A Bad Taste!

I'm redating this from exbeliever, a former contributor [John].

The Psalmist writes, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8). For a long time, I was an ardent admirer of Dr. John Piper. In fact, his mentor, Dan Fuller, was my mentor in seminary as well. [Coincidentally, Dr. Fuller lives on Mentor Street in Pasadena, CA. Behind the gruff, crotchety exterior is a very nice man who will spend hours talking to you in his living room and whose wife will bring you cookies on a platter. :-) pleasant memories]

I remember a sermon or Advent poem of Dr. Piper's in which he described God as a flowing fountain of delight. He said that we would praise a fountain, not by standing passively by, but by sticking our faces deep inside it to take in its wonderful refreshment. We would stand up and shout, "This is the best water I've ever tasted; come and have some with me!"

In the context of that metaphor, he referred to the passage I quoted above. He invited others to taste and see God's goodness.

But what about those of us who have left the fountain with a horrible taste in our mouths? We came to the fountain and drank as deeply as we could and, for a while, could not get enough of it. We loved reading the Bible and being instructed by it. We believed that it made us wiser than our counselors. We made our bodies our slaves so that they would honor God. We prayed without ceasing. We sought first the kingdom of God. We confessed our sins and believed that God was faithful and just to forgive us our sins. We did not forsake meeting together (in church) as some were in the habit of doing. We encouraged one another. We preached "the Word" in season and out. We attempted to study to show ourselves approved. We fed God's sheep. We realized that "we" couldn't do anything at all, that only God could work through us.

But, then, something happened. The fountain became foul to us. We tried to ignore the taste. We went back to it again and again hoping something would change. We opened the Bible and, instead of finding wisdom, we found violence and justification of immoral acts. We found anti-intellectualism and backwards thinking. We found oppression. Our prayers returned to us void. They bounced off of the ceiling. We prayed harder and felt dumber for it. While we could still enjoy the fellowship of Christian people, we discovered that what we liked about them had nothing to do with their Christianity, but rather with their humanity. We found that we simply liked the people for who they were, not because they believed something about a religion.

We weren't trying to "leave the faith," the faith was leaving us. We tried to hold on to the fountain, but something had changed. It wasn't the fountain, it was our taste for it. We realized that the fountain wasn't a being, it was a religion. It was just dogma. It is like we had been drinking from it with our eyes closed and noses plugged. Somehow, though, we opened our eyes and unplugged our noses and discovered that we had been enjoying filth. The fountain was a fountain of blood and other foul things. We realized that we had spent most of our lives consuming a vile concoction.

We would have been happy to have simply left, but we couldn't help but want to pull others away from such a cesspool. We wanted to help them open their eyes and see what we saw. We wanted them to see the trouble the fountain was causing in the world. Quickly, however, we ran into opposition. We found that those still slurping away at the fountain with eyes closed and noses plugged resisted. They said that we were lying about the taste of the fountain or that we had never drunk from it in the first place. We told them to open their eyes, but they responded that the eyes cannot be trusted. We described the filth to them, but even when they accepted that the fountain contained blood and other "foul" things, they insisted that those things were really "good."

So, here we stand beside a fountain of filth hoping that we can convince others to open their eyes and see what they are drinking. We are watching with horror as more and more people are closing their eyes and drinking in all of the vileness in front of them.

What is it that we see that we want to alert you to?

. . . we see the teaching that a "benevolent" god cannot control his temper so something must die in order for that god's anger to be satisfied.

. . . we see a religion based on death and the spilling of blood.

. . . we see teaching that a god will say in anger, "I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air." Genesis 6:7

. . . we see teaching that a god considers the smell of burning, sacrificed animals to be a "pleasing aroma." Genesis 7

. . . we see teaching that a god uses people as pawns, hardening their hearts to do something he doesn't want them to do so that he can punish them for doing it (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:8; 14:4).

. . . we see teaching that a god orders disobedient children to be killed (Exodus 21:15, 17).

. . . we see teaching that a god is so insecure that he orders the death of everyone who does not follow his religion (no, he doesn't try to convince them that he is better than the other gods, he commands that they be put to death) (Exodus 22:20).

. . . we see teaching that a god cares so much about what two men do with their genitals that those two men should bekilledd (Leviticus 20:13).

. . . we see teaching that a god cares so little for the sick that he commands that they be put outside of the camp and left to die (Numbers 5:1-4).

. . . we see teaching that a god orders the earth to swallow 250 people and then kills 14,700 more people who think that was too violent (Numbers 16).

. . . we see teaching that a god uses another king as his pawn ("For the LORD your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.") to do something that god doesn't want him to do so that the god can then completely destroy all the "men, women and children" of several towns (Deuteronomy 2:32).

. . . we see teaching that a god orders people to kill all family members who hold to a different faith (Deuteronomy 13:6-10).

. . . we see teaching that a god tells his invading army that they can take women and children as "plunder" (Deuteronomy 20:14).

. . . we see teaching that a god tells his invading army to kill "anything that breathes" in other cities (Deuteronomy 20:16).

. . . we see teaching that this can be said of a god, "For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly." A god who sets people up, just so that he can destroy them. (Joshua 11:20)

. . . we see teaching that a god can send an evil spirit to people so that they will dealtreacherouslyy with their leader (Judges 9).

. . . we see teaching that the "spirit of the Lord" is so violent that every time it enters Samson, he kills something (Judges 14-16).

. . . we see teaching that a god orders his invading army to attack a people and to "totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." (1 Samuel 15:3)

. . . we see teaching that a god kills a man who tries to keep one of his relics from hitting the ground (2 Samuel 6).

. . . we see teaching that a god kills a woman's son for an evil deed her husband did (2 Samuel 12).

. . . we see teaching that a god will kill people and then let dogs desecrate their bodies (1 Kings 14).

. . . we see teaching that a god kills a man who is brave enough to say, "No," to god's command to kill another person (1 Kings 20).

. . . we see teaching that a god kills 42 children for making fun of a guy's bald head (2 Kings 2).

. . . we see teaching that a god orders an invading army to raise the land they destroy by cutting down all of the trees and spoiling all of the wells (2 Kings 3).

. . . we see teaching that a god will send a whole land into years of famine and death when he is angry (2 Kings 8).

. . . we see teaching that a god will kill 70,000 people because another person (who god does not kill) disobeyed him and took a census of the people (1 Chronicles 21).

. . . we see teaching that a god allows a man to be tortured just to prove a point (Job).

. . . we see teaching that it is praise-worthy of a god that it is "he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."

. . . we see teaching that a god will stir up an army who "will strike down the young men . . . [and] will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children . . . Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished." (Isaiah 13:18,15,16)

. . . we see teaching that a god does not reason with people who leave his religion to follow others, but rather kills them and puts their bones in front of their other gods (Ezekiel 6:5).

. . . we see teaching that a god says, "Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears." (Joel 3:10)

. . . we see teaching that a god comes in human flesh so that he can be killed to appease his own anger.

. . . we see teaching that a god comes in human flesh and introduces the concept of hell to his followers so that they can not only fear being killed at one time, but can be tortured eternally.

. . . we see teaching that a god comes in human flesh and instead of casting out demons into the abyss, instead puts them into innocent animals who subsequently jump off of a cliff (Matthew 8).

. . . we see teaching that a god comes in human flesh and promises to send angels to throw people into a burning fire for eternal torment (Matthew 13).

We could go on and on.

This is what we are watching you drink and enjoy. This is what we see you offering to others.

We point these things out and you become angry at us. Instead of addressing these immoral acts, you ask, "By what standard is all of this stuff evil?" You have so blinded yourself that you are unwilling to call rape, torture, infanticide, etc. evil. You question us for calling it evil!

Open your eyes! Really taste and see if what you are drinking is "good." Don't be so quick to swallow what you cannot see.

58 comments:

DagoodS said...

Very Very Well Said

J.S.Brown said...

I'm sure that this applies to some of them, but certainly not all. I've noticed that a lot of Christians are products of their environment. They're indoctrinated, taught to believe, and really only know a fraction of what's in the Bible - the good stuff taught on Sunday morning. Even these, though, have that stubborn conviction that feeds an endless, naive defense of the entire book. They're oblivious to the attrocitites contained within. I hope some of them read this post and find themselves horrified.

CalvinDude said...

exbeliever,

Again, you claim that certain things in the Bible are morally wrong without offering a reason for morality. By what basis do you judge anything in the Bible is actually wrong? Because of your opinion? Well forgive me if I couldn't care less about your opinion of what is right or wrong.

You know our argument. You even say it: "Instead of addressing these immoral acts, you ask, 'By what standard is all of this stuff evil?'" And yet you have not given us a standard by which we can judge anything as actually being evil.

Let me argue as a nihilist for a moment instead of a Christian. What is morality? It is merely someone's saying that a certain action is "right" and another action is "wrong." The action itself really has no intrinsic value, it is the mind of a person that arbitrarily decides whether it is good or bad.

But what is the mind that judges? It is the mere opinion of an individual, and reality is not determined by the opinions of individuals. Therefore, when two people disagree on an opinion, there is no rational basis to say one person's opinion is "better" than another. The very concept of "better" is contingent upon the thoughts of a person and not upon what actually is. Thus for one person it might be "better" to not kill another person, but for the one who does murder he has obviously decided that murder is "better" than not murdering someone.

It is relative to the person to say that anything is "better" than another thing. And because it is relative to the person, it is a subjective argument to claim that any action is "good" or "bad." In point of fact, there is neither good nor bad there is merely action and reaction and someone who decides whether he likes it or not.

If I kill you because I enjoy killing you, I have not committed anything wrong. If I rape you because I feel like it, again I have done nothing wrong according to my standards for I have done the action. It is only according to your standards that you disagree and think this is wrong. In which case, I merely say if I can act and I do act then I trump your opinion with my power--an action that is itself no more wrong than any other action.

There is no good or evil, exbeliever, outside your own personal definitions, which do not extend beyond you. Therefore, there is no "better" or "worse" for anyone else other than you. You cannot determine that anything is "better" for me based on your opinion. Until you can do so, you have no argument.

exbeliever said...

CalvinDude,

You presuppositionalists are pathetic. You play the same broken record every time. You have one argument that you keep repeating. You avoid in engaging because you have only studied that one method. You are incredibly predictable. Instead of saying your argument is wrong because of X,Y,Z, you simply say you have no basis upon which to make your argument.

You wrote: "And yet you have not given us a standard by which we can judge anything as actually being evil."

That's bullcrap and you know it. I've already answered your stupid question about morality, and I have referred you to it over and over again. No, you don't seem to be able to understand it, but I can't help it that you are not philosophically trained.

So, let me play your game again. What if moral judgments are like judgments about motion? If that were the case, would your question make sense? No.

Let me explain. Let's say that you made a comment on your blog that said something like, "The stone in front of Jesus' tomb was moved." I read your statement and said, "You claim that certain things on earth move without offering a universal standard of motion. By what basis do you judge anything on earth moves? Because of your opinion?"

You see, things move only relative to spatio-temporal frameworks. There is no universal standard for judging motion. You have to posit a framework and say that something is moving relative to that framework. These relative judgments, however, are still objective and still have meaning.

When I give any moral judgment, I'm making an objective, but not universal, judgment. I'm not going to repeat that every time, because I already explained it in the link above. The acts that I listed are objectively wrong according to any moral framework that values non-violent resolutions to conflict, the protection of children and infants, the respect for people's decisions on who they love, etc.

If your moral framework tells you that it is okay to set people up as pawns so that they can be destroyed, then I can admit that according to your moral framework those actions are objectively good. That doesn't mean that I have to accept your moral framework or that you have to accept mine.

Is this moral nihilism? No. I don't say that any action is good, only that any action can be justified by reference to a specific moral framework. Power structures, however, make one more dominant than another in every society. I do everything in my power (and everything allowable in my moral framework) to assert my moral framework as the dominant one. I do not have to passively accept the moral definitions of another, but I do have to realize that there will sometimes be consequences for not accepting dominant moral frameworks.

But what you miss every time is that in every moral framework that condemns these acts, your god is not good. The only way to call your god good is to adopt a moral framework in which everything that we have conventionally thought of as evil is actually good when applied to your god.

Anyway, enough of your avoidance. Why not just own up to your own moral framework. Why not announce to everyone that you think it is "good" that god kills Bathsheba's son because of something David did? That it is "good" that god kills 70,000 people because David took a census of people. Why not simply repeat after the psalmist, "how blessed is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks"?

You, Christians, hide this part from those you invite to your "fountain of delight." You don't say, "In order to enjoy this fountain, you must enjoy the blood of innocents."

No, I don't believe in universal moral standards. I do believe, however, in objective moral standards. I believe that the acts I listed are wrong according to most moral frameworks. I actually believe those acts are wrong according to your own moral framework as well, but that you ignore that anomaly in the Kuhnsians sense so that you can still cling to your faith.

Seriously, CalvinDude, is it really worth holding to your faith if you have to say that killing infants for the "sin" of their father is okay? Is it worth holding on to your faith if you have to call what you know to be "good" (e.g. having compassion on children and infants in war--cf. Isaiah 13:18,15,16), "evil" and what you know to be "evil" (e.g. killing "anything that breathes"--cf. Deuteronomy 20:16), "good"?

Come away from your fountain of filth.

Daniel said...

If not based on opinion, then how about based on utility? Situation? Context?

For example, if we want to live in a stable society, what needs and rights can/must we both have? Can rights be asymmetrical?

Are you seriously interested in answering these questions from a godless perspective, or are you just blowing air?

Hmm, let's see your last comment:
There is no good or evil, exbeliever, outside your own personal definitions, which do not extend beyond you. Therefore, there is no "better" or "worse" for anyone else other than you.

So, you are saying that each action cannot be evaluated on the merits of its consequences for the recipient, and for society as a whole, as well as for the person acting, without making reference to a Sky Daddy? We can't logically extrapolate each action (murder, rape, theft) and its immediate and long-term consequences for those three contextual participants [person acting, direct recipient, society], and assign a label of "this participant was better off at the end of the action" without saying, "because Jeebus said so"? AND, we can't go from is to ought simply by evaluating ourselves as social animals with empathy, physical and emotional needs, and as participants of a society, guided by reason, the lessons of history, and cultural teachings?

I fail to see the need to invoke a Sky Daddy at any point in the process.

Anonymous said...

"If your moral framework tells you that it is okay to set people up as pawns so that they can be destroyed, then I can admit that according to your moral framework those actions are objectively good."

*ROFLMAO*!!! Something that is relative to a specific moral framework is objective! *LOLOLOLOLOL* Magic at work!!!!

exbeliever said...

Yea, Anonymous, it's hillarious.

Imagine someone saying the statement, "That car is moving," is an objective statement! How could that be "objective"? I mean motion is relative to a specific spatio-temporal framework! And people claim that it's objective?! ROFLMAO (at you).

Try again.

CalvinDude said...

I tried posting on here earlier and it wouldn't let me, so I posted a response on my blog at http://calvindude.com/dude/blog/2006/04/objective-but-not-universal-morality/

By the way, exbeliever I have to ask given your unique definition of "objective" (as demonstrated above), how do you define "subjective"? After all, if it is the case that objective truth is objectively true according to a certain framework, how does that differ from subjective truth which is likewise true according to a certain framework?

Finally, what is to stop me from saying, "Since my framework says that you, being an atheist, are supressing the truth and blinding yourself to the obvious, it is therefore an objective truth that you are indeed that way because it is objectively true in my given framework." If it is objectively true in my framework, then that means it is true in your framework too because objective truth is true regardless of the subject involved and thus the "framework" of the subject is irrelevant.

Jason said...

If I might bypass the (in my view ridiculous) claim that atheists cannot account for ethics, is CalvinDude suggesting that the items cited are not morally problematic?

exbeliever said...

CD,

I read over your post on your site (yes, I was your one vistor for the week). I don't know why I'm shocked that you don't understand what I'm saying (this is characteristic of all of our interactions). Do you even read what I'm saying? I can't imagine you do.

So, now I'm in a quandry. Do I allow you to keep on avoiding saying whether or not you think all of the actions I listed are morally right actions (e.g. taking the life of a child for the "sin" of the father), or do I keep answering your stupid questions even though you won't understand my answers?

Stupid question #1: By the way, exbeliever I have to ask given your unique definition of "objective" (as demonstrated above), how do you define "subjective"?

I'll give you an example so that you won't have to try to understand actual propositions. Let's say that I remark, "The car is moving." This is an objective statement, right? I can test it. Now, let's say that you look at the car and say, "It's in park, the car isn't moving." I respond, "But the earth is rotating and revolving, and it is in a pinwheel galaxy that is moving."

My statement is not only objective, but it is objectively true. The car is moving. What we have to do, however, is agree on a spatio-temporal framework by which to judge whether or not my objective statement is true. Even though there is no one universal spatio-temporal framework by which to judge all motion, we can still make objective statements about it, can't we?

[Now, this is a question that I would actually like you to answer instead of ignore. I'll repeat it. Can you make objective statements about motion? If you agree that we can, do you believe there is one universal spatio-temporal framework by which all motion judgments are justified? If you do not, are you admitting that you can make objective statements about motion even though there is no universal standard for judging motion?]

When someone says, "I think . . ." or "In my opinion . . .," they are making a subjective statement. When they say something "is" or "is not" the case, they are making an objective statement. It is, perhaps, the case that moral judgments can only be justified objectively in the same way statements about motion can be justified--i.e. by reference to particular frameworks.

Stupid question #2: After all, if it is the case that objective truth is objectively true according to a certain framework, how does that differ from subjective truth which is likewise true according to a certain framework?

The funny part is that you don't even realize that you changed the subject. I made a claim for justifying moral judgments. Now, you are talking about "objective truth." I never said that "truth" was judged according to frameworks. I said we justify moral judgments according to frameworks.

So, did you change the subject because you are an idiot or because you are trying to deceive people? Are you dumb or are you trying to make people think that I said non-moral truth was judged according to frameworks.

If it is any consolation, I don't think you were trying to trick anyone. Although the alternative . . .

Stupid question #3: what is to stop me from saying, "Since my framework says that you, being an atheist, are supressing the truth and blinding yourself to the obvious, it is therefore an objective truth that you are indeed that way because it is objectively true in my given framework."

Well, since I never said that we judge non-moral truths according to frameworks, then the only thing stopping you from making this statement is that it has nothing to do with my argument. I ask again, "Did you read what I wrote?"

You stupidly wrote:If it is objectively true in my framework, then that means it is true in your framework too because objective truth is true regardless of the subject involved and thus the "framework" of the subject is irrelevant.

So, if you are standing on a ferry and you look at your parked car and make the objective statement, "My car is not moving," it is also objectively true for me when I am standing on the dock watching your ship motor across the water? So, your car is not moving for me because it is not moving for you? Brilliant!

On your never-read blog, you stupidly asked: Why should we accept a moral framework “that values non-violent resolution to conflict, etc.”? What reason is there that we MUST accept this?

You are perfectly free to reject a moral framework "that values non-violent resolution to conflict." In fact, you have done so. It is called Christianity. You think that it is a "good" action when the infant son of a "sinner" is killed for the father's "sin."

Now, I could say that a good reason for accepting a moral framework like the one I suggested is that it stabilizes society, but then you could ask, why is it "good" to stabilize society? I could say because it helps secure your survival. You could respond, however, why is it "good" to secure my survival? We would be caught in an endless loop.

I never said that you MUST accept any moral framework. You are free to accept or reject any one you wish. There are social consequences for rejecting certain moral frameworks, however, that you must be willing to pay if you choose to reject them.

My point in the post is that most people have moral frameworks that make it morally wrong to punish innocent infants and children for another's "sin." Most people who read what I wrote will agree that it is immoral to kill infants and have women raped.

You happen to think it is good when your god orders people to kill children or when your god kills infants himself. Most people, however, will disagree with you.

Are they wrong and you right? It's possible that that question cannot be answered about moral judgments. Moral judgments aren't the same as non-moral judgments.

You stupidly (or deceptively) misrepresent my position as: Exbeliever then finishes up by providing yet once again my very arguement in that his position results in “Might is right.”

Right after your statement, you quote me as saying, "I do not have to passively accept the moral definitions of another, but I do have to realize that there will sometimes be consequences."

So, how am I suggesting that "might makes right" when I am saying that I do not have to accept the moral framework of dominant culture? I am not even coming close to saying that "might makes right." I am saying that every action can be justified according to some moral framework, but that no one must accept another's framework. Society stabilizes all of these differing moral frameworks by forcing us to compromise with others in order to remain safe. That does not mean that the resulting moral framework of a given society is "right" or "wrong"; it is simply what is agreed on.

You stupidly (or deceptively) wrote: His morality is subjective, dependent upon the power of the one to enforce it. . .

My morality has nothing to do with the power of enforcement. My morals don't change with societies. I said exactly this in the section you quoted but were too dense to understand. I said that I can disagree with prevailing moral attitudes (e.g. this country's ridiculous prohibitions against gay marriage), but I must understand that I will suffer consequences depending on my level of disagreement.

Now, seriously, get a brain or stop commenting here. It's annoying.

[Oh, or how about this. Why don't you go through the passages and examples I gave and explain why you think each one is a morally "good" act?]

CalvinDude said...

nihlo,

No action has any moral value whatsoever in and of itself. A moral view can only be imposed on actions by a conscious being who determines, by some standard, what actions are "good" and what actions are "evil."

"Good" and "evil" are not descriptive of actions in and of themselves, but instead they are an interpretation of the properness of those actions.

Consider this: If a lion eats a zebra, is that morally wrong? Of course not, for we do not hold that lions ought to not eat zebras. If a lion eats a rival's cubs, is that wrong? Again, no, because we do not hold that lions ought to not eat the cubs of their rivals. None of these actions have moral value in and of themselves. They are simply things that happen.

But what if a man kills and eats another man's child? Is that wrong? Now we say that it is wrong. But nothing has changed except for the type of thing that is killed.

We say that if a man kills another man, it is morally wrong. Why? What reason is there to say that it is wrong when we do not say that lions killing each other is wrong?

In other words, what makes people different from animals such that if people behave the way animals do we consider it "immoral"? The actions that people do can be identical to the actions of animals, yet none of us say that what the animals do is wrong even if everyone says what the person does is wrong. No, what animals do is "natural." It's their "instinctive behavior." Why, then, do we change our standard when dealing with people? Why isn't it a murderer's "natural, instinctive behavior" to kill other people?

You might say that "society" determines what behavior is appropriate, but what is "society"? Indeed, let's change it up a bit. There are canibalistic tribes in the jungle. They believe that it is perfectly fine to kill another person as long as you eat that person. I live in the West where we believe that it is wrong to kill anyone, even if you eat that person. Which society is right?

Without an absolute external standard, it is impossible to make that determination. There is no actual distinction between the two groups on a moral scale. Both actions are equally moral, because both are completely amoral. To kill someone is not a "good" action; to refrain from killing someone is likewise not a "good" action. There is no actual "good" or "evil" at all. There are only things that some individuals decide are "good" and some individuals decide are bad. But the actions themselves are not really good or bad.

So now we look at the original problem. You think that actions that God does in the Bible are immoral. I think they are not. Which one of us is right?

From your perspective, you cannot answer this question because neither one of us is right nor wrong. I am right in my own mind, you are right in your own mind, but neither of us is right in the absolute sense.

But from my perspective, God determines what is right and what is wrong for us. If God says that you ought not do something and you do it and God decides to punish you for it, the He can do that. In my view, God is perfectly just for doing that. Even taking the typical atheist view, God is merely exercizing the power that He has to do as He pleases. In neither case can it be said that what God does is "wrong" in any meaningful sense because A) His moral standards are for our behavior, not His and B) He has the right to do as He pleases with His creation.

You might not like it, but I'm sure the lion cubs that get eaten don't like that either. Whether you like something or not does not determine it's moral value. How the action applies to the standard that is used is what determines whether something is moral or not.

So if you and exbeliever want to say that God violates your personal idea of morality, fine. I merely point out that your personal idea of morality doesn't matter a whit at all. It has no impact on me whatsoever, nor does it alter the way that God is going to judge you.

In the end, even were we to suppose that God was a perfectly evil (from our perspective) being, the fact that God makes the rules and does as He pleases means that what He wants will happen, and if He wants to judge us based on rules He puts in place He can do so. We can dislike it, but we cannot say that it is actually evil if God does not consider it to be evil because His will trumps ours.

CalvinDude said...

exbeliever,

Wow, nice ad hominem. I think you convinced everyone who's in junior high that your view is correct. Congrats.

Daniel said...

I think he burned your ass pretty good, personally...but that's just my subjective opinion, of course.

Now, we could examine the morality of his action by the framework of your God...

Or by utility...

Both seem pretty silent on the subject ;)

exbeliever said...

CalvinDude,

I love your statement here: In the end, even were we to suppose that God was a perfectly evil (from our perspective) being, the fact that God makes the rules and does as He pleases means that what He wants will happen, and if He wants to judge us based on rules He puts in place He can do so. We can dislike it, but we cannot say that it is actually evil if God does not consider it to be evil because His will trumps ours.

Let's imagine a scenario that both Dan Barker and I have mentioned before on this blog. Let's say that a god exists. Let's say that before she created the world, she decided that she wanted to spend eternity with only the "best" of her creation. In order to weed out the "best," though, she needed to devise a plan.

Her plan was simple. She would direct a lying spirit to enter into the mouths of people she would call "prophets." Though the prophets, the deceiving spirits would write a Bible that described god has having committed some of the most despicable acts imaginable--e.g. ordering armies to kill infants and children.

She also used the lying spirits to have the prophets say that anyone who doesn't worship her and call her vile acts "good" would be sent into eternal torment.

Additionally, she would not leave humanity with any proof that she actually existed. In fact, she would make all of the evidence point the other way.

Her test was simple. Those willing to risk eternal torment by refusing to worship any being that ordered the death of infants and children, we're worthy to spend eternity with her. Those who worshipped a vile, murderous god would not be allowed to be near her.

Two questions for you. First of all, how do you know that this is not what actually happened? How do you know that your Bible isn't a deception intended to weed you out because of your willingness to call infanticide a "good" act?

Second, if you discovered that this was true, if god revealed herself and her test to you, would you still say, ". . . if He [or she] wants to judge us based on rules He puts in place He can do so"?

I'm really curious.

exbeliever said...

CD,

You wrote:
exbeliever,

Wow, nice ad hominem. I think you convinced everyone who's in junior high that your view is correct. Congrats.


So, is that your response? Is all that I wrote an ad hom? Sure there are plenty of them in there, but there are a couple of points you might want to respond to, isn't there?

Ebonmuse said...

A moral view can only be imposed on actions by a conscious being who determines, by some standard, what actions are "good" and what actions are "evil."

This makes no sense. Look at it this way: When God - or anyone else - makes a moral judgment, he either has reasons for that judgment, or he does not. If he does, then we can analyze, debate and critique those reasons ourselves. If we find them to be incorrect or lacking, we can offer superior ones; if we find them to be correct, then we can agree with them - but not because God said so, but because they are the correct reasons. In this case, God is not the source of morality at all, even if he exists. He is merely a conduit that informs us of what morality is.

On the other hand, suppose God has no reasons for that judgement at all. In that case his moral opinions are arbitrary, and as such, carry no weight and can be disregarded.

There is no third option here, and so there is no alternative to this logic unless one postulates the detestable view that might makes right, that being moral means nothing more than having the ability to force others to do as you say. That does indeed seem to be the view you espouse, but no reasonable person with a functioning conscience would agree with you there.

CalvinDude said...

exbeliever:
---
So, is that your response?
---

No, my response was really my extended middle finger since that's all your response warranted, but you couldn't see that. Although I suppose I could have typed .!..

So consider it corrected now.

---
Sure there are plenty of them in there, but there are a couple of points you might want to respond to, isn't there?
---

Yeah, I totally feel the need to waste my time with a thirteen-year-old junior high reject with an internet connection and too much Ritalin in his system. Or how about we try this: You could start taking Prozac, stop your persecution complex, realize that your hatred for God is really misplaced hatred toward your own father for all your miserable failings in life, wake up and get a clue.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting, so: .!..

CalvinDude said...

ebonmuse wrote:
---
When God - or anyone else - makes a moral judgment, he either has reasons for that judgment, or he does not. If he does, then we can analyze, debate and critique those reasons ourselves.
---

That does not follow. God can easily have reasons that we do not know or that we do not have the intellectual capacity to understand. Our comprehension is irrelevant to whether it is a moral position or not.

---
On the other hand, suppose God has no reasons for that judgement at all. In that case his moral opinions are arbitrary, and as such, carry no weight and can be disregarded.
---

Says who?

---
There is no third option here, and so there is no alternative to this logic unless one postulates the detestable view that might makes right
---

A) That is exactly what atheists postualte.

B) How do you determine that it is "detestable" in the first place?

exbeliever said...

CD,

Well, we've certainly witnessed your breakdown!

Jason said...

CalvinDude,

A "yes" would suffice.

I agree that moral values are imposed on states of affairs.

I agree that there is nothing of significance different between these two states of affairs in and of themselves aside from the species involved:

1. Lion kills cub.
2. Human adult kills human child.

You ask why the human moral dispositions that surround each event differ when all that differs between the two events is the species. You have hit upon the correct answer to the question you should have asked, which is not why but how it has come to be that we have strong moral judgments about the latter but not the former. Ultimately, for questions of normative ethics, all strings of reason, answers to the question why, will terminate at a proposition that is prima facie far from self-evident. That we should do what a god commands is not obvious, so long as we are considering the moral "should". It would only be prudent, but that is not the same thing. So atheist and theist alike are without reason, ultimately, for their moral dispositions.

Yet theist and atheist alike both have moral dispositions, and they tend to be quite similar in many respects. How has this come to be? The answer, inevitably, is evolution. I am currently engaged in a dialogue on this subject on the unchained radio forums. If you wish to learn more about my views on this subject, check the link title "Nihlo vs. tenminas" in the Ethics forum.

I have also discussed the capacity for atheistic moral judgment on my blog, which you can reach by clicking on my username. I welcome any criticisms you might have of my position in any forum.

You claim that atheistic moral condemnation doesn't matter. Doesn't matter to whom? What matters is inherently relational. Doesn't matter to God? Perhaps, but perhaps God doesn't exist. Doesn't matter to you? Why? Is it because you do not share our moral disposition? It seems very likely that you do share it, for evolutionary theory predicts the probability of such common moral dispositions between members of the same society (although it does not predict universal cohesion). If you do not agree with our moral disposition, then so be it, but if you behave in a way that contravenes our disposition strongly enough, then we will attempt to coerce you into submission. This is the way of things.

When I say that God is evil, I am not referring to a standard for evil that exists independently of human beings.

eddie said...

No, my response was really my extended middle finger since that's all your response warranted, but you couldn't see that. Although I suppose I could have typed .!..
What a lovely attitude of Jesus Christ coming through there. Praise Jesus for his followers. What more do we need NOT to believe?

exnihilonihilfit said...

wow. you have me enthralled, ex. i'm totally sure you convinced cd he eas wrong there. next time you should kick sand in his face and moon his gf too.

John W. Loftus said...

Look CalvinDude, you've been warned before. This is it. One more post making the same argument that you make everytime you post and you'll be banned.

If you have nothing further to contribute you will no longer be allowed to post here. Wear that as a banner and post it on your Blog for the one or two people who go there a day, if you want to.

We have heard your argument and we have dealt with it over and over and over. We reject it. Now move on. It's that simple.

Listen, the one argument for the existence of the Christian God that could prove God exists, if true, is the ontological argument. It has the very best chance. But it fails....see here. Yours does a hundred times over.

There is actually an ontological argument for the non-existence of a necessary being too. What if we were to respond to every argument you have on behalf of your faith with that argument? Wouldn't it be tiring? Your argument is tiring to us here too.

This is your last warning.

methuselah said...

Middle fingers, killing babies, blindly following a violent faith...where do I sign up!?! No thanks. Run along little lemming.

Anonymous said...

This is not much of content post, I just stumbled upon this blog and felt like commenting on something.

Exbelievier, I really cannot see the reason for you attitude towards CD. It was, well rude.

I am Catholic, but far from being a defender of faith.

(I would probably be more accuratelly described as agnostic or atheist by the level of engagement I have in my religion, were it not for the repulsivness that those words alone induce in my mind - as my opinion is they are just a product, or at least a "project", of a pop culture.)

I just wanted to comment on the early days of your religious life you described. That was not good. I am sorry you were introduced to Chistianity by people who made you thing that you should close your eyes and ears if you want to drink from the fountain. Were there some better teachers, things might have worked out differently for you.

Regards.

Anonymous said...

We humans brought all this death and destruction upon ourselves! Humans and all of earth, at the very beginning of time, were perfect (Genesis 1-2). Death, suffering, and all evil were non-existent. God gave us a free will, and Adam and Eve decided to disobey God, and disobedience does not go without punishment(Genesis 3). The ultimate punishment, in this case, being eternally condemned to hell.

But God did not end it there, he gave humans a way to enter the kingdom of heaven. God sent his only son, Jesus, to bear the weight of hell for us. Jesus took the burden of hell and damnation upon himself, to save humans! All we have to do is believe in him! (Mark 16:16)

I do not see a God of anger and punishment. He is doing all he can to save as many people as possible. People still have free will, and can still reject him.

Instead, I see a God of love. He made clothes for Adam and Eve right after they had disobeyed him (Genesis 3:21). He saved Noah and his family, the only believers left in the world (Genesis 6-9). He gave his people manna and water, even though they grumbled against him (Exodus 16-17). I could go on and on...but the most important act of love that God showed to humankind was to send his only son so they could live with him in paradise.

Rachel said...

I just wanted to comment that this article describes my own experience with Christianity perfectly. I have tried to explain to my parents and friends my reasons for becoming agnostic and they cannot understand. This article really explains so much of my own journey out of religion and I appreciate you posting it.

Matt said...

So before I begin to make responses I want to undestand something. Is the point of this to say that there is no God, or that you believe in a Christian God but you believe that He is a jerk unworthy of praise?

Paul Peterson said...

Although by far not all of these quotes are from the Old Testament (the holy book of Judaism), many of these are acknowledged by many of the major religious scholars from multiple denominations and cults as being antiquated, literary types limited by the time, place, culture in which they were written. I try to look at the Christian Bible from a more philological and scientific perspective, from the outside in, rather than from what particular sect I was forced to witness as a youth. I feel precisely the same way towards Christianity, but unfortunately more analysis of the general Christian cult is needed from a modern perspective. For example, how many Christians (identified by say, the last census) are regular church goers, how many belong to organized facets, etc. I've been around a few countries in Western and Northern Europe, and over half of the population will tell you they're Christian, but probably around less than 5% believe in God and/or go to church. It's much worse here in the U.S., especially being anything but Christian (atheists have a significant impact, but what about pagans, etc., anything the average Westerner might explore). Also more needs to be said about the literary development in monotheistic societies; for example a comparison and timeline of Christianity and Islam. Islam borrows an awful lot from Christianity, and although terrorists and other extreme Muslims will tell you that Allah is not the one and same god (whoops, forgot to capitalize it) as that of Christianity and the Jews, the probability is high. I'm no comparative literature fan, but much more needs to be said about the connection of Eastern ideas to those of Jesus and his cult of followers (it's almost cliché at this point, but what about a REAL discussion on the topic). I like the metaphor of drinking from a fountain, but even that loses it's touch after a while. Why do people seek that fountain of (human-supplanted) ideas, what causes the irrational and superstitious beliefs to occur in the first place, and what can actually be done about these people besides internet blogs and insulting Christians for their (often obvious) breach of intellect? Also, what types of ideas have been written against this cult, what development has occurred since such ideas became known and spread? In a battle of ideas in which one party presupposes a lack in human ability and accounts for all their beliefs on the highly abstract concept of faith, how can the very human but very vulgar belief in God/Jesus/Christianity be argued effectively and in what context/forum? What's actually effective, and what retains social order in a "Christian nation"?

John W. Loftus said...

Paul, thanks for visiting and commenting. We're doing our best here. Thanks.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Interesting post. It echoes my own experience, as well.

"But what you miss every time is that in every moral framework that condemns these acts, your god is not good. The only way to call your god good is to adopt a moral framework in which everything that we have conventionally thought of as evil is actually good when applied to your god."

There was a moment, in my final decade as a Christian, when this argument presented itself to me. I reacted in horror -- at the thought that I might have just committed the "unpardonable sin". I begged forgiveness, and prayed earnestly for a watch to be kept on my thoughts.

It took another half-dozen years or so to realize that this was my first glimmer of sanity.

I just found your blog a week ago; great stuff!

maybeitsnonsense said...

I like what you said- that you were not leaving the faith, but 'faith' was leaving you. i 'understand' (on a simple level) your explanations for why you want to see the eyes of others 'opened' my reaction though- is that it is like christians on the other side. it appears that you are trying to pull people onto your side of belief- where a christian does that too. please tell me how you are different. how is what you are doing different from christian evangelism?

John W. Loftus said...

maybe,

...it's called persuasion. We are persuading people because we feel Christians may be brainwashed into liking this bad taste exbeliever spoke about. There is no threat of hell if we are unsuccessful, though.

maybeitsnonsense said...

john w. loftus-
i rather come to those conclusions without someone 'persuading' me. what harm is there for the christian to be brainwashed? i am speaking on a general level- of course harm is done in the name of the christian god. what i mean is- if i am a brainwashed christian, so what. being persuaded won't help me- i need to begin to think for myself. i do hope you are sparking thought for people. it seems that you are, that is good.

so is christianity 'worst' than other religions? if it is ok- if not, than why not try to persuade people of all religions to reject whatever religion it may be? I am honestly asking- i am not trying to be a brat.

John W. Loftus said...

maybe;

I do not know enough about other religions to debunk them. So I focus on that which I know, and I know Christianity. Persuasion takes place in the interchange of ideas, if we can argue our case.

I think people who believe something that is false will suffer personal, social, political and rational consequences. Gullibility hurts a person. The religious right is leading us down a wrong path.

Jake Barnes said...

An excellent post and a very interesting comment string. I'm curious, did calvindude ever comment here again? What a wonderful exhibition of "Christlikeness"!

I've been steeped in arguments like those presented in CD's comments for years. Exbeliever's responses to him were very instructive. I will ponder his arguments carefully.

As other commenters have said, I really identify with this post. Thanks for reposting it, John (and thanks for the info on hell yesterday).

John W. Loftus said...

Jake, it might interest more people than you to know that CavinDude is none other than Peter Pike who has become a regularly contributor over at Triablogue.

Evan said...

Oh it's fun to see Peter arguing with a theist.

They both believe in leprechauns but that's not enough. They have to argue about how much gold is in the pot at the end of the rainbow and whether a leprechaun without shoes with silver clips on them can lead you to it.

Hilarious. Also I note that Peter slides into ad hominem attacks and insults quite as easily with them as he does with us. I suppose it's the nature of the "elect" to not have to worry about being such dicks since they are already saved and don't need to do anything more, God picked them.

Ty said...

Brilliant Post EX!

Paul - What can be done? I think Dawkins thoughts on Atheists "coming out" is going to be effective. We are pack animals and seeing that there are alternatives to the Christian heard will free the masses. I agree with Dawkings that once Atheists reach critical mass in numbers that flood will happen. Right now, Christians do not feel open to question there faith. They are afraid to, afraid of the consequences. The evangelical Christian community has added an addictive narcotic to their fountains that is hard to leave.

On a different note, in response to the comment that we shouldn't attempt to deconvert atheists. First, Christians don't have to come to websites like this anyway. But more importantly, there is a reason free speech AND freedom of the press is part of our constitutional rights.

As for Peter Piker (Pike, I know not Parker)... *music begins* spiderman, spiderman, no one can like spiderman... Wow, to me it is very sad that people defend the immoral acts of the Bible, but I do beleive it is their right to do so. It is mentalities like Pike's (CalvinDude) that kept slavery around until two centuries ago. Ethically, we STILL have a long way to go. Even in the area of treatment of children. While it is becoming closer that corporal punishment of children is considered illegal, it is not universally accepted. We have 30 years of child psychology proving that corpral punishment (spanking included) is fairly ineffective compared to more humane forms of discipline, and corpral punishment has unintended side effects that are not present in more enlightened forms of child rearing. However, because the Bible encourages the unethical treatment of children, our Christian culture continues to hang on to these evil practices. Start thinking for yourself. Child Abuse is evil, slavery is evil, genocide is evil, and any religion that calls these evil things good, is really just evil.

Harry McCall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry McCall said...

“. . . we see teaching that a god comes in human flesh and instead of casting out demons into the abyss, instead puts them into innocent animals who subsequently jump off of a cliff (Matthew 8).”

I have used this verse to Biblically prove that Jesus was the original creator of Devil Ham!

The interesting fact is that since pigs (swine) are unclean because they violate the Divine Order of Creation (see the late Mary Douglas work on Leviticus) and are one of the two animals Jesus often used to compare gentiles with (along with dogs). The theology being unclear animals are cursed with unclean spirits which serves the Jewish “Matthew’s” use of a theology of destruction as a warning to the secular Jews keeping these unclean animals.

Thus we find that, along with people, animals (according to Biblical Theology) can be demon processed…a bases for the idea that the talking serpent in the Garden of Eden was to be latter identified as a snake processed by Satan (apparently God himself was confused at the time himself since he cursed the talking serpent and not Satan).

Fact is, the hog / pig is the one animal humans eat every part of. Here in the South in most food stores you can find: Pickled Pigs feet, Fried Hog Skins, Pig Brains, Cook Hog intestines (Chitlins), Hog fat back, Hog hair brushes, Pig stomachs, Pig snouts, Bones and Hocks to favor soups, organs made into sausage and hotdogs and some of the best Bar-B-Q, Country and Sugar Ham you can find. And Jesus (according to the moral absolutes of Jews Torah (both the Oral and Written Torah where given to Moses) clearly states that pigs or swine are totally unclean! WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) Do you think you would find Jesus eating at a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store? God Forbid!

As to Calvindude false perception that the Bible gives Christians moral and ethical absolutes; hell, look what we Southerners (mainly good old Southern Baptist Christians) have done to the hog! Ever hear of “Whole Hog Sausage”?

Well, on the subject of Biblical moral and ethical absolutes, (WWJD) we would never find Jesus in a Sea food restaurant in Myrtle Beach enjoy a great seafood platter loaded with shell fish, crab and ocean catfish…God forbid!

Brother, we need moral and ethical absolutes and not some secular relativism. Since Christians are guided (as pointed out by Calvindude) by Biblical moral absolutes, I am very confused as to why I saw several Baptist church buses were parked at a popular seafood restaurant on Highway 17 in Myrtle Beach with most ordering the “Unclean” seafood platter.

But wait! We can not use WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) since Jesus had not hardly sat down at the right hand of God the Father when moral and ethical relativism is the dogma of the day and Peter has a vision (and God I hope it was not trick of Satan) in Acts 10: 9 - 16). (Just maybe, God send Peter a “Strong Delusion” ( 2 Thessalonians 2: 11).)

But wait again! Christians can’t have some type of dogmatic moral Biblical relativism like those Godless Secular Humanist and Atheist. Brother, we need a theological way out (to save face); what about we call Biblical moral and ethical relativism a fancy theological term, hum…, lets see, got it! Brother, you Christians are in a new Dispensation! That’s it! It’s not Biblical relativism, it’s a new Dispensation! No contradiction here. Amen?!

I’m still confused though Calvindude. Why was Bob Jones Senior (Founder of the “Bible Believing, Bible Preaching” Fundamentalist school, Bob Jones University) a member of the Ku Klux Kan and why did he publish the booklet (which I still have that I bought in their book store back in 1971) entitled: “Does Inspiration Demand Segregation?” Dr. Bob, Sr. believed in the moral and ethical absolutes of segregation so much he even tied the major Fundamentalist’s dogma of Biblical Inspiration to it!

Well, wait just one minute! In 1978 the “Restored Gospel” of the L.D.S. Mormons was rewritten to allow blacks to have the full Temple Priesthood membership and in around 1990, Bob Jones University allowed blacks to attend BJU as students…hum…no moral and ethical relativism here Calvindude; just good old Biblical unchanging-changing dogmatism called Dispensationalism!

Now that’s what I all dogmatic Theology!

jim said...

John-

There was a time, before I was banned from Triablogue (under the name lyosha07), when I was posting on their blog and the topic of conversation was atheism. Peter Pike made an extraordinary claim - he said with certainty that any books that I had read on the subject of atheism, he had already read (or better ones). I didn't try to call him out on that then, because I misguidedly placed some trust in the Triablogguer's pronouncements about themselves. Now that I can actually see this man's writings from his own website, I can see his overblown bluster for what it was. This man is absolutely full of intellectual pretensions.

His website is absolutely amateurish. Here is a quote from an article of his on evolution:

"Selection alone is not capable of creating a new species because each animal and each plant already has a limited number of genes and DNA. A mouse has vastly different DNA than a horse, and this is the reason that no one will ever be able to breed a mouse into a horse. The DNA itself must be changed. It does not matter how many individual traits you select for a breed, there is a limit to every breeding species."

I will let the quality of the article speak for itself.

Peter Pike also calls his philosophy "theistic nihilism" because he believes that without god there is no value in the universe(http://www.calvindude.com/index.php?id=55). What an innovative philosophical idea! Peter really has a way of shedding new light on a subject.

Here's another quote:


"The results of the Scientific Method are called “scientific.” But since the Scientific Method itself is dependent upon the philosophy of the scientist (that is, the Scientific Method can be used by both materialistic scientists, naturalistic scientists, and supernaturalistic scientists), the results of science are nothing more than a philosophical view expressed through a specific system. " (http://www.calvindude.com/index.php?id=56)


Yes, that's right: "supernaturalistic scientists". Peter Pike puts supernaturalistic scientists and good-ol' naturalist scientists (you know, the ones who base their theories on empirical data) on the same level - because the validity of science is only as good as its presuppositions, and we all know that supernaturalistic presuppositions are at least as good as naturalistic ones! So the findings of science are no more valid than the theological speculations of religion (and of course, they always happen to be the specific theological speculations in which Peter Pike happens to believe). He says, "Science is a philosophy, just as much as religion is."


And to think of the level of confidence Peter displays when he dismisses, insults, and dismisses his opponents on a regular basis! Voltaire's statement, "there is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity", is completely applicable to this man.

Harry McCall said...

Hey Calvindude, God Bless You brother. Thank God for moral and ethical Biblical ABSOULTES!

We just had a Baptist deacon fired at work for telling “Nigger Jokes” and, when one black co-worker protested, he said: “I’ll cut the damn nigger’s throat!” I mean, this is the way Yahweh would have wanted it in the Old Testament…whites are his chosen people ( I mean in the Bible, God Himself tells us that dark is evil and white is good / Godly.)

Calvindude, we at least still have good old Baptist churches here in the South that are still firmly grounded the never changing and non-relative God given Biblical moral and ethical absolutes: They love Jesus and hate niggers.

Know what Calvindude; I’m sure going to miss that Bible loving and God fearing Baptist deacon who bore his cross for Jesus and suffered persecution for the never changing fundamentals of the Bible. I can still him telling us Hell bound sinners:

“The Ku Klux Klan is getting bigger. Aren’t you glad you are not a nigger.”

Calvindude, please stand firm and don’t let any of these Satan inspirited Hell bound atheists here at DC feed you that godless secular relativistic crap.

Brother, there is still Godly hope for America yet!

Robert_B said...

Here are a few pearls of wisdom from Ayn Rand regarding objective morality.

"What is morality, or ethics? It is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life. Ethics, as a science, deals with discovering and defining such a code.

The first question that has to be answered, as a precondition of any attempt to define, to judge or to accept any specific system of ethics, is: Why does man need a code of values?

Let me stress this. The first question is not: What particular code of values should man accept? The first question is: Does man need values at all—and why?

The Virtue of Selfishness “The Objectivist Ethics,”, p.13.

Ethics is an objective, metaphysical necessity of man’s survival . . . .

I quote from Galt’s speech: “Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice—and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man—by choice; he has to hold his life as a value—by choice; he has to learn to sustain it —by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues—by choice. A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.”

The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.

Since reason is man’s basic means of survival, that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil. Since everything man needs has to be discovered by his own mind and produced by his own effort, the two essentials of the method of survival proper to a rational being are: thinking and productive work.


The Virtue of Selfishness “The Objectivist Ethics,” p.23.

Man must choose his actions, values and goals by the standard of that which is proper to man—in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.

The Virtue of Selfishness “The Objectivist Ethics,” p.25.

Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course.

Philosophy: Who Needs It “Causality Versus Duty,” p.99.

The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.

For the New Intellectual Galt’s Speech, p.123.

Sweep aside those parasites of subsidized classrooms, who live on the profits of the mind of others and proclaim that man needs no morality, no values, no code of behavior. They, who pose as scientists and claim that man is only an animal, do not grant him inclusion in the law of existence they have granted to the lowest of insects. They recognize that every living species has a way of survival demanded by its nature, they do not claim that a fish can live out of water or that a dog can live without its sense of smell—but man, they claim, the most complex of beings, man can survive in any way whatever, man has no identity, no nature, and there’s no practical reason why he cannot live with his means of survival destroyed, with his mind throttled and placed at the disposal of any orders they might care to issue.

Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics, who pose as friends of humanity and preach that the highest virtue man can practice is to hold his own life as of no value. Do they tell you that the purpose of morality is to curb man’s instinct of self-preservation? It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to be moral is the man who desires to live.


For the New Intellectual Galt’s Speech, p.123.


If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man’s only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a “moral commandment” is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.

My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride.


For the New Intellectual Galt’s Speech, p.128.

You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island—it is on a desert island that he would need it most. Let him try to claim, when there are no victims to pay for it, that a rock is a house, that sand is clothing, that food will drop into his mouth without cause or effort, that he will collect a harvest tomorrow by devouring his stock seed today—and reality will wipe him out, as he deserves; reality will show him that life is a value to be bought and that thinking is the only coin noble enough to buy it.

For the New Intellectual Galt’s Speech, p.12

A moral code is a system of teleological measurement which grades the choices and actions open to man, according to the degree to which they achieve or frustrate the code’s standard of value. The standard is the end, to which man’s actions are the means.

A moral code is a set of abstract principles; to practice it, an individual must translate it into the appropriate concretes—he must choose the particular goals and values which he is to pursue. This requires that he define his particular hierarchy of values, in the order of their importance, and that he act accordingly.


Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology p.42.

Morality pertains only to the sphere of man’s free will—only to those actions which are open to his choice.

“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964

A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality.

For the New Intellectual Galt’s Speech, p.136.

In spite of all their irrationalities, inconsistencies, hypocrisies and evasions, the majority of men will not act, in major issues, without a sense of being morally right and will not oppose the morality they have accepted. They will break it, they will cheat on it, but they will not oppose it; and when they break it, they take the blame on themselves. The power of morality is the greatest of all intellectual powers—and mankind’s tragedy lies in the fact that the vicious moral code men have accepted destroys them by means of the best within them.

Philosophy: Who Needs It “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” p.67.

Robert_B said...

Hello Harry: how are you today? My sincere wish for your well being and prosperity for your family extends greetings to you and yours.

Your very interesting discussion regarding the alleged Messiah's positions on Torah dietary law is, in keeping with your usual standards, informative.

There is a larger and more important issue involved in the Christian vs actual objective morality dialogue. If Yahweh is perfectly moral, and if Jesus was Yahweh incarnated, and if slavery is always morally wrong, then why did Jesus not speak out against slavery? Why were the Gospel evangelists not inspired to write that Jesus said its a no-no in all cases to own, buy or sell human beings?

Harry McCall said...

Great to hear from you Robert! And we are all fine even after my family and I defiled ourselves at Myrtle Beach last week with unclean seafood platters. Am I a sinner or what?!

I will have to admit, the Ku Klux Klan are more “Biblical” than the modern Christians who want to paint the loving universality of Christ (Jesus) blood want to admit. Here in the rural South, some of the most racist God fearing Jesus loving Bible believing Christians are in the independent Baptist churches. As one Baptist told me once several months ago:

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with Blacks; I think every white man should own one!”

Fact is, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 in Augusta, Ga. over the issue that slavery was a God given Biblical right and it was not until 1995 (or 150 years latter) that the Southern Baptist Convention voted to condemn their Biblical past and offer and apology. I found this comment list on Google:

“The consequences of the decision to separate from other Baptists in defense of white supremacy and the institution of slavery have been long lived. A survey by SBC's Home Mission Board in 1968 showed that only eleven percent of Southern Baptist churches would admit Americans of African descent.”

If you recall, most of Dr. Martian Luther Kings hardest and roughest fights for equal rights was in the Christian majority controlled Southern Baptist South; states like Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana. Blacks got no support from the majority of the white conservative churches as most down deep felt if they had to give up the Biblically based intuition of slavery, then at least, God’s chosen white people must remain separate.

PS: Big Klan meeting to night with Cross burning to symbolize Christ’s purity and righteousness. Please bring your Bibles!
.

commoner51 said...

calvindude is correct in one sense. He is trying (unkowingly?) to move past duality which is necessary to come to any kind of recognition of objective reality. But, instead of transcendence, which is nothing but an altered state of consciousness, he is trying to pin his beliefs down as being real. He knows just enough to be dangerous.

Dan said...

"We weren't trying to "leave the faith," the faith was leaving us."

I addressed that at my blog recently, I called it: Doubt itself, the Catalyst for Atheism

fastandbulbous said...

Thanks to you all for a wonderfully stimulating discussion. May I express my puzzlement however, as a non-christian and non-academic about the talk about relative morality.
Surely as spiritual seekers, of whatever persuasion, we strive to understand the natural laws of our universe so that we may live in harmony with them and in this way deepen our compassion and wisdom and so ultimately our understanding of our 'god' or 'godliness', if we choose to use these kind of terms.
It is difficult to argue that our universe does not have natural laws and to my way of thinking to understand and respect them is the simplest common sense and most effective means of survival.
One natural law that I can observe is that each of us has the free will to make our own decisions and shape our experience.
Those who choose to dominate and enslave others make themselves a real worry and a danger to us all, but they do have the power to make this choice, whether the rest of us like it or not, and many in the world are exercising this very choice right now, even in the name of christianity.
Morality is not the issue. To grasp the true nature of our personal reality and to cultivate wisdom, insight and compassion is the way to understand what is 'right' and what is 'wrong', what is 'good' and what is 'bad'.
Forgive me if these ideas are excessively naive or hackneyed for this forum and thanks again for being there

Daniel said...

Extremely well put! Thanks for posting this!

Ty said...

Fastandbulbous,

I think you hit the nail on the head. Too bad this is not common sense reasoning to everyone.

GraceHead said...

Hello.

at the risk of sounding nit-picky...

Hell (as an eternal dwelling of the damned) is a teaching, like purgatory, that has no basis in scripture. It is a tradition that has become orthodox, but scripture as in most cases runs contrary to traditional viewpoints.
Consider John 3:16 ... "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that as many as believe in Him may not PERISH but have Eternal Life."

Life is a gift ... we are not owed life, but we each have it for a time. But it is inherently TEMPORARY ... having a beginning and an end. The doctrine of hell depicts no end ... no "PERISHING" ... but continued and unending conscious torment.

In reality, to accept the very Life of God is to be made alive by His life ... a Life that is unending and unbeginning .. .ETERNAL. To reject that Life is to remain temporal ... having no Eternal destiny.

To perish is to be UNFORMED to nothing .. and those that receive the second death to be made "no more" will have no thoughts to realize they have received it or not. Thoughts perish with those perishing

The serpent said: "You shall surely not die." ... and the church has been repeating the refrain, even when such teaching goes against the most popular verse ... John 3:16. Has not God said: "The soul that sins will die."??? Exact opposite of the serpent and the popular church dogma about hell.

Perish means perish.

Consider this:
1/14/06 - From God the Father
...Shall I, even I, torment My beloved, they who are tormented continually by he who is, and has, torment in his vesture? Satan is the tormentor. ... Become, again, a child of God, and learn to walk uprightly, leading others into love, by love, not fear.MORE of this letter about unbiblical "hell" HERE

18 reasons why in a single verse

Theological Myth - Unending conscious torture

I'll leave my nit-picking to this point alone.

Anonymous said...

I became a christian when I was 15 years old. Today I am 45 and am no longer a christian. I hate what I had become. I believe in God but not in organised religion anymore. It's all a bunch of lies created by men to keep control over us. I was married to a christian who commited adultery and allowed my 4 year old son to be molested by her boyfriend. Her entire family was a bunch of 'devoted christians' Her mother and father would search the scriptures daily for god's word. Yet this daughter of theirs destroyed everything, my family, and my kids lifes. She does not let me see my sons and prays that her god will destroy me somehow. She still goes to church and keeps a boyfriend on the side. But guess what, I thank her today for allowing the truth to open my eyes. I believe in God and God believes in me. God is all things and all things are God. And God actually loves me. I am not a christian anymore and I feel so free. Finally I am far away from true hypocrites who are only seeking to destroy the lives of others by converting them to christianity.

Lots of people can talk about the so called goodness of christ and the teachings in the bible. I have been there and I can tell you that it's all a lie. One BIG lie. No there is no healing, there is no forgiveness of sins - really your sins never ever get forgiven, they are merely masked by the so-called innocent blood of christ. No one rises from the dead. No one will get food put on the table miraculously. These are fantasies that have been created to subjugate the mind. Almost all churches are good in one thing - collecting tithes. Stop giving these churches money and they will ask god to curse you. Try it. Finally stop defending the bible. If it needs to be defended, get christ and his father to defend it. Stop waging wars in the name of God. Let God fight his wars, not use us to die for him. That's cowardice and irresponsible.

Also stop interpreting the bible, it doesn't need your interpretation because christians will only say what suites them.

If at all heed the words of chirst who says, love the lord THY god meaning love Your god, whomever it maybe. Now that's interpretation!

I declare that I am no longer a christian and I detest what christians tell me about the so called goodness of their god when they can't even lift a finger to help the poor and the downtrodden. I will work very hard at stopping people from getting converted. I am glad I came across your site. May peace be upon you all the days of your life. I have embraced life to it's fullest and now I call myself a Hindu - no not the book version but of the heart. Karma is something worth thinking about. My christian ex-wife has stopped my kids from seeing me and she prays to the Father - what a hypocrite...

I am a happy soul but of course I am sad that I have not seen my sons. Ravi

Lao Hu said...

I really appreciate you taking the time to include the scriptural reference to these atrocities. This only makes the truth more obvious to me. Now I can take these and show people how foul the well is. Maybe this will help me talk to my family and pull them away from the foul well. Thank you for this article!

Bronxboy47 said...

John,

Your "Bad Taste" post has to be one of the most moving ex-Christian testimonies I've ever read, and reflects my experience as a Christian in practically every detail.

Bronxboy47 said...

Sorry, sometimes it's difficult to determine who is posting what. My last post should have been addressed to Ex-believer.

meg said...

I enjoyed reading your post and don't come to this in an angry way. Sadly, there are times I don't understand God, but the truth is the truth. It doesn't matter whether or not your like the taste of the fountain, the water is there. Too many people make their choices on what tastes good to them, but that isn't the way it is. God does claim to be a jealous God, but He created us (whether or not we like it) and who are we to question what He does.

Jealousymadeingodsimage said...

Bringing up the claim that God says he is a jealous God. What if we aren't jealous? God is going to punish us for being mad that he is? Is not one of his commandments to not be jealous? Who is he jealous of and why is he jealous? Perhaps every life bearing planet has a god and gods often get jealous of each other's success. These words must be interpreted subjectively, how can they be objective? To be jealous denotes duality. It denotes a "temporal-spatial" seperation. What is he jealous of? A common theological answer is "We don't know." If we don't know, then a prophet should tell us. What prophet asks God about his jealousy? When does God explain why he is so jealous? IF God does not tell the prophets than we can only THINK about why he is jealous. We have space shuttles and nuclear weapons, the Dogon in west Africa know the positions and cycles of Sirius A and B without using telescopes. Are our deepest and most intellectual thoughts wrong? What about our deepest thinkers? Any logical mind Christian or not, knows that a line like "God is a jealous God", sounds more like human bullshit interpretation than an actual fact because there is no evidence to support God being jealous other than the bible, and God never explains what he is jealous of. God does not make thoughtless mistakes like this. It is stated many times in the Bible that nothing is greater than God. Mathematically, he is an infinite number. Why would he be jealous of numbers smaller than him? If he is greater than everything and created everything why he would be jealous? You can say that we just don't understand but if we understand other things about God because we can read the bible and THINK about it, why can't we do that when faced with God's abberant and criminal behavior. Why do Christians and Muslims alike automatically give up when you confront them with the question "Why does God kill people?" They know as soon as they say because people break his laws we will say what about the people who dont. So they don't bother to explain why saint and sinner alike are savagely murdered. They just say "We don't know". But all of a sudden we're ph.ds in how good the lord is, how he saves us from an eternity in hell, how he sent his son from heaven, how he loves his people and doesn't want them to suffer.