Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Atheists in mourning around the world



















(Dissociated Press) The worldwide atheist community is reeling from the deaths of two atheist icons.

Author and public intellectual Christopher Hitches died Thursday from cancer at the age of 62. Author and political intellectual/leader Kim Jung Il died Saturday from heart failure at the age of 69.

Each man represented to millions of adoring atheists the incarnation of atheist integrity and wisdom.

Many Christians have asked the obvious question: how is it that two men so apparently different in their political views could share the same core metaphysical view? What is it that links Hitchens to Kim? How is it, this reporter wondered, that sectors of the atheist community can embrace such different opinions on political liberty?

So this reporter traveled to the Madison, Wisconsin headquarters of the Freedom From Christianity and Stuff We Don't Like Foundation. I was ushered in to meet Mr. Reale Dupe, prominent atheist and the executive director of FFCSWDLF.

I asked him: what is atheism? What do atheists really believe? How can the belief that God does not exist give rise to such extraordinary and different individuals?

Executive director Dupe:
Atheism is the belief that the universe has no purpose, and that moral law is mere subjective opinion. It can accommodate any viewpoint-- libertarian, totalitarian, or anything in between. Hitchens and Kim are-- I mean were-- members of the club in equal standing. Heck, Hitch was a Trotskyite, don't forget. He loved the thug. And Hitch was a libertarian, too. Kim was the hero of his people. And the butcher of his people. And a servant of his nation. And a delusional autocrat with a golf handicap of 38-under-par who didn't defecate. No contradiction. Atheism denies meaning in the world and denies objective standards of right or wrong. No consistency required. The door to the atheist clubhouse is wide open. Being godless means never having to apologize, in the end. Not even to yourself.
But surely, this reporter asked, the denial of God entails certain conclusions. It has some characteristics of an ideology-- there is no objective moral law, there is no ultimate accountability, there is no ultimate purpose in life, human beings are not qualitatively different from lower animals. It would seem that atheism means a lot, ideologically.

Dupe:
We atheists believe that atheism isn't itself an ideology, but it is consistent with all sorts of ideologies. Consumerism, totalitarianism, nihilism, as well as democracy and political liberty.
I can understand how atheism is consistent with consumerism, totalitarianism, and nihilism, I said. If one denies ultimate purpose in life, gluttony, power, and despair are logical pursuits.

But how is atheism consistent with democracy and  political liberty? Don't these ideals presuppose human rights that transcend mere human opinion, which atheism denies? Human rights are endowed by a Source higher than man, or they're not really rights, but merely things permitted to men by men.

Ummm... gee... aaaa... ummmm... but... yaaaa... well... you see... mmmmm.......

OK, we'll go on to the next question. Isn't the assertion that there is no transcendent right or wrong an ideology in itself, and a dangerous one at that?
Our ideology is... any ideology. Whatever floats your boat. You choose. Atheism's a big tent. Christopher Hitchens, Marquis de Sade, Michael Ruse, Kim Jung Il, Woody Allen, Stalin, Jodie Foster, Pol Pot, Katharine Hepburn. A human animal doing whatever it wants in a universe without purpose leaves a lot of room for creativity. It's part of the vitality of atheism. 
So atheism is freedom?

A certain kind of freedom. Christians have defined freedom as the liberty to do what is right. We atheists define freedom as the liberty to do. We decide what is right. Since there are no transcendent moral laws, what is right can be whatever we want.

But people want different things, and often the same thing that all can't have. Doesn't the atheist kind of liberty presuppose a hierarchy of power?

Sure. Freedom is slavery, so to speak. No rules, 'cept the ones I make, if I can.

Dupe brought his hands together as if to pray, then laughed and put his hand on my shoulder.

Don't like my rules? Who ya' gonna complain to?

He showed me to the door.

He had a wake to attend, he said. He did not say if it was for Hitchens or for Kim, and did not act as if it mattered.

66 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Now you're being idiotic. 'Dissociated Press' is good. Dissociated from reality.

    Reminds me I should listen to the 'Freedom from Religion' podcast again, from Madison Wisconsin. The real co-vice president Dan Barker knows more about Christianity and religion than you do, having been a minister of religion for 19 years, before he realized what bunkum religion actually was.

    Atheism is just the position that there's no god. Repeating your idiotic claims of what atheism also entails is just rubbish.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @bach:

    What did I say about atheism that is rubbish? I merely pointed out the logical consequences of disbelief in God.

    Unless logic itself is inconsistent with atheism...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can't help but sympathize with poor Michael. He spent most of his life as an atheist and now has to suck up hard in an attempt to atone for all those years.

    It's also regrettable to see what he does to accomplish that. He likens people on the opposing side to some villain. Hitler did that, you are doing that, so you are wrong and I am right. That's so fifth-grade, Mike. We all can do that. It's easy. Luther hated Jews. Luther was a Christian. You are a Christian. You get my drift.

    And even that he doesn't do well. Learn from a real pro, Mike. Richard Weikart's lifetime pursuit is to prove that Darwin is responsible for Hitler. Go learn from him.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @mregnor

    You have hit the bull's eye, Dr. Egnor.

    Since everything you have written is true and undeniable, the only response you will get from atheists is a stream of insults, their best and only defense.

    ReplyDelete
  5. According to Kim Jong-il’s official biography his birth was prophesized by a swallow and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow and a new star in the sky. You could say that the North Korean leader’s first commandment was “You should have no other gods before me”.

    The cult of personality built around Kim and his father exploits the religious impulse of the populace to further the regimes ends. North Koreans can be considered atheists only in that their traditional religions have been supplanted by this cult. The difference between Hitchens and Kim Jonj-il is that Hitchens would always advocate a healthy scepticism toward religion while Kim and his father declared themselves divine in their own religion.

    I’m quite sure that if by an accident of birth Dr. Egnor was born in North Korea he would be one of the Dear Leaders most fervent followers; it’s in his nature.

    -KW

    ReplyDelete
  6. @bach,
    "he real co-vice president Dan Barker knows more about Christianity and religion than you do, having been a minister of religion for 19 years, before he realized what bunkum religion actually was."
    Sure. All the best doctors, lawyers, soldiers, researchers, architects, philosophers, and artists - they ALL quit what their doing after less than 2 decades. I have been a soldier longer than that idiot wore the cloth.
    When I retire, I will still hold rank. Does he?
    So WEAK.
    I think Fosters must be on for 1/2 off this week.

    @Oleg
    "I can't help but sympathize with poor Michael."
    Awww. Genuine pity! And here I was thinking you Atheists were all a bunch of smug, pretentious assholes.
    Silly me.

    @Pépé
    "Since everything you have written is true and undeniable, the only response you will get from atheists is a stream of insults, their best and only defense."
    Too true. Read the comments for the proof.

    @KW,

    "The difference between Hitchens and Kim Jonj-il is that Hitchens would always advocate a healthy scepticism toward religion while Kim and his father declared themselves divine in their own religion."
    NK is an officially atheist state. The no true Scotsman act does not mask the bullshit.

    "it’s in his nature."
    That is almost funny, coming from a passive sheep like you.

    @Mike,
    "Unless logic itself is inconsistent with atheism..."
    And THERE you have it, Sir.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @KW:

    Why go to so much trouble to deny the obvious? Kim was an atheist leader who used an atheist ideology to rule an atheist nation. All sorts of crazy stuff emerged from that swill-- idolatry, venality, brutality-- which is always the fruit of applied atheism. What you ought to be asking is "Why does my ideology inevitably lead to such evil?"

    Regarding my hypothetical lackeyism were I a North Korean, I can't say for sure. I'm no hero. I do love Christ, and I will fight for Him.

    Perhaps we should look at the fall of European Communism. Look at the roles atheists and Christians played. Atheists were by and large communist dupes, and Christians fought communism tenaciously.

    You're on the side of the cowards, KW.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @bach:

    [Reminds me I should listen to the 'Freedom from Religion' podcast again, from Madison Wisconsin. The real co-vice president Dan Barker knows more about Christianity and religion than you]

    Perhaps he does. FFRF is an anti-Christian hate group. There are no doubt erudite anti-Semites who know more about Judaism than some Jews do.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Egnor: All sorts of crazy stuff emerged from that swill-- idolatry, venality, brutality-- which is always the fruit of applied atheism.

    None of those emerged from atheism. Men have successfully butchered one another for eons. Christians were no worse at it than anyone else before or after them. There were no atheist rulers in countries that participated in World War I. The war was brutal anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @oleg:

    If you exclude the French Revolution, 1917 was the first time that atheists held state power. It was bloodbath thereafter.

    Name the nation ruled by an atheist ideology that wasn't a hellhole.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bloodbath before, bloodbath after. Mankind hasn't changed much.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @oleg:

    Right. Living in England (established state church), living in Soviet Russia (atheist government). Not much difference.

    Back to my question: Name the nation ruled by an atheist ideology that wasn't a hellhole.

    I can name many officially and culturally Christian nations that are decent and free.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Heh. I lived in Soviet Russia. Spent more than half of my life there. It wasn't a hellhole.

    Egnorance is bliss.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "I lived in Soviet Russia. Spent more than half of my life there. It wasn't a hellhole."

    Comrade citizen Oleg FINALLY comes out of the big red closet! Glory to the Revolution!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello crus. You should report me to the appropriate authorities. It's your sacred duty as a defender of the free world.

    ReplyDelete
  16. By and large the freest most prosperous nations are those that have entirely secular governments that remain neutral on religious matters. The United States may not be “founded on an atheist ideology” but it might as well have given the parity in law between belief and non-belief.

    Our Founding fathers made it quite clear by the signing and unanimous ratification of the Treaty of Tripoli that the “United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” and that the United States would abide by the rule of law and not the dictates of the Christian faith. Sounds exactly like what an “atheist” state would declare.

    The United States is in effect an atheist state that promises not to force it’s atheism on its citizens.

    -KW

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good to see that Christians have no compunction against lying when it suits their purpose, it's all relative I guess.

    But you should note that being anti-Christianity is different than being anti-Christian.

    Are you anti-Nazi? Are you anti-totalitarian, anti-fascist, anti-Islamism, anti-child-abuse?

    What exactly is wrong with being against prejudicial and hateful ideologies? You just fail to see that this applies to YOUR ideology. Every ideology is, by it's very nature, prejudicial. They pretend to have answers that will fit all problems. They are poor excuse for being unable to weight answers for a problem on their actual merits.

    The Westboro Baptist Church members are the most accurate spokespersons for the Bible I've heard in a while.

    Let's look at some specifics:

    1. Violent and Hateful Christian Identity movements, pro-slavery Christians, KKK, etc
    2. Christians attacking Women's Rights (on nearly every front but predominately their reproductive rights to their own bodies)
    3. Christians attacking gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other Rights (including their RIGHT to marry and enjoy the SAME SECULAR benefits heterosexual couples do; also their right not to suffer hateful discrimination)
    4. Christians attacking science and pushing absolute nonsense like I.D. which is nothing more than Biblical Creationism; this includes stem cell research, evolution, abiogenesis research, research funding in general.
    5. Christians attacking the separation of church and state (and yes I know EXACTLY those words aren't in the constitution, they are the EFFECT of the establishment clause and Jefferson made this extremely clear in his writing - this amended EXISTS because Christians were KILLING EACH OTHER over their religious squabbles, forcing religion OUT of a matter of state proved vastly superior).
    6. Christians LITERALLY brainwashing their children by sending them to these absolutely horrific 'Christian' camps where the kids are subjected to tortuous levels of emotional abuse that cause the children to break down emotionally and force them to 'accept Jesus and confess that they are sinners' (a horrible thing to force upon a child, FORCING them to believe that they are irredeemable sinners who aren't worthy of life except by Grace - it is just inexcusable - Child Abuse of the worst sort, willful and intentional.
    7. Christians who believe God wants them to war with other nations or justify their war, hatred or prejudice on God/Christianity/Bible
    Christians who attack sex education and birth control, which directly results in increased unwanted pregnancies, abortions, STDs, and numerous other health and social problems.

    Those are real issues CAUSED by Christian ideology, as promulgated in the Bible.

    This doesn't imply that all Christians are horrible people, nobody is doing that. But they are funding a lot of hate and prejudice by allowing themselves to remain ignorant.

    So yes, I'm anti-Christianity. I'm also a former Christian myself and my entire family remains followers of Christ. I love them and nothing will change that.

    All the more reason for me to speak out against Christianity.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This post is basically nothing but porn for Catholics and other Fundamentalist Christians who enjoy imagining themselves demolishing their intellectual opponents when it's not something that you are able to accomplish in the real world. You have 4th grader's comprehension of what it means to be an atheist. For all your dwelling on morality you would do well to reread, mark and inwardly digest Exodus 20:16.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Atheists and anti-religious skeptics keep chanting this mantra of "separation of church and state" claiming it is the proper meaning and application of the phrase "congress shall make no law respecting an establshment of religion." Yet I can't help but wonder.......if the framers of the constitution had really intended to prohibit any and all public recognition of the truth and relevance of Christianity to the American people, why did it take more than 200 years before this could be understood?

    ReplyDelete
  20. addendum:

    I focus on Christianity because it is vastly more impactful on my daily life than any other ideology or Religion. But I'm also anti-Islam, anti-Judaism, anti-Hinduism, etc. What I am *NOT* is anti-Christian, Jew (or even Israel), Muslim(nor Palestine), Hindu, etc.

    I'm also anti-totalitarian and anti-tribalistic for the SAME reasons (modern us-verses-them tribalism not to be confused with some of the ancient open, egalitarian, classless and cooperative communities that lived as relatively peaceful tribes).

    I'm also PRO-freedom of Religion (within reason, e.g., religions that believe in faith healing have no right to deny healthcare to Children, and so forth).

    PRO-Freedom of Speech (you can talk about your religion on your own dime all you want, and I can argue against it). But what you can't do is get my tax dollars to fund your Religion.

    Why not? Well, the MAIN reason I'm against it is not because I care about hearing about your religious beliefs (I actually believe there should a strictly factual, secular comparative religion course on ALL the major religions taught in every public school). It's because religious people have tended to murder each other over make-believe squabbles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Nativist_Riots

    Read up on the history of the Establishment Clause - it was because of its violent past that Religion had to be relegated to a private matter and banished from the public sphere.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous - I suggest reading Thomas Jefferson's 'Notes on the State of Virginia' where it talks about Religion (which you can get free online):
    http://books.google.com/books?id=-KlbAAAAQAAJ&vq=religion&dq=thomas%20jefferson%20notes%20on%20the%20state%20of%20virginia&pg=PA261#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Jefferson wrote in 1802 on the CHURCH AND STATE, Wall of separation: Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions. I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof thus building a wall of separation between Church and State R. to A. Danbury Baptists viii, 113. (1802)
    http://books.google.com/books?id=icGh3NxREIIC&pg=PA142&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U0HMqsni0U4HXihV0iPjm6BPFqKNg&ci=61%2C493%2C464%2C293&edge=0

    I also suggest reading Lief H. Carter's 'An introduction to constitutional interpretation: cases in law and religion' (1991), which contains an entire chapter on this subject.

    And, further, ask yourself how a Nation who had declared man was "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" could then enshrine into law the slavery and utter possession of one man by another. One is an ideal, the other is the reality. This Nation has failed AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN, to uphold the ideals upon which it was founded. That is no excuse for failing to right those wrongs.

    There have been MANY instances were the government has been involved in the establishment of Religion - but those past transgressions are no excuse for continuing them into the future. (cont as this was too long to post)

    ReplyDelete
  22. @Pépé
    Boy were you right.
    Looks like the Doc hit a home run, judging by the howls from left field.

    @Dark Star
    Was the nic 'Black Sun' taken?
    "Are you anti-Nazi?"
    No, Nazis are anti me (and almost everything I stand for). I just stand against all foreign and invading ideologues.
    Your list is very unoriginal and almost completely bullshit, btw.
    "So yes, I'm anti-Christianity."
    NO! I never would have guessed.
    Bet you're a barrel of laughs at Christmas.


    @Comrade citizen Oleg
    Report? To who? The Gangsters who run Russia now?
    No. Why would I? In my more active days, I dealt with threats to my nation's security, prosperity and other related issues. THREATS is the key word here. Threats like real courageous and highly ideologically driven people with weapons in remote locations that wanted to kill me for being there. Get it? No reporting on communist Russian academics.
    Russians of any kind would only be my concern when they do things like invade Poland or another ally.
    Otherwise, the sensible Russians can deal with their communists and neo nazis in a sensible Russian fashion.
    By free world, you mean as in 'Leader of the Free World' and all that jazz, right?
    That is American patriotic jingo, not an international treaty or bloc, Oleg.
    Do you mean NATO? NATO is a treaty.
    The 'free world' has no leading nation or figure, that is why it is free.
    ANYWAY...
    My oath as an officer is not extended to treaty nations, but only to the men serving with me and the nation for which I serve. I may have ORDERS that include more, but my oath is to my God, Queen, Country, and - perhaps MOST importantly - my fellow servicemen.
    Nothing about reporting commies...or Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. We have no NKVD here.
    Never did.

    ReplyDelete
  23. One more reference work you should read:

    William F. Jamieson writing in 1873 'The clergy a source of danger to the American republic':
    Notwithstanding the Constitution affirms that no "religious test" should exist, its framers were still fearful that some loop-hole remained through which danger of a religious character might come to the nation. Hence, at the very first session, of the first Congress, the first amendment to the constitution was made:
    "Congress shall make 'no law respecting an establishment of religion, of prohibiting the free exercise thereof," etc.
    With what jealous care did the Fathers of this Republic guard against the interference of religionists with the affairs of the State? With what solicitude did they lay the foundations of this Nation? They were aware of the despotic power of Religion, whenever, and wherever, it assumed control of human affairs. They apprehended danger to the Republic by the ever meddlesome clergy. They feared the very calamity that has come upon us—religious dictation in civil affairs. Is it not suggestive that the first amendment^ to the Constitution of our country should be on the subject of religion 1 The clergy never accepted the situation, and throughout our whole history have labored to inculcate opinions at variance with the principle of Self-Rule. In order to get the reins of government in their own hands they propose to blot out this first amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances," and put the following, which I copy from the aforementioned pamphlet, in its place: "The free exercise of the Bible-revealed Christian religion, the observance of the Christian Sabbath, and everything requisite to the promotion of gospel Christianity, without denominational preference, shall be congressionally sustained and supported; and the freedom of the press and of speech, unless in matters of obscenity and profanity, shall not be abridged, or the rights of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
    Let that principle be carried out, and freedom of speech and of the press would be at an end in this country, as they are in nearly all lands in the old world where Christianity and other equally despotic systems of religion bear rule.
    The author of the pamphlet entitled, "Christian Amendments of the Constitution of the United States" reports Dr. Bushnell as saying, "From the Atheistic error in our prime conceptions of government has arisen the Atheistic habit of separating politics from religion." But that sagacious and noble Statesman, Thomas Jefferson, rejoiced that religion and the state were completely divorced in the new nation.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am so disappointed in you, crus. If you, the awesome Canadian warrior, don't stand up to my dangerous atheist-communist ideas and defend free America, she will perish.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Right. You couldn't leave it alone with your sincere expression of admiration for Hitchens. You had to draw a parallel between totalitarian psychopath Kim Jong-Il and Christopher Hitchens, a man who fought tirelessly for what he thought were the rights of the downtrodden, who honestly and courageously admitted his mistakes when human nature ruined his idealistic hopes, and who put education and human freedom of expression above all else.

    Well, at least you're consistent, Michael. You've never let personal integrity get in the way of your spittle-flecked, self-righteous hatred of atheists.

    ReplyDelete
  26. @crusadeREX

    Dark Star is a comedic screenplay and movie by John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon. Dan O'Bannon later wrote Alien based on some themes from Dark Star. Any other questions reflective of your intellect?

    "Bet you're a barrel of laughs at Christmas".

    You mean Yule (wheel-of the sun)? or the Solstice? or Alban Artuan? Or some celebration of Osiris/Attis/Heracles/Hermes/Bacchus/Prometheus/Baal/Dionysus/Adonis/Tammuz/Zoroaster/Krishna/Horus/Ra/Mithras ?

    There are so many I always get them mixed up.

    I rather like Yule where Jölnir/Odin will 'fly' in on his eight-legged steed Sleipner and snatch up naughty children in his sack. Do you have a Yule-alter set up yet at your house? A nice evergreen all decorated with red, green, white and gold? Make sure you stuff your stockings with carrots, straw and sugar for Sleipner.

    Opps, wait, if you are a Christian that probably means you lied to your children and told them about Santa instead, that Christmas?

    Yeah, I love Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Dark Star:
    Thanks for the reading suggestions.

    I have a couple for you:

    1) "We hold these truths to be self-evident... all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."

    Atheism provides no objective Source for rights.

    2) The Black Book of Communism, which provides a detailed survey of the only political system atheism has spawned.

    We are a nation founded on Christian principles and sustained by Christian principles. The Constitution requires only that we have no official state church, and places no other constraint on government and religion.

    I'm sick of anti-Christian bigots.

    ReplyDelete
  28. @Rick K:

    [You had to draw a parallel between totalitarian psychopath Kim Jong-Il and Christopher Hitchens, a man who fought tirelessly for what he thought were the rights of the downtrodden, who honestly and courageously admitted his mistakes when human nature ruined his idealistic hopes, and who put education and human freedom of expression above all else.]

    I have a real fondness and respect for Hitchens. But I won't lie about his ideology. He was an atheist and a man most emphatically of the left.

    Atheism and leftism have been malignant ideologies, and have caused enormous suffering and death in the 20th century.

    No Trotsky groupie gets a free pass from me.

    Hitchens was a brilliant, likeable, and very mistaken man.

    May God rest his soul.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Mike,

    Atheism is not an ideology. It is a worldview. You've been told that countless times. You don't seem to get it. Thick skull, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  30. @oleg:

    My skull is thick. You should see my CT scan.

    ReplyDelete
  31. "We hold these truths to be self-evident... all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."

    Interesting that you would quote that, since it was written by Jefferson, who created a version of the Bible from which he carefully edited out any supernatural elements, which pretty much leaves Jefferson as an example of one of those materialists you decry so often.

    It is also interesting that the "Creator" reference wasn't in the original drafts of the Declaration - either Jefferson's draft or Adam's draft. Neither of them thought it necessary to have a "Creator" for rights to exist. The insertion of "Creator" was done later, as part of a political compromise, not because of some principled stance that it was a necessary element.

    ReplyDelete
  32. @anon:

    Jefferson penned it, and certainly played an important role in drafting it, but the Declaration is the consensus of the Continental Congress and was adopted by vote after many revisions.

    The insertion of "Creator" was indeed a political compromise. The founders were largely serious Christians, with a few less serious ones. The notion that they were deists is dubious. Deism is the belief that God no longer acts in the world. Equal creation and endowment of each man is difficult to square with deistic doctrine, as it asserts that God takes an active role in human affairs.

    Face it, our nation was founded by Christians (the people as well as the founders) on obviously Christian principles.

    You atheists have your own governments.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Michael,

    Ive previously pointed out that the freedom and forms of government that we enjoy in the West owes considerably more to the 18th century Enlightenment than to Christianity. Either you missed my comment or you didn't have an answer to it.

    Agreed. Many of the Enlightenment thinkers were Christians. There were also agnostics and secular Jews, such as Spinoza, involved.

    The American Revolution was a result of Enlightenment values, not the values of Christianity. The 19th century saw a swing away from Enlightenment values with Romantacism and Nationalism. Hitler in his pre-WWI Vienna days imbibed heavily of Nationalism and formed his toxic concoction.

    The Enlightenment led to the abolition of slavery, not Christianity. Christianity had 1,500 years since it acquired state power to condemn slavery, but it didn't. Paul's only statements on slavery was to advise the slaves to submit to their masters. A wise pragmatic decision; if they'd advocated emancipation, the Christians would have suffered a fate similar to that of Spartacus.

    The popes of the 16th century legitimized the taking of infidels as slaves by rulers such as Portugal's Henry the Navigator, eventually leading to the barbarous slave trade.

    In antebellum America, the southern Christian churches were justifying the perpetuation of slavery on biblical grounds.

    Christianity doesn't exactly have clean hands. Rightly praising the many Christians who did the right thing whilst ignoring the many who didn't might make you feel better about Christianity, but it's just wishful thinking.

    And ... atheism isn't an ideology. It's just the simple assertion that there's no god.

    ReplyDelete
  34. @bach:

    Western abolition of slavery began in the second millennium (c 1100) (England) and over the next few centuries (Sweden, France) as a direct result of Christianity. It long predated the 17th century Enlightenment, which of course was a quite Christian movement as well. The Enlightenment abolition movements eliminated slavery in the Western Hemisphere. It has been ended in Europe centuries earlier, and would only return in communist (atheist) labor camps in the 20th century.

    Slavery is one of the most ancient human institutions, not even questioned as a moral issue until Christians fought it and eventually ended it (c.f. Wilberforce, John Brown, Garrison, etc etc).

    Name the atheists involved in the abolition movement.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Equal creation and endowment of each man is difficult to square with deistic doctrine, as it asserts that God takes an active role in human affairs.

    No, it doesn't. But I guess you are too dimwitted to notice this. Or to notice that your argument that no one could conceive of such rights as coming from anywhere other than a creator God is clearly at odds with what Jefferson and Adams thought.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Michael,

    Spinoza... Christian? The Enlightenment was 18th century, not 17th. Enlightenment values were derived from reason, not any 'moral teachings' included in the Bible.

    Serfdom, slavery by a different name, persisted in Europe until the 19th century.

    Christians were enthusiastic proponents of slavery and 16th century catholic popes legitimized slavery. Again, the southern American churches supported slavery on biblical grounds in antebellum America.

    Any Christian opposing slavery was dong it for reasons other than scriptural. The times had changed and it was due to the Enlightenment rather than Christianity evolving or Christians reading the Bible more carefully and realizing something Christians had missed for 1800 years.

    The gulags were communist not atheist. They were set up to punish those who were thought to be enemies of communism, not as a form of slavery.

    ReplyDelete
  37. mregnor said...
    >>>1) "We hold these truths to be self-evident... all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."

    Of course this was written by the same people who codified the possession of one human by another into their Constitution (in the Enumeration, Importation, and Fugitive Slave clauses). Where exactly in the Bible does it say one person shall not not own another? No, it has rules about slavery that clearly do NOT condemn it, instead you are enjoined to obey your masters.

    If you are a Christian and you believe that Slavery is morally wrong then you are in exactly the same position I am in - we have to determine what is right and wrong using our brains, our intellect, our reason, and a good bit of negotiation and unfortunately, occasionally bloodshed (cf. Civil War, and the abolition of Slavery; and it was the southern religious Democrat's that fought to keep slavery).

    :: However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

    :: When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21)

    :: The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. (Luke 12:47)

    mregnor said...
    >>>We are a nation founded on Christian principles and sustained by Christian principles
    Slave-owning, native-murdering, thieving (taking native property), lying(under false pretenses), cheating(the natives out of their land) Christian principles; from Manifest Destiny to the Requerimiento of the Conquistadors. That is the legacy.

    Fortunately, we survived that period of Christian-rule and we have moved forward into the 21st century. Where people of all races have mostly Equal Rights (at least in theory, if not in practice). Women can vote. And eventually where Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender people can get married and serve openly and proudly in the Military without facing bigotry and violence.

    >>>"Black Book of Communism, which provides a detailed survey of the only political system atheism has spawned"
    Not very keen on History are you?

    Plato in The Republic: "The private and individual is altogether banished from life and things which are by nature private, such as eyes and ears and hands, have become common, and in some way see and hear and act in common, and all men express praise and fell joy and sorrow on the same occasions." And even a cursory review of anthropology informs you that many small, tightly-knit cultures were naturually communistic (and they were not atheistic). There is nothing inheriently wrong with communism itself.

    But there is NOTHING in Atheism that compells one towards Communism (neither the natural communism of groups nor the ideology promulgated by Marx) - so this is an irrelevant point & fallacious argument. Atheism is only someones position relative to a belief in a God, or lack thereof. You lack any demonstrably causitive connection.

    I think you confuse Communism with totalitarianism and fascism (radical authoritarian nationalism) -- features promulgated in the Christianity of Hitler, Mussolini, Petain, Franco, Seyss-Inquart, Hans Frank, Tiso, Pavelitch, and Degrelle. So clearly Christianity is no prophylactic against foul politics either.

    The simple fact is that the world is moving away from theocracies towards more secularized political systems.

    ReplyDelete
  38. mregnor said...
    >>> Slavery is one of the most ancient human institutions, not even questioned as a moral issue until Christians fought it and eventually ended it (c.f. Wilberforce, John Brown, Garrison, etc etc).

    Sorry, but Zoroastrianism explicitly forbade slavery back in ca. 550BCE. And again, I challange you to produce the passage in the Bible where Jesus speaks out against Slavery.

    I'm glad that Christians finally went against their own Holy book and helped to fight against Slavery - but this is evidence of how morally degenerate the Bible is, not a credit to Christianity.

    >>> Name the atheists involved in the abolition movement

    Ok, hang on just a minute, let me get this straight... Christianity is spread at the point of a sword for 1400 years, Crusades, Inquisitions, murder of dissenting voices (Arian, the Gnostics, etc) and the destruction of their work, threats, intimidation, cultural inculcation... And because of the success of violent promulgation of a belief system you then turn around and propose to give Christianity the credit for every action a Christian happens to take - Even when those actions go directly against the Bible?

    How do you manage to find pants that fit? I'm picturing James and the Giant Peach.

    I mean the sheer illogic of this statement is just astounding.

    We don't deny that there are a lot of Christians. The question is, what does Christianity have to do with it?

    I don't know the religious affiliation of every abolitionist who ever existed - it's irrelevant for the most part; and largely undocumented. I know the Quakers were (for Western civilizations) one of the early groups that spoke out against slavery -- but many Quakers had been slave owners as well. So why aren't you a Quaker? Clearly they are the better Christians -- right?

    I do know two amazing women who happened to also be atheists, feminists, and abolitionists of the early 1800's: Ernestine Louise Rose and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

    ReplyDelete
  39. @bach:

    [Serfdom, slavery by a different name, persisted in Europe until the 19th century.]

    Serfdom was not slavery. It was a transient economic and social structure that emerged after slavery had been abolished. Abolished by Christian rulers and cultures.

    [Christians were enthusiastic proponents of slavery and 16th century catholic popes legitimized slavery.]

    The papal bull Sumlimus Dei issued in 1537 by Pope Paul III, banned enslavement of indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere. The Pope declared that all people have rational souls and that enslavement is immoral. He described slavery as satanic.

    It is, along with the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, one of the great documents of liberty.

    I'll repeat my question: what role did atheists play in abolition of slavery?

    ReplyDelete
  40. @bach:

    [The gulags were communist not atheist.]

    So that Solzenitzen guy got it all mixed up? He said that the essence of the struggle of the West against communism was the struggle of Christianity against atheism. You should read his Harvard address.(http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/solzhenitsyn/harvard1978.html)

    But why would Solzenitzen know more about gulags than you, huh?

    ReplyDelete
  41. @Dark Star:

    Your comments are more detailed than I can do justice to in a combox. I'll post on your comments shortly after Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  42. @Darkstar,
    No. I meant your a sofmoric, freshly educated positivist who thinks he sounds intelligent cataloguing dead religions and ancient festivities.

    That may work for folks who took an ancient history course as a teenager, or those who are self educated - but not anyone familiar with the subjects, cultures, and periods you reference.
    It certainly would be a bore at the dinner table. Every family (and village square) has one.
    As for your nicname, I am pleased. I has suspected from your tone that your were a national socialist. Unfortunately I am all too familiar with their style, as I am with Red propaganda.
    Your post read like a thinly veiled NeoNazi piece, and is DRIPPING with ideology... hence my association with Thule Cults.
    Mea Culpa.
    I am sorry for assuming the worst about you, DS.
    You will now let the folks know you are NOT a Neo Nazi and have NO sympathy for them OR their Communist opposites? I hope so.
    I would suggest, in all sincerity, that you leave your ideology out of your research. Trying to arrange the most ancient and spotty parts of the historical record to isolate and attack a modern group IS Historical Revisionism by definition.
    If you have studied history and love it, as I suspect, you KNOW that is wrong.
    If you want to be taken seriously by SANE historians and field academics, you MUST alter the tone.


    @All,
    I suggest you reference the periods IN BETWEEN those listed by Darkstar, as well as the specific codes he mentions. They are especially telling. The length/duration and endurance of ideals is also another stark contrast with Christianity or Judaism.
    Anyway...Read those laws, and their various justifications where possible. Note the varied interpretations of these codes by modern scholars, the debate about their dating and use, and the groups they stemmed from (tolerant, war like, theist, deist?).
    Also examine the details of the codes DS has listed. They are simply not source materials for the Judaic faith. To suggest such borders on revisionist anti-Semitism.,,and it is BAD history.
    There IS 'crossover' stuff in Egyptian religions and the Enuma Elish does have a VERY similar tone to Genesis, but in both cases Hebrew or Pre Hebrew Semitic groups were an influence.
    The only valid points that can be drawn from DS pages of jumbled factoids are that Monotheism may be as old (or older!!) as polytheism and pantheism, that ancient peoples had laws and in some places slavery was banned. By whom? We are left wondering. Certainly NOT by Atheists, who were and STILL are foaming in the village square. No. Must be those 'crazy' religious types again! After all, if they are to blame for all of history's evil - as our resident infernal advocates presume - then it goes to figure they must be to credit for all the good.
    MOST IMPORTANTLY: As a lettered lifelong student of history, I can only recommend that people reading assertions like those made by DS consider this: It COULD (is in this case) be a SNOWJOB. Just like positivists in other fields, these folks bend the accepted record to suite a modern agenda (usually out of hate, see admissions above).
    It is very hard for a layman to take these issues on, one by one, and they KNOW that; that is the point!
    So? What to do? Disregard the connection(s) as the bullshit it is, then approach the subject you wish to study as a whole.
    For example with the DS piece above we could single out ancient codes of law. These codes can be studied individually and (very roughly) compared to modern common law.
    One will quickly see that the ancient codes were also objectively moral, but otherwise VERY different than ours today and the comparisons and connections made by DS are interpretive, weak at best, and not falsifiable (unprovable). DS is behaving like a lawyer making a case, NOT a historian relating the facts.
    The rest of his references would fall into a similar category (Holidays, morality, etc etc.) hence my dismissal of the whole mess as a bigoted revisionism of the record.

    ReplyDelete
  43. The Pope declared that all people have rational souls and that enslavement is immoral.

    Trumpeting this is a bit like congratulating a wife-beater who decides to stop kicking his spouse for taking a stand against abuse. I'm sure his battered spouse appreciates that she's not being beaten any more, but it doesn't relive him of responsibility for the crimes he committed. Neither should the church get much praise for changing its position on slavery after condoning and promoting the practice for centuries on end.

    ReplyDelete
  44. crusadeREX
    >> @Darkstar, ... cataloguing dead religions and ancient festivities.
    Funny how Gods have a way of dying off with their followers.

    >> You will now let the folks know you are NOT a Neo Nazi and have NO sympathy for them OR their Communist opposites?
    I happen to have sympathy and compassion for every human being, regardless of how screwed up their beliefs might be. Perhaps because I believe this is the ONLY existence they will have, so I have a little more respect for life and hope that we can find ways to help others.

    You want to pretend that some future existence will sort it all out - very comforting (in the way that lying to ourselves often is), but also cowardly. I'm responsible, by my own actions, for contributing to the suffering of others. I take that responsibility, I own it, and I try to think about how I can do better - and if there is a God then I'll own my own mistakes and errors. I don't need, want, or ask for a scapegoat.

    >> One will quickly see that the ancient codes were also objectively moral
    Interesting, so you have a way to demonstrate that a statement is objectively moral or not? You should publish that as no philosopher has ever managed such a feat.

    >> hence my dismissal of the whole mess as a bigoted revisionism of the record
    LOL... that whole series is just gorgeous handwaving and avoidance.

    mregnor said...
    >> So that Solzenitzen guy...struggle of the West against communism was the struggle of Christianity against atheism.
    My favorite part was where he hypocritically accusess 'Western intellectuals' who "refused to see communism's crimes", but fails to mention the nearly endless litany of 1400 years of Christianities crimes against humanity. Which you also refuse to see.

    My second was "But should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West such as it is today as a model to my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours." -- so YOUR 'Christian' society is WORSE to him than the gulags! He prefers his own brand of Delusion along with his set of beliefs presumed in Faith, over yours (as it always is). And he is just positive that HIS vision would bring peace and happiness to all, release the doves and butterflies.

    He didn't directly speak to atheism in this peice but I read some additional works of his and I understand better where he is coming from. But he presented no evidence of his conclusion. He desperately wants to shift the burden from the people who committed these atrocities to their mere lack of belief in a God. LACK of belief doesn't command anyone to commit atrocities against humanity, nor is there a single shred of evidence that it undermines the value one human places in another.

    So basically he is conflating atheism with authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and nationalism. Which are the exact attributes of Christianity that have caused the same kinds of problems. Some little worm gets it into his/her brain that they KNOW what God wants (cf. Westboro Baptist Church) and no consideration of humanity will stop them - because there is no higher authority than God. If God wants every Amelikite DEAD then that is what they are going to do.

    And there is no crime against humanity that the religous mind cannot excuse on behalf of their prophets or God or dogma or adherents. Murdering infants? No problem their parents were evil so those infants had it coming (and WLC adds that it was the Israeli soldiers that had to murder all those infants that were the real victims!) Murder your own child? no problem, that's a glorious show of Faith, every parent should be so lucky (big fan of Andrea Yates are you?)

    ReplyDelete
  45. Michael drones: "I'll repeat my question: what role did atheists play in abolition of slavery? "

    First, what role did and does religion play in the development and maintenance of slavery? Well, let's see:

    Q: What book did southern slave owners quote from when justifying the subjugation of their slaves?
    A: The Bible

    Q: Who gave the Conquistadors divine right to over-run and enslave a continent?
    A: The Christian God via several Papal treaties

    Q: Where in most American households can you find a carefully enumerated treatise on the proper treatment of slaves?
    A: The Old Testament

    Q: Where is the largest example of slavery (humans as property) within the borders of the U.S. today?
    A: The fundamentalist Mormon enclave in Colorado City, AZ.

    Q: What gives the Mormon saints the right to pass "wives" from man to man like so many kitchen appliances?
    A: Divine revelation from God

    Q: In the name of what religion was the slave trade North Africa and Mediterranean explicitly carried out?
    A: Islam

    Q: Name one major western religion that never openly supported and promoted slavery.
    A: *crickets*

    Q: According to Frederick Douglass, who made the harshest slaveowners?
    A: The most devout Christians.

    I could go on, but the simple fact is that it took nearly 2000 years to convince most Christians that slavery is bad.

    Now, let's look at the record of freethinkers in the slavery and racism:

    Dark Star already named some names, out of community that is tiny compared to the world's great religions. When you're listing secular voices against slavery, don't forget Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and the many deists of the Enlightenment. Abraham Lincoln was a lot closer to my side of the religion debate than to Michael's. Didn't he have something to do with slavery?

    And, if you consider the mines and factories of the early 20th Century as a form of slavery, we can consider the role of socialists and trade unions in freeing the victims.

    "Even a glance a the whole record will show, first, that person for person, American freethinkers and agnostics and atheists come out the best. The chance that someone's secular or freethinking opinion would cause him or her to denounce the whole injustice was extremely high. The chance that someone's religious belief would cause him to take a stand against slavery and racism was statstically quite small. but the chance that someone's religious belief would cause him or her to uphold slaver and racism was statistically extremely high, and the latter fact helps us understand why the victory of simple justice took so long to bring about."
    -- Christopher Hitchens

    ReplyDelete
  46. Michael,

    OK, I've read Solzhenitsyn's Harvard address. All he says about the camps in the Soviet Union was that most of the prisoners weren't criminals because they broke no laws that he recognized, and that the Soviet Union was a lawless state.

    You might have got the gist of his address when you summaries him as saying that the West's opposition to the the Soviet Union was a struggle of Christianity against atheism, although I can't find any part specifically stating that. He talks more about spirituality.

    His opinion is just that of a single person and your reading of it.

    I can't see anything in his address that contradicts my assertion that the prisoners in the gulags were there because they were seen to be a threat to communism.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Rick K:

    [When you're listing secular voices against slavery, don't forget Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and the many deists of the Enlightenment. Abraham Lincoln was a lot closer to my side of the religion debate than to Michael's. Didn't he have something to do with slavery?]

    You're kidding, right?

    Deists are theists, not atheists. To the extent that Franklin, Paine, and Lincoln were deists (Paine yes, Franklin maybe, Lincoln not) they believed in God. All three of them, whatever their variance from orthodox Christianity, passioniately believed in a divine Creator. They were not atheists, in any sense of the word.

    Atheism is a pitiful fallacy. You have so few actual atheists who have contributed anything positive to mankind that you have to claim deists-- who openly believe in a divine Creator, for your side.

    Pitiful.

    Now, back to my question: who were the ATHEISTS who contributed anything of substance to the abolition of slavery?

    ReplyDelete
  48. @bach:

    [I can't see anything in his address that contradicts my assertion that the prisoners in the gulags were there because they were seen to be a threat to communism.]

    Of course that's why they were there. In every nation under the rule of state atheism in which atheists have risen to state power, there have been gulags of one sort or another.

    Why can't you admit the obvious-- state atheism has been invariably and uniquely totalitarian? If you were an intellectually honest atheist, you would be mortified by the historical reality of state atheism, and try to understand it and prevent it in the future.

    Your denial discredits you.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Egnor: Now, back to my question: who were the ATHEISTS who contributed anything of substance to the abolition of slavery?

    You will be pleased to know that the First French Republic abolished slavery in all French colonies in 1794. Yes, those very Jacobins whom you consider to be the first atheist government.

    ReplyDelete
  50. The abolition of slavery occurred in several countries around the same time. Their governments were religious to a different degree. Some had a state religion (like Britain), others neutral (the US), yet others were entirely secular (France). Religion wasn't a necessary factor in the abolition. Enlightenment was.

    ReplyDelete
  51. @oleg:

    Jacobians weren't strictly atheist. Robespierre was a deist, although Hebert and his faction were atheists. The revolutionary leadership vacillated between the Cult of Reason and the Cult of the Supreme Being. The Jacobians were certainly anti-clerical and virulently anti-Catholic. Like you.

    If you are willing to accept the Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic Wars on the atheist side of the ledger, I might grant you manumission in the French colonies.

    Can you think of any other psychopathic mass murdering war-mongering atheists who were abolitionists?

    ReplyDelete
  52. Mregnor,

    If atheism was forced upon a population by violence would you then credit atheism for any good deeds done by that population or would you credit their indomitable human spirit?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Michael said: "Atheism is a pitiful fallacy. You have so few actual atheists who have contributed anything positive to mankind that you have to claim deists-- who openly believe in a divine Creator, for your side. "

    True modern atheism was barely conceivable before the discoveries of the late 1800s and 1900s that demonstrated that the Earth, life and humanity could come into existence without divine intervention. Do you honestly think anti-clerical people like Paine, Franklin and Lincoln would attribute human morality to divine intervention today? Besides, at the time Wilberforce was working to abolish slavery, atheism was illegal in England. That puts a damper on the 18th century political power of your 2011 definition of "atheists".

    Nevertheless, we have more example. William Lloyd Garrison, as close to a modern atheist as you could find in 1830, founded both the New England Anti-Slavery Society and the American Anti-Slavery Society, was outspoken in his criticism of church complicity with slavery, and was by many accounts the strongest American voice for abolition.

    So that question is answered. In spite of their small numbers, freethinkers were strong voices rising against a sea of theists armed with endless Biblical verses supporting the institution of slavery.

    The Hitchens quote above appears to be quite well supported by history.

    But I still think it is a much more interesting question why the prophet son of a loving god didn't realize that treating people as property was bad, and that their followers couldn't figure it out for 1700 years. And it is an even more interesting to question - if divine mandate is the only objective source of morality, why do you think slavery is bad? Your god didn't mandate that it is bad. Quite the contrary. If the Bible, the word of God, condones slavery, and is your source of objective morality, then on what basis do you reject slavery?

    ReplyDelete
  54. @Dark Star:

    [If atheism was forced upon a population by violence would you then credit atheism for any good deeds done by that population or would you credit their indomitable human spirit?]

    Why the hypothetical?

    Just study the communist world.

    The credit/fault for acts committed by people crushed by state atheism depends on understanding motives and comparing behavior with and without atheist totalitarianism.

    If atheism correlated with a better society, to that extent it would not be unreasonable to credit it, as long as the improvement could reasonably be credited to atheist ideology.

    ReplyDelete
  55. @Rick K:

    [True modern atheism was barely conceivable before the discoveries of the late 1800s and 1900s]

    Right. You can't be a Darwinian before Darwin. I never thought of that.

    [that demonstrated that the Earth, life and humanity could come into existence without divine intervention.]

    How exactly was that research project conducted? Did they wait until God was distracted and see if a universe would just pop into existence by itself? Which journal was that published in? Do you recall the p-value?

    [Do you honestly think anti-clerical people like Paine, Franklin and Lincoln would attribute human morality to divine intervention today?]

    Oh. So all these neat people would be atheists, even if they never were atheists. Quite an argument.

    [Besides, at the time Wilberforce was working to abolish slavery, atheism was illegal in England. That puts a damper on the 18th century political power of your 2011 definition of "atheists".]

    Blasphemy was illegal in England. Your argument that there were all of these frightened atheists huddled in closets working feverishly to free slaves lacks one thing-- a shred of evidence.

    [Nevertheless, we have more example. William Lloyd Garrison, as close to a modern atheist as you could find in 1830, founded both the New England Anti-Slavery Society and the American Anti-Slavery Society, was outspoken in his criticism of church complicity with slavery, and was by many accounts the strongest American voice for abolition.]

    Garrison was certainly anti-clerical. The man who wrote that our rights are endowed by our Creator was anti-clerical. I would like to see the evidence that Garrison was an atheist.

    [So that question is answered. In spite of their small numbers, freethinkers were strong voices rising against a sea of theists armed with endless Biblical verses supporting the institution of slavery.]

    Yep. The evidence of the indispensability of atheism to abolition is unequivocal, albeit non-existent. You still haven't named one atheist.

    [The Hitchens quote above appears to be quite well supported by history.]

    Oh. Hitchens said it. I suspect that he's changed his opinion.

    [But I still think it is a much more interesting question why the prophet son of a loving god didn't realize that treating people as property was bad, and that their followers couldn't figure it out for 1700 years.]

    Christianity ultimately ended slavery, beginning several centuries after Christianity gained hegemony in Europe. Slavery had been a human institution since the dawn of man, morally questioned by no one, until Christianity.

    Christ denounced slavery in the most effective way possible: he identified with the slaves, not the masters. His revolution was spiritual. An exhortation to His disciples to write Tiberius a letter denouncing slavery would have been a futile gesture, unlike all of the other letters he told them to write.

    ReplyDelete
  56. @RickK:

    [And it is an even more interesting to question - if divine mandate is the only objective source of morality, why do you think slavery is bad?]

    By 'Divine mandate' you mean the Moral Law, which is expressed in two forms:

    1) Scripture
    2) Conscience ("written in our hearts")

    Scripture implicitly denounces slavery (Galatians 3:28), and our God-given conscience insists that ownership of another human being is wrong.

    As an atheist and a Darwinianly evolved animal, what is your basis for opposition to slavery? How is it that your opinion counts more than the opinion of a slave-owner? Who decides on the hierarchy of moral opinion, if there is no objective Moral Law independent of human opinion?

    [Your god didn't mandate that it is bad. Quite the contrary. If the Bible, the word of God, condones slavery, and is your source of objective morality, then on what basis do you reject slavery?]

    The Bible does not advocate slavery. It regulates it (Old Testament) when it is a part of the fabric of society, and it points out (in the New Testament) that God identifies with the slave, not the master.

    Christianity is a spiritual revolution, with political consequences.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Egnor: Can you think of any other psychopathic mass murdering war-mongering atheists who were abolitionists?

    Moving the goalposts, Mike? A single counter example will suffice.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Michael,

    Scripture doesn't implicitly denounce slavery. Your quote from Galatians3:28 (KJV) reads; 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus'.

    It most certainly does not state that slaves should be set free. Slaves remain slaves, in the same way that males remain males, and females remain females.

    ReplyDelete
  59. @bach:

    You're missing my point about the way in which Christianity ended slavery. It ended slavery by a spiritual revolution, not primarily a political revolution. The New Testament is no a political tract. It says little or nothing about war, slavery, taxation (except to forgive tax collectors), or any kind of political injustice. The injunction to love your neighbor as yourself is obviously an implicit condemnation of slavery and of all manner of interpersonal injustice. And Christ's identification with slaves is very powerful, and much more effective and transformative than any letter-writing-campaign-to-Tiberius would have been. Matthew 25:31-46 should send a chill up any slave-master's spine. Christ emphatically identified Himself-- God incarnate-- with the least among us.

    Christianity is a relationship with God. It is not primarily an ideology or even a religion, per se, although it obviously is so in a secondary sort of way. Christ's purpose is to bring us to Him, Person to person. He did not set out to condemn slavery or war or racism or deficit spending.

    He set out to find lost sheep. Some of those sheep were slaves, and some were masters. He made it very clear where He stood on the matter.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Michael,

    I'm not missing the point that you're making, because you're making it up as you go (actually, you've probably just cribbed it from a modern apologist). Galatians 3:28 and Matthew 25:31-46 have nothing to do with emancipation of slaves. They only deal with the acceptance of one's fate.

    You can't ignore the fact that many ministers in the antellum south justified slavery on the basis of biblical scripture. They didn't find your quotes particularly convincing.

    ReplyDelete
  61. @bach:

    [You can't ignore the fact that many ministers in the antellum south justified slavery on the basis of biblical scripture.]

    There have been orders of magnitude more people who have done atrocities to others because they believed that there are no immutable moral laws and they will never be held accountable for their acts.

    You can cite ministers using the Bible to justify evil. I can cite everyone who believes they will never have to answer for their acts.

    You lose that exchange.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Michael,

    OK, I concede that there are countless humans who have believed that there are no immutable human laws, because there are no immutable moral laws.

    Moral laws are invented by society.

    There have been at least 100 billion humans living on Earth in the 200,000 years or so Homo sapiens have been around, most of whom lived before Jesus or in regions far distant to his teachings, all busy living their lives.

    People living in societies are well aware that if they break the moral laws (whatever they are) they will be punished.

    ReplyDelete
  63. @bach:

    One of the most dramatic changes in my life since I became a Christian is my realization that I can't "get way" with doing the wrong thing. I used to believe that if I did something I knew was really not the right thing to do, it didn't matter as long as I didn't get caught. For small things, we usually don't get caught.

    As a Christian, I realize that there is no such thing as "not getting caught". I am accountable for all that I do, even if I am the only human being who knows that I did it. I understand now that sin is my betrayal of my relationship to God, and that relationship is never suspended.

    Has it made me a better person? I think so. A perfect person? Not even close.

    But I understand the truth: I sin, and my sins will be accounted for. They have a price. I will pay the portion of the price that I can (in confession), and the rest of the cost is paid for me by Someone with extraordinary courage Who loves me.

    Paul said it best: we were bought at a price.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Well, Mike, if it takes a sky warden to make you behave well, I suppose that is a good thing. I do the same without.

    ReplyDelete
  65. @oleg:

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if you were a better man than I. There are many unbelievers with very high ethical standards that put many Christians to shame.

    But that's from the Sky Warden too. He's where that voice of conscience comes from.

    But what He really wants is for us not merely to listen but to converse and to get to know Him. Obedience is a good start. But it's a relationship that He's after, and He's very persistent. Took Him 50 years to get me.

    ReplyDelete
  66. @mregnor

    >>If atheism correlated with a better society

    So, an establishment that targeted some population for genocide -- that would be bad, right?

    Let's say instead they targeted the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, or Jebusites for genocide? All of a sudden that is magically a glorious tribute to the belief system? Or if they slaughtered uncounted and uncountable numbers of natives throughout the Americas -- commanded by the Mouthpiece of God himself in the Requerimiento?

    So basically, you are a hypocrite. You excuse the genocides, infanticides COMMANDED BY GOD himself according to the only record we have of such events... singularly recorded, much like harry Potter. But when a state or government tries to implement the EXACT SAME totalitarian rule that you seem to be grovelling on your knees to submit to, you worship it (worship me or I WILL TORTURE YOU FOREVER IN A HELL PIT OF FIRE). Stalin would be proud, the ultimate Gulag - with people punished for rejecting the rule of those would oppress others; while their loved ones forced to watch, tearless and without emotion - because sadness is forbidden in Heaven.

    If the magical Sky Daddy is our conscience then it's a product of our reasoning & Bayesian brain ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_brain ), just what brains do and not a magical Sky Daddy.

    If our conscious came from the magical Sky Daddy then we wouldn't know that Slavery is WRONG, always and under all circumstances - period, no excuses. Because magical Sky Daddy had magical Tim write all the magical Sky Daddy Law's about slavery in his big Book of Lies and Nonsense. I mean the Bible.

    ReplyDelete