Are all atheists immoral fools refusing to believe?

Following a discussion about my last post “Ed”, a British atheist asked a terrific question which gave rise to an interesting and enriching conversation.

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Ed: Marc, thanks. I am interested in the hiddenness aspect. You say in the piece: “The problem of God allowing many people to remain in the dark about his true nature (divine hiddenness) could be partially solved by considering His leaving freedom to man AND salvation not being dependent on holding the right beliefs while dying.”

Would this include the atheists like me who consider the evidence points strongly away from theism?

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Me: Hi Ed! Thanks for your wonderful question.

I can only answer you what Pope Francis stated:

“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not
believe in God is to obey their conscience.
Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”

Let me give you an analogy. I believe that hardcore libertarianism (the idea that the State should NEVER intervene even if poor children are starving) is a wicked system.
I do believe that numerous rich people wanting to preserve or enhance their privileges aren’t sincere when they pretend to be intellectually convinced this is the best system for us all.
YET I also recognize that many libertarians are SINCERELY convinced this is the case and that private donations can take care of the poor.

The same thing could be said about atheism. I find no atheistic arguments convincing.
But I acknowledge the fact that sincere and kind people might disagree with that assessment IN GOOD FAITH.
I also believe there’s nothing wrong at all with respectful atheistic philosophers trying to rationally defend their worldview.

So I do believe that beyond the grave, God will give all these people the opportunity to accept Him and thereby inherit immortality.

****

Ed: Great Marc. I take it that when you said “The problem of God allowing many people to remain in the dark about his true nature (divine hiddenness) …” your view is similar to mainstream here: if atheists could overcome their prejudice then they would see the evidence for God as clear, as Rom 1 suggests. Have I read you correctly?

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Me: There are two issues which need to be untangled here.

1) Is the rejection of theism wicked?

I’m no inerrantist. I see the apostle Paul as a great man of God and read him like I read C.S. Lewis.

Consequently, I’m not bound to believing that everything he wrote in the book of “Romans” is free of errors.
I certainly don’t think that ALL atheists “capture the Truth” IMMORALLY even if I think this may very well hold for SOME of them.

It is, however, not really clear this is what the apostle meant in the first place.
He might have had a cultural rather than individual responsibility in mind.

2) Do atheists think as they do due to prejudices?

It is vital to realize one can hold false beliefs owing to prejudices WITHOUT being morally culpable.
In that sense, I do believe that COUNTLESS people are atheists owing to prejudices or ungrounded presuppositions (such as the universal applicability of Ockham’s razor or the general principle “the absence of evidence is evidence of absence“.)

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Ed: Marc, that’s helpful. Now on the evidence side of the equation…. Does the evidence lead to God when viewed 100% objectively? Or is it unclear? Or is God hidden on this objective level as well?

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Me: I’m no Bayesian and doubt in the first place that propositions such as “God exists” are characterized by a SINGLE-VALUED probability.

I think we’ve decent, ordinary evidence (which would be accepted in mundane fields of inquiry) that paranormal phenomena are real.
In addition, I find some versions of the ontological argument pretty intriguing.
That said, I don’t think that Christian theism can be shown to be true.
It is my contention that all humans walk by faith AS I JUST DEFINED IT.
Cheers.
P.S: capital letters don’t mean I’m angry. 🙂
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I greatly appreciated the respectful tone of Ed.
In the context of the culture war raging in America (and to a lesser extent in the whole English-speaking world) we see two bunches of extremists fighting anyone disagreeing with them in a flurry of over-generalizations and straw-man arguments.
https://i1.wp.com/www.machosofty.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/130304RD-religion-shirt-_G0G5019final4.jpg
On the one hand, anti-theists keep saying that ALL religious people are deluded loonies who ought to be cured of their “God virus” through the use of ridicule, insults and emotional bullying.
On the other hand, religious fundamentalists say that ALL atheists are immoral fools who refuse to believe in God owing to their wickedness.
 
Both sides are mirror-image of each other and many current anti-theists tend to be former religious fundies.
I find the whole situation deeply saddening for I highly value respectful and reasonable conversations between people having different worldviews.
Indeed, this is one of the main reasons which led me to create this blog.
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Christian exlusivism and the problem of divine hiddenness

I recently had a very intriguing conversation with a facebook user called  Barbara.

She reacted to my recent interview of progressive methodist minister Roger Wolsey.

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Barbara: “I have to say that if I were still a Christian I’d probably be somewhere in the same ball park as this guy. But this interview begs a couple of questions for other Christians. For example, he seems to be saying that Christianity doesn’t necessarily have a patent on salvation — he is “willing to accept that God’s fully at work in all other world religions.” One of Christianity’s great flaws, IMO, is that its doctrines force it into exclusivity. Can Christianity be non-exclusive?

Marc (me):

Hi Barbara!  
Thanks for this terrific question! I’m somewhat (theologically) less left-oriented than Roger so I’ll give you my own answer.
If by “exclusivism” you mean that one must affirm that only people dying as Christians will get to heaven, then I completely disagree.
 
While the Bible doesn’t speak with one voice on that topic, there are clearly texts which (implicitly) teach the contrary.
 
 
C.S. Lewis was also a staunch inclusivist with respect to salvation. I could quote many others as well.
 
If however, you mean by that that one cannot be a Christian while believing that “all ways lead to God” then I tend to agree there’s a real tension here.
 
 
I believe, however, that the problem is a logical one. All worldviews cannot be true at the same time.
So if God showed us His ultimate nature in Jesus of Nazareth, he didn’t do it through Mohammed, Buddha, Hinduism and so on and so forth.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply  that all proponents of these worldviews might not experience Him in a different manner.
This idea is a very old one which is well anchored within Christian orthodoxy.
 
Indeed, the apostle Paul himself said that “And He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times in the boundaries of their habitation, and they would seek God if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we move and exist as even some of your own poets have said, for we also are His children.” whereby he quoted two GREEK (Pagan) poets referring to…ZEUS!
 
Had American fundies lived at this time, they’d have screamed out loud and called Paul a hellbound heretic.
 
This shows they’ve no right to speak for all Christians.”

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Barbara:

“All worldviews cannot be true at the same time.” I tend to agree with Joseph Campbell – all religions are true; they just aren’t literal. Or, all religions are true, but you need to notice what they are true *of.*

Buddhism mostly takes the view that doctrines are provisional. They are guides to truth, not truth in itself. The truth they point to is ineffable and beyond conception, but it can be experienced and understood on an intuitive level. Buddhism is a *means* to do that – not a belief system as much as a practice — but for the most part it doesn’t claim to have a copyright on enlightenment, which people may realize all kinds of ways. And one worldview may serve as well as another one, but of course Buddhists think Buddhist practices do the job most effectively.

There’s also an understanding in some schools that even a falsehood can, under some circumstances, serve as an expedient means (upaya) to realize enlightenment. In that case the falsehood is eventually realized to be false, of course. From that perspective it’s not a problem if non-Buddhists believe other things, such as in the divinity of Christ, because such beliefs might serve as upaya to realize enlightenment. Stranger things have happened.

So, from the perspective of this Zen student, the various worldviews of the great religions are all true and false at the same time. They contain truth, but only a kind of relative truth. And the “ultimate nature” is manifested freely by all phenomena; it’s not hoarded by a few special beings.

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Laurent:

It could be argued that an infinite god (or universe) must necessarily contain conflicting truths/realities in order to be infinite.

***

Barbara:

Depends on what you call “truth.” From the perspective of Zen and several other traditions, anything we can think or conceptualize or explain with Powerpoint is only a limited, relative kind of truth. Likewise anything we experience as “reality.” The absolute truth/reality is beyond concepts. Conflict would not be possible. But if we’re talking about religious doctrines, we’re talking strictly relative truth.

*****

I’m really thankful to Barbara and Laurent for having given rise to a very deep conversation. It was also delightful for me to see that she has remained very kind and respectful after her leaving Christianity.

This stands in stark contrast to numerous American anti-theists who are former fundamentalists and who openly advocate the use of bullying and ridicule against ALL religious believers.

The problem of God allowing many people to remain in the dark about his true nature (divine hiddenness) could be partially solved by considering His leaving freedom to man AND salvation not being dependent on holding the right beliefs while dying. This is certainly related to the Buddhist concept that “even a falsehood can, under some circumstances, serve as an expedient means (upaya) to realize enlightenment.”

As I mentioned above, the apostle Paul (or at least the author of the Acts of the Apostle) did believe that Pagan Authors can understand profound truths about mankind. C.S. Lewis said the same thing about Socrates.

To my mind, the most troubling aspect of divine hiddenness may very well be the huge amount of suffering it involves. God’s intervention could certainly have hindered many (if not all) atrocities stemming from human ignorance, wickedness or a mixture of both.

I have proposed tentative solutions to the general “problem of evil”.

Honestly should compel all Christians to recognize it hasn’t been solved yet. I can certainly understand atheists unable to even hope there might be a God owing to the pain they see around them.

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

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Christmas without any gift / Wiehnacht ohne Geschenk / Noël sans cadeau

Lothringisch.

English.

Français.

De nohe Begegnung von zwei rätselhafte Wese.
The close encounter of two enigmatic beings
La rencontre approchée de deux êtres énigmatiques.

Frosch de dich immer noch, warum de gischert ken Geschenk bekumm hasch?

Are you still wondering why you didn’t get any gift yesterday?

Est-ce que tu te demandes encore pourquoi tu n’as reçu aucun cadeau hier?

Jetzt wesch de ‘s!

Now you know it!

Maintenant tu le sais!

Happy holidays John. I hope to go again to Sedona in the spring or fall of 2015.

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

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

On “objective” statistics and political propaganda

Kevin Miller (whom I interview here) wrote a thought-provoking article:

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Writer Samuel Johnson once said that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” To be fair, he wasn’t criticizing love of one’s country, he was criticizing so-called “false patriotism,” which was really a cloak for self-interest. By calling a selfish or aggressive act “patriotic,” it somehow becomes heroic. It’s an appeal to emotions in order to distract people from the facts and to stifle dissent–for fear of being labeled a traitor. How this differs from “true patriotism,” I’m not really sure, because in my mind, patriotism is always an expression of self interest–my country above all others. Isaac Asimov_1951_Foundation

In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, one of the characters paraphrases this statement by saying, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” I might paraphrase it further to say, “Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.” But whether tried first or last, resorting to violence is always an admission of defeat–even though it’s often portrayed as an expression of power.

Which brings me to white evangelicals. According to a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute, white evangelicals in America report significantly stronger feelings of national pride than any other religious group (68%). They are also “more likely than any other religious group surveyed to believe that God has granted the U.S. a special role in history (84%).” When you pair this with the 2009 Pew Forum study that found 62% of white evangelicals say torture can often or sometimes be justified, this paints a pretty disturbing picture.

As I noted in a previous post, as long as white evangelicals continue to conflate their faith with their country, their primary concern will be security. And if security–self-preservation–is your primary concern, all of your actions will be inherently self-interested. That’s why white evangelicals are both patriotic and violent. It’s a natural and logical expression of manifest destiny.

Unfortunately, as Johnson and Asimov point out, it is also an expression of unscrupulous incompetence, which is why it is most certainly doomed to fail.

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To which I responded:

I think that it’d be good if they gave the same percentages for black, Asian and Hispanic Evangelicals.

What’s more, Evangelicals are extremely diverse. What about those values for Charismatic, Pentecostal, reformed, liberal…Evangelicals?

The danger of such GLOBAL statistics is that they can all too easily lead  to resentment and verbal violence towards people (and confessions)  belonging to the overarching group but not fitting the average norm.

In statistics, a mean or average value isn’t all what matters. Quantities indicating how SCATTERED the sample or population is (variance, |max(S) – min(S)| etc..) can be equally and often much more important.

This fact is all too often forgotten by ideologists (on all corners of the spectrum) who want to forcefully make a point.

Anti-theists use average values concerning inferior scientific and technological achievements in more religious societies for arguing that ALL religions (without any exception) ought to disappear.

This is both morally and rationally abhorrent.

If among the main religions, certain confessions perform as well as secular folks with respect to science, it is fully absurd to say they’re an impediment to progress.

Therefore, before or after any such statement, it would be good to always add a visible disclaimer reminding of this.

I’m not writing this against you but generally against the authors and presenters of all these kinds of research.

I think that if people were fully rational and loving, politics as we know it could not exist.

That said, I completely agree with you that these findings are disturbing.
These people pretend to be the best (or even the only) followers of a God of Love and yet…their fruits do not really match up.

As for patriotism, I don’t think it’s wrong to feel proud of one’s culture and language and wanting to defend them if they’re threatened.
However, it is egregiously wrong to sustain and uphold an imperialistic State triggering bloody wars without any good ground. Or a State allowing horrible discrepancies between the welfare of poor and rich children in the name of an abstract libertarian economic ideology.

I do recognize, however, that some of these Conservatives and Libertarians are good people who are just utterly misguided.

I don’t doubt that Kevin had good intentions by writing this and I don’t want anyone to think the contrary.

But I think we should all be very careful with the way we express ourselves. For words can create reality.

To my mind, what we can say is that (probably) MOST American white Evangelicals hold beliefs which cause much harm. But we should also clearly recognize the existence of many who do not and even actively oppose such excesses.

9780310267317

Greg Boyd is a great example.

An interview with progressive Methodist minister Roger Wolsey

I had recently the immense privilege to interview Roger Wolsey who is a fascinating man in many respects.

Hi Roger, thank you very much for having accepted my invitation. Could you please tell us what your background is?
Sure. It’s an honor. I’m a 46 year old “Gen X” American. I was born and raised in Minnesota. I’m a Christian and grew up in the United Methodist Church. I originally thought I’d pursue a career either in politics or in conflict resolution/mediation – yet felt a call from God to become a pastor 2 years after I graduated from college. I earned a Masters of Divinity degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO and am an ordained United Methodist pastor. I currently serve as the director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I am an advocate for progressive Christianity and have written a book called “Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity” – which is an introduction to progressive Christianity. I also blog for Pathos, Elephant Journal, and The Huffington Post.
a typo up there, should be Patheos.
Alright! And you owe your own existence to this methodist congregation, am I correct? 😉
Indeed. In fact, my parents met each other when they were grad students at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. : )
I was born in 1968, the year that the UMC became a new denomination – and was likely one of the first people baptized in that new denomination. (along with my twin sister)

https://i1.wp.com/www.kyumc.org/console/files/oImage_Library_FQADXU/Wesley_Foundation_copy_copy_XMYNBCXQ.jpg
That’s truly a cute tale 🙂 You obviously believe one can honor God by being a passionate trumpet player, don’t you?
Well, yes. For me, playing my trumpet is one of the ways that I pray and commune with God. Music inspires others in ways that spoken word can’t always do.
Do you identify yourself as a progressive or as an emergent Christian?
Progressive. I understand progressive Christianity as being the post-modern influenced evolution of mainline liberal Christianity.
What’s the main difference between progressive and liberal Christianity?
Well, there are several. Progressive Christianity is less colonial and less patriarchal. And, while progressive Christianity fully embraces the insights of contemporary science, including the theory of evolution, it is less overly enamored with science and less willing to cede everything to science. It’s less needing to find scientific explanations of various miracle stories in the Biblical text, and more willing to simply receive the text as it is – as story. Progressive Christianity is less modern and more post-modern – willing to accept that God’s fully at work in all other world religions. Finally, progressive Christianity has more consensus that homosexuality isn’t a sin.
Re: science, progressive Christianity is more willing to embrace paradox and mystery than liberal Christianity was.
Finally, it’s more passionate than liberal Christianity and more embracing of poetry and the arts. Oh, it’s also more eclectic and willing to draw insights, prayers, and practices from the entirety of the Christian – and even non-Christian- traditions.
I wholeheartedly agree with the bit about homosexuality. Theologian Roger Olson once defined liberal Christianity as the rejection of anything supernatural (at least in our world). Do you think it’s a good summary?
Answer: Perhaps. That certainly rings true for me. However, another progressive Christian writer, Roger Lee Ray, also fully rejects the supernatural. He and I disagree on that. That said, I embrace panentheism instead of supernatural theism. However, for me, there really is some portion of God that is transcendent and “relatable as a person.” I don’t pray to myself.
I pray to God.
That’s truly fascinating. Could you (shortly) explain what you mean by this panentheistic personhood?
It’s a bit hard to do justice to that question in a Skype interview. I describe that in full in the chapter about God in my book Kissing Fish. However, in the panentheist view, God is fully immanent within all of Creation – and – fully transcendent from the Created order. Both aspects are ways for various people to connect and relate to God. Some can commune with God simply by being in nature, others do so in a more private inner prayer life that can take place just as readily in an ornate gothic cathedral as in a plastic booth at McDonalds. That’s the more transcendent aspect IMO. Though — as with a circle, if you go far enough in either direction – you reach the same point. Paradox.
That said, as a Christian, I believe that the qualities and characteristics of God are well conveyed in the person of Jesus – including God’s passions and emotions. However, I don’t pray to Jesus, I pray to the God that Jesus prayed to.
Okay, thanks..
For most (albeit not all) Conservative Evangelicals, the Gospel might be summarized as follows:
1) God created Adam and Eve in a state of moral perfection
2) they ate the wrong fruit
3) consequently God cursed their billions of descendants with a sinful nature
4) everyone deserves an eternal stay in God’s torture chamber due to an imperfection the Almighty Himself made inevitable
5) Therefore people can only avoid this fate by believing in Jesus
6) All people dying as non-Christian will agonize during billions, billions and billions of years…
Can one call this a “good new”?


I suppose that view may work for some. But it’s clearly circular reasoning, clearly triumphalisitic and exlusiveistic, and clearly dysfunctional.
Those premises and ways of viewing the faith don’t work for many people today. Hence, the rise of progressive and emerging Christianity.
That view, to my mind, isn’t truly a robust faith in God, but instead, merely “fire insurance” — believing because you have to. : P
Would you be able to put your own view of the Gospel in a nutshell?
Hmm. Let me give a crack at it.
God created the world and the people in it. Life has the potential for real joy and beauty, but due to our free will, humans have a tendency to not act wisely or in our truest best interest. We abuse our free will and oppress and limit ourselves and others. Through the life, teachings, and example of Jesus, God has provided a way for humans to transform from a more reptilian – fear based – way of living, toward a more trusting, just, and compassionate way of relating to ourselves and others. To the extent that we follow the Way of Jesus, we can know and experience salvation/wholeness. And the good new is that we don’t do it all on our own. God’s grace provides when our efforts can’t — but again to the extent that we allow and receive it.
I’d also say that the good news is that each day is a new day, a fresh start, and we aren’t defined by or limited by our past.
Thanks 🙂 You obviously don’t believe in inerrancy. Is there a sense in which one can say that the Bible is inspired?
True, I don’t believe that the Bible is without fault. That said, I’d contend that everything that I just stated is amply supported by the Biblical texts. I’d say that everything that humans create is in some way inspired by God. Part of how we are created “in God’s image” is our creativity. We’re co-creators with God. I believe that some of our creations are more blessed and condoned by God than others, and that those things that are truly blessed and condoned by God are especially inspired. Many poets, artists, musicians, song-writers, etc. tap in to “the muse” – which is a metaphor for the Holy Spirit – and the people who wrote the texts in the Bible were especially seeking to tap into God’s inspiration and co-create with God. To the extent that they got it right – it’s notable. As are the glaring instances when they were off the mark.
Amen to that! What’s your take on how to approach social justice issues?
Well, again, I devote a chapter to that in my book. Here’s a link to a sermon that I wrote that explains it pretty well. “Band-aids aren’t enough” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2012/08/band-aids-arent-enough-progressive-christian-social-justice
Essentially, I’d say that as a prophet, Jesus and his message were as political as they are spiritual. The top two subjects that Jesus spoke about were politics (proclaiming and describing the kingdom/empire of God which is subversive to worldly powers) and economics – money and our relationship to it.
Authentic Christianity comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. It soothes our souls and lights a fire under our butts to effect social change.
To your mind, why are so many American Christians convinced that they ought to be Republicans in order to follow Christ?
I think that’s less the case than it used to be. That notion arose in about 1980 with the wedding of the election of Ronald Reagan with the creation of the so-called “Moral Majority” – which essentially turned the Grand Old Party into “God’s Own Party.” That was the same time that the Southern Baptist Convention was hijacked by fundamentalists. Since they are the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., that set the tone for popular American Christianity for many years. Thankfully, that era is waning and more and more younger American evangelicals are overtly seeking to distance themselves from the Republican party. Indeed, more and more Americans are “coming out” as Christian Liberals. Check out the massive growth of “The Christian Left” Facebook page!


Okay, thanks for this summary. What are you up to now?
I’m going to be taking a sabbatical the first half of 2015 in order to write a new book – and collaborate with two other writers on another book yet.
The working title for my upcoming book is “Orange Duct Tape Jesus.” Stay tuned for developments!
That will most likely be truly stunning! 😉 I thank you very much for all the time you granted me.

From Chrisian fundamentalism to atheistic fundamentalism (Part 1)

I had recently a revealing exchange with anti-theists at the DebunkingChristianity blog. They are all former fundamentalists who are now doing their best to deconvert as many Christians as possible while preaching them the good news of scientism.

Many of them have been gravely traumatized by their fundamentalist education.

They usually (albeit not always) believe that the Bible is free of contradiction with respect to its moral message which they see as absolutely atrocious and akin to Mein Kampf.

They constantly PICK AND CHOOSE the worse passages in the whole Bible, interpret all other texts in the most negative light and then conclude that Christianity is one of the greatest evil of the world which ought to be eradicated.

While they think that all people not agreeing with their worldview are either dishonest, delusional or hopelessly dumb, they think that they themselves arrived at their current position through a dispassionate use of their reason. They get utterly infuriated if one dares suggest to them that psychological factors may have played an important role for their becoming Evangelistic Atheists.

Here was the original post.

John Loftus is the leader of DebunkingChristianity. Here he’s quoting liberal Christian scholar Thom Stark with whom I’m in agreement for a lot of things. 

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So the news has just broken [March 14, 2012] that a Moroccan girl has committed suicide after being ordered by a judge to marry her rapist. Now before some self-righteous Christians begin mouthing off about how unenlightened Islamic culture is, let’s go to the source:

“If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and forcibly seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

Now this law is often decried by religion’s detractors as barbaric and misogynistic. In fact, however, this law is designed specifically with the woman’s well-being in view.

Then comes the kicker:

In many ancient cultures, women enjoyed second-class status. Societies were dominated by males, and women were objects to be traded from one male to another. This is not a religious problem, so much as a vestige of homo-sapiens’ evolutionary development. But in such cultures, especially in Hebrew culture, women who were victims of rape were considered “spoiled.” The law, in effect, says, “You broke it, you buy it.” In these cultures women depended upon men (fathers, husbands, and sons) for their well-being. In Israelite society, women could not own property; neither could they make contracts without the approval of their male master. This means that a woman was totally dependent upon a man for her survival. But once a virgin had been subjected to sexual violation, she was considered undesirable. Thus, the law dictates (as punishment) that the rapist must marry his victim and, more pointedly, that he is not permitted to divorce her. This law, though obviously very psychologically destructive to the woman (yes, even in an agonistic society), sought to secure the woman’s well being.

So it isn’t the law here specifically that’s evil, barbaric, or what have you. What’s evil and barbaric, rather, is the culture itself—the male-dominated society, the culture that sees unmarried non-virgins as less than a woman, the culture that does not permit a woman to own property, to conduct her own business arrangements by making contracts and vows, or to decide for herself whom she wishes to marry. What’s more, note that there is no mention in this law of whether or not the woman might wish to secure a divorce from her rapist/husband. Women did not have the right to pursue a divorce; that right, too, was solely within the domain of the male.

And especially this:

If I were Yahweh, and I were communicating directly with Moses, who was writing down what I said and relaying it to the people, in order to fashion a society that pleased me, here’s what I would have said:

If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and forcibly seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall be cast out from the people, left to fend for himself in the wilderness. The victim, however, shall not be stigmatized by the crime committed against her. She is more to be honored than other women, for she has undergone much suffering, against her own will, and has emerged from her torment a woman of great strength. Woman is to be honored among you, but a woman who has overcome adversity is to be honored tenfold.

See, now, that would have been revolutionary. The biblical apologists wish to argue that God made concessions to a sinful culture, while leading them, by baby-steps, toward a more enlightened way of life. That’s of course offensive bullshit. Any God who would concede to male-domination, concede to the deprivation of basic rights to women, concede to a society in which the only hope for a rape victim is to be bound as long as she lives to her rapist, is a God I don’t have much use for. Especially when all it would have taken was a few simple sentences, such as the ones I offered above, designed to change fundamentally the way men thought about women. Link

Amen on that. AMEN!

Now Thom thinks there is a God who can be found in the Bible somehow, but that’s an argument for another time. At least Thom’s faith is not one that will embrace pseudo-science and fly planes into buildings based on an ancient superstitious barbaric “holy” book. I could wish all Christians had his faith even if I think it’s delusional as well. Faith, as I’ve argued, is always irrational.

*****

(To his credit, I must recognize that Loftus is slightly more moderate than most of his minions. Many of same would say that all Christians or religious people are the same).

Here was my response to the main post.

***

“Faith, as I’ve argued, is always irrational”

There are different definitions of faith.

Which one are you using? Belief without any reason? Hope in something without any reason?

There are purely secular philosophers who believe that one cannot ground knowledge while avoiding basic beliefs, circular reasoning or infinite regress.

What make you think they’re irrational?

****

I received a gentle, insightful, kind and incredibly profound answer:

“Use whatever definition makes you sleep at night.”

So asking a deep and serious question is worthy of ridicule for these folks.

This type of reaction is a hallmark of the fundamentalist mindset. People feel so convinced they have the truth they ought to preach everywhere that they no longer think that reality (including the religious landscape) might be extremely more complex than their current binary vision of it.

Since I began to read a lot of articles concerning epistemology (the theory of knowledge, how does one knows what one knows), psychology, meta-ethic (the foundation of morality), philosophy of mind, theology and controversial field of inquiries concerning phenomena loosely called “paranormal” (see this link for my parallel blog about those), I have been increasingly realizing that many things people take for granted are very far from having a solid foundation.

This is why I am very suspicious of both Christian and atheistic apologists pretending to rationally prove the very strong plausibility of their worldview.

As I explained, I view faith as a choice, namely the choice to hope in God while the evidence isn’t conclusive either way.

I also had an exchange about the main topic of  their post, namely the presence of laws in the Old Testament we now clearly recognize as suboptimal and harmful.

To make things more digestible I decided to mention it in a new post.

You’re warmly encouraged to write down comments explaining what thoughts came to your minds after having read this.

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

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Can one forgive a non-forgetful man? / Kann man einem nicht-vergesslichen Mann vergeben?

I hope my regular readers will forgive me for this utterly superficial post and perhaps even take a laugh with me.

Ich hoffe, dass meine regelmäßigen Leser mir für diese völlig oberflächliche Post vergeben und vielleicht sogar mit mir lachen werden.

(German translation which must be bypassed for discovering my improvised modifications of the story)

(Däitschi Iwersetzung)

Wer sagt denn, dass Männer keine Erinnerungen haben!

Ein Paar ging einkaufen für Weihnacht. Das Einkaufszentrum wimmelte von Leuten und die Ehefrau ging umher als sie überrascht entdeckte, dass ihr Mann nirgendwo zu sehen war.

Sie war echt erschüttert denn sie hatten noch viele Dinge zu tun. Deshalb wurde sie so besorgt, dass sie ihn auf seinem Händi anrief und daraufhin fragte, wo er war.

Mit einer leise Stimme sagte er: “Erinnerst du dich an die Juwelier, in deren Geschäft wir fünf Jahre zuvor hinein gingen? Du hattest dich in diese Diamantenkette verliebt, die wir nicht bezahlen konnten und ich sagte dir darauf, dass ich sie für dich eines Tages kriegen würde.”

Die Frau wurde vor Rührung sprachlos, fing an zu weinen und antwortete:

“Ja, ich erinnere mich wirklich gut an dieses Geschäft.”

“Na, eigentlich bin ich im Pub grad donewe!”

Drink responsibly. Portrait of drunk men sitting at the pub with

I can truly assure you that in such a situation I’d have been much more original than him.

Ich kann euch wahrhaftig versichern, dass ich selber in einer solchen Situation viel origineller als er gewesen wäre.

“Well, I courageously stole this necklace for appeasing your wrath following my having broken the tenth glass in the first month since we’ve been living together. But after I successfully went across the wall, I got caught by this weed-smoking bobby who put me under arrest.”

“Na, ich habe ganz mutig diese Halskette gestohlen, um deine Wut zu besänftigen, die deswegen entstand, weil ich das zehnte Glas gebrochen habe, seitdem wir zusammen leben. Aber nachdem ich erfolgreich durch die Wand gegangen war wurde ich von diesem grasrauchenden Bullen erwischt, der mich verhaftet hat.”

I really don’t know why but I felt the urge to make a fool of myself before getting to bed.

Ich weiß wirklich nicht warum aber ich empfand einfach den Drang, mich zum Narren zu machen, bevor ich ins Bett gehen würde.

If at least one person laughs because of the story instead of laughing at me, I’ll consider my goal reached.

Wenn mindestens ein Mensch lacht wegen der Geschichte, die ich erzählt habe, anstatt sich über mich lustig zu machen , werde ich mein Ziel als erreicht betrachten.

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

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)