Ten Commandments
And Absolute Morality
Troy Dyck

From: "Troy Dyck"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 7:44 AM

Hello Cliff,

I did a search on the internet the other day for my name, and I found it on your site with a letter I wrote two and a half years ago. So here is my response.

First of all you misunderstood Jesus when he said for us to hate our parents. What he wants is for us to hate what is wrong with them, just as he wants us to hate what is wrong with society, and just as he wants us to hate what the sin in our own lives. But that does not mean that we should stop honoring our parents or society, or disown them and go join some religious colony away from the world. Instead it means that we should recognize where they have sinned and try not to repeat those steps in our own lives.

Here is another verse that many people generally misunderstand: Wives submit to your husbands. Christ did not mean that women are less than men, nor that men are the head of the household. Instead he was just commenting on the way things were, and that was that the man was the head of the household. Just like the verse before says, slaves submit to your masters. No born again Christians believe that we should have slaves because of that passage, instead its obvious that Christ was just telling women and slaves to not fight the way things are. Because it will consume their time and take away from what their life should really be.

You also said that Christ said sinners will burn in hell. This is how I like to look at it: Christ is God. God is love. Therefore any love that we have in this world comes from God or Christ. God gave us free will, just as he gave the angels free will, and a third of them fell. Now we have free will, and we can choose God(love) or we can reject God. The choice is ours. If we reject it here on earth, well God will still try to give you love. But when you die, your freedom of choice will come true and you will be separated from God completely. And to be without love will be like burning in a lake of fire. God will not physically cast us into a lake of fire. Instead by our own choice, we will feel like our soul is burning in a lake of fire.

Here are some misconceptions:

Christians can not smoke
Christians can not dance
Christians can not drink, etc.

Christians do not have to act a certain way or do anything in particular for God to love them. God does not love them any more than non-Christians. And there is nothing that we can do to make God love us any more or less. So there is not a Christian out there who deserves to be with God any more than any non-Christian. Instead the only thing that gets us to be with God is the confession that we are sinners, and that we need Jesus Christ to help us through our lives.

I think you would be a wonderful Christian, because you have fought against it so long. But now its so hard for you to ever become one, because you have talked yourself into a corner. You have made your heart hard. If you are in the dark, you can not see that your hands are dirty. But hold them up in the light, and you can see that they are dirty. Thats what it was like for me to become a Christian. I could see the error of my ways. I could see them before too, but I chose to hide it anyway. I believe everyone knows that God exists. Atheists are the liars. For I can prove the existence of God if you agree to the following premises:

1) If absolute morality exists, then that by its very nature implies God.
2) Absolute Morality does exist.
Conclusion: Therefore God does exist.

Now let me clarify. Absolutes do exist, that is obvious because 1 + 1 will always equal 2. Morality does exist, because we all have some sort of morals. Now the question is, does absolute morality exist? Or are all morals relative? Now you might be saying, 'why would the existence of absolutes in morality imply the existence of God?' Well if absolutes do exist in morality, then where did they come from? Science? Of course not. Scientists will never come up with the law of morality. Where x*uz = morality. So if there are absolutes in morality then where did they come from? It would have to be from God. Relative morality would have come from society or evolution.

So with that said, let me try to prove that absolutes do exist. If they do, then God must exist. You said that you were put in prison for not allowing yourself to be endoctrined religiously. Was that absolutely wrong? If you say yes, then you agree to absolutes. Or was it only relatively wrong? If so, then you don't really believe in anything. And who are you to say that it was wrong. If absolutes do not exist, then we were just as wrong for stopping Hitler as he was for killing innocent people. Because who are we to say that it was absolutely wrong, if there are no absolutes in morality. I am willing to bet that all people believe in some absolutes. If you were to take the morality of the world as a whole, the Ten Commandments would be a great representation of those absolutes.

So if you agree that absolutes do exist in morality, then you must also agree that God exists. Or you are just being difficult, or you did not understand the point I was trying to make.

If absolutes do exist in morality, then that disproves atheism, buhdism, hinduism, mormonism, paganism, wicca, spiritism, voodoo, etc. Anything where there is not one supreme unchanging God. So that would leave us with christianity, judaism, the muslims, and a couple others maybe to choose from.

The world could have been created two seconds ago. God could have placed memories into our mind, carbon dated and uranium dated the fossils and placed them into the ground. Made the bible. God made evolution, and science and influenced history. Its funny how people think they are smarter than God just because we found a few bones in the dirt. God wants us to find him. He put enough doubt out there for us to question his existence. But he also put enough proof out there for us to try and find him. Some Christians think the world is 10,000 years old and some think that God evolved us into existence over 6 Billion years. But it doesn't matter. Evolution does exist and that is a fact. But whether it has been going on for 6 Billion years, or just 10,000 years does not matter. God wants us to find him on our own. If the world appeared to be 10,000 years old, then we would just all believe in God. Then we would have been no different than the angels. And sooner or later we would have fallen too. Instead, now we can see why we need God, come to him, and then spend an eternity with him.

Troy

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Troy Dyck"
Subject: Re: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2001 12:38 AM

First of all you misunderstood Jesus when he said for us to hate our parents. What he wants is for us to hate what is wrong with them, just as he wants us to hate what is wrong with society, and just as he wants us to hate what the sin in our own lives. But that does not mean that we should stop honoring our parents or society, or disown them and go join some religious colony away from the world. Instead it means that we should recognize where they have sinned and try not to repeat those steps in our own lives.

Ah, but the text does not say to hate what they do, it says to hate them.

One thing about fundamentalism which has always puzzled me is that out of one side of their mouths the fundamentalists tell us that the Scripture is the infallible, unchangeable word of the living God. But out of the other side, they consider themselves free to reinterpret -- change the meaning of -- any passage that conflicts with modern popular thought brought on by post-Enlightenment humanism which pervades all modern thought -- even biblical fundamentalism.
 

Here is another verse that many people generally misunderstand: Wives submit to your husbands. Christ did not mean that women are less than men, nor that men are the head of the household. Instead he was just commenting on the way things were, and that was that the man was the head of the household.

Another case where modern post-Enlightenment fundamentalists force the passage to conform with humanistic thought rather than to simply take it at face value like 90 percent of Christianity did -- before the Enlightenment basically discredited the authority of the Scripture by showing us a better way. Humanism is so superior to the Scripture that even the biblical fundamentalists must reinterpret the word of their own God. Naughty, naughty!
 

Just like the verse before says, slaves submit to your masters. No born again Christians believe that we should have slaves because of that passage, instead its obvious that Christ was just telling women and slaves to not fight the way things are. Because it will consume their time and take away from what their life should really be.

Very few modern born-again Christians admit that they think slavery is a good idea, but until the post-Enlightenment humanism came to play, almost all Christians thought this was the law of God -- because it is the law of the Christian god. The only problem is that modern, post-Enlightenment humanism has rendered the laws of the Christian god null and void and has replaced them with a method that actually works. Post-Enlightenment humanism has shown itself so superior to anything we had yet encountered that anybody who retains the vestiges of fundamentalism must deal with barbaric laws such as this, and the most common way is to reinterpret them -- to force them to mean something other than what they say (as you have done here).

There are many Christians who still think human slavery is not only the law of God but is also a good idea if it's done properly. In fact, one of the things that woke me up from the horrors of fundamentalist biblical faith was hearing a pro-slavery lecture by the man who was then my best friend in the church. From a biblical perspective, his ideas made perfect sense, and I could see that human thought had so pervaded modern thought that nobody but the nut-cases could see the goodness in the law of God any more. It was at that point where I realized that I was one of those nut-cases, so I decided to do something about it. And I think I've done a pretty good job, at that.
 

You also said that Christ said sinners will burn in hell. This is how I like to look at it: Christ is God. God is love. Therefore any love that we have in this world comes from God or Christ. God gave us free will, just as he gave the angels free will, and a third of them fell. Now we have free will, and we can choose God(love) or we can reject God. The choice is ours. If we reject it here on earth, well God will still try to give you love. But when you die, your freedom of choice will come true and you will be separated from God completely. And to be without love will be like burning in a lake of fire. God will not physically cast us into a lake of fire. Instead by our own choice, we will feel like our soul is burning in a lake of fire.

More post-Enlightenment gerrymandering of God's ordinances. Since human reason demands that a god of love could never sentence anyone to an eternal Hell (the human sense of compassion forbids these two concepts from applying to the same entity), then we must make it look like a choice in order to try to maintain some semblance of faith amidst post-Enlightenment humanism that so pervades our cultural mindset that it has changed the very meaning the Bible passages -- those same Bible passages that awoke Western humanity to the fact that the Bible is a book of barbarism and not the Word of God.
 

Christians do not have to act a certain way or do anything in particular for God to love them. God does not love them any more than non-Christians. And there is nothing that we can do to make God love us any more or less. So there is not a Christian out there who deserves to be with God any more than any non-Christian. Instead the only thing that gets us to be with God is the confession that we are sinners, and that we need Jesus Christ to help us through our lives.

This very thinking is used to justify the treatment that we non-Christians receive at the hands of some (but not all) Christians.
 

I think you would be a wonderful Christian, because you have fought against it so long. But now its so hard for you to ever become one, because you have talked yourself into a corner. You have made your heart hard.

It is this mindless rhetoric that renders modern fundamentalist Christianity so offensive. You pretend to know precisely what's going on in my own mind -- down to the very thinking which led me to abandon Christian faith. You are so convinced by your fundamentalist Christian rhetoric that were I to report to you the actual thinking that has gone on in my mind, you would not believe my report of my own thoughts but would insist that your fundamentalist Christian rhetoric is true and that I therefore must be lying.

No. I will tell you this much: I could never return to Christianity because I have seen through her lies.
 

If you are in the dark, you can not see that your hands are dirty. But hold them up in the light, and you can see that they are dirty.

Like all Christian analogies, this one falls apart upon the briefest of examination: I don't need to be able to see to know if my hands are dirty. In fact, vision is not the sense I use to detect if my hands are dirty, but the sense of touch combined with my knowledge that microorganisms exist combined with my ability to remember what I have done with my hands since the last time I washed them. In fact, with human reason, I determined that I ought to immediately wash my hands every time I handle a karaoke microphone. I am the only karaoke singer I know who does this, but I do know that when I let this one slide, I tend to catch whatever "business" is going around, and when I am diligent, I tend not to catch any critters. Chalk another for human reason, and give yourselves yet another reason to reject fundamentalist Christian faith.
 

1) If absolute morality exists, then that by its very nature implies God.
2) Absolute Morality does exist.
Conclusion: Therefore God does exist.

Absolutes exist, but you have not shown that this is the case for Absolute Morality. In fact, even in this letter you have shown us the absolute relativity of biblical morality in action through your reinterpretation of various passages of scripture.

So, since you have not shown (2) that Absolute Morality exists, then you have failed to show that a God exists based upon (1) -- which is faulty to begin with because even if you were to show that Absolute Morality existed, you would still have a long way to go before you showed that a God existed.
 

Now you might be saying, 'why would the existence of absolutes in morality imply the existence of God?' Well if absolutes do exist in morality, then where did they come from? Science? Of course not. Scientists will never come up with the law of morality.

Liberal scientific method is itself a highly structured moral code, governing the moral behavior of scientists and others more effectively than biblical morality governs even the most fundamentalistic of post-Enlightenment Christians.
 

Where x*uz = morality.

So, this is your Straw Man of what science is? Naughty, naughty!

I am not even a scientist and I submit to liberal scientific method -- not only in my understanding of reality but in my morality. If you can show me that homosexuality is wrong, then I will abandon my current opinion on that matter and denounce homosexuality. However, unless and until you do this, homosexuals are (at least in my mind) at Liberty to practice homosexuality.

This is liberal scientific method at work in the field of ethics. This method has shown itself so vastly superior to biblical Christian morality that it now pervades even the most fundamentalistic of Christian moral tirades. No longer do the homophobic books and sermons and videos rest solely on the will of the Christian god to make their case, but homophobic advocates feel they must submit to liberal scientific method lest their message fall on deaf ears. So, they make a pretense of liberal scientific method by coming up with "facts" to bolster their argument that God says it's wrong -- but they abandon the liberal scientific method itself which demands rigorous honesty when presenting facts in an argument.

The bulk of any homophobic message is to try (through deception) to paint homosexuality as wrong in senses other than that God says it is wrong. So the fundamentalist Christians lie about the incidence of mental health problems among homosexuals, and suppress facts about the suicide rates of homosexuals. Yeah, one disadvantage is that male-to-male homo-sex is riskier than male-to-female hetero-sex, but this analogy does not carry over to lesbianism, which has shown itself to be the safest of all forms of sexual recreation. So, to point to the risks of male-to-male sex is not to show homosexuality itself to be "wrong." There is much more to homosexuality than this one somewhat risky sex act -- which itself is not limited to male-to-male sex.

But the point I'm making here is that even the most fundamentalist of Christians realized only too keenly what the Enlightenment showed us: biblical morality is absolutely incapable of making people and situations better, and human reason can and does do a vastly superior job at making people moral. The fundamentalists show the superiority of human reason any time they argue something other than, "God said it; I believe it; that settles it." Unfortunately, most people -- even most Christians -- rely more fully upon human reason based in the liberal scientific method than they do on the revealed will of their god. Thus, it behooves the fundamentalists to admit the fact that there is something to human reason. By invoking various reasons and other justifications for their positions, they admit the supremacy of reason over faith.

Faith has always held sway whenever leaders have whipped the masses into a frenzy, but they must maintain that frenzy in order for faith to keep its hold over the masses. As soon as the tent-show preacher leaves town, the people's behavior returns to what it was before the preacher and his side-show came to town. The Roman Catholics could afford to keep the public in a constant frenzy for hundreds of years, having inherited the wealth of the Roman Empire. Hitler maintained his frenzy for a while, banking on the loyalistic Christian sentiments of his subjects. Joseph McCarthy's frenzy lasted only a few years, but the effects of his frenzy -- the gutting of the Establishment Clause -- remains to haunt us and may never go away. McCarthy's trick for getting elected may actually end up being what historians point to as the main cause of the fall of the United States. This is why I hate religious faith -- particularly Christian faith, the most brutal manifestation of the faith frenzy the world has ever known. I will not try to stop someone from being a Christian, but I will show the dangers in store when Christian faith is used as a tool to exploit the masses.
 

So if there are absolutes in morality then where did they come from? It would have to be from God. Relative morality would have come from society or evolution.

I said that even if you were to show that absolute morality existed, you would have fallen woefully short of showing that a god exists.

But you have not shown that absolute morality exists by misrepresenting what science is -- you have only displayed your desperation.
 

So with that said, let me try to prove that absolutes do exist. If they do, then God must exist. You said that you were put in prison for not allowing yourself to be endoctrined religiously. Was that absolutely wrong?

It is not wrong under Christian morality, which makes the demand: "compel them to come in" (Luke 14:23). And, I believe the judge was doing the best she could under the circumstances. But, what she did was illegal under United States law. In fact, what she did was a violation of the very foremost law of the land -- which is still on the books although the Christians have made strong headway toward nullifying its impact on our lives, that is, the protection of our Religious Liberties.
 

Was that absolutely wrong? If you say yes, then you agree to absolutes.

It was illegal, and most people I've talked to said it was wrong. Those who disagree tend to be Christians and Twelve Steppers.
 

Or was it only relatively wrong? If so, then you don't really believe in anything.

Ah, the ol' False Dichotomy again! Since I don't believe the way you do, I don't believe at all? as if there exist only two choices, one which is right (your way) and one which is wrong (not your way).

Meanwhile, some morals are almost universal while others are so relative as to not even resemble morals but rather choices. Lying in wait and murdering a member of your own clan? this is so universally shunned among humans that some are tempted to use this case to argue for absolute morality. Homosexuality? very controversial: you won't get a consensus on this one, thus showing the sheer relativity of this question. Chocolate versus vanilla ice cream? well, a handful of fundamentalist environmentalists think that ice cream itself is evil, but they're the only ones who think this choice is even a problem.
 

And who are you to say that it was wrong.

You're the one using the word wrong, here, not me. I prefer to think in terms of which choices among all possible choices do the least amount of damage.

Even the decision to follow certain game-rules, such as liberal scientific method or fundamentalist Christianity, is itself a moral choice -- a decision that governs one's behavior amidst various situations.
 

If absolutes do not exist, then we were just as wrong for stopping Hitler as he was for killing innocent people.

There's that False Dichotomy, again, so popular among fundamentalist Christians who have submitted to the biblical world of black-and-white thinking:

[30] He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
[31] Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
     -- Jesus, in Matthew 12

If there are no absolutes in morality, then it cannot have been wrong to stop Hitler, either. Think about that one for a while. Think about your zeal to force reality to conform to your preconceptions about absolute morality, and see where this zeal has taken you.

Meanwhile, Hitler used the Bible to justify killing Jews, homosexuals, aberrant Christians, and, basically, anybody who threatened his fundamentalist black-and-white way of seeing reality. And Germany, still in the clutches of biblical thinking, went along with his rhetoric and elected him as their leader. Jesus taught him well, as did Martin Luther and John Calvin -- all of whom were more brutal in their thinking than even Hitler was. Herr Hitler differed from the others only in that they lacked the technology to carry out their brutality on as wide a scale as Hitler did: Jesus's Hell does not exist, so there goes that idea; Luther and Calvin lived in the Dark Ages where the technology was very limited -- as was the population from which to choose the victims of their Christian pyres.
 

Because who are we to say that it was absolutely wrong, if there are no absolutes in morality.

The question is this: Is fundamentalist Christian biblical morality superior in any way to human reason and liberal scientific method, when it comes to making people conform to a specific set of ethical values -- much less making people moral period. And the answer to this question is a resounding Absolutely Not! and your letter to us, and my response, make a grand job of showing this to be the case. You have lied, connived, contorted, and twisted to make reality appear to conform to your preconceived dogma, whereas I, using only my human reason, have simply and gracefully answered every one of your challenges -- save none -- and exposed most of your lies (but not all of them, for that would make tedious reading).
 

I am willing to bet that all people believe in some absolutes.

Almost all people hold some things to be absolute. However, only the most desperate fundamentalists would take this simple fact and try to force it to show that all morality is always absolute, and that no morality is relative. And even most of the more reckless fundamentalists would fall short of the conclusions that you draw -- although most of them will display the same disregard for truthfulness and personal honesty and integrity that you have shown when arguing for their own variants of fundamentalist Christian morality.
 

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If you were to take the morality of the world as a whole, the Ten Commandments would be a great representation of those absolutes.

As to the fragments of morality that are irregularly and thinly scattered in those books, they make no part of this pretended thing, revealed religion.
     -- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

This is a lie and you know it. Even the staunchest proponents of posting the Protestant Version of the First Set of Tablets of the Hebrew Decalogue constantly bemoan the fact that almost nobody practices these laws. That's why they want them posted in our schools and courthouses.

For you to even bring this up is for you to succomb to the supremacy of human reason. In bringing this argument to play, you abandon the very notion you so eagerly try to defend in this letter: that morality is what God says it is, and there's nothing more to be said about it. To be consistent with the notion that morality is absolute, being the precise and universally applicable expression of the will of a god, you would need merely to say, "Thus and so is God's will, and that's that." But here you attempt to justify the very will of your god with an Appeal to the Masses, of all things! If God's law is absolute, you don't need to use even legitimate arguments -- much less do you need to resort to dishonest rhetorical techniques.

Appeal to the Masses aside, your appeal itself is based in falsehood: hardly anybody practices even one of the Ten Commandments as they were written, and as they were later explained in the body of Hebrew law. And even fewer practice them as revised by Christ. So, even if the Appeal to the Masses were a legitimate form of discussion (which it is not), your application of it would fall short based solely on your easily refuted claim that "the morality of the world as a whole" is represented in the Ten Commandments.

I will set aside the questions of "Which Ten Commandments," and will now show that hardly anybody follows the list of Ten Commandments recognized by Protestantism (seeing as how the Jews keep to themselves and the Roman Catholics seldom make a big deal of the Ten Commandments).

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1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Only a small fraction of the world's population believes in the Hebrew god. While the majority of humans are theists, most of those believe in "other gods."

Thus, the First Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

A significant chunk of the world's population makes graven images of things "in heaven above, or ... in the earth beneath, or ... in the water under the earth" and a large portion of that chunk will "bow down ... to them, [and] serve them." Most Christians have abandoned (or reinterpreted) the notion that "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me," and even the Bible itself later repudiates the notion that God punishes the children for the deeds of the fathers.

Thus, the Second Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Only a handful of anthropologists, prosperity preachers, and a few of the more honest biblical scholars can tell you what "take the name of the Lord thy God" even means -- much less what it means to take that name "in vain." Those who do know what it means do not take its true meaning seriously, because animism is way beyond being passé. Hardly anybody thinks that there is any magical power behind invoking someone's name, and almost none who end a prayer "in Jesus's name" have even a clue as to what it originally meant to invoke the name of a deity, as a means of procurring magical powers, when the Ten Commandments were written.

Thus, the Third Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Only a tiny, miniscule fraction of the world's population refrains from working on Saturday. A much larger portion of the world has changed this to Friday, with many of them tending to refrain from business on that day. An even larger portion has changed this to Sunday, but hardly any of them refrain from even business transactions on that day.

And why is the wife omitted from this detailed list of those who must set aside this day in holiness? This was because according to the dominant superstition, the woman's menstrual period rendered her unclean. Do any modern proponents of the Ten Commandments even mention that the wife is conspicuous by her absence from this long list of those who must follow this commandment? No. Because this whole commandment flies in the face of post-Enlightenment humanism, no decalogue proponents even dare mention this glaring omission. Those who are even aware of it and who are confronted with it will explain it away -- guaranteed.

Thus, the Fourth Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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5. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

True, the Bible says to honor your parents, but it says nothing about honoring your children. Instead, it commands parents to kill those children who would dare to contradict the religion of the fathers. Only humanism says to honor the children in mutual respect and dignity, and only the humanistic influence upon our society has forced biblical fundamentalists to try to twist the Scripture to say that parents must also honor their children (which commandment is conveniently omitted from this list of commandments -- and in specific wording anywhere else in the Christian Bible).

And which tribal deity is said to have promised to give what parcel of land to whom?

Meanwhile, Jesus nullified this commanement when he said,

[35] For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
[36] And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
     -- Jesus, in Matthew 10

and,

[26] If any man come unto me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
     -- Jesus, in Luke 14

The Bible says to honor one's parents, but what does this mean, in light of what Jesus later taught? Can human reason do better than hopelessly tangled dogma? You bet!

Thus, the Fifth Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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6. Thou shalt not kill.

The Bible also says "Thou shalt not kill" in a few places, but in other places the Bible god orders the wholesale genocide of the Midianites (and many other nations), with the added commandment to keep virgin women as sex slaves:

[17] Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
[18] But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
[19] And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.
     -- Moses, relating God's word in Numbers 31

In other words, it's okay to kill and rape and enslave humans as long as the purification rituals are kept. This is because the Bible was written when most people were pronouncedly superstitious. The main objection to murder was not that someone's life ended as a result; the main objection to murder was the notion that the life was in the blood: "What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." (Genesis 4:10, et al.) Thus, to murder meant to pollute the land with blood. For this reason, when your forebears murdered my forebears, they would not use knives or swords, but would tie us to a stake and light us on fire. The most popular methods of turture were specifically designed to avoid the shedding of blood because of this superstition.

Even God, as the story goes, ordered the slaughter of his own son (or so the story goes -- I don't believe a word of it). This is not unusual for a god who was obsessed with ritual that involved the shedding of animal blood. One mention of human sacrifice escaped Ezra's revisional editing of the body Hebrew Scripture:

[37] And the LORD's tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen.
[38] And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD's tribute was threescore and twelve.
[39] And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD's tribute was threescore and one.
[40] And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD's tribute was thirty and two persons.
[41] And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD's heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.
     -- Numbers 31, describing "the LORD's Tribute" of "thirty and two persons" amongst the other tributes that were offered in thanks to the Lord's giving the Israelites victory over the Midianites

The captured humans (the sex slaves, remember) were just so many sheep and beeves to the bloodthirsty god who had the audacity to utter the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."

Thus, the Sixth Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

If the Ten Commandments forbid adultery, then why were the Israelites ordered to keep the Midianite virgin women as sex slaves? In fact, why was a married man allowed to pork anybody he liked -- except another man's wife? And why was a woman who opened up for any but her husband guilty of adultery? The Muslim world doesn't even believe this way, but has a more balanced sense of equity between men and women (not that it's balanced, mind you, but it is more balanced than the Bible). In fact, most modern Muslims have followed the modern Christians in altering their gods' laws to be applied equally between the sexes.

Adultery, in its original sense, meant racially mixed marriages, thus polluting the bloodline of the "Chosen People" (read: "Master Race"). Adultery, as it is expressed in Ezra's revision of Hebrew Scripture, was based entirely upon the notion of the woman being the man's property. Thus, the man's property could commit adultery against him, but he could never commit adultery against his own property. A man could only commit adultery with another man's vessel of childbearing, thus violating the property rights of the other man. He had done nothing to harm either himself or the woman, according to the Hebrew law as it relates to adultery.

Jesus muddied this very precise distinction, simultaneously turning thinking about it into as grave a crime as doing it:

[27] Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
[28] But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
[29] And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
[30] And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
     -- Jesus, in Matthew 5, the "Sermon on the Mount"

Jesus then proceeds to fortify Hebrew adultery law as pertains to divorce, rather than liberalize and modernize it:

[31] It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
[32] But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
     -- Jesus, in Matthew 5, the "Sermon on the Mount"

Note that Jesus clearly retains the distinction between man and woman mentioned above: one can only commit adultery against a man, either by being an adulterous wife or by committing adultery with his wife. But the last time I checked, even Ireland was on the brink of legalizing divorce.

Thus, the Seventh Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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8. Thou shalt not steal.

"Thou shalt not steal," in its modern context, is only common sense. If I submit to allowing theft, then I say that it is right for someone else to steal from me, thus rendering the very act of theft to be of none effect. The prohibition against stealing is so unversal that we don't need a god to tell us not to steal. Even a dog snarls at another who would take away its bone; are we so stupid and imbecilic that we need supernatural intervention to learn what a dog knows instinctively?

The early Christians, according to the tale, eliminated this problem amongst themselves by becomming Communists (Acts 5) and holding all property in common. Theft then became the act of refusing to give all of one's posessions to the church -- that is, "to keep back part of the price." (Acts 5:2.) Incidentally, in Christianity, this was punished by death (Acts 5:5-6, 9-11), whereas, the punishment for causing damage to one's property (but not for stealing it), in Hebrew Scripture, was merely a monetary fine.

Many Hebrew scholars argue that this commandment is against kidnapping, not theft. The nineteenth century historians almost universally agreed that this commandment referred only to the removal of landmarks, seeing that landmarks were considered either to have magical powers or to be actual living beings. In this latter sense, the removal of a landmark is itself an act of kidnap. The only clear post-Mosaic reference to stealing as in stealing property is in Proverbs 30:9, where stealing is wrong not because the owner has lost property but because in so doing the thief would thus "take the name of my God in vain." But when the Hebrews borrowed from thier Egyptian neighbors on the eve of the Exodus, were they not stealing? They were never denounced in the Bible for having done this!

Hardly any nation still invokes the Christian death penalty for theft, and the closer the scholars look at the wording of this commandment, the more clear it becomes that the modern word steal is not necessarily the correct translation of the Hebrew word here. This is what happens when people follow faith rather than reason: right and wrong become what the priests say they are, rather than what the people know, intuitively, to be true.

Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven.
     -- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

Thus, the Eighth Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The Bible says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Why only "thy neighbor" and not everybody? Does this mean that it's okay to bear false testimony against someone who is not "thy neighbor"? Why do most moderns say that it is wrong to bear false witness against anybody?

Hebrew Scripture is filled with examples of people who did just that: the "people of God" not only bore false witness against those who were not neighbors (read: "fellow religionists"), but stole from them, killed them, sold their daughters into sexual slavery, and all sorts of atrocities which were perfectly legitimate according to the Bible god. And after they killed them, they were obedient to observe the purification ritual associated with having shed the blood of someone who was not a neighbor. It was the blood that was taboo, not the killing; it is here the neighbor who is at issue, not the bearing of false witness. Thank the Bible god that His law was so brutal that a major cultural revolution, the Enlightenment, overthrew the effects of this barbaric code of absolutes and replaced it with the code of human reason.

Thus, the Ninth Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.

What does it mean to "covet"? Does this mean, as the moderns claim, that we ought not to desire a Beamer like the guy down the street has, but should be satisfied with our Chevy? If so, then why does this need to be one of the Top Ten laws? Besides, what's wrong with wanting to improve one's material situation? Certainly any material posession that I might feel I need or want is something that is owned by at least one of my neighbors!

No. To a superstitous band of illiterate goat herders sitting around a campfire of camel dung, to "covet" meant to cast a spell on someone -- to give them the "evil eye" or some similar form of hocus-pocus.

Most importantly, why is the wife listed after the house in this list of possessions that we are supposed to not covet? Any woman who thought she had second billing to the house (or who thought she was just one of so many possessions, for that matter) would have legitimate grounds for divorce (there's that adultery law, again).

And why do the Roman Catholics split this law into two? This is because they omited the "graven images" prohibition and had to do something, because it's supposed to be Ten Commandments, not nine. The Protestants and Roman Catholics likewise split the Second Hebrew Commandment in two, because the Hebrew god was specifically the god of the Jews, not of the Gentiles. So, neither the Protestants nor the Roman Catholics have any use for the Hebrew First Commandment.

Thus, the Tenth Protestant Commandment, seen for what it is, is far from being representative of "the morality of the world as a whole."

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I hope you enjoyed my treatment of your notion of Absolute Morality. You are welcome to write again in another year or two, but please don't make a habit of this, because our website has, as its target audience, atheists. We really have nothing to say to theists except, "Leave us alone, go practice your religion in private, and don't bother us with it."

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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Added March 25, 2001

From: "Troy Dyck"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Saturday, March 24, 2001 10:36 AM
 

Ah, but the text does not say to hate what they do, it says to hate them.

One thing about fundamentalism which has always puzzled me is that out of one side of their mouths the fundamentalists tell us that the Scripture is the infallible, unchangeable word of the living God. But out of the other side, they consider themselves free to reinterpret -- change the meaning of -- any passage that conflicts with modern popular thought brought on by post-Enlightenment humanism which pervades all modern thought -- even biblical fundamentalism.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26)

See it says to hate ourselves too, but you conveniently left that out. You are reaching for answers. If you set out to disprove the bible, then you will attack anything. Like a child who is being difficult, they won't listen to the reason no matter what.

The majority of all Christians take Luke 14:26 to mean that we are to hate what is evil in our parents, not to hate them. So in fact you are the one who is interpreting things to your own cause. Jesus also said that he came to heal the sick, do you take that literally too? Cause no, it means he came to save those who admit they need saving. Only people who think they are sick go to the doctor.

You also said that people were justified in killing because Jesus said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. That means that he did not come to bring peace one earth (as in the end of all evil) but instead evil will continue. He came to bring us a weapon against evil. He is the sword. If Jesus actaulluy carried a sword, or weapon of any kind like you imply that he should have, then I'd agree with you. Instead he helped those who needed help.

You really do not know much about the bible do you. You know what it says, and you have a bunch of athiest theories on it, but really you don't know what any of it means.

All the points you have made where you use the bible to prove your point are garbage. You are full of big words and pat answers. You use the word rhetoric a lot like it makes you smart or something.
 

Another case where modern post-Enlightenment fundamentalists force the passage to conform with humanistic thought rather than to simply take it at face value

You are just a closed minded athiest. If God stepped up right in front of you and stared you in the face, you would still deny that it happened.
 

Post-Enlightenment humanism has shown itself so superior to anything we had yet encountered

You're a fool. Humanism has not improved society one bit. But we can all gain from diverse thought. The world has become a better place over time and it is because people have gotten smarter as a whole. Humanism was just a small part. It was an inevitable course of actions. The church has been forced to smarten up its act (although many churches have not done so yet). But the public sees the church like a politician, where they have heard everything and will not stand for deceipt. I am very happy about this. It means that people are less likely to be able to use the church for their own agenda, and instead the will of God will be done. Things like the crusades were not about Christ, instead they were about Spain wanting to expand their borders, and the two kings used the bible to justify their actions to the public. King Henry the eighth tried to force the church to see things his way on divorce, and instead he ended up martyring wonderful people like Erasmus and Thomas Moore.
 

No. I will tell you this much: I could never return to Christianity because I have seen through her lies.

It seems to me that you are fighting religion, and churchy people. Christ has done you no wrong. Yet you are rejecting Christ because of it. You should be fighting specifically against the church that lied to you and not all churches.
 

I am not even a scientist and I submit to liberal scientific method -- not only in my understanding of reality but in my morality. If you can show me that homosexuality is wrong, then I will abandon my current opinion on that matter and denounce homosexuality. However, unless and until you do this, homosexuals are (at least in my mind) at Liberty to practice homosexuality.

I love science. Its a great thing. But it can never prove its own existence, nor can it ever give a reason about absolute morality. My proof of absolute morality is in you however. If you believe it exists, then it is proven in your case.

As far as homosexuals. Love the sinner hate the sin. All sinners are welcome in my church, otherwise I would not be welcome. However, I have to confess my sins, and try not to sin. But no one is perfect. If God is real, then homosexuals have been told by God not to be homosexuals. If you want to be a Christian and a homosexual, well you can't. If God is not real, then you gotta wonder, how is it that evolution created so many homosexuals. It goes against evolution, especially in such large numbers.
 

But the point I'm making here is that even the most fundamentalist of Christians realized only too keenly what the Enlightenment showed us: biblical morality is absolutely incapable of making people and situations better, and human reason can and does do a vastly superior job at making people moral. The fundamentalists show the superiority of human reason any time they argue something other than, "God said it; I believe it; that settles it." Unfortunately, most people -- even most Christians -- rely more fully upon human reason based in the liberal scientific method than they do on the revealed will of their god. Thus, it behooves the fundamentalists to admit the fact that there is something to human reason. By invoking various reasons and other justifications for their positions, they admit the supremacy of reason over faith.

I agree that Christians rely on their own human based reason. That is why the bible is so perfect, because it supports human reason. The bible, science and reason all go hand in hand. Thats what makes the bible so perfect. And that is what makes it obvious that the bible could never have been written by man alone. God had to be guiding the writing of the bible. So we hear scripture and we realize that it makes sense. Its only when the bible does not support our own agenda that we go against it.
 

Hitler maintained his frenzy for a while, banking on the loyalistic Christian sentiments of his subjects.

Hitler was an athiest who used religion to appeal to a country that had its identity taken away from them. Hitler twisted the bible like you do.
 

I said that even if you were to show that absolute morality existed, would have fallen woefully short of showing that a god exists.

You're wrong. Because if absolute morality exists, atoms did not create those morals. Nor did the way atoms interact with one another. No, it had to have come from a creator. There is no right or wrong moral without absolute morality.
 

Meanwhile, some morals are almost universal while others are so relative as to not even resemble morals but rather choices. Lying in wait and murdering a member of your own clan? this is so universally shunned among humans that some are tempted to use this case to argue for absolute morality.

Good, because then they are only arguing for the existence of God. But you think its relative, so its only based on societies views of right and wrong today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.
 

Homosexuality? very controversial: you won't get a consensus on this one, thus showing the sheer relativity of this question. Chocolate versus vanilla ice cream?

Its nothing like ice cream. Its more like: should I be a compulsive gambler or not? Or should I be an alcoholic or not? Hey it doesn't hurt anyone else, right? People are meant to live in community. If your personal morals fail, then you do hurt society. Just like cheating on your wife is wrong even if you can keep it from her. It still hurts the relationship. As if she can't tell that something is wrong in their relationship.
 

The question is this: Is fundamentalist Christian biblical morality superior in any way to human reason and liberal scientific method, when it comes to making people conform to a specific set of ethical values -- much less making people moral period. And the answer to this question is a resounding Absolutely Not!

Don't you ever get tired of assuming you are right? You have proved nothing.
 

Almost all people hold some things to be absolute. However, only the most desperate fundamentalists would take this simple fact and try to force it to show that all morality is always absolute, and that no morality is relative.

I agree there is relative morality as well, like whether or not I should have another bowl of ice cream or not? It might make me fat. And when you agree that absolute morality exists, you are agreeing that God exists.
 

your appeal itself is based in falsehood: hardly anybody practices even one of the Ten Commandments as they were written, and as they were later explained in the body of Hebrew law. And even fewer practice them as revised by Christ.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That is why Christ died for us. The Jews sacrificed a lamb at passover, and drank a cup of wine to atone their sins. Christ was the lamb, and his blood was the atonement. Christians are to admit that they are sinners. But Christ forgives them for their sins. And with this great gift, we can't help but be humbled. And so we begin to see the need to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. But none of those things will ever get us into heaven. We get there simply for entrusting our whole life to Christ. Slowly Christ takes away those sins from our life, and when we die Christ finishes that great work that he started in our lives.

So to say that no one follows the Ten Commandments, only supports Christ's claim that we need his free gift to Heaven. Grace as some have come to call it.
 

If the Ten Commandments forbid adultery, then why were the Israelites ordered to keep the Midianite virgin women as sex slaves? In fact, why was a married man allowed to pork anybody he liked -- except another man's wife?

Same reason why Moses allowed divorce. Because people would not listen to what God really wanted. God wanted to lead Israel, but they insisted on a King. God wanted to be with his people in the desert, but they only wanted to be with God in the temple. People are stubborn, and that is why God's chosen people fell away from him. Christ made it clear what God really wanted, and that was for one man and one woman to be together as one for their entire life. God set up that whole "Chosen people" thing so that we could learn from them falling. They never listened, and that is why God stopped protecting them. Then God made the anyone who followed him his chosen people.

As for all your arguments against the Ten Commandments, you are once again twisting things. I gave my arguments against yours earlier.
 

This is what happens when people follow faith rather than reason: right and wrong become what the priests say they are, rather than what the people know, intuitively, to be true.

Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven.
-- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

And what about Jesus? Did he really believe he was God? He must of because he was willing to die for his beliefs. But if he was not really God, then he must have been crazy. But his word was too perfect to have come from a crazy man. It was too perfect to have come from a man. He is God.

Yes it is dangerous to put follow a faith blindly. But no more dangerous than you following your faith in atheism blindly. Why else would you be fighting a religion that you know nothing about. You only know the words, and miss all the meaning. You twist things to suit your agenda. And I know you say that you try not to think about Christianity, but that is obviously a lie. That is just an act that you put on. It comes across in your web site.

I think my defense of your attacks on the bible easily disproved all arguments you made against the bible. Therefore, you have not made any point whatsoever so far.

But when it all comes down to it, you are not different than I was a while back. I too was an athiest who beleived anything that tried to take away from the obvious truth the bible has. And God loves you. And so I pray for you Cliff. I pray that God will open up your eyes. I pray that he will haunt you until you can no longer deny his presence in your life. You need all your misunderstandings about the bible cleared up. May you be like Paul, one day he was persecuting Christians the next day God gave him no choice but to follow him. You have to agree that if these things that I say are true, then you are a fool. Same goes for me I know. But I have experienced God in my life.

The devil's greatest accomplishment is to make the world believe that he does not exist.

Troy Dyck

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Troy Dyck"
Subject: Re: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Monday, March 26, 2001 6:17 AM

 

"Some of them, as it were in a drunken state producing self-induced visions, remodel their Gospel from its first written form, and reform and reform it so that they may be able to refute the objections brought against it."
     -- Celsus, quoted in Origen's, Contra Celsum

 

You are just a closed minded athiest. If God stepped up right in front of you and stared you in the face, you would still deny that it happened.

and

You're a fool. Humanism has not improved society one bit.

Why don't you lay low again for another few years or so? Cool off for a while, or something.

In fact, any more abusive e-mail from you (such as your likening me to Hitler or your suggesting that I am being untruthful without showing your work or -- worst of all -- calling me a fool [Matthew 5:22]) will be forwarded straight to the Hotmail Abuse team with a request that your account be filtered so that no more e-mail from your account can reach our domain.

If any atheist is open-minded it is me: I initially did this because I think it is the honest way to practice atheism.

I soon began to see the humor value of being an open-minded atheist, one who publicly entertains arguments from theists who wish to attempt to present me with convincing reasons for converting to theism.

What's so humorous is the conspicuous absence of a respect for truthfulness in almost all the arguments I hear from fundamentalist Christians. This is so entirely predictable that if I didn't know better, I'd be tempted to wonder if I had powers of premonition: a fundamentalist Christian who is attempting to convince me that Christianity is a religion of truthfulness, who goes beyond the first round of a simple declaration to me (and actually replies to my response) will lie to me if I present even the slightest objection to that person's case.

Also humouous is the almost universal disrespect for education, science, and human intellect expressed by so many fundamentalist Christians. Those who do not take this tack will predictably go the other route: usurping education, science, and human intellect as something unique to the Christian religion and as something that was originated by the Christian religion. In no case do they accurately represent anything even remotely having to do with science.

What is not funny is the unjustified spite from a Christian who knows that he has cooked his own goose in a philosophical discussion with a damned atheist.
 

So to say that no one follows the Ten Commandments, only supports Christ's claim that we need his free gift to Heaven. Grace as some have come to call it.

Ah, but you're the one that pointed to the wide acceptance of the Ten Commandments as proof of their divine origin! I show you to be in error with an indisputable fact and you turn around and twist that fact to support your presuppositions -- not even mentioning that I caught you in a lie!
 

It seems to me that you are fighting religion, and churchy people. Christ has done you no wrong. Yet you are rejecting Christ because of it. You should be fighting specifically against the church that lied to you and not all churches.

Okay, tell me which church wrote the Bible and which churches tell people that the Bible is true and I'll take them on.
 

All the points you have made where you use the bible to prove your point are garbage. You are full of big words and pat answers. You use the word rhetoric a lot like it makes you smart or something.

Then show me to be in error!

Don't just sit there and engage in name-calling! I use the word "rhetoric" when I think it's appropriate to use that word.

And I am always willing to back up any claim I make. I will not make a statement unless I am convinced that it is true. If someone shows me to be in error, I recant and move on, having learned something new.
 

See it says to hate ourselves too, but you conveniently left that out.

Oh, really!? Did I, now?
http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9179.htm#HATETHYPARENTS
 

You are reaching for answers. If you set out to disprove the bible, then you will attack anything. Like a child who is being difficult, they won't listen to the reason no matter what.

You here pretend to know what is going on in the privacy of my own mind.

Need I say more?

Being a man of truthfulness, I will attack anything that is a lie.

The discussion here is the meaning of the "hate your parents" passage. You change its meaning from what it says to something that you can find acceptable -- which is your right. However, don't come to me and insist that this is the majority viewpoint among Christians because that is not the case.

My response is that you misrepresent the "hate your parents" passage as meaning something different from what it says (which is what it meant to Christians up until the Enlightenment), but as meaning something that more easily fits post-Enlightenment humanistic values.

Since the Enlightenment, those who choose to remain Christians must scramble to reinterpret the meanings of passages that were for fifteen centuries invoked to advocate those miserable attitudes and practices which ultimately prompted the cultural revolution of the Enlightenment. This cultural revolution effectively ended Christianity's "tyranny over the mind of man" (as Jefferson so aptly described the wiles of the silver-tongued Christian clergy who eloquently rendered the ancient barbarisms more palatable to the modern mind).

The Christian religion teaches people to hate this life in anticipation of the next (or in fear of the next). If I thought for a moment that the Christian Heaven or the Christian Hell existed, I'd feel the same way: I'd drop everything and I wouldn't look back.

But being a child of the Enlightenment by inheritance and by choice, the doctrine of hating this life for a future life is the main reason why I so viciously loathe the Christian religion above all others. This theme runs throughout the New Testament (though it is conspicuously absent from the Hebrew Scriptures and is, by comparison, only a minor element in the Koran). The passage in question, the "hate your parents" passage, is just one of the many passages that have been used over the centuries to develop this theme.
 

The majority of all Christians take Luke 14:26 to mean that we are to hate what is evil in our parents, not to hate them.

The majority of Christians, for over a thousand years, took many Bible passages to mean that the Earth is flat. What "the majority of Christians" think doesn't mean much to me, seeing as how "the majority of Christians" consider a first-century Judaean religious crank and nationalist to be the creator of the Universe.

Do "the majority of Christians" not consider dishonesty to be morally wrong? Or is dishonesty justified when it furthers the interests of the Church? Luther thought this way, as did Eusebius -- as well as the very inventor of Christianity, Saul of Tarsus. All three advocated lying if doing so brought more people into the Church. I suspect you of having been cut from the same cloth in this respect.

Meanwhile, the wanton disregard for truthfulness displayed by many Christians (including yourself) indicates to me that even if you're telling the truth, here (and I don't think you are), many other Christians take the "hate your parents" passage so seriously that what happens in this life doesn't matter because the future life is all that matters. This is why monks and nuns, for hundreds of years, refused to bathe or eat properly. Many even castrated themselves. The "flesh" was disdained in the interest of spirituality. The "hate your parents" passage was just one of the many "proof texts" invoked in justifying this behavior.

Arnaud-Amaury, when asked by the Crusaders what to do with the citizens of Beziers, who were a mixture of Catholics and Cathars, took the concept of a judgement in the afterlife to its logical conclusion: "Kill them all; for the Lord knoweth them that are His." (Tuez-les tous; Dieu reconnaîtra les siens.)
 

Jesus also said that he came to heal the sick, do you take that literally too?

Yes, if I were trying to understand what the Bible says, I would take that one literally as well. I would deem it to be one of those passages which was obviously intended to be taken literally, just as the ones about loathing this life for the sake of future pleasures in the afterlife were designed to be taken very, very seriously.

Many wolves come in sheep's clothing. If you wanted to fleece lots of people, would you not make lofty promises such as healing the sick? If you wanted to gain political control over the masses, would it not be extremely effective to teach them that this Earthly life is not to be treasured, but that only a future life beyond the grave is The Real McCoy? or that God will even things out in the long run? Constantine was quite the sharper when he recognized the advantages of making Christianity the official religion of Rome.

Yes, it makes perfect sense to me that the power-mongers of the early Christian sects would place this and similar sayings into the mouth of their Jesus figure.
 

If Jesus actaulluy carried a sword, or weapon of any kind like you imply that he should have, then I'd agree with you. Instead he helped those who needed help.

He didn't need to carry a sword because his servants did this for him:

 

[35] And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
[36] Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
[37] For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
[38] And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
[39] And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
     -- Luke 22:35-39

 

During the course of saving that which is lost, Jesus orders the slaughter of "mine enemies":

 

[10] For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
[11] And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
[12] He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
[13] And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
[14] But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
[15] And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
[16] Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
[17] And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
[18] And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
[19] And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
[20] And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
[21] For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
[22] And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
[23] Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
[24] And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
[25] (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
[26] For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
[27] But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
     -- Jesus, in Luke 19:10-27

 

And even more brutality awaits those who disagree with Jesus:

 

[1] I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
[2] Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
[3] Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
[4] Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
[5] I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
[6] If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
     -- Jesus, in John 15:1-6

 

So in fact you are the one who is interpreting things to your own cause.

I don't understand how your invoking the Appeal to the Masses shows me to be in error.

Even if invoking the Appeal to the Masses were an honest method for arguing that an idea is truthful (it isn't), your use of it here would not be valid, because there are no masses to which you can appeal. Most Christians throughout history have been under the thumb of theologians who interpreted these passages the way I have here. This is why I have spoken from that perspective -- it is the majority viewpoint from the context of how long the Christian Church has existed.

The modern, post-Enlightenment warm-and-fuzzy Jesus is a Johnny-come-lately, having entered the scene only within the past century. So no, most Christians have not felt this way at all. Only modern Christians (and not all modern Christians) have felt this way.
 

You really do not know much about the bible do you. You know what it says, and you have a bunch of athiest theories on it, but really you don't know what any of it means.

Once more you show yourself to be a liar in that you pretend to know what is going on in the privacy of my own mind, and pretend to know my level of education. In both of your pronouncements you have erred grievously. Why do you go to such lengths in your attempts to portray Christianity as a religion of truthfulness?

I have read the entire Bible, both Testaments, cover-to-cover in a single sitting, eleven times while believing it to be the Word of God. I read it cover-to-cover in a single sitting once more since then. It was during this reading -- years after I renounced my faith and years before I started calling myself an atheist or started reading the classic Freethought literature -- that I formed the understanding of the Bible that I currently hold. My understanding of what the Bible says has changed very little since I started calling myself an atheist, years after that final Bible reading..

My understanding of the Bible is my understanding of it -- not "a bunch of atheist theories on it."

So, do you suggest that my having read the Bible that many times cover-to-cover in a single sitting, plus having spent several years of my life -- full time -- studying its history and examining the various ways in which it has been understood, only proves that I "really do not know much about the bible" (your use of the lowercase)?

I think not.

Rather, I suspect you of having read only portions of the Bible. I suspect you of interpreting it selectively, based upon a presupposition that the Bible is infallible and is from God -- a conclusion to which you probably came before you read very much of the Bible (probably because you go to a church where belief in the infallibility of the Bible is as much a key to being accepted as is faith in Christ). And I suspect that you have done very little in the way of studying the history of your own heritage.

1. What was the "proof text" originally invoked when Christianity was first required by law (and heresy thereby punished by violence at the hands of the State)?

2. When a mob of Christian clerics fell upon the brilliant scientist Hypatia and hacked her to death with oyster shells, St. Cyril explained that this was done because Hypatia had broken which of God's laws?

3. Which passage was used for centuries as a "proof text" to justify burning my forebears at the stake?

4. Roman Catholics and Protestants through the time of John Wesley pronounced that a person rejected the whole Bible who did not acknowledge witchcraft to be really real. (Witchcraft, here, meaning the medieval notion of malevolent servants of the Christian Satan, having magical powers, rather than the ancient and modern notions of Wicca, the polytheistic Earth religion.) To which passage did they point to justify executing a suspected Witch upon the first charge?

5. When Eusebius set out to rewrite the history of the world so as to bolster the credibility of the Church, recording "in ineffaceable letters the most peaceful wars waged in behalf of the peace of the soul," to which passage of Scripture did he point to justify replacing scientific and historical investigation with blind faith?
 

You also said that people were justified in killing because Jesus said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. That means that he did not come to bring peace one earth (as in the end of all evil) but instead evil will continue. He came to bring us a weapon against evil. He is the sword.

This statement clearly has Jesus bringing the sword. The object sword is of the verb to bring, and the subject of the verb is Jesus.

And that "sword" has murdered millions upon millions of my forebears simply for refusing to assent to the claims of the Christian religion.

If the Jesus figure would send us to the Christian Hell for eternity, it only makes sense that inflicting a little foretaste of that pain here on Earth will not mean much in the long run. After all, a single individual sould suffer more pain in the Christian Hell than the combined pain that will be suffered by all the sentient organisms living on Earth for the lifespan of the Earth. In this sense, Christ the sword is the example that was followed by Christians in power for about fifteen centuries.
 

If God is not real, then you gotta wonder, how is it that evolution created so many homosexuals. It goes against evolution, especially in such large numbers.

If God is real, then how come He created so many homosexuals -- not only among humans but throughout the animal kingdom? Why is the rectal area an erogenous zone, the stimulation of which can produce profound orgasm in both men and women?

If the incidence of homosexuality is directly proportional to dense populations in both humans and animals (which appears to be the case), then homosexuality seems to be (among other things) a natural population check. If overpopulation is deadly for a species, then the absence of latent homosexual tendencies in that species would prove quite destructive to the species during times of prosperity for that species.

If you say that homosexuality "goes against evolution," then this indicates that you oversimplify the situation as a strictly genetic thing: If that's the case, why, then, do all homosexuals come from a heterosexual union? No strictly homosexual man can be aroused in the presence of a woman, and arousal must occur in the male before offspring can be conceived.

By being willing to study and consider topics that I do not find pleasant (such as homo-sex and such as the Christian Inquisition), I open myself to learn truths that increase my perspective on more useful topics. And by becoming willing to follow truth wherever it may lead (such as, my absolute inability to find anything morally wrong with homosexuality despite how I feel about the prospect of me engaging in homo-sex -- such as, while yet a Christian, accepting the prospect that it is the core doctrine of Christianity itself, the very teachings of Jesus, which inspired the Inquisition, and not simply this or that sect's misapplications of Christ's teachings), I come to a clearer picture of reality.

But by defending a preconception, I missed out on a lot. By defending the notion that homosexuality was wrong because God said it was wrong, and by needing no other reason to pronounce it wrong, I missed out on a lot of crucial friendships during a time in my life when I could have used a few sincere friends.

And by presupposing that Jesus was a god of love, and that any manifestation of violence in the name of Christ was a patent misapplication of His teaching, I became guilty of unwittingly advocating violence when I have never been a man of violence by any stretch.

This was too much for me, so I left the Church and I will never look back.
 

Hitler was an athiest who used religion to appeal to a country that had its identity taken away from them. Hitler twisted the bible like you do.

There is nothing to which you can point which even remotely suggests that Hitler lacked a belief in the existence of the Christian god. Everything we have on Hitler's beliefs points toward him having been a devout Roman Catholic as well as a loyal student of Martin Luther's writings.

I get this slander so often that I have made an effort to study the religious beliefs of Adolf Hitler. If Hitler was an atheist, he remained cloistered in that closet: he openly spoke of his faith in Christ, and vehemently advocated that people ought to have faith in Christ.
 

If you are willing to be truthful and dignified (not merely truthful or dignified), you are welcome to continue this dialogue. However, since Christianity openly pronounces its own supremacy, and openly disdains the human quest for knowledge, I can fully expect you to act neither truthful nor dignified toward me. The stakes are just too high for a fundamentalist Christian to acknowledge that she or he might be mistaken.

Therefore, I am ending my participation in this dialogue, and will not respond to any e-mail from you that is either undignified or is untruthful.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule
Added March 26, 2001

From: "Troy Dyck"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: I thought of something - Re: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Sunday, March 25, 2001 10:17 PM

I thought of something else,

In your own words:

I am not even a scientist and I submit to liberal scientific method -- not only in my understanding of reality but in my morality. If you can show me that homosexuality is wrong, then I will abandon my current opinion on that matter and denounce homosexuality. However, unless and until you do this, homosexuals are (at least in my mind) at Liberty to practice homosexuality.

Also in your own words:

Meanwhile, some morals are almost universal while others are so relative as to not even resemble morals but rather choices. Lying in wait and murdering a member of your own clan? this is so universally shunned among humans that some are tempted to use this case to argue for absolute morality. Homosexuality? very controversial: you won't get a consensus on this one, thus showing the sheer relativity of this question.

But this is not true. More people in history, and as well more people today believe that homosexuality is wrong than they do that murder is wrong. You don't agree? Well then consider all the murderers in prison, all the serial killers in the world, all the muggers who kill their victims, all the political unrest in the world, all the wars, all the crime on the streets, and all the gangs members who murder each other. There are definately more people who would try to justify murder than there are people who would try to justify homosexuality(this includes people who have murdered, who want to murder, and people who have tried to murder.)

So by your own arguments, homosexuality is so universally accepted as wrong that it is not just a choice, but an absolute moral. Thus, by your own logic, I have disproven homosexuality. Therefore you must abandon your current opinion on that matter and denounce homosexuality.

I have my own reasons against homosexuality, but these reasons are just added to fact that God told me it was wrong. And what's wrong with Christians saying that something is wrong because God said so. I know it doesn't prove anything to the non-believers, but its reason enough for them.

Christians should trust in God, just like a child trusts in their parent. Even if the child does not agree, they should do what the parent says. Now yes there are cases when the parent is wrong, but God is perfect.

Troy Dyck

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Troy Dyck"
Subject: Re: I thought of something - Re: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Monday, March 26, 2001 12:25 AM

But this is not true. More people in history, and as well more people today believe that homosexuality is wrong than they do that murder is wrong. You don't agree? Well then consider all the murderers in prison, all the serial killers in the world, all the muggers who kill their victims, all the political unrest in the world, all the wars, all the crime on the streets, and all the gangs members who murder each other.

Your hypothesis falls apart in that you show absolutely no statistics. Your premise is pure speculation.
 

So by your own arguments, homosexuality is so universally accepted as wrong that it is not just a choice, but an absolute moral. Thus, by your own logic, I have disproven homosexuality. Therefore you must abandon your current opinion on that matter and denounce homosexuality.

As I said, you have shown no statistics for those who would justify lying in wait and murdering versus those who would justify homosexuality. Thus, you have not proven me to be in error at all.

Besides, I was clearly speaking of societies, not of individuals. Most societies today will not waste precious jail space for homosexuals even if the culture prohibits this behavior. Given a choice, and having the resources to prosecute only one case -- not both cases -- almost all societies will prosecute the man charged with lying in wait and murdering. I would wager that even Taliban would prosecute the murderer over the homosexual if they had only the resources to prosecute one of the two men.
 

I have my own reasons against homosexuality, but these reasons are just added to fact that God told me it was wrong. And what's wrong with Christians saying that something is wrong because God said so.

Christians may say what ever they wish, but saying this does not give them credibility before the rest of us.

By saying this, you don't show why it is wrong. You don't give me any insight into how to decide the rightness or wrongness of an issue that is not directly addressed by your deity. A method for determining the best choices, such as trying to see which of two extremely tough choices will spread the least amount of damage over the largest group of people, can go far when we are in a pinch and don't know what to do because we've never been there before and have never even heard of someone having a problem like the one we now face.

Any day of the week I'll take a method that I can learn as a skill, over a list of rules that cannot begin to cover everything we can expect to encounter during our brief lifetimes.

As an aside, this is why I do not criticize the "What Would Jesus Do?" movement as vehemently as some of my fellow atheistic spokespeople. To me, any "Jesus" in the mind of an adolescent Christian represents (among other things) the ultimate moral person -- the best example of morality that one can conceive. So, to ask, "What would Jesus do?" is to ask, in effect, "What would the model of morality do?" While this is still a very muddy method, it is a method nonetheless -- and any method, I think, is superior to any list of dos and don'ts.

Hopefully, many current WWJD adherents will either consciously or unconsciously see the advantages of a moral method over a list of dos and don'ts. And hopefully very few of them will abandon morality when they lose their faith, seeing as how their morality was so intricately tied to their faith via the religious dogma. I've watched more than a few people credit Jesus with rescuing them from drug addition. They couldn't for the life of them describe to you how they did it -- it was just, "Jesus is keeping me clean." When that fragile eggshell of faith started to crack, they were back on drugs like nothing had happened in the interim. This is why I am very critical of the Twelve Step movement, and why I support programs such as Rational Recovery and SMART, which at least have realistic techniques and methods.

Back to why saying that God said so is an inferior way to make or keep people moral, you must first establish the existence of your deity, and then you must establish the accuracy of your interpretation of the deity's pronouncements, before we have any business considering you authoritative when it comes to moral pronouncements -- unless, of course, your authority is derived from the fact that you happen to have the biggest guns, which is still not morality in any sense of the term, but at least you will have authority over others.

This is why Christians throughout the history of the Church have sought to inflict their religion upon the rest of us by force of law: they cannot make a convincing argument for their moral code based in human reason, so they argue with The Sword of the Lord. Violence and deceitfulness are the only two ways in which the Christian Church has ever gained influence over large groups of people. Ditto for Islam, and ditto for ancient Judaism: the "takeover" method of evangelism is built in to the very core of each religion, because each religion is monotheistic. You don't find the Oriental Despot mentality in polytheistic or naturalistic religions.

Finally, the philosophical angle: When morality is reduced to "obedience to a deity" then morality stops being true morality, and we reach a state where only marionettes are considered "moral."

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

From: "Troy Dyck"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: I thought of something - Re: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Monday, March 26, 2001 1:17 AM
 

Your hypothesis falls apart in that you show absolutely no statistics. Your premise is pure speculation.

Its no different than you saying that murder is wrong. You say it is obvious. Well it is just as obvious that homosexuality is wrong.

And how come you replied to this email but not the one before it? Have you not gotten to it yet, or is it just because you have nothing smart to say after I proved that you know nothing about the bible and therefore have no validity in arguing against it?

Troy Dyck

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Troy Dyck"
Subject: Re: I thought of something - Re: Response to: Positive Atheism?
Date: Monday, March 26, 2001 4:52 AM
 

Your hypothesis falls apart in that you show absolutely no statistics. Your premise is pure speculation.

Its no different than you saying that murder is wrong. You say it is obvious. Well it is just as obvious that homosexuality is wrong.

You are the one using the word wrong -- I am pointing out that no human society or culture will tolerate it, and that all will punish it. There is a big difference, because you carry to a conclusion much further than I dare with what little information I have to go on. You claim to know information that I cannot begin to verify, so I cannot know what you "know."
 

And how come you replied to this email but not the one before it? Have you not gotten to it yet, or is it just because you have nothing smart to say after I proved that you know nothing about the bible and therefore have no validity in arguing against it?

Quit flattering yourself. It's still in the Drafts folder. You didn't listen to me when I told you that I really don't have time right now to unravel these complex arguments that you tend to weave in order to force your observations to fit your preconceptions. Waiting for a convincing argument to come my way before I assent to an idea is more my speed, being a much simpler existence.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

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