Monday, 30 November 2009
So, apparently, this video is not for real. It's pretty funny, I gotta admit.
Too bad that most people couldn't actually tell it was a joke. Poe's Law was definitely in action which is actually the funniest thing about this.
It got me to thinking though about the whole abstinence before marriage idea. Why are people who wait until marriage always convinced that it somehow makes it better? Um, how would they even know? I don't know if it's better or not, but it doesn't make sense that it would be. Sex is something that requires practice (lots of it preferably). How many of you really knew what you were doing the first time? Why would we think that throwing together 2 people who both don't know what they are doing is somehow better simply because they've gone through some ceremony that really doesn't change anything except for their tax and legal status?
Monday, 23 November 2009
Many Xians claim that god is the author of justice, and as such gives us perfect justice, both in this world and the next. For the purposes of this post, we can simplify the idea of justice to getting what one deserves. I've already dealt with the inherent contradiction between getting what one deserves and god handing out grace from the Xian perspective, but today I'd like to focus on something else. Does Xian philosophy really provide perfect justice (minus the grace part of course)? Let's look at a hypothetical example.
Let's suppose a tyrant. Let's let our tyrant be evil, vicious, cruel, and vindictive (no I'm not talking about Yahweh, but I could be I suppose). Let's further say that this tyrant is responsible for many deaths, much suffering, has tortured others, etc. This is a really bad, bad person. Is it just (perfect or otherwise) for this person to be tortured in hell for eternity? Of course not. No matter how bad this person was in life, that was finite and infinite torture for finite crimes doesn't make sense from a justice standpoint.
But, let's strengthen the argument. Let's say that the tyrant receives punishment that fits the extent of his crimes. For every murder he caused, he gets to feel what it felt like. He gets to feel all the pain and suffering that he caused, until he has felt it all when the punishment stops. Is this perfect justice? Well, it's vengeance for sure, but it's a bit more equitable than an eternity in hell. And, I'm sure that most Xians would thirst for this type of retributive vengeance, but it's still not perfect justice.
So, why is it not perfect? It's not perfect because the tyrant's actions allowed others to unjustly feel this pain and torment to begin with. Did the tyrant's victims get what they deserve in this life? When their lives were cut short, they lost the ability to fully live out their lives and attain their own balance sheets for their bout with finite vengeance after death. By god allowing this state of affairs, perfect justice can not be attained. In this sense, Xianity can not offer the hope for perfect justice at all, and that's even after using an argument that most Xians don't even subscribe to, which is the argument that after-death punishment would fit the severity and scope of the crimes done.
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
You all may remember our apologist who now wonders whether the Israelis could know these commands came from god. Well, really they couldn't, but it doesn't really matter. Even if the commands did come from god, who cares? They were immoral commands and should not have been carried out.
More interesting to me is the next section where the apologist asks whether the Israelis were simply justifying their actions. Let's take a look:
When the Israelites destroyed a population, they were acting as God's tools, not taking matters into their own hands. God made it clear to them that he was the one behind their victories (Jdg 7:2-3, Josh 5:13-14). In many cases, the nations were defeated by miracles of God (Josh 6, 10:8-14), and in all cases the Israelites were victorious only because they were following God, who gave them the victory (Josh 10:42).
Why am I reminded of the Nuremberg Defense? Hmmm, maybe because that's what this basically boils down to. This is just a long-winded way of saying that the Israelis were 'only following orders.' Yet, we rightly concluded that that defense shouldn't have worked with the Nazis and it doesn't work here. Sorry, but 'just following orders' doesn't absolve the Israelis from their crimes of aggression and genocide.
Other posts in this series...
Monday, 16 November 2009
How often have any of you heard this refrain:
"Blame people for bad acts, not Xianity..."
"People will use Xianity to prop up their evil deeds, but they'd be just as evil without it..."
It's an old refrain. People are bad/sinful/wicked/evil, and if we get rid of religion, they'll just find some other reason to be bad/sinful/wicked/evil. So, why focus our efforts on stopping religion?
But, is this really so? Certain behaviors and thoughts are learned, and learning that it is OK to be bigoted or sexist is not OK. Why should we not point out when a teaching fosters and encourages these types of thoughts or deeds? If someone grows up being taught that women are meant to be subservient to men and then acts on it thinking nothing is wrong, should we really lay all the blame on the man and not on the teaching that lead to his actions?
No, we should point out those teachings that are wrong and we should seek to correct them and/or end them. It's not enough to simply shrug our shoulders and say, "People are evil, what can you do?" We should raise up and proclaim quite loudly how immoral most religious teachings are and advocate that people should throw off the shackles of these antiquated religions and strive to become the moral people that they should be. It's a much better idea that giving up. In fact, that's just what apologists hope we will do so that they can continue to propagate their ideas without resistance and enjoy their unearned and undeserved place in culture. We must not let them have it without a fight.
Friday, 13 November 2009
I keep hearing that Xianity is all about evidence, that Xians ask for evidence and receive it, and that god's cool with that. You know, he thinks we should be inquisitive and all that, and he'll provide evidence for us if we really want to see it. For an example of this, Xians often point to the story of Thomas. See, he doubts that Jesus has really come back from the dead, so Jesus literally has him touch the wounds that were inflicted by the crucifixion.
Wow, who could argue with that, right?
Except, there's still one small detail that usually gets left out of the story (and they say that atheists cherry pick from the Bible...) If you read just one more verse, you find this:
20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Notice the part that I took the liberty of bolding. Jesus shows Thomas the marks, and the rebukes him for needing evidence. He says that those who simply believe without requiring evidence are blessed, which doesn't include Thomas. This isn't Jesus saying that Xians should seek evidence, but that they should simply believe on faith. Instead of supporting the argument that Xianity is about evidence, it undermines it.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
When evil acts of god are brought up in debate with a Xian (like genocide, rape, etc) one apologetic that is frequently heard is that we can't judge god by our standards, because god is well above us. IOW, god should go by his own standard.
Really? Well, there's a few problems with that.
It's first and foremost an appeal to relative morality. We have our moral system here, where we generally try not to steal, kill, rape, etc. while god is able to do those things at will...simply because he is god. Also, Xians believe that god will judge us by a standard of perfection, however, yet the actions of god are decidedly less than perfect, so he is also advocating having different standards - one for him, one for the rest of us.
But, really the thing that I see as the worst aspect of this is that god is held to a lower standard, yet god is supposedly perfect. This is like taking the A+ student and asking them only to write a paper with their name on it, while the student that is struggling in the class is required to write a paper that would pass a Ph.D. dissertation. Why would we hold a supposedly perfect being to a lower standard than beings that are decidedly less than perfect? It makes no sense. If anything, god should be the exemplar of morality and perfection, instead of someone we have to make excuses for and hold to lower standards.
Things like genocide and rape and murder shouldn't come from such a being and instead of making excuses for this being when the do, we should rightly be outraged by the behavior of a being that should know better. If a child does something wrong, we know that the child may not know better, but god doesn't have that excuse. If a person errs and messes up, we might take pity or think of leniency because we all make mistakes, but god does not have that excuse. So, why are apologists excusing god's actions?
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Our apologist wonders whether the Israelites should have slaughtered all those people, regardless of what god said. Let's see what (s)he thinks?
The Israelites personally knew God to be just, righteous and wise.
Apart from the wholesale slaughter of others I hope?
Aside from knowing God through prayer and individual devotions, many generations of Israelites personally witnessed God's miracles. The generation that fought against the Midianites was the generation that had miraculously escaped from Egypt; the generation that fought the wars in the book of Joshua was only one generation later, and saw the parting of the Jordan River (Josh 3:7-17). Both generations experienced God's provision for them during the Exodus (Dt 29:5; manna was provided until the time of Joshua - Josh 5:12).
Might does not make right. Just because god is powerful enough to perform miracles doesn't mean that god is always morally right.
Finally, Moses explicitly taught the Israelites that God "is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he" (Dt 32:4).
Ah yes, the circular reasoning that god is just because he says so - not very compelling.
These things gave them reason to trust God even when he commanded them to do something they might otherwise refuse to do.
Sorry, but this just doesn't hold. It doesn't matter who is telling someone to commit genocide, you don't do it. Even if that someone is an omni-max deity. Surely god could come up with a better option than making you complicit in wholesale slaughter.
Furthermore, they understood that God has the authority to destroy a city, and that the best thing for them to do was to trust someone whose judgment and wisdom are far superior to their own.
No, god does not have this authority. No one does. The apologist here is blankly stating that god has the authority to do whatever god wants, regardless of the moral implications of it. But, once again, might does not make right, so by what authority would god have to perform immoral actions? If the action becomes moral simply because god says so, then morality is relative. If what is right is right regardless, then god is not the author of morality, and his actions here are immoral.
Some have argued that the Israelites should have decided that God's command was wrong and refused to carry it out.
Yes, it appears that they should have.
It is worth noting that God is unchanging (Mal 3:6), so the Israelites would have known that the just and righteous God they knew before was still just and righteous when he issued the command.
Considering that Malachi is the last book in the OT, I don't see how the Israelites would have known this passage before it was written or occurred. Still, simply because god says he's right doesn't mean he is.
However, let us suppose for the sake of argument that God could have issued an unjust command; for instance, ordering the Israelites to be sadistic by torturing babies and enjoying their pain. Sadism is inherently evil; there is no possible situation in which it could be right to take pleasure in torturing others. (The Israelites slew people with swords, which would have been one of the quickest ways at the time to kill someone, and were never told to enjoy killing; thus God's commanded genocide was not sadism.) Therefore the Israelites would have been justified in refusing to practice sadism.
This is, perhaps, the most sensible thing in here. Yes, the Israelites should refuse to engage in sadism. So, why does the author think they should not have refused to slaughter people indiscriminately? The mind boggles, and I can only think that this is a case of special pleading.
Since the Israelites had good reason to believe in God's moral perfection, omniscience and omnipotence, the best choice for them would be to trust that God had a better understanding than they of the situation itself and the moral rules governing it.
And, here the author leans on the "god works in mysterious ways" canard. Well, the last passages were all about how the Israelites could know that god was correct in the order, and now the author is admitting that they couldn't know and simply had to trust. Which, BTW, would be a case of begging the question.
The only way for them to be justified in not obeying God's command would be if the command were inherently evil and impossible to justify (though it must be cautioned that humans with their imperfect understanding could incorrectly decide a command was inherently evil).
So, genocide is apparently not inherently evil? It's about as close as can be, one would think, and I've seen no justification for it so far, especially since the author is now admitting that they had to take it on faith that god was correct in ordering these genocides. And, to top it off, the author then claims that we are so imperfect that we could incorrectly decide that something is immoral when it isn't...so I guess sadism is back on the table.
So, this has seriously devolved into a mishmash of begging the question, circular logic, and relying on simply having faith that god was correct.
For more in this series...
Thursday, 5 November 2009
When a Xian dies and goes to heaven to stand in front of....Allah, what will she say?
Allah may say, "You had all the evidence you needed to choose to believe in me, so I'm banishing you to hell for your choice to not believe. Suffer eternally for your bad choices, you vile infidel."
Would the Xians here find this to be fair, just, etc? Would you all shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh well, I chose to believe wrong and I guess I deserve hell for it?"