Newsweek on Homosexuality and the Bible: A Response

Family Issues, Politics, Religion — By on December 16, 2008 at 5:36 pm

According to Newsweek‘s senior editor and religion commentator Lisa Miller:

More basic than theology, though, is human need. We want, as Abraham did, to grow old surrounded by friends and family and to be buried at last peacefully among them. We want, as Jesus taught, to love one another for our own good–and, not to be too grandiose about it, for the good of the world. We want our children to grow up in stable homes. What happens in the bedroom, really, has nothing to do with any of this. My friend the priest James Martin says his favorite Scripture relating to the question of homosexuality is Psalm 139, a song that praises the beauty and imperfection in all of us and that glorifies God’s knowledge of our most secret selves: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And then he adds that in his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for “Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad.” Let the priest’s prayer be our own.

And her boss, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham:

No matter what one thinks about gay rights–for, against or somewhere in between –this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt–it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.

I know that this is an issue sensitive to many readers of this blog, myself included. I am writing this post because I believe that Newsweek’s editors capture what I perceive to be the mainstream left’s response to conservatives on this issue. Several writers for Newsweek‘s blog “On Faith” wrote an ecumenical response to the articles. They are worth reading because they are illustrative of the sloppy nature by which Newsweek, and others who make similar claims engage this issue.
Here’s a portion of the ecumenical response (penned in part by EO’s own John Mark Reynolds):

In the latest issue of Newsweek, editor Jon Meacham explains: “To argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt–it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.” Indeed, he continues, “this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism.” Curiously, he intends this as a defense of Lisa Miller’s cover story, which announces that we should approve homosexual marriage because the Bible tells that Jesus would want us to.
On any plane of argument, the contradiction would appear stunning, but, then, neither Jon Meacham nor Lisa Miller are engaged in argument. They’re speaking, instead, in familiar tropes and fused-phrases and easy clichés. They’re trying to convey a feeling, really, rather than an argument: Jesus loves us, love is good, homosexuals love one another, marriage is love, love is loving–a sort of warm bath of words, their meanings dissolved into a gentle goo. In their eyes, all nice things must be nice together, and Jesus comes to seem (as J.D. Salinger once mocked) something like St. Francis of Assisi and “Heidi’s grandfather” all in one.

The Bible has been one of the most influential texts in all of human history. Yet two of the top editors of one of America’s most recognized news magazines cannot even demonstrate basic competence of the text nor demonstrate an appreciation for the complexity of that great and Holy work. Even if one were to bracket the question of homosexuality, the lack of carefulness that these editors demonstrate is shameful.


Lisa Miller fired the first shot with her essay titled: “Our Mutual Joy” with sub-heading: “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.” Savvy readers will make the right assumption that views expressed in this article reflect thinking along the lines of “Jesus was warm and fuzzy like your bunny slippers.” In it, Ms. Miller makes a number of astounding claims, not the least of which include this gem:
Newsweek, in their unbiased and cool headed wisdom, anticipated a response. They were not disappointed. In fact, the response gave Jon Mechem, Newsweeks senior editor, another chance to


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  • http://www.americancivilization.net James Atticus Bowden

    I, too, thought the contradiction by the editor was stunning. So, using the Bible as an authority is “intellectually bankrupt–it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.”
    It would be funny if he weren’t an editor.
    I’d call it sophistry if it rose to that low level. It’s the appalling New Speak that is fit only for what passes as thinking in Human Secularism – among all the branches of Liberal, Socialist, Communist and Nazi Human Secularism or in Alice’s Wonderland.

  • Penny

    This Newsspeak article is absolutely disgusting. I canceled my subscription yesterday and asked for my money back (think I’ll get it? I don’t).
    Nothing in the Bible is more clear than Jesus’ admonitions against homos and gays. I’m not talking about a sermon. Jesus didn’t waste his glorious speeches talking about psychologically unbalanced people. Nobody wanted to hear that.
    But think about this: here is a guy who (1) never contemplates marriage or even a serious date with ANY woman and (2) hangs out with 11 of the most charismatic and intelligent men in his country (and I supposed you could include Judas, too) but NEVER STRAYS FROM THE PATH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. If anyone could be tempted by the gay lifestyle, it would be Jesus, surrounded by his apostles and always away from everyone else. But he stays true to the Word of God. What could be more anti-gay than that?
    This article is just a transparent attempt to twist the Bible into a support for evil, as in corrupting our children and rending the very fabric of American society. Christians need to spend less time reading what the liberals want us to believe and more time telling gays where they can get the therapy they need to overcome their mental illness.

  • http://chooselife3019.blogspot.com Sarah

    I think that what bothers me the most is that someone who clearly doesn’t know scripture, is arguing what scripture states. While I am confident that Jesus would love and befriend members of the gay community, it is also clear that he would not stand for the way of life.
    In the NT Jesus never says that homosexuality is wrong. However, I once heard a sermon about this issue. There is a clear theme that the laws that were mentioned by Jesus in the NT where ones where people weren’t getting it or were missing the point. The ones that weren’t an issue he left.
    While I wholeheartedly believe that Jesus would want us to welcome and love homosexuals, I believe he would want us to accept the sin just as much as we would accept other sin in other friends.

  • http://evaneco.com Don

    “In the NT Jesus never says that homosexuality is wrong.”
    When pressed by Jewish lawyers on marriage and divorce (which, by the gay community’s own efforts, should include gaymarriage), Jesus didn’t come up with His own doctrine. He simply refered back to Genesis, “A man shall leave father and mother and cleave to his wife…” When writing to the Church about marriage and family, both Paul and Peter refer authoritatively to this same passage. That alone should settle the issue, despite a fundamentalist (i.e. literal) reading of old and new testament passages on homosexuality.
    The broader issue, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 5, is that marriage is a picture of God and Christ (the Bridegroom) and the Church (the redeemed Bride). This picture spans the entire bible from Genesis to Revelation, and includes Ruth, Hosea, Song of Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah (God’s describing Israel and Judah’s affinity for other gods as “adultry”), and dozens of Christ’s parables (wedding feast, bridegrooms, brides with lamps, etc).
    There is simply no way to articulate a gay relationship in a way that aligns with marriage as the Christian God has described it over the past 4,000 years.

  • God Botherer

    Do any of you have a problem with stoning homosexuals?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    contradiction by the editor was stunning
    There’s no stunning contradiction, only a poor choice of words.
    The editor said it is stupid to use “it’s in the bible” as the support for an argument and it is. There’s a few reasons for this:
    * There’s lots of things in the Bible that many sincere Christians do not believe should be implemented in the modern world (i.e. stonning of adulters, monarchy as preferred gov’t style, lots of dietary laws and so on).
    * Not everyone believes in the Bible
    * Not all Bible believers agree on what the Bible says (kind of like the first point but slightly different).
    He should have said it is stupid to use nothing but the Bible to support an argument. He wasn’t arguing that the Bible should never be consulted or ever read or used. If that was the case then yes it would be a contradiction to turn around and cite anything from the Bible.
    But clearly he wasn’t arguing that the Bible was a worthless document for a discussion of human sexuality. It’s not like he was saying the Bible is like, say, William Shatner’s 1970’s record…..”Anyone who would cite Shatner’s work when discussing music should be considered unserious, etc.”
    Clearly the editor misspoke slightly and you exploited this to create a strawman argument. “Ohhh OK Mr. Fancypants if you’re saying the Bible shouldn’t be cited then you lose because you cited the Bible too!!!!HAHAHAHA” Not impressive.

  • http://evaneco.com Don

    #GB,
    “The guy who has never sinned – he can be the first one to stone her.” Works for Jesus, works for me. So, the answer is no, I wouldn’t stone a homosexual.
    Jesus also told her “go and sin no more.” Do you have a problem telling a gay person that? I don’t.

  • ex-preacher

    Actually, Don, there is a slight problem with the textual integrity of the passage you cite. As the NIV puts it:
    “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11.”

  • http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/ Hey Skipper

    Jesus also told her “go and sin no more.” Do you have a problem telling a gay person that?
    If being gay was a matter of choice, then maybe, but only just, there might be a point.
    But it isn’t. Gays are born that way, just as you were (presumably) born straight. Which means there is absolutely no moral component whatsoever to being gay.
    Of course, the rejoinder is that it isn’t the orientation that is sinful, but rather acting upon it.
    However, that puts you in the position of defending a God that made a subset of people this way, with all the human needs for affection that you have, then relying upon us to stop them fulfilling the need He gave them.
    Alternatively, of course, The Bible could be, in this regard as in so many others, dead wrong.
    So, yes, I do.

  • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com Neil

    “But it isn’t. Gays are born that way, just as you were (presumably) born straight.”
    Just keep repeating that lie. Still waiting for scientific evidence. And if it is ever discovered and discoverable in utero, it will get aborted out of existence. In my informal polls all these liberals love abortion than they love gay “civil rights” and wouldn’t lift a finger to prevent it.
    I think it would be wrong to destroy people for being gay, but these folks insist that parents should have that option.

  • http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/ Neil

    The Newsweek article was a logical fallacy-fest. Here’s my favorite:
    “In its entry on “Homosexual Practices,” the Anchor Bible Dictionary notes that nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, “possibly because it did not result in true physical ‘union’ (by male entry).””
    Seems that all these Bible experts — the author, her editor(s) and the good folks at the Anchor Bible Dictionary — never read Romans 1, one of the most big picture chapters in the whole Bible and the key text on homosexuality in the New Testament : Romans 1:26–For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
    Yep, no mention at all. Do you think they’ll print a retraction? (That’s a rhetorical question.) The author and Newsweek are like a self parody. Sadly, much of our biblically illiterate culture and churches will nod their heads at the article.
    The also included the classic argument from silence and the flawed shellfish argument.

  • ex-preacher

    Dustin neglected to mention that there are 16 other religious responses to the Newsweek story on the “On Faith” website.
    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/2008/12/religious_case_for_gay_marriag/all.html
    It struck me as odd that Dustin refers to the piece he favors as “ecumenical” since that is a word that evangelicals have shied away from for the last 50 or so years. It is amazing that conservative Catholics, evangelicals and Mormons can’t agree on which books are holy or who exactly is saved, but they are in lockstep on gay marriage.
    The best article in the bunch, IMO, comes from Susan Jacoby.
    – – – – –
    Why would anyone care whether there is a biblical case to be made for gay marriage? You might as well ask whether there is a religious or biblical case to be made for or against slavery. The answer, of course, is that the Bible can be cited in support of or in opposition to any human behavior and human need. That is why, as voters and legislators, we ought not to be asking ourselves what the Bible or particular religions say about anything and should stick to what seems reasonable in modern society and legal under our Constitution.
    I have often irritated atheists on this blog by saying that I do not agree with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins about the perfidy of “moderate” religions as enablers of extremist religion. However, this question about whether there is a religious case to be made for gay marriage embodies the worst aspect of moderate, or liberal, faith. Those who go around searching for scriptural support for gay marriage, and other liberal causes, are really swallowing the conservative religious line that everything needs some sort of sacral justification.
    In her article in the Dec. 15 issue of Newsweek, titled “Our Mutal Joy,” Lisa Miller takes the position that the Bible’s teachings about love actually do support all types of unconventional marriage arrangements. I am reluctant to criticize Miller, given that her article will surely bring down the wrath of the religious right upon her and her magazine. Yet there is something fundamentally illogical about attempting to justify love that needs no justification by parsing ancient documents, written by humans as morally fallible as humans are today (and much more ignorant about the material universe).
    So what if David, in one of the more evocative passages in the Bible, lamented over the death of Jonathan, “thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women”? So what If Jesus is portrayed as an unmarried man in a culture that encouraged marriage for all. I think that Miller is quite right in her assertion that religious objections to gay marriage are rooted mainly in custom and “a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument.” Why, then, make a scriptural argument on behalf of gay marriage by searching for every passage in the Bible that could be seen as praise for unconventional love?
    Faith-based arguments on behalf of gay marriage actually give aid and comfort to the sort of right-wing religious groups that threw volunteers and huge amounts of money into the California battle over Proposition 8, because they legitimize the idea that religious belief is a proper test for determining legal rights. The theological debate about gay marriage will never be resolved. The legal debate about gay marriage can only be resolved if theology is left out of it. I don’t care whether the Bible says that gays should be drawn and quartered before being publicly boiled in oil. Nor do I care whether David loved Jonathan more than he loved any of his wives.
    These ancient books should have no more to do with the rights of gay men and women in modern society than Genesis should have anything to do with the teaching of biology in twenty-first century schools. Ah, but I forgot for a moment. A third of Americans believe that every word in Genesis is literally true. And they will not be convinced otherwise by liberal theologians who regard the creation story as a metaphor. The resolution of issues such as gay marriage and the teaching of evolution cannot and should not depend today on debate over the “true meaning” of superstitions and heroic tales recorded thousands of years ago.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    For this reason wGod gave them up to xdishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, ymen committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    Seems to me that this passage can be kind of vague. Why assume the natural relations women exchanged were replaced by lesbian ones? Why couldn’t ‘those that are contrary to nature’ have been refering to other things such as bestiality, lesbianism, incest or even simple promiscuity that was not necessarily lesbian? It seems like you are needlessly assuming that because the passage says men were consumed with passion for each other it must be saying the same about women but why make that assumption? I think it makes just as much sense to read the passage as:
    Women did things contrary to nature.
    Men did things contrary to nature AND were consumed with passion for each other.
    I think if it was trying to say men and women did homosexual things the passage would have more symetry to it. Women would be consumed with passion for each other. Men consumed with passion for each other. I’ll yield to others who might be more familiar with the mechanics of translating this, though, from the originals.

  • http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/ Hey Skipper

    Just keep repeating that lie. Still waiting for scientific evidence.
    A lie; no material evidence?
    Perhaps you should do some investigation.
    You would find that several readily identifiable brain structures (Broca’s area, and, IIRC, the Corpus Collosum) for gay men are more similar to women’s then straight men’s.
    You would also find that there is not an identity between genotype and phenotype. There are some XY women — Jamie Lee Curtis among them.
    And you would also discover that all mammals start life based upon the female body plan, and become male only through the appropriately timed expression — and sensitivity to — certain hormones during gestation.
    One of the things that becomes male is the brain.
    So, really, there is undeniable evidence that homosexuality is innate, even though we don’t necessarily know the exact causal chain.
    The question religionists ought to be asking themselves on this is: what if we are wrong?

  • God Botherer

    ex-preacher said: “Why, then, make a scriptural argument on behalf of gay marriage by searching for every passage in the Bible that could be seen as praise for unconventional love?”
    I suspect Lisa Miller used this line of reasoning for the same reason that I, and many others, do. Theists, of whatever stripe, often make rather absolutist claims based on scriptural interpretations. The counter is a three step process:
    1 Cite opposing scriptural interpretations.
    2 Deduce that an objective position is, therefore, not obtainable from scripture.
    3 Suggest that we proceed with the best subjective solution we can extract from scripture and the context in which we live.
    This is, in essence, what Lisa Miller has done although she has followed the usual convention of leaving the dry exposition of the deductive reasoning unsaid. Note the last sentence of Lisa Miller’s quote:
    “Let the priest’s prayer be our own.”
    The implication is one of choosing and imprecation. She does not say “The priest’s prayer must be our own and anyone who disagrees will burn in hell.”

  • God Botherer

    ex-preacher said: “Why, then, make a scriptural argument on behalf of gay marriage by searching for every passage in the Bible that could be seen as praise for unconventional love?”
    I suspect Lisa Miller used this line of reasoning for the same reason that I, and many others, do. Theists, of whatever stripe, often make rather absolutist claims based on scriptural interpretations. The counter is a three step process:
    1 Cite opposing scriptural interpretations.
    2 Deduce that an objective position is, therefore, not obtainable from scripture.
    3 Suggest that we proceed with the best subjective solution we can extract from scripture and the context in which we live.
    This is, in essence, what Lisa Miller has done although she has followed the usual convention of leaving the dry exposition of the deductive reasoning unsaid. Note the last sentence of Lisa Miller’s quote:
    “Let the priest’s prayer be our own.”
    The implication is one of choosing and imprecation. She does not say “The priest’s prayer must be our own and anyone who disagrees will burn in hell.”

  • Ken

    “So, really, there is undeniable evidence that homosexuality is innate, even though we don’t necessarily know the exact causal chain.”
    Musician’s brains show highly developed areas relating to discriminating musical tones. Do they become skilled musicians because their brain developed that way, or did their brain develop that way because they practiced music enough? Correlation is not causation, even (or possibly especially) in neuroscience.
    Sexual attraction and behavior is highly complex, depending on both primordial instincts and nuanced social/cultural expressions learned and reinforced over a lifetime. In the face of millenia of art and civilization, rape and romance, chivalry and barbarity, the reduction of sexual behavior to a few strands of ribonucleic acid is just plain silly.
    I speak English. although I have learned other languages, I’m most at home in English. I think in it and dream in it and cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t. It is very much a part of what being human means to me. Is my English then a result of genetics, or is it a learned preference and behavior?

  • http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/ Hey Skipper

    … the reduction of sexual behavior to a few strands of ribonucleic acid is just plain silly.
    Which would be true if that is what anyone has said.
    It isn’t.
    No one knows the cause for androgen insensitivity in a fetus.
    However, it is indisputable that androgen insensitivity, whatever its cause, has results that range from hermaphroditism to people that are, to all external appearances, female but possess an X and a Y.
    Now, unless you are willing to posit that female brains differ in no particular from male brains, then you must admit there is a process that rewires female brains to become male, because all mammalian males start life on the female body plan.
    There is no such thing as a perfect process. So, while we do not know the precise causal chain, there are plenty of examples of gestational processes going awry to comfortably conclude that the reason for structural similarities between gay male and straight female brains is innate.
    Is my English then a result of genetics, or is it a learned preference and behavior?
    The question evidences a category mistake.
    Your ability to learn language is a result of genetics — it is innate and implacable.
    That you happened to learn English is just an instantiation of that ability.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Ken,
    What’s kind of odd here is that often evangelical types like to assert that gender is biologically based, determined at birth and immutable.
    There seems to be some evidence of this. A while ago there was a book about a famous case. As a baby, a boy’s penis was destroyed in a botched circumcision. At the time, psychology was partial to the ‘blank slate’ theory of gender. His parents were instructed to raise him as a girl. He was given surgery, a name change and never told about what happened at birth. Through childhood he was raised as a girl as best as his parents could. He grew up, though, psychologically depressed knowing something was wrong. Finally he discovered what happened and rejected all the attempts to condition him as a girl. He changed his name back to a male one, got the best surgery he could to undo the attempts to ‘correct’ him into a female and lived as a man….even marrying I think. The story is sad, though, since I believe he ended up committing suicide later in life.
    This would seem to vindicate a nature centered view of gender. People act like men or women not just because of what their parents taught them or the TV shows they watched growing up but because they biologically are men and women and while culture will have it’s impact it isn’t going to change that fact. At least here we are not ‘blank slates’.
    Yet when it comes to orientation it seems to me evenaglicals suddenly revert to blank slaters. All in the sudden being gay is now something that came from improper parenting, too many of the wrong types of TV shows, or just some type of mysterious environment factor that can be undone if just the right psychological formula is found.
    Our experience with gender, though, seems to indicate that this is little more than the old ‘blank slate’ theory. Why wouldn’t orientation have a deeply biological cause while the way orientation manifests itself…..does a person like heavy members of their preferred gendor or thin ones? blonde hair or black?….is driven by culture and environmental factors?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    grrr two comments trapped in the filter! Can you guys just turn off the filter and see how much of a problem comment spam is?

  • ex-preacher

    While I think homosexuality probably is biologically rooted, I don’t think this line of reasoning will have any effect whatsoever on conservative Christians. Even if definitive proof emerged tomorrow that sexual orientation is genetic, I doubt that a single gay marriage opponent would change their position. They would simply say that it is part of our “sin nature.” They would say that promiscuity and alcoholism and lying are also genetic, but that doesn’t make any of them right.
    I also agree with Jacoby that trying to convince people that the Bible somehow permits gay marriage is a dead end road. It simply isn’t the case. But even if the Bible did endorse homosexuality, as she points out, so what? We don’t live in a theocracy. All sorts of things are legal, but contrary to somebody’s religion. Likewise, the Bible clearly endorses some things that are illegal, like slavery and polygamy.
    I think the best avenue here is to help Christians understand that we must separate between civil law and religious rules. The best analogy is to divorce. Many religions prohibit divorce and/or remarriage after divorce. But I don’t know of many people that think our laws on divorce and remarriage should be designed to enforce each religion’s rules.
    As an aside, I really don’t understand why so many gay folk would want to be Christian. You have people like Ray Boltz and the whole Metropolitan Community Church who are gay and Christian. It’s time for these people to wake up to the fact that God of the Bible is not their friend.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    A little humility from yourselves would be in order: the bible is not in any sense a reliable code of morality, a holy book, or any kind of reliable guide to live, unless you want to justify genocide, the attempted murder of one’s child, and a host of other depraved acts. That is why it is used by the fundamentalist Christians today to try to equate zygotes with people, and that is why we have seen the horrors of the Bush regime so applauded by these salivating zealots.
    Newsweek’s writer had the unfortunate job of trying to square the circle in this regard.
    That was her real problem.

  • azk

    Not a great conversation. What Miller, Meacham, and any number of their critics have not discussed is what is the nature and locus of authority. What sort of book is the Bible, and in light of the sort of book it is, what kind of authority does it carry? What is the nature of the authority of each of the following: biology, psychology, theology? How does the church determine divine intent? Until these questions are answered this conversation will go nowhere.

  • ucfengr

    A little humility from yourselves would be in order: the bible is not in any sense a reliable code of morality,
    Back at you. The reality is, if there is no God, then “morality” is merely a human construct. As such, there are no reliable codes of morality. What we call “morality” is really just the behavioral preferences of a society or culture. If there is no existential authority to appeal to, then your attempts to condemn genocide or attempted murder have no more relevance than Muslim laws against the eating of pork, or for that matter, the braying of an ass.

  • J&C

    Kill Homosexuals
    “If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.” (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)
    Either this book is the word or god or it isnt.
    Those who reject the doctrine of God’s eternal wrath upon the wicked do not love the God of the Bible, but a false god, an idol of their own vain imaginations. Of them it is written, they “will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1)

  • Jim

    @ucfengr
    You believe that unless the Bible is accepted as the word of God, there can be no universal standard of morality. But we can easily think of objective sources of moral order that do not require the existence of a lawgiving God. For there to be objective moral truths worth knowing, there need only be better and worse ways to seek happiness in this world. If there are psychological laws that govern human well-being, knowledge of these laws would provide an enduring basis for an objective morality. While we do not have anything like a final, scientific understanding of human morality, it seems safe to say that raping and killing our neighbors is not one of its primary constituents. Everything about human experience suggests that love is more conducive to happiness than hate is. This is an objective claim about the human mind, about the dynamics of social relations, and about the moral order of our world. It is clearly possible to say that someone like Hitler was wrong in moral terms without reference to scripture.
    While feeling love for others is surely one of the greatest sources of our own happiness, it entails a very deep concern for the happiness and
    suffering of those we love. Our own search for happiness, therefore, provides a rationale for self-sacrifice and self-denial. There is no question that there are times when making enormous sacrifices for the good of others is essential for one’s own deeper well-being. Nothing has to be believed on insufficient evidence for people to form bonds of this sort. At various points in the Gospels, Jesus clearly tells us that love can transform human life. We need not believe that he was born of a virgin or will be returning to earth as a superhero to take these teachings to heart.
    One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering. Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not—that is, when they have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation. Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral—that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings. This explains why Christians like yourself expend more “moral” energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research. And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year. You believe that your religious concerns about sex, in all their tiresome immensity, have something to do with morality. And yet, your efforts to constrain the sexual behavior of consenting adults—and even to discourage your own sons and daughters from having premarital sex—are almost never geared toward the relief of human suffering. In fact, relieving suffering seems to rank rather low on your list of priorities. Your principal concern appears to be that the creator of the universe will take offense at something people do while naked. This prudery of yours contributes daily to the surplus of human misery.

  • ucfengr

    You believe that unless the Bible is accepted as the word of God, there can be no universal standard of morality.
    Not quite, I believe that absent a higher being, there can be no universal standard of morality.
    While we do not have anything like a final, scientific understanding of human morality, it seems safe to say that raping and killing our neighbors is not one of its primary constituents.
    Why? Raping and killing are rather common affairs; on what basis, without appealing to a higher authority (which is the basis for natural law as elucidated by Jefferson, Locke, et. al.), can you say that raping and murdering are wrong? It always amazes me how many seemingly intelligent people think that their upper middle class, gated community is the human norm, rather than one in, say SE Washington D.C. or, even worse, Rwanda.
    One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering.
    In my experience, it is Christians who are more in touch with the reality of human suffering than secularists. Who is the atheist equivalent to Mother Theresa or William Wilberforce? What atheist organizations are equivalent to Compassion International

  • http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/ Hey Skipper

    Not quite, I believe that absent a higher being, there can be no universal standard of morality.
    As history has proven beyond measure is that there is no universal standard of morality with a higher being, either.
    Universal morality does not exist, sorry to say.
    However, what ucfengr describes comes a heck of a lot closer to a functional substitute than anything religion has concocted.
    Things tend not to go very well for societies that practice, say, genocide. Hard to beat the competition when you have killed all that talent.
    See, for example, Spain’s expulsion of the Jews for both an example of presumed universal morality in action, and the costs of actions that penalize one’s own society.

  • Jim

    @ ucfengr
    “In my experience, it is Christians who are more in touch with the reality of human suffering than secularists. Who is the atheist equivalent to Mother Theresa or William Wilberforce? What atheist organizations are equivalent to Compassion International”
    It is undeniable that many people of faith make heroic sacrifices to relieve the suffering of other human beings. But is it necessary to believe anything on insufficient evidence in order to behave this way? If compassion were really dependent upon religious dogmatism, how could we explain the work of secular doctors in the most war-ravaged regions of the developing world? Many doctors are moved simply to alleviate human suffering, without any thought of God. While there is no doubt that Christian missionaries are also moved by a desire to alleviate suffering, they come to the task encumbered by a dangerous and divisive mythology. Missionaries in the developing world waste a lot of time and money (not to mention the goodwill of non-Christians) proselytizing to the needy; they spread inaccurate information about contraception and sexually transmitted disease, and they withhold accurate information. While missionaries do many noble things at great risk to themselves, their dogmatism still spreads ignorance and death. By contrast, volunteers for secular organizations like Doctors Without Borders do not waste any time telling people about the virgin birth of Jesus. Nor do they tell people in sub-Saharan Africa—where nearly four million people die from AIDS every year—that condom use is sinful. Christian missionaries have been known to preach the sinfulness of condom use in villages where no other information about condoms is available. This kind of piety is genocidal. We might also wonder, in passing, which is more moral: helping people purely out of concern for their suffering, or helping them because you think the creator of the universe will reward you for it?
    Mother Teresa is a perfect example of the way in which a good person, moved to help others, can have her moral intuitions deranged by religious faith.
    Christopher Hitchens:
    [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.

  • Jim

    @ucfengr
    “….Raping and killing are rather common affairs; on what basis, without appealing to a higher authority can you say that raping and murdering are wrong?”
    You are using your own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible/Higher Power —and then, in the next moment, you assert that we human beings cannot possibly rely upon our own intuitions to rightly guide us in the world; rather, we must depend upon the prescriptions of the Bible/Higher Power. You are using your own moral intuitions to decide that the Bible/Higher Power is the appropriate guarantor of your moral intuitions. Your own intuitions are still primary, and your reasoning is circular.

  • ucfengr

    Skipper:
    Things tend not to go very well for societies that practice, say, genocide. Hard to beat the competition when you have killed all that talent.
    Accepting your premise for the moment, it sounds like what you are saying is, the only thing wrong with genocide is that it tends to negatively impact societies that practice it. If the societies that practiced it thrived, it would be okay. I’m sure you don’t believe that, but it is the logical extension of your argument.
    See, for example, Spain’s expulsion of the Jews for both an example of presumed universal morality in action, and the costs of actions that penalize one’s own society.
    Number one, Spain’s expulsion of the Jews was not genocide, so the analogy doesn’t work. Number two, Spain’s discovery of gold and silver in the New World probably had a lot more to do with their fall as a global power than the expulsion of the Jews. Vast amounts of unearned wealth tends to eliminate the incentive to work, create, and innovate. All these things are necessary to maintain a dominant position in the world.
    Jim:
    If compassion were really dependent upon religious dogmatism, how could we explain the work of secular doctors in the most war-ravaged regions of the developing world?Missionaries in the developing world waste a lot of time and money (not to mention the goodwill of non-Christians) proselytizing to the needy;
    This is kind of silly. I don’t suspect you would have a problem if a member of DWB passed out a copy of the UN Declaration of Human Rights with each aspirin or that their god really doesn’t require human sacrifices. Your problem isn’t with proselytizing, if is with people proselytizing things you disagree with.
    Nor do they tell people in sub-Saharan Africa—where nearly four million people die from AIDS every year—that condom use is sinful. Christian missionaries have been known to preach the sinfulness of condom use in villages where no other information about condoms is available.
    I doubt that Christian missionaries spend a lot of time on the sinfulness of condom use, since condom use isn’t a sin for most Christians, however, extramarital sex is. Coincidentally, extramarital sex is one of the primary spreaders of the HIV, so perhaps curtailing it wouldn’t be a bad thing, especially when you consider the high failure rate of condoms.
    We might also wonder, in passing, which is more moral: helping people purely out of concern for their suffering, or helping them because you think the creator of the universe will reward you for it?
    I wonder if your understanding of what motivates Christians could be any more shallow. It’s like you skimmed over a summary of Clff’s Notes on the Bible.
    Christopher Hitchens:…
    Christopher Hitchens tends to lose the capacity for rational thought when discussing religion.
    You are using your own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible/Higher Power
    How do you know what my moral intuitions are? I would argue that most people’s intuitions are the opposite of their actions.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Of course, when we look at the compassion of secular people, like members of Doctors Without Borders, it should be noted that this compassion didn’t arise “ex nihlio”. They are products of their culture, which was heavily influenced by Christianity.
    There’s that ‘blank slate’ argument again. Any evidence to support it?

  • Penny

    The resolution of issues such as gay marriage and the teaching of evolution cannot and should not depend today on debate over the “true meaning” of superstitions and heroic tales recorded thousands of years ago.

    Susan Jacoby and Satan have a lot in common.

  • Jim

    @Boonton
    “Blank Statement.” ?
    Rather Narrow minded to suggest that:
    “members of Doctors Without Borders, it should be noted that this compassion didn’t arise “ex nihlio”. They are products of their culture, which was heavily influenced by Christianity”
    There is a whole world outside your Christian bubble. Where is your evidence that your statement is true? The world is a huge and diverse, with many places completely unaffected by Christianity or any other religions. For you to be right, people would only show compassion in the places Christianity or (I’m guessing you would stretch to) some other Abrahamic Dogma has touched. How do you explain the aborigines for example? They display all the same examples of altruism and compassion as Weston civilization and have been completely untouched by all western dogmas.
    You are working on the premises:
    Religious ‘Truth’: Here is the conclusion. What facts can we find to support it?
    Presumably you believe the Christian God to be the true god, so in that case all other religions are false & their books were not written by a god, which means any reference to the golden rule, compassion, generally standards of decant human conduct in these books must have been written & decided collectively by humans, for all other religions. These are documented teachings are in nearly all religions that existed before and after the bible.
    But you special book is somehow different right?
    Even if one of the contradictory religions was guaranteed to be true, at least 50% of the planet would be living under a religious delusion. You join the atheists with regard the ‘truth claims’ of all other religious , and all other religious believers join atheists about your belief & ‘truth claims’
    This should be gr8 cause for concern for you.
    The Scientific Method: Here are the facts. What conclusions can we draw from them?
    The only conclusion you can draw from this, is that no matter how you dress it up, in whatever book, religion, culture,is that is innate human behavior.
    Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on earth. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality.. Conversely, the fifty nations now ranked lowest in terms of the United Nations’ human development index are unwaveringly religious. Countries with high levels of atheism are also the most charitable both in terms of the percentage of their wealth they devote to social welfare programs and the percentage they give in aid to the developing world. The dubious link between Christian literalism and Christian values is belied by other indices of social equality.

  • Jim

    @Boonton
    “Blank Statement.” ?
    Rather Narrow minded to suggest that:
    “members of Doctors Without Borders, it should be noted that this compassion didn’t arise “ex nihlio”. They are products of their culture, which was heavily influenced by Christianity”
    There is a whole world outside your Christian bubble. Where is your evidence that your statement is true? The world is a huge and diverse, with many places completely unaffected by Christianity or any other religions. For you to be right, people would only show compassion in the places Christianity or (I’m guessing you would stretch to) some other Abrahamic Dogma has touched. How do you explain the aborigines for example? They display all the same examples of altruism and compassion as Weston civilization and have been completely untouched by all western dogmas.
    You are working on the premises:
    Religious ‘Truth’: Here is the conclusion. What facts can we find to support it?
    Presumably you believe the Christian God to be the true god, so in that case all other religions are false & their books were not written by a god, which means any reference to the golden rule, compassion, generally standards of decant human conduct in these books must have been written & decided collectively by humans, for all other religions. These are documented teachings are in nearly all religions that existed before and after the bible.
    But you special book is somehow different right?
    Even if one of the contradictory religions was guaranteed to be true, at least 50% of the planet would be living under a religious delusion. You join the atheists with regard the ‘truth claims’ of all other religious , and all other religious believers join atheists about your belief & ‘truth claims’
    This should be gr8 cause for concern for you.
    The Scientific Method: Here are the facts. What conclusions can we draw from them?
    The only conclusion you can draw from this, is that no matter how you dress it up, in whatever book, religion, culture,is that is innate human behavior.
    Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on earth. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality.. Conversely, the fifty nations now ranked lowest in terms of the United Nations’ human development index are unwaveringly religious. Countries with high levels of atheism are also the most charitable both in terms of the percentage of their wealth they devote to social welfare programs and the percentage they give in aid to the developing world. The dubious link between Christian literalism and Christian values is belied by other indices of social equality.

  • Jimmmahhh

    Sorry Boonton i didnt mean that post for you…
    i made a mistake,
    its in reply to ucfengr

  • Penny

    You are working on the premises: Religious ‘Truth’: Here is the conclusion.

    Actually the premise is “Religious Truth, Here is the conclusion, and any so-called “facts” that disagree with the conclusion aren’t “facts” but just beliefs of your own secular atheist religion.”
    If you are interested in being saved, then you will have to shed your belief in certain “facts”. It is hard to let go of these things for some people, because they have been brainwashed by our “public schools” that have been contaminated in many instances by promoters of the gay/secular agenda. You seem to be having that difficulty. If you know how to pray, now would be a good time to begin doing so regularly. I recommend ten times a day or once an hour. Pray to the Lord to find the strength to “let go” of those “facts” that are keeping you from salvation.

  • Jim

    Penny writes:
    “Susan Jacoby and Satan have a lot in common.”
    Its not very nice.
    To suggest the Susan Jacoby doesn’t exist either……

  • Jim

    Penny writes:
    “Your own secular atheist religion.”
    You really wish that was true dont you.
    Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. An atheist is simply a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87 percent of the population) claiming to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence—and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl— even once in a million years—casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.
    Examples of God’s failure to protect humanity are everywhere to be seen.

  • ucfengr

    If I have a chance (We Christians celebrate a rather important holy day this time of year), I will respond to the rest of your post later, but this…
    Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious
    Is laughable. If the absence of God (or a god) were obvious, then atheists would outnumber theists by an order of magnitude, rather than the other way around.
    Really atheists give the game away in their arguments about morality. If the world is really just the result of chance, and we are a rather insignificant part of the world, why is one man killing another any more morally significant than one lion killing another, for that matter one amoeba killing another? In fact, why is anything morally significant at all. It really isn’t, is it? Atheist want to pretend that they matter; that the world matters, but the reality is, if the world is as if they claim to believe it is, they really don’t and it really doesn’t, and it is silly to argue otherwise.

  • ucfengr

    Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious.
    If atheism were obvious, then atheists would outnumber theists by an order of magnitude, rather than the other way around.
    If I get a chance (We Christians have a rather important holy day, around this time of year), I will respond to the rest of your post, but I will say, when atheists try to argue the moral superiority of atheism they really give the game away. If all we are is a rather unimportant chance event in a much larger chance event, why is anything we do morally significant at all? Why is one man killing another any more morally significant than one amoeba killing another? It isn’t, if the world is as you claim to believe. That you attempt to argue otherwise shows that you can’t accept the reality of your claimed beliefs and gives lie to your (or anybody else’s) claims of atheism.

  • ucfengr

    An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl— even once in a million years—casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.
    Really? Is that what atheists believe? All of them? Lenin? Stalin? Hitler? Mao? Show, when they were murdering there millions of little girls it was to cast doubt on the idea of God? Again you show the inconsistencies of you position. In a world created by chance, why is the murder of a little girl, or a million little girls, morally significant at all?

  • Jim

    @ ucfengr
    What is the difference between a moral action you think you are doing for your god, & the terrorists who believe that they were doing a moral action for their god, & flew the plans into the twin towers?
    Your magic book trumps theirs?
    You are using your own cultural and secular moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible/Higher Power. Not the other way around. You are blinded to the fact that you are doing this.
    Spouting things like:
    “If the world is really just the result of chance, and we are a rather insignificant part of the world, why is one man killing another any more morally significant than one lion killing another, for that matter one amoeba killing another? In fact, why is anything morally significant at all.”
    Only makes you sound like someone completely brainwashed by a dangerous cult.
    It is interesting to note that what you are implying is that the only reason people are good is for god. You must be very scared to lose your faith if divine punishment or reward is the only thing that is stopping you from raping and murdering, rather then the very natural instictive moral rule that you should treat others as you would like to be treated. I certainly don’t envy you having to look in the mirror and think that is the case. I wouldn’t like what I see.
    If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers. In fact, they should be utterly immoral. Are they? Do members of atheist organizations in the United States commit more than their fair share of violent crimes? Do the members of the National Academy of Sciences, 93 percent of whom reject the idea of God, lie and cheat and steal with abandon? We can be reasonably confident that these groups are at least as well behaved as the general population.
    Don’t also start on the Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao crap.
    Hitler was not an atheist. The Vatican said prayers for him every year until his death, and he never relinquished his religious belief.
    How is this for moral value…. Around about 50% of the German SS troops involved in the final solution were confessing Catholics. How many were ex-communicated for the atrocities they committed? None. Joseph Goebbels was however. His sin? Marrying a Protestant. It’s shameful to have anything to do with this belief system.
    Christians like yourself invariably declare that monsters like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and Kim Il Sung spring from the womb of atheism. While it is true that such men are sometimes enemies of organized religion, they are never especially rational. In fact, their public pronouncements are often delusional: on subjects as diverse as race, economics, national identity, the march of history, and the moral dangers of intellectualism.
    The problem with such tyrants is not that they reject the dogma of religion, but that they embrace other life-destroying myths. Most become the center of a quasi-religious personality cult, requiring the continual use of propaganda for its maintenance. There is a difference between propaganda and the honest dissemination of information that we (generally) expect from a liberal democracy.
    While the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominately secular way, its roots were religious, and the explicitly religious demonization of the Jews of Europe continued throughout the period. The Vatican itself perpetuated the blood libel in its newspapers as late as 1914. And both Catholic and Protestant churches have a shameful record of complicity with the Nazi genocide.

  • Jim

    @ ucfengr
    It is time that Christians like yourself stop pretending that a rational rejection of your faith entails the blind embrace of atheism as a dogma. One need not accept anything on insufficient evidence to find the virgin birth of Jesus to be a preposterous idea. The problem with religion—as with Nazism, Stalinism, or any other totalitarian mythology—is the problem of dogma itself. I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    All of them? Lenin? Stalin? Hitler? Mao?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler's_religious_beliefs
    Hitler appears to not have been particularly atheist. While Indiana Jones got it wrong (it was other Nazis who were more into occultism and other esoteric beliefs). While no deep thinker on the subject, he seems to have had a belief system where God created Ayrans as the central race.
    Mao, I suspect, was somewhat in tune with some Taoist beliefs or variations of them.
    But the none of these people were, in particular, great religious thinkers or atheist philosophers. Like a nominally Christian mass murder, like Hitler, I suspect none of these people were very informed by their religious thinking. If you’re going to use atheism to talk about Lenin or Stalin you’re being about as silly as someone who uses Christianity to describe Hitler. Technically you may be able to get these people into these categories but that doesn’t give you much insight into what these categories of beliefs actually say.
    In a world created by chance, why is the murder of a little girl, or a million little girls, morally significant at all?
    And why would it not be? If you were holding the winning lottery ticket you’d treat it as very precious even though it is only by chance that it is so valuable.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    All of them? Lenin? Stalin? Hitler? Mao?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler's_religious_beliefs
    Hitler appears to not have been particularly atheist. While Indiana Jones got it wrong (it was other Nazis who were more into occultism and other esoteric beliefs). While no deep thinker on the subject, he seems to have had a belief system where God created Ayrans as the central race.
    Mao, I suspect, was somewhat in tune with some Taoist beliefs or variations of them.
    But the none of these people were, in particular, great religious thinkers or atheist philosophers. Like a nominally Christian mass murder, like Hitler, I suspect none of these people were very informed by their religious thinking. If you’re going to use atheism to talk about Lenin or Stalin you’re being about as silly as someone who uses Christianity to describe Hitler. Technically you may be able to get these people into these categories but that doesn’t give you much insight into what these categories of beliefs actually say.
    In a world created by chance, why is the murder of a little girl, or a million little girls, morally significant at all?
    And why would it not be? If you were holding the winning lottery ticket you’d treat it as very precious even though it is only by chance that it is so valuable.
    ucfengr’s ‘blank slate’ argument ignores the obvious answer which is that morality is part of human nature. To use an analogy, consider walking. It is pretty clear that walking is part of human nature. Some people inherit conditions or have accidents in their environment that make them less good at walking than others. Some people have some problems that are so bad they cannot even manage to walk badly. Likewise, some cultures may cultivate walking and running to the point of almost perfecting them while others may encourage people to sit so much that they become too unhealthy to walk easily. But no one walks because they read that Jesus walked or because God told them to walk. They walk because it’s their nature and while it may be possible to do other things (crawl, slither, roll whatnot), it isn’t as easy and natural as walking.
    This, IMO, isn’t a particular atheist POV. The Parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates a case where someone who would have had no cultural contact with the True Religion(tm) nonetheless was able to act more morally than those who had lots of what ucfengr would say is ‘heavy influence’ by the culture of christianity (Ok back then Judism). The atheist can argue that this developed by ‘chance’ as part of human nature while the theist can counter argue that it is design. Nonetheless, it exists as part of human nature that was there before any particular religion.

  • http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/ Hey Skipper

    ucfengr:
    Accepting your premise [that Things tend not to go very well for societies that practice, say, genocide] for the moment, it sounds like what you are saying is, the only thing wrong with genocide is that it tends to negatively impact societies that practice it. If the societies that practiced it thrived, it would be okay. I’m sure you don’t believe that, but it is the logical extension of your argument.
    Well, that is precisely the logical extension of my argument.
    Things that don’t work are considered wrong. There is no such thing as a society that has succeeded while condoning theft, sanctioning rape, encouraging murder etc upon members within the society.
    We do not need to appeal to some supreme being to consider these things wrong; our society would not exist otherwise.
    You may deride this utilitarian view of morality, but it comes far closer to explaining how any sort of moral judgment is made than does the presumed existence of a supreme being.
    After all, if your notion of objective morality is true, than polygamy is moral. Well, is it? If not, why not? There are some excellent material arguments against the practice, but none that can be based upon a supreme being’s wishes. (The discussion at the link IMHO worth reading, and far too extensive to meaningfully summarize here.)
    First Anabaptists, then Communists, took Jesus’s economic philosophy to heart. As moral, therefore, as “from each according to ability, to each according to need” might be, in practical fact it does not work. Yet Adam Smith, without a single appeal to God, explained how enlightened self interest produces superior moral results.
    Why? Because it works.
    Number one, Spain’s expulsion of the Jews was not genocide, so the analogy doesn’t work. Number two, Spain’s discovery of gold and silver in the New World probably had a lot more to do with their fall as a global power than the expulsion of the Jews.
    As far as Spanish society was concerned, it was genocide: the Jews were gone, and their property was expropriated.
    Regarding the expulsion of so much talent (see Nazi Germany for a more recent example) amounting to an own goal, read “Wealth and Poverty Among Nations.”
    Although it has been tried with heedless repetition, no society (nearly all of them Christian) that has expelled or otherwise tormented their Jewish population has been better off for it.

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (gryph)

    In the Old Testament God inflicts a plague on the people of Israel because King David failed to conduct a census the way God commanded.
    I’m sorry, but sometimes the Bible is just plain stupid.
    Besides which, the Bible gets a bad rap when it comes to homosexuality. Most people who are prejudiced toward gay and lesbians often have never even read a word of the Bible. Nope. They come up with that prejudice and hatred on their own.
    It comes from the culture. From the same patriarchal remnants of our culture that treat women and children as property to be traded and sold. Its also the source of polygamy. All hail the mighty King heterosexual male! The Bible reflects some of those values, which is why it gets held up as being a source of moral authority when it isn’t. God is the source of moral authority, not the Bible. To uphold those forms of worship of male power is a form of idolatry. There is but one true God, and its not Daddy.

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  • http://www.reconciliationministries.org Lynn

    Yes, Jesus loves gays and lesbians, but He loves his Father’s will more. He provided a way for all to be reconciled to God with His own life; however, The Father would be a liar if He said something in His Word and did not back it up. He tells us in Numbers 23:19 that “He is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of a man that he should repent. Hath He not said and shall He not do?” The Apostle Paul can be seen in his old lifestyle as the religious Saul, in Acts chapter nine. As you continue on reading in that same chapter you will see his transformation into Paul, the man God wanted him to become and not what he thought God wanted him to be. The regenerated Paul (St. John 3:3-12) said in ICorinthians 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. God is a Father that has laid out His plan for man, but He has left us with the freewill to chose whom we will serve.

  • http://www.reconciliationministries.org Lynn

    Yes, Jesus loves gays and lesbians. He also loves adulterers, murderers and liars- but He loves his Father’s will more. He provided a way for all to be reconciled to God with His own life; however, The Father would be a liar if He said something in His Word and did not back it up. He tells us in Numbers 23:19 that “He is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of a man that he should repent. Hath He not said and shall He not do?” The Apostle Paul can be seen in his old lifestyle as the “religious” Saul, in Acts chapter nine. As you continue to read on in that same chapter you will see his transformation into PAUL, the man God wanted him to become and not the man he thought God wanted him to be. The regenerated or Born Again Paul (St. John 3:3-12) said in ICorinthians 6:9-10 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor EFFEMINATE, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” God is a Father that has laid out His plan for mankind, but He has also left us with the freewill to chose whom we will serve. Just like a parent, because of the dangers and traps He wants us to avoid, He shows us a clear and safe path to follow which leads to Eternal Life. And also just as a responsible parent, He will punish disobedience. When Jesus returns to get those who are His, the disobedient will have earned Eternal Torment (Hell)! Yet, as long as we have breath in our bodies, as soon as we Pray and ask for the true revelation of God’s instructions-or what He means in The Bible- and repent (2 Corinthians 7:10), He will forgive all sins and disobedience. Many cannot see God as a Father who is loving that would allow anyone to go into eternal torment. Yet, He allows us chance after chance to align ourselves with His Word, live according to His principles and to reject the lies of His enemy, satan. Satan wants as many of God’s creation as he can get to follow him. What will you do? Where will you spend eterinty? with the father or satan and those who refused to believe what The Heavenly Father has said in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16)? Lastly, Revelation 12:12, says “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time”. A short time to do what? To deceive as many of God’s Beloved Creation as he can. He is still brooding because he was kicked out of Heaven for lifting himself as God; therefore, he was kicked out of heaven. He is a spirit just as God is (although he is a spirit created by God to be an angel and God is The Spirit that created all that is) he is at work to deceive as many as he can because he knows how much God loves His Creation, whom He blew His own breath into. Whom will you chose? Read/Study your Bible for God’s Truth. Genuinely Pray and ask Him what His views are on this sensitive subject, and He will reward you with Revelation of who He is and what does and does not please Him. Don’t take my word nor anyone eles’, not even the fallen angel, satan- Go straight to the Source! THE WORD OF GOD.

  • Rob Ryan

    “Again you show the inconsistencies of you position. In a world created by chance, why is the murder of a little girl, or a million little girls, morally significant at all?”
    Poor ucfengr! He still hasn’t figured out that it is not the inconsistency of atheism and morality but the limits of his own worldview that have been exposed. To ucfengr, the only morality that has any meaning is objective morality, which, of course, must have a source other than the human mind or human society. He ignores the very real possibility, the overwhelming likelihood, that morals arose because they provided a survival benefit for the species. Plus, they make our lives a little less “nasty, brutish, and short.”
    I’m afraid it does not speak well of ucfengr’s opinion of himself and mankind in general that he thinks there is no reason outside of God that we should be nice to each other. I wonder how his own behavior would change if he were suddenly imbued with the certainty that his beliefs were groundless. My guess is that he would surprise himself by comporting himself in much the same manner he does now, albeit with a bit less arrogance.

  • http://grendelkhan.livejournal.com grendelkhan

    Hey Skipper: You would also find that there is not an identity between genotype and phenotype. There are some XY women — Jamie Lee Curtis among them.

    That’s just a rumor, actually. There’s a short list on Wikipedia, although, since it’s Wikipedia, it includes Cartman’s mom.
    Your larger point is quite accurate, though; the development of male or female gender is determined by a single “master switch” gene called SRY; if this gene is missing or inactivated, an XY-genotype person will display a female phenotype. If SRY is translocated to an X chromosome, an XX-genotype person will display a male phenotype, though they’ll be infertile. There are also a variety of other possible reasons for genotype and phenotype not to match up, or for a person’s sex to be ambiguous. On the other hand, most people fit neatly into categories of male and female, such that almost everyone can get by without really thinking about it, and, in fact, we base quite a bit of our society on the binary nature of gender.

    ucfengr: Raping and killing are rather common affairs; on what basis, without appealing to a higher authority (which is the basis for natural law as elucidated by Jefferson, Locke, et. al.), can you say that raping and murdering are wrong?

    They’re wrong from a utilitarian point of view; Mill had this one covered about a hundred and fifty years ago. They’re wrong from a “do-unto-others” point of view; following the Golden Rule isn’t inherently religious. The idea that the rules only apply to other people is the morality of the criminal (wanting to change the rules for everyone is the morality of the revolutionary); therefore, it’s pretty straightforward to define rape and murder as wrong without any mystical handwavery.
    I assure you, even if you lose your faith at some point in the future (I neither hope nor think that it will happen; I’m just covering the possibility, given what you said above), it is not okay for you to become an ax-crazy killer. It’s still wrong to rape and murder. Really. Clever philosophers have covered this.

  • http://dailyduck.blogspot.com/ Hey Skipper

    grendalkhan:
    That’s just a rumor, actually.
    You are right, I should have noted that.

  • Terrance

    In Luke 17 in the New Testament, Jesus said that one of the big “signs” that will happen shortly before His return to earth as Judge will be a repeat of the “days of Lot” (see Genesis 19 for details). So gays are actually helping to fulfill this same worldwide “sign” (and making the Bible even more believable!) and thus hurrying up the return of the Judge! They are accomplishing what all of the Bible-thumpers couldn’t accomplish! Gays couldn’t have accomplished this by just coming out of closets into bedrooms. Instead, they invented new architecture – you know, closets opening on to Main Streets where little kids would be able to watch naked men having sex with each other at festivals in places like San Francisco (where their underground saint – San Andreas – may soon get a big jolt out of what’s going on over his head!). Thanks, gays, for figuring out how to bring back our resurrected Saviour even quicker!