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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Second Coming


  1. An oversimplistic representation there.

    No one claims you "can't be good without God", they just claim your reasons for being good are fairly flimsy. If you believe in a God that values life and created us all equally in his eyes, then you too will value life.

    Whereas if you believe that you're nothing but atoms and molecules*, what's the point of being good to other bunches of atoms and molecules? Sure, there are plenty of reasons given by well meaning people, but they are pretty weak when compared to the convictions of Christians who place high value on life itself and treating each other well, as Jesus requested of us.

    Dinesh D Souza has made a very good point on this subject on numerous occasions. Basically, the values of our society come from Christianity, so even those who reject Christianity and hold up well meaning values, still derived those values from Christianity in a round about way. If Christianity had never been a part of history, I wonder if many of those atheists would hold the "good" values they do?

    *Naturalism- as promoted on the Sydney Atheists website.

    And btw, nice work with the blood drive! I'm also a donor, and it's a pretty valuable thing to do- ie: Save up to 3 lives etc.

  2. Um, Trav, it's called a joke. Get over it.

  3. > Basically, the values of our society come from Christianity


    Because, yeah, like we have legal and fiscal guidelines on selling our daughters into slavery* right there in the statute book. Oh, and the death penalty for adulterers**. It's all right there in our constitution.

    You idiot.

    > but they are pretty weak when compared to the convictions of Christians who place high value on life itself and treating each other well

    Nice one on the superiority complex there, 'trav'. Wait a second while I bow down to your clear leetness


    * Exodus 21:7-11
    ** Leviticus 20:10

  4. Oh deary me, Trav, you poor deluded tool.

    > Christians who place high value on life itself

    Riddle me this. Who values life more? One who is aware that his entire conscious existence ends with the death of his brain? Or one who thinks our brief existence on Earth is just the lobby to an eternal cocktail party with Cliff Richard and Baby Jesus?

    Please engage your critical thinking skill before you troll our blogs. You're not in church now, you know.

  5. Jason- I suggest you guys go listen to any of the Dinesh D Souza debates. I just finished watching one of him and Michael Shermer here:

    He regularly makes this point and makes it quite well, and I'm pretty sure he makes it in the above debate.

    Dave- Yes, value of life. Why do you think the majority of Christians value the right of an unborn baby to life? It's because they think each human life is equally valuable in God's eyes.

    Another example- Why do you think the vast majority of aid and humanitarian organisations in the world are either explicitly Christian or were founded by Christians?

    Regarding our society- look at our legal system, it's based on Judeo-Christian values. Just like the rest of Western Civilisation. You should really be thankful our legal systems are based on Judeo-Christian values, and not on say, Sharia Law like in many Middle Eastern countries- where women have no rights and many barbaric rules are in place.

    So again I ask the question:

    Who should value life more?

    A. Those who believe in a God who both created human life and loves human life.


    B. Those who believe we're simply atoms and molecules?

    It's a fairly simple question with a fairly obvious answer. Christians have much more reason to value life and be "good' to their fellow human beings. I'm not suggesting atheists can't be good, just that Christians have far better reasons to be, reasons which make far more sense.

  6. > He regularly makes this point and makes it quite well

    Trav, read this carefully:

    Repeatedly making a point does not make it any more correct.

    yet another FAIL

    > Christians have much more reason to value life and be "good' to their fellow human beings.

    See above.

  7. Are you actually going to rebut my argument!?

    All you've given me is a couple of old testament scriptures.... If that's your entire rebutall then I rest my case. I did say 'Judeo-Christian' not 'Judeo'!

    No Christian that I've ever met follows all the rules in Leviticus, and with good reason- Jesus never intended for anyone to.

  8. Trav, I don't quite understand what you mean when you say 'unborn babies'. Do you mean babies? Or do you mean embryos?

    You also seem unclear about whether you value all life, or just human life.

    You only assert that the 'vast majority' of aid organisations are Christian or founded by Christians. The faith of the founders is irrelevant. As for the constitution of the organisations, I will see your Christian Aid and raise you the Red Cross, Oxfam, Unicef, the World Food Programme. Gee, just about every humanitarian aid organisation is secular.

    Please clarify what you mean by 'Judeo-Christian values' and clarify:

    a) on what authority you use such values to choose which bits of the Bible you like; and

    b) explain what connection the values of our society have to the 'Judeo-Christian' religion (which I've never heard of).

  9. > No Christian that I've ever met follows all the rules in Leviticus, and with good reason- Jesus never intended for anyone to.

    Show me the line in the book that says that, and once you've done that, explain to me why that crap is still in the book at all, and why preachers all over the world, claiming to be "Christians", still spout their hate-filled garbage from their pulpits.

    Every time you say non-christians don't value life as much as christians, you are not only insulting us personally, you're also flying in the face of factual evidence.

    Quick rebuttal: Fred Phelps
    Slower rebuttal: Catholic teachings on contraception+HIV are even now killing thousands of people around the world who would have lived had they just stuck a bit of latex around their cocks.

    Is this valuing life?

    Respond "no true scotsman" and you FAIL. "oh, but they're not Real christians. BAWWWWW!

    Your position of "we xtians value life more" is based on horribly flawed logic and a woefully incomplete understanding of a) atheism and b) history. I hardly even know where to begin.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Ok, I've got a lot of explaining to do here! Unfortunatly, it's late and I have a big day and weekend ahead. So, I'll be succint.

    Dave- I said unborn babies, meaning babies who haven't been born yet. The whole abortion issue is obviously a huge one and we could talk about it/write all night. The point I was illustrating was that generally, Christians value life. I was specifically referring to human life. The bible teaches that we, as humans were made in "Gods Image". We're set apart. I'd suggest that the bible teaches that human life is more valuable than animal life.

    Regarding the bible, I think it needs to be considered in context and as a whole. To use a simple analogy, I'll use the example of a newspaper. Say on Monday you picked up the paper and opened it randomly- it says "And with 6 minutes to go Steve Menzies scored a try and the Manly fans went nuts". You might well ask, who is Steve Menzies, 6 minutes to go in what!? Now obviously if you'd read from the start you would've seen "The Manly Sea Eagles took out the NRL grand final last night in front of 80,000 people at Telstra STadium" and it would've given you context.

    Not the best analogy perhaps. The point- The bible needs to be considered as a WHOLE piece and in context. So for example, who was the writer writing to, what was the purpose of the peice of writing, how does this fit into the rest of the bible. Those are all relevant questions any time you want to draw out any sort of application or make statements about "What the bible says".

    In terms of specifics here- Jason you mention Phelps. Nice! I would like to suggest to you that he represents the views of perhaps 0.0000000000001% of Christians. God doesnt hate fags, what a load of crap. His church of 71 people (55 of whom are related to him) do NOT speak for Christians or for Jesus.

    Recently I was reading some guys blog and the post was phrased "Did he really say that!?". Below was a quote from a serial murderer in the US. The quote was (not exact..paraphrase): "I believed in evolution and thought I was nothing more than molecules and neither was anyone else, so what was the point of their life"

    (Something to that effect). Now do I say "All Atheists hold the sme viewpoint". I'd hate to see your reaction if I claimed that! So please don't tar me with the brush of Fred Phelps.

    OK, I've gone on long enough! Must go. In closing, why include the old testament!? It tells the story of God's people- the Israelites and it predicts the coming of Jesus. The Bible's overall narrative wouldn't make sense if not in light of the Old Testament. Another reason is the constant references to the Old Testament that we see in the New. However, Jesus said "I came to fulfil the law" and clarified/simplified the Old Testament Law. He's the focal point of Christianity.

  12. With the mass murderer, what I mean is: Would I ever claim that all naturalists would justify mass murder on the basis of their naturalism? Of course not.

    Likewise, please don't use Fred Phelps as any kind of rebuttal to anything. He's a complete crazy. God doesn't Hate Fags, and you'd never catch me picketing a gay person's funeral (or 99.9999999999% of Christians).

  13. I'm quite aware that Fred Phelps doesn't speak for you but, you see trav, he's using exactly the same book as you to justify his crap, and he has his theology DOWN. He's also very fond of "interpreting the bible in context".

    The point is this: What you're looking at with the bible is a bunch of disconnected, primitive and frankly weird scribblings from Bronze Age and Early Iron Age tribal people, lumped together in a manner open to any interpretation you like.

    You are not looking at the inspired word of god, and you are certainly not looking at any sort of historical record. You are looking at a Rorschasch test which offers more insight into the reader than the subject matter.

    wrt the serial killer comment, I think you're referring to comments made by Jeffrey Dahmer, after he converted (or reconverted, possibly, since he apparently had a "traditional upgringing", which implies christian) in jail. He killed 17 people during the 1980s, was jailed and died violently in Jail in 1994. Interestingly, his killer described the act as "The Work Of God"

    The quotation you vaguely remembered was probably from Kent "Dr Dino" Hovind's blog

    Kent is also in jail

    I really don't think you can use someone as mentally unstable as Jeffrey Dahmer as a reliable indicator of anything.

    I note with interest you did not respond on Catolicism + AIDS

  14. Firstly I'm not Catholic. Secondly, I don't have time to respond to everything! Thirdly, it definitely wasn't Hovind's blog.

    But I think you're right- the quote probably was Dahmer, using evolution to justify his murder.

    re: Fred Phelps, lets agree to disagree. Obviously a book as thick as the bible is open to interpretation! But I don't think it's worth should be downgraded because a twisted crazy like Phelps makes some statements which are CLEARLY theologically wrong. He's taking some statements from the Old Covenant and using them over and above Jesus, who taught time and time again the message of LOVE for everyone, not hate.

  15. ie: God loves human kind, who he made in his image.

    Why would God hate a human being, whom he made to be in relationship with him? Jesus made it clear that he was dying for everyone's salvation. So why would God send his son to earth to die for people he hates?

    Phelp's theology runs against the whole message of the bible and the point of Jesus life and teachings.

  16. Trav,

    I'm over this equivocation. Let's get back to the core tenet you're espousing: That Christians somehow automatically value life more than anyone else just because they are christian.

    This is epically arrogant, unjustified and plain flat-out wrong, quite aside from being extraordinarily insulting to anyone not in your insane little in-group. Stop pussying about and address this ridiculous assumption.

  17. I think I've addressed that above.

    The Christian teaching is that Jesus died on the cross for me and for you. In other words, Christianity is based on a selfless act, whereby someone went through 9 hours of torture on a cross, for your benefit.

    Christians believe that life is valuable by it's very nature- "Created in the image" of the one they worship.

    On the other hand, I can't see any reason why a naturalist would believe that life is valuable in itself.

    If you think this claim is unjustified, explain why. Sure I can understand why anyone would place value on fun times, friendships, and everything that there is to enjoy about life. But I can't understand why the life of other human beings (people they don't know) would be valuable to a naturalist.

    As an interesting note which is relevant here, above I claimed that "the vast majority of aid and humanitarian organisations in the world are either explicitly Christian or were founded by Christians".

    Dave responded with a comment that the constitution is more important than the faith of the founders, and then mentioned a few organisations, one being Oxfam. I wonder why he mentioned the "faith of the founders" being "irrelevant"? Would it be because Ox fam was started by Christians?

    Interesting indeed. Sure Oxfam isn't a "Christian" organisation by it's constitution, but would it even exist if not for the church group who started it? By claiming that the faith of the founders is irrelevant, you're completely ignoring the reasons why the founders may have started the organisation! As I said, the fact that so many aid organisations were started by Christians is a clear and obvious testament to the fact that Christians value the lives of other human beings.

  18. The arrogance.... it burns...

    > But I can't understand why the life of other human beings (people they don't know) would be valuable to a naturalist.

    Oh, and the stupid. that too.

  19. Explain it to me.

    Perhaps I could find some quotes from famous naturalistic atheists who actually agree with me?

    What about Peter Singer, who justifies abortions up to 28 days after birth.

    How funny- Dinesh D Souza was writing about his upcoming debate with Singer. He goes "Leave the grandparents at home, don't invite them!". lol.

    Anyway, I'm not a naturalist. I'm presuming you are (if you agree with the Sydney Atheist stated position....) so why don't you educate me.

    Considering that I'm so unintelligent and arrogant, maybe I could use some wisdom from a humble, intelligent man such as yourself.

  20. And btw, don't overstate my position either- I'm not suggesting that a naturalist would have no reason whatsoever to value the life of anyone else at all. I'm saying that the reasons they give to value life are weak compared to the reason why a believing Christian would.

    As I keep saying, the very nature of life is valuable to God, according to a Christian. And this is demonstrated in the world by Christians all around the world who fight the cause of the poor, needy and oppressed- much moreso than people who don't have a worldview which values life in the same way.

  21. > who justifies abortions up to 28 days after birth.

    [citation needed]

    Trav, you're just being a troll.

  22. Don't make me give you citations... Surely you've seen enough of my posts to know I don't need to cite every statement I make. However,

    Seeing as you asked:

    Seeing as you've got the citation, I'll draw your attention to the significant section of D Souza's article:

    Here are some choice Singer quotations on the subject which I get from his books Rethinking Life and Death and Writings on an Ethical Life.

    On how mothers should be permitted to kill their offspring until the age of 28 days: "My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of twenty-eight days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others."

    On why abortion is less morally significant than killing a rat: "Rats are indisputably more aware of their surroundings, and more able to respond in purposeful and complex ways to things they like or dislike, than a fetus at ten or even thirty-two weeks gestation."

    On why pigs, chickens and fish have more rights to life than unborn humans: "The calf, the pig, and the much-derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy, while if we make the comparison with a fetus of less than three months, a fish would show more signs of consciousness."

    On why infants aren't normal human beings with rights to life and liberty: "Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness...make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings."

  23. Here's the correct link:

    Next time, before you call me a troll, perhaps you should do some research of your own first.

  24. What the heck, it isn't copying right.

    Goto google, and google 'D Souza Singer'- it's from his piece on dated 12 May this year.

    And the wiki one....

  25. Trav.

    The story of Jesus's 'sacrifice' as told in the Bible is not supported by enough extrabiblical evidence to reasonably conclude that it actually happened.

    Furthermore, you're claim that Yahweh's incarnation sacrificing himself to himself is supposed to sound at all good or selfless is stupid. The story would work better if the god/Jesus superhero character just forgave in the first place. It's not impressive but more importantly it is not true.

    Are you telling me that if you didn't have your believe in a soul, an afterlife or Jesus, you wouldn't have a good reason to love life?

    I'm sorry if I sound harsh here, Trav. Believe me, it's great having you around. I'm becoming quite fond of our little exchanges, in fact. Plus, several of us love flexing our intellectual muscles and examining our beliefs critically.

    But I'm afraid you're coming across as not a little bit mad.

  26. Ah, so they were actually copying correctly...

    Here are some more charming quotes I just found from Singer:

    "We are heading for more than nine billion by 2050...... Do we really want every potential person to become an actual person?"

    "Arguably, the fetus first becomes a being of moral significance when it develops the capacity to feel pain, some time after 20 weeks of gestation".

    (And yet, as per the above, he STILL justifies abortions up to 28 weeks. What a cruel, twisted man).

    And one more:

    "Even when the fetus does develop a capacity to feel pain – probably in the last third of the pregnancy – it still does not have the self-awareness of a chimpanzee, or even a dog.

    When this is pointed out, some opponents of abortion respond that the fetus, unlike the dog or chimpanzee, is made in the image of God, or has an immortal soul."

    That ties into my argument quite well.

    If Peter Singer was a Christian, I wonder if he'd value the life of a newborn baby?

    His naturalistic views seem to be dictating that human lives are worthless.

  27. So early on in this crappy thready you take Dave and I to task for selectively reading the bibble and claim it has to be taken in context as a whole.

    Then you mine a bunch of provocative quotes from an ethicist, someone whose job is to wrestle with sticky questions like this every day, in effect doing exactly what you earlier criticised us for? and you do so to imply that all naturalists are just like Mr Singer, while BAWWWing when I bring up Phelps and some nasty catholic bishops?

    I smell something... hypocrite, quote miner, the perfect D'Souza acolyte in fact.

    go home, troll.

  28. Just caught your post Dave! it's Friday arvo, about to finish up.

    Just regarding this:

    "The story of Jesus's 'sacrifice' as told in the Bible is not supported by enough extrabiblical evidence to reasonably conclude that it actually happened."

    That's an interesting comment.

    In the first hundred or so years after Jesus was resurrected, the Christian faith was still an underground movement.

    Which is why it always puzzles me when people seem to EXPECT that there would actually be a library of extrabiblical evidence....Suetonis, Pliny the Younger, tacitus, Josephus etc etc all mention Jesus or Christians.

    Having said that, there definitely are extrabiblical sources referring to Jesus. Not to mention the gospels themselves, which are very historically reliable.

  29. Jason, don't forget how this all started.

    You accused me of being "arrogant" and "unintelligent" whilst refusing to actually argue my point. So I quoted someone who agrees with me. I never suggested that he speaks for all naturalists or any such thing. If you'd actually debated my point rather than throw insults at me, I probably wouldn't have even started quoting him.

    Oh, and the other reason I was quoting was cos you accused me of being a troll because I didn't provide a citation when claiming he supported abortions at 28 days.

    Again, perhaps you should do some research before accusing me of trollage next time ;-)

    Big weekend ahead, you won't see me here. Cya folks.

  30. Wait, before I go!

    Dave, you asked this question:

    "Are you telling me that if you didn't have your believe in a soul, an afterlife or Jesus, you wouldn't have a good reason to love life?"

    I don't have time to fully answer that, so instead I'll leave a question for you:

    "One of the primary objectives of the Sydney Atheists is to show that we can be good without god. We have a charity branch to the group and as our first charitable act in the community, we donated blood."

    Are you telling me that if the Sydney Atheists wouldn't try and be good if didn't need to prove that they can be "good without God"?


    have a good one!

  31. > Are you telling me that if the Sydney Atheists wouldn't try and be good if didn't need to prove that they can be "good without God"?


    You already know the answer to that trav, and I know you're just being a facetious little troll, but since you ask, I'll take the bait:

    No, Sydney Atheists need to offer proof that we're good without god because theotards like you repeatedly claim we're not.

    have a fun weekend in la-la land trav, I'm sure we'll see you on monday.

  32. Hey,Trav. Don't worry if you can't reply straight away, just fit us in when you can. I appreciate that it's one against many here, and I admire your dedication.

    It would help you to have a bit of an idea of how I view the Bible. As you know, this book makes some very counterintuitive, indeed outlandish claims. I hope you'll allow that description!

    I think I understand some of your arguments, and often they are predicated on the idea that the Bible actually tells the truth.

    But it seems a foolish thing to assume that a book (any book) is true and then build a worldview around that, reconciling scientific and historical contradictions by 'interpreting' or inventing 'context'. I know you're familiar with my post on trying to reconcile the Bible with the real world.

    If I tell you that the Harry Potter series is true, and that we have to defeat racism because Voldemort was racist, we might well agree that Potterians are good, anti-racist people, but it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to whether it actually happened.

    If you tell me the Bible tells the truth about the nature of our universe, that is a scientific claim that we can test and potentially disprove. For instance, if you tell me that bats are birds, or that snakes can talk, or that the world has four corners, or that pi = 3 or that animals were designed.

    If you tell me the Bible tells the truth about what happened on our planet in the past, then that is an historical claim that we can evaluate by comparing it to other contemporary accounts, archaeological evidence and so on.

    Then there is the miracle question. Of course miraculous events are untestable by science, because by definition they break the natural laws science relies upon to test claims and make predictions. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. To demonstrate that a miracle occurs, you need some pretty impressive evidence. Before you assume something is supernatural, we need to make sure it isn't something natural (like a conjuring trick, or a bad translation, or a distortion of the story for political purposes).

    Sure, Christianity might well have been an underground movement and that might explain why there's so little evidence for the historicity of the Jesus story. But you can't claim that the lack of evidence is somehow itself an explanation for the supernatural claims. That would be like my saying evolution is proven by the holes in the fossil record.

    Let me draw these threads together: it is daft to just assume the Bible is true and work from there. If I did that, of course I'd be joining you in Church, hoping to dodge that wailing and gnashing of teeth, and looking forward to the great Cliff Richard gig in the sky.

    But I don't assume that. I look at your claims, and understand them, and ask for the evidence. You need to provide that before you tell me anything about what your god intends, or has done, or wants from me.

    In the 2000 years since 1 Peter 3:15, the wiliest theologians have not satisfied this burden of evidence.