Tribalism, love and God’s shameless ploy: a response to Cyngus and Valdobiade

A fellow called “Cyngus“ took me to task for having pointing out that influential evolutionary psychologists like Joshua Greene think, from an atheistic standpoint, that any objective morality is an illusion.

His response was very emotional and confused and I reproduced it here:

Dear Lothar,

Glad you mention Joshua Greene, he is a very smart guy and he discovered that the human brain is evolved for tribal life. The morals of a tribe applies inside the tribe, outside the tribe you can lie, kill and rape. Read your Bible, God condoned lack of morality of his chosen tribe, the Israelites, when it came to deal with other tribes.

God’s “objective morality” told his people to hate his enemies, then there came his beloved son “Jesus” who put his foot in the mouth of his father by saying: “love your enemies”. Isn’t that cute? But don’t fall for this trick, it is used to make the whole humanity be like one tribe under the same old crappy God. Don’t want to be in the “tribe” of God, then burn in hell.

Think about that: “Love your enemies”. In order to have enemies you have to hate, be hated or both. If you stop hating your enemies by saying that you love them, you have a chance to make them drop the guard. With their guard down you give them your love, if they don’t accept it, you send them in hell. Such a mischievous plan of “Jesus is love” could be thought only by the “tribe” of Christians.

Try to use your brains when you read the Bible. You quote a lot from Bible in your blog, but you don’t think, you just interpret it to serve your own Christian “denominated” tribe. You have no morals if your morals are to serve an immoral God.”

Since the whole comment reeks of rudeness, lack of respect and incoherence in thinking, I wanted to utterly ignore it.

But then another blogger called „Valdobiade„ came along and urged me to write a response, saying that:

I found the comment rough too, but the idea that seems true in the comment is that “love”, in Christian sense, is used to “divide and conquer”.

Many Christians denominations are understanding “love” in such a way that are put at odds with each other. You can even say that some Christians are enemies and they will love their “enemies” with the condition of the “love” as they interpret by their Christian denomination.

Another idea I found true, is that up to Jesus, God did not say to love the enemies but destroy them. However, even if Jesus said to love enemies, it did not change the fact that we become “enemies” by ignoring the “love”, thus those who don’t accept the “love” will be destroyed.

I don’t find this “love” being fair. Please make new post about this kind of “love”. I’d like to read your opinion.

Thanks.

There are many things I could go into here.

Glad you mention Joshua Greene, he is a very smart guy and he discovered that the human brain is evolved for tribal life. The morals of a tribe applies inside the tribe, outside the tribe you can lie, kill and rape.“

This is only one part of the story. Whilst it is clear that the inner demands of morality are stronger within our own tribe or in-group, we also dispose of a strong sense of empathy wich allows us to feel and understand the pain of all other human beings or for that matter sentient animals.

Read your Bible, God condoned lack of morality of his chosen tribe, the Israelites, when it came to deal with other tribes.“

Here Cyngus speaks like of a fundamentalist of THE whole Bible where God is consistently portrayed as a tribal deity and an evil monster.

But that’s demonstrably false. I view the Bible as a collection of human thoughts about God reflecting the worldview, fears and hopes of people at that time and I see there contradictory views on God’s morality, tribalism, exclusivism, forgiveness, sin and so on and so forth, as well documented by Thom Stark in his book „The Human Faces of God“.

Seeing the Old Testament as a consistent book containing only evil things is exactly the way Nazi theologians interpreted it during the Third Reich.

.

God’s “objective morality” told his people to hate his enemies, then there came his beloved son “Jesus” who put his foot in the mouth of his father by saying: “love your enemies”. Isn’t that cute? But don’t fall for this trick, it is used to make the whole humanity be like one tribe under the same old crappy God.“

This emotional outburst is certainly very efficient rhetorically, but rationally I fear it rings rather hollow. Actually, it’s even hard to understand what the argument is supposed to be.

“ When God teaches us to love our enemies, it is a shameless ploy so that he will impose His dictatorship upon all of us.“

Really? Would he need to teach us love in order to become our absolute tyrant? Is it not a much more likely explanation that Jesus was moved by genuine compassion transcending tribalism as he taught that?

At the very least Cyngus and his fellow antitheists have the burden of proof to show why Jesus was being manipulative as he uttered such statements.

Don’t want to be in the “tribe” of God, then burn in hell.“

I completely reject hell as being a place of eternal suffering.

That said, I believe that God created us as free beings and that he won’t force anyone to get to heaven if she does not truly desires Him and even believes that live is more meaningful if it is limited in time.

Think about that: “Love your enemies”. In order to have enemies you have to hate, be hated or both. If you stop hating your enemies by saying that you love them, you have a chance to make them drop the guard. With their guard down you give them your love, if they don’t accept it, you send them in hell. Such a mischievous plan of “Jesus is love” could be thought only by the “tribe” of Christians.“

Given my conception of hell, I don’t feel threatened at all by this new outburst.

Try to use your brains when you read the Bible. You quote a lot from Bible in your blog, but you don’t think, you just interpret it to serve your own Christian “denominated” tribe.“

I view the Bible as a collection of religious texts, similar in its nature to books from many religious traditions. I analyse it critically and see both truths and errors within its pages and I quote it in the same way I quote Christian authors such as C.S Lewis or John Wesley or even Muslim authors.

Cyngus has just written an unproven assertion about my person.

Since he knows almost nothing about me, this leads to the strong suscpicion I think of himeself as possesing some extra-sensory perceptions (I should probably contact the CSICOP to investigate his case.)

You have no morals if your morals are to serve an immoral God.”

I agree there are many religious persons who do that and I constantly criticize them on my blog for that sin. I will quote C.S. Lewis here:

„The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible. „

Frankly speaking there are quite a few atheists I love to read and feel challenged by, but Cyngus and all bullying village antitheists don’t belong to them.

Now back to „ Valdobiade“

I found the comment rough too, but the idea that seems true in the comment is that “love”, in Christian sense, is used to “divide and conquer”.

Many Christians denominations are understanding “love” in such a way that are put at odds with each other. You can even say that some Christians are enemies and they will love their “enemies” with the condition of the “love” as they interpret by their Christian denomination.“

Actually almost all modern Christian denominations agree that you not only have to love (in an intutively human sense) the people in other Christian groups but in non-Christian movements as well.

Another idea I found true, is that up to Jesus, God did not say to love the enemies but destroy them.“

No, as mentioned above you will find both conflicting trends within the pages of the OT, and of other Near-Eastern religious texts, or about Zeus in the Greek mythology for that matter.

However, even if Jesus said to love enemies, it did not change the fact that we become “enemies” by ignoring the “love”, thus those who don’t accept the “love” will be destroyed.

I don’t find this “love” being fair. Please make new post about this kind of “love”. I’d like to read your opinion.

Thanks.“

https://i2.wp.com/patrickwanis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/Why-people-reject-love1-199x300.jpg

I don’t want to give the impression this is an easy question for any Christian. According to my view, hell is not a place of eternal torment but the utter disappearance of persons not desiring to live eternally with God. God does want them to be saved, but if they refuse He is not going to violate their will. God’s Love always respects the decision of its object but wishes to offer him or her eternal bliss.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Tribalism, love and God’s shameless ploy: a response to Cyngus and Valdobiade

  1. I’ve seen some ideas behind cyngus’s comment that reeks of rudeness, lack of respect and (doubtfully) incoherence in thinking. Beautiful posts that are polite, full of respect and apparently coherently written, seem to avoid a straightforward answer.

    Thanks anyway for your post. It seems that anybody can know something about you, after all. No need for extra-sensory perceptions or CSICOP contact 🙂

    Your interpretation from cyngus: “When God teaches us to love our enemies, it is a shameless ploy so that he will impose His dictatorship upon all of us.“, is still true, except God does not teach us to love our enemies.

    The Old Testament has not ONE occurrence of love toward enemies of God chosen tribe. When Jesus taught love, should that love be ignored, you’ll suffer the consequences. What kind of love is that?

    You could say that maybe Jesus taught some kind of love, dying for others is love. However, dying for others was done before Jesus times.

    • “I’ve seen some ideas behind cyngus’s comment that reeks of rudeness, lack of respect and (doubtfully) incoherence in thinking. Beautiful posts that are polite, full of respect and apparently coherently written, seem to avoid a straightforward answer. ”

      It might be okay against nasty and harmful fundamentalists who would refuse to talk otherwise.

      But for normal, kind religious believers who will honestly try to response to criticism, this is rude and immoral for it hurts their feelings in a fully useless way.
      I debate with many people I strongly disagree with and sometimes I feel carried away by my anger but I always try to avoid to express it in a hurting way.

      And I believe that this pretext (pushing them to answer) is MOST OFTEN a self-righteous excuse for allowing one’s hatred to lead one.

      If atheists want to deconvert people, this is clearly the wrong way. Reading SUCH bigoted and hateful comments leads me to completely avoid any conversation.
      If DebunkingChristianity is a website aiming at RATIONALLY convincing Christians they are wrong, it shoud foster a respectful tone towards respectful opponent.

      „Thanks anyway for your post. It seems that anybody can know something about you, after all. No need for extra-sensory perceptions or CSICOP contact „

      Yeah but knowing something about me isn’t probably sufficient to assert I read the Bible like a brainless fundamentalist.
      Actually this flies in the face of almost everything I’ve written here.
      That said, it is important to realize that a human brain is the most complex known structure in the universe, far more complex than a cluster of galaxies. This is why even psychologists should refrain from quick judgements about a person.

      I could say that Cyngus is a bullying asshole. But I know very few things about him and it would be comnpletely unjust und unrighteous for me to entertain such thoughts about him.


      The Old Testament has not ONE occurrence of love toward enemies of God chosen tribe.“

      First of all, what would it mean, if it WERE true? That the Creator of everything just loves His chosen tribe? No, that the ancient Isrealites at that time thought that it was all about them and PROJECTED their primitive nationalism on God.

      But I think it is wrong, you will find quite a few promises about blessing the nations and caring for for the strangers and foreigners in the OT.
      It is not as one-sided as both fundamentalists and antitheists think it is.

      „ When Jesus taught love, should that love be ignored, you’ll suffer the consequences. What kind of love is that?“

      I believe it is a very good argument against eternal hell.
      But if living eternally with GOD means desiring and loving Him, I don’t see anything wrong with God respecting the choice of the person not wanting to be with Him.

      „You could say that maybe Jesus taught some kind of love, dying for others is love. However, dying for others was done before Jesus times.“

      Humans are created to God’s image and naturally have the ability to show the self-sacrifical love shown by Jesus. The message sent to us through the death and resurrection of Christ should be to embrace our TRUE humanity and follow Him in self-denial.

      Good morning if you read my answer early on!

      Friendly greetings from Europe.
      Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
      https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

      • I thought that religious believers cannot have their feelings hurt, for God defend them…

        For what I know, atheists do not de-convert, they just express their religious disbelief… sometime polite, sometime not, but the message is there, and it is an answer to religious believers.

        I said that you don’t find ONE example in the Old Testament about loving enemies, you deceitfully replied: “… you will find quite a few promises about blessing the nations and caring for for the strangers and foreigners in the OT.” You seems to imply by your answer that other nations, strangers and foreigners enemies of the God tribe.

        • Hello.

          First of all I repeat my contention: what would this show if you were right?

          That God is an evil tribal monster?
          Or that the ancient Israelites got him wrong? Or that there is no God at all?

          Think about it twice.

          Are you capable of making the difference between a Christian trying to salvage Biblical inerrancy and one considering the Bible as a religious text written in the same manner as Pagan religious books?

          Is it all white or black?

          You seem to accept the fact that the OT does contain promises concerning FOREIGNERS and STRANGERS.
          You retort it does not contain promises about enemies.
          Yet the book of Jonah is a clear example of the contrary: in this mythological story, the people of Ninive, who were the enemies of the Israelite, are describes as repenting in a perfect manner. It is clear that at least his author was willing to overcome the barriers between in-groups and out-groups.

          Now I have a challenge for you. I AM NOT trying to defend the special divine inspiration of the Bible. As mentioned above, I utterly reject this.
          My contention is that the Hebrew scripture reflects the knowledge and lack of knowledge about factual and moral issues proper to this time and place.

          If you disagree with this, you have the burden of proof to demonstrate that the Israelite were (far) worse than people living at that time.

          I would be really impressed if you could come up with an analysis of all religious texts (around the world) of the Bronze and Iron ages and show me that the Hebrew ones are far more WICKED than the other ones.

          Now I have a last suggestion for you. It is true I didn’t directly address your question about ENEMIES and wrote first about strangers and foreigners. You immediately used the word “deceitfully”, as tough I was willingly trying to trick and deceive you.
          But how on earth do you know that? Could it not be I was tired, inattentive and failed to understand the thrust of your objection?
          Is it not the case than in America like in Europe, one is innocent as long as the culpability has not been PROVEN?

          I am sure you try to follow the Golden Rule.
          I would like you to honestly ask yourself if being extremely rude against Christians speaking out against Biblical (and non-Biblical) atrocities is the right way to go.

          Because I have the clear feeling that most ANTItheists treat as harshly as if we were fundamentalists advocating death penalty against homosexuals.

          Okay, I’m sleeping now.

          Friendly greetings.

  2. When I wrote that God does not teach *loving your enemies* your answer was deceiving. You threw some “promises” smokes and the irrelevant Jonah mythology just to avoid to sincerely say: God does not *teach* to love your enemies, not in the Old Testament nor in the New Testament.

    If my “love” means that you must to accept my love, otherwise you’ll suffer the consequence, this is not love, it is a “subtle” way of destroying you for not accepting God, whatever God you believe in but feel is “unknowable”

    “Christian” agnostic means just that you are a Christian who calls the deceptive facts of the Bible as “unknowable” facts.

    • You ignored my first question which was of utter importance.

      If the ancient Isrealites NEVER wrote to love one’s foes, what are the consequences:

      1) God does not exist
      2) the real God they describe is a tribal, genocidal monster
      3) they described their human thoughts and experiences with God and got Him wrong quite a few times.

      That said, why is the book of Jonah irrelevant? It is clearly taught by the authors that God is also deeply concerned for Israel’s enemies.

      I call the deceptive facts of the Bible deceptive or even atrocious. Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser does exactly the same.

      If God is the source of everything and of love, it is fair He leaves us the sincere choice to love or not to love Him.
      And one cannot love Him just by wanting to avoid hell, this is hypocrisy.
      But before and after the grave, each human will be confronted with the decision to develop desire for God or not.
      If the creature shout to God: “NO! I don’t want to be with you!”
      God will respect her choice and not brainwash her.

      Most Christians believe she will live eternally without God, and suffer a lot after millions and millions years from that absence and that would be hell.
      I believe she will eventually CEASE TO EXIST, not least because God is merciful and the soul is not immortal.

      Every Christian should always try to love and desire God for God’s sake, for His moral perfection, for His amazing creation, and NOT in order to be selfishly happy in the sky.

      • Jonah mythology is irrelevant because Ninive is not described as an enemy of Israel. Jonah had used a trick to impose his invented God upon the Ninivens . The Ninivens did not see any God because God does not exists, but they believed Jonah and got deceived.
        Also, the Jonah mythology just show how Israel invented their God that cannot be seen but by the Israel. If the enemies of Israel are destroyed, it proves my point that God does not teach to love enemies.

        To answer your question of “utter” importance: “What it would show if I am right about that God never taught love”

        Answer: It would show that the New Testament is a fabrication based on the Old Testament fabrications. Jesus “love” is as atrocious and genocidal (see Christian wars and Christian crimes against humanity since its inception) as it is the Old Testament.

        You can spare me with your opinion that Christians failed, as did the Israelites, in following the “true” God that exists but is still unknowable to you, as you are a Christian agnostic.

        I expected from you, as usual at the end of a debate with Christians, to bring the death theme to lure people to convert to agnostic Christianity.

        • Since this is the “end of the debate”, I guess I haven’t much to say.

          You approach the old Hebrew Scriptures with as much objectivity and rationality as German historians did during the third Reich, and since I read a lot of Nazi (and neo-Nazi) literature, I know what I am talking about.

          Of course, you are entirely right that as Jonah’s author wrote the story, most Isrealites did not see the Ninivites as enemies at all.

          And the “genocidal” misdeeds of Christians were a LOGICAL consequences of the central teachings of Jesus.

          Actually I am willfully rejecting these well-established facts because I am in denial with truth.

          Cheers.

  3. You are on the good way, you start to doubt the inspired status of the Bible, the coherence, the plausibility of religious morality, or the satisfactory reconciling God’s power and benevolence with the obvious presence of pain, suffering, and the cruelty in our world.

    I hope you’ll live a life beyond the dull Christianity.

    Cheers.

      • There is no “black and white” with Christianity… it is all “white” Christmas and some gray spots 🙂

        And it is just so easy for you to call all Christian disbelivers as “black”, “anti-theists”, “communists” or “Nazi”

        Read yourself: “You approach the old Hebrew Scriptures with as much objectivity and rationality as German historians did during the third Reich, and since I read a lot of Nazi (and neo-Nazi) literature”

        Actually Nazi were Christians and they loved to kill the murderers of Jesus. I have nothing with the “old Hebrew Scripture”, I just say my opinion that their Bible is just a bunch of religious nonsense as are all religions, even the Christian Bible which is based on the Jewish Bible.

        But you are still working on that, your are an agnostic Chrstian 🙂

  4. Lothar, I think much of Cyngus’ comment is applicable to a fundamentalist-inerrancy view of the Bible, but many of do not hold this view. Therefore, the OT description of God as a tribal deity is irrelevant, and so is the false idea of hell.

    It seems that Cygnus is opposing a mistaken view of Christianity.

    • For cyngus to oppose a mistaken view of Christianity, cyngus must believe in a correct view of Christianity. Sorry to disappoint you, but from all I read in what she wrote, cyngus disbelieve Christianity,

  5. I’m pretty sure the idea was that Cygnus was opposing a strawman – not that she was opposing a view of Christianity that she saw as false, contrasted with a view of Christianity she saw as true. I’m NOT saying that Cygnus herself invented this strawman. Most likely she did not invent it, but received it from reading the views of others — and also of (alas) the more vocal elements of the fundamentalist church. Not all who call themselves atheists represent the consensus (if there is one) of atheism, just as not all who call themselves Christians represent Christ. It would be more just to take the words of Christ for themselves (always insuring they are as correctly translated and culturally understood as possible) as opposed to taking the (often self serving) actions of (often false) disciples as representing Him and His teachings.

    It is for this reason that many Christians resist being labeled as “Christians” and prefer to call themselves “followers of Jesus” or something roughly equivalent to that. The historic church has committed the same faults that you and Cygnus have fallen prey to, in that they often insisted in interpreting the bible as literally true in its most (apparently) violent passages, and only true in a tribally limited fashion in regard to its peaceful and loving passages.

    I believe you can compare the bible’s account (when read chronologically, which is NOT the arrangement in which it is usually presented) with evolution. God deals with the nation of Israel the way He deals with the world — in a gradual progression. He brings them up from the beast mentality to a tribal mentality and from a tribal mentality to a regional and then to a world-wide mentality. (Incidentally I can support this from scripture though it would make my post too long for courtesy.)

    Currently, I am told, Jewish thought is that all people who ever lived or will live will be reconciled to God in time. I am not Jewish, but I also believe this to be true (though our host currently disagrees, and believes some will choose annihilation. Naturally, I respect his loving intent and his striving toward the truth in believing that).

    Please forgive me, Valdobiade, if I am mistaken, but in reading through your comments here I am led to suspect that you have not read the bible, and specifically have not read even the gospels (the first four books in the New Testament. You would be better able to dialogue with Christ followers had you read the gospels at the very least. Jesus does indeed teach love toward enemies (Gospel of Matthew chapters 4-6) and a clear definition of the Christian vision of love is given by the apostle Paul (in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.) Then much later, having had time and no doubt opportunity to read Paul’s letter, the apostle John writes: God is love. (1 John chapter 4) and does NOT object to Paul’s much earlier definition of love.

    Therefore I propose that Christions who do not act in love toward neighbors and toward enemies are not in fact Christ followers, and do not represent the true called-out-assembly (ekklesia) of Jesus Christ, that the teachings of the bible, understood correctly and taken as a whole do promote world peace and brother/sister-hood, and that our God, being both all loving and all powerful, will one day reconcile even the most angry rebels to Himself without resorting to torture, without destroying that one’s free will, and wholly depending upon healing that one of any mental and/or spiritual pain, deficiencies, anger, etc, and upon the patience of the supreme and everlasting, immortally loving heart of God.

    Blessings to you, Valdobiade, 🙂

    Cindy

      • Oh man, Lotharson! Now I’m going to have to write one! Actually, very good idea. If you don’t hear from me here, pester me. It will have to be after Christmas — only I’m afraid I’m getting to be very forgetful in my old age. 😦 😆

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s