What Does 1 + 1 = 2 Mean?:
Mathematics and Religiously-Based Explanations

Neocalvinism — By on November 3, 2005 at 1:19 am

Earlier this week I took issue with the claim that there is a ‘



  • http://www.happymills.com Brad Mills

    One of my favorite sermons by John Piper is “How to drink orange juice to the glory of God”. Christians should seek to glorify God not only in their vocation but even in the tasks that seem mundane and trivial.

  • http://www.pseudopolymath.com Mark Olson

    If you allow me to set aside the real point of this post, that the philosophical foundations of logical constructs.
    On the 1+1=2 issue, John Conway has a fascinating derivation of numbers from sets which was coined “surreal numbers”. There is a fairly readable account of this by Donald Knuth entitled “Surreal Numbers”. This account besides being interesting in that it provides a way to derive 1+1=2 (and the rest of the numbers + a few more) from more basic principles it also provides a glimpse at how Mathemeticians work and why they find it a worthwhile endeavor.
    “Surreal Numbers” is written dialog between a recently married couple stranded in a island paradise. After some months they find themselves wishing for intellectual stimulation. The find an old tablet with an inscription … “In the beginning …” and it goes from there.

  • Gideon

    If 1+1=2 is too complex, you can fall back to Peano arithmetic. It initially defines 0 and the successor function S(x) and builds up from there. For example you can define the symbol + using the two sub-definitions x + 0 = x and x + S(y) = S(x + y). Then define 1 as S(0) and 2 as S(S(0)). Thus S(0) + S(0) = S(S(0)), or 1+1=2.
    The only self-defined objects are 0 and S(x).

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    “Divine” according to the materialist appears to be yet another straw man; it’s hard to read stuff written like that when confronted with such a thing right out of the gate…
    Dewey’s and Russell’s views are hardly considered radical today, and no more are based on a notion of the “divine” than a computer (which exploits the linguistic convetionalism of logic an nubmer theory).
    I cannot read a statement like:
    This is why the Christian view on math, science, and everything else must ultimately differ from theories predicated on other religious beliefs.
    without thinking it’s just like:
    This is why the Marxist-Lenninst view on math, science, and everything else must ultimately differ from theories predicated on other religious beliefs.
    Science is only science, and math is only math, and to make claims and advocate a “Christian” science and math, I suspect must imply, like a “Marxist” view science and math, or a “PoMO” science and math, to simply advocate ignorance.

  • http://jimgilbertatlarge.blogspot.com/ Jim Gilbert

    Joe, your post reminds me of an interview I read years ago (before I realized the importance of retaining source information) with one of the originators of Outcomes Based Education. The grab quote: OBE would not insist that one plus one equals two “if the student doesn’t feel good about that answer.”
    At that moment I realized that anything can be “true” if there is no Truth.

  • http://jimgilbertatlarge.blogspot.com/ Jim Gilbert

    Mumon, there is a difference between advocating a Christian “view” of science and math, as Joe has done, and advocating a Christian science and math. Why parse his words?
    At least you confessed in your first paragraph: “It’s hard to read stuff written like that…”

  • Soup

    This is why the Christian view on math, science, and everything else must ultimately differ from theories predicated on other religious beliefs.
    With the obvious exception of course of the observance of certain holidays…

  • Soup

    Interestingly when non-Euclidian geometry is applied at higher dimensional levels 1+1=2 is truly irrelevant, if not absurd on its face.
    Non-Euclidian geometry is the bane of Einstein’s relativity and the primary reason that he, and Hawking after him, have been unable to arrive at a grand unified field theory.
    God is big.

  • http://bevets.com/grapevine.htm bevets

    All Truth is God’s Truth.
    All Truth leads to God.
    No Truth leads away from God.

  • http://decorabilia.blogspot.com Jim Anderson

    Ah, drinking orange juice to the glory of God. I notice that no one ever brings up other less glorious aspects of God’s glorious creation–flatulence, defecation, and the like. If Christians were truly to adopt an attitude that everything, even passing this kidney stone, is for God’s glory, that would be supremely weird.

  • Atlantic

    Why? Healthy bodily functions obviously glorify God, and pain and ill health certainly should be offered up.
    Incidentally, Orthodox Jews have a blessing that must be recited after using the toilet. According to a quick Goodle, it says something like “Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, Who formed Adam with wisdom and created within him many openings and many cavities. It is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory that if one of them were to be blocked or one one of them were to be ruptured it would be impossible to survive and stand before You. Blessed are You, Lord, Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.”

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Joe writes: Unless we posit an infinite regress of dependent existences, we must ultimately arrive at an entity that fits the criteria for the divine.

    Wait a second. You seem to assume that there is something wrong with “an infinite regress of dependent existences.” I see no need for infinite regression bigotry. ;-)

    Joe writes: A theist, for instance, will say that the divine is God while a materialist will claim that matter is what fills the category of divine.

    Not true. Materialist will say matter (and energy) are good enough to explain all we know about science, and you must admit that’s quite a lot. When it comes to the divine – whatever is

  • http://www.psonnets.org/ Michael Rew

    I posit two Biblical equations in which one plus one does not equal two. Marriage and the Church.
    One plus one equals one flesh in marriage, and it also equals (in most cases) numerous children. So one plus one equals one, and it equals more than one.
    The Church is the Body of Christ, in which one and one should be one in Christ, and much more than one and one should be one in Christ, similar to the Trinity, in which Three are One.

  • Soup

    God’s manifold wisdom is so far beyond our meager comprehension that it is impossible to even address with our words.
    You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but who can count the number of apples in a seed?
    Ponder it.

  • The Raven

    Mathematics belongs to the academy. Philosophy belongs to the academy. Religion ought not to concern itself with the physical world. When it does, bad things tend to happen.
    This is not to say that religious people should not approach the academy – far from it. Like anyone else, they can profit from study and potentially contribute to the body of knowledge we accept as being fundamental to an understanding of how things actually are. Bishop Lowth, f’rinstance, assembled the first authoritative grammar of the English language. We’re fortunate that he got the ball rolling when he did.
    But when it comes to “religious stuff,” or what Bertrand Russell termed “God-talk,” that really should be kept in the church. Not the academy. Because in church, each member is free to imagine whatever he likes and believe whatever comes to mind and it doesn’t hurt anybody. The academy doesn’t work that way. From a very basic standpoint, the hallmark of the Enlightenment is that knowledge is transferable freely, or in modern parlance, “information wants to be free.” Religion doesn’t work that way because of the burden of dogma. As we saw in the previous entry’s comments, “no Christian would argue that Jesus is not the son of God.”
    That sort of thinking is fine for church, and that’s where it belongs. But at a university, everything remains open to question and inquiry. To give a standard instance, we might ask “What does Huckleberry Finn mean?” That is, do we have an accepted interpretation of the work? Short answer: No. But we’re free to work at it and suggest possibilities, some of which are more compelling than others, but none of which are granted the imprimatur of correctness.
    In the religious sphere – Christian in this case – it seems problematic to even inquire as to what the word “God” means. It nudges the border of heresy to ask what the phrase “Christ died for our sins” means. These things are supposed to be accepted, without question, without reflection, and no discussion of them is, or ever will be, tolerated. Yet among yourselves, there is obviously a range of interpretation and gut-felt meaning, and proponents react defensively to rational inquiry on these points because they are not explainable in rational terms. Which is why the church is a great place to keep such material and the academy is most assuredly the wrong venue.
    Same with law, politics, medicine, etc.

  • Soup

    Religion doesn’t work that way because of the burden of dogma.
    Posted by The Raven at November 3, 2005 01:28 PM

    Please tell me you’re not asserting that acedemia is free from “dogma”. Such a claim is demonstrably absurd on its face.
    One need only scratch the surface of evolutionary theory to catch a glimpse of the dark underbelly of scientific dogma.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Please tell me you’re not asserting that acedemia is free from “dogma”. Such a claim is demonstrably absurd on its face.
    No it clearly isn’t but that is not a good thing. There’s always work to be done and science as a discipline is only as good as those who are members.
    One need only scratch the surface of evolutionary theory to catch a glimpse of the dark underbelly of scientific dogma.
    Scratched? We’ve hacked it over and over again on this blog & that’s one area where science remains remarkably unblemished…

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Hopefully Joe will have something interesting tomorrow but I’ll note that this threat began with him lamenting religion being supposedly banished from academia. He called for putting ‘Christian thought’ into research programs. I asked what he meant by that, if he could give us some examples and he cited several philosophers.
    Now this, of course, argues against the original idea that religion had been banished. Certainly while the philsophers he cited may not be the most popular they certainly are considered respectable members of a rather difficult and exclusive academic club. So is this really just a call for more aggressive exploration of Christian ideas in philosophy? If so that’s all well and good but kind of trivial compared to the big rhetoric this all began with.
    This particular post opens with mathematics but it becomes pretty clear early on that it is really just philosophy again. Not something that would be applied by a typical mathematician during his typical day. Not even something explored in the more philsophical introductions and final chapters of most text books.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Jim Gilbert :
    Does a “Christian” view of math and science presuppose the existence of non-Christian straw men against whom demonstrably false straw-men are constructed?
    That’s what Carter did; he didn’t actually explicate, just what “Christian view” of math or science might be.
    But would a “Christian view” of math or science give signifanctly diferent results from a non-Christian view?
    But that’s actually besides the point. The point actually is: there’s no such thing as a “Christian” view of math or science, except historically to suppress it or to murder its adherents (the martyrdom of Hypatia comes to mind, but of course her murderers weren’t “true” Christians, right?).
    To suggest otherwise, that is, that there is a “Christian” view of science and mathematics, beyond what in fact is mathematics and science is iniquitous to the very spirit of mathematics and science- that is, a spirit of open inquiry, the nature of the observation of phenomena and so forth.

  • http://www.sufficientscruples.com Kevin T. Keith

    Your discussion of the differing philosophies of math is perfectly reasonable, but it’s only by a bizarre twist of terminology that you can call it “religious”.
    By defining “religious concepts” as concepts about “the divine”, and “divine” as “whatever is just there”, “religious concepts” then become almost any fundamental ontological concept. But this is not what we usually mean by a “religious concept”. We already have concepts for things with fundamental ontological reality, but many of them have nothing to do with supernatural beings, with suspensions of natural law, or with non-natural powers accessible through transcendent mental states – the usual trappings of religion.
    (Note also that at least some of your math examples still do not fall under this too-broad conception of religion. Mill’s sensation-dependent mathematics is surely contingent; the sensations are not “just there” but depend on who is having them and what kind of creature they are.)
    This is just an attempt to erase the distinction between religion and science by claiming that everything that treats of reality is really “religious” – and thus equally epistemologically reliable. It is the same ludicrous nonsense that Michael Behe pulled on the stand in the Kansas creationism trial last week – when he offered this claim as a definition of science and then blithely admitted that his definition of science includes astrology.
    There are certainly religious claims about fundamental reality (distinguished, notably, by being wrong), but not every such claim is religious.

  • Dr. Jim

    I note again with amusement the bigoted assumption that many have made over the centuries that christianity is anti-science. For a modern investigation of that old canard, read here: http://www.pearceyreport.com/archives/2005/09/post_4.php
    Science is based on a set of assumptions, which include at a minimum the idea that nature will continue acting in the same way. This seems so obvious to us that it doesn’t even rise to the level of awareness. But pagan polytheistic societies often believe the underlying structure of the world is chaotic and based on the whims of multiple small deities. It would not even occur to them to TRY experiments–what would be the point? If you believe spirits determine the outcome of the experiment, then there is no reason to assume that even if it comes out the same way ten times, it will work the eleventh. The soil that grew our science included the assumption of a loving, consistent God that was not whimsical and that loved matter (he created so much of it.)
    Another assumption, useful in science, is Occam’s razor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_Razor
    In short, one should minimize the number of assumptions made. It is a useful concept and can help make investigations more efficient. But I’ve seen people really take it to heart, and basically say, “Well, I think I can explain the entire universe without invoking God. Therefore, God does not exist.” That strikes me as an enormous leap of, dare I say it, faith. My ability to convince myself that I can explain all natural processes with material explanations says NOTHING about the existence or nonexistence of a conscious Creator, despite the sweeping claims of Evangelical Atheists who desperately want there to be no God.
    We humans have to make assumptions. Recall your ninth grade geometry. It starts with three undefined items: point, line, plane. Then you make definitions in terms of these. Then you make postulates: unproven, assumed to be true without proof. Finally you can start to deduce theorems.
    If something as clean and logical as geometry makes assumptions, be sure that all of the rest of your thinking does, too. Those of us with PhD’s in microbiology can become pretty arrogant when we forget to occasionally reevaluate our assumptions.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    This is just an attempt to erase the distinction between religion and science by claiming that everything that treats of reality is really “religious” – and thus equally epistemologically reliable.
    I’m starting to suspect this as well. I can imagine a science textbook being written from this perspective. Simply take a regular textbook and insert ‘as God wants it’ after every few paragraphs. Want to expand our market? Just use Word’s find and replace feature to swap out God for Allah to tap the Muslim market for ‘Islamic Science’….and of course ‘Goddess’ can be swapped in for the Wiccans.
    But have we actually done anything useful?

  • Darrell DeLaney

    Interesting, but I

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    This seems so obvious to us that it doesn’t even rise to the level of awareness. But pagan polytheistic societies often believe the underlying structure of the world is chaotic and based on the whims of multiple small deities. It would not even occur to them to TRY experiments–what would be the point? If you believe spirits determine the outcome of the experiment, then there is no reason to assume that even if it comes out the same way ten times, it will work the eleventh. The soil that grew our science included the assumption of a loving, consistent God that was not whimsical and that loved matter (he created so much of it.)
    This depends where you look. Every day the sun and moon rise and set. The seasons change. These are quite consistent and pagan societies, being mostlly agricultural, would have noticed it quite well. Likewise science knows that choatic events erupt all the time. Even something as predictable as sun rise and sun set is not constant.
    Anyway, while many scientists were and are Christians the assumption of a loving and consistent God was not necessary nor was it the foundation of modern science. There’s a difference between scientists holding this belief and actually using it to do science. As for consistency, that comes not from assumptions but observations. When hydrogen and oxygen are burned water is observed forming. This is done over and over again and the result is always the same. If nature was different and the result would change every time then science would still exist except its description of what would happen when hydrogen and oxygen burn would have to include random outcomes.
    Another assumption, useful in science, is Occam’s razor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_Razor
    In short, one should minimize the number of assumptions made. It is a useful concept and can help make investigations more efficient. But I’ve seen people really take it to heart,…

    I agree with you there, Occams razor is a rule of thumb. There is no law that says the universe cannot be more complicated than the simplest model of it.
    If something as clean and logical as geometry makes assumptions, be sure that all of the rest of your thinking does, too. Those of us with PhD’s in microbiology can become pretty arrogant when we forget to occasionally reevaluate our assumptions.
    If someone proposed ‘God does not exist’ as an assumption I’d happily join you in calling that arrogant and unneeded (esp. in light of Occam’s razor).

  • Amy

    So says the Lord:
    Everything is hopeless.
    The cause of hopelessness is hope.
    Hope can be eliminated.
    Faith is the elimination of hope.
    God abides in mysteries. He can’t be attained by reason, but you must reason to attain Him.
    If you have to hope, hope to surpass yourself.
    Stasis is death; the pursuit of death is sin.
    Faith is self-destructive.
    Faith is self-destroying.
    Annihilate yourselves, optimists.

  • http://jimgilbertatlarge.blogspot.com/ Jim Gilbert

    Mumon,
    The point actually is: there’s no such thing as a “Christian” view of math or science, except historically to suppress it or to murder its adherents (the martyrdom of Hypatia comes to mind, but of course her murderers weren’t “true” Christians, right?).
    That’s right, they weren’t, as the Scriptures make clear of all murderers. “Christian” is not a cultural or ethnic term, but a term first applied in Antioch to the followers of Jesus, whose spiritual regeneration and heartfelt dedication to Him warranted the appellation.
    Raven, your post needs to be read from pulpits all over America, seeing as you’ve singlehandedly set the record straight for all of us Jethro Bodine types trying to grajiate the fourth grade. Thanks to you and Mumon, who has informed us that there is no such thing as a Christian view of anything heady, we’ll just go back to eatin’ and sleepin’ and makin’ more ignorant little babies, whom we ought to abort since the world has no room for them. Gosh, if I only had a brain!
    My goodness, man, take a cursory reading of Colossians and see exactly Who Christians believe created the physical world. Then tell us why we can’t be in the very club for which, in Western Civilization, we laid the foundation.
    Your post was so stereotypical I was tempted to think it was just Joe pranking us.

  • http://jimgilbertatlarge.blogspot.com/ Jim Gilbert

    First Raven, then Amy! C’mon…is this someone’s revenge for the Jack Chick article?

  • http://prosthesis.blogspot.com Macht

    Darrell,
    Joe didn’t cover this in his post but there are various schools of mathematics that do use different methods and do come to different results. They have disagreements about the proper methodology of mathematics, about what constitutes proof, and a number of other things. And when you don’t agree about what constitutes a proper mathematical proof, you end up with groups of people who come to different results in mathematics.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Jim Gilbert:
    Ah, yes, Peter wasn’t a murder because he struck dead some poor sap who wasn’t coughing up the dough to support the church.
    But seriously, that’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, which also allows the Christian god to violate his own alleged morality (?!?!)and engage in genocide.
    And uh, you didn’t “lay the foundation” of the “Western world.”
    The pagan Greeks and Romans did.
    You guys were worrying about stuff like what how many angels danced on the head of a pin while the Huns were ravaging the Roman empire.
    Ya ever thumb through Mein Kampf? Hitler makes the same kind of anachronisms. Not that I’m saying conservative Christians are Nazis. I wouldn’t do that. But the similarity of the fallacies interests me.

  • Amy

    ‘I speak to you of worldly things and you do not understand. Still less will you understand when I speak of heavenly things….’
    Salvation wasn’t meant for the damned, you lovers of rigidity and seekers of death. Your hearts have been hardened by God.

  • The Raven

    Please tell me you’re not asserting that acedemia is free from “dogma”. Such a claim is demonstrably absurd on its face.
    I’d never make such a claim – for you are entirely correct. The distinction to bear in mind is that the academy is a self-correcting system. The concept of “phlogistan” is an excellent example; it explained a great deal of observable phenomena, as did the idea of the “aether,” and both ideas were held in a fairly dogmatic fashion until they were superceded by what appear to be ideas that are more demonstrably correct.
    Natural selection is not, as some of you are claiming, an item of religious faith for the atheist (at least not this one). I’m more than willing to consider alternate explanations for the existence of species and the variety of lifeforms if such explanations are better. So far, nothing more persuasive has come along, but that doesn’t mean that something won’t. A philosophy based on pure reason must be an open epistomology, and its adherents should be critical of any suppositions that are colored with the patina of dogma. And yes, the academy is rife with such nonsense, particularly the humanities.
    The difference is that we do not stagnate. Unlike the Bible, the books of science are never “complete,” they are always revised and they continue to parse our assumptions. The problem with a “Christian science” as Joe seems to be forwarding it is that such a view would by definition be a very closed one. A received wisdom that is untestable, unprovable, and unquestionable. As I said, fine for church, death for the university.
    J. Gilbert: No offense meant. I’m just pointing out that “God” does not explain anything if “God” is not understandable or definable. I’m positing that “God” isn’t something that you can explain to me in the way that you could, say, explain a principle of physics. Ergo, anything to do with God is a matter best left to the church, in the church. If you choose to teach physics, great. But your lesson plans should be secular in their content.
    Nowhere did I suggest that Christians are mentally deficient or backward in some way. I confess to carelessness in expression if you read me that way.

  • http://jimgilbertatlarge.blogspot.com/ Jim Gilbert

    Read more carefully Mumon.

  • Soup

    Not that I’m saying conservative Christians are Nazis. I wouldn’t do that. But the similarity of the fallacies interests me.
    Posted by: Mumon at November 3, 2005 03:42 PM

    Bravo on your ability to recognize that conservative Christians aren’t Nazis. Were you to posit such an inane absurdity you’d surely be summarily dissected with the truth and rightly exposed to withering criticism.
    Conservative Christians are the primary bulwark against big government intrusion into individual liberties, while the left is consistently on record championing legislation (usually from the unaccountable judiciary) on everything from race quotas to “hate crimes” protection based on sexual orientation. Talk about an Orwellian worldview!
    Hitler was about as far removed from a “wing nut” extremist conservative as you can possibly imagine:
    1) The central fact of Hitler’s Nazi ideology was government control of society.
    2) There were a number of social policy actions which the Nazi party wished to and did enact.
    3) Most of those policy actions were very similar to those supported by the Communist party and the Democratic party.
    4) These policy actions, as well as the fundamental left-wing notion of a collective right to control society, are antithetical to everything for which I, and the most of the much ballyhooed “Christian conservatives”, stand. I am a right-wing extremist opposed to every plank of the Munich manifesto as well as the entire Communist manifesto. The Democratic party is not only not opposed to either, but in fact explicitly supports the majority of the specific goals of both.
    5) Therefore, Nazi ideology belongs to the Left and is an overt enemy of my right-wing conservative ideology.

  • Soup

    A received wisdom that is untreatable, unprovable, and unquestionable. As I said, fine for church, death for the university.
    Not entirely unlike the “Big Bang Theory methinks.
    It’s interesting to note that science inexplicably turns to metaphysics in order to explain the sudden existence, ostensibly from nothing, of everything. The source of this immense “explosion” of energy and matter? Unobservable, untestable, unrepeatable…but don’t let that get in the way of calling it SCIENCE!!! It’s the most plausible explanation (for those who from the outset discount the plausibility of a creator).
    Ah, science…the faith of the faithless.

  • Soup

    A little fun for the kids here…
    Are you a Nazi?
    1) Do you agree with the 59 percent of the European Union that believes Israel is the country that presents the greatest threat to world peace?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) Only 59 percent? Damn Jewish pollsters!
    2) Do you believe it is important for the government to fund newspapers, radio stations and television channels in order to counteract the influence of the independent media?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) Yes, because everyone knows that Jews run the media. Didn’t you see that poll?
    3) Is the federal government’s primary responsibility to promote the industry and livelihood of its citizens?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) Yes, as long as they are pure-blooded Aryans.
    4) Should the federal government be permitted to confiscate private property in order to convert the land to communal purposes?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) Yes, especially if it belongs to Jews.
    5) Does the federal government have the responsibility to execute individuals whose activities are injurious to the common interest?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) Yes, especially if they’re Jewish.
    6) Should the education of poor children be provided by the government?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) All education should be provided by the government.
    7) Should the federal government apply itself to raising the standard of health in the nation?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) Yes, except for the health of Jews, Catholic priests, homosexuals and enemies of the state.
    8) Is it the responsibility of the federal government to provide generously for the elderly?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) Yes, unless they’re Jewish.
    9) Should the federal government require the registration of all privately owned firearms?
    A) No; B) Yes; C) No Jew should be permitted to own firearms.
    10) National sovereignty is:
    A) A right to be defended; B) An outmoded relic hindering progress; C) An affront to the right of the Aryan race to lebensraum.
    11) Euthanasia is:
    A) State-sanctioned murder; B) Sometimes in the best interest of the individual being euthanized; C) An excellent way to punish enemies of the state.
    12) Christianity is:
    A) The truth; B) A dangerous myth that threatens progress and the social order; C) A Judeo-Bolshevist pathology of decadence.
    ———————————————-
    Give yourself zero points for every (A), two points for every (B) and five points for every (C). A score of 24 means that you are in perfect, 100 percent accordance with the policies and positions of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, or NASDAP, known colloquially as the Nazi Party.
    A score of 40 or more suggests that you made it to Argentina before that traitor Doenitz betrayed the F

  • Amy

    Christ knowingly and willfully humiliated himself.
    So His faith doesn’t belong to you, you who love status and wealth, you who cling to dignity, you who refuse to be created by Him in His image, but wish to construct Him in yours, devils.
    Christ’s faith belongs to the people who knowingly and willfully accept humiliations. Christ’s faith is known by prostitutes, subsistence farmers, muslims, migrant workers, the transsexed. You proud and rich seekers of certainty, you judges of others, you will never know Christ’s love. To receive God’s spirit, you need to open your selves to others, like women, and make yourselves vulnerable and meek, like children. But you can’t do this, you can’t even fathom it, can you, you poor, damned ones?

  • Soup

    Posted by: Amy at November 3, 2005 05:34 PM
    While your encouraging, loving, exhortation is certainly, er, interesting; I choose to believe the manifold wisdom of the Holy Writ rather than your prescription for salvation. You seem to believe that somehow it is what you do that earns the love of God, but you are sadly and perversely mistaken.
    God’s love isn’t earned, and salvation isn’t attained to, it is the free gift of a loving God who cares so much for us, His children, that He was willing to take our place and die for our sins, thereby making a way for us to be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
    Romans 10:13
    For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    Ephesians 2:8-10
    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    John 3:17
    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    Romans 10:9
    That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    Titus 3:5
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

  • tom

    Ah, drinking orange juice to the glory of God. I notice that no one ever brings up other less glorious aspects of God’s glorious creation–flatulence, defecation, and the like
    I once saw a brilliant essay about the African dung beetle and how its existence was proof of a beneficient God. As someone said above, I wish I’d remembered to keep source material at the time.

  • Amy

    Absolutely — Christ’s love is universal. Humanity’s capacity to receive it is not.
    Through pride and rigid hearts, people reject God’s love.
    Do you imagine it’s possible love and lose nothing?? More incredible, do you imagine you can partake in the Most Supreme love and keep your self intact??!
    You shouldn’t blame me if God’s Word doesn’t console self-assured sinners. Of course you think it perverse!!
    What made you think the path of Christ would ever comfort and reassure you on Earth?? Is it because you wish to sleep on earth?
    Um, have you read the Gospels?

  • The Raven

    Not entirely unlike the “Big Bang Theory methinks.
    Entirely unlike the Big Bang theory. In fact, I was out doing some yardwork today and thinking about this discussion we’re having here, and the BB theory came to mind right off. Of course you’d think of this too, soup, because it cleaves against the same issue. Let’s take a moment and lay it out.
    For some reason, and I think I know what it is, proponents of Christianity continue to bring up several ideas that they believe to be important. One is the notion that “something cannot come from nothing,” and another is the idea that if there is not a directing, intelligent authority, then everything is pure random chance and chaos. In such a system, man is not privileged and nothing has meaning.
    To the secularist, I would offer to you, such ideas are not important. They are the kind of thing you might chew over while sitting in front of a nice fire and sipping brandy. These are not questions that press against us and demand answers; on the contrary, without certainty on them we can most easily proceed through life.
    Because that’s just silly.
    Today you have to eat dinner, wash the dishes, take a shower, get undressed and go to bed. Tomorrow you need to rise, get dressed, eat breakfast (unless you’re in my line of work, in which case you fast until dinner) and commute to your place of employment. These things need to be done. Questions regarding where we came from are amusing to consider, and questions regarding the origin of the universe are discussible, but not germane to anything practical.
    That is, the bald declaration that “something cannot come from nothing!” does not argue for the existence of a superbeing. It’s more of a philosophical point and one worth reflection. But it doesn’t give us much one way or the other.
    The Big Bang theory, however, unlike claims of Jehovah’s existence, does have a certain amount of evidence to back it up. Red shift has been suggested, questioned, and is now under fierce attack in cosmotological circles, but it’s the sort of thing that we can look at and measure. Our distance from other galaxies, our relative speed of movement from them, etc., give us some clues as to what might be happening. And we can think about that.
    But no atheist (if I can speak for the group loosely) particularly cares about these things or invests any psychological capital in them. We read on these matters when we can and give them a measure of attention, but we also understand that in terms of universal time, we’re here for an eyeblink and whether the universe is expanding or contracting isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans as far as we’re concerned one way or the other. The matter is purely academic.
    The source of this immense “explosion” of energy and matter?
    Here’s where we separate the median IQ people from the upper echelon. Those with little imagination or intelligence attempt to view the physical universe as a static entity and cannot grasp the relationship between time and space. You, soup, are in the high-IQ grouping so you understand that matter and space and time are all manifestations of an identical property, but in different states, yes? So you also understand that when matter is more dense that space is confined and time is (relatively) slowed.
    When we look at what the early stages of the universe might have been like, we cannot consider the matter from the perspective available to us now. At the origin point, or birth of the physical universe – what Christians would think of as the moment God said, “Let there be light,” the secularist grasps as a state in which time, per se, is not an operative variable. So to talk about a “beginning” of things is anthropomorphising something not ammenable to such an analysis. OK for hoi polloi but not for the serious bunch.
    It’s the most plausible explanation (for those who from the outset discount the plausibility of a creator).
    Again, an atheist does not require any explanation whatsoever. These are academic questions but they aren’t germane to the process of living. They are akin to discussions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. At no point during any such discussion does a “creator” factor into the discussion unless forced into it by dogma.
    This much I know: I am here. Everything else is pure conjecture and open to question.

  • Soup

    God should not be penalized for promising more than present technology can test.
    A simple belief in scripture vastly simplifies the laws of nature and, in truth, ends our view of a three dimensional universe (excluding our perception of time).
    This brings me to Edward Witten (whom some regard as the successor to Einstein) and Superstring Theory, in which matter is comprised of the harmony of extremely small vibrating strings which can fuse and break up.
    Superstring accounts for almost everything and is the first quantum theory of gravity with finite quantum corrections in spite of its highly abstract nature, lack of any experimentally verifiable predictions, lack of a unique solution for our universe – it has millions of solutions (orbifolds) many if not all of which which have properties that might make our universe impossible – and any rational explanation for why it works (ie no conceptual framework uniting gravity and quantum theory).
    It has a compelling, almost “religious” appeal for many physicists because, starting only from geometry and the condition that strings move “self-consistently” in spacetime we get magnetism, electricity, spacetime, general relativity, Klein-Kaluza, supergravity, the standard model, and even a hint of the Grand Unified Theory–it binds matter, energy and spacetime.
    String theory does not however, predict or explain the properties of particles nor the paradoxes of quantum mechanics, uncertainty or entanglement (Bell’s theorem).
    Superstring Theory is so general and so powerful that one gets the feeling that it could explain anything in any possible universe; and in all fairness it can be said in that case it does not really explain anything at all–it becomes the mathematical equivalent of “God made it that way”.
    Which, of course, I believe.

  • Larry Lord

    Soup
    It’s the most plausible explanation (for those who from the outset discount the plausibility of a creator).
    Whether or not a creator exists has nothing to do with the evidence which suggests that the matter in the universe we see today was once compressed into a smaller space.
    How much intelligence does it take to understand this basic fact?
    I’d say high school level, at a decent public school, B- grades or better.
    You’ll get there someday, Soup, but only if you apply yourself!

  • Larry Lord

    The Raven
    You, soup, are in the high-IQ grouping
    Quoth the Raven: “Grade inflation.”

  • http://www.christianengineer.net Joe Carson

    I am trying to assemble a small group of engineers, theologians, and possibly others, to collectively and intentionally seek God’s will for the engineering profession and its Christian members and document the results in an article suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed or more popular journal.
    There is no collective and intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession and no viable organizational vehicle to faciliate its development and expression. Is that God’s will? It an unexamined question.
    If you are interested in possibly participating in this project, for which generous compensation is possible, please contact me.
    We’ll try to get past 1 + 1 = 2 to address reality that 2 billion people live on 2 dollars a day or less and other “facts on the ground” in our world in 2005.
    Joe Carson, P.E.
    President, Affiliation of Christian Engineers
    president@christianengineer.org
    http://www.christianengineer.org

  • Amy

    Though, dogmatists and literalists may seem to be the people who respect scripture the most, in fact, they’re the ones who respect it least. Suppose a teacher were to ask you to understand something she said was personally urgent. If you were to demonstrate your understanding of and concern for her message simply by parroting random bits of whatever she said, in no particular order and with no coherent explanation of priority (except, maybe, ‘Duh, that’s how the person I was copying from did it’), and if you answered questions raised about these bits simply by parroting other random bits, without even feeling a compunction to do more, then clearly, you wouldn’t have been at all concerned about the meaning of whatever it was that she tried to convey to you. Talk about disrespect.
    Now suppose this teacher is God. Talk about blasphemy.
    It’s no wonder though that the lazy and structurally incoherent temptation of literal biblical interpretation appeals to people with student temperments, people who long for sleep. It makes sense too that this religious approach has grown step for step with the nation’s obesity rate.
    One day, sadly, we’ll be known as America’s ‘Tired Generation’ — the generation that let loose the promises of Christ and America because we were too busy yawning.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Soup:
    I must have hit a nerve somewhere. It probably had to do with the article by William Pfaff I quoted on my blog, which noted that we sentenced Germans and Japanese hanged for the kinds of violations of the Geneva convention we’re committing in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.
    Talk about “big goverment intrusion” into people’s lives.
    It doesn’t get any bigger than the torture advocated by the presumed perps in the Bush regime.
    And to those who’d invoke Godwin’s Law, let me state Mumon’s Law: If you worry about breaching some etiquette resulting from those who cry “Godwin’s Law,” eventually, we’ll recreate worse horrors than Nazis because nobody’ll speak up.
    So bring all the (false) anti-semitic canards you want, (and false communist ones, I might add).
    The fact is, the current regime, playing self-avowed “conservative Christians” for suckers has done more to degrade civil liberties- indeed, calling organizations that advocate civil liberties “communist”!- than anything in American history.
    These are interesting times; you’re witnessing the decline of the American Empire.

  • Soup

    Whether or not a creator exists has nothing to do with the evidence which suggests that the matter in the universe we see today was once compressed into a smaller space.
    How much intelligence does it take to understand this basic fact?
    I’d say high school level, at a decent public school, B- grades or better.
    You’ll get there someday, Soup, but only if you apply yourself!
    Posted by: Larry Lord at November 3, 2005 09:46 PM

    Thank you for your condescension Larry. You fail to explain, however, the mechanism which held all the matter in the entire universe into that finite space, which you seemingly, implausibly, accept to be true.
    When we are to (inexplicably) believe that all known laws of physics were simply defied by this collective, peculiar, singularity from time immemorial, for no particular reason, then it becomes the stuff of faith.
    Why is it, do you think, that physical matter wasn’t instantly annihilated by its counterpart – antimatter – during (or before?) the Big Bang?
    Consider:
    There is a fundamental problem with the fact that there is any normal matter at all. In the physics of the present day universe, there is symmetry in the relationship between matter and energy (in the form of electromagnetic radiation) as follows: nature on the one hand can create matter (and antimatter) in the reaction
    high-energy photon —> matter particle + antimatter particle
    and destroy both forms of matter through the reaction
    matter particle + antimatter particle —> high-energy photons.
    This is a symmetry relation in that we can consider the two sides of each equation to represent different aspects of what is essentially identical; in fact, we can summarize this relationship in a single expression where the double-ended arrow indicates that the reaction is permitted to go in both directions:
    high-energy photon matter particle + antimatter particle.
    The reaction can go back and forth any number of times and after an even number of reactions (no matter how large), the physical situation is exactly where it started — nothing has been changed, lost, or gained.
    I guess “things were just different back then”, huh? I’m just curious how you address this quandary since you seem really smart and all.

  • Soup

    Whether or not a creator exists has nothing to do with the evidence which suggests that the matter in the universe we see today was once compressed into a smaller space.
    How much intelligence does it take to understand this basic fact?
    I’d say high school level, at a decent public school, B- grades or better.
    You’ll get there someday, Soup, but only if you apply yourself!
    Posted by: Larry Lord at November 3, 2005 09:46 PM

    Thank you for your condescension Larry. You fail to explain, however, the mechanism which held all the matter in the entire universe into that finite space, which you seemingly, implausibly, accept to be true.
    When we are to (inexplicably) believe that all known laws of physics were simply defied by this collective, peculiar, singularity from time immemorial, for no particular reason, then it becomes the stuff of faith.
    Why is it, do you think, that physical matter wasn’t instantly annihilated by its counterpart – antimatter – during (or before?) the Big Bang?
    Consider:
    There is a fundamental problem with the fact that there is any normal matter at all. In the physics of the present day universe, there is symmetry in the relationship between matter and energy (in the form of electromagnetic radiation) as follows: nature on the one hand can create matter (and antimatter) in the reaction
    high-energy photon —> matter particle + antimatter particle
    and destroy both forms of matter through the reaction
    matter particle + antimatter particle —> high-energy photons.
    This is a symmetry relation in that we can consider the two sides of each equation to represent different aspects of what is essentially identical; in fact, we can summarize this relationship in a single expression where the double-ended arrow indicates that the reaction is permitted to go in both directions:
    high-energy photon matter particle + antimatter particle.
    The reaction can go back and forth any number of times and after an even number of reactions (no matter how large), the physical situation is exactly where it started — nothing has been changed, lost, or gained.
    I guess “things were just different back then”, huh? I’m just curious how you address this quandary since you seem really smart and all.

  • Soup

    Make no mistake, science has built a formidable ivory fortress against the knowledge of God. It

  • The Raven

    Soup: There is a fundamental problem with the fact that there is any normal matter at all.
    Is that right? Funny, but the other day I was out walking around, and I noticed all this matter around me. Didn’t seem to be any fundamental problem with it, but thanks for letting us know.
    I’ll toss you a bonus point for noting one of the laws of thermodynamics. While we’re on that subject, let’s take a moment to see if our two camps can recognize each other across the gulf of perception. One of religious tenets (here’s a nod to you, Joe) of atheism is that the universe operates in accordance with demonstrable laws. Conservation is one of these laws – i.e., you can’t make anything not exist because all you can do is change its state.
    From a rationalist perspective, the fact that the universe is fairly predictable in the kinds of ways mentioned above gives us the belief that we may come to understand its properties even better than we do now. So it does seem worth the effort to continue the process.
    You are entirely free at any point, and in the midst of any observation, to claim that a particular aspect of the universe is due to God’s influence, or maybe even proof of God’s existence. You might say, per your previous remarks, that conservation of energy is a property of God, and that if there were no God, then we’d have no such property. Fair enough.
    The rationalist sees things in exactly the same way, but we just don’t think about God or insert the concept anywhere in the equation. Oddly enough, things work out exactly the same way when you do that. Occam’s Razor suggests that whenever the removal of God does not change an outcome, then God is an unneccesary variable.
    So when is God neccessary? Ethics are not a religious property – they are an aspect of developmental psychology. The appreciate of beauty and symmetry are part of the field of aesthetics. Any other ideas?

  • Soup

    Any other ideas? Posted by: The Raven at November 4, 2005 08:10 AM
    Actually you segue predictably (but quite nicely) directly into one of my favorite oddities of nature

  • http://www.donaldscrankshaw.com/posts/1131115868.shtml Back of the Envelope

    A “I’m being lazy, so I’ll just do links today” post

    See the title:

    • Doc Rampage has an interesting post on the nature of the mind and brain. It does ask an interesting question: “How could a …
  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Make no mistake, science has built a formidable ivory fortress against the knowledge of God. It

  • Soup

    Borrowed verbatim: THE IRRATIONAL ATHEIST
    The idea that he is a devotee of reason seeing through the outdated superstitions of other, lesser beings is the foremost conceit of the proud atheist. This heady notion was first made popular by French intellectuals such as Voltaire and Diderot, who ushered in the so-called Age of Enlightenment.
    That they also paved the way for the murderous excesses of the French Revolution and many other massacres in the name of human progress is usually considered an unfortunate coincidence by their philosophical descendants.
    The atheist is without God but not without faith, for today he puts his trust in the investigative method known as science, whether he understands it or not. Since there are very few minds capable of grasping higher-level physics, let alone following their implications, and since specialization means that it is nearly impossible to keep up with the latest developments in the more esoteric fields, the atheist stands with utter confidence on an intellectual foundation comprised of things of which he knows nothing.
    In fairness, he cannot be faulted for this, except when he fails to admit that he is not actually operating on reason in this regard, but is instead exercising a faith that is every bit as blind and childlike as that of the most unthinking Bible-thumping fundamentalist. Still, this is not irrational, it is only ignorance and a failure of perception.
    The irrationality of the atheist can primarily be seen in his actions

  • Soup

    Posted by: Mumon at November 4, 2005 10:55 AM
    Why am I not surprised that you are unable to distinguish the personal from the abstract?
    Pity…

  • The Raven

    Soup: Interesting cite from Vox Day. I won’t fisk it, for fear of wearing out my welcome.
    Cheers.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    1) The central fact of Hitler’s Nazi ideology was government control of society.
    2) There were a number of social policy actions which the Nazi party wished to and did enact.
    3) Most of those policy actions were very similar to those supported by the Communist party and the Democratic party.

    The central fact of Hitler’s ideology was a dogma that bordered on an almost religious belief in the superiority of the Aryan race & the need for all of society to revolve around maintaining the ‘purity’ of that race. Yes yes Hitler enacted other polices that are similar to policies of other governments. For example, he built the autobaun which is very similar to the Interstate highway system Eisenhower started. You could still be a good Nazi, though, if you opposed governmetn construction of large highways. You could not be a good nazi, though, if you opposed the central dogma of Hitler’s faith.
    5) Therefore, Nazi ideology belongs to the Left and is an overt enemy of my right-wing conservative ideology.
    Nazi idology has characteristics of put it in a class by itself. Conservative ideology can be dated to Burke who argued in favor of respecting pre-existing prejudices and social arrangements but Burke’s argument was to be slow and cautious with change. Nazi ideology was utopian in that it believed it could overturn all of society and restore some mythical golden age thru racial purity. For the most part you can cite the left wing as supporting utopian endeavors but few if any were based on racial purity nor did they harken back to a mythical golden age that supposedly existed in the past.
    Matter vs Antimatter
    I guess “things were just different back then”, huh? I’m just curious how you address this quandary since you seem really smart and all.
    I have to read up on this but from what I recall two possible explanations would be that there is not symmetry between matter and antimatter. Matter is more common hence our universe is made up of matter rather than antimatter or equal amounts of both. Another (and this may be related) is that antimatter may not be a perfect mirror of matter. It may be more unstable, less durable. So even if the universe started with equal amounts of both its only the matter that’s left.
    There is a fundamental problem with the fact that there is any normal matter at all. In the physics of the present day universe, there is symmetry in the relationship between matter and energy (in the form of electromagnetic radiation) as follows: nature on the one hand can create matter (and antimatter) in the reaction
    On the other hand aren’t we up to something like 95% of the universe consisting of mysterious ‘dark engery’ and ‘dark matter’. It very well may be that the few percents of normal matter we see may be the ‘lucky atoms’ that got away from the great matter-antimatter conflict!

  • Soup

    Posted by: Boonton at November 4, 2005 11:35 AM
    It would appear that you concede much of my argument, correct?
    Posted by: The Raven at November 4, 2005 11:17 AM
    I’d still be curious to hear a defense of how your ethical and moral system a) has been independently and rationally developed; b) is superior to that laid out in the Bible; or c) is supposed to impress with its rationality or altruism.

  • Larry Lord

    Soup
    Thank you for your condescension Larry. You fail to explain, however, the mechanism which held all the matter in the entire universe into that finite space, which you seemingly, implausibly, accept to be true.
    Your welcome.
    And I don’t need to provide you or anyone else with a mechanism to justify my plain and clear statement of fact:
    “Whether or not a creator exists has nothing to do with the evidence which suggests that the matter in the universe we see today was once compressed into a smaller space.”
    Precisely “how” the so-called Big Bang occurred and “how” the pre-Big Bang universe maintained itself are further questions for scientists to ask.
    The answers to those further questions do not change the collected data which suggests that the universe we “see” today was once smaller before it expanded to its present size, just as the answers to those questions do not change the fact that I had some really nasty catered sausages for breakfast this morning.
    And I have to laugh — once again — at your characterization of the Big Bang as “implausible” at the same time you advocate for some all-powerful being whose existence supercedes not only the known universe, but all universes, through all time, and who also sees fit occasionally to “design” anal orifices for tube worms or take the form of a plant so “he” can “speak” to human beings.
    By the way, can you explain the mechanism by which this yellow dust speck landed on my computer screen? I never noticed it before. Please let me know a.s.a.p. the precise mechanism because if you can’t provide a convincing second-by-second explanation of how this speck got on my screen then I have to assume that your deity must have personally put it there.
    I surely don’t want to wipe it off if that’s the case, given some of the stories I’ve heard.

  • Soup

    And I have to laugh — once again — at your characterization of the Big Bang as “implausible” at the same time you advocate for some all-powerful being whose existence supercedes not only the known universe, but all universes, through all time, and who also sees fit occasionally to “design” anal orifices for tube worms or take the form of a plant so “he” can “speak” to human beings.
    Laugh if you

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Speaking of Nazis and Godwin’s Law, which questionably elected leader of a country does this remind you of:

    His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong;…

    The OSS must have been really good at predicting the future.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    “Soup” wrote:
    Why am I not surprised that you are unable to distinguish the personal from the abstract?
    It’s people writing this stuff, not abstractions.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Larry Lord:
    And I have to laugh — once again — at your characterization of the Big Bang as “implausible” at the same time you advocate for some all-powerful being whose existence supercedes not only the known universe, but all universes, through all time, and who also sees fit occasionally to “design” anal orifices for tube worms or take the form of a plant so “he” can “speak” to human beings.
    I have to laugh too- maybe Soup is one of those folks who think the dinosaur bones were put there to test man’s faith or some horse-feces like that.
    Likewise, I suppose the black-body background radiation residue from the bang is receivable for the same reasons the dinosaur bones are there…

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Unlike my faith, science is therefore burdened to be observable, testable, and repeatable or else it isn

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    It would appear that you concede much of my argument, correct?
    I’m not sure, you have two going at once…one about Nazi’s and the other about antimatter and such. Which one are you referring too?
    Laugh if you

  • Soup

    Again with the fallacies? Christianity provides a very clear moral compass by which to live:

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Soup:
    How many historical examples can think of…
    I’d refer you to Gibbon’s tome on the Roman Empire for starters.
    Then there’s the First Crusade. That little bit alone blows away “only” 40,000 people.
    I’d mention- since after all, it’s a popular canard that the US was “founded as a Christian Nation,” the number of dead due to the slave trade; about 1 million conservatively on the passage to the US alone.
    The number of Native Americans killed? Lots. Many due to disease, but many due to genocide.
    Democrat Andrew Jackson figures prominently in that.
    However the democidal tendencies of atheistic regimes…
    Again there’s kind of a false choice here: either Stalin and Mao or the Burning Times.
    How about Ashoka?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    This is the essence of the entire scripture boiled down to a single, succinct truth: Love one another.
    Perhaps you’ve seen this.
    Lots of folks who are not Christians have serious problems with the biblical approval of genocide.

  • Larry Lord

    Soup
    Laugh if you

  • Rob B

    Good to know the devout atheists have their Ned Flanders’ too. We all know who you are.
    Hey, I’ve got an idea, I’ll call everything I don’t agree with a lie! Works in Washington where all our sterling role models hang out, anyway.
    Okley Dokley…
    Now don’t bother responding to this at all, I’ve declared you a liar in advance…

  • Larry Lord

    Your irrational fear of Christian genocidal tendencies is quite interesting.
    I’m not afraid of “Christian genocidal tendencies” primarily because I’m not a Muslim living in the Middle East.
    But you’re missing the key point (no surprise) which is that worshipping the deity described in this “holy bible” of yours does not, as a matter of incontrovertible fact, preclude someone from carrying out the most appalling acts of genocide and torture humans have ever devised.
    You seem to be arguing that because (1) a majority of recent history’s most ruthless nutcase dictator’s have killed more people than the nutcases of yore and (2) these recent nutcase dictator’s weren’t Christian, that the key point I alluded to above is diminished.
    It’s not.
    What all these nutcases — Christian and non-Christian — have in common is that they are fanatics who valued power and the promulgation of their personal beliefs and ideology more than the lives of human beings who disagreed with them.
    The vast majority of today’s fundamentalists don’t go around killing heretics. Rather, they proclaim for all to hear that the heretics live a worthless, meaningless existence that necessarily interferes with the ability of “True Believers” to do whatever it is the “True Believers” believe that their deity wants them to do.
    Don’t get me wrong — it’s an improvement over the old days. But it’s too easy to step back into something like modern Iran. If you doubt that there are well-funded and influential organizations and individuals who seek to turn the US into an official Christian theocracy, then you are hopelessly naive. And such groups and individuals are worth monitoring closely and skeptically, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who appreciates how easily rights can be made to disappear in this country.

  • http://www.acton.org/blog/index.html?/archives/548-Avoid-the-Ignorant-Arithmetic.html Acton Institute PowerBlog

    Avoid the ‘Ignorant Arithmetic’

    Joe Carter, purveyor of the evangelical outpost (and, incidentally, now the managing editor for WorldMagBlog), had a discussion last week worth paying attention to on the specifically Christian pursuit of knowledge. He argues that this applies even in som

  • Rob Ryan

    “What all these nutcases — Christian and non-Christian — have in common is that they are fanatics who valued power and the promulgation of their personal beliefs and ideology more than the lives of human beings who disagreed with them.”
    Well spoken, Larry. It might be a good idea for each sides to ratchet down the rhetoric a bit and not be so quick to overgeneralize and demonize the other. I think worldview has less to do with motivating atrocities than with facilitating them.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Larry Lord:
    The vast majority of today’s fundamentalists don’t go around killing heretics.
    But some indeed do. For example, Efraim Rios-Montt, dictator of Guatemala, and self-avowed “born again” Christian murdered hundreds of thousands in the early 80s.
    20% of the country voted with their feet in response to his butchery and fled the country.
    The idea that some folks whitewash such butchery by saying Mao and Stalin were worse is appalling.
    If a guy like Rios-Montt had the opportunity to head a country as big as the Soviet Union or China, there is simply no doubt his results would have rivalled or exceeded Stalin’s or Mao’s.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Rob Ryan:
    Much as I’d like as much as the next guy or gal to maintain a level of civility and politeness, there are human lives at stake. They may be people who don’t subscribe to our religious viewpoint, and may look differently than we do or speak a different language, but they’re people. Not potential people. Not brain dead people. But living, breathing people with hopes and problems and foibles and aspirations who breathe and eat and defecate and love just like you or I do.
    “Worldveiw” is meaningless if the crucial issue is whether or not your helping or hurting.
    There’s liberals’ and conservatives’ kids in Iraq helping the locals, and getting blown to bits as a thank-you.
    There’s locals in Iraq getting shafted because they did what they needed to do to survive under the old guard.
    How much blood is enough?

  • Eric & Lisa

    Soup,
    Remember when you are arguing with Larry that you are arguing with a person who claims to have a PhD (Made that claim on this website) but refuses to tell us where he obtained it.

  • Eric & Lisa

    Soup,
    Remember when you are arguing with Larry that you are arguing with a person who claims to have a PhD (Made that claim on this website) but refuses to tell us where he obtained it.

  • Eric & Lisa

    Mumon writes;
    “How much blood is enough?”
    The answer to that question depends on your worldview.

  • Eric & Lisa

    Mumon writes;
    “How much blood is enough?”
    The answer to that question depends on your worldview.

  • Amy

    “This is the essence of the entire scripture boiled down to a single, succinct truth: Love one another.”
    It’s impossible to love someone without making yourself vulnerable to that person, don’t you think? How, in your day to day life, are you receptive to prostitutes, migrant workers, muslims, transsexuals, etc.? How are you receptive to Bin Ladin, and to women who have abortions? And how does this ‘receptivity’ make you vulnerable?
    “Without God, there is only the left-hand path of the philosopher. It leads invariably to Hell, by way of the guillotine, the gulag and the gas chamber. The atheist is irrational because he has no other choice

  • Amy

    And while you’re at it, Soup, you might as well explain what you mean by this:
    “More than 2,000 years ago, the first atheist martyr, Socrates, declared “The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.” Being fully aware of the repercussions of this teaching, he also argued that it was necessary to keep such virtuous knowledge to the elite.”
    You call Socrates an atheist, but he explicitly disavowed atheism when he responded to Meletus (and Theaetetus, and Meno, etc, etc.). How are you, more than 2000 years later, a superior judge of his internal mental states? And how do you avoid the elitist repurcussions you allude to if you hold that knowledge and observance of God’s commands is the highest good and ignorance or defiance of God’s commands in the only evil?

  • Amy

    Heck, I’m also curious how one could describe the French Revolution as an atheist movement, while simultaneously asserting, I’m presuming, that the United States, whose Declaration of Independence was inspired by the French Revolution, was founded on Christian principles.
    ["Without God, there is only the left-hand path of the philosopher. It leads invariably to Hell, by way of the guillotine, the gulag and the gas chamber."]
    “Try to focus here [Soup], it really isn

  • The Raven

    Soup: I’d still be curious to hear a defense of how your ethical and moral system a) has been independently and rationally developed; b) is superior to that laid out in the Bible; or c) is supposed to impress with its rationality or altruism.
    We are getting pretty far off topic here, and you’re asking for an explanation that ought to be taken offline to e-mail or something. The rhetoric here is getting rather heated and I certainly don’t want to aggravate matters.
    But I won’t dodge your queries. First, re: Vox Day’s remarks, the arguments of Socrates getting boiled down to a simplistic “knowledge is good and ignorance is bad” dichotomy is purile nonsense. Plato writes a great deal about virture, goodness, evil and so on. Not just a few paragraphs, but hundreds of pages. Those ideas should not be simplified, because they press very strongly against what you are asking for in a) and c) above.
    You remark above in these comments that a Christian holds to the Golden Rule, and the injunction to “love one another.” Great ideas. I would ask you, though, why it is necessary to believe that Jesus is a deity in order to act on those ethical suggestions? The Kantian categorical imperative to “do only that which you would have all others do” is pretty much the same thing. The key idea isn’t copyright 30AD, JC Inc., it’s an open property and one that has been independently arrived at around the world, for millennia.
    Per your query b) above, I make no claim that my ethics are superior to those of any other system. Superiority is not a function of ethics as I recognize them. In a nutshell, I’d say that I pay very close attention to matters of conscience.
    Whatever I think about right and wrong, it is very much influenced by Lao Tzu, Plato, Robert Pirsig, and Western literature and philosophy in general. The Bible, as a work, seems very confused and contradictory on matters of ethics and I do not understand what it offers a follower that is compelling.
    In fact, I don’t claim to have any understanding of the Bible at all. But I suspect that the average Christian does not turn to the Bible to answers questions of right and wrong, to sort out difficult moral conundrums. No, I imagine that the average Christian looks to God, seeks inspiration and discernment in such cases. Which I would take as a kind of “flying by the seat of your pants” morality.

  • Soup

    Amy – thank you for spending the time to consider some of my posts, in reciprocation I’ll address some of your queries.
    1) If you are familiar with the Christian scriptures, commonly known as The Holy Bible, then you would know perfectly well that I (as a Christian) don’t hate or secretly despise, prostitutes, migrant workers, muslims, transsexuals, Bin Ladin, women who have abortions, or atheists. Jesus died for the sins of the world, and His love is unqualified. My role is to point to the cross of Christ which is the only bridge that spans the gulf between man and God. Sometimes people who love their sin, have had their conscience jaded by a life of depravity, and/or are deceived by any number of false beliefs (which I will address in point #2) will react quite unfavorably to the truth of Jesus Christ. This is not to be unexpected because man is a totally corrupt being who is selfish beyond comprehension. The flesh is powerful, and cannot be mastered apart from the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, which can only occur through the spiritual rebirth (i.e. being “born again”) by receiving the gift of salvation vis-a-vis the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
    2) Soup, you’re not judging others’ beliefs without even knowing those beliefs, are you? That’d be a purdy perverse conception of love, afterall. It, it, it… it’d be unchristian!! Actually you’re mistaken on this point, however you are not alone in this false belief. Many nominal Christians believe that calling a spade a spade is “judging” or “judgmental” and hence we should shy away from pointing people to the truth. If I call a hammer a hammer, is that judgmental? Have I somehow forced my worldview upon that hammer because I called it what it was? I think not. The same is true with open, wanton, rebellious sin or obvious rejection of the truth of Christ. According to the Bible, any and every system of belief or “religion” apart from the true religion of Biblical Christianity is false and of the enemy of mankind and God, Satan.
    From the Biblical perspective there are only two kinds of people in the world, the saved and the lost. God loves all people (saved and lost), since He is their Creator and chose of His good pleasure to give us life. Conversely not all people love God, rather they love themselves, their idol gods, their flesh, their traditions, etc. To gain Christ is to die to self, to become “other people centered” as opposed to “self-centered”. This universal truth is of course displayed perfectly in the life of Jesus Christ who healed all, fed all, and raised from the dead all those with whom he came in contact. He didn’t send His apostles ahead to survey the crowds and find those who had prayed enough, or given enough money, or were “righteous” enough, He cared for all.
    Afterward He did and said some very interesting things, He said that all those who had seen Him had seen the Father (God the Father), since He (Jesus) was the exact representation of the Father. This speaks volumes about God’s sacrificial love for us, His children. He then went on to make clear that even though God loves us, His love still requires punishment of sin. God cannot accept sin because He is totally perfect and righteous. This poses an obvious quandary for sinful man, for how can we (the unrighteous) attain to acceptance by God, the (perfectly righteous) when we are unable to rid ourselves of our unrighteousness (sin)? Can we do more good things to outweigh the bad? Is that acceptable to God? According to the Word of God, “NO!”. Can we do something else? Bathe in special water? Speak certain carefully worded prayers? Utter arcane spells, curses, or blessings? Give enough money? Give enough time? Be kind, loving, and accepting of others? Is all this enough? According to the Word of God, “NO!”.
    So what’s to be done? God in His manifold wisdom knew that mankind was (and is) utterly incapable of redeeming himself, so God stepped out of eternity and took upon Himself the form of a man and entered the world as Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect, sinless life, and as such qualified to stand in the

  • Amy

    “Amy – thank you for spending the time to consider some of my posts, in reciprocation I’ll address some of your queries.”
    How fatherly of you.
    “1) If you are familiar with the Christian scriptures, commonly known as The Holy Bible, then you would know perfectly well that I (as a Christian) don’t hate or secretly despise, prostitutes, migrant workers, muslims, transsexuals, Bin Ladin, women who have abortions, or atheists.”
    It’s funny how you seem to assume from the start of our, em, con-versation, co-versing, that we disagree because of my ignorance, and not (gasp!) because you might be wrong. Go figure.
    It is clear from the H-O-L-Y B-I-B-L-E (have I spelled it right?) that love is a positive force and is not simply the absence of hate, as you seem to think. It is also clear from scripture that Christ’s love requires a radical decentering of self, a decentering that makes one extremely vulnerable to those one loves. To manifest the love of Christ within you, you must, like Jesus, become like a lamb; gentle lambs are sacrificed. So, if you aspire to follow Christ’s example, please tell me how your path of faith is similarly self-destructive and other-focused.
    You write, “My role is to point to the cross of Christ which is the only bridge that spans the gulf between man and God.”
    How does this role make you vulnerable to prostitutes, migrant workers, muslims, transsexuals, Bin Ladin, women who have abortions, or atheists, that is, to all these people you aspire to love as Christ loved?
    The cross of Christ is the only bridge that spans the gulf between humanity and God because the cross represents Jesus’ life of sacrifice. Without submitting yourself to this hard and humiliating life, you will not walk the bridge to God. To wear the cross without submitting yourself wholly and unreservedly to sacrifice ought to make you nauseous.
    How does your life represent the cross? Since you claim that this is your role, how in your day to day life, do your actions guide prostitutes, migrant workers, muslims, transsexuals, etc. to the way of the cross? How have you acted against your own interests on their behalf? How do you serve as a role model of sacrifice to them? Rather, is it not more likely that they, they who know sacrifice, should serve as role models to you?
    “Sometimes people who love their sin, have had their conscience jaded by a life of depravity, and/or are deceived by any number of false beliefs (which I will address in point #2) will react quite unfavorably to the truth of Jesus Christ. This is not to be unexpected because man is a totally corrupt being who is selfish beyond comprehension.”
    This situation holds of you too, you agree. How do you guard against these chains of selfishness and self-delusion you’ve described? How in your day to day life, specifically in your politics, do you willfully act against your self interest simply out of love for your neighbor? An example or two ‘d be neat.
    You write: “The flesh is powerful, and cannot be mastered apart from the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, which can only occur through the spiritual rebirth (i.e. being “born again”) by receiving the gift of salvation vis-a-vis the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.”
    You say this, unfortunately, in the context of what others (prostitutes, migrant workers, etc.) need to do to attain salvation. But the question was, if you are following the path of Christ, which is a life of the cross, what are YOU doing to make yourself vulnerable and receptive to these people?
    2) “Actually you’re mistaken on this point, however you are not alone in this false belief. Many nominal Christians believe that calling a spade a spade is “judging” or “judgmental” and hence we should shy away from pointing people to the truth. If I call a hammer a hammer, is that judgmental?”
    Yes — it’s an analytic judgment.
    “Have I somehow forced my worldview upon that hammer because I called it what it was? I think not. The same is true with open, wanton, rebellious sin or obvious rejection of the truth of Christ.”
    No, the same is not true, because judgments about “open, wanton, rebellious sin or obvious rejection of the truth of Christ,” unlike your “a hammer is a hammer” example, are synthetic judgments; they require personal, individual reflection about the meaning of Christ’s life, His sacrifice and His resurrection.
    “According to the Bible, any and every system of belief or “religion” apart from the true religion of Biblical Christianity is false and of the enemy of mankind and God, Satan.”
    And the message of Biblical Christianity, as you’ve noted, is to love all as Christ loved all. It could be that Daoists, Buddhists, Navya-Naiyakins and other atheists are able to use their own non-theistic resources to rise to this call more consistently and effectively than US evangelical conservatives. If Christianity only calls on us to endorse a particular set of belief claims and ritual practices, by adopting particular uses of words, the paradigm shift you mentioned away from Mosaic law is hot air. Also, your readiness to believe that all non-evangelical conservative peoples, Christian or non-Christian are not only perpetually damned, but actively EVIL is truly astonishing. I can’t say I’m feeling the love, even if you define ‘love’ negatively, as an absence of hate.
    “From the Biblical perspective there are only two kinds of people in the world, the saved and the lost. God loves all people (saved and lost), since He is their Creator and chose of His good pleasure to give us life. Conversely not all people love God, rather they love themselves, their idol gods, their flesh, their traditions, etc.”
    Right, and you may be among those who are lost, who love tradition more than the love of Christ. How could someone who properly worships a God who commands meekness ever be oblivious to this possibility?
    “To gain Christ is to die to self, to become “other people centered” as opposed to “self-centered”. This universal truth is of course displayed perfectly in the life of Jesus Christ who healed all, fed all, and raised from the dead all those with whom he came in contact. …He cared for all.”
    How, Soup, have you died to self, except perhaps intellectually and passively, i.e., self-servingly?
    “…our Creator God made the way to Himself by Himself, the only qualification being that we – of our own volition – heed the calling of the Holy Spirit of God to receive that free gift offered by Christ Jesus. A clean slate, a clear conscience, the promise of eternal life with Him, if only we believe.”
    You make the path of salvation sound easy, like receiving a coupon in the mail, or simply dialing operators at a 1-800 line. Where’s the sacrifice? There’s something in the H-O-L-Y B-I-B-L-E about sacrifice, isn’t there? Is there anything positive in the H-O-L-Y B-I-B-L-E about aspiring toward a life of ease here on Earth?
    “Yet to many these are fairy tales for the feebleminded, or a crutch for the weak. But for those who are being saved it is the power of God.”
    The power of sacrifice isn’t a fairy tale, and it certainly can’t be a crutch. On the other hand, your Dorothy-like faith in the power of mantras, like “There’s no one but Christ, there’s no one but Christ!” is more than a little fairy tale and crutch-like, don’t you think?
    You write, “I have died to self that I live not, yet Christ lives within me.”
    If Christ lives within you, Soup, and if you’ve died to self, then where is the sacrifice? People shouldn’t have to squint to see its results through tv-lit window shades in gated suburban communities.
    4) “Yes, you can have Socrates.” Tell me is this judgment that I’m an atheist analytic or synthetic? Or is it simply offensive and presumptuous?
    “I don’t believe his theistic protestations, and my reading of him is that a) the god of whom he spoke was his reason”
    Thus Sprachen Soup.
    b) the absence of gods and the ur-deity of Man was an important part of the secret wisdom.
    Real neat: not only do you think you can judge my spirituality, you also think you can intuit ‘secret’ Platonic wisdom despite the burning of the library of Alexandria, despite the purge and murder of the bearers of this secret wisdom by early Roman Christians, despite the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, despite the more than 2000 years separating you from them, etc., etc., etc. Do also think you have x-ray vision?
    “While my argument can be rightly viewed as a defense of a religious worldview, it is also synonymous with (and an important part of) the atheist elite’s justification for their right to rule over society, and as such still holds true for older, non-atheist elites (such as Socrates) as well.”
    Soup, you avoided the question — if the claim you attribute to Socrates that knowledge is the only good and ignorance is the only evil has elitist repurcussions, and if you claim that knowledge of and obedience to God is the only good and ignorance or defiance of God is the only evil, then how do you avoid those same elitist repurcussions you attribute to Socrates and the “atheist elite?”
    5) “I didn’t actually assert that the United States was founded on “Christian principles”, yet your presumption is correct and comparatively speaking there is evidence of far more Christian influence during the founding of the United States than exists for France.”
    Interesting. How did this difference play itself out in the principles that these 250 people established for the United States? Because Christ “didn’t send His apostles ahead to survey the crowds and find those who had prayed enough, or given enough money, or were “righteous” enough,” as you note, the quantitative evidence you offered simply isn’t relevant.
    “It is a huge failure of logic to assume that every individual in a Christian-dominated society is necessarily a Christian himself. By this logic if you live in United States future historians might well wrongly consider you to be a Christian.”
    This is God’s judgment to make, not Soup’s. Correct?
    Beware folks: the scapegoating, stereotyping, demonizing, and dismissive, intellectually lazy rhetoric you’re employing will bring this country again to war, and again for no intelligible cause.

  • Soup

    Posted by: Amy at November 5, 2005 04:37 PM
    Judging by the tone of your witty riposte I guess it’s safe to assume you didn’t care much for my responses, eh?
    Oh well. At least I know you read my post, which means you’ve had the gospel message presented to you, and therefore your blood is not on my hands.
    P.S. – There’s one “good work” for your list!

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    As to America, it was founded by a very different group of men. Of the 250 Founding Fathers, only a tiny percentage, between 3 and 7 individuals, were deists or irreligious. There were more Founders involved in founding the American Bible Institute than can be credibly called deists, much less atheists. 27 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence held seminary degrees or Bible school degrees and their affiliations with various Christian denominations were as follows: 34 Episcopalians, 13 Congregationalists, 6 Presbyterians, 1 Baptist, 1 Roman Catholic, and 1 Quaker. I submit that it was this divergence of allegiance – between reason/deism and Jesus Christ – that accounts for the tremendous difference between the two revolutions.
    The differences between the two revolutions could and have filled volumns. One major difference, IMO, has nothing to do with Christianity (believe it or not France was a Christian nation at the time of the revolution as well as before) but with governmental structure. The American colonies were largely self governing at the time of the Revolution. In fact, one of the causes of the revolution was the perception that England was trying to take that away. France, in contrast, was ruled by a centralized monarchy. When it fell there wasn’t 13 state gov’t’s in place but a huge power vacuum into which rushed dreamers, utopianists, experimenters and finally despots.
    As an aside, the above factoid is often used as support for giving a theocratic reading of the Constitution. It isn’t good evidence. The fact that the Founders were often religious doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have created a secular framework for the US government. Considering how many American Founders came from affiliations that suffered persecution at the hands of an unfriendly theocratic gov’t at some point in history it isn’t surprising that many very religious people might think the safest option was to keep the gov’t as out of religion as possible.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Soup
    You dodged a lot of stuff up there, both from Amy (coincidentally the name of my favorite niece) as well as myself.
    What do you say about Efraim Rios-Montt, “born again” Christian?
    What do you say when Amy writes (to which I can only say I agree ten-fold), “If Christianity only calls on us to endorse a particular set of belief claims and ritual practices, by adopting particular uses of words, the paradigm shift you mentioned away from Mosaic law is hot air. Also, your readiness to believe that all non-evangelical conservative peoples, Christian or non-Christian are not only perpetually damned, but actively EVIL is truly astonishing. I can’t say I’m feeling the love, even if you define ‘love’ negatively, as an absence of hate.”
    As well as “How does [your role as a Christian] make you vulnerable to prostitutes, migrant workers, muslims, transsexuals, Bin Ladin, women who have abortions, or atheists, that is, to all these people you aspire to love as Christ loved?”
    Look, Mr. “Evangelical”- you have been called on your moral bankruptcy.
    Accept the prophetic message – and likewise all who subscribe to the attitude you do- or risk eternal peril.
    It’s that simple.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Another primary factor for the differences in revolutions was the differences in class structure between the two nations. France was dominated by an upper class of nobility & clerics (the so-called Ancien R

  • Soup

    I’m always amazed by the visceral, emotional, vitriolic responses generated by a simple presentation of the gospel of peace and hope.
    How a message of unmitigated love and acceptance can be so upsetting to people is quite beyond me.
    I can only assume it is evidence of conviction of sin; even if it isn’t recognized as such within those who are convicted.

  • Soup

    Soup might try to say that the French were not good Christians ’cause they were dominated by Catholic rather than Prostestant Christianity but plenty of other nations in Europe had huge Catholic influences such as Italy and Germany and they didn’t suffer post-revolutionary tyranny.
    No, actually I wouldn’t.
    Perhaps you didn’t read closely, but I addressed this point in my prior post; the Jacobin revolutionaries weren’t Christian (not even Catholic Christians), but rather were deists and atheists.
    Posted by: Soup at November 5, 2005 08:40 AM
    I submit that it was this divergence of allegiance – between reason/deism and Jesus Christ – that accounts for the tremendous difference between the two revolutions.

  • Soup

    Since it is now clear to me that this blog is veritably crawling with atheists who like to ask lots of questions, perhaps we poor backward fundies might be permitted to reverse the flow and parlay a few back to you enlightened ones, yes?
    1) You atheists are quick to point out that one does not have to have perfect knowledge to be rational, but to use two common examples, one has to at least know what evolution or the big bang actually is in order to claim that it is the foundation upon which one’s rational belief system has been constructed, don’t you think?
    Furthermore, while some of you seem to enjoy participating in a bit of soft bigotry against the preponderance of goofy Bible-thumpers wallowing about in our ignorance, let it be said the fact that one’s faith is pragmatic and ubiquitous does not make it any less faith, or prove that one has reasoned one’s way to the conclusions it provides.
    2) It has been insinuated that religious faith is non-demonstrable. The Bible is no less a historical document, by any historian’s standard, than anything recorded by Arrian, Herodotus or Thucydides. Indeed, the history of archeology is rife with examples of where the archeologists of the day have been wrong and the Bible has been subsequently proven more reliable by comparison – Hittites, anyone? And then there’s the so-called myth of the Assyrians, too. How quickly these scientists forget! Also, many Christians will openly declare that God’s power has been demonstrated to them – apparently some here are not only willing, but eager, to dismiss that testimony out of hand, why is this?
    3) Some have posited that there are many ways to be “moral” and Christianity is but one variation. Okay, then from whence does the irrational atheist derive his personally reasoned morality? When did you personally sit down and reason your morals oh atheist? My argument is that the overwhelming majority of atheists can’t, haven’t, don’t and won’t undertake this effort. Ayn Rand has come up with a rational system of sorts. Utilitarianism, for all its lack of believability, is another possibility. However, I know many atheists and exactly none of them subscribe to either – and most are completely unfamiliar with both. In fact, none are even able to say much about their own moral systems, except to make banal claims such as “killing people is obviously bad” and assert self-evidence where none exists. Furthermore, my understanding is that the atheist position is generally that the burden of proof is on the theist to prove that God exists, not the atheist to prove that he does not. Why? Because, of course, the atheist’s case is weak and he knows it. Is it a coincidence that the purportedly independently-reasoned moral system of the average Western atheist usually happens to mimic, almost precisely, the Judeo-Christian ethic in which he and his parents have been raised? I do not find this credible.
    Simply doing what everyone around you is doing, believing what everyone around you believes does not have much to do with rational definitions, much less constructing a coherent and independent moral system. It may be reasonable to do as everyone else does in order to keep from drawing attention to yourself, but you can hardly argue that you are guided by reason, since herd animals do the same. As for sociopathy, I have no research on this, but I’m quite confident that there are more serial killers lacking religious faith than are committed Church-going evangelical Christians. As before, any non-anecdotal information to the contrary is welcome.
    4) Some here solemnly point to examples of “bad Christians” and then make sweeping generalizations, why? The Christian who is a fair-weather moralist falls far short of the Biblical standards as laid forth in the Bible. The same is not true of the atheist, who simply modifies his individual moral system to match with his desires – if he is rational. Many atheists are fond of expressing the notion that they are better people, more altruistic, more moral and of a higher ethos because they do not believe in God. I would suggest that the average atheist needs to take more consideration of the vast breadth of the cognitive spectrum of the godless.
    5) Why are you atheists moral parasites? I’ll answer this one myself; an atheist is a moral parasite, because the atheist is not only making use of a moral system to which he does not subscribe, but his individual modifications, taken in the collective and writ large upon the society, have the effect of poisoning it. Hence the ongoing secularization and decline of America. Who aren’t moral parasites? Among others, Christians because we are commanded not to. “Be in the world, but not of it.” Not that all, or even most succeed, but the extent to which evangelical Christians freak out those of the tolerant, PC secular media ethic demonstrates that many do.
    Some have asserted that Christians behave morally just as atheists. That rather than seeking guidance from God they take action first, and think later, a form of “ex post facto” morality.
    In truth, “after the fact rationalization” is exactly the way in which I believe most people naturally behave. I don’t believe that most people determine their behavior, I believe that most people act first and think later. I find that even those who really try very hard to think first are usually too influenced by their momentary desires to perform a truly rational analysis. Everyone does this, Christians included, and I’ll freely admit that some of the worst rationalizations I’ve ever heard have come from Christians attempting to justify their anti-Scriptural decisions based on Scripture. But in the Christian’s case, this is clearly wrong and is usually condemned quite strongly by fellow Christians.
    6) Some here seem to think that Biblical Christianity is destroying the USA, why would one even posit such an utter absurdity? The fact that Voltaire, hero of atheists everywhere, should greatly fear the consequences of permitting atheism to take root amongst those unequipped to handle its implications, is directly relevant to my opinion that rational atheists, not Christians, are likely to lead humanity to the grave. At the very least, this should encourage an atheist to consider the likely implications of his non-belief, not only for him, but for the world around him.
    7) Some will falsely assert that the Jacobins were Christians, but by any stretch of the imagination they certainly were not, as has been already discussed. The Holocaust was conceived and led by atheists who explicitly desired to wipe out Judeo-Christianity. If a nominal Christian does something (yes, even if he is self-described “born again Christian”!), it is a real stretch to assign his motivation to a faith he may not even have. As we’ve discussed the Inquisition accounted for 6,000 or so deaths in 356 years; hardly a Holocaust. Europe – including the Balkans, is no longer considered even nominally Christian, and the conflicts there are traditionally ethnic, not religious, at any rate. Post-colonial massacres in Africa have been ethnic when they have not been socialist or Islamic; as to the pre-Colonial era, one needs to know the religious affiliation of the colonial leaders to make any such statement. Why do so many atheists turn out to have a very poor grasp of history?
    I hope you might spend some of your valuable time responding to the points above as I have found the posts here most fascinating.
    Before visiting here I truly did not know that rational realism is on as shaky a ground as religion. Philosophy is only a tertiary interest of mine at best, which is why I seldom think about it. But it is an interesting intellectual development.
    Good night!

  • http://gideonstrauss.com Gideon Strauss

    Hey, Joe. I’m having my “Introduction to Philosophy” college students read Clouser – well, parts of Clouser – this term. Well worth their while. I find his definition of the divine, and his identification of various kinds of religious belief in terms of the relation between the divine and the non-divine, to be very helpful for students as they seek to understand the non-neutral character of science.

  • Amy

    “Oh well. At least I know you read my post, which means you’ve had the gospel message presented to you, and therefore your blood is not on my hands.
    P.S. – There’s one “good work” for your list!”
    Congratulations! With more good deeds like these you’ll make Pilate proud.

  • The Raven

    Since it is now clear to me that this blog is veritably crawling with atheists who like to ask lots of questions, perhaps we poor backward fundies might be permitted to reverse the flow and parlay a few back to you enlightened ones, yes?
    No. The terms in which you express yourself indicate that you view the discussion as a zero-sum game – one in which there are winners and losers, a right side and a wrong side.
    You might profit from recasting your perception of the dialogue into one in which there are participants who seek to exchange ideas and mutually benefit from the comparison of alternative concepts. While there may be an element of anti-climaticism in the exercise, some measure of progress may be attainable without resort to a polarized assessment of the outcomes that are reached.
    Do be cautious in your pronouncements that “atheists believe this,” or “atheists believe that,” since the group you are referring to is not heterogenous beyond the quality of not ascribing natural phenomena to deity figures. Speaking for myself, all I can say is that a life can be lived, and lived well, without the presence of deities.
    With respect to the burden of proof, it is always incumbent on the theist to proof the existence of deities because the claim of such is extraordinary. The atheist makes no extraordinary claim.
    but to use two common examples, one has to at least know what evolution or the big bang actually is in order to claim that it is the foundation upon which one’s rational belief system has been constructed, don’t you think?

    Atheism does not require a “belief system” as you are positing it here. Evolution and Big Bang theory are possibilities that compete with other theories on level ground. They are not sufficient nor necessary to provide a foundation for a worldview that does not require deity figures. Such concepts are worthy of consideration, and all we can say is that, based on what science is demonstrating, that they are more likely to lead toward a true comprehension of reality that vague suppositions of magic and undefined creator-agents.
    You are completely free to believe whatever you like about anything. No one can dissuade you from whatever it is you believe about anything. A rationalist merely attempts to work with what is known and proceed in a series of logical steps. Religion is, ipso facto, non-logical and thus not germane to such an exercise. That’s about all you can say about it.
    Here’s a brief atheistic sermon for your consideration:
    Audio Video
    Today I attempted to reconfigure my stereo system following a move from one city to another. My stereo system is freakishly complex, involving a television, VRC, DVD player, Stereo Tuner, XM radio player, two main speakers and a woofer and two surround speakers. Because of a lack of input jacks, the system requires a separately powered junction box into which various components are connected. No documentation explains the arrangement because it is beyond the various manufacturers’ envisioning that someone would attempt to connect these components in the fashion I have achieved. At all times, the speaker system is capable of outputting the sound of any given component. Over several years, I managed to make this system function as required.
    Then I moved.
    Before the transition, I figured I’d be clever about it and label every lead with a piece of masking tape, inked with a number or letter. I drew diagrams of the back of every component, indicating which lead went to which input. Reconfiguring the system should have been a piece of cake.
    It wasn’t. After the first attempt, with all the devices in the cabinet and hooked up in accordance with my diagrams, the system did not work. I tried changing the arrangement of plugs to no avail. In short, I was completely stymied.
    Taking a logical tack, this afternoon I pulled every component, wire, jack and plug from the cabinet and laid them out on the floor of my living room. I began to systematically configure each part of the system and test it. OK, VHS plays and has stereo sound. TV and cable play, but no stereo, etc.
    I had all the manuals for every device and consulted them. After several hours of troubleshooting, I was ready to call it quits and hire an expert to come to my home and solve this complex problem. In short, I was well and truly beaten.
    And I just stared at the arrangement of wires and let my mind lapse a bit and suddenly it hit me – run the left-right channels from the DVD directly to the tuner and use a separate video line to run from the video-out port of the DVD to the junction box. Bingo. Everything worked as it had before.
    This solution was not logical – it required a kind of intuition, an overarching insight that was not scientific, but transcendent. Yet I did not pray, I did not seek discernment, I did not turn to a deity for help. I just worked it out, but allowed some part of my mind to solve the issue that was not entirely rational.
    Lots of things in life work that way.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    1) You atheists are quick to point out that one does not have to have perfect knowledge to be rational, but to use two common examples, one has to at least know what evolution or the big bang actually is in order to claim that it is the foundation upon which one’s rational belief system has been constructed, don’t you think?
    Why would believing in the Big Bang require it to be the foundation of ‘one’s rational belief system’? Before the Big Bang theory many felt the universe was in a steady state…in other words it had always existed more or less as it appears now…stars and galaxies and so on. How did the change in theory (based on observational evidence) from steady state to Big Bang alter the ‘foundation …of..one’s rational belief system’? Most of the time people who claim evolution or the Big Bang to be the foundation of one’s belief system are not those who work with evolution or the Big Bang but those who are purporting to be refuting those theories.
    5) Why are you atheists moral parasites? ….
    I think it is interesting to note the guy who casually tosses Hitler analogies around also likes tossing around charges of parasite. The Nazi’s and other modern tyrants, as the first step towards persecution, labeled their victims as some type of parasite. In real life a parasite takes the food supply of its victim. A ‘moral parasite’ is a nonsensical idea. If an athiest ‘copies’ the moral code of a Christian…say by deciding not to steal or commit murder..he isn’t taking anything from the Christian. It’s not like there’s a limited supply of ‘not murdering’ to go around and the athiest is stealing the Christian’s supply.
    Soup, though, nicely tries to dehumanize those who disagree with him not only labeling them parasites but also equating them with ‘poisoning’ society. Fortunately since few follow his way of thinking (even in the most conservative Bible belt areas) he is just a crank today. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be weary of the dangers of this way of thinking.
    The fact that Voltaire, hero of atheists everywhere, should greatly fear the consequences of permitting atheism to take root amongst those unequipped to handle its implications, is directly relevant to my opinion that rational atheists, not Christians, are likely to lead humanity to the grave. At the very least, this should encourage an atheist to consider the likely implications of his non-belief, not only for him, but for the world around him.
    Actually Voltaire is also a hero among those who enjoy seeing blowhards who claim they have a monopoly on truth deflated and brought down to size. Personally I find Mark Twain more fun but the point holds.
    7) Some will falsely assert that the Jacobins were Christians, but by any stretch of the imagination they certainly were not, as has been already discussed. The Holocaust was conceived and led by atheists who explicitly desired to wipe out Judeo-Christianity.
    It’s well documented that the primary purpose of the Holocaust was to wipe out Jews, religious or not. Other victims were secondary to that primary purpose. The authors of the Holocaust were not athiests but believers in a manufactured religion that combined elements of Christianity with paganism and with an imagined mythical past utopia of ‘pure Aryanism’.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Soup:
    Your responses are pretty standard:
    I’m always amazed by the visceral, emotional, vitriolic responses generated by a simple presentation of the gospel of peace and hope.
    I’m amazed at the inability of avowed “fundamentalists” or “evangelicals” actually to articulate or express peace and hope.
    I’ll take one example:
    this blog is veritably crawling with atheists who like to ask lots of questions…
    Not everybody who calls into question Christianity is an atheist. Now that is pretty quintessentially prejudiced thinking.
    And perhaps if you were able to actually, you know, engage us by answering questions you might notice that a dialogue was taking place.
    For example..
    one has to at least know what evolution or the big bang actually is in order to claim that it is the foundation upon which one’s rational belief system has been constructed
    Now again this is making assumptions riddled within assumptions…
    I can tell you this:
    We have a pretty good idea what evolution and the big bang is, with many open questions. But open questions are not something to fear.
    As a non-theist (the existence of a deity or not is irrelevant to me) my “belief” system is based on my experience. And in my experience, having open questions will happen. Not attempting to answer questions is counter-productive.
    But all i’s don’t need to be dotted and t’s crossed.
    The Bible is no less a historical document, by any historian’s standard, than anything recorded by Arrian, Herodotus or Thucydides.
    Are you admitting that there’s stuff in the bible that’s just plain false?
    Have you ever read Herodotus’s travels to India?
    God’s power has been demonstrated to them – apparently some here are not only willing, but eager, to dismiss that testimony out of hand, why is this?
    Because “witness” testimony is well known to be unreliable, and the psychological mechanisms that give rise to such “testimony” as you’re referring to arise in pretty much every religion, and outside every religion. It’s not a big deal or a unique deal.
    Okay, then from whence does the irrational atheist derive his personally reasoned morality?
    I’m a Buddhist, and by experience and mindfulness one can pretty much figure out that harming folks is bad and helping ‘em’s good. You don’t need a bible – or even a Buddha- to tell you that.
    However, I know many atheists…
    Are you re-defining “atheist” as somebody who doesn’t “believe” exactly what you do?
    I would suggest that the average atheist needs to take more consideration of the vast breadth of the cognitive spectrum of the godless…
    I would suggest you’ve dodged the point I was making. From any point of view, it’s clear that the only problem that “born again” Efraim Rios-Montt’s only thing keeping him back from being a Stalin or Mao, was his country’s size, and given that, he was actually proportionally in their ball-park.
    Why are you atheists moral parasites? I’ll answer this one myself; an atheist is a moral parasite, because the atheist is not only making use of a moral system to which he does not subscribe, but his individual modifications, taken in the collective and writ large upon the society, have the effect of poisoning it. Hence the ongoing secularization and decline of America.
    This is pretty hateful, prejudiced, and is why we non-Christians don’t view folks like you as brimming over with peace and love.
    Some here seem to think that Biblical Christianity is destroying the USA, why would one even posit such an utter absurdity?
    See my previous comments. See the guy in charge of this country.
    What’s “absurd” is the pretension to morality by folks like him.

  • http://jonrowe.blogspot.com Jon Rowe

    Hopefully I can shed light on the deism/Christianity – French/American Revolution issue which is going on in this very interesting thread.
    First, someone said that the French Revolution inspired the Declaration. That’s backwards, it was the Declaration which inspired the French Revolution. Indeed, Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence also, while in France, assisted in writing the French’s Declaration of the Rights of Man. The Declaration of Independence was heralded in France and helped spark their revolution. It’s no wonder that the two documents are quite similar in what they say.
    The French Revolution and the American Revolution were both, at their core, Enlightenment Revolutions, founding each nation on liberty, equality, the rights of man and man’s reason. Neither Revolution was atheistic. And both revolutions invoked a generic “God” as the ultimate guarantor of rights. The French Revolution was indeed more hostile to Christianity. But keep in mind they had an established Church to disestablish and a monarchy to unseat.
    See this post on my Positive Liberty blog.
    As regards Deism v. orthodox Christianity, both sides are wrong. On the one hand is the assertion that virtually all the founders were deists and on the other, virtually all were orthodox Christians. In truth, the founders’ religions were a mixed bag.

    As to America, it was founded by a very different group of men. Of the 250 Founding Fathers, only a tiny percentage, between 3 and 7 individuals, were deists or irreligious….their affiliations with various Christian denominations were as follows: 34 Episcopalians, 13 Congregationalists, 6 Presbyterians, 1 Baptist, 1 Roman Catholic, and 1 Quaker. I submit that it was this divergence of allegiance – between reason/deism and Jesus Christ – that accounts for the tremendous difference between the two revolutions.
    ….
    It is also nothing more than an assumption to claim that the Jacobins or the National Assemblymen were Christian, especially given that there is little, if any, information with regards to a single Jacobin’s religious affiliation or claim of submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is a huge failure of logic to assume that every individual in a Christian-dominated society is necessarily a Christian himself. By this logic if you live in United States future historians might well wrongly consider you to be a Christian.

    My problem with your analysis: You seem to have a very narrow understanding of what a real “Christian” is. If we understand Christianity in a very broad sense — anyone having some sort of affiliation with a Church no matter how nominal or unorthodox his personal beliefs, then yes, the overwhelming majority of our Founders were “Christian,” even Thomas Jefferson who was an Episcopalian.
    But if we understand “Christian” according to a more narrow understanding, which you no doubt endorse — orthodox, Trinitarian, Biblical inerrancy, accept Jesus as Personal Savior, etc., — there is not a shred of good evidence that virtually all of the Founders but a handful were orthodox Trinitarian Christians, just as they were not all deists either.
    Many “Christian” founders were like Jefferson, Adams, and probably Washington, and Madison, and many others (the latter two whom were conspicuously silent about their personal beliefs), members of Christian Churches but personally rejecting orthodox Christian tenets in favor of the “deistic-unitarian” natural religion.
    Indeed, one of the surprising things I’ve found in doing meticulous research on this issue (see my blogs), tracking down primary sources, is that the religious beliefs of our key Whig founders differed very little. I’m referring to Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin, and some others. All were members of Christian churches save Franklin who never referred to himself as anything but a “Deist” in his adult life. None, including Franklin, believed in a non-Interventionist God (all believed in a warm intervening Providence). All were small u unitarians, with Adams as a capital U Unitarian (rejected the Trinity — there is positive evidence that Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin rejected the Trinity. Washington and Madison most likely did. However, again, there is uncertainty as to the details of W & M’s beliefs.). None of them believed the Bible to be inerrant. Indeed, Jefferson held its history to be “defective and doubtful.” Adams said the Bible contained “errors and amendments.” And, while they didn’t reject Revelation outright (they thought there was Truth to be found in Revelation), they believed man’s Reason to be the ultimate arbiter of Truth.
    Somehow I don’t see this as the kind of “Christianity” that Soup endorses. But many of the most prominent Founders on the “Christian” list believed exactly this.

  • Soup

    I can’t say I’m feeling the love, even if you define ‘love’ negatively, as an absence of hate.
    Love is a choice, not a feeling.
    Also, your readiness to believe that all non-evangelical conservative peoples, Christian or non-Christian are not only perpetually damned, but actively EVIL is truly astonishing.
    Only Christians go to heaven and everyone else is actively evil. If you don’t like it, take it up with God, He said it, not me.
    This is pretty hateful, prejudiced, and is why we non-Christians don’t view folks like you as brimming over with peace and love.
    If telling the truth is “hateful” and “prejudiced” then either Jesus Christ was a megalomaniacal, intolerant, prejudiced, hateful liar or He was God. I choose to believe the latter.
    There’s only one way.

  • Amy

    “First, someone said that the French Revolution inspired the Declaration. That’s backwards, it was the Declaration which inspired the French Revolution. Indeed, Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence also, while in France, assisted in writing the French’s Declaration of the Rights of Man. The Declaration of Independence was heralded in France and helped spark their revolution.”
    Thanks, Jon. That’s helpful. It looks like it’s time for me to brush up my knowledge of early American history.

  • Amy

    Soup,
    You’re confusing the issue. I’m not arguing against Christianity or against God, Soup, but against YOU.
    It is revealing though, and more than a little disturbing, that when people challenge you, you think they challenge God. One does not become an atheist by disbelieving Soup.
    YOU ARE NOT GOD. You CAN be wrong. Not everyone who disbelieves you is an atheist. It is not your privilege to judge the actual worthiness of others’ religious beliefs or identities. You do not actually have God’s ability to extend your mind across space and time to know literal meanings of Scripture, others’ mental states, secret teachings of the ancients, etc., no matter how much you squint. You certainly are not the embodiment of Christ on Earth.
    “Only Christians go to heaven and everyone else is actively evil. If you don’t like it, take it up with God, He said it, not me.”
    God didn’t say this, Soup. You did. And you grossly misunderstand Scripture. Unfortunately, because you seem to have set yourself up as an idol and rival to God, you can’t even conceive of the idea that you may be wrong.
    If you disagree with me, then answer the questions I raised. They are not questions for God, but questions for you.
    “If telling the truth is “hateful” and “prejudiced” then either Jesus Christ was a megalomaniacal, intolerant, prejudiced, hateful liar or He was God.”
    If telling the ‘truth’ is hateful, then it is not the truth, though it’s no surprise that you, who think you have privileged access to God’s Holy Word, unlike us non-omniscient ones, do not let yourself consider this possibility.
    “Love is a choice, not a feeling.”
    It’s a choice you haven’t yet made. Though charlatans probably tell you you have.
    “There’s only one way.”
    You, Soup, are not on it. If you choose, you can be.
    You could start by thinking of this as a conversation between persons, and not a Manichean battle between Christians and atheists.

  • Soup

    Uh, thanks for pointing out that I’m not God, but I was already aware of that.
    It’s not about me, it’s all about Jesus.
    Acts 4:10-12
    10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
    John 14:6
    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me
    Galatians 1:8
    But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
    James 4:4
    Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
    Matthew 10:28
    And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    Acts 17:30
    And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
    John 6:28-29
    28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
    John 10:25-27
    25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    John 20:31
    But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
    Romans 10:13-15
    13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Only Christians go to heaven and everyone else is actively evil…
    John 14:6
    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me
    .
    So Soup, even allowing a) that there was a historical Jesus, and b) he actually said this, how the heck does that possibly translate into your belief system?
    See, as I read it, the people who proclaimed themselves as “God’s people” get bashed quite a bit by Jesus, whereas the heretical Good Samaritan is lauded.
    You merely assert that somehow you are following Jesus’ way, but Jesus way doesn’t call others “actively evil,” but lauds their good works.
    Let us see some repentence from thee before you call for repentence from others.

  • Amy

    You silly man. Nobody disagrees about what the Holy Bible says, but about it means. In other words, the issue is not about God’s message, but about YOUR half-arsed interpretation of this message. Clearly, the Holy Bible says that nobody will attain heaven except through a life of the cross, but your cross is too light, too gaudy, too PLASTIC to be the cross of Jesus.
    You seem to think you can find salvation at the bottom of a cereal box. WHERE IS YOUR SACRIFICE? What burdens OF OTHERS do you drag on your back through streets of popular ridicule?
    Arguably, the people bearing true crosses today aren’t the self-content Christians flapping their gums across America’s streets, bodies and airwaves, but the very people these self-assured ‘Christians’ systematically disparage, ignore and humiliate.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Hi everybody,
    I’ve kept out of this thread so far because I’ve been waiting to see Joe’s version of Christian math.
    But I have a question I’d like to put to everyone, a kind of poll.
    Who agrees or disagrees with the following statement:
    Only Christians go to heaven and everyone else is actively evil. If you don’t like it, take it up with God, He said it, not me. [comment by Soup, November 6, 2005 01:16 pm]
    So far, Soup has come out in favor, and Boonton and Amy have come out against.
    I myself would have to disagree in the strongest possible terms (That is to say, there is no heaven and no God. But if there were a heaven and a God, good Christians would receive no better reservations in heaven than good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, etc., etc.).
    So does anyone else care to share his/her views on this?
    Cheers!

  • Soup

    Again with the name calling, Amy? I don’t understand your anger.
    Let it be known that I love my King and He loves me. I am secure in the cleft of the Rock (Christ Jesus). Nothing can or will ever change that.
    At the end of your life you can join with host of heaven in the beautiful presence of the Lord, but the choice is yours to make.
    Peace.
    Romans 3:27
    Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
    Romans 4:5
    But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
    Ephesians 2:8-9
    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    Galatians 2:16
    Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
    Romans 5:1
    Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
    Matthew 10:33
    But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
    1 John 4:3
    And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
    1 John 2:22
    Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
    Revelation 21:8
    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Matthew Goggins:
    Who agrees or disagrees with the following statement: Only Christians go to heaven and everyone else is actively evil. If you don’t like it, take it up with God, He said it, not me. [comment by Soup, November 6, 2005 01:16 pm]
    Naturally, for me, the bible is riddled with error, it is subject to multiple interpretations on the most basic item of what monotheists consider must-believes in their religion, and so for me, a Buddhist, I would agree with the statement.
    Unless, of course it was meant satirically. ;-)
    In which case, I suppose I’d get Soup’s joke. Not that he’d break character to admit that; rather, like Latka Gravas, or Tony Clifton, Soup would never acknowledge his essential Andy Kaufman-nature.

  • Soup

    Posted by: Matthew Goggins at November 6, 2005 06:11 PM
    Sadly the only way to arrive at your conclusion is to ignore scripture. There are two camps, and two kinds of people. The camp of the Lord Jesus Christ (born-again Christians) and the camp of Satan (the unredeemed – Christ rejecting).
    Certainly salvation is available for the unredeemed, but until they receive Him, they serve the enemy (yes actively!).
    Matthew 6:23-25
    23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
    1 John 4:3
    And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
    1 John 2:22
    Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
    Hmmm…Christ denying = antichrist.
    Looks pretty clear to me! I’ll just believe the Bible instead of popular opinion polls if that’s all right with you.
    John 15:17-19
    17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
    HELLO WORLD!!!

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Soup, it’s been a while since I’ve seen somebody with your schtick on boards – even this one.
    That you use words in a book – a book which does, admitted have some good words as well as bad words in it, as an attempt to shore up your “argument,” even when those bible quotes are often non-sequiturs (Matthew 6:23-25? 1 John 4:3? And not to mention 1 John 2:22, which is taken out of context – it was in fact referring to early Christian communities, and directed specifically to them) indicates to me that you haven’t actually studied the bible, and despite being able to quote from the bible, it hasn’t like, you know, changed your heart or anything like that.
    I think, despite my Andy Kaufman barb earlier, that you are probably attempting to be serious (although frankly there’s no way to tell; I could, I suppose write a parody of you), and that’s what concerns me. That is, your lack of spiritual depth, your lack of metanoia is profoundly on display.

  • Amy

    “Though, dogmatists and literalists may seem to be the people who respect scripture the most, in fact, they’re the ones who respect it least. Suppose a teacher were to ask you to understand something she said was personally urgent. If you were to demonstrate your understanding of and concern for her message simply by parroting random bits of whatever she said, in no particular order and with no coherent explanation of priority (except, maybe, ‘Duh, that’s how the person I was copying from did it’), and if you answered questions raised about these bits simply by parroting other random bits, without even feeling a compunction to do more, then clearly, you wouldn’t have been at all concerned about the meaning of whatever it was that she tried to convey to you. Talk about disrespect.
    Now suppose this teacher is God. Talk about blasphemy.
    It’s no wonder though that the lazy and structurally incoherent temptation of literal biblical interpretation appeals to people with student temperments, people who long for sleep. It makes sense too that this religious approach has grown step for step with the nation’s obesity rate.
    One day, sadly, we’ll be known as America’s ‘Tired Generation’ — the generation that let loose the promises of Christ and America because we were too busy yawning.”

  • Soup

    I apologize if my spiritual depth or “religiosity” isn’t up to your particular muster, Mumon. I’m sorry to hear that you are a Buddhist. I’ve spent a good deal of time in Nagoya and have witnessed to many Japanese Buddhists. I’ll pray for you. Perhaps one day you will come to know the saving truth of Jesus Christ.
    Please understand that I’m merely a simple man who takes God at His word. And His Words are so much fairer than my own.
    One day, sadly, we’ll be known as America’s ‘Tired Generation’ — the generation that let loose the promises of Christ and America because we were too busy yawning.”
    Posted by: Amy at November 6, 2005 08:45 PM

    Apparently unlike you Amy I’m not too concerned about what the “future generations” of the godless may think…
    18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
    Because as I’ve mentioned previously, I am dead to self, but alive with Christ:
    Colossians 3
    1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
    And there is something to be said for those who would reject the simple truth of The Holy Writ:
    Psalm 14:1
    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
    Psalm 74:22
    Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily.
    As for your “teacher” analogy, I must point out that it’s patently absurd. Jesus didn’t come merely as some “teacher” or feel good “spirit guide”. Perhaps you’ve been watching too many of those old movies where he is portrayed as some kind of hippie drifter who likes to walk around spouting platitudes and hugging people.
    He came into our world as God incarnate. The One True Living God, The Ancient of Days; there is none beside Him. He is the origin and completion of everything and the Holy Bible represents His plenary, final Word.
    Furthermore your image of Christ is a perversion since you envision Him as still being spat upon and kicked and beaten by His creation, yet remaining silent and doing nothing to defend Himself. He endured that humiliation that you and I might be reconciled by His ultimate sacrifice.
    You might consider reading the end of the book (The Holy Bible) and see who He is (the risen Lord) as opposed to who He was (the suffering servant), though I doubt you will. There you would see that He isn’t being spat upon. He isn’t being beaten. He isn’t enduring humiliation at the hands of wretched wicked human beings.
    He is the risen victorious Lord God Almighty!
    Revelation 1:14-16
    14His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
    Revelation 1:8
    I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
    Revelation 19:14-16
    14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
    You seem to be under the mistaken notion that keeping a “good works tab” is some sort of requirement to gain Christ. It’s a free gift Amy, and there’s nothing more you or I can do to add to the work Christ has done in order to receive His gift of reconciliation. I certainly agree that a redeemed heart leads one to perform works in the name of the Lord, to bring His peace, love, and message of hope to a sick and dying world. But you advocate something else, the false belief that unless you do something to earn God’s love you can’t be saved; that without this “good works list” (of your own design) somehow one isn’t worthy or righteous enough. Oh, the hubris! This is lie from the pit of hell. Precisely how would you propose adding to the finished work of the cross?
    Finally, if you’re sitting around waiting for another “teacher” to show up and start giving you directions (which will be inevitably contrary to God’s Word) you surely won’t need to wait long. Spiritual wickedness abounds and the powers and principalities arrayed against the truth of Christ as always on the prowl for new recruits.
    1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts

  • Soup

    Posted by: Amy at November 6, 2005 03:43 PM
    Amy sez to Soup:
    You do not actually have God’s ability to extend your mind across space and time to know literal meanings of Scripture, others’ mental states, secret teachings of the ancients, etc., no matter how much you squint. You certainly are not the embodiment of Christ on Earth.
    Then a few sentences later in the very same post Amy explains:
    Soup sez: “Love is a choice, not a feeling.”
    Amy sez: It’s a choice you haven’t yet made. Though charlatans probably tell you you have.
    Soup sez: “There’s only one way.”
    Amy sez: You, Soup, are not on it. If you choose, you can be.
    I guess I’m glad to know that one of us has “God’s ability to extend your mind across space and time to know…others’ mental states…
    I’ll bet that’s a neat trick to perform at your atheist parties.
    Ah, sweet irony…what? There’s MORE? Roll it!
    Posted by: Amy at November 6, 2005 05:46 PM
    You silly man. Nobody disagrees about what the Holy Bible says, but about it means. In other words, the issue is not about God’s message, but about YOUR half-arsed interpretation of this message. Clearly, the Holy Bible says that nobody will attain heaven except through a life of the cross, but your cross is too light, too gaudy, too PLASTIC to be the cross of Jesus.
    I’ll keep praying for you…but of course you already knew that, right?
    Fun for everyone!

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Soup,
    Looks pretty clear to me! I’ll just believe the Bible instead of popular opinion polls if that’s all right with you.
    The reason I’m conducting my little poll has nothing to do with determining the truth-value of your thesis (whether or not non-Christians are actively evil).
    I am just curious to see if the many Christians who enjoy the Evangelical Outpost, including the blog-master himself, Mr. Carter, are willing to take a modest stand against your anti-non-Christian bigotry.
    So is anyone paying any attention to this comment thread anymore? Are Eric & Lisa, Jim Gilbert,
    Atlantic, Bevets, Dr. Jim, Brad Mills, Mark Olson, Michael Rew, or Gideon in the house?
    Did I mention Joe Carter — I think I did. But I suspect he might actually agree with Soup. He certainly believes that non-Christians are going to hell, he’s said that many times.
    I’m not one to throw around tendentious phrases like “morally bankrupt” and “bigoted” in a comment thread. But every once in a while a view pops up that seems positively medieval and truly offensive.
    I’d like to see some of the good people who frequent the Evangelical Outpost stand up to a religious bigot like Soup and give him the time of day. Anyone who is willing to do so will earn a good measure of credibility, and will be able to speak with a bit more moral authority when we are discussing other moral issues.
    In other words, here’s a great opportunity for everyone to make some simple distinctions: religious dogma, or the lack thereof, doesn’t define one as “actively evil”. Who wants to step up to the plate and hit this soft pitch out of the ballpark?
    Oh yeah, let me get the ball rolling: Hey Soup, shame on you! God didn’t set you up in judgement of all humanity, so I suggest you take a breather on all this prophet stuff. When you feel ready, you may want to try re-thinking your conception of the moral architecture of the world. Because the ideas you currently entertain, be they based on the Bible or not, are woefully inadequate and delusional.
    Peace all,
    Matthew

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Matthew,
    I am just curious to see if the many Christians who enjoy the Evangelical Outpost, including the blog-master himself, Mr. Carter, are willing to take a modest stand against your anti-non-Christian bigotry.
    This thread now has over a hundred comments — almost all of them off-topic — most of which I have to confess that I haven’t read. Since I’m not aware of what comments were made (and am too tired to wade through them tonight) I’m not sure what sparked the controversy.
    I might be willing to take a stand against “anti-non-Christian bigotry” but I’m not sure what it means. Is it being against “non-Christian bigotry?” Is it a stand against bigotry directed against those who are against “non-Christians?” I’m not sure what position to take here. ; )

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Despite it’s being off-topic (well, the thread, uh, evolved, based on science bashing…) I thought when I saw:
    I apologize if my spiritual depth or “religiosity” isn’t up to your particular muster, Mumon. I’m sorry to hear that you are a Buddhist. I’ve spent a good deal of time in Nagoya and have witnessed to many Japanese Buddhists.
    I thought:
    1. How odd; I’m quite happy as a Buddhist.
    2. Having spent, by now, quite a great deal of time in Japan myself, I can imagine how Soup’s “witnessing” efforts went over.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Matthew,
    In other words, here’s a great opportunity for everyone to make some simple distinctions: religious dogma, or the lack thereof, doesn’t define one as “actively evil”. Who wants to step up to the plate and hit this soft pitch out of the ballpark?
    I’m not sure this is such a “soft pitch” as you think it is. It requires a nuanced discussion of original sin, common grace, and saving grace.
    It seems to me that Soup is arguing a less-than-nuanced view of the Christian doctrine of original sin. Christian theology has always asserted as a central theme that everyone is separated from God by sin. Particularly in Paul’s epistles, this theme is articulated quite strongly, in terms that portray all of humanity as naturally in active opposition to God. This sets the stage for the marvel of God’s grace, by which He seeks us out despite our rebellion against Him.
    Christian theology also, however, recognizes the inherent value of every person as an individual created in God’s image. In addition, Christian theology (at least strands of it other than extreme Calvinism) recognizes the concepts of natural law and common grace, by which everyone, whether a believer or not, is able to recognize and participate to some extent in the good and to do good works.
    A more nuanced view of original sin, I think, recognizes that while everyone is not as bad as they possibly could be, everyone is as naturally bad off as they possibly could be. Not everyone is “actively evil” in the sense that we usually define “evil.” Most people don’t regularly commit acts of violence and such; most people are doing their best to be decent and get by. A balanced Christian theology doesn’t brand such ordinary people as “actively evil” simply because they don’t accept the gospel.
    Yet, a balanced Christian theology does recognize that even decent people are, in their affections, loyalties, intentions, and at least in some respects actions, in a state of natural rebellion against God. Thus, everyone needs God’s grace, and ultimately the choice to reject God’s grace results in separation from God, even for ordinary people who are decent by our limited standards.
    We should also note that receiving grace, through faith, doesn’t give the believer cause to boast in some perceived moral superiority. Paul’s epistles are also quite clear about that. Rather, the genuine believer recognizes that he/she owes everything to God’s grace, and seeks to emulate that grace in how he/she lives.

  • http://http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Dopderbeck,
    Thank you for your thoughtfully laid-out defense of Christian salvation and your criticism of non-Christian bashing.
    I’d like to respond more fully, but I don’t have time right now. For now, I’ll just have to note my appreciation and leave it at that.
    Mumon,
    I’m sure Soup doesn’t hit people over the head with how “actively evil” they are for not agreeing with his version of truth and goodness. But it would be interesting to hear how successful Soup was in Japan.
    So if you’re out there Soup, would you like to tell us how it went?
    Joe,
    Thanks for responding.
    “Anti-non-Christian bigotry” would refer to bigotry by Christians against a person who is not Christian.
    For example, when Soup referred to all Christians as “actively evil”:
    Only Christians go to heaven and everyone else is actively evil. If you don’t like it, take it up with God, He said it, not me. [comment by Soup, November 6, 2005 01:16 pm]
    As I said above, you agree with the first part of his statement, since you believe that only Christians will go to heaven in the afterlife. I don’t know, though, if you would agree or disagree with his saying that all non-Christians are actively evil.

  • Amy

    Fun for everyone!”
    Blow harder if you want, Soup; the questions raised will still exist, unanswered. Your refusal to answer them speaks louder than any shrill-throated destractions.
    You could respond to these spiritually urgent questions, but to do so, you would first need to be willing to risk your conception of self, to make yourself vulnerable. You haven’t made this choice. It’ll remain open to you, of course.

  • Larry Lord

    dopderbeck –
    Yet, a balanced Christian theology does recognize that even decent people are, in their affections, loyalties, intentions, and at least in some respects actions, in a state of natural rebellion against God. Thus, everyone needs God’s grace, and ultimately the choice to reject God’s grace results in separation from God, even for ordinary people who are decent by our limited standards.
    If you haven’t seen them yet, I highly recommend the films of Robert Bresson to you — particularly Diary of a Country Priest, Balthazar, Pickpocket, and Mouchette. Except for the last, all these are available on NTSC DVD in the states (for the moment, Mouchette is on PAL DVD only).
    My apologies for the frequent mentioning of these films. I do think they are important …

  • Don

    This thread seems thoroughly hijacked!
    Soup asked to hear a defense of how your ethical and moral system a) has been independently and rationally developed; b) is superior to that laid out in the Bible; or c) is supposed to impress with its rationality or altruism.
    Strictly speaking, I

  • soma
  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Had a look through.
    What struck me the most is how hard it is for some to acknowledge that they have a worldview, with core assumptions that are unprovable and open to dispute — i.e. presuppositions. Therefore, in a world where these assumptions are at odds, we do in fact have sharply divergent views on even “obvious” things like 1 + 1 = 2, once we scratch beneath the surface. [And, YES, there are quite divergent schools in Mathematics!]
    Could that be because to believe in unprovable assumptions, whether explicit or implicit, is to by definition live by faith? [Cf here.]
    Also, the actual leanings of Nazism and its close cousin, Fascism, should be clear from the very term: NATIONAL SOCIALISM. That is, the evolutionary/eugenics racial and the leftist statist are equally implicated. Sadly, in carrying out eugenics and genocidal policies, Hitler was only carrying out the known potential implications of the Darwinist framework. In Darwin’s own words:

    I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world. (July 3, 1881). [Cf. p. 343 of Himmelfarb's biography, footnote #9 in Chapter xix, "Darwinism, Politics, and Society." As discussed: http://www.h-net.msu.edu/%7Eideas/archives/disthread/darwin.html Indeed, in his 1871 work on the Descent of Man, D made very similar remarks, anticipating genocide by European peoples of less advanced peoples.]

    Finally, I find it sad that some commentors evidently cannot accept abundantly plain history that people living and working in the biblically based Christian worldview have — through the implications of that view — made signal contributions to both the rise of science and the rise of modern democratic self-government by free peoples. (Inability to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of people working in a worldview with which one differs is not exactly a sign of the good health of one’s own outlook.)
    Grace
    Gordon

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    More spam from Gordon.