Why Shouldn’t I Kill You?

That is, if my actions are determined solely by the chemical interactions in my brain, which is in turn determined by DNA, then isn’t any action I perform completely a-moral?  It isn’t right or wrong, it’s just what my DNA has me do. 

This video is a great presentation of this argument in action, and it’s potential implications.

I first saw this video over on 4Simpsons, and Neil has some interesting points on the subject.

As for me, I want to stick to the question of the video and see if anyone can answer it.  I’m honestly curious to see if there is an answer that is consistent with the atheist worldview.

So, tell me, why shouldn’t I kill you?

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51 Comments on “Why Shouldn’t I Kill You?”

  1. Curious Says:

    You shouldn’t kill me because treating other people badly make them treat you badly. The love you take is equal to the love you make. You want to be treated nicely? Treat other people nicely. You don’t need a deity to tell you what’s right or wrong — you can figure out what hurts other people and think for yourself. What’s mysterious about that?

    I turned the video off, because I don’t like to see portrayals of gratuitous violence.

    I have a question for you: If God told you to kill someone, would you do it? If God appeared to you tonight, while you were alone, and commanded you to kill a random person on the street, would you do it?

  2. dwilli58 Says:

    I put up a post on this subject about a year ago, and all I got back from the atheists was, “I wouldn’t want to be a person like you!” etc etc.

    It’s amazing how certain people can’t see that without God there is no morality or ethics. If we came about by chance and mutation, then there is nothing precious about life in any way. “Survival of the fittest” and “natural selection” are in charge in this kind of hellish world, so our existence and actions, as human beings, are no more important than a male lion killing his cubs.

    Thank God, that He has not created us this way! We love because He first loved us, and we were created in His image. That is why you shouldn’t kill me.

    Good point, Eric!

  3. morsec0de Says:

    A couple good reasons.

    I could kill you in defense.

    You will be sacrificing your freedom in our society. Either directly, when people find out and chase you, or through yourself (paranoia, fear, hiding, etc) because there is no guaranty that you will get away with it.

    My family or friends may take vengeance.

    I could have a horrible disease that I can give to you while you try and kill me. (Even if it’s not a bloody death, I bite and scratch.)

    And those are just a few off the top of my head.

    “It isn’t right or wrong, it’s just what my DNA has me do. ”

    I don’t see why it can’t be right or wrong AND just what the combination of your life experiences and genes has you do.

  4. El Dood Says:

    Whoa, nice video! That’s a good question, I hope you can get a good answer.

  5. Eric Kemp Says:

    Curious

    But what if I don’t care if you treat me nicely or not? You’re whole argument falls apart right there. I don’t treat you nicely, I don’t expect nice from you.

    But Curious, you missed the point of the question. In an atheistic universe, my actions are governed by my DNA. My actions have nothing to do with morality, or “nice”, because it’s just what my DNA is having me do. Why shouldn’t I follow my DNA? In fact, I have no CHOICE but to follow my DNA!

    “If God told you to kill someone, would you do it? If God appeared to you tonight, while you were alone, and commanded you to kill a random person on the street, would you do it?”

    Curious, your question is a loaded one. You presuppose that God is NOT the source of morality. So then you ask a question regarding the commandment of a non-morally authoratative figure. On the other hand, IF God is the source of all morality, your question is pointless because a commandment from God can only be a moral commandment, regardless of how immoral YOU think it is.

    But I need more information to answer your question. How does God prove to me that He’s God and not a demon pretending to be God by showing me something awesome or scary? How do I know it’s really God?

  6. morsec0de Says:

    “In an atheistic universe,”

    This should read “In a universe concocted of assumptions, stereotypes and inaccuracies that Eric Kemp chooses to call ‘atheistic'”.

  7. morsec0de Says:

    “Why shouldn’t I follow my DNA? In fact, I have no CHOICE but to follow my DNA!”

    Furthermore, why do you assume your DNA demands you to kill other people? It doesn’t. Your genes demand you to survive and reproduce. It doesn’t say how to do those things. And there are certainly more ways, and better ways, than killing and raping to survive and reproduce.

  8. SuperJesus Says:

    I would rather prefer to sit with a cup of coffee to discuss such an idea face to face but this will have to do.

    I mean no offense but your question is a straw man in that it assigns too much influence on a limited concept like DNA alone. The reality of the mechanisms that promote survival of certain genes is more nuanced and complicated than the raw “kill or be killed” rules typically attributed to the oversimplified concept of natural selection. Like many other species our survival and general ascendancy has happened because of our ability to form cohesive social structures in which we can specialize our roles and work together. This of course has been enhanced by the genetic natural selection that promoted a multitude of attributes like speech, empathy, and complex reasoning. Without these genetic predispositions we would not be able to work together as a society. So while some individuals have greater or lesser ability to do these things it is our collective ability to cooperate that is essentially embedded in our genes.

    I somehow doubt I’ve influenced your thinking on this but I can only do so much in this limited venue. If you really want to understand more about the evolution of social behavior in ours and other species I would encourage you to go get “Our Inner Ape” by Frans De Waal from your local library. It’s a great read.

    Respectfully,
    Super J.

  9. Curious Says:

    “But what if I don’t care if you treat me nicely or not? You’re whole argument falls apart right there. I don’t treat you nicely, I don’t expect nice from you.”

    Huh? Irrational psychopaths exist within and outside of religious belief. What if you believe in God but you don’t care if you offend him? If you’re irrational, neither religion nor atheism is going to have a whole lot of influence on your behavior.

    The fact remains that a rational person wants to be treated fairly by his fellow humans, and the best way to do that is to treat others fairly. Whether a giant deity is watching or not.

    “In an atheistic universe, my actions are governed by my DNA.”

    What? Can you cite a source for this “fact”? You have an extremely poor understanding of genetics and behavior. Individuals are not controlled by their DNA (which is fairly obvious if you look at the whole of human behavior); environment has a whole lot to do with it. Atheists have never claimed (that I know of) that environment is not a factor influencing human behavior. If you can find a peer-reviewed study that shows that environment has no effect on human behavior, please cite it here.

    As for the commandment by God question: You didn’t answer it. If God commanded you to kill someone, would you do it? Say God came to you tonight, when you were alone, and proved himself and his reality in the same manner he revealed the truth of the gospel to you, however that came about for you. Then he commanded you to kill someone, because it was his will for you to do so. Would you do it? If God is the source of all morality, killing someone at his command would inherently be the right thing to do, wouldn’t it?

  10. Eric Kemp Says:

    Morsec0de

    “I could kill you in defense.”

    That doesn’t answer the question, why shouldn’t I kill you? That’s why I SHOULD kill you.

    And we’re not talking about self defense and you know it.

    “You will be sacrificing your freedom in our society. Either directly, when people find out and chase you, or through yourself (paranoia, fear, hiding, etc) because there is no guaranty that you will get away with it.”

    Wether or not I get caught is not the point. I don’t plan on getting caught so whatever punishment society plans on hitting me with doesn’t matter to me. I don’t think my freedom will be sacrificed because I don’t think I’ll get caught. No one will find out, so no one will be chasing me. Threats of what might happen to me does nothing for you while my gun is to your head.

    Question: Why would freedom worry me if I’m just following what my DNA has me to do? Who are you to restrict my freedom when I’m just doing what my DNA has told me to do?

    “My family or friends may take vengeance.”

    They won’t find out who killed you so they can’t take vengeance on me. Threats of what might happen to me doesn’t save you while my gun is to your head.

    “I could have a horrible disease that I can give to you while you try and kill me. (Even if it’s not a bloody death, I bite and scratch.)”

    Cleanliness is part of how I don’t get caught and how anything you have won’t affect me (ever seen “Dexter”?), nor deter me, nor give me a reason not to kill you.

    “I don’t see why it can’t be right or wrong AND just what the combination of your life experiences and genes has you do.”

    You can “don’t see it” all you want, but that’s not an argument. If it’s what my genes has me do, then it’s not a choice, and if it’s not a choice, then it’s not moral or immoral, it’s just biology. It’s really that simple.

    But, you still haven’t answered my question. The only reasons you gave me were threats of future punishment that may or may not happen. Those aren’t reasons to not kill you right now.

  11. Eric Kemp Says:

    Morsec0de

    “Furthermore, why do you assume your DNA demands you to kill other people? It doesn’t.”

    How do you know what MY genes are telling me to do? How do you know that I don’t have a “murder” mutation?

    “This should read “In a universe concocted of assumptions, stereotypes and inaccuracies that Eric Kemp chooses to call ‘atheistic’”.”

    The “atheistic universe” only means that there is no God, no universal morality and no human spiritual “soul”. Therefore our actions are completely guided by biology. These are things you believe in, yes/no?

  12. Neil Says:

    I could kill you in defense.

    Yeah, but you might kill me anyway, so perhaps I should kill you first. Plus, what if I’m really confident in my killing abilities? The guy in the video certainly had the upper hand. That objection fails.

    You will be sacrificing your freedom in our society. Either directly, when people find out and chase you, or through yourself (paranoia, fear, hiding, etc) because there is no guaranty that you will get away with it.

    So? If I think the odds are in my favor I could do it.

    My family or friends may take vengeance.

    I’ll kill them first, or perhaps I’m really confident in my ability to cover the crime.

    I could have a horrible disease that I can give to you while you try and kill me. (Even if it’s not a bloody death, I bite and scratch.)

    Low risk. I might have plenty of reasons to risk all of the above.

    I don’t see why it can’t be right or wrong AND just what the combination of your life experiences and genes has you do.

    But my genes drove my perception of my life experiences. That seems redundant to me.

  13. morsec0de Says:

    “The “atheistic universe” only means that there is no God, no universal morality and no human spiritual “soul”. ”

    Ah. So you mean the universe we actually live in, where most people don’t kill each other, like you suggest we should be doing.

  14. Eric Kemp Says:

    Curious

    “Huh? Irrational psychopaths exist within and outside of religious belief. What if you believe in God but you don’t care if you offend him? If you’re irrational, neither religion nor atheism is going to have a whole lot of influence on your behavior.”

    My question to you is this. Who are you to call my genetically determined behavior “irrational” or “immoral”?

    “The fact remains that a rational person wants to be treated fairly by his fellow humans, and the best way to do that is to treat others fairly. Whether a giant deity is watching or not.”

    Now we’ve switched from morality to rationality. What is your definition of rationality? More importantly, what ultimate “rationale” are you comparing other actions to in order to call them “irrational”?

    “Individuals are not controlled by their DNA (which is fairly obvious if you look at the whole of human behavior); environment has a whole lot to do with it. Atheists have never claimed (that I know of) that environment is not a factor influencing human behavior.”

    First of all, nature vs. nurture is a huge psyschological/sociological debate, one that won’t be solved EVER. Respected researchers in the field fall on every point in the spectrum. Secondly, I never said environment has nothing to do with it. That’s fine, we can include environmental /”nurture” factors too. Is it not my genetics that are reacting to my environment? Is it not my DNA that decides how I will react?

    And, if it’s NOT my DNA, then what is it? How do I break away from my genetics if I’m nothing more than biology, if I don’t have a soul? That’s what I mean by “atheistic universe”, that there is no spiritual soul that transcends genetics.

    “As for the commandment by God question: You didn’t answer it.”

    You’re right, I didn’t try to answer it, I asked you a clarification question.

    “Say God came to you tonight, when you were alone, and proved himself and his reality in the same manner he revealed the truth of the gospel to you, however that came about for you. Then he commanded you to kill someone, because it was his will for you to do so. Would you do it? If God is the source of all morality, killing someone at his command would inherently be the right thing to do, wouldn’t it?”

    Yes, killing that person would be the most moral thing to do at the moment, obeying God’s commandment. Yes. I know where you’re going with this, so get there so I can respond and show you how your definition of God is not the Biblical definition.

  15. Curious Says:

    You seem to think that there is nothing outside of the Bible that can define morality or rationality. I have a completely different viewpoint — rationality and morality are defined by society. And yes, society has gotten it wrong much of the time, but [b]so has religion[/b]. There’s no magic words written in the sky that say something is right and wrong. We work it out ourselves. That may be unsettling to you, if you want a black-and-white view of the world, to think that there is no absolute morality. But guess what? The morality of the Bible isn’t absolute either.

    For much of human history, slavery was condoned by society, including by people who lived before the Bible, the people who wrote the Bible, and people who lived after the Bible. In fact, slaveholders backed their argument in favor of slavery using the Bible as justification. The slavery of Biblical times was not racially based, but it was every bit as cruel and inhuman as slavery in the 19th century. Did God change his mind? No, people changed their minds about what the Bible says, and lo and behold, slavery turned out to be wrong. In the end, however, it wasn’t religion that ended slavery in our country, it was the liberal secular state that actually ended slavery. Many churches had to be dragged into the idea of racial equality kicking and screaming.

    I’m saying that morality and rationality is based on societies’ common judgement, and you’re saying it’s based on written words attributed to a deity. But the meaning of the words of your deity, just like the words of every other deity, has changed as people’s interpretation of it changed. Thank God morality evolves, or else we’d all still own slaves and have 20 wives, and I personally wouldn’t want either one.

    As far as human behavior goes, it’s influenced by both biological and environmental factors. I don’t see why you think that’s so strange. yes, we hold people responsible for their actions because the vast majority of people have grown up with sufficient intelligence to realize the benefits of obeying laws that govern a functioning society. If we only obeyed the crude words of a book written 2,000 years ago, why have insanity pleas? Why have mitigating circumstances for punishments? God has spoken, and we must only obey (according to you, I assume).

    The reality is that we — you, me, and everyone else on this little ball of a planet we live on — decide what is right and wrong. It’s a great responsibility, and we’ll mess up quite a bit. But it’s better to realize that our fate is our own than to leave it to the biased interpretation of words written by (only) men 2,000 years ago. That didn’t work so well for the slaves, did it?

    Thank you for answering my question. If God came to you tonight, and revealed himself to be the true God (I’m sure that somehow God could do that, couldn’t he?), and told you to kill someone, you would kill that person.

    How do you know, then, if someone else claimed that God came to them, and told them to kill someone, that that person is lying? You trust other people who claim that they have been saved, that they have had a religious experience, that God has revealed himself to them. But you wouldn’t believe them if they said God commanded them to kill someone? Why should they believe you, if you killed someone after God commanded you to? If you give up the basis for your judgement, actions, and morality to a deity, what do you do if that deity commands you to slaughter tens of thousands of people? Do you do that as well?

    Clearly, morality is better off when it’s determined by societal norms than by revelation. Or else please don’t ever come near me, because I will never understand when your deity might command you to attack me.

  16. Neil Says:

    Ah. So you mean the universe we actually live in, where most people don’t kill each other, like you suggest we should be doing.

    Are you deliberately missing the point? No one claimed you should be killing. We know why you aren’t killing. The video was just pointing out how your worldview has no foundaton to claim that it would be immoral to kill you.

  17. SuperJesus Says:

    In lieu of a response here I posted a more complete explanation and conversation on my site at http://thesuperjesus.wordpress.com and look for the post titled “Philosophical Straw Men: There Is No Morality Without God”. Leave your two cents.

    Super J.

  18. El Dood Says:

    morsec0de

    ““The “atheistic universe” only means that there is no God, no universal morality and no human spiritual “soul”. ”

    Ah. So you mean the universe we actually live in, where most people don’t kill each other, like you suggest we should be doing.”

    Eric is not suggesting that we should be killing, he’s suggesting that your DNA tells you if it’s ok to kill or not. He’s trying to make, for this example killing, a moral issue not a, “Hey, it’s ok to kill because your DNA can justify it or not” issue.

    How can you prove that killing, due to whatever your DNA leads you to do, is NOT an issue of morality? If the atheist says there is no God, no morality & no soul, then how does/doesn’t DNA justify killing?

  19. Eric Kemp Says:

    El Dood

    Exactly. Morsec0de is using strawmen and purposeful misunderstanding, as Neil has pointed out, to refrain from answering the question.

    If we have no soul, no spiritual being, then aren’t we just a collection of biological material? No matter how complicated? How can you call biological material, DNA in this case, moral or immoral? And, almost just as importantly, how can you use your own collection of neurons to call the actions of a separate collection of neurons “wrong”? For instance, Morsec0de tried to tell me what my DNA is telling me, how can he do such a thing? On the other hand, if there is a universal moral code, a universal law-giver, an absolute authority against which we can compare the actions of others, then we can rightly call things “wrong”, since we have a “right” to compare it to.

    Is there a “right” gene pool? A “right” genetic sequence? If not, then how can we call other gene sequences “wrong”?

  20. Doulos Says:

    Eric, I’m Christian too, but you’re missing out on what Morsecode is trying to say:

    -An atheist does not commit an act which goes against societal norm for fear or repercussion from that society.

    -A Christian does not commit an immoral act for fear of repercussion from God.

    Can see the common fact here? Both sides act to avoid repercussions. Can you tell me what “moral” means? The whole topic of morals is concerned with the differences between right and wrong. For the religious it is God who decides what is right and what is wrong. For the non-religious it is the society and the culture which they are a part of which determines what is right and wrong.

    A Christian does not kill because we respect the right to life of the other and we do not want to go against the standard set by God.

    A non-Christian does not kill because he or she respects the right to life of the other and does not want to go against the standards set by their culture.

    It all comes down to a question of the source of morals. If a person does not believe in a theistic God, then they are not going to believe that the norms of right and wrong can be described by such a thing. Instead, they see that their culture has established a certain set of of norms and that they have the power, ability, and willingness to punish them if they go against those norms.

  21. Doulos Says:

    Further, I seriously doubt that morsecode believes that the DNA can ‘control’ us in the manner that you are suggesting. Think of it like this: I tell you, and am fully serious, that if I see you kill morsecode, then I will in turn kill you. Do you think it will really be your DNA that ‘tells’ you what do in this situation, or do you think that you might use your rationality to weigh whether you think the risk is worth taking?

  22. Eric Kemp Says:

    Curious

    “You seem to think that there is nothing outside of the Bible that can define morality or rationality. I have a completely different viewpoint — rationality and morality are defined by society.”

    I never said this. You called the killing of someone “irrational”. I’m merely asking what definition of ultimate “rationality” you are comparing the act of killing to in order to call in “irrational”. Can you answer the question?

    Saying, “rationality and morality are defined by society” is begging the question.
    1. Where does “society” get it’s standards of rationality and morality?
    2. The word “society” in this context is just like using the word “statistics” or “Most people think…”. Give me one good reason why I should obey what “most people” think I should do.

    “But guess what? The morality of the Bible isn’t absolute either.”

    I don’t know, the Ten Commandments are pretty straighforward. You’re going to have a hard time defending that statement, I’m assuming it’s going to alot of “out of context” quoting and alot of eisegesis.

    Your slavery example is just more begging the question and hypocrisy. You’re calling the OT examples of slavery as “wrong”, yet just got finished telling me that society decides rationality and morality. You’re judging a 4,000 year old society, from half-way around the world. That society decided that their particular form of slavery was ok. Your society tells you that it isn’t. What’s the difference? Who are you to put your societal morals on another society, especially one that is 4,000 years old?

    “As far as human behavior goes, it’s influenced by both biological and environmental factors. I don’t see why you think that’s so strange.”

    *sigh* Curious, please, read my words to you. I never fought you on the idea that our environment plays a factor in our behavior. In fact, I agreed with you.
    I’m asking you, isn’t it our genetics that tell us HOW we respond to the environment? Is that true or untrue?

    “we hold people responsible for their actions because the vast majority of people have grown up with sufficient intelligence to realize the benefits of obeying laws that govern a functioning society.”

    So are you saying because “the vast majority of people” think we should behave this way, therefore we should? No really, I want you to answer that question.

    “The reality is that we — you, me, and everyone else on this little ball of a planet we live on — decide what is right and wrong. It’s a great responsibility, and we’ll mess up quite a bit. But it’s better to realize that our fate is our own than to leave it to the biased interpretation of words written by (only) men 2,000 years ago.”

    Look, Curious, I realize you don’t see what you are doing, so I want to point it out to you in an attempt to truly help you reason through your worldview. You just contradicted yourself. You just said that humans decide what is right and wrong and that is better than the Bible, because the Bible is interpreted by men. Do you catch it this time? If not: Why do prefer the decisions of men regarding secular morality, but not the interpretation of men regarding the Bible? Don’t you see the contradiction there? You chastise the Bible for being interpreted by men, but accept secular morality which is also decided by men. Why accept one but not the other?

    “How do you know, then, if someone else claimed that God came to them, and told them to kill someone, that that person is lying?”

    Whoa whoa!! That’s not what you asked me! You asked if God came to me, not if someone else claimed to have heard from God. That’s a informal logical fallacy called “moving goalposts”. You asked me one question, and then tried to change the question by trapping me with another completely different scenario. So which one is it? Does God come to me, or am I evaluation the revelation claims of someone else?

    But you’re also assuming something else. You are assuming that I have no objective way of deciding the will of God absent of what some dude may or may not be lying to me about. Christians have both the Bible and the Holy Spirit to compare truth claims against. The Bible is more objective while the Holy Spirit is more personal, but no less reliable (since He can’t go against the Bible). If someone claims that God told them to murder, and I was commissioned to evaluate that claim, I would first check what I know to be the Word of God. Once I look in the Bible, and see that murder is sinful, I’d know the person was lying because God wouldn’t tell someone to sin, He couldn’t tell someone to disobey Himself.

    “Clearly, morality is better off when it’s determined by societal norms than by revelation.”

    Unfortunately, this claim is, so far, unfounded. You have not even been able to answer where you get your morality from and perhaps this statement will become more valid once you tackle the problems and inconsistencies with saying that “society” aka “other people” told you so that I pointed out above.

  23. Eric Kemp Says:

    Doulus

    Thanks for the comment doulus.

    I understand what Morsec0de was trying to say, it’s just a misrepresentation of what I was trying to say.

    You must understand, I’m not wondering why atheists don’t kill. I understand that atheists don’t kill because they respect life, I’m asking, within of the framework of their own worldview, why I shouldn’t kill them. Why should they push their societal norm of “don’t kill” on me? Why do they get to try to tell me what my genetics are or are not having me do?

    “It all comes down to a question of the source of morals.”

    Well I agree with you there.

    “Instead, they see that their culture has established a certain set of of norms and that they have the power, ability, and willingness to punish them if they go against those norms.”

    Right, but don’t you see that is just another way of saying, “most people think this is wrong”? This doesn’t answer why I should follow what “most people” tell me to do. And it certainly doesn’t help them when a gun is to their head, “Well, most people would be very angry with you for doing that” doesn’t carry much weight.

    It also makes calling the actions of other societies as wrong impossible. Why do we consider the Third Reich evil if that’s just a different society deciding what their morality is?

    “Further, I seriously doubt that morsecode believes that the DNA can ‘control’ us in the manner that you are suggesting.”

    Ok, so then, absent of a soul, how do I act contrary to or absent from the bounds of my DNA? Being made of nothing but biology, how do I act differently than my biology? How is such a thing even possible?

  24. Doulos Says:

    “Ok, so then, absent of a soul, how do I act contrary to or absent from the bounds of my DNA? Being made of nothing but biology, how do I act differently than my biology? How is such a thing even possible?”

    Yes, it’s called causiality. Preceeding actions dictate, or if not absolutely dictate then strongly influence proceeding actions. My DNA didn’t ‘tell’ me that I should come to work. The fact that if I don’t I wont’ get paid and be able to support myself is what ‘told’ me to come to work. My DNA didn’t ‘tell’ me to drive the speed limit, the fact that if I don’t I might get ticketed ‘told’ me to, etc.

    I don’t necessarily think that a strict determinism is the case, but I do believe that a lot of our ordinary every day actions are determined in such a way. It’s not DNA, merely situations that we find ourselves in.

  25. Curious Says:

    My morality comes from the same place your morality comes from: Other people. In your case, a couple of thousand years ago some men (and only men) wrote some rules and claimed they came from a deity, but really they came from the same place — human beings. Interpretations of the Bible change just as much as societal morals change (as evidenced by the history of slavery and the church). I really don’t give a flying leap about the Bible itself, but I don’t like people who hide behind it in order to further ignorance, discriminate against minorities, or otherwise spew hatred.

    It’s apparent that morality doesn’t come from “God,” as there are societies on Earth that do not believe in your deity yet conduct themselves as well as or better than societies whose citizens obey what they are told by Christian leaders. They don’t base their morality on the writings of an ancient book, they base them on common agreements known as criminal and civil law. The basis for those laws came from people. Not a fake deity. I can judge the morality of other cultures because I have a brain, and I can judge whether the morals of the other culture are generally benign and loving or injurious and hateful. I don’t have to have a book to point to. We’re all have brains and judgement (well, unless you’ve given yours up to a religion). I would say that atheists have conducted themselves no better and no worse than religious followers over the centuries. But at least when the atheists committed crimes, they didn’t absolve themselves of responsibility by pointing to the supposed words of a deity.

    As for the second part of my post, I did provide two scenarios, because one relates to the other. If God came to you, proved he was God, and told you to kill someone, you would do it. We’ve established that. You would slaughter tens of millions of people tomorrow if God commanded you to. I’m sure that if that happened, you’d consider yourself a hero.

    So if God comes to someone else, tells them to kill someone, and they do it, who are you to go against the will of God? Do you consider yourself a judge of God’s actions?

    And did you really say, “God can’t go against the Bible”? Really? God can’t conduct himself in a manner that goes against your interpretation of words written by men? Sounds like you’re limiting God’s abilities quite a bit, and you’re inflating your own ability to interpret the Bible. I didn’t know God was limited by anything, especially by you. But apparently you consider the Bible to be more authoritative than God. I find that interesting, and it says a lot about you.

  26. Eric Kemp Says:

    Curious

    While your reply does deserve a more lengthy response, one that I will give when I have the time…For the purpose of this post, regarding my question, a short one will suffice.

    So you’ve admitted that your morality comes from other people. Ok, great. So why should I listen to other people and NOT kill you? Should the opinions of other people really stop me from killing you? Give me one good reason to behave the way other people think I should.

  27. Curious Says:

    ? Because you will be shunned and punished by other people. Isn’t that the basis for our laws?

    Let me ask you another question: Why don’t you go ahead and kill me? As long as you are truly repentant, and you have accepted Jesus Christ as your saviour, your sins will be forgiven, will they not? Why don’t you go ahead and kill someone? It won’t keep you out of heaven, so really there’s nothing stopping you.

    At least I believe that murderers should face consequences and social rejection. Your belief system provides eternal rewards for even the most heinous sociopath.

  28. El Dood Says:

    Curious

    “I can judge the morality of other cultures because I have a brain, and I can judge whether the morals of the other culture are generally benign and loving or injurious and hateful. I don’t have to have a book to point to. We’re all have brains and judgement (well, unless you’ve given yours up to a religion).”

    But how? How do you define “loving” or “hateful”? Just because you have a brain doesn’t make you God and “ruler” of things you see fit. And, since I have a brain, who’s to say that my judging of you is wrong? How have we been able to come together and agree on such common ideas/laws/morals, when we all are capable of judging others?

    “And did you really say, “God can’t go against the Bible”? Really? God can’t conduct himself in a manner that goes against your interpretation of words written by men?”

    Well, since the Bible is the word of God, then everything that is said in the Bible is true about God. If God says, “Do not lie” and He lies about something, then He’s really not a “loving” and “truthful” God. Since He is a loving & truthful God, then whatever is said in the Bible about God is the truth about who He is – it’s called faith. We aren’t limiting what He can/cannot do, we don’t have the “power” or what have you, to make a claim like that. Besides, how do you know that God didn’t write the Bible? How do you know it was written ONLY by Men?

  29. Eric Kemp Says:

    Curious

    Before we continue here, I want you to know what my goal for discussion is. Sure, I want to defend the Christian worldview, but I also want those I discuss with to think through their arguments and realize their vain thinking in defending their worldview. This isn’t done to belittle, but only to help, that is my true goal. Ok, that being said . . .

    “Because you will be shunned and punished by other people. Isn’t that the basis for our laws?”

    I asked “Why I should do what other people tell me to do?” and your respone boils down to “Because other people would be mad at you.”

    Curious, this is not an answer. Your motives for why people should obey other people is circular logic and begging the question. Your whole argument falls apart when you consider someone, and there are alot of them, who don’t give a flying poop about how others think about them or treat them. So, I’ll ask you another question: If I don’t care about the consequences, why shouldn’t I kill you? If the opinions of others don’t matter to me, why shouldn’t I act any way that I please?

    Since you get your morality from other people, what if your entire society decides to kill? Your entire society has decided that a certain group, let’s say for the sake of argument…Jews…are a menace to society and, as a society, you are going to exterminate them. Everyone around you thinks that killing Jews is moral, so don’t you? You get your morality from other people remember? (Didn’t this happen about seventy years ago?)

    You say in regards to punishment, “Isn’t this the basis for our laws?”

    The basis for our laws is that the majority of a group of people decided what everyone shouldn’t do and is holding them to that by a system of punishment? Is this really how you view morality? Please, think about this Curious. When you hear of someone killing another person, do you really think, “Well, most people will be angry with him for that, and others won’t be, but since the majority will be then he should be punished.” That’s not what you do at all is it? You think, “He should be punished because he did something wrong!” That’s how you think about it, right? You have this inner sense that killing is just absolutely wrong, not matter how many people agree with you? Right?

    My point is that the way you describe morality in an argument, is not how you truly act. You’ve fooled yourself into thinking you live in a world where morality is a mere social construction agreed upon by “most” people. But the way you truly act, and the way society in general acts, is that murder is universal and absolutely wrong, no matter what and no amount of differing opinion will change that. Don’t you see how, based upon your own worldview, you can’t answer the simplist question of “why shouldn’t I kill you?“? Since there is no God, your best answer is, “Because other people don’t want you to“. The pretend that morality is based upon the opinions of people, yet you act, and the rest of humanity in general acts, like certain things are universally wrong. Such a general human consensus is not possible unless there is a universal, absolute morality Giver.

    I’m ignoring the rest of your comment because it is a red herring from the conversation we are having. But, Curious, you seem bitter, was there a Christian who wronged you in the past? If so, then I apologize on behalf of us hypocritical Christians, that I promise you that that person will recieve judgement from God based on their actions (unlike your murderers who only get social rejection).

  30. Curious Says:

    Well, well. I can see that this website isn’t for conversation, it’s for you to be snarky towards people who actually address your arguments. Either that or it’s a parody site, because when confronted with an argument you either ignore it or hide behind rhetorical asides and belitting comments. This will be my last post, because talking to you is pointless — you’ll never change your mind. That’s pretty much what I feel religion does to people: Science has questions that will never be answered, but religion has answers that may never be questioned.

    Nevertheless, one last time: You seem to think that the Bible has one single message that is clear and beyond all moral reproach. It doesn’t. People who believed the Bible — people as devoted to the Word and who read it with just as much devotion and attention to detail as you — once used it to justify the continuance of slavery, racism, genocide, antisemitism, war, the subjugation of women, white supremacy, and any number of other evil practices. Rev. Jim Jones, for instance, commanded almost a thousand people commit suicide, and claimed his interpretation of the Bible justified it. How is your interpretation of the Bible any more correct than his? What standard do you have to make that judgement? Why is your interpretation more valid than anyone else’s? Could it be that you’re simply agreeing with today’s prevailing interpretation of what the Bible says?

    There is indeed no universal morality – just morality that people have decided is acceptable. And that’s OK. Can other people argue that their morality is as rational as mine is? Yes, but that doesn’t make them right. I have my own principles that I’ve determined over my lifetime that I am comfortable with. Because my morality isn’t based on my interpretation of a book doesn’t mean I can’t condemn you for killing people. As a human being on this planet, I can make that determination just as well as you can.

    (And yes, there are psychopaths who think their morality is superior to mine – just as there are Christians who think their interpretation of the Bible is superior to yours. So what? I can still condemn them. If I can’t condemn the morality of psychopaths, you can’t condemn how psychopaths read the Bible. The presence of psychopaths doesn’t help your argument a bit.)

    Y’know, John Calvin had Michael Servetus arrested, knowing that Servetus faced death for his heretical views. Today, we’d say putting someone to death for believing in a different strand of Christianity would be immoral, wouldn’t we? (Wouldn’t we?) Was Calvin acting morally when he assisted in the arrest of Servetus, when he knew Serveus would be put to death by the church? Surely Calvin knew his Bible as much as you do! He presumably based his actions on the Bible — are you more moral than John Calvin was? Are you a greater Christian than John Calvin was? Or has our interpretation of what the Bible considers moral changed over the years?

    In truth, your interpretation of the Bible is just as socially constructed as any other sense of morals. You didn’t open the Bible as a baby and decide what it meant and determine the Bible was the absolute unassailable truth — you were instructed in what the Bible says, just as millions of people before you were instructed in what the Bible says. Hundreds of millions of Christians before you fully believed and could cite the relevant Biblical references to support their belief in slavery, antisemitism, etc. But you’re claiming the Bible condemns those things. How do you know you’re right and they’re all wrong? The answer is: You don’t, other than to say, “This is how we interpret the Bible now.” Your morality is just as socially constructed as mine.

    In the future, people who read the Bible will use it to condemn those who fought against gay marriage. And they will be just as “correct” as you are. (But far more enlightened.)

    You seem to think it’s some weakness to admit that our morals are socially constructed, but if our morals weren’t socially constructed, they wouldn’t change. That would be tragic. In that case, we never would have addressed issues like slavery and racism. I think the world is better off without slavery, but you may think differently, I don’t know. You certainly think differently than I do.

    As far as being able to judge other people goes: Having a brain does indeed make me capable of stating what’s right and what’s wrong. We are all independent actors, aren’t we? You’ve decided that the morals of the Bible are correct, haven’t you? You’re using your judgement just as much as anyone else is. You’re just choosing to justify your actions by referring to the written words of an ancient book rather than stating principles in your own way. Either way, the principles come from and are supported by people, not a deity.

    I see you’re choosing not to address the small issue about how you’d kill people if God told you to. That’s a wise move on your part. And you’re choosing not to dwell on your statement about how God can’t go against the Bible. Really, that makes you a Bible worshipper, not a God or Jesus worshipper, doesn’t it? (The fact that you started to respond to my questions but are now ignoring them shows how unwilling you are to truly address arguments. Lame.)

    And what’s this about murderers receiving judgement from God based on their actions? Don’t sinners receive pardon for their sins from God through grace, not through works? If a murderer is fully repentant, and receives Jesus Christ into his or her heart, they will go to heaven and receive eternal rewards, will they not? Can you cite a Biblical reference that says God’s grace does not apply to murderers?

    (BTW, El Dood, I’m pretty sure everyone thinks the Bible was written by men. I don’t believe anyone thinks the words of the Bible fell out of the sky or appeared in golden tablets a la the Book of Mormon. It may be divinely inspired, but it was written by men in human languages, with all the subjective nature of word choices and translations included.)

    I seem bitter? Sorry about that, I guess I don’t see it that way. You see, I don’t believe in a vindictive deity, so I don’t have to strain my brain to reject scientific findings because they don’t mesh with my religious beliefs. I belong to a church that believes in grace through works – no sins to bother false deities, no heaven to aspire to or hell to fear, no depravity or shame to instill into newborns’ heads. We believe in people — in all their glory and complexity. Our future is going to be decided by people, not religious books or revelations, and the sooner we learn that, the better off we’ll be. Ta.

  31. Eric Kemp Says:

    Curious

    Although I’ve been known to get snarky with some people, and I don’t see anything wrong with the occassional snark, I really didn’t see it in my reply to you. I hope someone corrects me if I am wrong.

    I was trying to help you reason through the question we were discussing. Apparently, you have no desire to do so. The problems with your answer to my question were pointed out to you but you don’t want to address them. You keep wanting to go around in circles about the truth of the Bible, which was never something we were discussing. When flaws in your thinking are pointed out to you, it’s not logical to point a finger back and go “yea well you . . .”, especially on a completely different topic. In a nutshell, your argument boils down to, “The Bible can’t be right, therefore I’m right.”

    “I belong to a church that believes in grace through works.”

    You will most likely be offended by this no matter how I put it, but I’m honestly attempting to help you here, and I pray my words are taken as such. Saying “grace through works” is a contradiction in terms. This speaks to either a willful ignorance on your part, or a lack of Biblical understanding from those you are learning. Grace is the exact opposite of works. If you’ve earned something through works, it’s not grace when you’ve recieved it. I know you’ve been taught that there is not “right” interpretation of Scripture but Curious, the answers are there. Words have meaning, and the Bible is made up of just words. There is a correct and incorrect way to read words and sentences. The answers to whether or not there is a correct interpretation of Scripture or not is out there, if you want to find it.


  32. You’re more than welcome to try. If you succeed, then you will be forced to face the human penalty for the crime. I, on the other hand, won’t be an “I” or a “Me” and therefore won’t give a crap.


  33. …as to the question of “Why?” “Why?” is an illogical question. It begs for a specific reason, which is unanswerable. There are too many biological variables that contribute to the potential for killing. A simple DNA predisposition is far too simplistic to use as the sole cause for murder.

  34. Eric Kemp Says:

    Shock

    It’s not about a cause for murder. I’m asking why I shouldn’t kill you. That is, give me a moral reason why I shouldn’t. The answer of, “Because you’ll face consequences” or “because most people think you shouldn’t” is no reason at all. First, I don’t plan on getting caught so I won’t face any consequences, secondly I don’t care what people think about me, so why shouldn’t I kill you?

  35. morsec0de Says:

    “The answer of, “Because you’ll face consequences” or “because most people think you shouldn’t” is no reason at all.”

    Ah, but it is. In fact, it’s YOUR reason for not killing anyone. The only difference is that you think your god will make you face the consequences.

    It’s the same thing but just a question of scale.

    You know what, if people out there need to believe in some sort of supernatural god to keep themselves from killing, I say let them. The other reasons…keeping society together, realizing that other human beings have feelings and desires just like you do and respecting them, the self desire to avoid being killed or harmed…are good enough for the rest of us.

    As for those who really insist that without a god they would go about killing and raping…they can keep believing. But I wouldn’t put those people in charge of teaching our children or running our country.


  36. Morals are subjective. However, with that said, the simple answer is…
    Because you can be killed just as easily as you can kill.

    Any “moral” obligation to kill or not is determined by the individual making the decision. If you decide that killing is what you must do, then you will either act upon it, or you won’t. Asking a potential victim “why” you shouldn’t kill them is asking them to make a “moral” judgment on your behalf, thereby absolving you of personal responsibility for your actions.

    BTW… the name’s RJ. Nice to meet you.


  37. Here’s a theoretical scenario…

    You and I are friends. We have been friends for 10+ years. I’m atheist, you are christian. After a short friendly conversation, you get up to leave. With your back to me, I pull a gun out of the end table drawer. As you turn around to say goodbye, I grab your hand and place the gun in it, the barrel pushed tightly against my forehead. I read you the following scriptures:

    2 Chronicals 15
    15:13 “That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”

    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.”

    and last but not least…

    Mark 16

    16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    If you believe the bible is the word of god, you have only one choice. Pull the trigger. Your morals are dictated by the bible. If you are a hypocrite, you won’t pull the trigger. Pull the trigger, or don’t pull the trigger. Either the bible is the word of god, and you are committed to the word, or you will pick and choose your way out of the situation, citing “love” of christ etc. If you choose the latter, you are a hypocrite and have laid claim to being smarter than your god.


  38. BTW…Either outcome of the above scenario causes pause for the believer. But, if the believer chooses to kill based on their belief, then they are no different from all other religious zealots who kill in the name of their particular god. This begs the question, “Who’s god is the right one?” and “Of the thousands and thousands of gods throughout history, which one?” If they don’t kill, and choose to use the “pick and choose” method of interpreting scripture, then they have committed the ultimate hypocrisy.

  39. Eric Kemp Says:

    Morsec0de

    “Ah, but it is. In fact, it’s YOUR reason for not killing anyone. The only difference is that you think your god will make you face the consequences.”

    That’s not it at all . . . I’ll explain.

    “You know what, if people out there need to believe in some sort of supernatural god to keep themselves from killing, I say let them.”

    You know, sometimes Morsec0de, I feel like you’re purposefully misunderstanding the point of an argument or inserting your own ideas that have nothing to do with the argument. No one ever said that people need God to keep them from killing. No one has ever made that argument that I’ve ever heard. This is a Christian belief you’ve constructed so that you can argue against it.

    I’ll just cut to the chase here. You and I live in two different universes. That is, you and I have opposing worldviews on how the universe and, in this case, morality came to be. In your worldview, morality is a social construction based solely on societal punishment and consequences. In my worldview, God gave us our morality, ingrained it in us at birth, defining what constitutes as “wrong” and “right” as He did so.

    This is the point: We don’t actually live in your universe. You can argue all you want that morality is just a social construction based upon an individual’s society, but that’s not how humans think or act. For instance, you don’t always do what other people tell you to do, right? I mean, you’re a thinking individual, just because “most” people tell you something, do you accept it because they told you? Of course not. But that’s how you say morality came about, “most” people told you what was right and wrong. However, there has never been a time in your life when you had to “reason through” whether or not murder is wrong.

    You just know that it is, there is no question, no reasoning needed. You can argue all you want that morality is just like any other social construction, but the plain truth is that no one treats morality like other social constructions. The human community doesn’t have to ask ourselves wether or not what is going on in Darfur is wrong, we just know that genocide is absolutely and universally wrong. If morality was a mere social construction, then there would have to be a concievable situation in which genocide was ok, just like any other social construction can be broken. Go ahead, try to think of a situation where genocide is ok. Can’t do it? This inner sense of morality doesn’t make sense in your worldview.

    But, I do have to agree with you on one level. Morality being a social construction is the only answer that you can have and still call yourself an atheist. So, you don’t hold to the idea because it makes sense, or accurately represents how we treat morality, you hold to the idea because it’s the only option you have.


  40. Eric wrote:

    “I mean, you’re a thinking individual, just because “most” people tell you something, do you accept it because they told you? Of course not.”

    This is statement is illogical in the context of “morals”. You DO believe what “most” people tell you as a child. That is why religion of any flavor targets children. And,the only way anyone discovers that there supposedly is a god is through the people who raise them as a child. Children do not have the ability to reason/inquire about the existence of such an entity at birth, nor do they question such a thing because of the authoritarian nature of the caretaker, and blind trust that they have for their caretaker. Children also don’t know morals until they are taught, and depending on the culture in which one is born into…right and wrong, what religion, what social norms are formed, is directly related to that culture. If you are born in the U.S., then you are more likely to be christian. If you are born in another country, you will most likely be taught to embrace the majority religious view of that country.

    “Morals”, as I said earlier, are subjective, and are not born into us. However, there is scientific evidence that children do have a natural disposition toward empathy, which is not exclusive to christianity.

    I’m atheist, was raised a a christian. I chose NOT to believe everything the christian religion told me.


  41. Eric went on to write:

    “But, I do have to agree with you on one level. Morality being a social construction is the only answer that you can have and still call yourself an atheist. So, you don’t hold to the idea because it makes sense, or accurately represents how we treat morality, you hold to the idea because it’s the only option you have.”

    But, what is wrong with that option?

    Forced “morality”, born of ignorance of science and social behaviors within any one culture, and that makes claims of “moral” superiority, is a dangerous road to traverse. To claim that the christian world view is more “moral” than another religion or no religion is a lie. “Morality” is subjective to the individual, based on the country that they are born into, how they were raised, and the religious, or non-religious context of their existence. Social ethics, the ability to interact within a community and functioning to survive within that community, requires cooperative efforts with others to do so.

    I.E. the “Golden Rule” – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you- And, once again, this philosophy predates the attribute to the christian savior.


  42. Eric wrote:

    “Go ahead, try to think of a situation where genocide is ok. Can’t do it? This inner sense of morality doesn’t make sense in your worldview.”

    My atheist worldview is predicated upon the simple premise of survival. Genocide denotes the extermination of an entire ethnic, religious, or non-religious group. The threat of this happening to anyone group is reality, and in this reality, fight or flight (a natural function of animal species)takes over. Genocide takes place as a result of political and/or religious ideologies. To conquer. Empathy for those who are victims of such a tragedy is NOT the result of some mystical moral code granted us by a supernatural being. It is natural to the species, as it is to other species outside of humans.


  43. Eric,

    Now, assuming (which can be dangerous) that you are positing that by “natural” in my above statements, is the “creation” of a god, then we have a problem that cannot be overcome in this discussion. You, on the side of “creation” and I on the side of evolution, will suddenly find ourselves at an impasse.

    But, to finalize my position in this debate, as a whole, I would like to posit the following premises:

    1) If one believes in the scientific idea of infinity, meaning “no beginning or end” i.e. infinite, then positing a “creator” denotes a “beginning” and therefore destroys the scientific concept of infinity, making much of science false.

    2) Of the 33,800+ versions of christianity, which one is correct?

    3) To have a discussion/debate about the existence of a god, there must be a universal definition of what this god is, one that can be agreed upon by all religions of the world, and not based on a concept.

    4) Dan Barker, a former evangelist turned atheist said, “Faith is a crutch. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way one can accept an assertion is through faith, then one must concede that it can’t be taken on its own merits.

    and lastly…

    5) If an atheist is just as kind, compassionate, empathetic, giving and loving as a christian, in both word and deed, denies the existence of a god… What is the point of believing?

    Eric,

    Thanks for your time and your kindness in allowing me to express my opinions and debate. I appreciate your candor. While we disagree on much, we can agree, I’m sure, on one thing. We are human.

    RJ Evans
    “American Heathen®”
    americanheathen@sbcglobal.net

  44. Eric Kemp Says:

    RJ

    It is very nice to meet you as well. I appreciate your candor and honesty in expressing your opinions in this debate. Allow me some time to formulate a cohesive response to you, and we can continue this debate as long as an impasse is not reached.

    Thanks for taking the time to write, and taking my argument seriously. I look forward to the future of this debate.

    Eric

  45. Eric Kemp Says:

    RJ

    Alright, so let’s tackle your hypothetical scenario first: Me being a Christian, and you an atheist, you had me put a gun to your head, and recited verses in order to get me to kill you, the versus you recited where as follows:

    2 Chronicals 15
    15:13 “That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”

    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.”

    and last but not least…

    Mark 16
    16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    You declared: If you believe the bible is the word of god, you have only one choice. Pull the trigger. Your morals are dictated by the bible. If you are a hypocrite, you won’t pull the trigger.

    I’ve actually never heard this argument before, so it’s new for me. However, after looking at the verses in their context, it became clear that I’ve never heard the argument before because it’s not a good one. As for the 2 Chronicles reference, that was a particular time in the history of Jewish people when they were trying to purge themselves of all those not truly of God’s people. This is no broad commandment from God. The other two verses are in relation to things that WILL happen to you, not commandments for Christians to carry out these things. “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord”, not the Christians’.

    You’re my friend and a fellow human being with a soul who God has a plan for, it is not my job to kill you, unless you force me to.

    On a different topic, I made a statement to Morsec0de that was something along the lines of: he doesn’t do what everyone tells him to do in any subject, so why does he do so with morality?

    In response you said: “This is statement is illogical in the context of “morals”. You DO believe what “most” people tell you as a child. That is why religion of any flavor targets children.”

    I wasn’t talking about children, I was talking about a full grown adult in Morsec0de. As yourself said, you stopped believing what you were told as a child, namely religion, thought for yourself, and chose to reject that which you were taught. You said: “I’m atheist, was raised a a christian. I chose NOT to believe everything the christian religion told me.” Why don’t you do this with murder? Why don’t you choose not to believe that murder is wrong, just like you chose to believe that Christianity isn’t true? Both are brainwashed social constructions right?

    Because murder is wrong no matter what you were told as a child. Morality isn’t something you “break out of” like a suppressive religious experience is. “Murder is wrong” is an absolute, universal moral truth, as is evidenced by your inability to reject it. So, I ask again, why act like everyone wants you to act?

    I think I tackled this more in depth in my latest post. That you can claim all you want that morality is a social construction but morality just isn’t treated the same as other social constructions. Having a unanimous consensus on murder would be impossible if morality was a mere human construction.

    On to your concluding statements:

    “Now, assuming (which can be dangerous) that you are positing that by “natural” in my above statements, is the “creation” of a god, then we have a problem that cannot be overcome in this discussion. You, on the side of “creation” and I on the side of evolution, will suddenly find ourselves at an impasse.”

    I’m actually not completely sure of what you’re saying here. However, I have a question I would like to ask you. Why do you think that someone who believes in Creation, and someone who believes in evolution would quickly find themselves at an impasse? I mean, I agree with you, I’m just asking what you that that is so.

    “1) If one believes in the scientific idea of infinity, meaning “no beginning or end” i.e. infinite, then positing a “creator” denotes a “beginning” and therefore destroys the scientific concept of infinity, making much of science false.”

    I’m curious to how you consider the idea of “infinity” to be a scientific idea. That is, science is bound to what can be observed and tested, right? So how can the idea of infinity be observed and tested, and therefore be considered scientific? Also, since when does observation and experimentation require this idea of infinity?

    “2) Of the 33,800+ versions of christianity, which one is correct?”

    That doesn’t matter to our conversation, and is a red herring in general. Our conversation should revolve around how we know what we each claim to know. Since you’re starting at the “no God” end of the spectrum, attempting to argue “which religion” with you is so far down the line that it is a pointless endeavor right now. Frankly, ANY idea of God destroys your atheism just fine.

    “3) To have a discussion/debate about the existence of a god, there must be a universal definition of what this god is, one that can be agreed upon by all religions of the world, and not based on a concept.”

    This is an arbitrary criteria that you have decided upon because it suits your position. I must agree to no such universal definition in order to argue against your atheism. If our human experience makes more sense under the premise of a creator than under the premise of no creator, than your atheism is destroyed and “which creator” matters not in the slightest.

    “4) Dan Barker, a former evangelist turned atheist said, “Faith is a crutch. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way one can accept an assertion is through faith, then one must concede that it can’t be taken on its own merits.”

    However, I do think it would be a good idea to agree on what our definition of faith is. So, how do you define faith?

    “5) If an atheist is just as kind, compassionate, empathetic, giving and loving as a christian, in both word and deed, denies the existence of a god… What is the point of believing?”

    You assume the point of religion is to get people to act a certain way. I understand that this is a popular secular teaching and it is just false. The point of believing in Christ is if it’s true or not, that is all. If it’s true, that’s why you believe. If it’s true, then how “good” you think you are doesn’t matter in the slightest.

    RJ, I hope this is the beginning of a profitable discussion for both of us, I look forward to your responses.

    Eric

  46. Neil Says:

    Re. 33,800 versions of Christianity: That is an urban legend I’ve seen perpetuated by various folks, mainly Catholics. Not sure where they got that.

    Just go examine statements of faith of denominations and you’ll find that they agree on the essentials (Jesus is God, He is the only way, the Trinity, etc.). Differences of opinion on baptism, communion, etc. do nothing to disprove the resurrection.

    Romans 14 and other passages address how we are to handle disputed matters. From this we can immediately infer two things:

    1. God knew we’d have disputed matters.

    2. He gave guidance on how to handle them.

    Contrary to many myths, we have a lot of freedom in Christ. Christianity contains many principles and some specific rules, but we can exercise our personal preferences in many ways, such as worship styles.


  47. Hi Eric!

    Sure, let’s get down to brass tacks…

    Eric wrote:

    You declared: If you believe the bible is the word of god, you have only one choice. Pull the trigger. Your morals are dictated by the bible. If you are a hypocrite, you won’t pull the trigger.

    I’ve actually never heard this argument before, so it’s new for me. However, after looking at the verses in their context, it became clear that I’ve never heard the argument before because it’s not a good one. As for the 2 Chronicles reference, that was a particular time in the history of Jewish people when they were trying to purge themselves of all those not truly of God’s people. This is no broad commandment from God.”

    That’s interesting. Show me your evidence to support your assertion that “this is no broad commandment from god”? Can you produce falsifiable evidence to support this claim? You’re issuing a conclusion based on what? More importantly, if the Jews were purging themselves of the ungodly, what prevents anyone today from “interpreting” this scripture as a tenet to be used when the unbeliever/ungodly is considered in need of being purged? You? Or, is your god going to speak so that EVERYONE can hear, preventing the zealots from taking matters into their own hands and proving his existence?

    The problem here is that you are claiming absolute knowledge of the meanings of scripture. Even in the face of theological discourse throughout the christian community, on many, if not all scripture in the bible, in works conveniently left out of the bible, you are doing EXACTLY what EVERY believer does to RATIONALIZE your position. Pick and choose. So, how do you resolve this dilemma?

    Eric went on to write:

    “The other two verses are in relation to things that WILL happen to you, not commandments for Christians to carry out these things. “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord”, not the Christians’.”

    This also begs for evidence. But, for arguments sake, let’s look at some relatively contemporary history.
    Vengeance is mine sayeth the lord? Yet, the crusades, the inquisition, the burning of witches, abortion clinic bombing…these are acts of christian beliefs. Now, you can TRY and argue that “these aren’t christ like behaviors” and you can TRY to declare that these people “weren’t really christian” BUT this leads us back to one of my posts which asks “Which one of the 33,800+ denominations is the right one?” You fail to address this question, BECAUSE in your mind, YOUR VERSION is the right one.

    This leads me to…When I posed my question of “Is the bible to be the word of god?” I expected an answer. IF the bible is the word of god, is it absolute, or is it allegory? If it is allegory, who is responsible for its interpretation?

    Eric continues:
    “I wasn’t talking about children, I was talking about a full grown adult in Morsec0de. As yourself said, you stopped believing what you were told as a child, namely religion, thought for yourself, and chose to reject that which you were taught. You said: “I’m atheist, was raised a a christian. I chose NOT to believe everything the christian religion told me.” Why don’t you do this with murder? Why don’t you choose not to believe that murder is wrong, just like you chose to believe that Christianity isn’t true? Both are brainwashed social constructions right?

    Because murder is wrong no matter what you were told as a child. Morality isn’t something you “break out of” like a suppressive religious experience is. “Murder is wrong” is an absolute, universal moral truth, as is evidenced by your inability to reject it. So, I ask again, why act like everyone wants you to act?

    I think I tackled this more in depth in my latest post. That you can claim all you want that morality is a social construction but morality just isn’t treated the same as other social constructions. Having a unanimous consensus on murder would be impossible if morality was a mere human construction.”

    You apparently don’t follow science. This is where we can easily reach an impasse. But, for the sake of our congenial debate, I’ll simply refer you back to a comment from SuperJesus on this issue that you did not respond to:

    SuperJesus wrote:
    “The reality of the mechanisms that promote survival of certain genes is more nuanced and complicated than the raw “kill or be killed” rules typically attributed to the oversimplified concept of natural selection. Like many other species our survival and general ascendancy has happened because of our ability to form cohesive social structures in which we can specialize our roles and work together. This of course has been enhanced by the genetic natural selection that promoted a multitude of attributes like speech, empathy, and complex reasoning. Without these genetic predispositions we would not be able to work together as a society. So while some individuals have greater or lesser ability to do these things it is our collective ability to cooperate that is essentially embedded in our genes.”

    Ignorance of science, and knowledge in general, is a tactic used by all religions. The less the flock knows, the easier it is to convince, convert and control.

    My host Eric continues:

    “Why do you think that someone who believes in Creation, and someone who believes in evolution would quickly find themselves at an impasse? I mean, I agree with you, I’m just asking why you think that is so?”

    Creationism is not science. The creation story, whether allegorical or not, is patently false. Science continues to destroy the myth with each new discovery. The two are polar opposites, and since evolution has stacked mounds of evidence against creation, without your skydaddy as the creator of all things, the argument for the existence of a god figure falls flat. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that evidence MUST be falsifiable. Astronomy alone destroys creationism. Millions of light years don’t lie.

    If you argue for creation, then we reach an impasse. You rely on “faith”, a rationalization, blind to fact, and posited from a “backed into a corner” mentality. If you use apologetics, you have taken the bait and have chosen to “pick and choose” which places you squarely as a hypocrite. By “picking and choosing” you put yourself in the position of being smarter than your god.

    Eric wrote:
    “I’m curious to how you consider the idea of “infinity” to be a scientific idea. That is, science is bound to what can be observed and tested, right? So how can the idea of infinity be observed and tested, and therefore be considered scientific? Also, since when does observation and experimentation require this idea of infinity?”

    Physics, math, cosmology, and a whole host of other scientific disciplines use the concept. It’s used in calculus, algebra, complex analysis, non-standard analysis, set theory, cardinality of the continuum… Without it, math and physics break down. With it, religion falls apart.

    Eric wrote with regard to my request for a definition of a god:

    “This is an arbitrary criteria that you have decided upon because it suits your position. I must agree to no such universal definition in order to argue against your atheism. If our human experience makes more sense under the premise of a creator than under the premise of no creator, than your atheism is destroyed and “which creator” matters not in the slightest.”

    Makes more sense? Please excuse me while I actually laugh at this one. At the risk of patronizing you, I honestly thought you were smarter than this. The ONLY way that a creator can make sense to the believer is if they ignore evidence and embrace “faith”. Now, would be a good time for me to define the word faith, as it is defined in the dictionary…please make note of #2

    faith
       /feɪθ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [feyth] Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
    2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
    3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
    4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
    5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
    6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
    7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
    8. Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

    There are two types of faith. One relies on a universal, shared experience, quantifiable through evidence, and testable. i.e. “I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow.” For 47 years, I have seen the sunrise. Science knows why it rises because it has evidence to prove it rises.

    The there is BLIND FAITH. Kinda like going to McDonalds and hoping the person making your dinner isn’t hawking a loogey on your burger. But, absolutely appropriate to religious belief. No facts, no evidence, no falsifiability, no objectivity. All subjective, unsubstantiated, ,pick and choose, totally devoid of reason and logic. Just like prayer it fails. There are only three possible answers to a prayer, and I can pray to any inanimate object and get the same results as praying to a god. The answers are ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘wait’. These answers will work praying to anything.

    Eric concluded;
    “You assume the point of religion is to get people to act a certain way. I understand that this is a popular secular teaching and it is just false. The point of believing in Christ is if it’s true or not, that is all. If it’s true, that’s why you believe. If it’s true, then how “good” you think you are doesn’t matter in the slightest.”

    I’m not assuming anything. Once again, you either believe the bible is the word of god or you don’t. To state that I assume religion is to get folks to act a certain way is folly. Your bible’s ten commandments are very clear. And, unless you have chosen not to follow them, your argument has fallen flat on its face. And, in fact, you are arguing that moral behavior is given us by a god. Religion, being the connection to such a being, is to INSTRUCT, is it not? To teach? To inform the believer as to how to conduct oneself?

    This has been a pleasure, but it will not change the atmosphere of this, or any other debate over religious issues. The fact is that, while I appreciate your candor, honesty, and your humaness, I fail to see how anything exchanged here will foster anything positive. My visit to this site was simply an exercise in proving to myself, and others folowing it, that the danger of religion, ANY belief system, is directly related to ignorance, bigotry, and self-righteousness. And while you think you can “pick and choose” your way to a superior moral position, your morals ARE a natural evolutionary construct. AND, I can prove it right now. Do you keep the sabbath holy? I’ll assume you do. But others, many others don’t. In fact, there are millions of christians alone who don’t. But the commandments are explicit.

    Exodus 20
    20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
    20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
    20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    The result of not keeping the sabbath?

    Exodus
    31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

    You’re not doing what god commands Eric. Better start whacking millions. I’ll be your first volunteer. And, we can film it. Maybe it will bring everyone into compliance.

    Thanks for your time Eric. Please enjoy your delusion. I will continue to fight for your right to believe it, even at the expense of my life if needed. But, please don’t expect me to be kind to any religion. And, if you, or anyone else, tries to impose their morality upon the freedom of this nation, the consequences will be humanly just.

    RJ Evans
    “American Heathen®”
    americanheathen@sbcglobal.net
    http://

  48. Eric Kemp Says:

    RJ

    Thanks for the reply.

    As for my reply, I’m going to make a post not necessarily responding to your arguments on an evidential basis, but more pointing out the structure and hypocrisy of your arguments. I agree that we’re at a fundamental impasse, but if you’d still like to respond to my post, when it is up, then feel free.

    Unfortunately, I recently moved and getting internet running in the new place has proved much more challenging than we first thought. As such, I will be without internet all weekend and my post probably won’t be up until early next week. Thanks for your patience.

  49. Angela Says:

    This is a very interesting topic, thank you for posting it Eric.

    You appear to have hit on a defensive knee jerk reaction in quite a few people. Who instead of addressing and answering the question, have in turn avoided it by lashing out at Christianity, even though that was not mentioned at all in the original question. Very interesting…

  50. Eric Kemp Says:

    Angela

    Thank you for your comments. And you’re exactly right, they don’t want to answer the question because they don’t have an answer. Their argument boils down to, “Christianity can’t be right, so therefore you’re wrong”. Nevermind that I never mentioned Christianity, nevermind that they can’t possibly know that Christianity can’t be right. They use the argument just so they don’t have to answer the question.

  51. Angela Says:

    Yep, I hear you Eric. Avoiding the question, is an answer in itself…


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