Friday, 8 January 2010

Maybe god Told him to?


It seems another man of the cloth (this time a baptist) is accused of raping a 13 year old (6 charges brought against him) and assault as well.

Not to make light of this, but he should have chosen better. He should have been a Muslim where Mohamed had a child bride and it wouldn't be looked down on. At least if he had been Catholic, they might have hidden him away and quietly paid off the girls he raped (allegedly I suppose). Or, maybe god is telling all these priests and others to rape girls and boys. How can we tell that that is not what is happening?

When religions boast of the power of private, personal revelation, how can religionists them justify claims that one has not had a private communique from god that raping young children is what god wants of them? I've asked this question numerous times in numerous forms, and no Xian (or theist) has ever had an answer for it. The usual pablum is that stuff like this is against the Bible, but what they don't get is that their answer is certainly open to interpretation and they can't prove that it is against the Bible. This is especially true since god has ordered rape in the past.

It seems the theist is trapped. We have no real mention of god, except through personal revelation, but if that is true, then we have no way to evaluate the veracity of one person's revelation vs. another person's version. If we toss out personal revelation, then there's no argument for god (not that it's an argument anyway, but theists seem to think it is). So, theists, which is it? Can we discern which personal revelation is bunk and which is valid, or is personal revelation useless to us in discerning the truth of the existence of god and what this god wants?

24 comments:

Aaron said...

Hi. Just came across your blog for the first time, and I've only got one thing I'd like for you to think about, and that is this: you can't judge a belief system by its abuses nor its abusers.

I believe - very strongly - that cheese is the most delicious thing in the world. I could easily eat cheese at every meal and not complain one bit. However, if I were to eat nothing but cheese, I would very soon die. Now, would that mean that cheese itself is evil? Or would it just mean that I had behaved very foolishly and went beyond the limitations of what cheese was originally intended to be?

Similarly, I believe - even more strongly than the thing about the cheese - that Led Zeppelin is the single greatest musical entity to ever exist. There was nothing better than Led Zeppelin, there is nothing better than Led Zeppelin, and there will be nothing better than Led Zeppelin. But if I were to begin violently destroying any music that is not Led Zeppelin, would that mean that Led Zeppelin itself is evil? Or would it simply mean that I'm nuts?

So, now, I want you to know that I believe - even more strongly than I believe the things about cheese and Led Zeppelin, and trust me, you don't have any idea how much I love cheese OR Led Zeppelin - in Christianity. I have my reasons, and they are deep-seated, born from a lifetime (well, OK, 26 years' worth of a lifetime) of searching, reasoning, questioning, and learning. If you would like to discuss them, I'd be glad to do so, with absolutely no evangelical overtones. (I also hope you don't perceive this comment as any sort of attempt at personal evangelism; rather, it is an attempt to point out a logical fallacy.)

To judge a belief system by its misuses - defense of genocide, slavery, rape, pedophilia, etc... - is an illogical position. It's a combination of both a "straw man" fallacy and an "ad hominem" fallacy.

I fully realize - and accept, and understand - that Christianity has been present in the minds, or at least the mouths, of several hundreds of thousands of people across history who have done some absolutely horrible things to other people. To deny that would be insensitive and - even worse - hypocritical, since I would be taking up a position every bit as illogical as I am saying you have taken.

But just like cheese could not be blamed for my overeating to the point of death, and Led Zeppelin could not be blamed for my destruction of all non-Zeppelin music, Christianity itself - or Christ Himself, or God, however you'd like it - cannot be judged by the actions of the followers. Only the followers can be judged by their actions.

I'm sure you're already thinking of your "Who is to Blame?" post from Nov. 16, but I'd like to stress that this is still a different point. Let's take your example for consideration: "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?"

I fully agree with you here that the teaching itself is to blame, but I will differ in pointing out that this man's teaching itself was a distortion of the original message. So, again, the blame still falls on the man for not seeking to understand the truth of what he has been told. His actions are his own, and no force, internal, external, or eternal, will ever change that.

Judge ideas by their own merit, not by the mistakes and distortions of other people who have their own version of what the idea actually is.

Aaron said...
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ethinethin said...

He's not judging a belief system based on its abusers. He's showing that christians are just as likely to do evil as non-christians, contrary to the common claim that christianity has the monopoly on morals.

ethinethin said...

Also, he has several dozen posts where he DOES judge christianity on its (lack of) merit. Check 'em out. There are some good ones about the claim that god's evil actions are good you might like to break open some apologetics for.

Tyler said...

Aaron: ... you can't judge a belief system by its abuses nor its abusers.

Straw man, ironically enough.

Aaron said...

Tyler - how so?

From what I've seen (and as I said, I've only read a small sample of your posts), your arguments against religion are all based on the failures of the adherents of religion.

Your position, as I see it from the evidence before me, is that religious people commit or permit heinous acts in the name of their religion, therefore religion itself is bad.

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and I fully apologize. But I'm only able to go off of what I've seen.

Tyler said...

Aaron: Tyler - how so?

Well, ethinethin explained it rather clearly. You do know what a straw man is, right? I mean, you used the term to (falsely, hence, a straw man) accuse people of judging christianity based on the actions of christians.

All I can do is restate the obvious. Your contention that GCT (or anyone else here) is judging christianity based on the actions of christians is a straw man, because no one is judging christianity by the actions of christians.

That's not to say christians aren't judged based on their actions, mind you, but that's a whole 'nother discussion that has nothing to do with christianity's (utter lack of) merit.

Aaron: From what I've seen (and as I said, I've only read a small sample of your posts), your arguments against religion are all based on the failures of the adherents of religion.

For example...?

Aaron said...

Tyler - first off, I'm sorry that I was operating under the assumption that you were the writer of this blog. I saw your name in another post's comments and recalled it incorrectly later on.

Now, to answer your question for examples... Well... This post, for instance, is a really good one.

"When religions boast of the power of private, personal revelation, how can religionists them justify claims that one has not had a private communique from god that raping young children is what god wants of them? I've asked this question numerous times in numerous forms, and no Xian (or theist) has ever had an answer for it. The usual pablum is that stuff like this is against the Bible, but what they don't get is that their answer is certainly open to interpretation and they can't prove that it is against the Bible. This is especially true since god has ordered rape in the past."

The entire crux of the argument here is that we can't trust a religion based on the fallibility and unreliability of the followers who claim to have received personal revelation. This is not an accusation against God, but rather, His followers. It is not a deconstruction of any religion itself, but of the adherents to the religion.

Similarly, the following paragraph still relies entirely on the question of personal revelation as a supposed means of denouncing religion. Again, this has nothing to do with the religion itself, but only its followers.

So, again, I can only go off of the evidence that I've actually seen, and from what I've seen, the logical fallacies still exist. And even if there are other posts - as ethinethin says there are - in which the attacks are directly on the tenets of a particular faith itself as opposed to the distortions perpetrated by its followers, that doesn't mean that the logical fallacies that I have seen are invalidated.

Tyler said...

Aaron: The entire crux of the argument here is that we can't trust a religion based on the fallibility and unreliability of the followers who claim to have received personal revelation.

No, the entire crux of the argument is the double standard a theist exhibits when, in one breath, he will claim a personal relationship with his god, then turn around and condemn other theists for acting in ways that don't jive with his personal relationship with his god. Doubly ironic is the fact that you yourself are displaying that double standard when you say the following:

Aaron: ... the tenets of a particular faith itself as opposed to the distortions perpetrated by its followers...

How do you justify claiming (other) followers are distorting their faith? How can you claim the minister in question is distorting his faith by raping and assaulting a 13 year old girl, especially in light of the fact that his and your god ordered rape... and assault, not to mention the fact that, according to the christian superstition, god himself raped Mary in her sleep; Mary, who by many accounts, was a young girl of roughly 13 years?

Aaron said...

I am honestly at a loss for words. You're telling me that the problem is the double standard of the theist, right?

So... The personal shortcomings of the person who believes in the religion, then, are the source of the problem, right?

Questions of rape in the Ancient Near East are different from questions of rape today, just as questions of hygiene are different, just as questions of medicine are different. Was it just as wrong then as it is now? Yes, of course. But there is a difference in that the cultural awareness - independent of religion - has shifted. In the modern Western world, women are no longer considered to be a man's property, but instead their own independent creatures. There are laws against rape, and special laws for statutory rape.

Your accusation of God's rape of Mary just shows - and I hate to sound condescending with this, and I am TRULY sorry that it's coming across this way, but I just CAN NOT think of ANY other way to phrase this and not sound like a jerk - that you aren't aware of the standards of Israel and the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. Girls were regularly married off at age 13. Once they'd reached child-bearing age, off they went. That was the cultural norm.

Your accusation of God's rape of Mary makes no sense, either. If you're willing to reference Christian "superstition" at all, using it as an accusation, you've also got to allow for it to be used in its own defense.

Luke 1:38 - "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

That's not rape-speak.

But even beyond that, the minister has - again - distorted his own faith. There is nothing in the Bible - when it is taken as a whole text, not picked over piecemeal, but taken within its ENTIRE context - that justifies rape of a 13 year old girl. In fact, there are several passages that this action is in direct violation of, not the least of which is "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Your arguments all stem from the exact thing I've been saying is the problem: people. If you're judging PEOPLE by the crimes they commit, that's fine. However, if you're judging a RELIGION based on the actions of the people that believe it, you're not being logical in your argument.

ethinethin said...

Questions of rape in the Ancient Near East are different from questions of rape today

Wait.. wait.. are you claiming rape was okay back then? I fail to see how anyone could say rape is anything but a despicable act.

Aaron said...

Are you being absurdly contrary on purpose?

If I may quote myself: Questions of rape in the Ancient Near East are different from questions of rape today, just as questions of hygiene are different, just as questions of medicine are different. Was it just as wrong then as it is now? Yes, of course.

A mere fourteen (14) words after the fifteen (15) of mine that you quoted, you will find the answer to your question. No, I'm not saying rape was OK. What I'm saying is that the cultural expectations of the time were different. That does not make it OK. That means that the cultural norm didn't see a problem with it. Were there problems with the cultural norm? Yes. Permitting rape, for instance.

ethinethin said...

That doesn't mean we can't judge rape from that time period (or from agricultural societies in modern times, where rapes and honor killings are very common) by our standards. I fail to see your point, in other words.

Twin-Daddy said...
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Twin-Daddy said...

As I suspected..

The properties of a persons God change with the culture..

If God is real, then he either sees rape as good or bad. The culture of the believers shouldn't dictate God's morality, yet, that is what we're supposed to accept, that when the written documentation of a God's action look immoral.. then we can just blame it on the culture at the time it was written. This is a logical fallacy...

Aaron said...

ethinethin, Twin-Daddy - I take it you both believe in moral absolutes, then? Cultural relativity has no bearing?

Tyler said...

Aaron: I am honestly at a loss for words.

You don't seem to be. Matter of fact, it seems you have an overabundance of words. Thing is, they have nothing to do with the actual problem GCT brought up.

Aaron: You're telling me that the problem is the double standard of the theist, right?

That's right. To repeat what GCT said in the blog entry, "So, theists, which is it? Can we discern which personal revelation is bunk and which is valid, or is personal revelation useless to us in discerning the truth of the existence of god and what this god wants?"

Would you like to take a stab at that question? If the question somehow doesn't apply to you (you'll need to explain why it doesn't, the double standard you're about to lay out being insufficient for the reason(s) shown), that's fine, and you don't have to answer it, but claiming GCT (or me, or anyone else) is judging christianity based on the fact that christians often engage in this double standard is, again, a straw man.

Moving on, nonetheless, because I'm a sucker for torching a straw man before its creator can manage to light a match...

Aaron: Questions of rape in the Ancient Near East are different from questions of rape today...

Wanna know what makes you the jerk you don't want to be perceived as, Aaron? The fact that you're trivializing rape by trying to feed people this apologetic horse shit.

Aaron: Was it just as wrong then as it is now? Yes, of course. But there is a difference in that the cultural awareness - independent of religion - has shifted.

And here your own double standard is brought to blinding light in two short statements. Hell, for that matter, this pretty much qualifies as a triple standard. Rape was just as wrong then as it is now, and no degree or context of cultural awareness of rape changes that fact. You can't have it both ways.

Third, you can't remove religion from the equation.

Further...

Tyler said...

Aaron: Your accusation of God's rape of Mary makes no sense, either.

God didn't ask Mary if she wanted to become pregnant. He told her she was going to become pregnant.

That's rape.

Aaron: If you're willing to reference Christian "superstition" at all, using it as an accusation, you've also got to allow for it to be used in its own defense.

There's no defense for the fact that, according to the christian superstition, god facilitated and, at best, tacitly sanctioned rape.

Aaron: Luke 1:38 - "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

That's not rape-speak.


That's the speak of a young teenager who knows better than to protest her rapist, who just happened to be that vile monster you call god, lest rape be the least she has to worry about.

Don't get all huffy though, Aaron. It's just a story. Mary didn't really get raped. She had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow; and everywhere that Mary went, her lamb was sure to go; and rapists were overwhelmed by her lamb's cuteness and forgot all about raping Mary.

Aaron: But even beyond that, the minister has - again - distorted his own faith.

Which is ultimately tantamount to saying the minister made his water wetter. Religious faith itself inherently distorts reality.

Aaron: There is nothing in the Bible - when it is taken as a whole text, not picked over piecemeal, but taken within its ENTIRE context - that justifies rape of a 13 year old girl.

Aside from the fact that the bible has many contexts, there are indeed passages in the bible that justify rape.

Aaron: In fact, there are several passages that this action is in direct violation of...

The violation isn't one of rape, but one of violating another man's property.

Aaron: ... not the least of which is "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Do you actually think this wholly-unoriginal-to-the-judeo-christianity-superstition idea makes up for the fact that, according to the bible, god facilitated and tacitly sanctioned rape? Talk about picking over the bible piecemeal.

Irony, Aaron is thy name...

ethinethin said...

I take it you both believe in moral absolutes, then?

I don't, but I welcome you to show me a culture where rape was a socially accepted norm that benefited society.

Cultural relativity has no bearing?

Once again, show me a culture where a violent crime like rape was a socially accepted norm that benefited society.

Aaron said...

Alright, I'm done.

ethinethin said...

Screw you guys, I'm goin' home!

Tyler said...

Darn. Lost another one to LieTech.

Anonymous said...

http://www.aug.edu/augusta/iconography/webmuseum/peterMartyrBellini.jpg

Anonymous said...

You seem to disagree that religion creates virtue, which leads to higher morality. Read Locke, Madison, Plato, Monroe, Aristotle, and they will all tell you thatt any society in a utilitarian sense needs religion to funtion, otherwise there is no virtue. Thank you God bless