Have you no decency, sir?

I know it’s from 2001 and thus putatively old news but, sadly, this thread from Free Republic could have been spun yesterday – and it made my jaw drop open. It says so much about what’s wrong with both the left and right wings of American politics in this century.

So, the bare bones of the story: a 15-year-old-boy is dying of cancer in Australia and his last wish before he passes on is to have sex. Friends (including, it is implied, the psychologist who reported an anonymized version of the incident) arrange a date with a prostitute. Upon hearing of this, various medical ethicists, clerics, and other viewers-with-concern flew into a tizzy.

I have to add this: According to one psychologist, “In a child dying over a long period of time, there is often a condition we call ‘skin hunger,’” The terminally ill child yearns for non-clinical contact because “mostly when people touch them, it’s to do something unpleasant, something that might hurt.”

The first item of idiocy came at me within the story, from an unnamed ethicist obviously deep in left-feminist-moonbat land who objected to the proceedings as “degrading to women”. Um, excuse me? If that hooker has anything even remotely like the emotional wiring of a normal human female, after that gig she’s going to feel better about her line of work – less “degraded” – for the entire rest of her life. In fact, the first woman I shared the story with immediately said she’d have volunteered to de-virginate the kid herself, and I’d bet long odds the professional waived her fee.

“Degrading to women.” As applied here this is duckspeak, pure and simple – a catchphrase intended not to express or provoke thought but to shut it down. If anything, this particular shibboleth of the left has become worse overused and more emptied of meaning in the thirteen years since.

But as appallingly stupid and insensitive as that was, it pales into insignificance besides what the social-conservative right-wingers got up to in the thread comments.

Representative line: “This is the sort of soul-less, animalistic response to impending death that might be expected from a human child raised by beasts.” What kind of miserable, pathetic excuse for a human being – what kind of utter want of empathy – does it take to not grok that in the kid’s inexperienced adolescent brain his bottled-up sexual urges got all tangled up with his skin hunger and that this was completely reasonable?

Another prize: “Fornication is a serious violation of the 6th Commandment, particularly if it occurs with a prostitute. One scriptural reference can be found at 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.” If I needed any reason to despise Christians those two sentences would ring the bell. Your Jesus tells you to act from compassion and kindness, yet you dare condemn in this legalistic stick-up-the-ass fashion? I’m betting more genuine love passed between the hooker and the kid in whatever short time they spent together than the waste of oxygen who wrote those lines will ever feel.

All this does a pretty good job of highlighting why, as much as I loathe left-wingers, I will never, ever self-identify as a conservative.

342 thoughts on “Have you no decency, sir?

  1. >For these particular case I support the argument given by Leonard Peikoff

    I think in this case one of his premises is probably mistaken – that is, that the prostitute has no feelings about the client.

    I’d go so far as to say that the most important experience this hooker gave the kid probably wasn’t the orgasm itself but her natural human compassion for a dying child, her willingness to touch him and comfort him and give him what he had wished for.

  2. The Hooker won’t require to know that information as long the dying person don’t disclose to her she will never know the man is dying or not. As liberty advocates we can agree ,that this particular transaction should keep in private, and the society or the government must not intervene prohibiting, or with regulating it.

  3. @Rodrigo
    “The Hooker won’t require to know that information as long the dying person don’t disclose to her she will never know the man is dying or not.”

    I assume the woman could do a better job if she knew the motivation and background of her client.

    Like a woman going to a hair dresser a last time before she gets chemo therapy. The hair dresser would be helped if she knew what the client expects (although I can understand the emotional weight might hamper the work)

  4. I’d go so far as to say that the most important experience this hooker gave the kid probably wasn’t the orgasm itself but her natural human compassion for a dying child, her willingness to touch him and comfort him and give him what he had wished for.

    Nah. Dude wanted a BJ and a bit of the ole’ in and out. This is what every boy wants, either immediately (if not sooner) or at some point in the not horribly distant future. This kid knew that in the not too horribly distant future his only chance for sex involved a shovel and some really awful people, usually Germans for some reason.

    He had a lot of experience with human compassion because about half the people around him felt sorry as hell for him. The other half would have felt sorry as hell, but by the time you’ve watched five or a hundred kids die you learn to sorta put a cap on the compassion, otherwise you’re drinking yourself to sleep at night.

    I worked in a hospital as a volunteer when I was a kid. On the pediatrics ward. F*k Mate, that was some troubling shit. Then later in the kitchen and (later still) in the ER as a clerk.

    I also had occasion to interact with one of most skill surgeons in the hospital (according to other people who new him). He was basically your surgeon of last resort.

    He had this awesome painting on the wall. He told me it had been painted by one of his patients.

    “He’s dead now” (32 years ago he said that. I can still remember the room, and the painting.

    Had one of the worst mortality records of sawbones in the city, but when every other doc had turn your case down as inoperable and basically said “You’re gonna die”, he’d say “Well, yeah, that’s tough. I’ll giver a go, but you’ve only got about a %x chance, where x was REALLY small.

    So yeah, that kid was surrounded by various kinds of human compassion. What he wasn’t surrounded by was women of negotiable affection.

    Also please don’t confuse fundamental christianity with conservatism. There might be a lot of overlap in the venn diagram, but for more than a few of us God isn’t part of it.

  5. Eric
    “All this does a pretty good job of highlighting why, as much as I loathe left-wingers, I will never, ever self-identify as a conservative.”

    To me, this episode illustrates again that insensitive bastards feel at home in every ideology.

  6. @Winter in that case, these guy is so Public now that probably get a good Samaritan that give him sex for free. You both are putting so good feelings and emotions that a thirdparty soul

    The next important question is are the feminist and communist right when they said they want to prohibit prostitution?

    And them we must question our self about if we can distinguish prostitution of individuals using their liberty and prostitution of individuals being slave and forced by criminals.

  7. Duuh…Boolean logic sucks???

    Only one ball at a time???

    Duuuh!……

    [Smiley]

    [Sadey]

  8. >Nah. Dude wanted a BJ and a bit of the ole’ in and out.

    Not denying that – I’m just saying it was very likely not the most important of his needs, whether or not he understood this. You say “about half the people around him felt sorry as hell for him” and I’m sure you’re right. But if that were enough, why would “skin hunger” be a thing?

    I know hospitals. I’ve spent a lot of time in them for various reasons; my own health has been pretty good but I have friends who’ve been through medical hell. People care but the system is designed to treat humans as cases to be processed. It is way, way too easy for me to imagine the kid starving for touch because the compassion around him is subsumed into a routine in which the touch comes with needles, pills, baths, and procedures in which he is a depersonalized therapeutic target.

    I’d never heard the term “skin hunger” before, but I get it. I’ve seen it.

  9. @esr
    “People care but the system is designed to treat humans as cases to be processed.”

    It has to. The people working in hospitals could not survive if they would not keep an emotional distance.

  10. @Winter
    > To me, this episode illustrates again that insensitive bastards feel at home in every ideology.

    Actually, what it illustrates is that people cherish their belief system more than another person. Once again it is to do with a proximity of caring. A person’s belief system allows them to enter into certain social relationships with people physically close to them, a church for example, or the denizens of a particular social community. This provides far more benefit to them than compassion to some abstract individual, despite his suffering.

    I think that in for many of those ideologues, were the child their child they would have a rather different view of the matter.

    This particular case is interesting because it mixes up so many different and conflicting things. Gender, sex, prostitution, liberty, the rights of children, the obligation of parents. Clearly in this case the hooker did a good and compassionate thing. I think there are a lot of people who would agree, even it that agreement caused them a little discomfort.

    However, were the 15 year old boy a 10 year old girl, or was his or her death less imminent, I think the number of people agreeing with the religious zealots would increase very substantially.

  11. Yeah, as a Christian I can say while the scriptures can be very strict and uncompromising with with regards to its claims (sin, after all, isn’t just the big stuff but *any* imperfection), the kind of people with whom Jesus was most harsh with were the self-righteous moralizers. He was said to be a friend of those people typically reviled in his society (tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, etc.).

    I would like to say, based off of my experience (biased, I know), that for every internet crusader there are a dozen people who wouldn’t be nearly so ridiculous. That isn’t to say that the rest of these people wouldn’t disagree with the decision of these caretakers, or that they woudn’t feel some sadness or even a little disgust at what happened (disgust, after all, is not a rational faculty), just that they would empathize with the situation and wouldn’t be in a hurry to pass judgement.

    As for those on the left, I can’t speak with as much authority on the character on the average leftist, but from what I experienced of them in college and what I experience at work I would surmize that the they are fairly reasonable as well. What you saw might just be an instance of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/greater-internet-fuckwad-theory) than anything else.

  12. I think the Age is a very very interesting variable in these case, more than compassion of the hooker

  13. is related to the question , What is a good age for a woman or man to get married?

  14. Anyway to me the whole article looks like an academic story in order to bring up those topics because to me the article story line doesn’t have any sense

    ” Because of his many years spent in the hospital, he had no girlfriend or female friends.
    Jack died last week, but not before having his last wish granted. Without the knowledge of his parents or hospital staff, friends arranged an encounter with a prostitute outside of hospital premises. All precautions were taken, and the organizers made sure the act was fully consensual.”

    Are you telling me you would be able to track the hooker?

  15. @Rodrigo
    “Are you telling me you would be able to track the hooker?”

    There could be grave legal risks for the woman involved: Paid sex with a minor.

    Also, other people involved might face prosecution if this falls apart and LE loses their mental sanity.

  16. >The people working in hospitals could not survive if they would not keep an emotional distance.

    Agreed. This is why “skin hunger” happens, and William’s belief that the kid just needed sexual release is almost certainly mistaken.

  17. Eric, you should know better than this. You know me. You know that I consider myself a conservative. And you know exactly how religious I am (for the rest of you: not at all).

    Not all conservatives are the kind of social conservative that you rightly rail against here.

    Personally, I think it’s time for the conservatives of the US, if we want to once again make meaningful policy for the country, to tell the Christian fundamentalists among us that they don’t get to tell the rest of us how to lead our lives. I find that as repugnant as leftists doing the same thing.

  18. >Not all conservatives are the kind of social conservative that you rightly rail against here.

    No, but I consider conservatism – as a movement, as a social rather than theoretical phenomenon – fatally compromised by its tolerance of these people in its ranks. Because I want no part of them, I want no part of it.

  19. That tolerance is because Ronald Reagan realized, rightly, that those people were needed to enable conservatives to take power and do more than just theorize. This is the famous three-legged stool: social conservatives, economic conservatives, and national security conservatives. (I count myself as the latter two.)

    If you don’t get elected, no matter how grand and good your designs for governing may be, you don’t get to actually put any of them into practice, and so you lose.

    This is the problem libertarians have: as desirable as their proposed policies may be, they’re just intellectual ranting if they don’t get elected. Worse, by being simon-pure on doctrine and refusing to support people who mostly but not entirely agree with them, they ensure the election of those who oppose them and everything they stand for. This is not an improvement.

    Now, I understand this may seem inconsistent with my statement above that it’s time to tell social conservatives to GTFO. The difference is that this isn’t 1979. The social conservatives of today are hurting the cause more than they’re helping, with people like you.

    Surely there are people who you are ashamed to have as libertarians? Or do you believe that no true libertarian disagrees with you in a way that makes you ashamed of them?

  20. @Jay Maynard
    “This is the famous three-legged stool: social conservatives, economic conservatives, and national security conservatives. (I count myself as the latter two.)”

    So, to increase “freedom”, you help the Taliban in power. Not a choice that would let me sleep sound at night.

  21. If the choice is between the Taliban and economic freedom, and the Communists, I’ll take the Taliban and economic freedom. The Taliban can be reined in.

  22. @Jay Maynard
    “Communists”

    There are no communists in politics in the USA. You have been duped to make the wrong choices.

    @Jay Maynard
    “The Taliban can be reined in.”

    That faulty conviction has already caused many people to die.

  23. Jay Maynard: Note that Eric said he would not be counted “conservative” himself, not that he wouldn’t make common cause with them.

  24. There are hard-left politicians running the US right now. No, I know they’re not hard-left by your definition, but we’re talking about American politics here, and Barack Obama is the most leftist president ever. I’d have happily taken Rick Santorum over him. After all, even though Santorum is emblematic of the kind of fundamentalist Christian social conservative Eric is unhappy about (and I disagree profoundly with on social issues), he still would have left us far more free economically, and ensured a far stronger national defense, than Obama has.

    Fundamentally, we have to realize that we’re never, ever going to get someone elected who agrees with us 100 per cent on every issue. We have to take the best choice we can get among those who agree with us on some things and not others. Refusing to support a social conservative over a hard-left loony is the worst kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face, because that knife gets my nose, too.

  25. As a Christian I would be more concerned with the state of his soul than throwing the decalogue card. Plus, the reference to fornication would only make sense if he was already a Christian.

  26. @Jay Maynard
    “Refusing to support a social conservative over a hard-left loony is the worst kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face, because that knife gets my nose, too.”

    Really, you have obviously never met a real “hard-left loony”. From everywhere in the world, the differences between the US presidents are minor shades of grey. The influence of the POTUS on the direction of the Nation is minimal.

    It is all just rhetoric. You are fighting chimeras. But it is sufficient for “divide and conquer”.

  27. Thinking about this more while in the shower… (Yes, dangerous, I know.)

    Winter: “You have been duped to make the wrong choices.” By equating the Christian fundamentalist right with the Taliban, you show you have, too. The Christian right does not do clitoridectomies of blow up schools that teach girls. If you’re going to object to my calling the American Left Communist, I’m going to object to this.

  28. @Justin Andrusk
    “As a Christian I would be more concerned with the state of his soul than throwing the decalogue card.”

    Isn’t the state of the soul determined by your personal choices? Not by the way your environment prevents you from executing them?

  29. @Jay Maynard
    “The Christian right does not do clitoridectomies of blow up schools that teach girls.”

    In Africa, the US Christian Conservatives are fighting to get homosexuals executed. The “Rape” debates during the last elections show you how these people think about the freedom of women.

    And much of the early history of the Christian Church parallels the history of the Taliban (nicely portrayed in the movie Agora). Too many parallels for comfort.

  30. @Jay Maynard
    “The Christian right does not do clitoridectomies of blow up schools that teach girls.”

    Btw, the Taliban don’t do clitoridectomies AFAIK

  31. >There are no communists in politics in the USA. You have been duped to make the wrong choices.

    Please, you were almost making sense there for a while. Of *course* there are communists (and Communists) in politics in the US. But usually the openly Communist ones are on the fringes, in certain ‘specialty’ jurisdictions, as it’s hard for them to get mainstream support. But…

    What might be considered our most important city just elected an openly Marxist mayor. Not that that is anything really *new*, the machine politics that control that place regularly produce candidates with similar backgrounds and inclinations. The only thing different about this fellow is that the taboo is wearing off a bit and he’s more out in the open.

  32. I interpret it differently – the teenager (15 is no child) wanted a sense of normalcy, normal life. Basically if you have kids then you die, that is normal. If you have sex, no kids, then you die, that is less normal, but at least something. So once one had sex one is basically an adult, so the death feels less premature. He wanted to die like someone who had an adult life, albeit short.

  33. Even so, Winter, you’re comparing the Taliban with Christians of two millennia ago and saying that modern Christian fundamentalists are the same way. If you can do that, then I can say “you didn’t build that” and “we haven’t enacted major redistributive change” and “at some point, you’ve made enough money” with “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”.

  34. The rape comments betray a lack of education, not a basic belief that women are nothing more than sex toys for men. And I defy you to cite me even one currently living and active US Christian who publicly supports the idea that gay men should be executed. (Not even Fred Phelps went that far, and he’s not representative of the American Christian right.) That’s something the Africans did all by themselves, and even American fundamentalists condemn it (they’re all of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality).

  35. >Or do you believe that no true libertarian disagrees with you in a way that makes you ashamed of them?

    I have yet to encounter such a creature. That is, if we take “true libertarian” to be defined by the Non-Aggression Principle. There are people who self-identify with the word “libertarian” that I want nothing to do with – Noam Chomsky is one of them.

  36. @Jay Maynard
    “And I defy you to cite me even one currently living and active US Christian who publicly supports the idea that gay men should be executed. ”

    Uganda’s American Religous Anti-Gay Lobby
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/20/1264289/-Uganda-s-American-Religous-Anti-Gay-Lobby

    I would think Lou Engle and Scott Lively associate very closely to the Ugandan bill that demands the death penalty for some acts of homosexuality.

    Does God Love Uganda?:
    Homosexuality, HIV/AIDS and Evangelical Influence in Uganda
    http://www.scattergood.org/sites/default/files/BT%20The%20Evangelical%20Influence%20on%20Ugandan%20LGBT%20Policies.pdf
    (PDF)

  37. @Jay Maynard
    “The rape comments betray a lack of education, not a basic belief that women are nothing more than sex toys for men.”

    These were incumbents running for congress. And this was not about men’s wishes, but about the reproductive and sexual freedom of women.

  38. Sorry, but I refuse to accept that the abortion issue is only and exclusively about women’s reproductive freedom. If it were, it would not be as contentious as it is.

    And in every case the Left loves to bash conservatives about, it was someone seeking an office they did not hold, so no, it was not incumbents.

    The Daily Kos is not a reliable source about anything having to do with American conservatism, of any stripe. Try again, from primary sources, saying that gay men should be executed.

  39. @Jay Maynard
    “Even so, Winter, you’re comparing the Taliban with Christians of two millennia ago and saying that modern Christian fundamentalists are the same way.”

    I am not so sure a vocal segment of the current crop is that much different.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Camp

  40. @Jay Maynard
    “The Daily Kos is not a reliable source about anything having to do with American conservatism, of any stripe.”

    There are quite a number of links (way more than the blog filter will accept). There have been several documentaries about the influence of the evangelicals in Africa. The quotes given in the second link have references. You do not get away with just demanding more and more evidence.

    @Jay Maynard
    “Try again, from primary sources, saying that gay men should be executed.”

    You must be joking. But for a start, you can follow the links at the bottom of the PDF in the second link.

  41. @Greg
    “What might be considered our most important city just elected an openly Marxist mayor.”

    You are right, I had forgotten that. So you really do have a Communist. And, has he already tried to emulate Stalin?

  42. As someone who strongly considers themselves “left-wing” (though I recognise that the term, and the whole left-right dichotomy is very problematic*), I’ve no problems with a terminally ill (or otherwise) 15 year old having sex. Paid (though, I object to work generally *cough*) or otherwise. So long as everything is consensual. Umm. Gee. Consent. It’s not really a difficult concept (for most people).

    As someone who also identifies as a strong feminist, I also can’t see an issue here, again, so long as there is informed consent. Really, It’s not a complex issue. (OK, it is complex, with fucked-up rules around sex and “children” and paying for sex, etc. But ethically there is bugger all complexity.)

    * Footnote:
    I really wish the whole left-wing dichotomy would just go away. Especially when you have people from the USA talking about Obama as a left-winger, when in reality he is a right-winger… Because US politics are that fucked up that there is no serious left-wing party. Instead two shades of the same evil on the authoritarian right (see e.g. http://politicalcompass.org/uselection2012 for comparison).
    A two dimensional spectrum with individual/personal freedoms along one axis (social conservatives vs “everyone is free to do drugs, and sex on the street, because no victims” people) and economics (of some sort or another) would be far more useful. But still fundamentally problematic. But any sort of scale that places authoritarian “communists” and anti-sex “feminists” near me is problematic.

  43. One not so small point. He wanted to keep it secret from his parents. I don’t think they abandoned or neglected him.
    His “friends” helped him betray his parents.
    15 is borderline even when healthy and thinking clearly. If he wanted emancipation, fine. But he wanted his parents to keep thinking he was a virgin? They who raised and cared for him those 15 years and suffered with him through his disease? Changed his diapers? Fed and clothed him? He didn’t even owe them the truth?
    Is he an adult or still their child?

  44. >You are right, I had forgotten that. So you really do have a Communist. And, has he already tried to emulate Stalin?

    You can do better. What is with the perpetual ‘if it hasn’t happened yet it can’t possibly happen’ fallacious thinking every time someone mentions a possible negative side effect of a leftist policy, or a leftist in power, etc? (We won’t even talk about the memory hole effect when it *does* happen.) Coupled with the ‘if it hasn’t happened yet, we obviously need to try harder and get more funding/power’ fallacious thinking every time someone mentions a supposed positive effect of a leftist policy, or a leftist in power, etc?

    It’s almost like it’s a big scam.

    He’s already started throwing his weight around and it isn’t working out entirely well for him.

  45. @tz
    “Is he an adult or still their child?”

    With a person who sees death in the eyes while in the possession of his full reason, I would err on the side of adult.

  46. @tz. Most 15 year olds are perfectly capable of making a decision like that without consulting or informing their parents. No need to make a big deal out of it. Heck, what 15 year old no longer virgin does tell their parents (that they are no longer a virgin)?

  47. Yet another libertarian reason to accept (not necessarily encouraging) prostitution as part of human cultural mores. Mind you, it seems sad that there was no one in their inner circle to find that could have done the deed. The prostitute was carrying out “palliative care”. As for the idea that “Dude wanted a BJ and a bit of the ole’ in and out. This is what every boy wants”. Very few people facing imminent death treat ANY life experience in such a cavalier manner. Without knowing the boy, it is impossible know his deepest motives, yearnings and desires. What is certain is that a 15 year old virgin boy that knows he is going to die and has spent years trying to survive has faced his future and has accepted the fate and asked his “friends” to organize for him to lose his virginity. Except for the most jaded or brutalized prostitutes, the woman that serviced the boy would have does so in a way that would have made it more sex and less prostitution – that’s for sure. And I am sure that there would have been a great many tears and emotions shared between his friends and Jack after the event. Only the religiously impaired cannot see the beauty in John Singer Sargent’s Madame X or fail to laugh out loud at Cattelan’s sculpture La Nona Ora. There are reasons why we have sacred cows. Not all of the reasons are “good”.

  48. Even prostitutes have emotions about sex. I’d be astonished if this one didn’t feel she was doing a good deed and let herself enjoy it, to heighten his pleasure.

    Winter, I’ll grant for the sake of argument that there are some US evangelists that advocate executing gay men, since I don’t have time to wade through the crapfest that is The Daily Kos. That still does not rise to the level of equating all US Christian fundamentalist conservatives with the Taliban. There are plenty of US Christian fundamentalist conservatives who react to that with horror and sorrow.

    And as long as you do so, I’ll continue to equate European socialists with Stalinist Communists.

  49. >>Or do you believe that no true libertarian disagrees with you in a way that makes >you ashamed of them?
    >
    >I have yet to encounter such a creature.

    Have you changed your mind since you criticized, in the AIM, the isolationism of certain libertarians (such as those at the Mises Institute)? I find that isolationism especially repugnant when it concerns American involvement in World War II. They dogmatically oppose war, even if it’s needed to save civilization. That leads me to question the sincerity of their advocacy of liberty. (And don’t get me started on their stance on the [American] Civil War.)

  50. Isolationism is the main reason I am not a libertarian. To quote Trotsky, “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” The kind of mealy-mouthed excuse making that Ron Paul engages in (if we weren’t such meanies, the Muslim world wouldn’t hate our guts) turns my stomach. Whether we want to or not, we are part of the wider world, and we have no choice but to protect and defend our own interests – at home and abroad.

  51. Jay Maynard,

    Despite his purple-prose political promises, and his voting record while a senator, as president Obama is in many ways a right winger, barely distinguishable from his predecessor and sometimes a good deal worse. My personal belief is that Obama is interested in acquiring and wielding power above all else, and that everything up to his 2008 election to the Presidency was playing the role he’d have to play to get elected. It’s almost as if he felt he were destined to become the first black President, the entire Democratic party were complicit in this belief, and once he became President he didn’t quite know what to do with the responsibilities he was given.

    As for the “national-security conservatives”, those are the ones who are advocating — and implementing — universal surveillance. It would give a national-security conservative a big old boner to know exactly where you go, what you do, with whom you speak and about what at every hour of every day. Scratch a national-security conservative and you’ll find someone who gets off on being a warden in the Stanford Prison Experiment. Sometimes you don’t have to scratch too deep, e.g., Lynndie England.

  52. I think the clerics are being rather shortchanged here. The cleric role is actually a dual role, one of rules keeper and pastor to individual souls. Which role trumps which is not clear from the outside. In christianity this is a religious mystery.

    What you all seem to have not noticed is that the kid didn’t ask the clerics, the medical staff did. In that case, generally the rule keeper comes to the fore because it is not in the interest of the souls of the medical staff to regularly become procurers. In the general case, encouraging prostitution is not something that you can do as a christian minister. It is, flat out, against the rules.

    Had the kid gone to one of the hospital’s padres he might have gotten the same response or a different one. It really does depend, at heart, on the religious mystery that is a priestly vocation, the very specific conditions of the case, and the true needs of the individual in question. These pastoral calls are so tailored to the individual case that they make for very strange reading when you find them gathered together in a book and not at all what you would expect.

    The Catholic Church, of which I am a member, is an absolute monarchy interspersed with semi-regular bouts of flat out rebellion. The rebellion is as much a part of the system as the monarchy. Read the story of St. Nicholas (yea, Santa Claus) slapping Arius for a famous historical example.

  53. >> Isolationism is the main reason I am not a libertarian
    (at these point I refuse to be called libertarian, or classical liberal )

    But to be fair Ron Paul have made clear that the solution to those conflicts between countries or states is to conquer countries through free commerce , free markets and make those commercial interest so hard that violence in a big scale will not make sense.

    In the other hand organized run by government army is not an insurance for protecting the people most of the armies in latinamerica has being used to repression their own people .

    The are some very visible cases that show up that militia and no regular armies have being successful against professional armies I can quote three cases:

    - USA against Great Britain (independence)
    - Vietnam against USA
    - Cuban revolution against Batista

    And well the Iraq army disappear very fast in front of USA, but it was very effective when it was used against their own people, previous the USA intervention.

    So organize armies run by government is not a warranty to maintain the people interest per se

  54. Context can be enlightening.

    Memetic traits (such as religion) exist because they work, not because of some abstract righteousness associated with a deity. They work in the sense that they propagate knowledge across generations and induce behaviors that enhance long term reproductive success and survival robustness. Similarly, the existence of religious zealots (such as the described in the OP) are a feature of this trait, and likely perform an essential function (in an evolutionary context).

    Nevertheless, as an individual, I would do everything in my power to help the kid get laid before he dies and not feel the least bit concerned that sky will fall as a result.

  55. >Have you changed your mind since you criticized, in the AIM, the isolationism of certain libertarians

    There’s a difference in degree between thinking they’re wrong and being so ashamed of them that I think they discredit the entire movement.

  56. Jeff, I am a national security conservative, and nothing you wrote in your paragraph excoriating such applies to me. Not one single word, including “and” and “the”.

    And as for Obama being a Bush clone, only a full-goose loony left-wing moonbat would claim such. As one counterexample, Bush would never have even dreamed of ramming Obamacare down our throats. And no, Obamacare is not a Republican-designed program, no matter how much leftist revisionists wish it was.

  57. My personal belief is that Obama is interested in acquiring and wielding power above all else, and that everything up to his 2008 election to the Presidency was playing the role he’d have to play to get elected. It’s almost as if he felt he were destined to become the first black President, the entire Democratic party were complicit in this belief, and once he became President he didn’t quite know what to do with the responsibilities he was given.

    I have no idea the hate for Obama. It’s not even like he’s been our lamest Democratic president in relatively recent history. That’s still probably Carter. Obama is far to the right of Carter and has been a somewhat successful wartime president.

  58. > All this does a pretty good job of highlighting why, as much as I loathe left-wingers, I will never, ever self-identify as a conservative.

    For myself, I’m a “small-c conservative,” but I caucus with the Liberals.

    To unpack things a bit further, as a “small-c conservative” I’m not a right-winger. I’m a person who wants to see things studied as carefully and scientfically as possible and I want policies that agree with the results of careful and scientific study. Because science works. I also want an absolute minimum of interference with an adult’s consensual choices.

    I caucus with the Liberals for three reasons.

    First, Conservatives in America are repugnant for all the reasons Eric outlined above. The ugliness of hard-right economic thinking combined with the ugliness of Fundamentalist Christianity basically leaves American Conservatives advocating for a disgusting form of feudalism in which low-level workers are seen as “takers” whose very existence steals money from the “makers.” And those damn takers need to be whipped into line by a muscular, faggot-hating church which dictates social policy to the state!

    Second, while the liberals are imperfect in a lot of ways, they do have ideals which relate to treating their fellow human beings decently despite differences in race, religion, etc. At its best, this kindness is a positive, compassionate kindness which allows the ordinary person to extraordinary freedoms. (At it’s worst, this kindness is patronizing and over-protective to an extreme, possibly as defying of liberty as any Facist ideology,* but I think most Liberals understand the problems and limits that kind of patronizing, over-protective thinking. The one’s who don’t… shudder!)

    Third, while Liberal policy-making can suffer from the problems described above, their policies are far more likely to be evidence-based than Conservative policy making. This is not to say Liberal polices are remotely perfect, merely better than anything the Conservatives are coming up with. Liberal policy-making is also more likely to be based in kindness than Conservative policy-making.

    So there it is.

    * I could give a lot of examples of this kind of thinking, but I suspect everyone here understands the issues of nanny-state over-reach, so I won’t belabor the point.

  59. >And as for Obama being a Bush clone, only a full-goose loony left-wing moonbat would claim such

    True enough.

    I’ve lived in Europe, so I know from experience that this line Europeans often take about the U.S. political spectrum being narrow and far right is nonsense – it reveals deep ignorance of either our politics or their own. One cause is that European media delights in depicting the most grotesque behaviors of the U.S.’s far right as typical of our mainstream politics.

  60. The are some very visible cases that show up that militia and no regular armies have being successful against professional armies I can quote three cases:

    - USA against Great Britain (independence)
    - Vietnam against USA
    - Cuban revolution against Batista

    Bullshit.

    The American colonies did not beat Great Britain via militias but with the trained regulars of the Continental Army. There’s a reason that von Steuben is a national hero.

    The VC were largely destroyed as a significant fighting force after Tet and the victory was from NVA regulars. Saigon did not fall to militia wearing black pajamas but NVA regulars supported by armor formations and heavy artillery.

    The last is iffy. The guerrillas did win and the numbers were small enough in the end game that you could still consider them guerrillas at the end but they were essentially a smallish army once they had defeated Operation Verano. Had Cuba been larger it would have looked a lot more like Mao where they started as guerrillas and ended up as regular PLA divisions fighting KMT divisions.

    And well the Iraq army disappear very fast in front of USA, but it was very effective when it was used against their own people, previous the USA intervention.

    Almost any army in the world disappears very fast in front of the USA. The ones that wouldn’t are our allies and even those wouldn’t last long.

  61. >There’s a difference in degree between thinking they’re wromg and being so ashamed of them that I think they discredit the entire movement.

    Point taken. In fact, I now see I may have misundertood your comment. It is not my contention that the movement is discredited by the isolationists in it—I’m just saying that, due to their wimpy attitude towards the enemies of liberty, they shouldn’t even be considered part of the movement.

    >…this line Europeans often take about the U.S. political spectrum being narrow and far right…

    Same thing here (in Argentina, and presumably the rest of Latin America).

  62. nht on 2014-04-30 at 13:28:56 said:
    > I have no idea the hate for Obama.
    * Operation Fast and Furious (yes, there was the previous Operation Wide Reciever).
    * Nationalizing 2 of the “Big Three” automakers and ignoring federal law f*k bond holders in favor of unions (i.e. campaign donators).
    * Completely f*king up the draw down in Iraq
    * The Benghazi coverup–which is still being
    * The IRS scandals. Yes, plural.
    * The Affordable Care Act, and the utter incompetence displayed in the rollout of healthcare.gov (why did a Canadian firm with a huge record of ineptitude get a HUGE no bid contract when domestic companies with records of succeeding were willing to do it for MUCH less?)

    > It’s not even like he’s been our lamest Democratic president in relatively recent history. That’s still probably Carter. Obama is far to the right of Carter and has been a somewhat successful wartime president.

    Both of those statements are not supported by the facts. Yes, Obama has been unable to push through some of the more progressive policy positions, but that’s because the country has moved (in many ways) to the right. In Carter’s time Libertarians weren’t even a joke. About 2/3rds of the Republican Party officials were Progressives, and the Progressives had a virtual lock on the media, other than the National Review and a few daily newspapers–remember that the so-called “fairness doctrine” was law back then. There was no internet, there was no talk radio, cable was still not everywhere and CNN was founded 4 years before Reagan was elected. FoxNews wasn’t even thought of yet.

    As to being a “successful war time leader”, he failed the handoff in Iraq, much to the detriment of the Iraqis, because he couldn’t be bothered to talk to the Iraqi president once a week, and the SOFA was not renewed. In Afghanistan he overrode the requests and requirements of his generals, not giving them the numbers or types of troops they needed. (FYI, I was in Iraq when President Asterisks was sworn in, and when he first visited. I’ve got a good friend who might very well be in the air on his way from Bagram as I type this. I’m also about ready to apply for a job doing field service work in those areas. I follow this stuff closely).

    Yeah, *HE* personally planned and lead the raid that killed Bin Laden (two shots and a splash Bartender), yeah for him.

    From the perspective of a Euro, he probably is “right-wing”, but remember over there the whole libertarian (personal and economic liberty) part of the spectrum can’t be seen by the elites, they only see the CommunistFascist part. So yeah, I can see where to someone who like Winter who thinks that all good things flow from the government, and that one should wipe ones posterior in the government approved manner, and if you don’t then you DESERVE re-education that yeah, by selectively ignoring almost all of Obama’s history (his voting record? Since when is “Present” a conservative/republican position?)

    His handling of the economy is even worse than Carter. Carter told us to put on a sweater, Obama’s administration is trying to outlaw coal fired power plants, restrict drilling on “national lands” (most of the current oil boom is on state and private lands), is refusing to decide one way or the other on the Keystone Pipeline (at least in part because a billionaire plutocrat with massive investments in so-called green energy offered to give 60m to the DNC if Keystone went away). The ACA is preventing job creation, the whole raising of the minimum wage was disingenuously sold (Union contracts are often written based on the minimum wage, either some multiple of it, or some amount over it. Raising the minimum wage is a gift to one of his core constituencies).

    Or I could just be racist.

  63. > That is, if we take “true libertarian” to be defined by the Non-Aggression Principle.

    That’s not much of a definition at all. Have you read this article? http://www.libertarianism.org/blog/six-reasons-libertarians-should-reject-non-aggression-principle

    True, you can do various mental gymnastics to mitigate any or all of these problems, but then you’ve got the problem that you define someone who does mental gymnastics like your own as a “true libertarian”, and someone whose mental gymnastics are different as not being one.

    Even the most ridiculous social justice politics are arguably merely the non-aggression principle layered on top of a different theory of what is aggression from your own. And all “land reform” is, is a different theory of property (differing often only in the details of who owns what) than the currently established one.

  64. Fundamentals of political philosophy and affiliation.

    During times of abundance (and minimal hardship), carrying the deadweight in society is feasible and somewhat gratifying as gesture of compassion and charity. It also keeps the population numbers up and thereby provides resistance against catastrophic events, such as a plague.

    During times of scarcity and extreme hardship (think Ice Age), the weak are likely to perish no matter what level of altruistic angst is voiced by the needy and loud.

    This is the long road of evolution. But a key question is, has technology permanently eliminated scarcity and catastrophic hardship? Or will nature surprise us with something entirely new and unforeseen?

  65. >That’s not much of a definition at all. Have you read this article? http://www.libertarianism.org/blog/six-reasons-libertarians-should-reject-non-aggression-principle

    Thanks for pointing this out; I’ll have to write a detailed response at some point.

    The author’s critique is flawed in a couple of ways. One important one is that the his notion of an “absolute” NAP is a strawman. But the one I’ll focus on here and now is that there is sufficiently broad agreement among libertarians about the edge cases that arguments about the application of the NAP generally turn on questions other than the ones he raises. His questions don’t really bear on practical ethics or politics; they are mainly of interest to libertarian theorists such as David Friedman or (to a lesser extent) myself.

    An example of such an “other” is whether, or at what point, a human fetus becomes a rights-holder. While such arguments divide libertarians, sometimes quite angrily, the sides in them continue to recognize each other as libertarians – that is, as people trying to apply the NAP.

  66. @nht thanks for the reference but either way in the three cases “a previously heavy organize funded army” or intelligence was not necessary in order to achieve later victory and I am not dismissing central planning could play a key roll in the resource utilization in the war context.

    My point is a doubt the fact a country have an army it will ensure people interest and it will encourage a false civil security.

  67. @william

    And I counter with 444 days of nightly news coverage highlighting the impotency of the US, funded the Afghan Mujahideen and gave away the Panama canal. The guy sucked as a President. Too bad he didn’t stay in the Navy.

  68. @ESR I think I ask you previously but not answer , I want to know your opinion regarding Preventive Attacks?

  69. My point is a doubt the fact a country have an army it will ensure people interest and it will encourage a false civil security.

    My point is that the idea that a militia can successfully defend against a semi-compentent army, much less the British army, is fantasy.

    In any case, the American colonies had a standing army for defense prior to the revolutionary war. It was called the British army. Without it we’d be speaking French today.

  70. >@ESR I think I ask you previously but not answer , I want to know your opinion regarding Preventive Attacks?

    That’s not very complicated. Sometimes, the most ethical form of defense (minimizing harm) is a preventive attack. But when this is so turns on contingent facts of each situation; it’s not a question you can solve by appeals to general principle. The best you can do is apply what in law is called a “reasonable-man” test, an estimate of conditional probabilities based on shared priors.

  71. I think is not several militias has resist Offensive successfully and make important advance controlling territory, current cases Colombia Farc , and guerrillas in Indonesia they hold large amount of territory , yeah Forrest mostly but that is the nature of the militia/guerrillas and they stand for more than 40 years. (attach/defend)

  72. “Isn’t the state of the soul determined by your personal choices? Not by the way your environment prevents you from executing them?”

    The distinguishing feature of true Christianity is that the Divine Creator voluntarily became human in order to re-establish relationship with fallen creation. Relationship is central; belief, choices and actions are the fruits of the relationship between the individual and the Divine.

    In contrast, other religions (e.g. Islam) put the emphasis on behavior. You’re a Muslim if you behave like one, regardless of what you might believe. A Hindu’s choices in this life determine how much she will enjoy her reincarnation.

    Of course, not everyone who self-identifies as Christian believes or truly understands the centrality of relationship.

  73. Of course, Parallel, not all Christians will agree with you about the centrality of relationship, either…

  74. >Isn’t the state of the soul determined by your personal choices? Not by the way your environment prevents you from executing them?
    In Christianity the doctrine of Total Depravity (Original Sin) states that all are born into an estate of sin and misery. This condition or state of every ones soul when they are born into the world has to do with this original state being passed from Adam to all of his progeny and is neither dependent upon your choices nor your physical environment. The only way out of this condition is through a saving knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ as He is presented in the Gospels.

    Now as far as this saving faith being a personal choice, totally initiated by the person in question is divided into two camps within Christendom; A) Arminianism – Teaches that this process is totally dependent upon the sinner “choosing” Christ first and then God responds to this choice with additional blessings. B) Calvinism – Teaches that God initiates what we classify as the effectual call in that calls that person to saving faith through both the preaching of the Gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirit being distributed to the sinner that enables them to respond to the Gospel.

    I’m in the “B” camp.

  75. @Justin Andrusk
    > In Christianity the doctrine of Total Depravity… state of every ones soul when they are born into the world has to do with this original state being passed from Adam to all of his progeny

    They do this in some of the most horrible regimes in the world too. For example, if you sin against the State in North Korea not only you but your family will be sent to the work camps, where you will be starved and worked to death. Similarly in Nazi Germany Himmler invented a doctrine called Sippenhaft where families shared the punishment for the crimes of their kinfolk. In the Soviet Union troops were motivated to fight bravely by the knowledge that cowardice would not only get them shot, but the wife and family back home too.

    I think it is a detestable doctrine, don’t you? I have this crazy idea that people should be held accountable for their own actions alone.

    I suppose though a North Korean work camp, while unpleasant, is a lot better than an eternity of death and torture in the burning fires of hell.

  76. Eric, you and some of the other commenters are palming a card here: you refer to the patient as “a dying child” but insist he has a right to get his ashes hauled before dying.

    Trouble is, we draw a bright line between childhood and adulthood, and the name of that line is “sex.”

    So if he’s a “child” then he can’t consent to sex and this whole issue verges on child abuse. On the other hand, if you think he’s responsible enough to have sex, then stop using the emotionally-manipulative term “dying child.”

    Personally, by the way, I think the hospital staff should have hooked the kid up with an escort (or, hell, find a sympathetic candy-striper) and KEPT THEIR DAMNED MOUTHS SHUT ABOUT IT. Turning this whole thing into a public issue and a debate dehumanizes the kid and makes me doubt the motives of the adults involved. If anyone’s really concerned about the kid’s best interests, it’s hard to see how publicity accomplishes that.

  77. @Justin Andrusk
    “A) Arminianism – Teaches that this process is totally dependent upon the sinner “choosing” Christ first and then God responds to this choice with additional blessings. B) Calvinism – Teaches that God initiates what we classify as the effectual call in that calls that person to saving faith through both the preaching of the Gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirit being distributed to the sinner that enables them to respond to the Gospel.”

    I know Calvinism. I understand that it more or less assumes that God will have decided to save you or damn you irrespective of what you do or not do.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination

    Anyhow, under both A and B, my interpretation is that using force to prevent the boy from intercourse will not change whether he sinned or not.

  78. @ Justin Andrusk

    In Christianity the doctrine of Total Depravity (Original Sin) states that all are born into an estate of sin and misery. This condition has to do with this original state being passed from Adam to all of his progeny and is neither dependent upon your choices nor your physical environment. The only way out of this condition is through a saving knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ as He is presented in the Gospels.

    I believe we have been around this track before, but…

    This is one of the more ridiculous and disgusting aspects of Christianity. You have your God that creates Adam and Eve who break one of his rules, which, since he is omniscient, he should know would happen.

    NOW, THEREFORE, we have a system of ethics as supplied by this god, in which, by default, EVERYONE fails – are sinners that deserve to go to hell – no matter what sort of people they are or whether they even have a chance to learn about Jesus.

    Either your doctrine is insane or your god is.

  79. @Brian Marshall
    The whole point of this doctrine is that you are damned unless god has mercy with you. God’s kingdom is the ultimate police state. Humans have no rights, nothing they can count on.

    Indeed, that was the legal position of slaves in the Roman empire.

  80. @ Winter

    Indeed. In one version of this doctrine, some guy was saying that “Mercy” is God not giving you what you deserve; “Grace” is God giving you what you don’t deserve. I find this to be even more disgusting.

  81. @Brian Marshall
    But demands that you call him good. Even thinking otherwise is blasphemy.

  82. Should be
    @Brian Marshall
    But God demands that you call him good. Even thinking otherwise is blasphemy.

  83. @Brian Marshall
    “@ Winter

    Yeah… It is truely amazing”

    I was more thinking of masochism.

  84. Hard cases make bad law. The case of this boy seems tailor-made to justify prostitution.

    Lynching is almost universally condemned. But I’m certain that some lynching victims were heinous criminals who would otherwise have escaped punishment, and committed further crimes; another “tailor-made” justification.

    A rigorous philosophical case against prostitution is probably beyond me; and I’m not going to try to make one in a blog comment. But I will make what I consider a telling point.

    Suppose a prominent open-source developer and project leader, an expert in a particular area, signed with Microsoft for a big salary, in a project intended to corrupt and destroy the key public standard in that area?

    Suppose a talented writer, author of complex, challenging, award-winning SF and fantasy works, wrote a string of sparkly-vampire teen romances for quick cash?

    Suppose a renowned scientist joined the board of directors of a dubious biotech startup in a field he knows nothing about, for a fat director’s fee?

    In each case, would it not be said that the person had prostituted himself (or his talent)?

  85. @Brian Marshall & @Winter
    I don’t follow.
    What meaning is meant to be conveyed in the previous 6 or so posts?

  86. >Either your doctrine is insane or your god is.

    The doctrine is insane. The god would be insane, if he existed as anything but a delusion.

  87. >Eric, you and some of the other commenters are palming a card here: you refer to the patient as “a dying child” but insist he has a right to get his ashes hauled before dying.

    No, I insist on no such right. What I insist is that the objections I cited were stupid and callous.

    There are other grounds on which one might object which I did not address.

  88. The doctrine is insane. The god would be insane, if he existed as anything but a delusion.

    Of course. I was composing a more detailed description of the creation myth and such, but let’s just leave it at that.

  89. @ Lambert

    Actually, I will try to do this in the fewest possible words….

    Creation myth – Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden told by God not to eat the fruit of one tree, which they do – this is Adam’s sin and the sin of all his descendants, which is everyone. If God doesn’t forgive you, you will spend all of eternity being tortured in hell after you die.

  90. @Rich Rostrom:

    Hard cases make bad law. The case of this boy seems tailor-made to justify prostitution.

    This shouldn’t be a hard case, and you shouldn’t have to justify prostitution. If you want to place restrictions on prostitution, you should have to justify those.

    But I will make what I consider a telling point.

    I can paraphrase the entire rest of your post with “Sometimes people do things that are perfectly legal that we inaccurately call prostitution.”

    So where is this point you promised?

  91. Two points:

    1. The in the original FR comment thread, there was a good deal of ambivalence about the story. In fact it seemed to me that the people commending the whole thing for religious reasons were in the minority. It was not all one-sided even there among the supposed troglodyte conservatives.

    2. You folks going back and forth on how horrible the doctrine of original sin is: have you considered it in terms of it being a post-facto just-so explanation of everyday observation of how people actually behave? And our own self-observation? Have you ever been in a situation where you are sincerely trying to behave in a selfless fashion over a period of time? How did it work out? Were you satisfied with your ability to live up to your ideals?

    Just something to consider.

  92. @ Eric E. Coe

    This may be partly a matter of definitions, but I never try to behave in a selfless fashion.

    Being 55, I do have some regrets, but on the whole, I am pretty satisfied with my morality and choices in life.

  93. @Eric E. Coe
    >… doctrine of original sin is: have you considered it in terms of it being a post-facto just-so explanation of everyday observation of how people actually behave?

    That is totally changing the topic. The essence of the problem I outlined was not that people were bad (which is a whole different topic), but that people were to be punished for the actions of another, their forebear Adam. That is deeply offensive, and very much in line with what terrible, terrible people do.

    Of course you understand that this “punish me for someone else’s sins” is absolutely central to Christian doctrine both in the putative need for Jesus, and in the crucifixion itself. After all Jesus was punished, so we are told, for the sins of others. “He was made sin who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” as the Apostle Paul wrote.

    Which is to say both the motivation for a savior, original sin, is deeply unjust, and the putative redemption itself is also deeply unjust. In both cases someone is being punished for the sins of another.

    Like I say, this is not some peripheral doctrine, it is the absolute central, principle doctrine of Christianity, and it is utterly horrible, worthy of the worst tyrants in history.

    > Just something to consider.

    Indeed.

  94. Fluffy Girl: You are pulling me into an argument about a theology that I do not believe in; but that “crime and punishment” interpretive frame you are placing on the concept is not the only one possible or in existence. (And agreed, that frame is pretty horrible – corruption of blood, etc.) But an alternative frame that covers *all* the same points would be one of sin == spiritual disease. Consider by analogy hemophilia; a genetic-based, inherited, debilitating, and before modern medicine and the development of the clotting-factor, usually fatal.

    Being held to account for the crimes of another is unfair, as you say. But being stuck with the human condition we inherited from our ancestors is just too bad.

  95. @Eric E. Coe
    > Being held to account for the crimes of another is unfair, as you say.
    > But being stuck with the human condition we inherited from our ancestors is just too bad.

    Is it your contention that “depravity” is a disease? Now you are just being silly.

  96. “The essence of the problem I outlined was not that people were bad (which is a whole different topic), but that people were to be punished for the actions of another, their forebear Adam. That is deeply offensive, and very much in line with what terrible, terrible people do.”

    Is a child with fetal alcohol syndrome being punished for her mother’s actions? No–the fetal alcohol syndrome is a natural result of the choices the mother makes.

    The central principle of Christianity is not that God chooses to *punish* people for their actions; He instead chooses to *rescue* people from the natural consequences of their actions.

    You might ask why a God would create a universe where the natural results of some choices are hurtful for people that don’t make those choices. Again the centrality of relationship gives the answer: without freedom to choose there is can be no real meaningful relationship between Creator and created. A universe that includes freedom to choose (“free will”) must (as an emergent property) also entail consequences of those choices–even consequences affecting those beyond the decision maker..

    The good news (“gospel”) is that the Creator so deeply desires relationship with the created that He is willing to do whatever it takes to rescue his created from the consequences of their choices–even if doing so violates the emergent properties of the created universe.

    As a Christian Arminianist I believe the focus on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the dying, hurting kid’s one-time choice to experience sex is almost irrelevant to his salvation. Far more important is his relationship and trust in Christ, and his willingness to accept Atonement through freely given Grace.

  97. I said “spiritual disease”. If you accept the premises/world-view of Christianity (actually, many religions) which contain the concepts of spirituality and the spirit world … (again, which I don’t, because I have no proof) then there is nothing silly at all with the idea of a diseased spirit And that the disease is a heritable condition. It has a fair amount of explanatory power.

    Consider it an exercise in SF world building. If there is a spirit world, a parallel universe of essences, thought and emotion, what would that imply, how could that possibly work? It’s interesting to think about, in an abstract way. Anyway, a disease in thought and emotion directly implies depravity and it can be influenced by our lives and actions in the real world to get worse or better.

    Of course the alternative materialist explanation of the same issues must be couched in terms of evo-psych, primate games, etc. Or possibly the soft and flabby therapy-speak so popular nowadays. And maybe that is explanation enough.

    It’s just that religious language seems (to me) to get at and speak of certain aspects of the human psyche better than some other approaches. Even if the map is, strictly speaking, not true, it seems to have some special utility nonetheless.

  98. “The good news (“gospel”) is that the Creator so deeply desires relationship with the created that He is willing to do whatever it takes to rescue his created from the consequences of their choices–even if doing so violates the emergent properties of the created universe.”

    Most Christians in the world subscribe to the believe that the whether or not God will send the soul of a dying child to hell depends only on whether it’s parents had someone throw water over its head.

  99. @Eric E. Coe
    “Consider it an exercise in SF world building. If there is a spirit world, a parallel universe of essences, thought and emotion, what would that imply, how could that possibly work?”

    The most economic explanation of monotheistic doctrines is that God is growing souls to use in the afterlife. Those he can use productively are “employed” in heaven, those he cannot use are going into the furnace. The selection standards will look arbitrary to us, obviously.

    There is no immediate reason to believe that being “useful” in heaven is anymore pleasant for us than for cattle to be useful in the hamburger industry.

    There are some other religions which state that sub-standard souls are recycled.

  100. >This is one of the more ridiculous and disgusting aspects of Christianity.

    @Brian, @ESR, @everybody

    The problem is Calvin. Actually in the Medieval / Catholic dogma it wasn’t too bad. It was one of the many cases of someone noticing an actually existing natural problem and not having a natural explanation, invented a supernatural one, which at least did the job of reminding people that the problem exists.

    In the Medieval/Catholic dogma, Original Sin did not mean you are automatically guilty, it just meant you have a certain propensity to sin. It just meant that temptation to sin will be kind of hard to resist, and no matter how much willpower you have you will sometimes fail.

    This is actually a fairly reasonable observation. It just means those bugs of human software that we modern atheists also know very well, like the temptation of addictive behaviors (it is a very much tell-tale sign that pretty much every addictive thing they knew about, from booze to gambling to masturbation, was seen as sinful, it suggests that the idea of sin at least partially meant they understood addiction and compulsive behaviors) and the difficulty of resisting that.

    We just say well you cannot expect a reptile evolving into a primate to turn up all perfect. But given that they believed we have souls made by a perfect god, they had to figure a supernatural reason why it is not perfect.

    In the Middle Ages all this Original Sin stuff meant practically “be on your guard: temptation to break your principles can be very strong”.

    Calvin then fucked it up, of course, with the whole Total Depravity thing.

    Given that every normal human being hates the doctrine of TD, the pendulum of course swung the other direction: after Calvin, many intellectuals denied that there could be anything imperfect about human beings, and thus Leftism was born: we are all born good, just society makes us bad.

    In fact the pendulum swung so much in the other direction, that even today, 2014, I know people who have a problem with accepting that porn addiction / masturbation addiction can be an issue, because they bought so much into the “liberal” dogma that there cannot ever be anything wrong ever with stuff like masturbation. This essentially came from an overreaction to Total Depravity and the pendulum swinging in the other extreme.

  101. @Parallel
    > Is a child with fetal alcohol syndrome being punished for her mother’s actions?

    That is a false analogy. The doctrine is “total depravity”, it is a moral weakness not a physical weakness. A moral weakness for which apparently we are held account.

    And most fundamentally that moral weakness is about one thing and one thing only — disobedience. Adam was kicked out of Eden for violating a fairly arbitrary command. His disobedience is imputed to you and your babies. That is outrageous. It is unjust. It is what bad people do.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the broken spirit concept that someone else is putting forward, and that is all fine and good. But let’s not loose sight of the fundamental thing here. The disobedience of Adam imputed to innocent babies. Why the hell would you want to worship someone that did that? How can you call someone who does that sort of stuff “holy, holy, holy?” Again, it is what bad people do.

    And let’s talk about your atonement idea. It is the same thing in reverse. In your world view the disobedience and sins of you and all others are put on the shoulders on the one man who was supposedly entirely without sin. So the one innocent is punished for the guilty. And somehow, in bizarro world, that is called justice? It is actually exactly the opposite is justice.

    And to call a God who behaves this way “righteous” or “just” is Orwellian word-smithing,:double plus ungood.

  102. Why the hell would you want to worship someone that did that? How can you call someone who does that sort of stuff “holy, holy, holy?” Again, it is what bad people do.

    The Christian response to this is: Who are you to question the Creator of the universe? You are a mere human, with human fallibility whereas God is eternal and omniscient, and He made you, the very earth you stand on, the air you breathe, and even the thoughts you think. Without God, there would be no such thing as justice and righteousness because all things flow forth from Him. Therefore it is impossible to describe God as unjust and unrighteous. To do so implies that God is lacking in essential qualities, which is blasphemous against God’s nature as the Source of all things.

    Please understand, Jessica, you are dealing with people whose psychology is profoundly different from yours. Arguing with them is bound to achieve only one result which is pissing them off, as their psychology is closed and comes with built-in self-defense mechanisms.

    My problem with the whole Messiah bit is how does it square with the possibility of nonhuman intelligent life. If God became Jesus to redeem us, did he also become Kahless to redeem the Klingons? Or is it just one Messiah for everybody, and those with whom we haven’t made first contact are damned? In catechism class when I was a kid, we were actually tasked with an activity that involved describing how we would proselytize to aliens. I would think such aliens would think us bloody racists for insisting they could only be redeemed by a human savior. Hell, we don’t need aliens; this will be a pickle for theologians when we admit cetaceans, certain other great apes and African grey parrots to sophont status.

  103. Religions, the world over, possess a rich diversity of philosophies, doctrines, and ritual practices. The one thing they all have in common is that each believes that their religion is the correct one. This is the vital attribute.

    In the eons before written language, passing useful knowledge from generation to generation was likely fraught with error potential (which is not advantageous for long term evolutionary robustness). Everywhere on the planet, during the last few millennia, tribal groups evolved a memetic system for transferring important knowledge to each succeeding generation. In addition, they also devised ritual mechanisms for ensuring that their young would adopt and actualize these ideas. And it worked! Which is why it is a dominant trait today.

    Quibbling over the specifics of any particular religion may be of some value as mental exercise, but the underlying reality of its evolutionary origin will not change.

  104. >That is a false analogy. The doctrine is “total depravity”, it is a moral weakness not a physical weakness. A moral weakness for which apparently we are held account.

    >And most fundamentally that moral weakness is about one thing and one thing only — disobedience. Adam was kicked out of Eden for violating a fairly arbitrary command. His disobedience is imputed to you and your babies. That is outrageous. It is unjust. It is what bad people do.

    Not a Christian here, but you’re not getting it. Perhaps a better analogy- imagine the ‘disobedience’ you fixate on so much was to drink something radioactive that caused an undesirable mutation, that was then passed on to all descendants.

    Yes Calvin was wrongheaded and generally screwed up everything he touched, up to and including politics (the vengeful dictator of Geneva). There are reasons why he was an inspiration to Rousseau, who is like the Tiamat of bad philosophy.

    But problems with original sin go back to Augustine of Hippo (as far as I know), who may or may not have been a brilliant individual but in his youth he was a very bad person indeed- then he ‘reformed’, and there is nobody as harsh as a convert. Many of his doctrines seem to be shaped by his own personality disorders. The Eastern church rejects much of his doctrine, as well.

  105. Background – mother’s family is Catholic, father’s family is almost Catholic (aka Lutheran, that’s a joke). Not Christian myself, but I have done some light study of history and doctrine and such.

    There’s enough about Christian doctrine that can be considered questionable or odd, that you don’t need to go out of your way to commit error (being overly literal/simpleminded, knocking down strawmen, assigning to all positions held by only a few, etc, etc) to find more.

    And anyone who hasn’t independently come to the conclusion that humanity is deeply flawed, hasn’t been looking.

    @Jeff Read, you may, oddly enough, enjoy Tom Kratman’s ‘Tuloriad’. Or you may not.

  106. In this post, esr defends the act of an adult having sex with a child as, and I quote, `genuine love,’ while simultaneously claiming that Christians who opposed it are the ones who are evil. Much like P.Z. Meyer’s defense of bestiality, this post demonstrates what one could expect in a future where atheists dictated public morality.

    `Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!’

  107. >You have your God that creates Adam and Eve who break one of his rules, which, since he is omniscient, he should know would happen.
    So what? Yes, he did know it would happen, but it sounds like you are thinking if He did know it would happen he should have either:

    1. Not created them in the first place.
    2. Created them, but not given them a rule to obey.
    3. Created them, but to override their wills so they could not disobey.

    This presupposes that you know better than God. Not only that, but if #3 did happen it would have been spiritual rape and they would essentially be autonomous beings enclosed in flesh. If #2, was to be then that would be contrary to God’s nature and would not make a lot of sense. For me #1 is not tenable, because the Bible is very clear that they were not created just to be created, but were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as part of His redemptive plans that would include His covenant people.

    I would like to note that I do not fault you for taking the view you do and I rather expect it as it demonstrates how the doctrine can be observed even by Adam’s progeny to this day. It’s just like the Matrix; those who continue to resist the Gospel of Jesus Christ, freely take the blue pill refusing to see the Matrix for what it is, verus those that have embraced Jesus Christ by symbolically taking the red pill and having their eyes opened and their consciences enlightened by the truth of the Gospel.

  108. @Tomislav:

    You realize that for much of recorded history, a 15 year old was an adult, right?

    Some claim that Rebecca was 3 years old when she married Isaac.

    I don’t know — I wasn’t there.

    But every time I hear someone say “Jesus loves the little children” I think “that’s probbly why they crucified him.”

  109. @Justin Andrusk
    Your reasoning does not explain why
    1) Adam was at fault?
    A person cannot be faulted for failing a requirement he was created to fail

    2) Why people after Adam were punished for his failing, as there was no way they could have done anything about it?

    The common answer to these objections is in a direction of denying this is a personal guilt and not punishment. But then my next question is why Adams mishaps are mentioned in the first place?

  110. @Justin Andrusk
    Btw, Spinoza did a good job showing Calvin’s reasoning about guilt and sin was illogical.

  111. @Greg
    > imagine the ‘disobedience’ you fixate on so much

    I’m not fixated on it at all. Disobedience and sin are practically synonymous in Christian theology, and we are discussing the idea that all are born sinners, and that all are punished for the sins of the father. Changing it around to pretend it is a physical ailment ignores the very nature of the matter — when a kid is born he is destined for hell as a punishment for the disobedience of Adam. To conflate that with “damaged by the consequences of the disobedience of Adam” is not splitting hairs, it is the very essence of the doctrine.

    Sickness and disease are not in any way the fault of the child born with them even if they may be, in some cases, the fault of the adult who birthed them. To blame a child for the moral failings, the disobedience of the parent is worthy of Pol Pot.

    >And anyone who hasn’t independently come to the conclusion that humanity is deeply flawed, hasn’t been looking.

    I have been looking and I don’t agree. I think humans are absolutely amazing creatures. The evolutionary result of mud and muck, they send rockets to the moon, the take photographs of viruses, they write great literature, and create beautiful software.

    Every system that tries to achieve something fails somewhat, and every evolved system has bugs, glitches, gremlins and flaws. But like the very flawed and buggy human eye, I personally stand in awe of what a human being truly is.

    I find the constant Christian self flagellation about how we are all sinners, and how we haven’t lived our lives fully for Jesus, how far we fall short, “that saved a wretch like me”, utterly appalling, and utterly disrespectful of what the amazing humanity in really truly is.

  112. >I have been looking and I don’t agree. I think humans are absolutely amazing creatures. The evolutionary result of mud and muck, they send rockets to the moon, the take photographs of viruses, they write great literature, and create beautiful software.

    You really need to get out more. I very strongly suspect you are one of the people who has been living inside a safe cocoon so long, you’ve forgotten or never learned what the outside is like.

    Yes humanity has a lot of potential. Does not in any way contradict that it is also deeply flawed. You probably don’t understand the Heinlein ‘bad luck’ quote, either.

  113. Patrick Maupin on 2014-05-01 at 19:28:35 said:I can paraphrase the entire rest of your post with “Sometimes people do things that are perfectly legal that we inaccurately call prostitution.”

    So where is this point you promised?

    Since you choose to pretend not to get it, I’ll make it with a bigger hammer.
    ===========
    Entries at the Free Dictionary:
    pros·ti·tute (pr?s?t?-to?o?t?, -tyo?o?t?) n.
    2. One who sells one’s abilities, talent, or name for an unworthy purpose.
    prostitute (?pr?st??tju?t) n.
    3. a person who offers his talent or work for unworthy purposes
    pros•ti•tute (?pr?s t??tut, -?tyut) n., v. -tut•ed, -tut•ing. n.
    3. a person who willingly uses his or her talent or ability in a base and unworthy way, usu. for money.
    ===========
    Entry at Cambridge Dictionaries Online:
    prostitute verb [T] /?pr?s.t?.tju?t/ US /?pr??.st?.tu?t/ formal disapproving
    >to use yourself or your abilities or beliefs in a way that does not deserve respect, especially in order to get money: Some critics say he prostituted his musical skills by going into pop rather than staying with classical music. He went to work in Hollywood and was accused of prostituting himself.
    ===========
    Entry at Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
    Full Definition of PROSTITUTE
    transitive verb
    2
    : to devote to corrupt or unworthy purposes : debase \
    — pros·ti·tu·tor \-?tü-t?r, -?tyü-\ noun
    Examples of PROSTITUTE
    1. a writer who prostituted his talents by writing commercials
    2. a serious writer prostituting himself by writing pulp novels for money
    ===========

    IOW, “prostitute” is widely used about actions other than performing sex for money, and is always used as a condemnation. What does that imply about sex for money?

  114. One of the key attributes of most religions is that they generally cannot, by definition, be disproved. This sounds like an illogical premise in the real world (which is why religious arguments persist), but this tautology is both consistent and functional in the abstract. The purpose is not to form an accurate conception of reality, but to successfully transfer knowledge and obtain conformity in offspring.

  115. @FG, are you suggesting that the Creator should have kept His created beings “powerless and infantilized” (in the words of our host in his excellent essay on Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun)? That the natural consequences of their decisions should have been limited by the Creator?

    “[T]he bearing of arms functions not merely as an assertion of power but as a fierce and redemptive discipline. When sudden death hangs inches from your right hand, you become much more careful, more mindful, and much more peaceful in your heart — because you know that if you are thoughtless or sloppy in your actions or succumb to bad temper, people will die.”

    It’s not a punishment from God that “people will die”, it’s just a property of the universe that a decision made by one person can have catastrophic consequences for others. And property is necessary (but not sufficient) for people “with the dignity of a free man” to exist within it.

    Eve and Adam *had to have* the ability to make bad decisions with consequences beyond themselves in order to have what ESR calls “dignity”, I call free will, and for any of us to be the “absolutely amazing creatures” you celebrate.

  116. Sorry, Justin, but I simply cannot accept the Bible as authoritative. Even if it was divinely inspired, it has passed through too many, by definition fallible, human hands, many of whom had overt political motives.

    Greg, I have read Tuloriad exactly once. I do not intend to reread it; I find its premise consistent but offensive.

    And, Tomislav, fuck you. As was pointed out, for much of history, 15 was certainly considered adult enough to be married. One need not have a divine set of rules to live by handed down on stone tablets to establish and maintain a fully consistent set of morals which, aside from lack of reference to worshipping a nonexistent deity, Christians would recognize as good. One simply starts from the one idea common to every religion, the one that Christians refer to as the Golden Rule.

    Anyone who insists that atheists are necessarily immoral is my enemy, for he says I cannot live a moral life.

  117. @Parallel
    But free will is inconsistent with the central dogma of Calvinism, that nothing happens outside the will of god. Everything that happens was willed by god.

    The only logical conclusion from that dogma is that there is no free will (see Spinoza).

    So all this quibling about god giving Adam the freedom to sin is empty propaganda. Calvinism does not recognize the possibility that something happens that god did not willed. Predestination precludes free will.

  118. @Rich Rostrom
    I think that the confusion is caused by the fact that many people here have a different view of definition 1 that you left out, that of a comercial sex worker. If you see a prostitute (1) as a person who delivers comercial services for hire, all these other meanings become problematic.

  119. @Winter: I agree with your criticism and rejection of Calvinism, but would point out that not all Christians are Calvinists. As a Seventh-day Adventist I also agree with (e.g.) Baptists and Methodists that “God allows His desire to save all to be resisted by an individual’s will” rather than “God’s grace is irresistible and limited to only some (in Calvinism)” (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism).

  120. @parallel
    I know. That is why I limited myself to Calvinists in my comments. My problems with other movements are on different points.

  121. >Greg, I have read Tuloriad exactly once. I do not intend to reread it; I find its premise consistent but offensive.

    I personally find what strikes me as the major premise (‘don’t go into a religious war unarmed’, with the implied ‘and you may not realize it, but you’re in a religious war’) alarming, but experience seems to indicate there’s a good chance it’s true.

    It really does look like most people, probably without realizing it, need religion. Or at least have a religion receptor, and feel better when something binds there. If it’s not a ‘real’ religion binding there, something else will substitute. Anything, from magnets, to crystals, to aromatherapy, auras, environmentalism, all the way to really dangerous stuff like Marxism. I believe Eric holds this position fairly strongly.

    And back to why I thought Jeff might find it interesting- there’s nothing inherently more special about humanity than there is about being a mildly swarthy Levantine Semite.

  122. >Calvinism does not recognize the possibility that something happens that god did not willed. Predestination precludes free will.

    Calvinism is, in this respect, at least consistent. I have demonstrated before (here and in these comments) that the only stable positions are occasionalism (nothing happends except by divine will, as in Calvinism and Islam) and atheistic naturalism. The intermediate position, featuring mechanism plus miracles, is untenable.

  123. >It really does look like most people, probably without realizing it, need religion. Or at least have a religion receptor, and feel better when something binds there.

    Yes. This is the main vulnerability of “classical” atheistic rationalism a la Dawkins. They get the logic right, but their position is stressful and unstable for anything with human brain wiring. It’s better to bind the receptor with a belief system that doesn’t require epistemic insanity. Neopaganism or some varieties of Buddhism will do.

    There’s a strain of mysticism derived from Christianity that almost works too; historically it has been called “quietism” (Eckhart: “The eye with which you see God is the same eye with which God sees you”). But this is rightly considered heretical because it implies non-theism – and to arrive at epistemic sanity you have to go all the way there.

  124. @ Greg – “have a religion receptor”

    There is substantial evidence that certain behaviors are encoded in DNA, and it is possible that a proclivity for something like “religious indoctrination” may be among them. Pack behavior in the animal kingdom and tribalism in homo sapiens is probably a gene-encoded predisposition.

    If true, then atheism might be a memetic mutation, and unless it confers long term advantages to the species, it is unlikely to become a dominant trait. One of the interesting features of religious belief is that it allows for compartmentalized irrationality in which the practitioner willfully participates.The benefits of irrational belief must therefore outweigh the practical disadvantages.

  125. @Jeff Read, you may, oddly enough, enjoy Tom Kratman’s ‘Tuloriad’. Or you may not.

    That whole cycle sounds a bit too Warhammer 40K for me. Think I’ll pass.

  126. @Rich Rostrom:

    > Since you choose to pretend not to get it, I’ll make it with a bigger hammer.

    The absolute most offensive thing about your initial examples is the communist thinking behind them. You appear to be condemning people who could make the world a better place for looking to their own financial needs, and don’t say anything about, e.g. vampire teen romance writers who would be incapable of doing anything more noble.

    But even getting past that, no, I seriously don’t get it, even after your “bigger hammer”. The common thread of the examples you offer seems to be that when people engage in vocations others find distasteful, they demand more money for their labor. But in reality, most of your examples are probably driven from jealousy — if vocations seem to pay an inordinate amount of money, we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we are not things that evil for our own living, and it must be taking a huge toll on the ones who are. Nobody could possibly like writing pop music or engaging in sex, could they?

    You started out saying, among other things:

    Hard cases make bad law. The case of this boy seems tailor-made to justify prostitution.

    A rigorous philosophical case against prostitution is probably beyond me; and I’m not going to try to make one in a blog comment. But I will make what I consider a telling point.

    “Hard cases make bad law” is a statement that is only made when people think there should be relevant laws. But then you base your “case” for laws on the fact that we label as prostitution other things that some of us disapprove of (or, more likely, are simply jealous of).

    That’s not much of an argument, and certainly not one that would justify locking up prostitutes and not punk rockers.

    So, unless your point is that we should live under communism and prostitution and punk rock and teenage vampire romance novels should all be illegal, no, I still don’t get it. And if that is your point, I couldn’t disagree more.

  127. Greg, it’s not just “don’t go into a religious war without a religion”, but “go into a religious war armed with Christianity“. That last bit is what I find offensive. The book reads like a religious tract in places.

  128. @esr:
    >The intermediate position, featuring mechanism plus miracles, is untenable.

    In the first link you gave, you say:

    >In the indeterminate universe we seem to inhabit, the only way for even a god to know the future would be for it to intervene in every single collapse of a quantum state vector, and thereby to create that future by a continuous act of will.

    First of all, to my understanding, wavefunction collapse as a physical phenomenon (as opposed to an observational phenomenon), is a matter of quantum mechanical interpretation, and thus more a matter of speculation about how physics may work than how it does work, so a deterministic universe is not ruled out.

    Secondly, Christianity posits a God that created the universe, and it follows that he thus exists independently of and outside of the universe. Relativity tells us that time is part of the universe, therefore, if the Christian God exists he is outside of and independent of time (also, in general, a perfect observer such as you posit would have to exist outside of the universe in order to observe it without perturbing it, as the laws of physics within the universe prevent observation without perturbation).

    Thus, even if quantum randomness prevents the Christian God, or any other perfect observer, from calculating the future, he knows the future by already being there.

  129. @Jon Brase
    How would you express an evolution of gods thoughts when he exists outside spacetime?

    I think you will quickly end up in a logical mooras where you lose caisality.

    Better not mix physics with a god oitside physics.

  130. I think leftism/communism/statism also “binds to the religious receptor”.

    We Christians believe in angels and demons; leftists believe in racism and income inequality.

    Catholics believe in the sacraments of baptism and communion; radical feminists believe in abortion on demand.

    I worship a Creator God who voluntarily gave His life for my salvation; leftists worship the almighty State that “spreads the wealth around”.

    Muslims revere imams and ayatollahs; statists reserve the carrying of guns to government employees.

  131. @Winter

    There is nothing outside physics, so long as you plug in the effects of the thing that is ‘outside of physics’ into the laws of physics (in this case, if one follows the 10 commandments, it is disproportionately likely for something good to happen to you etc.) and you are left with an augmented set of laws that completely describes everything. (of course, it would be nigh impossible to do this with out God’s source code or somesuch (I checked and I can’t find His man page.).)

    P.S. Am I using periods within nested parentheses correctly?

  132. >I think you will quickly end up in a logical mooras where you lose caisality.

    I was going to write a longer response, but “logical morass where you lose causality” will pretty much do. It is actually irrelevant to this whether we think of the hypothetical God as existing outside time or evolving in it.

  133. @ Jon Brase – “an evolution of God’s thoughts when he exists outside space-time?”
    @ Winter – “a logical morass where you lose causality”

    Religious conceptions, including speculation about the nature of God, do in fact have causality with respect to modifying the behavior of the true believer. This is the core function.

    Imbuing an irrational conception with assumed accuracy is a delusion with tangible consequences, and the core function wouldn’t work without it.

  134. @Winter
    > How would you express an evolution of gods thoughts when he exists outside spacetime?

    How would you express an evolution of Walt Disney’s thoughts when he existed outside Steamboat Willie, Fantasia, etc.?

  135. @The Monster
    “How would you express an evolution of Walt Disney’s thoughts when he existed outside Steamboat Willie, Fantasia, etc.?”

    I can, because I am in the same “Universe” Walt Disney was. But the characters in Steamboat Willie could not. And they have no free will, so their sins and guilt are unchangeable and unpreventable.

    The point is not that there cannot be a “Universe” where there exists an entity created our universe. The point is that our logic and causality cannot be used to reason about that other “Universe”.

    And as Sin and Guilt are directly linked to causality, time, and free will, the concepts of Sin and Guilt become pretty useless in such a nested universe.

    On the other hand, we really do like to attribute guilt and have retribution extracted to characters in stories. To the extend that actors have been known to be attacked for the evils done by their characters.

  136. Human beings cannot really know what it is to be someone else. Even when it comes to our closest friends and family members we don’t really have a clue about what it would be like to “be them” – not just be “in their shoes as us”, but actually be them. Since this is true of other people we know well, how is not exponentially true when it comes to God? Therefore to make the claims and ask the questions reported here is more than the height of blasphemy – it is the height of self-deception. We are creatures, and we exist only in a created universe which is, despite it size, finite, bounded by time and space, and kept in existence only by the continued WILL of God (e.g., Heb.1:3). If we could imagine existence without time and space, without creation, then perhaps we would have the necessary fundamental philosophical perspective to consider questions like this. But since we cannot, how can we even hope to limn the first part of the depths of the glory of God?

  137. >Therefore to make the claims and ask the questions reported here is more than the height of blasphemy – it is the height of self-deception.

    Everyone, read Tomislav Ostojich’s comment carefully. It is a textbook example of how epistemic insanity warps the thought processes of people who who ought to know better – superficial intelligence yoked to a deeply delusional belief system. It features one of the commonest diagnostic signs of this disorder, the logical fallacy called “Ignotum per ignotius”.

  138. @esr
    “Ignotum per ignotius”

    Actually, Tomislav Ostojich tells us we are not allowed to question received wisdom.

    The reasoning is quite common:
    Because we, humans, are not able to understand God (which is obvious),
    we should follow the understanding some other human had some time ago (which contradicts the first statement).

    So we are back to the old “never question religious authority”.

  139. Now, before I continue, let me comment on the rhetorical ingenuity of Eric framing the discussion as a dispassionate clinical researcher and me as a patient suffering with a mental disorder, because by doing so he can turn any reply from me into further evidence of my insanity, as it is a common characteristic for insane people to apologize on behalf of their insanity. Eric is clearly a clever man who has wasted many hours on internet debates with strangers, in addition to having read the Wikipedia article for Schizophrenia. That being said, for anyone with knowledge of history, this framing does not stand under scrutiny, because we know that ideas from “fundamentalist” theology were prevalent among great scientists (Such as Lord Kelvin, Newton, Pascal, Euler, and numerous others) prior to Darwin’s publication of the theory of evolution while afterwords atheistic ideas took hold. Granted, it is possible that what Eric meant to say was that after the theory of evolution only people who are neurologically fragile would even be inclined to believe in God, but this is unlikely given how he never mentioned evolution. Given the extreme unlikeliness that all the great scientists who believed in aspects of “fundamentalist” theology (prior to Darwin’s theory of evolution) suffered from a brain disorder, I do believe that we can safely rule out that belief in aspects of “fundamentalist” theologically is inherently in the domain of mental illness.

    However, I am glad that at least we’re moving this discussion from philosophically eliminating the properties of God to stating that God is a bad explanation for evidence (as per Eric’s “egnotum per ignotius” comment). Again, when I see people argue that, philosophically, God must be X, Y, Z… I can only be reminded of Kant’s argument against the existence of non-Euclidean geometry, and how all it sufficed to disprove it was the construction of a counterexample. Nobody will find these arguments to be clever when they stand before God’s Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15), or when Christ returns to set up his banquet in the presence of his enemies (Psalm 23:5).

  140. @Tomislav Ostojich
    “Again, when I see people argue that, philosophically, God must be X, Y, Z… I can only be reminded of Kant’s argument against the existence of non-Euclidean geometry, and how all it sufficed to disprove it was the construction of a counterexample. Nobody will find these arguments to be clever when they stand before God’s Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15), or when Christ returns to set up his banquet in the presence of his enemies (Psalm 23:5).”

    But it is the believers that tell us how god “really” is. I can live with the proposition that the Universe was created by an entity outside space and time and beyond our comprehension. I have difficulty believing that this entity has a beard and male genitalia.

    The point made in this thread is that the believers are neither logical nor consistent in their statements. More specifically, the whole argumentation behind the Sin of Adam and of every human is inconsistent with what they tell us about the workings of God.

    Citing some scriptures from a few millennia ago that are internally inconsistent with the text they are presented in does not help.

    PS: Have you already decided when you will be before that throne? Directly after you die, or only after the end of times? It seems there have been some debates about this.

  141. @Winter: The source of our definitive propositions regarding God is not philosophical reasoning, but rather documentary evidence from 40 witnesses who compiled their testimonies over a period of 1000 years in 3 different languages in 3 different continents.

    You are also confusing sex with gender. God the Father has a male gender. He is not a sexual organism.

    Lastly, members of the Body of Christ don’t stand before the Great White Throne because we won’t be judged. Instead of judgement, we get rewarded by coregency with Christ over the entire Earth.

  142. @Tomislav Ostojich
    “Lastly, members of the Body of Christ don’t stand before the Great White Throne because we won’t be judged. Instead of judgement, we get rewarded by coregency with Christ over the entire Earth.”

    Eh, you do not have to illustrate that Eric was right.

  143. Documentary evidence of prophetic visions? This is the ultimate case of “it’s true because it says it’s true”. Sorry, but the Bible is simply unverifiable, and so its truth is a matter of faith, not reason. This is not a feature.

    Stephen Hawking lays out the case in A Brief History of Time for the universe not needing a creator. The question is unverifiable, true, but that just means that Occam’s Razor applies even more strongly.

  144. The existence of true believers is evidence of the power of memetic conditioning, and its ability to override rationality is a fascinating study in contrasts. On one hand, an Islamic true believer will put on a vest and kill innocents without remorse. On the other hand, a Mother Teresa will expend her life’s opportunity and energy helping the poor and sick. Both believe that they are serving a higher purpose.

    Am I the mutant because I was not co-opted by religious conversion to become a true believer?

  145. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > Nobody will find these arguments to be clever when they stand before God’s Great White Throne

    I look forward to that occasion when I can look your God in the eye and ask him what right he has to judge me since he himself is a mass murder of babies (1Sam 15), deeply unjust (see argument above about total depravity) a failed redeemer (again, see argument about the profound injustice of the doctrine of redemption), a bigot (see attitude toward homosexuals and the insane arguments in 1Corintihans with respect to women) a liar (see his description of the creation of the world) and a fool (creating a world that is destined to fail.)

    Of course he can just say “I am all powerful and don’t have to answer to you”, which makes him a close minded tyrant. Which is OK, there is a limit to what you can do in face of such a thug. I have told lies, had sex before marriage, taken the Lord’s name in vain, and made this comment on this thread which means I am destined for hell anyway. It’ll be nice to get one last shot in at the evil old bugger before I spend my eternity in hell. I get to hang out with Christopher Hitchens down there, and that’ll be kind of cool.

  146. @Jay Maynard: Here is the dictionary definition of a prophetic vision:

    `An experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency.’

    I think you are confusing Christianity with Islam, a religion that really was founded on the basis of a prophetic vision.

    Your criticism against Christianity would be valid if the foundations of the religion were based on a prophetic vision of Christ, but this is not the case. The foundation of Christianity lies in the fact that Jesus Christ was physically resurrected in the same body He died in, and that his interaction with the tangible world was recorded by eye-witnesses. Paul, who (being an apostle) was one of such witnesses, even anticipated this argument, stating that `If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.’ (I Corinthians 15:17-19)

    To put it simply, if Christianity preached the resurrection of Christ on the basis of some vague dream, seizure, or emotional feeling, then the entire edifice crumbles. Anyone who is a Christian is immediately anti-intellectual, pastors should be drawn and quartered for molesting countless of minds (both young and old), and Christians are to be pitied for believing the most retarded idea ever conceived.

  147. >To put it simply, if Christianity preached the resurrection of Christ on the basis of some vague dream, seizure, or emotional feeling, then the entire edifice crumbles. Anyone who is a Christian is immediately anti-intellectual, pastors should be drawn and quartered for molesting countless of minds (both young and old), and Christians are to be pitied for believing the most retarded idea ever conceived.

    I don’t think anyone arguing with you disagrees about that part.

  148. It is not the resurrection of Christ to which I refer, but many other prophetic visions…like, for example, the entirety of Revelations.

  149. >It is not the resurrection of Christ to which I refer, but many other prophetic visions…like, for example, the entirety of Revelations.

    While Revelations and the contents therein are important theologically, it is not the foundation of Christianity, so attacking the entire religion as `heresay’ solely by attacking a prophetic book in its canon would be a straw-man argument.

    I think we’re getting closer to your true hang-up with Christianity, which is that accepting Jesus Christ’s authority might very well mean accepting Revelations as His authoritaive revelation, which in turn might mean accepting the strange visions described in it as an accurate vision of the future, which finally might mean giving up the idea that human society has little to no control over history.

    But consider the lillies of the field: they neither toil nor fabricate clothing, but their beauty and splendor unmatches that of even the wealthiest kings. Yet the lillies only are that way because of the direction of God, without whom nothing would exist. Similarly, although God does allow us free choice in most of our actions, He at the same time is working out a greater purpose, a purpose that will use our free will to justly answer and condemn Satan and bring world peace. This is the big picture of Revelations and, most importantly, explains the most glorious even that will ever happen: the creation of the New Jerusalem. The strange and bad things that happen in the book prior to this new creation are not there just to `mess’ with us, but are there to bring justice against the murders and evil Satan has inflicted upon the world since Abel.

    Consider `For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!’ (Revelations 16:6) and compare with the analogous curse in the Exodus 7:20 of turning the river to blood.

  150. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > so attacking the entire religion as `heresay’ solely by attacking a prophetic book in its canon would be a straw-man argument.

    Your spelling error above is material. Did you mean “heresy” or “hearsay”. You put it in quotes as if it was Jay’s word, which is wasn’t. If you mean heresy, then you assume a doctrine from which to commit heresy, which is to say you assume your conclusion. If you mean “hearsay” then plainly, by your own argument, the foundation of Christianity is hearsay, since it is Paul’s report on what other people said. (Please not that the Paul only saw a light and heard a voice on the road to Damascus so he was not an eyewitness of the putatively risen Christ.)

    In fact, it isn’t only hearsay, it is bad hearsay. It is hearsay reported in a multigenerational, fragmentary copy of an original. And that original was reported decades after the supposed event, and it was reported by people who were EXTREMELY partisan. And it was reported in a different language than the original. And there are considerable academic debate as to who even wrote the documents. And there is considerable evidence of tampering with the documents, and… .etc.

    > I think we’re getting closer to your true hang-up with Christianity, which is that accepting Jesus Christ’s authority might very well mean accepting Revelations

    LOL. You Christians love to turn it around to a disobedient heart. Jay and others’ hang up with Christianity is that you believe something for which you have not a shred of evidence, and you have a plethora of evidence against. You accuse Jay of being close minded, when you are utterly unwilling to consider anything outside of your belief system.

    And why? Because religion is a wily thing. It tells you that to question and doubt is to lack faith, and to lack faith in itself is a sin. It is devious design to keep you trapped. And for you to tell Jay that he is fearful of the facts and consequences is so backward that you’d laugh if you were open minded enough to see it from an outside perspective.

    > Yet the lillies only are that way because of the direction of God, without whom nothing would exist.

    But your argument is entirely selective. Sure lilies are beautiful, but cancerous growths are ugly. Certainly the birds of the air sing a sweet song, but the wail of a baby being tortured to death because of a worm eating him from the inside out is not.

    I suggest you be brave enough to risk the rebuke of your god and actually read an honest analysis of Christianity from a different perspective. After all, I have read the Bible, so it is your turn now.

  151. > (Revelations 16:6)

    OK, that makes two of you doing it. The name of the book in question is “The Revelation of St. John the Divine”, or “Revelation” for short. Unlike many other books in the Bible that have names ending in “s”, Revelation does not. Whenever I see someone trying to quote a Bible verse in “Revelations”, it makes me wonder if they’ve read the thing.

  152. Why should I accept any part of the Bible as divine revelation? It’s been through literally thousands of human hands, and every part of it has been selected, re-selected, translated, re-translated, and generally hacked on by humans with known political biases. If humans are fallible – and they are, by Christian definition – then the Bible is too unless you can read what the original authors wrote as a native speaker/reader of the same language they spoke/wrote in. Anything else leads to distortions.

    Then there’s the minor matter of believing that the universe had a creator. When challenged on this, Christians either point to the Bible or else point to the unbelievable complexity of the observable universe and claim that it simply couldn’t have come about by itself. The former is merely a circular argument; the latter, a failure of imagination: they can’t conceive that the earth could reach its present state in 4.5 billion years, probably because they don’t understand how immense a length of time that truly is.

    The foundation of Christianity is an impossibility when considered as normal events. The Christian answer is that it’s a miracle, and thus inexplicable except as explained in the Bible. That answer only works if there is no other explanation and the events happened as recorded in the four books of the Gospels. The problem is that there is and can be no independent documentation. That problem was created when the folks who selected what was suitable for inclusion in the Bible and what was not picked what they believed to be every credible account for inclusion; this leaves the Bible shorn of any independent verification, which destroys any hope of being objectively shown to be an accurate description of events.

    And even if the story of the Resurrection is totally, 100% accurate, that still leaves the question: why does that make the rest of it 100% accurate and the literal word of God? A book can be totally true in one part and yet totally fabricated in others.

    Sorry, but the whole thing is founded on a base of utter faith in the unprovable. I cannot use that as a basis for how I live my life.

  153. @ Jessica – “It is devious design to keep you trapped.

    It is an evolutionary adaptation designed to aid the transfer of knowledge/practices from one generation to the next, and then ensure implementation and fealty by the tribe. The specifics of each religion’s principals, justification, doctrine and rituals are diverse and somewhat arbitrary, in the sense that some meme mutations succeeded whereas others failed. Persistence over time is a demonstration of Darwinian fitness in the memetic realm.

  154. @The Monster: The book refers to itself as `The revelation from Jesus Christ’ in verse 1. In fact, the book makes it very clear that this is not John’s or anybody else’s revelation, but Christ’s.

    @ Jay

    >the latter, a failure of imagination: they can’t conceive that the earth could reach its present state in 4.5 billion years, probably because they don’t understand how immense a length of time that truly is.

    I agree with you 100%. I absolutely don’t have the kind of imagination required to pretend that the universe made itself.

    >The Christian answer is that it’s a miracle, and thus inexplicable except as explained in the Bible.

    The fact that you opened your eyes today, or that God allows us to choose for Him or against Him, are all miracles in themselves (I was going to write `in itself’ and violate the grammatical principle of antecedent agreement, but given the savage beating I received from The Monster and Fluffy Girl for minor lexical errors, I considered that it would be a very unwise action). But I understand where you’re coming from: there are certain events, such as Elijah’s calling of fire from heaven, which are obviously a bit harder to rationalize than others. I suppose that if you were to identify the most vocal criticism of the Bible, it would be the overt intervention of the supernatural, such as creation, the deluge, the nephilim, Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, the resurrection of Jesus, etc…) However, if you pay closer attention, the Bible doesn’t place that much emphasis on supernatural explanations nearly as much as

    (1) Commandments (Leviticus, Deuteronomy, parts of Exodus, Jesus’ teachings, etc…)
    (2) God’s relationship with His believers (All of the OT prophets, the Psalms, Job, the Epistles, and definitely the largest part of the three).

    >Why should I accept any part of the Bible as divine revelation? It’s been through literally thousands of human hands, and every part of it has been selected, re-selected, translated, re-translated, and generally hacked on by humans with known political biases.

    Nobody seriously believes that the OT is translated: just about everyone agrees that it was originally written in Hebrew and bits in Aramaic. Although just like there are still people that take Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell seriously, I suppose there might be some webring arguing that it was translated from Ancient Egyptian….

    Now there is a minority view that thinks that the gospels were written in Aramaic, but most textual critics believe that the lack of early witnesses of an Aramaic gospel, while the abundance of early witnesses to a Greek one (such as Sinaiticus) argue in favor of it being originally written in Greek.

    As for editing, we have so many early witnesses to the New Testament that there really isn’t any doubt to what the text actually said.

    As for not understanding the languages, while this may be the case for Ancient Hebrew, due to its small corpus, this is definitely not the case for Greek, which has an extremely large corpus and extensively studied grammar.

    @Fluffy Girl

    > And why? Because religion is a wily thing. It tells you that to question and doubt is to lack faith, and to lack faith in itself is a sin. It is devious design to keep you trapped. And for you to tell Jay that he is fearful of the facts and consequences is so backward that you’d laugh if you were open minded enough to see it from an outside perspective.

    I can turn this around and say that your rejection of Christianity is due to your fear of memes, which triggers a primal fear of disease infection which in turn keeps you trapped away from the source of your anxiety (that is Christianity). If only you stopped worrying about whether you’ll get a psychic infection, then you would be open-minded enough to see it from an outside perspective (that is, away from the perspective of disease fear). ^_^

  155. @Tomislav

    You missed the point entirely, but that’s to be expected.

    The full English name of the book is “The Revelation of St. John the Divine” because the revelation in question was given to John. That grants him some sense of “ownership” over it.

    The preposition “of” seems to be causing you problems. You may take that up with King James’ translators, because they’re who chose it, not me.

    This seems related to the recent trend away from the use of the possessive in naming a medical condition after a doctor who did not himself have the condition (“Down Syndrome” v. “Down’s Syndrome”). It is an impoverished genitive that does not allow the Syndrome to “belong” to John Langdon Down nor the Revelation to John of Patmos, even though Dr. Down did not “possess” the syndrome in the sense that, say, Chris Burke or Trig Palin does, nor did either John create these things named for them.

  156. @The Monster

    I’d just like to interject for moment.

    What you’re referring to as `Revelations,’ is in fact, The Revelation of St. John the Divine or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, Revelation. The Revelation of St.John the Divine is not an apocalypse unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning Biblical canon made useful by the Old Testament, Epistles and Gospel components comprising a full religion as defined by the apostolic fathers.

    Many Biblical scholars read a translated version version of The Revelation of St. John the Divine every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of the apocalypse which is widely used today is often called `Revelations’, and many of its users are not aware that it is basically The Revelation of St. John the Divine developed by Jesus Christ.

    There really are revelations, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the religion they use. Revelations are the unveiling: the event in the canon that allocates the divine information to the other scripture that you read. The unveiling is an essential part of a religion, but it functions in the context of a complete Biblical canon. The term `Revelation’ is normally used in combination with the preposition `of’: the whole system is basically `Revelation’ with `of St. John the Divine’ added, or `Revelation of St. John the Divine’. All the so-called `Revelations’ translations are really translations of the Revelation of St. John the Divine!

  157. @Jay Maynard
    “That answer only works if there is no other explanation and the events happened as recorded in the four books of the Gospels.”

    Sorry, but I think you should read the four gospels more closely. The four books record a number of events. However, the events they record have not very much in common.

    I was told by my religion teacher, a Dominican monk who had studied the matter, that a precise, philological investigation of the oldest versions had lead to the conclusion that the books agreed on the fact that there had been a man, called Jesus in what is now the occupied West Bank some 2000 years ago. And he had disciples.

    All the rest is in dispute in the new Testament, or is simply common literary form. Note that the four gospels even disagree on who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The three Roman gospel writers blame the Jews, the Jewish gospel writer blames the Romans.

  158. @Tomislav Ostojich
    “I can turn this around and say that your rejection of Christianity is due to your fear of memes, which triggers a primal fear of disease infection which in turn keeps you trapped away from the source of your anxiety (that is Christianity).”

    As is our rejection of the Qur’an, the Talmud, the Veda’s, the Agamas, the teachings of the Buddha, the Tao, the Book of Mormon, the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and some thousands of others.

    And then I even leave out the myriad different interpretations of each sacred revelation or tradition.

    If we would try to make an informed choice of religion, we could spend our whole lives trying to find the correct one. Unless we take the reasonable position that the choice does not matter much. In which case we can just become agnostic, or atheist.

    In short, your only reason for choosing a specific interpretation of Christianity as the one true religion was historical accident and your personal liking of the message. Your only “evidence” is an incoherent collection of ancient texts of unknown history and origin. There are literary dozens of other incoherent collections of sacred texts that are used to “prove” the one and true nature of other believes.

  159. @Winter

    `As is our rejection of the Qur’an, the Talmud, the Veda’s, the Agamas, the teachings of the Buddha, the Tao, the Book of Mormon, the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and some thousands of others.’

    Much like how the absence of political affiliation in a corruption scandal in the mainstream media means that the crook is a Democrat, the absence of a rebuttal by an Internet atheist means that said atheist realized that he has no good reason backing up his claims. This confirms what I suspected: the religion meme is just a stupid soundbite that has nothing backing it up.

    The reason I ignore those religions is for the same reason I ignore counterfeit money: neither have any value whatsoever but pursuing either would get me severely punished.

    `If we would try to make an informed choice of religion, we could spend our whole lives trying to find the correct one. Unless we take the reasonable position that the choice does not matter much. In which case we can just become agnostic, or atheist.’

    I can tell you put absolutely no effort into making an informed decision, because you used the word `could.’ A much stronger statement would be `If we would try to make an informed choice of religion, it would take the rest of our lives,’ because if you put some effort, you would have even gotten some evidence to back this up. But you don’t have any evidence, because, like all intelligent beings, you follow Grice’s Maxims and don’t make definitive but uncertain statements. Therefore, by modus tollens, you put absolutely no effort into making an informed decision.

    But here’s what really pisses me off: despite having made no effort whatsoever, you nonetheless feel like you have a right to criticize me, someone who has made an informed decision. Like Asmov’s idiot voter, you feel that living in a democracy means that your ignorance is just as good as my facts.

    It’s perfectly rational why someone would make absolutely

  160. @Tomislav Ostojich
    ” the religion meme is just a stupid soundbite that has nothing backing it up.”

    Your original quote:

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “I can turn this around and say that your rejection of Christianity is due to your fear of memes, which triggers a primal fear of disease infection which in turn keeps you trapped away from the source of your anxiety (that is Christianity).”

    A “fear of memes” is a ridiculous proposition. Memes are mental “words” or “phrases”, and fearing “memes” is just as much nonsense as fearing words and phrases. I am pretty sure the supposed “fear of infection by Christianity” you mention is simply a projection of your own fear of infection by doubt.
    It is well known that doubt and atheism are occupational hazards for clergy.
    http://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/for-clergy-losing-faith-can-be-an-occupational-hazard-11633654.html

    I for one fear the Christianity “meme” just as little as I fear Islam or Hinduism “memes”. I might convert to some religion at some time. People change and old age tends to be accompanied by mental deterioration. But I do not fear that. Decay and death awaits us all. But currently, I see no reason to treat one religion as more “true” as any other, and I see all as phantasies.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “But you don’t have any evidence, because, like all intelligent beings, you follow Grice’s Maxims and don’t make definitive but uncertain statements.”

    Nice that you know about pragmatics. It means you know that you cannot know the “true” meaning of the scriptures. You cannot even come close to the interpretation of the original readers without knowing their lives and experiences.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “Therefore, by modus tollens, you put absolutely no effort into making an informed decision.”

    Nothing you know about me will get you even close to guess what I have and have not read or done. This is just your on rationalization for dismissing my words.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “despite having made no effort whatsoever, you nonetheless feel like you have a right to criticize me, someone who has made an informed decision.”

    That is your own insecurity that lets you see attacks. I never criticized your decision to become a Christian. I criticize your arguments for being right and the arguments you use to support your moral judgments. I think they are (logically) flawed and based on hearsay. You can believe whatever you want, but I do not accept the arguments you give to prove your believe and your rules are the true ones.

    If you come here telling us God told you personally, I will accept that. But my answer would be that God did not tell me, so I will treat your account as just hearsay. Moreover, I do not have to believe God, even if he told me personally. That is my personal choice.

  161. > A “fear of memes” is a ridiculous proposition. Memes are mental “words” or “phrases”, and fearing “memes” is just as much nonsense as fearing words and phrases. I am pretty sure the supposed “fear of infection by Christianity” you mention is simply a projection of your own fear of infection by doubt.

    If memes are just mental words and phrases then Dawkins wouldn’t have bothered writing a book about it. Memes are mental words and phrases that self-replicate, like genes. You can fear memes in the same way you can fear prions: you fear that the meme will self-replicate to the point that your neural tissue exists only to support said memes. So you avoid taking Christianity too seriously, knowing that it might result in damange to your ability to think. Hell, even Dawkins, the man most qualified to talk about memes, said as much:

    `That is what religious belief is, an illness. Whenever a Christian asks why religious scientists are not hired for certain positions in academia or do not get their contracts renewed, the answer is simple. It is because their religious affliction affects their ability to do their work, just as the affliction of an alcoholic or serious drug addict leads to a similar inability. Like the illness of alcoholism and drug addiction, we need to treat these harmful behaviors for the good of both the individual and the society.’

    >It is well known that doubt and atheism are occupational hazards for clergy.

    It is a fact that children raised as atheists have a much lower retention rate than children raised as Christians.

    >It means you know that you cannot know the “true” meaning of the scriptures. You cannot even come close to the interpretation of the original readers without knowing their lives and experiences.

    Even if I spend my live studying the Hebrew and the Greek, I will never come to complete understanding while I’m in this frail, pathetic body. I see through a glass, darkly. But soon I will know, even as I am known by God.

    > I never criticized your decision to become a Christian.

    Pointing out how my decision is not logically sound is criticism, even if it is done in a cordial manner. I don’t take criticism as an attack, because criticism and voicing of disagreement are good things. What I do take offense is when someone claims to not care too much but then comes into the discussion as if he/she has something vested in it.

    So what is it? Is religion a question that doesn’t really matter, or is it so important that one should argue the validity of how one reaches the belief that a particular religion is true?

    > If you come here telling us God told you personally, I will accept that. But my answer would be that God did not tell me, so I will treat your account as just hearsay.

    Saying that God is real for me but not for you isn’t a universalizable principle. I can’t say that it’s okay for someone to believe in a false thing as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, because any ethical maxim worth its salt must be universalizable. (Indeed, I suspect that the acceptance of this relativistic thinking in Eastern religions is one of the reason why the ethics in so many Indian, Burmese, Chinese, etc.. societies are rubbish) Either God is real for everyone or He’s real for nobody.

  162. @Tomislav Ostojich
    “If memes are just mental words and phrases then Dawkins wouldn’t have bothered writing a book about it. Memes are mental words and phrases that self-replicate, like genes.”

    And so are words.

    Dawkins was just making a point about self-replication.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “You can fear memes in the same way you can fear prions: you fear that the meme will self-replicate to the point that your neural tissue exists only to support said memes.”

    Prions kill in rather disconcerting ways. Memes and words can only kill you by way of other people. But then, these people could kill you for food or money, or just in a fit.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “`That is what religious belief is, an illness.”

    I do not see religious believes as an illness. But I know others do. Just as some people consider sin and atheism an illness, or homosexuality.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “It is a fact that children raised as atheists have a much lower retention rate than children raised as Christians.”

    Please, think of the children!
    Btw, Dutch children are doing fine, even though half the population would qualify as “Atheist”.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “Even if I spend my live studying the Hebrew and the Greek, I will never come to complete understanding while I’m in this frail, pathetic body. I see through a glass, darkly. But soon I will know, even as I am known by God.”

    Eh, you are sure you are fine? You are not planning anything drastic, I hope.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “What I do take offense is when someone claims to not care too much but then comes into the discussion as if he/she has something vested in it.”

    I care about sound reasoning and good argumentation. I am also afraid you might live in fear for imagined horrors. For the rest, I have no interest in whom you worship and how.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “Is religion a question that doesn’t really matter, or is it so important that one should argue the validity of how one reaches the belief that a particular religion is true?”

    To me, it does not matter at all. How people come to find their true religion is only of interest to me as a question of psychological and sociological mechanisms. I understand that it is important to you. But I am afraid that you only delude yourself with a selection of one true believe system.

  163. “But here’s what really pisses me off: despite having made no effort whatsoever, you nonetheless feel like you have a right to criticize me, someone who has made an informed decision.”

    No, Tomislav, I don’t criticize you. I disagree with you, strongly. However, I also believe that it’s your absolute right to believe as you wish, so long as you do not attempt to force me to join you. This is where Richard Dawkins and I part company: I find militant atheism as repugnant as militant Christianity or militant Islam, in direct proportion to the level of militancy.

    “Like Asmov’s idiot voter, you feel that living in a democracy means that your ignorance is just as good as my facts.”

    It’s not your facts, but your beliefs. If it was independently provable fact, that would be a different matter. It’s not. Your beliefs are just as good as my beliefs – no better, no worse.

  164. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > I can turn this around and say that your rejection of Christianity is due to your fear of memes,

    You have no basis to claim that I am afraid of Christianity. On the contrary, I probably know a great deal more about it that you do. For example I can read Koine Greek, which is why I find this statement so laughable:

    “The Revelation of St.John the Divine is not an apocalypse unto itself, ”

    Since the Greek title of the book is “Apokalypsis” and as Monster correctly points out it is the Apokalysis of John, where in this case the genitive would most likely mean “Revelation to John”, though, as in English, the genitive construction can be open to interpretation in Koine Greek.

    However, I find it curious that you are spinning in the wind focusing on trivial rhetoric rather than actually dealing with substantive issues, specifically the fact that your faith is based on a profoundly unreliable set of documents, witnessing to a profoundly unreliable hearsay evidence.

    It is very noticeable in your replies that you ignore these substantive challenges to dance around with silly trivialities. Most people will buy your religious beliefs if you give them enough social benefit to doing so by loving them, giving them a church home, offering them fun social activities, and giving them pre-boxed answers to the questions they vaguely care about.

    But in this blog you are dealing with people who you can’t “love into Jesus”. We are about evidence, facts, data, and other such substantialities. Your avoidance of the substantial for the trivial surely reflects on the quality of your argument.

    But there is another point here, a substantial point that is. In Dawkins’ blog he did a survey of why people stopped believing in their religion. One commenter said something that particularly resonated with me. She said “I stopped trusting in God when I realized that I was a better person than he was.” Go read about massacres of babies in 1Samuel 15, or — for you who would disdain us for our intolerance — the massacre of priests of a different religion in in 1Kings 18.

    Let me know if you need more. The bible is full of such atrocities.

  165. For our early ancestors, life was dominated by unknowns. Yet, you still had to act in order to survive, because passivity equaled starvation. Compartmentalized irrationality may have been an aid-to-action in the face of great unknowns. If so, then this memetic trait has been with us for a very long time.

    The dominant religious memes that exist today are the survivors of a very long evolutionary competition. For Tomislav, faith is as natural as bicameral vision.

  166. Why should I accept any part of the Bible as divine revelation? It’s been through literally thousands of human hands, and every part of it has been selected, re-selected, translated, re-translated, and generally hacked on by humans with known political biases. If humans are fallible – and they are, by Christian definition – then the Bible is too unless you can read what the original authors wrote as a native speaker/reader of the same language they spoke/wrote in.

    Why should you accept the Bible as divine revelation? That’s easy.

    “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” 2 Timothy 3:16

    The Bible is true, how do I know? The Bible tells me so!

    Virtually all examples of “proof” that God is real and Christianity is the one true faith boil down to this. No matter how many loops and crossovers a Christian may add, it’s still circular logic. One argument went roughly thus: Atheists attempt to use logic to prove there is no God, but God created the universe and therefore created the laws of logic. If there were no God, there wouldn’t be any logic. Therefore the God of the Bible has to be real in order for an atheist to even blaspheme that way.

    It’s a castle in the air, it’s supported by nothing but a priori acceptance of the Bible as truth. This is what I meant in my remark to Jessica about a fundamentally different psychology with its own defense mechanisms. Among the defense mechanisms are that blind faith in the doctrine is seen as the highest good — e.g., Jesus telling Thomas “blessed are those who have not seen and who have believed” — and that doubting the doctrine is seen as the worst evil. Quick, what’s the one sin God won’t forgive you for? Is it murder? Torture? Rape? Nope — it’s “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”, or failing to acknowledge the power of God at work. This is how Christianity gets a hammerlock on your mind.

    As to that business about the writers of the Bible, many of whom are unknown and many of whom were transcribing oral traditions, being credible eyewitnesses to divine events — when a Christian says “witness”, it does not mean what you think it means. Since faith beats observation (the Devil could be playing tricks on your senses, but faith in God is incorruptible), to a Christian a “witness” is anyone who reaffirms the faith. Hence people going around “witnessing” (preaching). Hence the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A Christian witness has about as much weight as an infomercial testimonial in my book.

  167. >Your beliefs are just as good as my beliefs – no better, no worse.

    You’re being too tolerant here, Jay. Belief systems can be judged by their predictive accuracy and their ethical consequences. For all that I disagree with you about some things, your beliefs are far better by either metric than those of any religious fanatic.

  168. Jay Maynard said: “I find militant atheism as repugnant as militant Christianity or militant Islam, in direct proportion to the level of militancy.”
    As long as atheistic militancy doesn’t reach the level of persecution of believers, as perpetrated by Marxist regimes, I support that militancy. Given that religion has been dominant and even oppressive for millennia, I think it’s fair for atheists to adopt a militant stance. (I wonder if such activism can be effective, though.)

  169. > [Fluffy Girl tilting at windmills]

    My comment to The Monster was based on a well-known copypasta from Richard Stallman about `GNU/Linux.’ The point is that his time would be just as well spent arguing that `Linux’ should be called `GNU/Linux.’

    > The dominant religious memes that exist today are the survivors of a very long evolutionary competition. For Tomislav, faith is as natural as bicameral vision.

    You would make a good evolutionary scientist, because you have the same inability to recognize that showing that a theory is consistent with evidence is not the same as proving that a theory is true. You could then troll for government grants and possibly even write popular science books for fellow men of your intellectual calibre.

    > Go read about massacres of babies in 1Samuel 15, or — for you who would disdain us for our intolerance — the massacre of priests of a different religion in in 1Kings 18.

    Considering that secular ethics apparently has no qualms with an adult sexually gratifying a dying child, I would be disquieted and more likely to rethink my religion if Yahweh were considered to be moral by such ethics.

    Also anyone who thinks that a 15-year-old is mature enough to conset to sex with a powerful maternal authority figure should stay the fuck away from my family.

    > It is very noticeable in your replies that you ignore these substantive challenges to dance around with silly trivialities.

    You mean like devoting a paragraph to criticizing someone for mispelling `hearsay’? I agree, such dancing is unacceptable.

    > the fact that your faith is based on a profoundly unreliable set of documents, witnessing to a profoundly unreliable hearsay evidence.

    We have a better idea of what the New Testament as the authors wrote it looks like than we do of Homer’s Illiad (which no serious classicist would consider `profoundly unreliable’), and seeing the resurrected Jesus cannot by definition be `hearsay’ because there’s no hearing of which to speak.

    Also, why is it acceptable for Thucydides to write 30 years after the Peloponnesian war but not for independent gospel and epistle writers? Oh yeah, because you’d rather roll around in glass shards and lemon juice than let a divine foot in the door.

    > Jesus telling Thomas “blessed are those who have not seen and who have believed” — and that doubting the doctrine is seen as the worst evil.

    Paul states that if there is evidence suggesting that Christ was never resurrected, then Christianity is a worthless religion to ever have been conceived and Christians are to be pitied for being such fools.

    The only thing you have correct in your statement is that faith is contrasted with sight, and just like children move past thinking silly thoughts like `air can’t exist because I can’t see it,’ adults move past thinking silly thoughts like `Christ can’t be risen because I don’t see dead people rising.’

    > It’s a castle in the air, it’s supported by nothing but a priori acceptance of the Bible as truth. This is what I meant in my remark to Jessica about a fundamentally different psychology with its own defense mechanisms.

    I wish you would drop the pretentious psychoanalysis and say what’s really on your mind, namely, that Tomislav is a retard because he believes in a zombie in the sky. Because that’s really about the scope and breadth of your post.

    >Hence the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    The JWs are literally called antichrists by the Bible, because they deny that Jesus Christ is the LORD God (that is, Yahweh) in the flesh. They have the same amount of relevance to Christianity as Buddhists who claim that Jesus was another buddha.

  170. We have a better idea of what the New Testament as the authors wrote it looks like than we do of Homer’s Illiad (which no serious classicist would consider `profoundly unreliable’), and seeing the resurrected Jesus cannot by definition be `hearsay’ because there’s no hearing of which to speak.

    Who is this “we”, kemosabe?

    Christians tend to handpick “historians” who already agree with their belief system and emit dubious “facts” like the “begat” lineages in the Bible being a better historical record than radioisotope dating. So any claims of scholarly support for Christian “history” are suspect.

    Anyway, the four gospels contradict one another and paint very different pictures of Jesus… and that’s not even counting the “gospels” that were left out of the Bible! All those other gospels are, in Christian teaching, apocryphal which means it’s bad to even consider their validity. The decision as to which gospel was sacred, “God-breathed”, and reliable eyewitness testimony, and which was obviously the work of the Devil seeking to corrupt and dilute the Word of God, was made decades or centuries after the fact. So no, “we” don’t have a reliable account of the life of Jesus, even given perfect accurate original-language transcriptions of the four canonical gospels.

    Paul states that if there is evidence suggesting that Christ was never resurrected, then Christianity is a worthless religion to ever have been conceived and Christians are to be pitied for being such fools.

    You keep repeating that as if it contradicts my point. I don’t disagree with Paul of Tarsus on this issue. I just think it far more likely we will find substantive evidence that Jesus was not resurrected, than substantive evidence that he was. Completing the modus ponens is left as an exercise.

    The only thing you have correct in your statement is that faith is contrasted with sight, and just like children move past thinking silly thoughts like `air can’t exist because I can’t see it,’ adults move past thinking silly thoughts like `Christ can’t be risen because I don’t see dead people rising.’

    But we can sense air in other ways, and we can gather scientific evidence that it exists. We don’t have blind faith in air under pain of damnation.

    I wish you would drop the pretentious psychoanalysis and say what’s really on your mind, namely, that Tomislav is a retard because he believes in a zombie in the sky. Because that’s really about the scope and breadth of your post.

    Believing in sky-zombies, invisible pink unicorns, space teapots, etc. is not what’s at issue here. The issue is that your belief *system* prevents you from challenging these beliefs in any substantive way, and prevents nonbelievers from engaging with you in a constructive fashion, by its very construction. It’s a deep and insidious madness. Anyway, those remarks were not aimed at you but at Jessica and Jay, who seem not to understand the depths of your mental mutilation and confuse you with someone who can be reasoned with based on a common ground of facts and a common evidentiary standard.

  171. >Anyway, those remarks were not aimed at you but at Jessica and Jay, who seem not to understand the depths of your mental mutilation and confuse you with someone who can be reasoned with based on a common ground of facts and a common evidentiary standard.

    So basically the evidence for the nonsense of Christianity is overwhelming but natural memetic selection has `mutilated’ my brain to make me believe what I believe because natural selection is the generator and I am the generation. If you spend just 30 seconds not getting high from the smell of your own flatus, you’ll realize it is isomorphic to the traditional Calvinist view of predestination (the evidence of the gospel is overwhelming, but God has hardened the hearts of unbelievers because he is the creator and they are the creation). What both viewpoints have in common is that they prevent any kind of constructive dialogue

    By the way, if at some point in you ask `Oh great Darwin why do most people not trust atheists?’ It’s because atheists such as yourself treat religious people as if they’re unreasonable animals and avoid any kind of constructive dialogue, which naturally does not lend itself to friendship and trust.

  172. >It’s because atheists such as yourself treat religious people as if they’re unreasonable animals

    If you want to be treated like a sane human being, rather than a nutcase or “unreasonable animal”, you need to display some awareness of the huge logical howlers in your comments. I don’t expect this to happen, but please surprise me.

  173. > If you spend just 30 seconds not getting high from the smell of your own flatus, you’ll realize it [...] prevent any kind of constructive dialogue

    Sounds like a case of Matthew 7:3 to me.

  174. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > Considering that secular ethics apparently has no qualms with an adult sexually gratifying a dying child,

    This is called tu quoque. Don’t you think that a god who claims to be righteous should be held to a higher standard than Barak Obama? Moreover, if you think a 15 year old boy getting laid is somehow the moral equivalent of the merciless massacre of babies you need to seriously reconsider your judgement.

    BTW, you do know that Mary, mother of Jesus, was probably about 14 or 15 at the time she conceived, right? That was normal practice in those societies., girls got married soon after puberty.

    > We have a better idea of what the New Testament as the authors wrote it looks like than we do of Homer’s Illiad

    You think that the two are equivalent? Nobody bases their lives and whole philosophy, in fact their future, on the correct interpretation of the Iliad. It makes not one shred of difference to me if Agamemnon or Achilles did what Homer records, or even if they existed. You? Your whole life falls apart if the bible isn’t reliably true.

    But, as ever you are, to reuse your accusation, tilting at windmills. You have still offered us no real evidence of the resurrection. Stop with all your nonsense and tell us why we should believe that an extremely unlikely event happened, since it is based on the dubious record of extremely partisan witnesses.

    Or alternatively don’t. I find your rhetorical arguments about irrelevant fluff to be entirely uninteresting.

    >The JWs are literally called antichrists by the Bible, because they deny that Jesus Christ is the LORD God (that is, Yahweh) in the flesh.

    They reject that notion because they believe the Bible teaches it that way. You probably are utterly clueless as to why they believe that having been exposed only to teaching you basically agree with. Go talk to one and broaden your mind. You will find that the average JW is a much better scholar than the average Presbyterian or Baptist. If you don’t want to do that, go find a Christadelphian — they also don’t believe in the Trinity. Debate it with him. He’ll had your your ass.

    Of course it is all bullshit, but you have no idea what a tiny little parochial world you live in.

  175. So basically the evidence for the nonsense of Christianity is overwhelming but natural memetic selection has `mutilated’ my brain to make me believe what I believe because natural selection is the generator and I am the generation.

    If you would take your nose out of Jesus’ asshole for but one second, you would know I said nothing of the sort. Knocking down strawmen is easy but it doesn’t give your argument any more standing.

  176. @ Jeff Read – “I said nothing of the sort.”

    I think Tomislav was responding to my line of argument and his attribution was mistaken.

    I posit that true believers exhibit compartmentalized irrationality and that this trait exists because it “works” in the sense that certain beliefs and practices can be made to persist over long periods of time in society. As an example, religious proscription against promiscuity would tend to limit the spread of venereal diseases at a time when no one knew what these diseased were or what caused them. It the face of such unknowns, mysticism can be an effective remedy even if it is inaccurate.

  177. Reminds me of the scene in “Airplane”, where they think they’re all going to die, and the young woman states, “…but I’ve never been with a man before”.

  178. >Considering that secular ethics apparently has no qualms with an adult sexually gratifying a dying child

    And you know the prostitute’s age how? Oh, right, doubtless you pulled it out of the same anus where you found the inerrancy of the four mutually contradictory accounts of the life of Jesus in the New Testament.

    Oy. And people wonder why I call these specimens “insane”…

  179. > BTW, you do know that Mary, mother of Jesus, was probably about 14 or 15 at the time she conceived, right? That was normal practice in those societies., girls got married soon after puberty.

    There’s a huge difference between a 14 or 15 year old having sex with someone around that age and a 15 year old having sex with a 30 year old. Sometimes even a 15 year old having sex with a 20 year old is too wide of a psychological gap: consider the case of a 20 year old pick-up artist with dark triad characteristics with a 15 year old cheerleader.

    This is like that stupid South Park episode where a toddler has a relationship with a hot preschool teacher and the police are congratulating him instead of locking up the teacher. You have sunk the bar so low that I’m surprised you’re not arguing to finer ethical points of having house pets lick peanut butter off your genitalia.

    > If you want to be treated like a sane human being, rather than a nutcase or “unreasonable animal”, you need to display some awareness of the huge logical howlers in your comments. I don’t expect this to happen, but please surprise me.

    There’s a difference between making logically fallacious statements and fighting rhetoric with rhetoric. Here’s an example of what I mean:

    I look forward to that occasion when I can look your God in the eye and ask him what right he has to judge me since he himself is a mass murder of babies (1Sam 15), deeply unjust (see argument above about total depravity) a failed redeemer (again, see argument about the profound injustice of the doctrine of redemption), a bigot (see attitude toward homosexuals and the insane arguments in 1Corintihans with respect to women) a liar (see his description of the creation of the world) and a fool (creating a world that is destined to fail.)

    This person really isn’t interested in logical points. What’s important to said person is that God is evil and I am evil by association, so I should be shamed and silenced. Instead of going the route that will not get me anywhere, I decided on using rhetoric to speak to said person in a language that is understandable:

    Considering that secular ethics apparently has no qualms with an adult sexually gratifying a dying child, I would be disquieted and more likely to rethink my religion if Yahweh were considered to be moral by such ethics. Also anyone who thinks that a 15-year-old is mature enough to conset to sex with a powerful maternal authority figure should stay the fuck away from my family.

    This hits the screed right in its solar plexus, because it reciprocates the argument from outrage the author attempted to use against me and thereby rationally punishes the author for not going down the route of dialectic. Even though Fluffy Girl almost certainly maybe believes that kiddy-diddlers are the brave rationalists standing up to the face of superstition which prevents them from preforming fellatio on schoolboys, I would have never brought that up if she would have just stuck to logic.

  180. >And you know the prostitute’s age how? Oh, right, doubtless you pulled it out of the same anus where you found the inerrancy of the four mutually contradictory accounts of the life of Jesus in the New Testament.

    In total fairness, after trying to search for more details, I was unable to find any sources documenting this event (Free Republic is not a source). In fact, if you substitued `Australia’ with `Japan’ and `Prostitute’ with `The child’s mother,’ I am almost certain that I could find this exact same copypasta on 4chan.

  181. @Tomislav Ostojich
    “Also anyone who thinks that a 15-year-old is mature enough to conset to sex with a powerful maternal authority figure should stay the fuck away from my family.”

    Hiring the service of a woman of ~20 would not have been a problem I think. And any worries about the effect of this episode on the life of the boy would be irrelevant.

    Note that in many Western countries, about a quarter of teenagers have had intercourse when they reach the age of 16. Quite often with persons older than 16 (statutory rape in the USA is an abomination). World wide, there are many campaigns to prevent child bearing by girls below the age of 16. Child marriages are a serious problem in many parts of the developing world.

    But in this case, they boy really, really, wanted it, was not forced in any way, could bail out at any moment he wanted, and “long term deleterious effects” were not relevant.

    @Tomislav Ostojich
    “In total fairness, after trying to search for more details, I was unable to find any sources documenting this event (Free Republic is not a source).”

    For the current discussion, it is completely irrelevant whether or not this episode actually happened. The case is explicit enough to allow a serious debate about morals.

  182. By the way, if at some point in you ask `Oh great Darwin

    I know of no atheist who worships Darwin or refers to him in this manner.

    why do most people not trust atheists?’ It’s because atheists such as yourself treat religious people as if they’re unreasonable animals and avoid any kind of constructive dialogue, which naturally does not lend itself to friendship and trust.

    In what way have I not treated you as reasonable? Disagreeing with your beliefs does not imply that I think you are unreasonable for holding them; that’s between you and your conscience, and I have no right to complain.

    Indeed, your gratuitous Darwin comment shows that you are being unreasonable.

  183. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > There’s a huge difference between a 14 or 15 year old having sex with someone around that age and a 15 year old having sex with a 30 year old.

    The Catholic church teaches that Joseph was about 30 when they got married. But you probably think Catholics aren’t real Christians either. But I am curious, where exactly does the Bible stipulate that 15 year olds can’t have sex with 30 year olds? After all, it was extremely common practice in ancient times. Or did you just make up that rule, or just copy it down from the culturally prevalent ideas?

    But consider this: polygamy (though not polyandry), leverite marriage, arranged marriages, dowries, women having no choice whatsoever in who they marry, women getting married soon after puberty, concubinage, and a preference for that church leaders avoid sex altogether, are all taught and advocated in the Bible. You know that according to the Bible, if a man marries a woman and she turns out to not be a virgin he can immediately divorce her, even after several years of marriage. And consequently, brides would keep their “tokens of virginity”, which is to say a blood stained sheet, for a long time to protect her from this accusation.

    But you know all of those are wrong too?

    > This person really isn’t interested in logical points. What’s important to said person is that God is evil and I am evil by association,

    These are all substantial criticisms of God, recorded in his very own book, putatively in his very own words. How exactly is that rhetoric? I understand that it is entirely outside your frame of comprehension to think of God as evil, but he did or caused to be done acts that in any other circumstances you would agree were dreadfully evil. The conclusion should be plain, but delusion prevents you from making that step. As to whether you are evil, not really, I think you are just a deluded fool. But when I consider your delusion and foolishness I am reminded of that verse in Proverbs: “Better to meet a mother bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly.”

    But I hate to even address these concerns since it just gives you space to ignore the substantial issues which you continue to avoid.

  184. > Also anyone who thinks that a 15-year-old is mature enough to conset to sex with a powerful maternal authority figure should stay the fuck away from my family.

    For millennia, 13-year old male Jews have stood before their congregation and said “Today I am a man.” For most of those millennia, the rest of the world seemed to agree with the idea that a teenager is, in fact, an adult.

    Somewhere along the line, we decided that teens are not adults. We stopped expecting them to act like adults, put them into artificial institutions in which they outnumber people who are more than four years their senior by 20:1 or better odds, set up special “juvenile justice” programs that prevent them from being punished for lawbreaking in the same way that adults are, made it illegal for them to engage in most productive work (or severely restricted that work) and we wonder why their behavior is straight out of “Lord of the Flies” or the “Onlies” from Star Trek episode “Miri”.

    We should be teaching teens to act like responsible adults, and (with the exception of voting, serving on juries, in the military etc.) treating them as such, at least to the extent they demonstrate that they deserve it.

    And somehow the people who perpetuate this destructive situation claim to be morally superior to those who oppose it, who obviously are a bunch of ped‍oph‍iles themselves according to this disgusting Kafkatrap.

  185. @ Jessica – “These are all substantial criticisms of God,”

    Actually, these are all substantial criticisms of a meme; albeit a very elaborate and lntricate meme that represents the foundational principle of a religion.

    Part of the problem with religious debates is that both sides think the other is crazy. True believers are bound to their beliefs by an existential imperative that is defended by compartmentalized irrationality. Rationalists see only the present tense cognitive insanity and perceive a potential threat in these irrational behaviors.

    It is important to note that homo sapiens are still thriving on this planet, and during the last few millennia, religion has played a major role in this advance (in spite of its defects).

  186. > In what way have I not treated you as reasonable? Disagreeing with your beliefs does not imply that I think you are unreasonable for holding them; that’s between you and your conscience, and I have no right to complain.

    Jay, that comment wasn’t directed at you, but rather at how Jeff Read was so socially autistic he was completely unaware of the most basic social dynamic: people reciprocate the way you treat them. It also debunks the atheist myth that most americans don’t trust atheists for arbitrary reasons. They don’t trust atheists because atheists don’t trust them.

  187. Jay, that comment wasn’t directed at you, but rather at how Jeff Read was so socially autistic he was completely unaware of the most basic social dynamic: people reciprocate the way you treat them.

    More like I just don’t give a shit. There are Christians I can engage in meaningful social reciprocation with despite vehemently disagreeing with them on spiritual matters, and Christians I can’t. The ones I can stand tend to respect my reasoning, and at least acknowledge that their faith has a largely emotional basis. The ones I can’t tend to say things like “Your foolish arguments won’t sound so funny when you stand before the Great White Throne and face God’s eternal judgement!”

    Guess which category you belong to, douchebag.

    Also, that Murka is full of assclowns like you is recognized worldwide as a disturbing social problem, and the reason why the only thing this country leads in anymore is proportion of the population incarcerated and number of schools that teach creationism.

  188. There are many different criticisms popping up, so I will focus on the dialectically challenged Fluffy Girl.

    > The Catholic church teaches that Joseph was about 30 when they got married. But you probably think Catholics aren’t real Christians either.

    I think the quality of Catholicism entirely depends on the region in which Catholicism is being practiced. The Catholicism in Mexico seems so similar to the pre-Columbian paganism I am surprised they don’t practice mass on giant step pyramids and semi-nude. On the other hand, the Catholicism in Croatia seems fairly similar to the protestant ethic in America.

    But if you insist that Catholic history is reliable enough to determine Joseph’s age, then you should also know that the Catholic Church believes that Joseph never had sex with Mary and thus their marriage is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

  189. > The ones I can’t tend to say things like “Your foolish arguments won’t sound so funny when you stand before the Great White Throne and face God’s eternal judgement!”.

    I strongly suspect that the ones you can’t stand are the ones that resemble the most like yourself. We already established that your description of my inflicted `mental mutilation’ is so similar to the Calvinist interpretation of predestination that you became extremely embarrassed when the connection was pointed out. But the greatest similarity between high-church atheists like yourself and Calvinists is that you both believe that your lack of `mental mutilation’ makes you superior to others.

    But I can also tell you that most Christians wouldn’t give a shit about atheists in this country were it not for the fact that many of them, such as Dawkins, consistently advocate that religious people should lose their livelihood and Sam Harris even went as far as arguing that they should be incarcerated. It’s difficult to explain this to you as I strongly suspect that you have Aspergers’ syndrome and therefore lack a theory of mind, but let me try anyway: if you openly verbalize that the religious are mentally mutilated and are ruining society, said religious will in turn verbalize the same for atheists. As most Americans are religious, this means that most Americans verbalize the exact same thing atheists criticize them for. This is because when people get into social interactions, they reciprocate.

  190. Jeff, a leftist shouldn’t throw stones about people having irrational beliefs. You’ll smash your own glass house to smithereens.

  191. > But I hate to even address these concerns since it just gives you space to ignore the substantial issues which you continue to avoid.

    You should never interpret silence as incompetence, especially from me, speaking as someone who is quite clearly your intellectual superior. These issues you have brought up have been dealt by most apologists over the course of the last 1,900 years, and therefore it is extremely boring to cover old ground.

    Considering that there are several different people adressing multiple criticisms and only one of me, it’s not reasonable to expect that I will respond to all of them. As it happens, finals week is next week, and I have important issues that take up my time and mental space. I do this because I hope that though it you may learn some humility instead of mistakenly believing that you are superior to God and his representatives on Earth. However, Jesus is rich in mercy, and I hope that you will come to the wonderful and merciful God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has a spot for you in the New Jerusalem.

  192. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > speaking as someone who is quite clearly your intellectual superior.

    Oh yes, that is abundantly clear…

    > These issues you have brought up have been dealt by most apologists

    Yes, indeed and their answers are horrible. But if you want to blather on here then be prepared to defend your blather. “Go read Aquinas” is not defending your blather, as someone of your obviously vastly superior intellectual capacity would surely know.

    >it’s not reasonable to expect that I will respond to all of them.

    No problem, we all have limited time, so address the substantial ones and stop worrying about all the other stuff. Or don’t, instead continue to use your capacious mental capacity to argue about who is being meaner to who.

    > mistakenly believing that you are superior to God

    I think I have thoroughly demonstrated I am superior to God in one specific respect — I am obviously much more moral than god. I have my sins of course, but mass murder is not one of them. I might argue with the priests of Baal and you, come to that. However, you and they can be sure that should I not convince you I will not massacre you. You know like God commanded Elijah to do?

    > Jesus is rich in mercy,

    Tell that to Ananias and Saphira.

    > He has a spot for you in the New Jerusalem.

    I hope not. The idea of an eternity with people like you, over ruled by such a horrible god can be summed up in one word: “hell.”

  193. Jeff, a leftist shouldn’t throw stones about people having irrational beliefs.

    If my political orientation were proven irrational — by the facts, not by free-market fundamentalist dogma — I’d happily change it; as things stand there is a growing body of scholarly work which suggests the facts are on my side.

  194. >the Catholic Church believes that Joseph never had sex with Mary.

    Actually, the New Testament it says they didn’t until Jesus was born but one can assume they did afterwards. (This is said just after the angel Gabriel visits Joseph.)

    >someone who is quite clearly your intellectual superior

    Who is intellectually superior to whom does not matter; what matters is who is right.
    This is just ad hominem reasoning, at DH1. (see http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html.)

  195. Actually, the New Testament it says they didn’t until Jesus was born but one can assume they did afterwards. (This is said just after the angel Gabriel visits Joseph.)

    Catholic doctrine assumes the opposite. E.g., in the Confiteor: “I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin…”

  196. > Address the substantial ones and stop worrying about all the other stuff. Or
    > don’t, instead continue to use your capacious mental capacity to argue about
    > who is being meaner to who.

    As you wish. Also the redundancy of `capacious mental capacity’ is a
    redundancy.

    > I look forward to that occasion when I can look your God in the eye and ask
    > him what right he has to judge me

    This is a classic fallacy of relevance, as the human rights record of a judge,
    be it a divine one or earthly one, is completely irrelevant in determining the
    guilt of the criminal. Whenever a judged is impeached of a crime, there isn’t
    a pardon for criminals who were judged by him or her because it is recognized
    that his or her judgement stems from objective law and an objective evaluation
    of evidence.

    And as it so happens, there is an objective law with which to judge morality,
    which will not depend on you having understood every nuance of Leviticus: An
    activity is evil if, when said activity is universalized, results in a logical
    contradiction. This definition of evil is absolute and completely independent
    of the sentiments of anybody. It is obvious to every society that has ever
    existed on the face of the earth, seeing that it is for this reason that every
    society has banned murder and stealing.

    God, on the other hand, has constructed the universe in such a way that it is
    impossible to bear witness of evil, because not a single law that can be found
    in nature is contradictory. Even though there is undoubtedly suffering, no
    example of true evil, which is a universalized but contradictory natural law,
    has yet to be discovered by scientists. By doing so, he has shown that He is
    good and completely self-sufficient in every way.

    Here is what will really happen to you on judgement day if you continue
    rejecting God’s solution for death and stand by your own merits.

    First, you will be given an eternal, incorruptible body. This is very
    important for the next step.

    Next, you will be overwhelmed by His majesty in every single way. You will
    have fallen on the ground, totally and completely prostrate, forced for the
    first time in your entire life to bear witness to the holiness of God the
    Father. If you had seen him while you were alive on Earth, you would have
    died, because nobody can see God the Father and live, but because of your
    resurrection you will be able to see His holiness, grandeur, and awesomeness.

    Then, He will make it abundantly clear that every single time you’ve told a
    lie,ever single time you sought to disobey His will, every single time you’ve
    stolen something, you did it because you sought to do evil and flout the law
    of universalizability. In addition, He will show that not a single time you
    did one of these actions was out of arrogant will and in no way dependent on
    circumstances. He will have demonstrated that you are completely incapable of
    living in a way that can be made into a universal law.

    Then, He will have shown you what you have missed by refusing to do His will
    of accepting His Son (John 6:40). Even though you will have been shown to be
    evil, He will have also shown you that, had you believed in His Son and had
    you accepted Him, you could have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to live
    free from evil, and that God’s solution was always available to you. After
    your short life, you will have found that there is no more sacrifice for sin
    for a person to grasp onto. The Passover lamb had to be eaten that night– it
    could not be left until morning (Exodus 34:25). All who have eaten His body
    and drunk His blood– putting their faith in Christ– will awake to the
    glorious dawn of life eternal; you will have found it too late to partake. And
    if you had really wanted to do so in your heart of hearts, you would have done
    so– you had the chance.

    Finally, He will have granted you your hearts desire: a life without Him.
    Because you will be given a life without Him, that necessarily includes a life
    without peace, joy, hope, love, self-control, patience, serenity, or any other
    fruit of the Spirit that makes life worth living. The only place you will be
    able to dwell is the lake of fire, where you will spend the rest of eternity
    contemplating your shame, guilt, and wickedness.

    > since he himself is a mass murder of babies(1Sam 15)

    As I have shown earlier, no objective evil has proceeded from the universe:
    only suffering. God’s control over death isn’t done to destroy us (for He
    could easily do that much quicker) but as a means of both reconciling us to
    Him (for salvation could have only came through the death of a kinsman-
    redeemer), a means of redeeming us (for we cannot appreciate eternal blessing
    without the destruction of the old body), and as a means of preserving free
    choice in this life (by removing evil).

    We know that God did not want to destroy the evil Canaanite tribes, because He
    told Abraham that he was unable to grant Him the land at that time because it
    would have been unjust for Him to have driven them out (Genesis 15:16).
    Granted, the tribe in question was the Amorite one in Genesis 15:16, but the
    same principle applies to any nation that had to be eliminated. We see this
    most famously when Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah,
    and perhaps it was because of such intercession that God decided to spare the
    city of Zoar, even though that city almost certainly deserved to be destroyed
    with the rest. When we see that God finally does destroy the tribes of Canaan,
    it was largely because such tribes tempted God: by their desire to destroy
    Israel, they sought to tempt Him by trying to nullify the promise God made to
    Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To say that God has done evil by eliminating them
    makes as much sense to say that a surgeon who amputates the arm of a patient
    suffering from gangrene `committed evil.’

    Although you have carefully chosen to emphasize the slaughter of babies, as
    surely nobody can argue that they somehow `deserved it,’ but recall that
    justice is only one purpose for death. Seeing that none of those infants had
    the opportunity to reject God’s offer of salvation, their names are in the
    Book of Life, and are in every way a better predicament than every unbeliever
    who rejected Him.

    > deeply unjust (see argument above about total depravity)

    Everyone who trusts in Christ is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and upon
    the resurrection will be eliminated of depravity in every way. Instead of
    being unjust, the total depravity of our being allows us to exercise our faith
    by consistently making the decision to turn away from sin and toward our
    redeemer.

    If someone knows this, but decides that they’d rather not place their faith in
    Christ and be cleansed of their iniquity, then that person could not have
    possibly cared about goodness in any way.

    > a failed redeemer (again, see argument about the profound injustice of the
    > doctrine of redemption)

    Everyone’s name is originally written in the Book of Life. `All whose names
    are not [still] written in the book of life [where they were written] from the
    beginning of the world, [even the book] which belongs to the Lamb who was
    slain.’ (Revelation 13:8) This is why when babies die they go to heaven: they
    have not said no to their Savior. If some spirit ever desired to be saved, God
    will ensure that they will be saved.

    On the other hand, despite the fact that all one has to do is not say no to
    God, people have purposely worshipped wood, animals, and plants, even though
    there is no way anybody could believe that animals and inanimate objects
    created the universe. These people suppressed the truth and instead chose to
    worship creatures instead of the creator, who will be praised forever.

    > a bigot (see attitude toward homosexuals)

    If some people can suppress the truth and believe that a piece of wood is
    their creator, then it follows that those who choose to reject God are not in
    any way restricted in what lies they can choose to believe. For this reason,
    God let them ignore the entire reason sex exists and gave them up to their
    desires. It is not the case that God hates homosexuals simply because they are
    homosexual, but that their homosexuality is proof that they hate God.

    > a liar (see his description of the creation of the world)

    I have read many works by evolutionary scientists, and not a single work of
    theirs has ever come close to a scientific proof of evolution, be it the
    biological evolution of Darwin or the cosmological belief that a colorless,
    ordorless gas can become life. Instead, I see claims that the evidence in
    nature is not inconsistent with the belief that everything evolved.
    Claiming that the evidence is not inconsistent with your pet theory is very
    different from claiming that the evidence proves your pet theory. This is why
    Richard Dawkins in The Greatest Show on Earth, despite starting off
    with the premise that he will be able to prove that we are more certain about
    common descent than the Holocaust, spends most of his book talking about
    `maybe,’ `we could imagine,’ `possibly,’ and various other ways of explaining
    the world. While these are interesting theories, all I can say that, at best,
    they explain the evidence but don’t do much more. It is for this reason that
    Karl Popper remarked, ‘I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a
    testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme–a possible
    framework for testable scientific theories… This is of course the reason why
    Darwinism has been almost universally accepted. Its theory of adaptation was
    the first nontheistic one that was convincing; and theism was worse than an
    open admission of failure, for it created the impression that an ultimate
    explanation has been reached.’

    > and a fool (creating a world that is destined to fail.)

    The purpose of this world is ultimately to answer Satan’s rebellion against
    God by the creation of humans. Instead of just sending him to hell, God chose
    to create a creature that was lower than angels: humans. Not only that, but
    God gave Satan temporary rulership over the Earth, which is why he is called
    the prince of this world. Not only that, but God lowered himself to a level
    lower than Satan by being born as a human. Not only that, but God himself was
    taken as a slave through death into hades. But because hades could not hold
    the spirit of God, he was able to escape death and be resurrected, taking with
    him the faithful believers from the Old Testament who patiently awaited for
    this moment.

    Why did God make a creation like this, with a plan of history like this?

    Because, by doing so, God has shown that no matter how much power or autonomy
    Satan has, he will never have anything that makes God truly impressive and
    awesome: things like righteousness, mercy, or love. Even if Satan had more
    power than God, he would still not be capable of these truly impressive
    things.

    > It is hearsay reported in a multigenerational, fragmentary copy of an
    > original.

    Apparently 30 years after the fact is good enough for Thucydides but not for
    4 independent gospel writers.

    And there’s nothing `fragmentary’ about it: we can better reconstruct the text
    of the original New Testament better than the Iliad, which no classicist
    disputes, although I mentioned this earlier, which was met with the response
    of

    > You think that the two are equivalent? Nobody bases their lives and whole
    > philosophy, in fact their future, on the correct interpretation of the
    > Iliad. It makes not one shred of difference to me if Agamemnon or Achilles
    > did what Homer records, or even if they existed. You? Your whole life falls
    > apart if the bible isn’t reliably true.

    Appeal to Consequences. This is a perfect example of your consistent
    preference of using rhetoric over dialectic.

    > extremely partisan witnesses.

    This is contradictory with your notion that

    > And there are considerable academic debate as to who even wrote the
    > documents.

    If you don’t know who wrote the documents, then you can’t say that the
    witnesses were extremely partisan.

    > You have still offered us no real evidence of the resurrection. Stop with
    > all your nonsense and tell us why we should believe that an extremely
    > unlikely event happened.

    Because the probability that the idea of God becoming flesh, dying, and being
    resurrected being taken seriously among Jews– who found the idea of a man
    being God to be disgusting– and among Greeks– who found the idea of God
    being resurrected to be also disgusting, is even lower than just accepting
    that the Gospels and Epistles are true.

    > I might argue with the priests of Baal and you, come to that.

    The priests of Baal were apostate Jewish priests who were under a contract to
    God that they would only serve Him. Remember the first commandment, `I am the
    Lord thy God, you shall have no other gods before me?’ That was actually a
    legal contract between God and the Jewish people. The priests were held to an
    even higher standard in that special contract.

    If the apostate Jewish priests refused the priestly duties and just became
    apostate laymen, they probably wouldn’t have been slaughtered. If they didn’t
    like the consequences, they shouldn’t have entered the contract.

    > Tell that to Ananias and Saphira.

    That was actually an example of God’s mercy: the alternative would have been
    for them to apostasize completely. In the case of exceptionally stubborn
    believers who sin against God but nonetheless keep faith in Him, God issues
    the most severe type of punishment, by destroying their bodies. In this case,
    `the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved–even though only as one
    escaping through the flames.’ (1 Corinthians 3:15)

    > Who is intellectually superior to whom does not matter; what matters is who
    > is right. This is just ad hominem reasoning.

    No it is not. It is just a boast. Argumentum ad hominem is a very
    specific type of fallacy where I attack a person’s argument by trying to
    discredit the person. Tom A’s attempt to explain my beliefs as just memes, as
    well as the central premise behind Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, are
    argumenta ad hominem.

    Paul Graham is also an idiot. The previous statement is also not an Argumentum
    ad hominem
    , just a common variety insult.

  197. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > no example of true evil … has yet to be discovered by scientists.

    Oh, you totally got me. I thought you were for real, I didn’t realize you were trolling. Good one Tomislav.

  198. I’ve got far better things to do than Fisk that long post, but I can’t let this slide:

    “It is not the case that God hates homosexuals simply because they are
    homosexual, but that their homosexuality is proof that they hate God.”

    And what if it turns out that being gay isn’t a choice at all? By Christians’ own arguments, God made them gay, and that means that God made someone he has no choice but to hate.

    This is in direct contradiction with the belief that God loves each and every one of us.

    Fundamentalist Christians take the intellectually easy way out and simply claim that being gay is a choice. For it to be not a choice at all would bring the whole edifice tumbling down.

  199. > An activity is evil if, when said activity is universalized, results in a logical
    contradiction.

    Please elaborate/explain.

    >No it is not. It is just a boast.

    Why did you type the last 2 paragraphs? It carries no weight and is a waste of bandwidth.

  200. @Tomislav
    “An activity is evil if, when said activity is universalized, results in a logical contradiction.”

    Killing all humans is generally considered “evil”. However, I do not see where there is a logical contradiction?

    Back to topic. If all terminally ill 15yo virgin boys or girls who desperately want to experience intercourse before they die, hire the service of a woman or man are allowed to do so, why would that be either “Evil” or “Result in a logical contradiction”?

    Actually, the question would be: Who would be harmed?

  201. > s/allowed/allowed and willing/

    I’m having trouble parsing your syntax.

  202. @Jay Maynard
    “Winter: s/allowed/allowed and willing/g”

    OK, I assumed the willing part was covered by the boys&girls “desperately want” it. But it cannot harm to be specific.

  203. No, I was referring to the person being hired being willing to be hired. Still, I see how that change could lead to ambiguity.

  204. @Jay Maynard
    “No, I was referring to the person being hired being willing to be hired. Still, I see how that change could lead to ambiguity.”

    I will be explicit: Both parties are entering out of free will with the option to stop when they feel like it.

  205. >> s/allowed/allowed and willing/
    >I’m having trouble parsing your syntax.

    translation: replace “allowed” with “allowed and willing” [in the preceding post]

  206. Step away for a bit and look what happens. :) Anyway, to change course a little….

    >If true, then atheism might be a memetic mutation, and unless it confers long term advantages to the species, it is unlikely to become a dominant trait. One of the interesting features of religious belief is that it allows for compartmentalized irrationality in which the practitioner willfully participates.The benefits of irrational belief must therefore outweigh the practical disadvantages.

    That is very possible. To borrow from the comment thread of a different post:

    “To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you’re all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.” – Jerry Pournelle

  207. @Greg
    > these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.” – Jerry Pournelle

    I don’t agree at all. Sometimes hazarding your life is an entirely rational act. For example, it was common practice to conscript military regiments from communities together. As far as I can see, the reason for this is that should the soldier show cowardice in the face of the enemy then he would be humiliated at home, and his life would be come unlivable. And so the possible risk of loosing his life in combat was rationally less than the certainty of ostricization on return.

    Similarly, on the Russian front Stalin would regularly inform his troops that cowardice would not only be rewarded with a bullet to the head for the coward, but for his family too. Consequently bravery in the face of the enemy was indeed a rational act.

    Third, a woman sleeping in her bed hears some home invader moving around in her home. To protect herself and her children she picks up her weapon and goes to hazard her life against the unknown intruder. This is also an entirely rational act.

    Not to say there isn’t lots of irrationality, but certainly taking risks, even risks with your life, is often the rational choice. Which is to say being necessary makes them rational.

  208. @ Jessica – “I don’t agree at all. Sometimes hazarding your life is an entirely rational act.”

    It may depend on the state of your knowledge and the immediacy of the threat. Rationality in decision-making implies that you have sufficient time and resources to form a coherent picture and then deduce the results of actions and consequences.

    When faced with an immediate threat and lots of unknowns, sometimes you just act, even if it seems irrational in the instant. The form of mental short-circuiting may have been advantageous in the early ancestral environment where threats and unknowns were likely very common.

  209. >There’s a strain of mysticism derived from Christianity that almost works too; historically it has been called “quietism” (Eckhart: “The eye with which you see God is the same eye with which God sees you”). But this is rightly considered heretical because it implies non-theism – and to arrive at epistemic sanity you have to go all the way there.

    Had to look that one up. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if they go all the way to non-theism, that sounds suspiciously Buddhist.

    If you don’t go all the way to non-theism, this can be very very bad indeed.

    You can get something like the heresy of the Free Spirits, which I’ve read a little bit about. They had some kind of odd doctrine of destroying the individuality of their souls (or something), thereby merging their souls with God. Which left an opportunistic door open to some *extreme* application of the antinomian heresy. They were one with God, they *were* God, so nothing they did, by definition, could be sinful or wrong. Widespread theft, rape and murder followed.

  210. >Not to say there isn’t lots of irrationality, but certainly taking risks, even risks with your life, is often the rational choice. Which is to say being necessary makes them rational.

    Go look up ‘Birkenhead Drill’.

    The question is one of knowledge, and scale. Actions that are, to the best knowledge an individual may possess, irrational for that individual, may be necessary for something good elsewhere that that individual may never see.

    So an action may be, in some sense ‘necessary’, but not for the individual that has to perform them, and the only way to get that individual to perform them is irrationality. Basically emotional appeal of some nature.

  211. >Correct me if I’m wrong, but if they go all the way to non-theism, that sounds suspiciously Buddhist.

    Well spotted. Eckhart and other Christian mystics later classified as quietists (such as George Fox) are not infrequently quoted by Zen Buddhists as points of contact with Christianity.

    As to whether individual Christian quietist thinkers got to non-theism – none of them came out and said it, but that direction is very clear in their language, especially when you read it in light of personal mystical experience as I have. The only institutionalized quietist tradition in Christianity, the Society of Friends, has both Christian and non-theistic factions.

  212. Eric, you’re overlooking the Orthodox Church; quietism originated from the Orthodox practice known as hesychasm (which actually means “quietism”). There is a difference; hesychasm is decidedly theistic, and the descriptions of the techniques, like “moving the mind into the heart” and the grave spiritual danger of practicing hesychast prayer wrongly or with the wrong intent, are taken quite literally.

  213. (Edited to finish the minor rewrite.)
    >So some actions may be, in some sense ‘necessary’, but not for the individual that has to perform them, and the only way to get that individual to perform them is irrationality. Basically emotional appeal of some nature.

    To clarify- religion can be looked at as one easy, widely available way (there are others) to induce an individual to identify with *and sacrifice for*, something larger than themselves. With the implication that this could/would manifest in ways and with behavior that would be irrational strictly for the individual.

    This can have macro scale benefits.

  214. > Killing all humans is generally considered “evil”. However, I do not see where there is a logical contradiction?

    (1) Killing all humans requires humans to kill.
    (2) If universalized, it would require killing oneself
    (3) Therefore, if universalized, I can no longer follow the maxim. It is self-defeating, and therefore contradictory.
    (4) Therefore, this maxim is immoral. Q.E.D.

    > Actually, the question would be: Who would be harmed?

    I can shoot you in such a right place that you would die painlessly and unaware. Who would be harmed then? I can also take you against your will, lock you up in a dingy basement, and stick a probe in your brain that will cause you to experience unbridled pleasure. Again, who is being harmed? A pedophile can raise children to be unbridled sex slaves and they would willingly consent to having as much sex with said pedophile as possible; in fact, the children can be conditioned so that not having sex with said pedophile would result in much pain for them. In that case, it would be more harmful to prevent the children from being said pedophile’s personal sex slave. Are we obligated, under the principle of minimizing harm, to let the pedophile run free?

    > And what if it turns out that being gay isn’t a choice at all? By Christians’ own arguments, God made them gay, and that means that God made someone he has no choice but to hate.

    If someone can’t control his action of sticking his penis into another man’s orifice, then we are obligated to lock up such people so that they don’t engage in rape.

    Homosexuality was largely defined by the Ancient Greeks (and thus in the NT) in terms of activitiy, not inclinations.

    > Oh, you totally got me. I thought you were for real, I didn’t realize you were trolling. Good one Tomislav.

    Sounds like you’re a utilitarian, and thus define evil as lack of optimal pleasure. However, if I were afflicted with a horrible, painful, and incurable disease, I would consider it to be a great amount of suffering, but not evil. In fact, such moments of suffering are what allow us to develop our patience.

    > Why did you type the last 2 paragraphs? It carries no weight and is a waste of bandwidth.

    Speaking the truth is never a lack a bandwidth.

  215. @Greg
    > Go look up ‘Birkenhead Drill’.

    Don’t need to look it up, I am familiar. I am sure you are aware that there are good rational reasons why it works. Men are, after all, much more replaceable than women and children measured against certain goals, including the goals of some of those men.

    > The question is one of knowledge, and scale. Actions that are, to the best knowledge an individual may possess, irrational for that individual, may be necessary for something good elsewhere that that individual may never see.

    Of course that is true, but there is an assumption in there that preservation of one’s own life is necessarily the primary rational goal. I’m not sure that is a valid assumption at all, there are probably goals that I would be willing to trade my life to achieve, I imagine most people would also do so.

    Which is to say hazarding one’s life can indeed be a rational choice if doing so might advance one’s goals and that possibility is considered to outweigh the possible cost of total loss. I imagine you did that today. I bet you got in an automobile and risked the possibility of dying in a car accident against the advancement of the goals you had today.

    Now it is also true that sometimes we are put in a position to hazard our lives for the goals of someone else, and that is not rational. However, it can be made rational if the person setting the goal internalizes for you that externality, as with the example of Stalin I gave earlier. In that case their goal becomes a prerequisite to you achieving your goals.

    In that case following the goals of the other may in fact rational, since your own goals have been adjusted by the imposed externailty. It might not be fair, but it is rational. I imagine you did this today too. You probably don’t approve of most of what the government does with your money, I doubt it aligns entirely with your goals for your money, but you probably still paid some taxes today. The government internalized their external goals for you by making the cost of not paying your taxes extremely unpleasant. And those threats makes paying your taxes a prerequisite to achieving whatever other goals you might have.

    @TomA
    > It may depend on the state of your knowledge and the immediacy of the threat.

    Rationality always depends on the amount of information available and the time to process that information, simply because we never have all the information, and rarely have time to fully process and analyze the information we have. So I think it is fair to assume that what you said is kind of assumed in the concept of rationality.

  216. >Eric, you’re overlooking the Orthodox Church; quietism originated from the Orthodox practice known as hesychasm (which actually means “quietism”).

    I know about hesychasm. I thought about mentioning it, but none of my sources suggest that it was causal to Western quietism.

    Mind you, I wouldn’t be astonished if there is some connection, but there doesn’t need to be. “Quietist” practices get occasionally and spontaneously reinvented in every religious tradition; trying to disentangle native reivrentions from diffusion is probably futile. In 2014 you can find contemplative Western Catholic monks sitting in lotus, a practice consciously adopted from Buddhism.

    Religions are many, but the human brain is what it is. Meditative practices necessarily converge because they’re all hacks of the same architecture.

  217. >Don’t need to look it up, I am familiar. I am sure you are aware that there are good rational reasons why it works.

    Yes. But *not for the men involved*, which is rather the point. You’re being either deliberately dim, or astonishingly lacking in empathy. Should they surrender their lives because *you* think it makes perfect sense?

    >Men are, after all, much more replaceable than women and children measured against certain goals, including the goals of some of those men.

    Are you assuming that every man that defers boarding a lifeboat does it to save a spot for *his own* wife and children? Otherwise, you make no sense. Even so, it’s a false assumption.

    >Now it is also true that sometimes we are put in a position to hazard our lives for the goals of someone else, and that is not rational. However, it can be made rational if the person setting the goal internalizes for you that externality, as with the example of Stalin I gave earlier. In that case their goal becomes a prerequisite to you achieving your goals.

    Let’s not overuse the argument – you’re in danger of arguing that all prime numbers are even, because 2. Being made the victim of a hostage-taking ploy is at best a corner case.

  218. OK, I’ll try a slightly different approach. Free riding is rational. Well up to a point. Being the only person who pays, when everyone else is free riding, is not strictly rational.

    Volunteering to fight and die far from home, and then actually going through with it and being killed, when the overwhelming majority of your fellows did not, and in fact most of them silently (or not so silently) ridiculed your choice…. that’s not rational. Even when such an action may be helping to prevent long term harm to your community.

    We have mechanisms to encourage people to make that kind of choice, but they’re not entirely rational either- they’re all deeply emotional. Oh sure, they’re also manipulative as hell on some level, but people have to believe in it (buy in to the emotion) for it to work. (Consider the rituals we’ve built up around treatment of the remains of service members- that’s just a tiny tip of the iceberg of what I’m talking about.)

  219. > Meditative practices necessarily converge because they’re all hacks of the same architecture.

    I have reason to say that this is factually incorrect. In Christianity, meditation is defined in terms of asking God and communication with an external being. In some other religions, meditation is defined in terms of introspection.

  220. >I have reason to say that this is factually incorrect. In Christianity, meditation is defined in terms of asking God and communication with an external being. In some other religions, meditation is defined in terms of introspection.

    Yes, but we have already established that you are a faith-holder. Your report on these matters is therefore exactly as reliable as the ravings of a delusional schizophrenic.

  221. Because Fluffy Girl is being obstinate, I feel obliged to give her this one last message:

    First, trolls don’t use their real name. If I were simply trolling, don’t you think I’d use a pseudonym, like the one you’re using? Not only that, but my real name is so unique in the anglosphere you could easily identify me in real life. Unlike any troll in history, I have conducted myself with perfect transparency.

    Second, every expectation I had about you is correct, and provably so. You are incapable of dialectical reasoning, and the moment someone poses an argument that goes outside your emotional comfort zone, that person might as well have posted it in Ubykh, because you are incapable of understanding said person’s argument divorced from your feelings. In fact, we were having a far more productive conversation when I was posting to maximize your emotional outrage, because it at least made you think about how sound your outcries were when your opponent is perfectly capable of echoing back.

  222. > Yes, but we have already established that you are a faith-holder. Your report on these matters is therefore exactly as reliable as the ravings of a delusional schizophrenic.

    Which type of schizophrenic am I? Catatonic, paranoid, or disorganized? No, they are not all the same, and the type of anti-psychotics prescribed strongly depend on which subtype.

    But anyway, even if I were a mentally retarded delusional schizophrenic who ran undercover for the senate as Todd Akin and orchestrated 9/11, it is still a fact that the kind of mental relief that comes from believing that the sysadmin of the universe is in the process of working it out and the kind of relief that comes from mental stillness are two very different kinds of belief. To equivocate these different types of meditation as `converging’ is, at the very least, naïve.

  223. “If someone can’t control his action of sticking his penis into another man’s orifice, then we are obligated to lock up such people so that they don’t engage in rape.”

    Render unto me a fucking break. Now you claim all consensual sex between gay males is rape?! And you say you’re the reasonable one?

    “Homosexuality was largely defined by the Ancient Greeks (and thus in the NT) in terms of activitiy, not inclinations.”

    This is a distinction without a difference, unless you consider that celibacy – rightly described as “the most unnatural of all the perversions” – is something that your God demands of all gay men, since they, by your definition of marriage, cannot ever get married to the one they are wired to have sex with, and sex outside of marriage is eeeeevil! eeeeevil!! eeeeevil!!!

    FWIW, the Catholic church holds that celibacy is a special calling that only a few hear.

  224. @ Jessica – “So I think it is fair to assume that what you said is kind of assumed in the concept of rationality.”

    My intention was to make a distinction between the early ancestral environment (which is when this cerebral hardwiring likely occurred) versus modern times where everything is more complex due to the overlay of strong memetic drivers. The predisposition for compartmentalized irrationality is probably very old and has long been a complement to the ever-growing shift toward rationality as the primary cognitive tool.

    @ Tomislav

    I do not think you are crazy, but you are extraordinarily poor at argumentation. Your self appraisal of high intelligence is completely unjustified and you use of lots of words to say less than nothing.

  225. >My intention was to make a distinction between the early ancestral environment (which is when this cerebral hardwiring likely occurred) versus modern times where everything is more complex due to the overlay of strong memetic drivers. The predisposition for compartmentalized irrationality is probably very old and has long been a complement to the ever-growing shift toward rationality as the primary cognitive tool.

    I think you’re giving modern times way too much credit. Some wiseguy might say the capacity for compartmentalized irrationality is more useful than ever, especially if you want to get ahead in an environment where leftists have power. Try getting tenure in a non-STEM field without it. ;)

  226. I wonder if part of the problem concerning ‘rationality’ is a confusion between what is rational on a collective level, and what is rational on an individual level. Failing to separate the two would explain a great deal.

  227. >confusion between what is rational on a collective level, and what is rational on an individual level

    There is no rationality on the “group level”; groups don’t have intentions or thought processes. There are only individuals with utility functions in which the survival of the group ranks higher than their individual survival.

  228. @Greg:

    There is no confusion and they don’t need to be separated — they need to be balanced. And are, often enough. Else, we wouldn’t be here.

    If you view yourself as having any higher value than a carrier for your genes (to your genes), you’re almost as deluded as Tomislav.

    And your genes know, or sometimes make you act as if you know, that they are related, to one degree or another, to all the other genes of all the other people — exact copies of several chromosomes, in some cases.

    Genes that guide us to do this balancing correctly — win.

    And we’re all descended from winners.

  229. > This is a distinction without a difference, unless you consider that celibacy – rightly described as “the most unnatural of all the perversions” – is something that your God demands of all gay men, since they, by your definition of marriage, cannot ever get married to the one they are wired to have sex with

    Chastity cannot be considered unnatural because most of our life is done chaste and alone. We are chaste when we remain asleep for 8 hours. We are chaste when we eat. We are chaste when we take tests. We are chaste when we work. We are chaste when we collect welfare. We are chaste when we void ourselves in the washrooms. We are chaste when we contemplate our lives. We are chaste when we play sports. We are chaste when we brush our teeth. We are chaste when we think. We are chaste when we write. We are chaste when we pray. We are chaste when we talk to colleagues and strangers. We are even chaste when we masturbate.

    It is because we must reproduce that we have acquired the ability to have sex. If humans didn’t need to reproduce, or if we could reproduce asexually, then we would spend 100% of our lives chaste, even if we didn’t want to be chaste. It is for this reason that we don’t consider sexual gratification to be a human right on par with access to food, water, clothing, and shelter, nor do we have charities and government services devoted to ensuring that everyone has access to a sexual partner.

    The onus of proof is on the gay rights activist to prove that it is a denial of a basic human right for gay people to have a sexual partner, and to explain why if sexual gratification is a human right, why it isn’t in the UN Declaration of Human Rights for orgies to be provided to the general public, as it is for food, shelter, water, etc…

  230. @Tomislav:

    The onus of proof is on the gay rights activist to prove that it is a denial of a basic human right for gay people to [not] have a sexual partner,

    Out of all the stupid crap you’ve written, this is the worst strawman argument ever. Nobody thinks it’s a denial of a basic human right to not have a sex partner, or to not have their every sexual wish fulfilled, except maybe Woody Allen.

    But

  231. >Chastity cannot be considered unnatural because most of our life is done chaste and alone. We are chaste when we remain asleep for 8 hours.

    By your logic, the fact that we don’t eat all the time would demonstrate that we can go without eating.

    Your elaborate verbiage fails to conceal your insanity.

  232. But it is a basic human right, one this country was founded on, to be able to search for happiness, including searching for that special someone who has the whipped cream, battery cables, and the really big whatever, and who knows how to use all that stuff properly.

  233. > By your logic, the fact that we don’t eat all the time would demonstrate that we can go without eating.

    A stupid comparison, because we don’t need sex to live.

  234. *To clarify: an individual does not need sex to live, although the human race need reproduction to survive.

  235. > But it is a basic human right, one this country was founded on, to be able to search for happiness, including searching for that special someone who has the whipped cream, battery cables, and the really big whatever, and who knows how to use all that stuff properly.

    No it is not. We do not grant pedophiles the right to search for happiness, even if they will die miserable and alone if they cannot have a realtionship with a child.

  236. >A stupid comparison, because we don’t need sex to live.

    That difference is irrelevant to the form of your argument, which is logically flawed. Alas, I’m sure I’m wasting my time by pointing this out. Like any psychotic, you will continue believing what your emotional fixations require regardless of evidence or logic. That is, after all, what it means to have “faith”.

  237. Esr, I’ll let you have the last word, because I really don’t think I’ll ever convince you how absurd it is to believe in `homosexual marriage,’ or atheism for that matter. I think you would also like to have the peace of mind of living your life without `psychotics’ like myself. I’m sorry, but I cannot be your `friend’ either (not that I think you had any desire to), as no true friend would be comfortable with another facing the Lake of Fire.

    But my faith in God’s word is independent of my emotions. Even if I was made to emotionally suffer on behalf of my faith in God’s word (and thus be robbed of any good emotions that may have originated from it) for an indefinite peroid of time, I would still continue to abide. This is, after all, was Satan accused Job of being: a believer who only cared for God as long as he felt good because of it. Call it an irrational or psychotic fixation if you must, but please don’t call it emotional.

  238. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > First, trolls don’t use their real name.

    I was actually being sarcastic, sorry if that wasn’t clear. My point was that is was beyond believe that someone would actually make such an absurd claim. But that is the problem with reductio ad absurdum, there is always someone out there who will argue in favor of the most absurd things.

    > and the moment someone poses an argument that goes outside your emotional comfort zone, that person might as well have posted it in Ubykh,

    It is funny, because I kind of agree with you. See what you posted was so far out of whack with reality you might as well have been posting in “Ubykh”. For example:

    1. Taking a perfectly good, clear, well understood word “evil” and utterly redefining it, and then arguing about whether god was “evil” by your whacky definition. Thing is words mean what the large majority of people think they mean, that is the way it is, in English especially. So you don’t just get to arbitrarily redefine words.

    2. You pointed out that should I die unsaved, in the last days God would resurrect me to let me know how very wrong I was, before sending me to eternal oblivion. I’m sure that plays well with the churchy set, however, to me is sounds like “Nya, nya, you were wrong, Nya, nya, now you’ll pay.” Which is to say if anyone else behaved that way we would call them a sophomoric dickhead.

    3. You tell us that God made the world to prove satan wrong, and to show satan that he would never be as awesome as god. I feel so used!! Please refer to the aforementioned “sophomoric dickhead” and schoolyard chat for my interpretation of your description of the purpose of the world.

    4. Given 3 and 4 above I am amazed when I remind myself that you are saying these things in ADVOCACY of god. Are you sure you can’t think of nicer things to say about him?

    I think I got to the thing about God doesn’t hate gay people for being gay but because gay people hate god, and reached the end of my tolerance. Or was it when you told us that Karl Popper thought “darwinism” to be “untestable”, despite the fact the evolution is not only testable but has been both tested thousands of times, has been seen in nature thousands of times, and is in fact the principle underlying a number of important technologies.

    > You are incapable of dialectical reasoning,

    You seem to confuse “dialectic reasoning” with “loquacious mouth spew.” Your argument was a whole bunch of preachy jesus crap, mixed with occasional logical deductions from premises that were either outrageous, unfounded or scandalous. So forgive me if I remain unconvinced. In fact forgive me if I continue to believe that you are a troll: it helps me to believe in the good in people.

    Now of course, to cap it all off, we have this fabulous insanity:

    5. Your contention that when God commanded Saul to murder a bunch of babies, that God was actually doing the babies a favor by taking them to heaven and saving them from a life that might have led to hell. See the other stuff is just whacky, this is outright pathologically dangerous.

    God forbid that you eat some bad shellfish and interpret your indigestion as a command from god to save all the babies in the local pre school; save then AK-47 style that is. You are freaking scary dude. I hate to tell you this but condemning people for massacring babies is one of the prerequisites of participating in polite society.

  239. Tomislav, I have gone out of my way to grant that you have the right to hold whatever religious beliefs you feel compelled to. I have not called those beliefs absurd, even though I profoundly disagree with them.

    You seem unable to grant me the same courtesy.

  240. You say no true friend would be comfortable with another facing the lake of fire.

    I appreciate your concern, even though I do not share it.

    A true friend would express that concern, but also recognize that the decision rests with the individual, and drop the subject.

    Chew on that one.

  241. >>confusion between what is rational on a collective level, and what is rational on an individual level

    >There is no rationality on the “group level”; groups don’t have intentions or thought processes. There are only individuals with utility functions in which the survival of the group ranks higher than their individual survival.

    Possibly poor wording on my part.

    But what would you call a situation where every member of a group has reason to think ‘it would be rational for someone to do that’ but also thinks ‘it’s not rational for *me* to do that’.

    And in the case that was under discussion, it would be ‘individuals with utility functions in which survival of arbitrary other members of the group ranks higher than their own survival’ which is rather a harder sell.

  242. >You seem unable to grant me the same courtesy.

    You were unwise to expect him to. Being accustomed to living in a society that normalizes faith-centered religions has desensitized you to just how deeply and pathologically fixated true believers really are. It took airliners crashing into buildings to fully wake me up to this, even though I’d been a materialist atheist for more than three decades previous.

  243. >And your genes know, or sometimes make you act as if you know, that they are related, to one degree or another, to all the other genes of all the other people — exact copies of several chromosomes, in some cases.

    And this has to do with the Birkenhead Drill and choosing to die so people not in any way related to you can live, how?

    The continuing existence of amoral familism would suggest that you are deeply confused.

  244. Have we reached the part in the discussion where both parties realise that everything here has been said hundreds of times before and the actual probability of anyone actually changing their minds is minuscule?

  245. Eric, people usually rise to the level of courtesy they are shown. Courtesy is never wasted.

    Lambert, I never had any hope – or intention – of changing Tomislav’s beliefs. That’s not my bailiwick, anyway. What I had hoped was to show him that his preconceived notions of atheists were wrong. Sadly, he seems to be unable to get past them when confronted with counterexamples.

  246. @Tomislav
    “(3) Therefore, if universalized, I can no longer follow the maxim. It is self-defeating, and therefore contradictory.”

    I have no idea how you get from, “we kill everyone” to “self-defeating and therefore contradictory”. It is evil, but this can follow strictly logically from some premisses, e.g., “The universe is better off without humans”, or “All humans are better off in heaven”, or “Better dead than red”.

    @Tomislav
    “> Actually, the question would be: Who would be harmed?
    I can shoot you in such a right place that you would die painlessly and unaware. Who would be harmed then?”

    I would be harmed. My life would be cut short. I do not care much that it is painless. Harm is not the same as pain. You still have not told us how the boy would have been harmed by having his last wish fulfilled by a woman.

    @Tomislav
    “In that case, it would be more harmful to prevent the children from being said pedophile’s personal sex slave. Are we obligated, under the principle of minimizing harm, to let the pedophile run free?”

    Harm is not identical to pain. Cutting down the options of a person (child or adult) without necessity is harm. Molding or crippling their minds without necessity is evil.

    Preventing two adults from loving each other by force is harming them.

    We limit these options in children because we know that they are still unable to make certain choices. But in the case discussed here, we are talking about a 15yo boy. We know that having intercourse is not bad for 15yo boys. For much of the time humans have existed on earth, most men have had intercourse before the age of 16.

  247. >Eric, people usually rise to the level of courtesy they are shown.

    Sane people have that tendency, if they come from a society in which there is broad social equality. You have no real experience of societies in which this is not true; I do, though thankfully not much of it. Expecting “courtesy” from religious nutters is in any case a good way to wind up decapitated.

  248. >Eric, people usually rise to the level of courtesy they are shown.

    This is an important point here. Jay and people like Jay are perfectly happy to live and let live. However Tomislav is given a mission by his god to convert people like Jay. Jay is also perfectly happy to allow Tomislav and his kin alone, to believe whatever they want, in fact Jay even is open to the idea that some of his ideas might be wrong. After all, he recognizes that he inherited many of his ideas, and he formulated the others. And no doubt recognizes that sometimes he makes mistakes, he learns and he grows.

    Tomislav and people of his persuasion believe that his ideas come straight from a holy, all knowing god, and so does not allow for the possibility that they are wrong, or the possibility that he might have to change his view.

    These plain facts utterly change the dynamic of Tomislav’s “dialectic”. It is no longer a “dia” lectic, since from his perspective it is him teaching us about his ideas, since they are fixed and immovable. He might dishonestly disguise it as two people talking, but in reality there is only one side willing to move.

    Remember always that Tomislav doesn’t just think Jay is wrong, he thinks he is “condemned to an eternity of oblivion and damnation” wrong.

  249. @Fluffy:

    > Jay and people like Jay are perfectly happy to live and let live.

    To a point. I don’t want to put words in Jay’s mouth, but speaking for myself — there’s room on the planet for everyone who believes there’s room on the planet for me.

    > However Tomislav is given a mission by his god to convert people like Jay.

    A mission to convert may be merely annoying. A mission to convert or kill will be met with unbridled violence.

  250. @Tomislav:

    > No it is not. We do not grant pedophiles the right to search for happiness…

    The ease with which you conflate homosexuality and pedophilia is truly astounding.

  251. @Patrick Maupin
    “The ease with which you conflate homosexuality and pedophilia is truly astounding.”

    Seems to be the current trend. Putin and the Russian and Afrcan gay bashers use the same arguments.

    It does show Tomislav is not sincere.

  252. @Winter:

    > It does show Tomislav is not sincere.

    Oh, I’m sure that he sincerely believes they are both eeeevillll, and that he also sincerely believes that the most sophomoric debating techniques are worthwhile in the name of the greater good. If he can get just one convert out of this discussion, it will be a win for him.

    Not that that’s too likely, but you never know.

  253. For what it’s worth, not every religious person is as nonsensical as Tomislav. Memetic programing has made him into a true believer and he is on autopilot for the most part. Evolution has created this large cohort of society during the past several millennia, so it must be here for a reason. Among this group, the imminently dangerous fanatics are still relatively few, and annoyance is not the same as an Inquisition. Tomislav is a herd animal and we should be wary of who is leading the herd.

  254. @Patrick
    “Oh, I’m sure that he sincerely believes they are both eeeevillll, and that he also sincerely believes that the most sophomoric debating techniques are worthwhile in the name of the greater good.”

    Using child rape as an argument against homosexuality is a sure sign you are not sincere. It is at the same level as calling your opponents cockroaches. It is a de-humanization to prepare for mass murder.

    He might be sincere in his disgust, he is not in his arguing.

  255. In fairness, Tomislav did not equate being gay with pedophilia. That it is a common thing to do, especially among the religiously fundamentalist, does not mean that Tomislav believes they are linked.

    However, I’m still waiting for an answer as to why he thinks all consensual sex between gay males is really rape.

    And as for expecting courtesy from religious nut cases ending with me being decapitated, you’ve seen me shoot, Eric…

  256. @Jay:

    > In fairness, Tomislav did not equate being gay with pedophilia.

    Perhaps not directly, but if you follow the subthread (wherein I inadvertently posted before I was done, which admittedly makes it a bit harder to follow):

    The onus of proof is on the gay rights activist to prove that it is a denial of a basic human right for gay people to [not] have a sexual partner,

    Out of all the stupid crap you’ve written, this is the worst strawman argument ever. Nobody thinks it’s a denial of a basic human right to not have a sex partner, or to not have their every sexual wish fulfilled, except maybe Woody Allen.

    But

    … (rest of my post continues after intervening post)

    But it is a basic human right, one this country was founded on, to be able to search for happiness, including searching for that special someone who has the whipped cream, battery cables, and the really big whatever, and who knows how to use all that stuff properly.

    No it is not. We do not grant pedophiles the right to search for happiness, even if they will die miserable and alone if they cannot have a realtionship with a child.

    Now, since I screwed up my posting slightly, I suppose I can grant Tomislav the benefit of the doubt, but if you take my posts in context, I was clearly responding to his statement about gay people, and he switched the subject to pedophilia.

  257. >We do not grant pedophiles the right to search for happiness, even if they will die miserable and alone if they cannot have a relationship with a child.

    Yes, we do, except when it would infringe a child’s right to pursuit of happiness.

  258. @Jay Maynard
    “In fairness, Tomislav did not equate being gay with pedophilia.”

    Then why does he bring up rape and pedophilia every time he mentions gay sex? Especially as this connection is made explicitely in Russian and African anti-gay politics.

    Gay men have been murdered with this argument as an excuse. Then you have some explaining to do when you use it.

  259. He’s only brought up rape once and pedophilia twice, and neither of the latter was associated with gay sex. Indeed, Winter, you’ve brought up rape more than he has.

    There are enough good arguments that we don’t need to engage in bogus ones.

  260. @Greg:

    And your genes know, or sometimes make you act as if you know, that they are related, to one degree or another, to all the other genes of all the other people — exact copies of several chromosomes, in some cases.

    And this has to do with the Birkenhead Drill and choosing to die so people not in any way related to you can live, how?

    If you think they aren’t in any way related to you, you are not thinking, and not paying attention.

    The continuing existence of amoral familism would suggest that you are deeply confused.

    Or your insistence that my argument is incompatible with amoral familism and not relevant to the Birkenhead Drill would suggest that you’re incapable of logical thought. Whichever.

  261. > In fairness, Tomislav did not equate being gay with pedophilia. That it is a common thing to do, especially among the religiously fundamentalist, does not mean that Tomislav believes they are linked.

    >However, I’m still waiting for an answer as to why he thinks all consensual sex between gay males is really rape.

    A clarification: I do not think that homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia, even though several early gay rights activists such as Harry Hay advocated both. I don’t think that it is rape either (did I say that? I don’t remember.) It is not even a sin to be tempted by homosexual attraction. But when a homosexual makes a decision to act on that temptation, or even worse, to say that doing so is approved by God, I know immediately that he or she is incapable of understanding scripture, because scripture is just as much about the nature of man as it is about the nature of God. And one of the most important statements about the nature of man is that humanity was created `male and female’ and `for this purpose a man shall leave his mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ And Genesis 1 & 2 were affirmed by Jesus Christ as being the historical basis for marriage.

    In this sense, for someone to approve of homosexual acts and be a Christian would be like someone claiming to be a Christian but believing that a statue should be worshipped as the creator of the universe. He or she has essentially rejected the nature of God in exchange for his or her own idea of God.

  262. > For what it’s worth, not every religious person is as nonsensical as Tomislav. Memetic programing has made him into a true believer and he is on autopilot for the most part.

    I am proud of the Gospel and every part of it: from God’s redemption through Noah to God’s incarnation and resurrection.

    Noah’s flood was in every way unbelievable to those living in the antediluvian world: it had never rained, so the idea of God flooding the world through some unscientific process was foolishness. And even after it, it was in every way unbelievable, because the mind of the unbeliever has faith that the same processes that occurred today had operated since the beginning of time. As Peter said,

    scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. (II Peter 3:3-6)

    The only time when God’s totally supernatural redemption of Noah was acceptable to the minds of unbelievers was the day when the door of the ark was shut, the flood came and destroyed them all. It is for this reason that I am proud to be a fool for Christ, because Christ’s foolishness was higher than all of man’s wisdom through His deliverance of Noah. In the same way will His deliverance of His church be higher than man’s so-called `enlightened’ mind.

  263. @Tomislav:

    > I am proud of the Gospel and every part of it

    Why? Did you write it? Isn’t pride one of the seven deadly sins?

  264. @Tomislav&Jay
    I seem to have been over sensitive. I must read more carefully before I answer.

  265. >Isn’t pride one of the seven deadly sins?

    I think that is meant more in terms of arrogance and smugness (like that of the pharisees) than how one would take pride in the Gospel.

  266. Why? Did you write it? Isn’t pride one of the seven deadly sins?

    The Christian response would go something like: Pride in human qualities or achievements is a deadly sin because the heart of man is inherently corrupt, ever since the fall of Adam. Pride in God Almighty, Who is perfect, glorious, merciful and graceful and Who inspired the Scriptures so that we may understand and seek Him and come to Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, is a virtue.

    Many atheists have a hard time understanding the Christian psychology. Again, start with the a priori assumption that Jehovah exists and is as described in the old and new testaments, and do not let the facts get in your way. Ascribe positive qualities to God alone, and negative qualities to humans (except as influenced by God). If God seems unjust to you, redefine justice until God qualifies; if he seems merciless to you, redefine mercy until it fits God. Likewise, man is by definition evil in nature: “There is none righteous; no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) So pride in man is a sin but pride in the works of God is not.

  267. > Pride in human qualities or achievements is a deadly sin because the heart of man is inherently corrupt, ever since the fall of Adam.

    (1) Pride is never listed as a `deadly sin’ in the Bible: all sin is deadly (Romans 6:23), even those listed in Catholic theology as `venial sins.’ There is a `sin unto death’ talked about in I John, but this is not specifically related to pride or the traditional listing of the 7 deadly sins.
    (2) Pride in human qualities or achievements is a sin because God does not need your help. At all. You cannot be greater than God; in fact, everything you’re doing has been forseen and factored into the plain of God. If I am proud of the Gospel, it is because I am proud of the plan of God and how I am privledged to be a major participant.

  268. @Jay

    > Tomislav, I have gone out of my way to grant that you have the right to hold whatever religious beliefs you feel compelled to. I have not called those beliefs absurd, even though I profoundly disagree with them.

    Jay, your atheism reminds me of Dostoyevsky’s description of a certain type of atheism that involves questioning God, but out of a sheer intellectual honesty. I do respect the motivations for your beliefs, but at the same time, I know that to deny Christ’s divinity in the presence of the Gospel & Epistles takes willful faith, let alone the existence of God.

    In high school, I was a militant atheist and avid follower of Eliezer Yudkowski’s anti-theistic work. My first step to Christianity was acknowledging that the structure of the universe demands a law-giver, and that the only way to rule out intelligent design is to assume that it is impossible to begin with! This, whenever you question evolutionary enthusiasts like Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne, is really at heart of the matter of their zealous opposition: once you accept inquiries of whether or not an architect exists, then the next step is asking who is the architect, and once that happens, you then realize that the architect may have sent his son to give a free offering of the wonderful mansion he has built in the wonderful new city he will construct.

    My second step was actually reading the Bible. Initially, I started to read the Bible in order to disprove it, but when I read Genesis in its entirety, it became clear that the Pentateuch was not only a coherent text, but far more coherent than any other historical account I’ve read. It is the most honest assessment there is of not only the nature of God, but also the nature of man and the nature of the universe.

    To the contrary, I have been, for some years, on `your side of the aisle,’ so I understand your viewpoint perfectly well. Atheism, being a rather simple philosophy, is easy to understand. Unfortunately, most people like yourself do not properly understand Christianity well because they read the Bible with preconceived notions taught by pastors and priests who in turn should have no business teaching others. Just as it is written, `My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.’ (Hosea 4:6)

    @ Fluffy Girl

    > Taking a perfectly good, clear, well understood word “evil” and utterly redefining it, and then arguing about whether god was “evil” by your whacky definition.

    My definition of evil stems from Immanuel Kant’s understanding of evil as an action which cannot be willed into universal law without either being self-defeating or contradictory in some way. Many famous philosophers, including John Rawls, share my understanding of what is evil. If we are going to take a view of an objective good and evil, this is the only definition I can use with which I can find common ground. Otherwise, we are going to take a subjective view of evil, and the simplest rebuttal is that nobody cares about your subjective view of God, or anything else for that matter. You are not God!

    Allow me to explain why a subjective understanding of evil is insufficient to rebuke God through a thought-experiment: you are like an NPC on a World of Warcraft server shaking its fist at Rob Pardo, demanding to know why it has to watch orc after orc after orc die at the hands of invading parties, seeing them rise again from the dead only to die in agony once more. Slaver! Murderer! Genocidal Maniac! But the orc simply do not have a sufficient understanding of His motivation, and cannot, because he’s just an data structure in the C++ object hierarchy.

    It’s not a matter of `might makes right’ either: World of Warcraft serves a higher purpose that really is impossible to explain to the orc. However, we humans have an advantage over the orc: we have the Holy Spirit available to teach and guide us on these difficult to understand things.

    > I’m sure that plays well with the churchy set, however, to me is sounds like “Nya, nya, you were wrong, Nya, nya, now you’ll pay.”

    I’m sorry it sounded like that to you. I was trying to point out how the objective of judgement is to show that, because of your own will, you are incapable of being your own God, because you are evil. You are evil because you cannot will your desires into universal law (unlike God), and God will bring the actions of your life as evidence to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that this is the case.

    > You tell us that God made the world to prove satan wrong, and to show satan that he would never be as awesome as god.

    When a member of the trinity, at once equal with God, lowered himself to a lesser being than Satan, God has shown that no matter how much power Satan may have, God’s righteousness, love, and mercy can and will overcome any power. This is an incredibly important lesson to be taught, because it shows that might does not and never will make right.

  269. @Tomislav

    …: you are like an NPC on a World of Warcraft server shaking its fist at Rob Pardo, demanding to know why it has to watch orc after orc after orc die at the hands of invading parties, seeing them rise again from the dead only to die in agony once more. Slaver! Murderer! Genocidal Maniac! But the orc simply do not have a sufficient understanding of His motivation, and cannot, because he’s just an data structure in the C++ object hierarchy.

    It’s not a matter of `might makes right’ either: World of Warcraft serves a higher purpose that really is impossible to explain to the orc. However, we humans have an advantage over the orc: we have the Holy Spirit available to teach and guide us on these difficult to understand things.

    If you really compare us to be the moral equivalents of characters in WoW, you validate all of Eric’s allegations towards Religious Believers. Especially, the threat they pose.

  270. @Winter

    If you reallyconsider us to be the moral equivalents of biological computers programmed by natural selection, you validate all of the religious allegations towards materialists. Especially, the threat they pose.

  271. “My first step to Christianity was acknowledging that the structure of the universe demands a law-giver,”

    Stop right there. Why does the structure of the universe demand a law-giver? Talk about assuming your own conclusion!

    “and that the only way to rule out intelligent design is to assume that it is impossible to begin with!”

    Burden of proof failure. It does not fall to us to disprove the existence of a Creator. It falls to you to prove one. Further, I do not assume it is impossible. What I do assume is that, in the presence of an argument that a Creator was not necessary, Occam’s Razor slices any argument that one is necessary to ribbons unless something needs explaining that cannot be explained in the absence of one. And no, unreliable stories with no independent corroboration do not qualify. Only hard, observable facts do.

    “most people like yourself do not properly understand Christianity well”

    You hang your faith on the idea that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, for those of you not familiar with the quote.) That’s fine for you, but I cannot hang everything I believe on words in a book without independent verification.

  272. @Tomislav Ostojich
    >I know that to deny Christ’s divinity in the presence of the Gospel & Epistles takes willful faith,

    Until you offer some reason to believe it is somehow different than other texts, then your same argument could be taken by Muslims and Mormons, who also have texts that they make similar claims for. Given, specifically, that they claim that their religions are extensions of yours, one might argue that they have chronological precedence.

    > that the structure of the universe demands a law-giver,

    The universe is full of chaos, much of its fundamental nature is really quite horrible; red in tooth and claw. It is certainly governed by a few simple laws, but they are simple enough that they can readily be derived by the randomness of nature evolving to a local minimum, they certainly don’t need an omniscient god.

    For example, look at the human eye. It is a remarkable thing in many ways, but it has a fundamental design error in the way the optic nerve is connected that causes humans to have a blind spot. Evolution has produced eyes in separate lines that do not have this error. It is exactly what you would expect from evolution — an amazingly functional organ but with weird design errors. It is exactly what you would not expect from an intelligent designer who would make all eyes the same, or at least would not do it wrong for the pinnacle of his creation.

    > only way to rule out intelligent design is to assume that it is impossible to begin with!

    But you have it backward. It does not fall to materialists to prove intelligent design, rather it falls to spiritualists to prove intelligent design. If you claim there is some invisible, immeasurable force in play then you have to offer some data, some experimental evidence in its favor. Science does this all the time. Gravity is invisible, but there are numerous experiments to prove its existence. Dropping an apple on your head, or observing the movement of the stars for example. Air is invisible, but there are many ways to demonstrate its existence. Blowing up a child’s balloon or applying suction to a soda bottle for example.

    So the bottom line is if you want to claim something invisible exists, you have to prove it.

    > once you accept inquiries of whether or not an architect exists, then the next step is asking who is the architect,

    But again this is a classic error. Even if some spiritual entity exists, and I have not definitive proof that one does not, then you can’t just say “it is the one in the bible.” How do you prove that connection? After all many people believed in the Olympian gods, why should we believe in the bible god over Zeus and Aphrodite? In fact, given the Olympians’ capricious involvement with humanity, I think there is better reason to believe in them than the biblical god who claims to act in a non capricious manner, despite the continuous experience of Christians to the contrary.

    > but when I read Genesis in its entirety, it became clear that the Pentateuch was not only a coherent text,

    But in the first two chapters of this very book we read an account of the creation of the world that is nothing short of cartoonishly ridiculous. We read of Noah’s flood, something for which there would be worldwide evidence but which there isn’t and also which is a moral abomination, we read of the tower of Babel and the Nephilim, and so forth, none of which there is even a significant scrap of data to support. We read of Joseph, for which, despite his apparent significance, left little if any trace of his name in history. We read of the plagues, another moral abomination. We read Leviticus and Deuteronomy, books filled with laws that are either silly or scandalous, and so forth.

    These books should be an embarrassment to a modern thinking scientific person, and somehow you tell us that they convinced you to genuflect to a god? a Holy, holy, holy god?

    > but far more coherent than any other historical account I’ve read. It is the most honest assessment there is of not only the nature of God, but also the nature of man and the nature of the universe.

    That statement exactly backward. It is frequently historically inaccurate, it is exactly backward about man, and completely incorrect about the nature of the universe based on the scientific data I have seen.

    > because they read the Bible with preconceived notions taught by pastors and priests who in turn should have no business teaching others.

    One wonders about the arrogance in this statement. You accuse me of exalting myself as God, and yet here you tell us that you are one of the few people who can rightly understand the bible, and all those professionals are utterly meritless. I have heard that from so many groups so often it makes me laugh. What the heck makes you think you are the only person who can “rightly divide” the bible?

  273. Flashback a couple of hundred thousand years. You live in a small hunter/gatherer tribe. Your group is doing pretty well because a few of the adults have learned some things that aid in food acquisition and harm avoidance. There is an evolutionary incentive to pass this knowledge on to your offspring. But how? Schools haven’t been invented yet. And there are a lot of unknowns, so you’re not exactly sure why these new ideas are working so well. And how do you get “rebellious” youth to actually accept and adopt the teaching? And this knowledge has to replicate across many future generations, hopefully without too much error creep.

    Well, you might just elect Tomislav as the tribal shaman because of his stubborn fidelity to the propagating these ideas.

  274. @Tomislav:

    If you really consider us to be the moral equivalents of biological computers programmed by natural selection, you validate all of the religious allegations towards materialists. Especially, the threat they pose.

    There is no question that materialism can tap into the same area of the human brain as religion, and attract uncritical converts who will do bad things at the bidding of a charismatic leader. We have seen this movie multiple times.

    But I would argue that memetic inoculation against blindly following and doing bad things also doubles as inoculation against religion.

    This hypothesis may not be fully testable, but considering that materialism, though quite old, was not widely popular until the last century, it is interesting to consider the beliefs posed by different groups, and the threats posed by those groups to other groups.

    Is the bigger threat in the world at present from people who profess to believe in god, or people who profess not to believe in god?

  275. >Is the bigger threat in the world at present from people who profess to believe in god, or people who profess not to believe in god?

    Define ‘god’. Between 1917 and 1992 the largest threat was from people who professed to be atheists but had deified the “dialectic of history”, or the state, or Karl Marx. They were classically monotheist in their hatred of all other competing gods, and of actual atheists.

    Today, with Russia’s ambitions reduced to pissing in its own neighborhood, we may be in the more historically normal situation of the largest threat being an overt religion. Or not; the communist Chinese still have nuclear weapons.

  276. What if the biggest existential threat comes out of left field, and has nothing at all to do with ideological competition?

    Bacteria (and other microorganisms) dominant the planet and have about a 4 billion year headstart on evolution. What if a half century of antibiotics overuse is setting us up for a major population correction? If so, only your random chance genetics will likely save you.

  277. >Or not; the communist Chinese still have nuclear weapons.

    And let’s not forget North Korea.

  278. > My definition of evil stems from Immanuel Kant’s understanding

    Kant doesn’t get to define the word either.

    > If we are going to take a view of an objective good and evil,

    Why do you assume that there is an objective view of good and evil?

    >that nobody cares about your subjective view of God,

    It isn’t my subjective view of evil, it is the commonly understood view of what is evil. “Commonly understood” is how English semantics works. Massacring babies falls under the commonly understood view of evil.

    > because [video game monsters are] just an data structure in the C++ object hierarchy.

    Indeed. When someone dehumanizes another human being, baby or adult, we consider that a seriously bad thing. We consider treating people as “data structures” to be very wrong, and killing people without regard to their humanity a psychological disorder. Serial killers kill people mostly because that part of their brain that sympathizes with the humanity of their victim is missing or damaged. They treat people as data structures. So if you are making a serious comparison with the way God deals with people, it doesn’t reflect well on your god.

    I would like to remind you that your role here is to ADVOCATE for god, not give us more reasons to hate him or reject him, or deny his existence.

    > because you are evil. You are evil because you cannot will your desires into universal law (unlike God),

    You don’t even know me are you are calling me evil? This definition of evil bears no resemblance to what most people mean by evil — which is doing things that are widely considered really bad especially on a repeated basis. It has nothing whatsoever to do with willing your desires, whatever that even means.

    > God will bring the actions of your life as evidence
    > to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that this is the case.

    This is the karma argument. Your sin manifests in bad things in your life. It is nonsense. The most innocent — babies for example — regularly die in horrible circumstances. For most of human history less than a quarter of children survived to adulthood, and those that died usually did so horribly. Miracles have fixed this. Not the miracles of some supposed deity, no rather the miracle of reason, the miracle of science and the miracle of the technology of modern medicine.

    On the flip side some of the worst people in the world had fantastic lives and died old and comfortable in their graves.

    People believe in karma, “what goes around comes around” because they desperately want it to be true, even though the evidence of their eyes means that it plainly isn’t.

  279. >Is the bigger threat in the world at present from people who profess to believe in god, or people who profess not to believe in god?

    The biggest threat is from those who believe in the State, that is, the idea that it is legitimate and necessary for a certain class, the State and its agents, to do things that by common moral consent would be considered wrong if anyone else did them. Believers in “god” or “religion”, however defined, are a threat only insofar as they advance their beliefs via the State.

  280. Allow me to explain why a subjective understanding of evil is insufficient to rebuke God through a thought-experiment:

    Rebuke whom, now? Jessica and I don’t believe your sky daddy actually physically exists, so how can we rebuke him?

    Hint: Atheists are not neo-Amalekites, people who are aware of God and his blessings and simply choose to reject and oppose him because they’re bad people, tricked by the devil, etc. Atheists consider the bible as woefully insufficient evidence that the skyman who supposedly made us and watches our every thought and deed, even exists.

  281. I haven’t had the time yet to develop a response to Fluffy Girl, but I would like to raise the following question to her:

    > It isn’t my subjective view of evil, it is the commonly understood view of what is evil. “Commonly understood” is how English semantics works. Massacring babies falls under the commonly understood view of evil.

    The commonly understood version of what is evil states that it’s okay for God to kill babies, because He is the giver and taker of life, but not okay for people, because we are not meant to play God.

    As of writing, the commonly understood view of what is evil also states that atheists are immoral people. Why is the commonly understood version of evil good enough to use against abortion^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H the massacring of babies but not good enough to prove that Fluffy Girl is an evil baby-eating atheist?

  282. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > The commonly understood version of what is evil states that it’s okay for God to kill babies,

    That is funny, because whenever I point this out to Christians they seem to squirm rather a lot. I don’t see your caveat in any dictionary, books which are the embodiment of “commonly understood.”

    > because He is the giver and taker of life,

    As you know in the story it was Saul who was commanded to kill the babies, so I presume you are OK with God using his people as instruments of this baby killing. So, let me ask you directly. Imagine there was a pre-school called “The Humanist Preschool” that was targeted toward Humanists, and that went out of there way to keep the children from religiosity. Now imagine you believed God commanded you to go into that school and kill all the babies to save them from their atheist upbringing, and make sure they were with Jesus for all of eternity. Would you obey that command?

    > As of writing, the commonly understood view of what is evil also states that atheists are immoral people.

    Not where I live. What is the basis for this claim?

    > Why is the commonly understood version of evil good enough to use against abortion^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H the massacring of babies

    Funny. You don’t squirm out of God killing real living babies by confusing the matter with a controversy as to when life starts.

    > but not good enough to prove that Fluffy Girl is an evil baby-eating atheist?

    The only person who has ever accused me of being evil is you. Nobody as far as I know has ever accused me of eating babies. So there is no common understanding that I am evil, or that I eat babies. Your point is consequently irrelevant.

  283. Oh, and of course I forgot to say, even if I were an evil baby eater, how exactly does that reduce God’s culpability for being an evil baby killer?

  284. @rying2b-amused
    > Believers in “god” or “religion”, however defined, are a threat only insofar as they advance their beliefs via the State.

    I presume you mean “advance their beliefs via the State or via Boeing 767s”?

  285. > That is funny, because whenever I point this out to Christians they seem to squirm rather a lot. I don’t see your caveat in any dictionary, books which are the embodiment of “commonly understood.”

    While dictionaries may define words, they are unlikely to have case law as to what hypothetical scenario is evil and what isn’t. But consider the famous proverb from Job that many Americans have quoted whenever tragedy befalls them: `The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.’ Knowing how culture works, I doubt it would’ve became proverbial in the Anglosphere if it wasn’t part of the collective consciousness of why killing is bad.

    I am not advocating for or against this view of morality; I am simply stating what actually is the mean morality, at least in the Anglosphere.

    > As you know in the story it was Saul who was commanded to kill the babies, so I presume you are OK with God using his people as instruments of this baby killing.

    Actually, it was the government, with Saul being its head of state, that was the instrument of God’s killing. Every time that God has directed people to kill (with the famous exception of Abraham), it was only to those in governmental authority, from Nebuchadnezzar to the Biblical judge Ehud. I am answering this in anticipation for your next question.

    >Now imagine you believed God commanded you to go into that school and kill all the babies to save them from their atheist upbringing, and make sure they were with Jesus for all of eternity. Would you obey that command?

    That would depend on whether or not I were the head of state, and thus representing the government.

    But as some common citizen? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that personal experience trumps scriptural revelation, so I would simply deny in that case that God actually spoke to me. But I would take the idea that maybe I’m a delusional schizophrenic a bit more seriously.

    > Not where I live. What is the basis for this claim?

    Are we going to play 20 questions now?

    The basis of this claim is the fact that most of the world is theistic (and strongly so), and most theistic societies view it as a moral failing to deny God’s existence. Ugandans believe that atheists invented homosexuality and atheism is illegal in Indonesia. Right there you have 2/3 of the world population, in the form of Muslims and Christians, believing that you’re essentially a cancer on society. Do you want me to do a detailed survey on Hindu and Buddhist beliefs to bump that up to 9/10th of the world population? And don’t think that the secularized west will give you any comfort: most atheists also think atheists are immoral (Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/16/new-study-shows-that-even-atheists-think-atheists-are-immoral/)

    > The only person who has ever accused me of being evil is you

    I don’t think you’re more evil than I am or anybody else for that matter. Christ did not come for the righteous, but for sinners.

  286. @Tomislav:

    As of writing, the commonly understood view of what is evil also states that atheists are immoral people.

    You can believe I’m immoral if you want. If you think it’s your job to do something about it, though, we have a problem.

  287. @Tomislav Ostojich
    “You may want to do something about the atheists who also think that atheists are immoral. ”

    I am a representative from a country with a large number of non-believers, and with staunch atheists in parliament and the administration. I must say this study seems to be illustrative of the balkanized cultural environment of the USA. And of the bad education people in the USA get.
    http://www.thechapmans.nl/news/Atheist.pdf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism

    But I think the whole question of immorality is one of religion. There are hardly any people who self identify with “immorality”. Ask around in jails and trading floor. You will not find many people, if any people at all, that will tell you they are immoral. It is always other people who are immoral.

    Immoral is just a magic word that indicates that other people have other morals.

    I know it is very, very difficult to grasp by true believers, but all people are moral.

    It is just as much part of our species as language and walking on two legs. Only people in a well defined class of the clinical insane have no morals.

  288. @Tomislav:

    > You may want to do something about the atheists who also think that atheists are immoral.

    Again, I don’t care what you, or they, think — until you or they feel compelled to act on it. Casting “others”, especially “non-believers”, as “immoral” is always the Godly way to start the violence.

    And, as Fluffy Girl points out, any rational observer would conclude that Godly violence is usually not merely immoral, but pure evil of the worst sort.

  289. >Or your insistence that my argument is incompatible with amoral familism and not relevant to the Birkenhead Drill would suggest that you’re incapable of logical thought. Whichever.

    There is no ‘brotherhood of man’ where we are all related and one, that your genes will magically encourage you to sacrifice for. Sorry.

    Getting people to sacrifice for others (or even to allow to live in peace without attempted exploitation) who aren’t directly and closely related to them, is *hard*. The persistence of amoral familism demonstrates that. And going beyond amoral familism isn’t done somehow automatically, without effort, through the influence of your genes. If you think that, you are indeed deeply confused.

  290. @Tomislav Ostojich
    > You may want to do something about the atheists who also think that atheists are immoral. But that’s totally up to you.

    Kind of busy at work today, so perhaps I’ll get around to your other thing later (but if you think you will get a positive reception here from making the claim that states have a special right to kill innocent people then you’d be wrong.)

    Obviously this study has deep methodological flaws, is extremely biased and Tomislav’s conclusion above doesn’t even slightly follow from the broken study. However, the main question the study raised for me is this one: perhaps I am prudish, super naive or lacking in imagination, but how exactly does one derive sexual satisfaction from a chicken?

    I thought about googling for “chicken porn” but I was concerned that I’d never get the images out of my head.

  291. @Greg:

    There is no ‘brotherhood of man’ where we are all related and one, that your genes will magically encourage you to sacrifice for. Sorry.

    The genes are but one part of a system. An important part, but a part nonetheless.

    Getting people to sacrifice for others (or even to allow to live in peace without attempted exploitation) who aren’t directly and closely related to them, is *hard*.

    It’s well known how to do this, and even practiced in most areas. It has to do with trust. In fact, they’ve gone back and reexamined the marshmallow experiment, and found that, in many if not most cases, the people who took the marshmallow couldn’t trust the adults in their lives to keep their promises.

    The persistence of amoral familism demonstrates that.

    It definitely demonstrates that there are two paths. But the path of amoral familism is also the path of a complete breakdown of society where no progress can be made in any area, and people can only sleep fitfully at night because somebody might kill them. Most of us don’t actually live like that.

    And going beyond amoral familism isn’t done somehow automatically, without effort, through the influence of your genes. If you think that, you are indeed deeply confused.

    There are a lot of primitive societies which are relatively peaceful. There are a lot of various great ape tribes that are relatively peaceful. Creating a society where people actually trust and care for each other is not really that hard and has been done all over the world, many times. The hardest part is that it often has the seeds of its own destruction — people mistakenly trust that a leader has their best interests at heart, when it simply isn’t true.

    But you are right that there are humans who are assholes for no good reason, for example, repeatedly calling those they disagree with “confused.”

  292. >But you are right that there are humans who are assholes for no good reason, for example, repeatedly calling those they disagree with “confused.”

    I’ll quote.

    >If you view yourself as having any higher value than a carrier for your genes (to your genes), you’re almost as deluded as Tomislav.

    Yes, you are.

  293. I yield to Eric’s wisdom. Tomislav is indeed insane to the point of being a potential danger to others. He may be an evolutionary artifact, but it’s one we are better off avoiding.

  294. >Most theistic societies view it as a moral failing to deny God’s existence.

    Correction. Most theistic societies view it as a moral failing to deny THEIR God’s existence. Whatever happens, a good proportion of mankind sees you as being immoral, whatever your religion.

  295. @Fluffy Girl
    “Chicken”

    “You do not want to know” is probably the best answer.

  296. >I yield to Eric’s wisdom. Tomislav is indeed insane to the point of being a potential danger to others.

    To reinforce the lesson: it’s not the specific content of Tomislav’s belief system that makes him a dangerous nutter, it’s the true-believer fixation beneath it. I have previously defined sanity as “the process by which you continually adjust your beliefs so they are predictively sound.”. True believers cannot do this; they have a faith premise which they must defend, no matter what. Everything in their world-model must be distorted to fit.

    The consequent danger, which Tomislav exhibits in its most classic form, is when the defense entails positions that are ethically monstrous – that, for example, God’s command to kill innocent children must be obeyed because it comes from God. The main difference between Tomislav and a delusional psychotic who hears demonic voices in his head urging him to kill is that “religion” is socially considered a good reason for believing almost indistinguishable delusional material.

    At the extreme, this is how people wind up flying airplanes into buildings.

  297. On the other hand, I strongly doubt that Tomislav would fly an airplane into a building. If people are evolutionarily wired to believe in religions, and do not take actions that we would all find evil because of it, what harm does it do that overcomes the harm of denying people the right to believe as their conscience dictates?

    It’s the actions, not the beliefs, we should be finding harmful to others.

  298. I’ve had multiple people call me insane, some repeatedly. Because some of you are insistent on beating that drum, let me tell you something about insanity so you can at least beat that drum in a more coherent manner: Insanity is only defined as a legal construct. It has no biological or psychiatric value whatsoever. There also isn’t any proof that the idiosyncratic definition which defines insanity as “the process by which you fail to adjust your beliefs so they are predictively sound” has any biological or psychiatric value.

    As it is, the definition of insanity as “the process by which you fail to adjust your beliefs so they are predictively sound” is not even a new idea: Kant wrote that the state of being unenlightened is not having the courage to question deeply held beliefs. However, Kant was at least smart enough not to draw a connection between unenlightenment and mental illness without proof, which can’t be said for the poseurs in this thread.

    > states have a special right to kill innocent people then you’d be wrong.

    Most land in the United States was obtained by the well-documented killing of innocent people. Ever heard of the `Trail of Tears,’ the Mexican-American war, Manifest Destiny, or the acquisition of Hawaii? If you defend property rights in the United States, you are implicitly supporting the state’s right to murder innocents.

    > Correction. Most theistic societies view it as a moral failing to deny THEIR God’s existence. Whatever happens, a good proportion of mankind sees you as being immoral, whatever your religion.

    Close, but you’re forgetting something very important: even Muslims would rather see someone be a `person of the Book’ than an atheist. Even fundamentalist Christians would rather see someone be a Muslim than an atheist. And they’ll even give you the same reason: a theistic non-believer at least believes in a higher standard than himself or other humans who view themselves as a standard unto themselves.

    > Obviously this study has deep methodological flaws, is extremely biased and Tomislav’s conclusion above doesn’t even slightly follow from the broken study.

    The study is very clever, in the hacker sense of the word: it exploits a known human cognitive bias regarding probability and uses that to measure moral opinions regarding religious believers and atheists.

    Atheists are consistently judged as the least moral of all the groups, and because atheists were included in the study, we can certainly say that even atheists view other atheists as immoral.

    But I must reiterate the question that I’ve raised: if we know that abortion^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H killing babies is evil based on the common understanding of evil, why can’t we also use the common understanding of evil to determine that atheism is immoral? I was doing you a favor by not using your definition of evil.

  299. ” why can’t we also use the common understanding of evil to determine that atheism is immoral?”

    [citation needed]

    You need to do far more to support that bald assertion than simply state it. You’ve already heard one person in this thread say he considers me a moral person. I am a confirmed atheist. How do you reconcile those? Note that if you say “you are immoral because you are an atheist”, you lose for using circular logic.

  300. >the definition of insanity as “the process by which you fail to adjust your beliefs so they are predictively sound” is not even a new idea

    Who claimed it was new? I can’t speak for our host, of course; but IIRC, he has attributed that insight to Peirce and/or Korzybski.

  301. @Tomislav
    “why can’t we also use the common understanding of evil to determine that atheism is immoral?”

    Because a believe cannot be immoral or evil. To be evil, or immoral, you have to do something.

    However, I do know that there are many religious people who sincerely believe that thoughts can be evil and that having the wrong thoughts will bring you eternal damnation in hell.

    Personally, I consider this a kind of torture.

  302. > You need to do far more to support that bald assertion than simply state it. You’ve already heard one person in this thread say he considers me a moral person. I am a confirmed atheist. How do you reconcile those?

    I consider you to be no less moral than I am. You may be more moral than I, but probably not less moral than I. But considering that I am the chief of all sinners, to be more moral than I am is not much of an accomplishment.

    As to how an atheist can be more moral than a believer, I reconcile this by stating that the `common understanding’ of evil is simply mistaken. We need a system of good and evil that is objective and independent of personal values or `common understanding.’ If `common understanding’ were sufficient in itself to define evil, then how can we begin to understand the behavior of Christians like Wilberforce, who champaigned against the `common understanding’ of slavery, or the Rev. Martin Luther King, who champaigned against the `common understanding’ of racism? Some fundamentalists take the decalogue to be such a system, but I believe, because of God’s natural revelation and the law within our hearts, that we are perfectly capable by reason of discovering what is right and wrong.

    > Because a believe cannot be immoral or evil. To be evil, or immoral, you have to do something.

    But belief is an action. In fact, using fMRI machines, we can measure exactly how hard someone is believing. In light of this, Jesus’ equivocation of belief and action by his statement `whoever lusts after another has committed adultery’ is quite amazing, since it is only in the modern age did we break the idealist dichotomy between belief and action.

  303. >the `common understanding’ of evil is simply mistaken.

    I agree. This looks suspiciously like an argumentum ad majoritam. However, something tells me that we are thinking about very different objective systems.

    >But considering that I am the chief of all sinners

    Is this sarcasm or humility?

    The reason beliefs are not to be considered evil is twofold. Firstly, if you consider certain thoughts ‘blasphemous’ and consciously do not think them, you cannot consider their implications or consequences so there is no way to determine whether or not they are actually false. Secondly, when beliefs are considered evil, things have a tendency to turn out like Northern Ireland in the ’70s or the Middle East today – not very productive.

  304. >On the other hand, I strongly doubt that Tomislav would fly an airplane into a building.

    I’m sure a lot of people would have been strongly doubtful about the people who did it, before they did it.

    >It’s the actions, not the beliefs, we should be finding harmful to others.

    Think in terms of conditional probabilities.

  305. @Greg:

    There was an “if” there. I assumed that you would agree that, as far as your genes were concerned, you had no utility other than propagating them. That was obviously a terrible assumption on my part, so I did malign you and am truly sorry for that.

    Since this disagreement was a major revelation to me, I am extremely interested in your thoughts on exactly what that extra utility is, and if I disagree with your thoughts about this extra utility, I will attempt to do so without calling you confused.

  306. @Lambert
    > I agree. This looks suspiciously like an argumentum ad majoritam.

    Not at all. The meaning of words are defined by common usage, there is no definitive semantics other than common use, especially in English. Word meanings change as usage changes. Which is to say when discussing the semantics of a word “argumentum ad majoritam” is not a logical fallacy at all, in fact is is a defining fact.

  307. @You know who says…
    > Most land in the United States was obtained by the well-documented killing of innocent people.

    What makes you think I think the US has always been moral in its dealings. Nonetheless, these are all very different in character. These are not a deliberate targeting of innocents, or a deliberate attempt at genocide. On the contrary, national leaders who commit those kind of acts end up on trial for war crimes.

    > The study is very clever, in the hacker sense of the word: it exploits a known human cognitive bias regarding probability

    It is clever in the pejorative sense of that word. I am not going to fisk the study. Really if you can’t see the deep methodological flaws in this study, you have no business reporting “studies”.

    > Atheists are consistently judged as the least moral of all the groups,

    That is an entirely incorrect conclusion even from the flawed data in this study. You are supposed to be super smart. Put on your thinking cap and work out why.

    >>Now imagine you believed God commanded you to go into that school and kill all the babies to save them from their atheist upbringing, and make sure they were with Jesus for all of eternity. Would you obey that command?

    > That would depend on whether or not I were the head of state, and thus representing the government. But as some common citizen? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that personal experience trumps scriptural revelation, so I would simply deny in that case that God actually spoke to me.

    That makes no sense. I have given you an example of where God commanded someone to massacre babies, so why would “scriptural revelation” put you in doubt?

    It sounds to me that you feel able to pick and choose which of God’s orders to follow, and which to ignore. It sounds to me that you have an innate moral sense that some things are deeply wrong, whether God does them or not. That is good. It means there is some hope of salvation from your closed mind after all.

    However, if you can so easily dismiss God’s baby killing command as “not really God speaking to you”, what gives you this untarnishable confidence that the Holy Spirit has spoken to you, convicted you in your heart, and brought you back into the fold.

    If you can mistake the “kill babies” command, perhaps you can mistake the “God loves you and forgives you” command.

    > But I would take the idea that maybe I’m a delusional schizophrenic

    For the record, I never called you sophomoric. I called your putative God sophomoric. Which I’m sure you will agree is MUCH worse.

  308. >Since this disagreement was a major revelation to me, I am extremely interested in your thoughts on exactly what that extra utility is, and if I disagree with your thoughts about this extra utility, I will attempt to do so without calling you confused.

    I think it’s an even bigger misunderstanding than that, I probably should have known it was an out of control misunderstanding and not gotten snippy. :)

    I don’t have any ideas on extra utility, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about and can’t say one way or the other. I was trying to say something else. I was responding to someone (TomA?) who was wondering if there was some kind of utility to religion, that provided groups with a competitive advantage.

    The best I could think of was that, while religion is not rational, it could be used as a tool to induce behaviors that provided benefit to the group, some of the kinds of behaviors that Pournelle talked about as ‘not rational, just necessary’. (In general those are behaviors that don’t seem rational, you are led to them by sentiment and emotion. And yes, Pournelle has a Romantic streak.)

    To clarify, I am well aware that a group (any group) has no needs, desires, rights, etc, etc, separate and distinct from the needs, desires, rights, etc, etc of the individuals that compose the group. Nevertheless, it is my observation that there are any number of behaviors that fit in the category of ‘everyone in the group’s interests would be rationally served if *someone* in the group were to do that, but no one in the group has reason to believe it is in their rational interest to actually do that’. There are (not rational) ways to induce people to ‘do that’- religion could serve quite nicely- ‘honor’ is a good one, as well.

    Then some wicked cross-threading kicked in.

  309. @Fluffy:

    Wait — is he sophophrenic? Or schizomoric?

    I could see a case either way.

  310. @esr:

    > Think in terms of conditional probabilities.

    Ignoring the mental gymnastics required to reconcile the the idea that god is and always has been, ever omniscient and omnipotent, with the personality change between the god of the old testament and the god of the new testament, I think the old testament/new testament schism does a pretty good job of inoculating most mainstream Christians from flying airplanes into buildings.

    What it doesn’t do is rid us of all the apologists for people who do such things. What we seem to have plenty of is people who would never do such things, but who would effectively condone such things by saying “it was God’s will” after the fact.

  311. >when discussing the semantics of a word

    We are not discussing the semantics of a word. The commonly understood view of what is evil != the definition of evil. People are able to conceive of the concept of evil beyond their particular meta-ethics. Tomislav’s reasoning was that ‘most theistic societies view it as a moral failing to deny God’s existence’ therefore [most people consider atheists immoral, therefore atheists are immoral]. The fault in his reasoning is in square brackets.

  312. @Patrick Maupin
    > I could see a case either way.

    Yes, I misread his original article. It is amazing how my brain sometimes read the words I expect rather than the words that are written….

    @Lambert
    > We are not discussing the semantics of a word.

    Actually I think we were, what evil means and what the semantics of “evil” are amount to the same thing. But I suppose it doesn’t really matter either way.

  313. @Tomislav
    “> Because a believe cannot be immoral or evil. To be evil, or immoral, you have to do something.

    But belief is an action. In fact, using fMRI machines, we can measure exactly how hard someone is believing.”

    No, it is not an action in a moral sense. Simulating a thermonuclear explosion on a computer has no moral connections with detonating a nuclear bomb. Thinking is more like simulating and nothing like acting. Thinking about evil acts is in no way morally equivalent to executing these evil acts.

    And beyond that, believing is not an act at all. It is not even a conscious decision. You cannot force yourself to believe something like you can force yourself to (not) drink something.

    @Tomislav
    “In light of this, Jesus’ equivocation of belief and action by his statement `whoever lusts after another has committed adultery’ is quite amazing, since it is only in the modern age did we break the idealist dichotomy between belief and action.”

    First, “believing” is not “lusting” is not “imagining” committing adultery. But this is indeed one of the devious aspects of religion: Faulting people for thinking.

    @Tomislav
    “In fact, using fMRI machines, we can measure exactly how hard someone is believing.”

    This is probably one of the worst places to try to throw technological terms around to impress other commenters.

    An fMRI measures the blood supply to brain areas in response to metabolic activity. The metabolic activity is raised because mental work is an irreversible computation and such computations require energy (basic thermodynamics).

    This is just a way to say that believing is a computation in the brain. And computations are not acts.

  314. >what evil means and what the semantics of “evil” are amount to the same thing

    I think we disagree about what ‘evil’ is. Do you see morality as given or as preference. I see it as given, defined as: morality of an action = expected utility summed over everyone. I see the Golden Rule, Non Aggression Principle & Categorical Imperative as useful heuristics to approximate to this maximising of utility.

  315. @Lambert
    > I think we disagree about what ‘evil’ is.

    We might, but neither you nor I have the right to define what it means. It means what it means, and what it means is what people commonly expect it it mean. Which is back to where we started.

    Your definition of morality does not correspond to the commonly held definition. That common definition is a collection of ad hoc rules that have been accumulated over the centuries, and each rule exists in the corpus for a variety of reasons. Some rules are included for the reasons you state — they make the most sense for society as a whole. For example, there is a strong opprobrium against a man divorcing his wife because at some time anyway, it was, probably correctly, thought that children thrived best in traditional families, and when children thrived then society as a whole thrived. So morality was used to internalize against the man the externality of his divorce on society as a whole.

    However, some rules are much less obvious. For example the modern morality of egalitarianism, which is to say a repudiation of contribution based rewards. That is plainly damaging to society. Or why is it OK to eat cows but not horses? Or why do we have dolphin friendly tuna?

    > Do you see morality as given or as preference.

    Morality is a shared set of evolved rules that are memetically propagated among groups of humans. So it is neither a given, as in a law written on tablets of stone given by god, or a preference, in the sense of I make up my own morality. It is a product of the evolution of ideas.

  316. Aah, I see. You are defining evil as that which is considered taboo by a society or by an individual, I define it as something prohibited by a certain metaethical system.

  317. @Lambert
    “You are defining evil as that which is considered taboo by a society or by an individual, I define it as something prohibited by a certain metaethical system.”

    Fluffy was talking about morality. There is no reason to assume that “Evil” equates to “Immoral” in a one to one relation.

    “Evil” has an underlying meaning of “Causing harm”, while “Immoral” is about transgressing norms whether or not that causes harm to others.

  318. >“Evil” has an underlying meaning of “Causing harm”, while “Immoral” is about transgressing norms whether or not that causes harm to others.

    The latter is not universally true. Some moral philosophies (including mine) derive moral norms from harm-centered consequential analysis. You might think this merely abolishes the distinction between morals and ethics, but it doesn’t quite. I will blog about this sometime, but the key concept is “rule consequentialism”.

  319. @esr
    “Some moral philosophies (including mine) derive moral norms from harm-centered consequential analysis.”

    Of course. My morals are along the same lines. However, there is some ambiguity in what it considered “harm”. Also, I understand we humans have limited mental capacities, so we will have to draw a line at a distance in the causal chain where we will stop considering consequences. Morals can help you here.

    The other way round, some religious zealots are convinced that all norm transgressions cause harm to God and/or the universe. Witches and heretics used to be murdered because people believed that god would punish their neighbors for letting them live. So, blasphemy was considered a direct physical danger to the community.

  320. Whenever I think about metaethics in enough depth, I find myself surrounded by rabbit holes: one full of Nihilists, one full of people like Tomislav, one with hedonists and one with ascetics. The answer is down one hole, but I don’t know which one. Utilitarianism seems promising, but ,like all the others, lacks any kind of proof. Wireheading (artificially inducing happiness or euphoria) is also problematic. (I read Yodowsky’s metaethics, but it dosen’t seem watertight either. His pebblesorter parable illustrates the problem nicely.) [/frustrated spouting]

  321. @Lambert
    > Whenever I think about metaethics in enough depth,

    Your confusion stems from one core misunderstanding: there is no such thing as objective ethics. It is all made up. Why do we feel in our gut that murder is wrong? Because we have been brainwashed to think that way from when we have been in the womb.

    It is a truly terrifying thing to realize that there is no such thing as objective ethics or morality, or to realize even fairly soft things like “natural rights” are all made up too. That all our ethical frameworks, even the ones we feel deep in our bones, the things that utterly outrage us, are just a memetic programming we have inherited. Nonetheless, this is not a brilliantly insightful conclusion.

    It is plainly true if you just think about where ethics and morality came from with an honest look at history and the evolution of human societies. The challenge is not in discovering the truth, the challenge is in dealing with the truth because it is kind of ugly and scary. And the challenge is finding a way to navigate in a world full of people deeply programming with a deep believe in objective ethics and morality, and finding the path between dealing with that, and enjoying the freedom it offers.

    It is a red pill kind of a deal. Staring into the gaping maw of reality often is. It is why it is often a lot easier to just pick up a bible or a libertarian guidebook or some other prepackaged ethical map and just mindlessly follow along. I don’t say that pejoratively. It may well be rationally ignorant to do so.

  322. I am deeply sorry for spreading my argumentations ignorantly on this blog. All of you, through your collective efforts, have opened my mind and I cannot close it again. I have been a fool and ignoring your rational arguments in perseverance of my stubborn irrational belief system.

    Fundamentally, all of you view religion as a problem in the domain of sociology, which in turn is in the domain of psychology, which in turn is in the domain of biology, which in turn is in the domain of chemistry, which in turn is in the domain of physics, which in turn is in the domain of science. This is also why so many of you espouse the memetic theory of religion: it is the standard model that best solves the origin and machinations of religion. It is imperative that you solve religion so that you can move on with science.

    My irrational belief was that this perspective is irrelevant to why you reject Christ, and my foolishness was trying to apply traditional apologetics in hope to `win’ you over to Christ.

    However, this perspective has reality 100% backwards, as did Pontius Pilate’s famous question, `What is truth?’ We all know that the message of the Gospel of John is that Jesus Christ is the truth. Unfortunately, for all of you, the truth is the systemic acquisition of facts and explanations regarding the universe, wherein religion is just a small problem to be solved. In reality, truth is Jesus Christ, the finding of truth is our objective, external relationship with the Son of God, and the systemic acquisition of facts and explanations regarding the universe is just a small problem to be solved in this greater context.

    The commentators and regulars of this blog are a small drop in the pool of unbelievers who espouse this viewpoint, which really did not take momentum until Charles Darwin’s publication of the Theory of Evolution. I no longer will apologize for Christianity in the traditional way, because that kind of evidence and argumentation is insufficient in itself to cease your captivity of Christ in His quaint, little cell where He is simply another slave in furtherance of science.

    What is necessary is for creation and the universe to be solved, so that it may be held in captivity and bondage to Christ and our relationship with Him. This is what I must do. That way, none of you will be able to contribute new knowledge to the fundamental structure of the universe, leaving the rest of science to perform stamp-collecting, and the rest of you to finally come to acknowledge your long lost brother, just as Israel came to acknowledge Joseph.

  323. @Fluffy Girl In a Mans World

    But then, if nothing is objectively right or wrong, is Nihilism right? This kind of thing would keep me up at night, but I usually just listen to the radio instead. (I have read ‘Thou art Godshatter’ and see the reasons behind your comment, but am uneasy with description explaining prescription.)

  324. @Lambert on 2014-05-17 at 07:33:36 said:
    > But then, if nothing is objectively right or wrong, is Nihilism right?

    Here it is possible to confuse two of the meanings of “right”. Is it “right” in the sense of “moral”? Not in any objective way. Is it “right” in the sense of “consistent with the facts and a rational conclusion from the facts” maybe, but I am not enough of an expert on systematic philosophy to be able to say with any authority what “nihilism” actually means.

    Bottom line is that you get to decide what life is about and what is right and wrong. You can certainly decide to take these answers from other people and apply them to yourself, and there is probably a good reason to do so, in fact pretty much everyone does so. But don’t be afraid to tweak. Really, you get to decide.

    Having that much power and consequentially responsibility for your life is utterly terrifying for most people. But that is why religion, liberalism, libertarianism, objectivism, communism, feudalism, and almost every other -ism offers you a lovely shortcut so you don’t have to think too hard about these things.

    > This kind of thing would keep me up at night, but I usually just listen to the radio instead.

    Like I said above, sometimes rational ignorance is a good choice. Most of the time when it comes to practical moral and ethical judgments the suspension of this reality is a pretty good idea. Either that or a cup of warm milk and a snuggly blanket help with the insomnia thing :-)

  325. The problem with ‘rational ignorance’, is that, being ignorant, one dosen’t know when it becomes irrational ignorance. Budhhacide only rectifies ignorance indiscriminately of usefullness.
    P.S. This was written with Nano for W3M so it may be formatted weirdly.

  326. What is necessary is for creation and the universe to be solved, so that it may be held in captivity and bondage to Christ and our relationship with Him. This is what I must do. That way, none of you will be able to contribute new knowledge to the fundamental structure of the universe, leaving the rest of science to perform stamp-collecting, and the rest of you to finally come to acknowledge your long lost brother, just as Israel came to acknowledge Joseph.

    Did… we just create another Louis Savain?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>