientist who has faith that his parallel-universe machine (powered by a thermonuclear bomb) will save our dying planet by thrusting us into a better parallel universe. Who knows? In this respect I disfavor all absurdities and not just religious ones—although religion causes more problems than other beliefs in comparison.

I think this displays you lack of knowledge concerning what is actually in the Bible. Have you ever read a great novel? And in that novel were instances of violence, passion, and love? Did that novel have a moral to the story? Did then the passages contained within the novel "add to" or "detract" from the main message of the novel? I think the same goes for the Bible. It is not all puppies and flowers. Then again neither is life.

A novel can surely have a good moral, but the morality in the Bible is contradicted by clear cut messages we get from the God of the Old and New Testament. As just one example, take for instance a Jesus parable in Luke 19:27.

Some Biblical scholars debate whether Luke 19:27 constitutes part of the parable of the Ten Pounds. It could possibly come after the end of the parable, as a kind of end statement that resolves the parable in the "real" world.

I submit that if we take Luke 19:27 as included in the parable, Jesus becomes are more atrocious, his decency even more questionable in view of the parable lesson. Moreover, the credibility of his morals yields a far more staggering blow to Christendom's ethic.

The intent of a New Testament parable (as preachers love to claim), aims at teaching a lesson that the faithful should take seriously. If not, what should we make of the parable about the Good Samaritan where Jesus ends by saying, "Go, and do thou likewise" (Luke 10:37)? Or the parable about the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10)? Should we chalk up any of Jesus’ parables to, "Oh, it's just a parable, we shouldn't take it seriously"? Of course not. The Parable of the Ten Pounds aims to teach a lesson about disobeying your "Nobleman" (no doubt the author of Luke meant to put Jesus as the nobleman). Believers can replace "servants" with themselves or someone else, but what could they possibly replace for the conclusion of the lesson: "slay them before me"?

Slay means to kill by violent means. You would have to replace slay with "kill," "slaughter," "exterminate," or any other synonym that comes close to "slay." Regardless of which metaphor you choose, it would not lessen the end result. One could not use milder concepts like "punish" or "chasten" because they mean entirely different things than slay. It would also damage Jesus' credibility to suggest that he did not choose the proper metaphorical word to convey in his parable.

If, instead, we take Luke 19:27 as literal instead of parable, then the slaying would have to occur in front of Jesus during his limited physical life on earth. After he died on the cross, an apologist could claim the slaying ended at his death. But as parable, it transcends the physical. It becomes transcendent to Jesus who no longer lives in the physical realm. His presence resides in heaven and in the hearts and souls of all Christian believers. The Bible has a clear message as to where "before me" occurs. For followers to accept the lesson of their Jesus, they would have to slay their enemies before Jesus where He reside in their souls or in Heaven! It is precisely the kind of interpretation that Christians used to fuel the Crusades, Inquisitions and pogroms.

"Kill them all. God will recognize his own," said Arnald-Amalric in 1208 (when asked by the Crusaders what to do with the citizens of Beziers who where a mixture of Catholics and Cathars). This kind of atrocity plays right along with the parable in Luke.

If we take the entire Bible in context, Jesus' parable certainly agrees with the ordering of slaying by God in the Old Testament. If you add the concept of the Trinity, then you connect Jesus directly with all the slaying of men, women, and children by God-Jesus-Ghost. Furthermore, the New Testament, unmistakably, has Jesus admitting to willful slaying: "I will strike her children dead" (Jesus in Rev. 2:23 NRSV). Certainly Christians should not doubt the will of Jesus, should they?

If an apologist wishes to back out of this problem by saying that Jesus did not intend to put himself as the target of nobleman, then the parable becomes even more atrocious. We can then put any "Nobleman" in this context. Imagine dragging an unlawful citizen to the feet of the president of the United States and slaying him at his feet; or put yourself in place of the nobleman and ordering your followers to slay your enemies. No matter which way a believer tries to extricate himself from this difficulty, parable or not, it leads to problems. The only out, comes from asserting that Jesus did not say those words, and indeed, the Bible errs here. Or... OR... perhaps Christianity bases itself on unsupported conjectures and deceptions that relies on faith instead of reason and evidence.

Most religions (especially Judeo-Christian religions) not only honor violence but demands it. To not realize this indicates that you have no knowledge of the Torah, Bible or the Koran, much less the history of these religions.

Life may not be all puppies and flowers, but you would think that an all loving and all powerful deity would spread messages of love and peace, and not contradictory statements and outright lies and immorality. We hear messages such as “blessed are the peacemakers” yet Jesus never represented a peacemaker: “I come not to bring peace but a sword.” Morals of the story are usually thought provoking and inspiring. The messages that we get from scripture are the complete opposite. These references of immorality from the Bible aren’t merely a gain of sand that you can simply brush it off as insignificant or just reading it wrong. It is a core message and to not see this is clear self-deception. There are many more of these references. And yes, even in the New Testament .

Once again, I think this is just not understanding what Christians actually believe.

These claims which may seem insulting to your intelligence actually do not come from me but from many Christians. The fact that you might not follow in this line of reasoning does not mean you should brush off their arguments as irrelevant. I’ve made this point before and am getting tired of having to reiterate it.

History gives us examples of Christians fighting Christians over how to play the part of a "True Christian” because there never has surfaced a single demonstrable "True" interpretation. From its early inception there occurred Gnostic, heretic, Catholic, Protestant, and orthodox versions of Christianity (and dozens of denominations in between), all of them contradicting one another. This dispersion of interpretations and beliefs continues to this day.

We do not help the poor because it will keep us from hell. We do it because it is the thing we "ought" to do. And I believe that the "ought" (moral law) comes from God. And when you serve and help the poor you are bringing glory to God and showing people a glimpse of divinity. Of course there are plenty of non-religious reason to do good. One, it just make you feel good. But doing bad makes you feel good too. So I think just because it “feels good” is not reason enough to do good.

Neither is it because God says it is the right thing to do. In actuality you’re right in saying that “feeling good” is not the real reason why we do moral things and has been acknowledged in an article on this blog that you might have missed. Here’s where you can find it.

Let's take this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. If the Divine Command Theory were true, then the Ten Commandments could have gone something like this: "Thou shalt kill everyone you dislike. Thou shalt rape every woman you desire. Thou shalt steal everything you covet. Thou shalt torture innocent children in your spare time. ..." The reason that this is possible is that killing, raping, stealing, and torturing were not wrong before God made them so. Since God is free to establish whatever set of moral principles he chooses, he could just as well have chosen this set as any other.

Many would consider this a reductio ad absurdum of the Divine Command Theory, for it is absurd to think that such wanton killing, raping, stealing, and torturing could be morally permissible. Moreover, to believe that God could have commanded these things is to destroy whatever grounds one might have for praising or worshiping him.

If things are neither right nor wrong independently of God's will, then God cannot choose one thing over another because it is right. Thus, if he does choose one over another, his choice must be arbitrary. But a being whose decisions are arbitrary is not a being worthy of worship.

Threat of divine punishment cannot impose a moral obligation, for might does not make right. Threats extort; they do not create a moral duty. Thus, if our only reason for obeying God is the fear of punishment if we do not, then, from a moral point of view, God has no more claim to our allegiance than Hitler or Stalin. People who do good solely for personal gain or to avoid personal harm are not good people.

I give and I don’t ask for anything. Let me ask you this. Joe, a blue collar worker in Ohio makes $40,000 a year. He volunteers his time at a homeless shelter, leads a Sunday school class, and, for the sake of argument, gives $20,000 a year to charity. Who out of Bill Gates, Ted Turner, George Soros and Joe gives more? Joes time and $20,000 or the millions of dollars given by the other 3? Your one study shows the pure numbers of fiscal charity, which display certain truths. But multiple studies have overwhelming shown that religious people out-give in money and time and service. This is something I have even heard Dennet speak of. I do not point this out to prop up religious but to point out a fact.

I’m glad you are so generous without the feeling of wanting anything in return. You mustn’t excuse, however, the feelings and reasons that other Christians have. You can give me anecdotal evidence all you want, but that won’t speak for the voice of Christianity as a whole independent of what you deem “true” Christianity might be to you.

According to Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at the Syracuse University, religious people give far more to charities than the non-religious and they also volunteer more to charitable work than non-religious people. Brooks, however, admits that he left out a lot of qualifying information.

This shouldn't surprise anyone considering that religions, by their very nature, are themselves charitable organizations, which encourage giving (especially to their churches). Also important to consider are the reasons why religious people give. Is it really to help others or to help themselves get into heaven? You seem to dismiss this simply because you don’t think of it this way. Lastly, many of the charities wouldn't need to exist if it weren't for religious people rejecting scientific advances, social reforms, etc. Mother Teresa, for example, served as perhaps the most charitable Christian of all time, but her stand (and the Catholic Church's stand) against workable prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (condoms and birth control for example), created far more deaths, poverty and suffering than her charitable work could ever have hoped to accomplish. I said this in my last post, and I say it in this one. Somehow I feel it’s going to go through one ear and out the other though.

For further information, read Michael Shermer's article in Scientific American:

http://sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=13&articleID=D27BB754-E7F2-99DF-3E2F8A28942743F5

Not only I but Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris and other level-headed, honest atheists. It’s a fact. We can argue our opinions on the matter, but we can not dispute facts.

You always seem to claim as though you know the positions of many of these atheists by authoritative decree when I can clearly see you have not read their work, even on the surface. I actually have read and own many of their books and reviewed several of their videos and articles. Your arguments do not match theirs at all. At all.

Sam Harris:

In The End of Faith, I argue that competing religious doctrines have divided our world into separate moral communities, and that these divisions have become a continuous source of human violence. My purpose in writing the book was to offer a way of thinking about our world that would render certain forms of conflict, quite literally, unthinkable.
For instance, while there are Christian missionaries working in sub-Saharan Africa doing heroic work to relieve famine, there are also secular people, like Doctors Without Borders, who work alongside them, doing the same kind of work and not doing it because they think Jesus was born of a virgin. They're not preaching the sinfulness of condom use the way Catholics and Christian ministers tend to do. So while Christian missionaries are helping people, they're also helping to spread AIDS with their sexual taboos and their prudery. So that's one issue.
Our world has really been shattered unnecessarily by competing religious certainties.
It's not an accident that St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine thought we should kill or torture heretics. Aquinas thought we should kill them, Augustine thought we should torture them. And Augustine's argument for the use of torture actually laid the foundations for the Inquisition. So it's not an accident that we were burning heretics and witches and other people in Europe for five centuries under the aegis of Christianity.
It is time we realize that belief is not a private matter. As a man believes, so he will act. Believe that you are a member of a chosen people, awash in the salacious exports of an evil culture that is turning your children away from God, believe that you will be rewarded with an eternity of unimaginable delights by dealing death to these infidels—and flying a plane into a building is only a matter of being asked to do it. Believe that “life starts at the moment of conception,” and you will happily stand in the way of medical research that could alleviate the suffering of millions of your fellow human beings. Believe that there is a God who sees and knows all things, and yet remains so provincial a creature as to be scandalized by certain sexual acts between consenting adults, and you will think it ethical to punish people for engaging in private behavior that harms no one.

Dan Dennett:

[P]robably more people have died in the valiant attempt to protect sacred places and texts than in the attempt to protect food stores or their own children and homes.
There is also the factual misconception to correct: plenty of "deeply spiritual" people-- and everybody knows this-- are cruel, arrogant, self-centered, and utterly unconcerned about the moral problems of the world. Indeed, one of the truly nauseating side effects of the common confusion of moral goodness with "spirituality" is that is permits untold numbers of people to slack off on the sacrifice and good works and hind behind their unutterably sacred (and impenetrable) mask of piety and moral depth.
Some people will scoff at the very idea that a religious upbringing could be harmful to a child-- until they reflect on some of the most severe religious regimens to be found around the world, and recognize that in the United States we already prohibit religious practices that are widespread in other parts of the world.
Those who are religious and believe religions to be the best hope of humankind cannot reasonably expect those of us who are skeptical to refrain from expressing our doubts if they themselves are unwilling to put their convictions under the microscope.
The proposition that God exists is not even a theory.... That assertion is so prodigiously ambiguous that it expresses, at best, an unorganized set of dozens or hundreds-- or billions-- of quite different possible theories…

Even if your claim about the link between faith and morality were true, it would offer no support whatsoever for your religious beliefs.

Your final point seems to touch on God as the lawgiver; however, I have already written on such matters in this post alone and do not wish to bore with the same message. This conversation is getting stale. If only I were given new arguments to refute, but so far the Christians that I have come across have been giving the same rhetoric in defense of their faith. You either completely mistook my comments or you have just given weak arguments to refute my statements. You want to reason but yet at the same time back yourself up into a wall and proclaim that it is a matter of faith. You cannot have it both ways. I’m sorry.

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All I have to say is that anyone attacking someone's religious beliefs is just as bad as the people who attack them for not having them. It's the exact same mentality just a different team.

As for Religion causing war, it is not religion that causes the wars it is the people who use religion to exploit people in it's name. There is a difference.

When countries are ruled by religion, religion used to justify war. When countries are ruled by political ideals are used to wage war. Warmongers will use whatever means they can to mislead the masses.

The logic used to say that religion causes war can also be used to say that Democracy causes war, Communism causes war, socialism causes war, and even eating food and breathing the air causes war, so lets go ahead and ban those also.

I respect the right to observe religion or no religion at all.

And to think, I thought that tolerance of others religions, lifestyles, and ethnicities was a corner stone of what it means to be a liberal.

It's awfully hypocritical to demand these things from others and then refuse to extend them the same.

Sorry for the above comment being ridiculously long. If anyone wishes to reference a certain section of argument and refutation, simply scroll to the bold and italicized text dealing with a particular issue. These refutations are regurgitations of past points since no Christian as of present has ever come up with anything new to argue on here sadly.


I don't think it's fair to claim a historical correlation between religion and conflict.

It is perfectly reasonable to include religion in the discussion Empire. The archeological and historical record shows that human violenceincreased after the monotheistic religions came into existence. The scripts derived from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions dependon war and violence. It's not surprising that religions that don't have violent scripts are far more peaceful (such as Jainism or Buddhism, for example). From differing beliefs in society to levels of escalation of violence stemming from religious dogmas, the evidence clearly shows how religion plays a key role that cannot be ignored. Interestingly the first human societies were more matriarchal than patriarchal which probably accounts for the dominance of goddess religions. The rare prehistorical violence of humans can’t begin to compare with the violence practiced by Christians and Islamists of today. As male dominated religions evolved so did our moral justification for war.

<sigh>


All I have to say is that anyone attacking someone's religious beliefs is just as bad as the people who attack them for not having them. It's the exact same mentality just a different team.

I’ll use a quote from Norm that I found on here that succinctly sums up the point:

don't conflate tolerance with respect, nor should you make the mistake of concluding that if I don't respect a specific belief you hold that I don't respect your right to hold those beliefs, as silly or dangerous as I might find them. Do you think one who believes in God respects by disbelief. If he's one not a total nut-job he respects my right to hold the belief, but certainly not the belief itself. The problem is in granting some special status to religious beliefs. A status that immunizes them from criticism. The only intolerance that Dawkins advocates is a conversational intolerance. Not pretending that just because you preface your belief statement with religious it is protected. Do you respect Dubya belief that he's doing a good job in Iraq, or that Brownie did a heckuva job. Did you defer strong criticism because you respected his belief, or did you point out that those beliefs were bullshit and misguided. Conversational intolerance is not a bad thing. Calling bullshit when you see it is what any rational person does. Protecting religion through some phony respect is both dangerous and foolhardy.

As for Religion causing war, it is not religion that causes the wars it is the people who use religion to exploit people in it's name. There is a difference.

For the last time what people do in religion's name is not a different argument. People make up the religion, not the other way around! Blaming the people (instead of beliefs) is precisely what human culture and courts of law have done throughout history. And it hasn't solved any moral problems. Since religions rely on superstitions, they cannot possibly solve any of the world’s problems either, much less moral problems. Consider that religion has not produced a single fact about the workings of the universe or the understanding of human nature. Not one! How in the world do you expect religion to solve anything? If you want to solve problems you have to get to the root and cause of the problem.

When countries are ruled by religion, religion used to justify war. When countries are ruled by political ideals are used to wage war. Warmongers will use whatever means they can to mislead the masses.

The elephant in the room that doesn’t seem to be sinking in your head is that they both require beliefs.

It’s not just religious beliefs, it's any belief system. No one is claiming that all of man’s woes come from religion but religious beliefs do present a big problem. I always find it amusing (yet sad at the same time; quite the paradox) that people always place the blame entirely on surface issues. Take Hitler for example who was a Christian. For the sake of argument, lets pretend that Hitler really did pretend his Christianity; that his sole aim went to politically winning over German Christians so that he could gain their confidence. How in the world does that improve your argument in protecting Christianity from Hitler? If that proved the case, then who should get the blame, Hitler or the gullible Christian German citizens who believed him? Without people owning beliefs (political, religious, or otherwise) how would megalomaniacs like Hitler have come to power?

The logic used to say that religion causes war can also be used to say that Democracy causes war, Communism causes war, socialism causes war, and even eating food and breathing the air causes war, so lets go ahead and ban those also.

Non sequitur on the last part about the air and foot thing because now you are just hallucinating on your own words. First off, no one is trying to ban religion. Our goal should be to respect the wall of separation of Church and State in this country which actually protects religious people. Speaking badly about religion and identifying problems is in no way intolerant. The problems of belief do not come from Bibles, Jesus, or Satan but rather from human gullibility. We have a tendency to believe that ideas and words equal great truths. But words cannot convey ultimate truths anymore than a map can serve as the territory. Our beliefs play out a dangerous aspect of humanity and the responsibility for them must lie with ourselves.

I respect the right to observe religion or no religion at all.

Good for you. We as nonbelievers are also trying to steer this country back to its original secular state so that everyone can live happily with the beliefs that they wish so long as it doesn’t affect others. We do this through starting the very conversations you admonish.

And to think, I thought that tolerance of others religions, lifestyles, and ethnicities was a corner stone of what it means to be a liberal.

Tolerance is a cornerstone and as mentioned previously has nothing to do with respect.

Who says we shouldn't confront and question beliefs that trigger or cause violence action? It describes one thing to say that people have a right to exist, but since when do beliefs in-themselves have that right? Instead of respecting the beliefs over the lives of people, how about respecting people over beliefs? Respect people, not their beliefs.

It's awfully hypocritical to demand these things from others and then refuse to extend them the same.

See above…and pick up a dictionary on your way back up.

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Erick, I agree with you that there should be a separation of church and state. I also agree that responsibility for our actions and beliefs must lie with ourselves.

However, I am willing to bet that the belief that there isn't a God or higher power can be just as dangerous as believing in one. Like you said, responsibility lies with the individuals.

I found some interesting reports on Democide, Genocide and mass murder that you may find interesting.

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE5.HTM

Your argument earlier was that Religion was the cause of increased amounts of war and killing, but if you look over the statistics you will see that very little of it is attributed to religion.

As for respecting people and not their beliefs, if I walked up to a Wiccan and told them that their magic was a bunch of hocus pocus B.S., would I still be respecting them? No.

By saying to respect people and not their beliefs you're defending the very same types of attacks that the "Religious Right" makes against you.

You say that you want to get to the root of the problem? Well let me give it to you. The problem is that neither side feels that they should respect each other's beliefs. That's it in a nutshell. So it goes on and on tit-for-tat, back and forth everyone taking their turns wearing the "smarty pants" and one upping each other instead of just agreeing to disagree and respecting the fact that there are a lot of possibilities out there and not everyone is going to believe in the same ones. It's people who feel that they don't have to respect others beliefs that are the problem and you exist on both sides. That is where the problem is. You do not have to agree with them, but you should respect them. Disrespecting each other just makes each side dig in deeper and no one ever changes their minds, they just become more defensive.

I really hope that this helps you and that you think about it. The problem is lack of respect from both sides and the only way to change it is to start with our own actions towards one another.

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erick, i truly love this sort of discussion,love playing devils advocate and would love to do so from a jewish point of view. however you raise so many points and i just don't have the time right now. also it would be unfair, since you're arguing mainly against christian interpretations. but, just for yuks, i picked a random example:

"In scripture we find that sex is seen as impure, outside of marriage as evil, and virginity as... highly merited...)

in scripture as i know it (what i call the bible and you call the old testament), there is nothing about sex being impure. human discharges are seen as impure (menstrual blood/semen) and its recommended to "immerse" (clean up) after experiencing discharges of this kind. i don't find that SO unreasonable. furthermore, the word in hebrew for "impure" has a few meanings, interpretations and implications quite unlike the word impure in english, which i won't go into here. as for marriage, there are 3 types of relationships sanctioned between a man and a woman, all of which are pretty far from what is now known as "marriage", and all of which provide some sort of protection for the woman, which was the original purpose of these laws. this too i do not find unreasonable. and last, about virginity, don't make me laugh. the torah makes note of the fact that virginity upon "marriage" was highly valued in all ancient societies, but it certainly doesn't mandate it, rather it tries to legislate behaviour surrounding this perception to the benifit of the woman. this is the same approach it takes,imo, vis a vis slavery. well, i said my piece. have at it, boys. as an outsider, i do find it interesting.

Holy cow! Fox News anchors are douchebags? No way!

The interviewer is retarded. He claims that atheists are "targeting children" but that those folks who teach kids that Creationism is true and gays are evil are not targeting children.

It's a double standard, which is pretty much par for the course. Atheists are the most despised group in the nation.

I don't know about Bryan. I'm an atheist and I can't play basketball.

Erick, Thanks for your response. To sum up. I feel you have some very misguided conceptions about Christianity and the truths contained in the Bible. But that's o.k. You probably feel the same about me. Anyway I will address 2 things and then we can drop this. You are correct this is getting stale. I should have know to just keep my mouth shut. I don't know how many times I have done this only to reach the same outcome.

You still do not answer why I cannot say that the cosmos is uncreated.

You can say that all you want. All I can say is that this position seems to be an equal leap of faith. It seems to fly in the face of reason. Somehow all of this land, sea and air had to get here. I feel there has to be purpose behind it all. The odds seem to favor an intelligent, creative first cause. Notice I said “odds.”

As far as my assertions of Dennet and Harris I am quite confident of what I am talking about. I have read both. That is why I was so surprised to hear Daniel Dennet say "religious people have done the heavy moral lifting" on the Dennis Prager show. My jaw just about hit the floor. In fact you can probably get the podcast of the interview. It is entitled "Breaking the Spell" and it aired on April 25, 2006. Dennis Prager also interviewed Sam Harris and he retorted the same idea. But not the exact words. I don't have a reference for the title of the show. But I do know that Prager wiped the floor with his silly atheistic notions. So much so that Sam actually asked for a second chance to come back on his show. Which Prager actually honored. Maybe that's why they “say” these things but don't print them. I bet if you google those two you could find a copy of those shows as well. Anyway, I used the Harris/Dennet example confidently because of the indelible impressions they left when I heard, from their own mouths, truths and honesty that may not be popular with most mainstream atheithistic ideas. Anyway, I think it is safe to say that this type of communication is futile. Maybe more headway could be made face to face over a beer. God bless.

Cure4pain, the "odds" most certainly do not "favor an intelligent, creative first cause." Please read Richard Dawkins' 'God Delusion' and see why.

I'm still never clear why theists find adding a first cause into the equation explains everything. If it's easy for you to conceive of a first cause not having been created and having always existed, then why can't you simply believe the same thing about the universe?

You say that you want to get to the root of the problem? Well let me give it to you. The problem is that neither side feels that they should respect each other's beliefs. That's it in a nutshell. So it goes on and on tit-for-tat, back and forth everyone taking their turns wearing the "smarty pants" and one upping each other instead of just agreeing to disagree and respecting the fact that there are a lot of possibilities out there and not everyone is going to believe in the same ones. It's people who feel that they don't have to respect others beliefs that are the problem and you exist on both sides. That is where the problem is. You do not have to agree with them, but you should respect them. Disrespecting each other just makes each side dig in deeper and no one ever changes their minds, they just become more defensive.

You are coming at me with the same reply. Religion is a human construct and not a natural cause separate from human consciousness and creation. To say that lack of belief is dangerous is completely absurd. The problem “in a nutshell” is belief. Belief can go from religion to politics even to science…yes science (gasp)! The fact that there are competing sides of certainty is because most all religions make opposing unjustified claims about the nature of the universe and—because they think these beliefs are divinely submitted—they shape their actions based on what they believe is morally correct. This cannot happen with disbelief in any context (religion, politics, science, etc.). Criticism is far from intolerance. The U.S. for example protects Nazi beliefs, but we are in no way obligated to respect them. The intolerance (which you call disrespect, even though it has a different definition—which doesn’t seem to be sinking in) comes from the competing religious doctrines claiming to be the true word of God and thus acting to promote such beliefs.

In “respecting” these competing beliefs, you add fuel to the political correctness bubble that shelters this behavior for any form of criticism. We essentially have a choice between conversation and violence both at the level of individuals and at the level of nations, as Harris has stated many times. I have never heard of problems arising from people who became too reasonable. You are again conflating tolerance with respect and I feel repeating this message is useless because you are most likely going to fly through it without grasping the core message. No one here is advocating a persecution of theists; that would actually be your theist friends of differing faiths.

Its recommended to "immerse" (clean up) after experiencing discharges of this kind. i don't find that SO unreasonable.

Leviticus 12:1-8 Explains that a woman has to be purified after giving birth because she is “unclean”. It goes on to say that birthing a male is cleaner then birthing a female, hence a mother must purify TWICE as long when having a daughter. This is BLATANT sexism from the point of birth. A woman is dirty simply for being a woman; this is obviously very biased and chauvinistic.

Leviticus 18:19 Goes onto say that even LOOKING at a menstruating woman is wrong.

Leviticus 21:9 Explains that unchaste daughters of priests must be burnt to death. What about his unchaste sons? Of course this isn’t even answered in the Torah, we are to assume yet again that men have the power to do as they wish and a woman must suffer the punishment for BOTH of them. And you call this protection? Protection from what?

Numbers 31: 14-18 Moses tells his men to kill all the males, non-virginal women, elderly and children of the Midianite tribe. Of course, the virgin women are kept for raping. If you read later down in the scripture God states that the Jews can not even marry a Midianite woman (with exception to Moses). Hence these women who were captured were repeatedly raped and impregnated and they weren’t even allowed a marital status in which to protect them.

The fact that you even support the passages you reference from the Bible is just plain sad.

[R]ather it tries to legislate behaviour surrounding this perception to the benifit of the woman. this is the same approach it takes,imo, vis a vis slavery.

You want to know how we can benefit a slave? How about make a law to not have them in the first place! Consider the possibility of improving the Ten Commandments. This would appear to be setting the bar rather high, as these are the only passages in the Bible that the Creator of the universe felt the need to physically write himself. But take a look good look at commandment #2. No graven images? Doesn’t this seem like something less than the-second-most-important-point-upon-which-to- admonish-all-future-generations-of-human-beings? Remember those Muslims who recently rioted by the hundreds of thousands over cartoons? Many people wondered just what got them so riled up. Well, here it is. Was all that pious mayhem nothing more than egregious, medieval stupidity? Yes, come to think of it, it was nothing more than egregious, medieval stupidity. Almost any precept we’d put in place of this prohibition against graven images would augment the wisdom of the Bible (Don’t pretend to know things you don’t know…? Don’t mistreat children…? Avoid trans fats…? Here’s one…DON’T OWN SLAVES!). Could we live with all the resulting problems due to proliferating graven images? We’d manage—somehow. The fact that he didn’t dispel it in the first place but just made laws to handle slaves as though it were beyond His control is unreasonable and laughable.

I feel you have some very misguided conceptions about Christianity and the truths contained in the Bible.

You seem to have missed my earlier point which was that these “misconceptions” as you call them are actual popular positions taken by many Christians and are sometimes justified by scripture. The fact that so many theists may interpret a particular belief in so many different ways shows us that there exists differing beliefs, none of which have actually showed to be the one true form of Christianity.

You can say that all you want. All I can say is that this position seems to be an equal leap of faith.

You miss, yet again, the entire point. I am merely showing you that your position of saying “the universe is created” begs the question. I never said I “believe” the universe uncreated, I simply don’t know, but your argument compels me to ask a hypothetical question being begged. It is people of faith usually, who for the most part take these gaps and fill them in with God as though their arguments win by default.

Maybe that's why they “say” these things but don't print them.

Actually they are on print.

And not only had that, but the majority of reviewers gave the victory to Sam not Dennis as you can see from this cartoon.

And about Dennett, the quotes that I put up, they actually come from the book “Breaking the Spell,” the same name you give as reference—quite ironic.

Dennett also holds fact and reason above faith as seen here in this essay written by the man himself.

Dennett is first and foremost a philosopher and as a philosopher he is more concerned in asking the questions and exploring them rather than he is at claiming answers for them. This is the core of his book. In either case you are making an Appeal to Authority instead of concentrating on facts.

God bless.

It’s funny that you would end with this because the same Christians that frown upon the “disrespect” of religion fall on the same turf when they turn around and do the same thing to others (I’m guessing this has to do in part with the biblical eye for an eye thing).

Do you realize that your prayers and blessing, especially in light of it aimed at a disbeliever, can result in a perceived rudeness? How would you like it if someone, say, blew cigarette smoke in your face (assuming you didn't like smoke), or if someone praised you for your disbelief when if fact you believe, or if someone treated you as an atheist? Golden Rule thinking (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) can produce the very tensions that so many religionists claim to avoid.

I am, however, not offended by this myself as I understand tolerance and respect to be two different words. I just wanted to provide you with the inconsistencies of arguments posted by theists.

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zak, i THINK what you're trying to say is that both ideas, being unprovable, are equally valid-which is fair enough. but as you phrased the question, the answer would be, obviously, that they're mutually exclusive.

Those propositions are both unsupported by evidence and thus rest on the same playing field. The point was not in giving an alternative belief that atheists actually have faith in, but to counter the proposition with an equally likely hypothetical. Believing in God and disbelieving is not equiprobable. That would be like saying there is a 50/50 chance tooth fairy is real. On a scale of probabilities, the odds are against the tooth fairy.

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erick, i've read your posts in the past and have usually been impressed by your erudition, education and writing skills. if this is the same erick, i can only say you sure have a bug up your butt today, bro. meds wear off? quit drinking? start drinking? quit smoking? whatever, i'm not going to argue your points (some of which are, admittedly, unarguable. others are simply ignorant,hasty, self-rightous assumptions)unless you're willing to do it one at a time, and not mix them up with the christian versions. if we do this i warn you from personal experience, norm may decide it's just off-topic and cut us off, as is his right, of course. i find it very amusing, however, that i'm just trying to explain (and you're right, justify to a certain extent) the torah in its historical context, and YOU'RE the one who's howling about "how could any god worth anything be such an asshole?" i'd say you are on the path to, one day, becoming a good jew. :)

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but its 4 in the morning here in the holy land. i'll check in tomorrow.

Religious tyranny? Liberation?

I can't imagine how any of you can take yourselves any more seriously than the Christians you like mocking.

Erick, both propositions are not unsupported by evidence. The big bang theory is supported by evidence. Science develops theories and then plugs in measurable observations. If the theory still holds it survives. If the theory doesn't, it's revised or ditched. It's why Darwin's Theory of Evolution survives. There is, on the other hand, no measurable evidence that a god created the universe except for a book written and compiled by men 2000 years ago. Maybe what you were trying to say is that the theory of god doesn't explain how our world works any better than the theory without god. From that perspective, it seems to me if a factor doesn't help explain anything, then why include it?

Zak, I am aware of the Big Bang Theory and I wasn't attacking it. I think it is just a common misconception.

The Big Bang theory doesn’t say anything about what caused it because, well, it doesn’t need to. Theories don’t try to explain everything, just what evidence is available and pertinent. Asking the Big Bang (and Evolution) to do more than this is a double standard. After all, the theory of Gravity doesn’t explain where mass came from. The Germ theory of disease transmission doesn’t explain where germs came from. Electro-magnetic theories don’t explain where charge comes from. Atomic theory doesn’t state where atoms come from.

So while it might seem like a piece of the puzzle is missing, as far as this single theory is concerned, it’s not really important. The origin of all these other pieces requires separate theories, with their own evidence, which are being worked on, but often times, are still in their infancy (ie, brane theory to explain the precursors to the Big Bang, Abiogenesis to explain the first life…)

As you can see, the hypothetical I posted (which I got from Sam Harris) has nothing to do with trying to discredit the Big Bang.

I'm sorry if I caused confusion.

And yes, we are getting off topic.

In the words of Judge Marylin Milian, "I'm done, I'm done, stick a fork in me I'm done!"

Yeah, sorry. Bad construction on my part. I didnt think you were trying to discredit the big bang. I was just trying to make the point that creation and big bang were not equally unsupported by evidence.... I think we're on the same side in this....

Since my mom found Jesus four years ago. Our relationship and even her relationship with my sisters has deteriorated dramatically. I find that I can't have conversations with her. We used to be very close but after her epiphany she couldn't stop trying to convert me. Even though I assured her that at age 32 I had had plenty of time to develop my core beliefs and yes I had heard a lot about Jesus and even been a Christian for a while until I found a philosphy that made more sense to me. Now I just don't talk to her about anything meaningful, because her solution to everything is Jesus or if something bad happens it wouldn't have happened if I believed in Jesus. I keep my conversations very short and quick with her and I susbstitute email for phone calls as much as possible and try to avoid spending the holidays with her because she says things like she wants everyone in her family to go to heaven and anyone who does not believe as she does is not going to heaven and therefore cannot be part of her family. Last year my sister was in late pregnancy around the holidays, so I spent the holidays with her and was able to avoid my mom - more on my sister in a bit. The sad part is that up until she found Jesus she was the most wonderful and understanding mom on the planet, we were very close and all my life I have thought that I was the luckiest person on earth to have such a mom. I don't mind her being religious, but I mind that she tries to convert me and says things like if I don't follow her religion then I am not part of the family - I don't fight with her about religion - I always change the subject to something benign that is not likely to draw a "well if you had Jesus" - things like furniture sales, how is the new carpet holding up and then avoid her for as long as possible. I don't want to interact with her so in effect I have pulled away from the family and I am now more interested in building my own family than in "repairing" anything with my parental family. If she were someone else and not my mom, I would have expelled her from my life a long time ago. My 18 year old sister was living with my mom when suddenly she moved out, later she informed us that she was pregnant and did not feel comfortable telling my mom due to her beliefs. Everything worked out well for my sister though, the baby's father now her ex-boyfriend is very involved, he helped her find an apartment and helps with rent and expenses. My nephew is now one month old and my mother has not seen him yet. I believe that religion can break up families, especially if it is practised in a way that does not tolerate opposing beliefs or lifestyles. The strange thing was that four years ago before she became a religious fanatic my mom was a very tolerant person, she even criticised parents who lost relationships with their gay children because of intolerance and now she has a split with my sister over a grandchild born out of wedlock. I had never thought of it that way but, yes, imposing religion on children, even adult children is a form of psychological toture. In the past I would say that intolerant parents "got what they deserved" if their kids cut off ties, the truth is everyone suffers if there is intolerance in the family whether it is based on religion or not.

Cat, my sympathies. My of my friends are decent people but because of Christianity, they have became intolerant of non-believers.

I've lost track of the times that my Charismatic friends say that I will burn in hell because I do not believe.

I've lost track of the times that I am called an amoral person for being a freethinker.

These friends totally ignore the fact that I do good for goods sake and practise conservative values far more fervently than most Christians.

=======

I find it deceptive that Christians keep stressing their right to spread the word of God, given many, if not most, of us has read the Bible or has easy access to it.

What they want is not just to convert you to the Bible but to convert you to their particular intepretation of it.

Christianity spread this way is nothing about free will or free choice.

It seeks to present non-believers a start choice between rejection or acceptance of a particular interpretation of the Bible that is not even universally acknowledged as the Truth, the sole truth and the only truth.

It's simply a sell on what these prachers want you to believe.

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