Ministry of a Healing Amputee and Another Where the Dead Come Back to Life

This article is about two ministries of note I've found in the past couple of months. One is an amputee that claims that Jesus is Growing her leg back, and one is a missionary that claims that he has witnessed the dead coming back to life by the power of God.

Carole Miller McCleery-Greene. On her website has posted medical information and interpreted it for the reader as proof that Jesus is restoring her amputated leg. She has had two automobile accidents that almost claimed her life and did claim her leg but she credits Jesus with getting her through it all.

David Hogan is a Missionary that has personally witnessed dead people miraculously coming back to life by the power of God through his ministry.
- David Hogan. Freedom Ministries. Faith to raise the dead.
- David Hogan at YouTube

I found the David Hogan ministry thanks to a commenter in another article, and I found the Amputee ministry thanks to my RSS Feed at Scienceblogs.com. The blogger at Respectful Insolence is a surgeon. He analyzed the claims of the regenerating leg, the medical information on the website and the interpretation and in his opinion, she's going to die before her leg grows back. He wonders the same thing I do, which is, if Jesus gets the credit for saving her, why doesn't he get the blame for putting her in that situation?

I didn't look long enough to find any dissenting opinions about David Hogan and the dead coming back to life except for this one from a christian because I am quite confident that if it were true, it would be widely reported in the science journals, because scientists love figuring stuff out.

I wonder, if we didn't live in the age where information can get transmitted in seconds around the world, what kind of impact would these claims have? Do you think more people would believe them? Do you think there is any correlation to the type of thing that went on with Jesus? Maybe, maybe not.

But hey, whats the harm, right? It makes them feel better and gives them hope.

69 comments:

zilch said...

Another good post, lee. It is indeed a strange phenomenon, that people who thank God for escaping alive from this disaster or that, don't ever seem to ask themselves why they were in a disaster at all. One commentator jokingly said it must be God's "tough luv", but I'm afraid it's no joke: many seem to think that they are especially chosen by God to be tested. If this feeling helps get them through the day, that's fine, but we skeptics must be excused for finding it unlikely that the survivors of disasters are any holier, on the average, than those who don't survive to tell their tales.

I hope I'll be forgiven for making a general plug here for Orac's site, Respectful Insolence. I've been following it for a couple of years now, and it's always interesting and informative.

ReallyEvilCanine said...

If you want to start a cult, it's probably not a good idea to choose as proof something rather easily tested such as the regrowth of a severed limb. What's this woman going to say in 10 years when she's still hopping on only one leg? Jesus has ADD?

Jason said...

This kind of post serves to do nothing except poke fun at Christian individuals. For what purpose, I'm not sure. Nothing in it however debunks Christianity.

Lee Randolph said...

on the contrary jason, it is meant to expose fraud and raise the question of how do you know when you are being defrauded if you don't rely on anything but faith.

Its not funny to me to see these shysters take advantage of people. You should look at the world news and see what is going on in africa.

can you think of anywhere people might be posing as christians to take advantage of 'real christians' in your country? why would people do that? What do they have to gain?

Shygetz said...

This post attacks the belief in belief; the idea that Christian belief itself, independent of its truth, is a good thing. We can use these as examples of the kind of thinking that Christianity encourages, and the kinds of evidence that Christianity offers. These are two data that suggest that belief in belief leads to irrationality and a willingness to accept falsehoods as "evidence".

And personally, I think that people who proffer ridiculous claims without evidence (or, in the case of the amputee, in the face of directly contradicting evidence) should be laughed at. I think it would make the world a better place if we ridiculed the ridiculous instead of treating it as something untouchable.

It's like there's a silliness threshold beyond which an idea becomes untouchable. I can laugh at The Flintstones, but as soon as Kent Hovind starts saying The Flintstones are real, then it has passed beyond the silliness threshold into holy revealed truth and should no longer be mocked.

Feh.

Cole said...

I once witnessed something like this up close when I was going to church. A guy was praying for a ladies leg to grow out and while he prayed he said "Can you see it growing! It's growing!"

I didn't see it growing.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

First, let me second zilch's recommendation of "Respectful Insolence." Orac is, in fact, a surgical oncologist, but he's also the person in charge of the bi-weekly Skeptic's Circle, the blog 'carnival' that includes the best skeptical writing of the past two weeks. The coverage of psuedo-science, creationism, etc. that appears in the SkepCirc is worth checking out by all of the readers, and especially by the believers among us, who might find the methods of thinking shown in it worth considering.

(He also has a weekly feature, "Your Friday Dose of Woo" in which he takes on various of the more absurd and hilarious examples of medical quackery. If you check out this article, you'll find a link to all of them. His work with a verbal scalpel -- he has a cutting wit -- seems to be equal to his professional work.)

As for Jason's comment, one reason why DC is valuable and worth spending the time I do on is to help combat the general gullibility that religion, and specifically the more conservative Christianities, helps foster.

While I do believe Christianity causes harm -- for reasons I explained in my reply to Jennifer in another thread, it also keeps people from developing the critical thinking skills that help them see through some of the more obvious and dangerous con games -- not just of the monetary type -- that people fall prey to.

A person who has a headache and buys HeadOn is only out a couple of bucks, but a person who has a serious disease and goes to a homeopath may be out forty years of life.

A person who doesn't see through a Ponzi scheme might not lose his life, but he will lose the money he worked hard for and expected to use to make the last years of it comfortable.

A person who hasn't developed critical thinking might follow the Roves and 'swiftboaters' into the voting booth, and 'bless' our country with a Bush, a Santorum, a Blackwell -- and yes, they might also fail to see through the myths on the other side and fall for 9/11 denialism.

And 'theophostic' psychotherapists and their implanted memories and the myth of 'Satanic Ritual Abuse' have destroyed lives and communities on 'evidence' so absurd that an intelligent eight-year old should have been able to see through.

So 'belief in belief' is not just a matter of believing in Kent Hovind's version of the Flintstones. It can have some tragic consequences.

Jason said...

"But hey, whats the harm, right? It makes them feel better and gives them hope."

This is a bizarre concluding statement if the aim was to expose frauds.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great topic and one that can and should be criticized as often as possible because, like you said, there are people out there claiming to be Christians who take advantage of people who choose not to know better. However, there's a difference between attacking harmful 'faith healers' and harmless individuals who are doing nothing except claiming that God has worked miracles in their lives.

As an aside, a quote from one of the links you provided really stood out: "I then remembered that there exists "Christians" who don't place the premium on God's Word that they should."

Steve said...

The harm comes when they start burning people alive because their religion tells them it's okay.

Cole said...

The harm also comes when people refuse to take their dying child to the hospital and he ends up dead as it did in one case that I know of and then they try to ressurect the child at the funeral and fail.

Shygetz said...

However, there's a difference between attacking harmful 'faith healers' and harmless individuals who are doing nothing except claiming that God has worked miracles in their lives.

At what point is it ok to ridicule a belief solely because it is ridiculous? If I were to go out into the hall right now and proclaim that Darwin had fixed the dent in my truck, I would be loudly mocked, and rightly so, especially given the fact that the dent in my truck is still there.

So since these people claim something equally ridiculous and factually untrue (or, at the least, unsupported by evidence) but claim that their God did it, they should be immune?

Why the double standard? Because they label their delusion (or lie, if you prefer to impugn their motives) Religion? If I worshipped Darwin before I claimed he fixed the dent in my truck, would I similarly be immune from mockery? When can we call a spade a spade?

I never want to hear another religious person complain about "political correctness" again.

Jason said...

Oh come on, let's not get carried away. We're talking about a woman who claims her legs are growing back and some guy who says he's witnessed the dead coming back to life. No one's burning anyone alive.

All in all it's a bit disturbing to see people getting off ridiculing individuals who are doing nothing more then claiming miraculous cures. I don't necessarily agree with the claims of these miracles but surely we should be drawing the line somewhere between letting people live in blissful ignorance and attacking 'harmful' Christian practices and doctrine.

Joseph said...

Jason, I don't think there's anything harmless about such beliefs. It creates false hope, for one. And let's not forget about the huge following of Benny Hinn's so-called Miracle Crusades. It attracts thousands upon thousands of people hopeful of healing--and leaves those people heartbroken and sometimes even penniless.

Brother Crow said...

"Oh come on, let's not get carried away. We're talking about a woman who claims her legs are growing back and some guy who says he's witnessed the dead coming back to life. No one's burning anyone alive."

Jason, everything in this statement is repulsive to me. Carried away? Like Christians who actually have killed people for not ascribing to their belief system. And these claims? Are they not antithetical to the very "supposed" foundation of Christian faith, which is TRUTH? TRUTH IS TRUTH - it cannot be "claimed"; it can only be measured. These are bunkem and hokem that have damaged lives, causing people to ruin families, decimate life savings and even commit suicide (documented, after a supposed healing at a crusade by a leading evangelist did not happen). I have stood at the bedsides of people who pleaded with God to raise their little baby from the dead, who have laid hands on corpses, anointing with oil, speaking in tongues, weeping, rending their clothes...NOTHING!!! "Ask anything in My name and I will give it to you" says your false god. Your bible is filled with lies and promises. People like these people and others who are possibly less scrupulous use that bible and those claims to emotionally, financially and psychologically rape people.

I visited both web sites...those people look like sweet, innocent little Christian lambs who are just trying to help those less fortunate than themselves. It is that bullshit logic that keeps integrity in the church to a bare minimum, because those types of bogus claims are not challenged in the name of sweetness.

Jim Jones helped people. Lots of people. Then he fed them cyanide. Yeh, Christians don't burn people alive. Your vacuous argument will probably be "Jim Jones and those others are not genuine Christians." Like Martin Luther, John Calvin, pope after pope. And it proves my point.

"I don't believe in a God that doesn't exist!
I don't believe in a world that doesn't give a shit."

Shygetz said...

All in all it's a bit disturbing to see people getting off ridiculing individuals who are doing nothing more then claiming miraculous cures.

So you never ridicule anything?

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

On "Heroes" last night, Claire "The Indestructable Cheerleader" Bennett regrew her pinky toe after cutting it off with a pair of scissors. And I think that's as close as anyone's gonna get to regeneration outside of theoretical medical science.

And what's the difference between the "I've seen God raise people from the dead" guy and that disgusting charlatan in Africa who claims that he can cure AIDS?

Both are selling easy answers and cures at the expense of someone else's health and/or sanity. To anyone with a modicum of human decency and empathy, it's a travesty.

zilch said...

If I were to go out into the hall right now and proclaim that Darwin had fixed the dent in my truck, I would be loudly mocked, and rightly so, especially given the fact that the dent in my truck is still there.
shygetz, if you really believed in Darwin, that dent would be gone.

Jason said...

Joseph - False hope is subjective. There's no good moral reason why we should take hope away from someone if it's helping them cope with a situation. Like Lee said: "What's the harm? It makes them feel better." Are you disgreeing?

Brother Crow - The subjects mentioned in the original post are a harmless woman and a man. Your issues with the Bible and your appeal to emotion via dead baby comments are embarrassing and completely irrelevant. What do you, or anyone, find inherently wrong or evil about a woman who thinks Jesus is making her legs grow back?

Finally, there's no mention anywhere about money changing hands in either the story about Carole or the story about David so everyone can get off their 'decimate life savings' soapbox now. My suggestion would be for someone to start up an anti-Benny Hinn et al post on the pronto to address the frustration everyone seems to have for faith healers.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
you're in the lead as far taking a comment out of context and not recognizing irony when you see it.
Its a literary device. You're not the only one though. I have noticed that a quite a few Christians seem to be impervious to Irony.

The subjects mentioned in the original post are a harmless woman and a man.
you really need to get out more. Can you activate your brain for one minute and imagine that harmless woman and man in charge of a church? In charge of people, making decisions, influencing them. You believe in tithing right or did you christadelphians toss that out too?

No money changed hands? in a church? Even jesus commanded ten percent.

Jason, have you ever volunteered for any community service? Have you ever volunteered or worked somewhere to help the hospital, the local AA, law enforcement, do any personal responsibility counseling to teens or young adults outside the church, or anyplace where REAL people need REAL help? I have and I highly recommend it for everyone. I ask because your comments lead me to believe that you haven't and you would benefit from it.

Shygetz said...

jsaon said:

Finally, there's no mention anywhere about money changing hands in either the story about Carole or the story about David so everyone can get off their 'decimate life savings' soapbox now.

As per Carole's website:

Being a traveling evangelist brings many spiritual rewards, however the material benefits are few.

Carole needs to update her website to add her latest MRIs, and new film clips, including her wedding video.

Please help Carole maintain and expand her website by making a donation through PayPal today!


She solicits and accepts donations to continue her "ministry".

As per David's website:

Freedom Ministries is active through faith in God for financial needs. It is also a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.

If you would like to make a donation that would go to furthering this work please use the following steps.

For donations please send a check or money order made out to ‘Freedom Ministries’. If you would like for this support to go to a specific missionary please fill out also to ‘Freedom Ministries’ with the memo area designated for that person.

...*We will soon have the ability to receive donations online.


He solicits and accepts donations for his "ministry", and is currently expanding his efforts to gather money.

Huckstering for money is part-and-parcel of almost all evangelical stories. I like my soapbox just fine, thank you.

Jason said...

Lee,

I completely agree with your conclusion: "But hey, whats the harm, right? It makes them feel better and gives them hope." I don't see how or why you would expect a Christian to treat this as irony. I'd prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you were being sincere.

Unless it's dependant on the irony I'm missing, the original post says nothing, absolutely nothing, about imagining a what-if scenario involving Carole and David being a leader in their respective church. We might be Christians but this doesn't make us mind readers!

Tithing in the sense of mandatarily giving a percentage of one's earnings? No, absolutely not. Plain and simple. I happily challenge you to provide proof that such a commandment, applicable to 21st century Christians, exists,

Nonetheless, I don't get your tithing and volunteering questions in relation to grasping how a women with legs growing back and a guy who sees dead people coming back to life are inherently evil and a threat to mankind.

If you're noticing that Christians are having trouble grasping irony as a literary device, perhaps you should try some other device that's a little easier to understand :) Just a thought.

Jason said...

Shygetz,

Carole's 'miracle' only happened as a result of people giving her money. True or false? Carole asks for money in exchange for her miracle to continue. True or false?

David claims to be raising people from the dead. True or false? David raises people from the dead only in exchange for cash. True or false?

Take your anger out on the Benny Hinn's of the world. You're barking up the wrong tree with these two. Neither one is any threat to your wellbeing.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Jason:
"Take your anger out on the Benny Hinn's of the world. You're barking up the wrong tree with these two. Neither one is any threat to your wellbeing."

What a beautiful example of the inherent selfish egotism of Christianity

which teaches "Love your neighbor" for your own benefit, because God tells you to, and (depending on the sect) he will reward you if you do, or punish you if you don't.

We say "Love your neighbor because, as a fellow humam being, he deserves your love."

These frauds are "no threat to our wellbeing."
Neither is Benny Hinn. None of us are going to fall for their cons. But did you ever think we feel sympathy and concern for those who have been so deluded that they will? Even though they'd probably not thank us for showing them the truth.

zilch said...

This is a tough call. Where do you draw the line: legally, morally, and making-funnily, with people who lie and coax the credulous to send them money? Who's to say what's more valuable to the mostly poor saps who fall for hucksters like this: the feeling that they're helping to spread the good news about a miracle, or a new book for Jane and a new jacket for Johnny?

My brother calls the state lotteries "stupidity tax". I'm inclined to say the same about charlatans like these two, but at least the state lotteries are (mostly) supporting good works instead of flimflam, and you actually have a chance of winning something in the lottery.

Shygetz said...

Carole's 'miracle' only happened as a result of people giving her money. True or false?

Benny Hinn's "miracle" only happened as a result of people giving him money. True or false?

Correct answer to both: False, but irrelevant. Both Benny and Carole are using their purported "miracle" as advertising for donations. Are you more critical of Hinn simply because his advertising is more successful?

Take your anger out on the Benny Hinn's of the world. You're barking up the wrong tree with these two. Neither one is any threat to your wellbeing.

Benny Hinn is no threat to my wellbeing. However, he is fooling well-meaning people into giving him money via false advertising. The EXACT same can be said of both Carole and David. I should cut them slack because they are not as good at it (yet) as Hinn?

Please. If they will stop asking for donations to spread their lies, then I will cease calling them hucksters and frauds and instead just call them liars. If they will cease telling factual lies (or present evidence for their current ones that can be viewed, even in the most favorable light to them, as credible), I will cease calling them even liars.

GordonBlood said...

Its an interesting issue but I also fail to see the point here... You attacking some people who are clearly extremely delusional and irrational who just so happen to be Christians. Ive met atheists who believe in ghosts, ive met atheists who beliefs in souls; hell ive met atheists who believe George Bush planned 9/11. Does this mean atheism itself is irrational just because indivudal atheists are irrational? NO. One thing this site has got to begin realizing is that there are Christians who value truth and it is a gospel imperative to do such. It would be very hard to read someone like Richard Swinburne and come away saying "man this guy's a nutjob". While I appreciate your point about irrationality Lee (I think thats where your going with this) it is not just religious persons who can come to believe delusional things; if anything I respect micheal shermer for pointing that out, even if it often falls on deaf ears.

GordonBlood said...

My apologies for the poor typing... not on my own computer.

Shygetz said...

Ive met atheists who believe in ghosts, ive met atheists who beliefs in souls; hell ive met atheists who believe George Bush planned 9/11.

I hope you mocked them mercilessly (although not the "soul" part; if "soul" means "immaterial mind", then that is still an open question in science, albeit one that is rapidly closing on the side of "no).

Did they ask you for money to continue their "ministry" based on their delusions? If so, they should be pounded severely. These two "miracle witnesses" do.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Gordonblood,
I wholeheartedly agree with you. And as a side point I blame the "rational" christians for not rooting these people out and exposing them, debunking them so to speak. I think that christains have a moral imperitive to do just what I have done in exposing them, however I reason from precedent, I don't predict that will happen. I like to use the catholic church because they are so consistent and visible, but they see all kinds of hoaky things, like tearful mary statues yet in most cases they DON'T MAKE A COMMITMENT ON IT ONE WAY OR THE OTHER!

I'D LIKE TO SEE REAL CHRISTIANS DEBUNK 'THOSE CHRISTIANS' that they always talk about.

I can tell you why that will never happen, and I think you all know it intuitively, that the same method you used to debunk them would lead to the whole tapestry unravelling.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
I say this in your best interest,
you should work on your reading comprehension.

Here is a link that will help you do that. The LSAT test has a section devoted to reading comprehension. In this practice test, it is in section 2.

The volunteering relates solely to you and your world view. You seem to me to be a bit naive.

Jason said...

Prup - Selfish egotism...? lol I'm only suggesting you go after the Benny Hinn's of the world. I'm not asking you to donate your kidney. Relax, would ya?

Lee - Thanks for your concern. Just to confirm then, the original post asks one to imagine a what-if scenario involving Carole and David being a leader in their respective church, correct? So I know for next time, to pick up on the irony and such, where exactly was this scenario alluded to...?

Jason said...

Lee,

You know what happens when 'real' Christians try to debunk 'fake' Christians? Atheists come along, start screaming about multi-headed hydras and then melt back into the shadows.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
I enjoy a little multi-headed hydra wrestling every now and then, but it does wear me out.
;-)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Yes, Jason, "selfish egotism" and I explained it in the clause I put right below it. The trouble with -- and evil of -- "Christian morality" is that nowhere in the Bible is there any attempt to build a worldview that would show that the 'rules' are in fact sensible and the 'right thing to do.'

People are not shown as they, in fact, are, for the most part good, well-meaning individuals who deserve to be treated they way the occasional platitude tells you they 'should' be treated.

No, you are told to love your neighbor -- despite the fact their hearts are wicked. You are told to do good to them -- but they are all depraved, Hell-deserving vessels of evil (in many Christian theologies -- I know Christadelphians don't believe in hell). You are told to 'obey the laws of God' for a better life in the next world, and never shown or even had it suggested that sensible rules of ethics will make life better in this world, for you and for everyone.

(And if you choose to strike out against these 'vessels of evil' -- as a soldier, a leader, or a private citizen, you have plenty of sanction from a God who led his people into war against the evil tribes, who sanctioned the work of Phinehas, who promises not a final coming into wisdom of all people but instead -- for those who fail to understand the cliched images of the form of literature that the Revelation of St. John embodied -- a final battle against the 'forces of evil' -- who just happen to be other human beings.

I know this drifed off the topic of the post, but I needed to respond and amplify what I had said.

Jason said...

Prup,

In summary, what exactly is your argument? That the Bible doesn't ever explain that by following God's Word, the world would be a better place...? I ask out of sincerity so I don't misunderstand what you're saying.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Gordon:
Yes, these people are "are clearly extremely delusional and irrational who just so happen to be Christians." Except that it is Christianity that fosters their delusion, and keeps them from seeing through it.

This isn't an example of "Prup's Law." You also say "One thing this site has got to begin realizing is that there are Christians who value truth and it is a gospel imperative to do such."

NO!

Maybe theoretically it pays lip service to this, but do me a favor and scroll down and read Joseph's post on 'Over-promising.' Sadly, the motto of almost every preacher is "What are you going to believe, me or the evidence of your own eyes." Only the answer better be 'You, Reverend Sir' or the believer will feel the flickers of hell-fire around him.

"All prayers will be answered." "Whatsoever you ask in my name shall be given to you." And the person who prays, not for his mother's cure from cancer, but just that she will have less pain, and sees those prayers ignored, still has to beleive that 'all prayers will be answered.'


To quote Joseph
"“How many of your needs did God say he’d supply?” I’d shout from the pulpit. “ALL of them!”—to which I would receive a hearty “Amen!” " And those Amens came from people who weren't sure how they'd be able to feed their family, whose jobs brought them home exhausted and in pain, who saw their relatives suffering from disease, who knew their children would be unable to get the education that they'd need for a decent life, just as much as from the people whose situation was such that they could supply their own needs.

AND THEY HAD TO BELIEVE, AGAINST THE EVIDENCE OF THEIR EYES, WHAT THE MINISTER TAUGHT. Just as they had to, even if they knew of DNA testing, of the use of the ideas of evolution in the medicines they might be taking, that 'evolution was a fraud.' That the Bible that told four different contradictory stories of the Trial of Jesus, that had two different Creation stories in the first two chapters, that was filled with absurdities. still was 'inerrant.'

'Value truth?" hardly. And it is the DEMAND of Christianity that you believe what you know to be untrue that causes the sort of extremely irrational and delusional people who don't 'just happen to be' Christians.

Joseph said...

I often made the claim from the pulpit that I was a truth seeker; that my church was open to truth and if anyone were ever able to point out that we were doing in error, we would change. Obviously, that was disingenuous because we believed we had already arrived at the truth. God had ALREADY delivered to us "ALL things necessary for life and godliness." We just wanted other people to open their minds enough to accept our presuppositions, then close them again once accepted. I can't imagine that we would have changed any of our doctrines or traditions because someone showed us more convincing evidence. Laughed at them, probably!

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

No, Jason, my position is much stronger than that.

My position is that following the words of the writers of the Bible, words they frequently put in the mouth of a non-existent god, has made the world a much worse place. That they have created such evils as 'cognitive dissonance' -- see the post that follows your -- and self-hate, and provide a warped code of ethics, no matter how people have scrambled to reinterpret them so they are in concert with man's ever-evolving sense of ethics.

Most of all, my position is that bibliolatry and Christian ethics have been the greatest stumbling block in creating a truly good ethical system, one based on respect (both for oneself and for others), honesty (including freedom of communication and freedom of inquiry), and responsibility (both in the sense of 'acting responsibly' and in 'taking resaponsibility for your own actions).

Christians can attempt to reinterpret the words of the Bible, but the experience of 2000 years shows the deleterious effect of many Christian ideas, and when Christians do make such a reinterpretation, it only revises the Bible to make it more sensible. And such revisions -- on slavery, war, tribalism, sexuality, equality -- have been needed constantly to free mankind from the theological ideas that many people would be ashamed to know were originally -- and sometimes still are -- part of Christianity.

Jason said...

First of all, the Bible doesn't teach self-hate (Eph 5:29). Secondly, I don't see how anyone can historically prove the Bible created cognitive dissonance.

I also have a big problem with the concept that the Bible prevents a 'truly good ethical system' because this would imply that all pre-Biblical civilizations must have achieved, or come close to achieving, such a system. By definition then, ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and Babylonians must have been ethically superior to ourselves. Unfortunately history says this wasn't the case.

The other problem I have with your argument is that you're assuming mankind is attempting to move to a higher state of perfection but the Bible is proving to be a stumbling block. Why can't the opposite be true? The problem is, if you think Christians are refining the Bible to free mankind from ethically harmful theological ideas, then certainly you must admit the world is ethically better then it was 2000 years ago - which would mean we're ultimately moving towards that truly good system you've already said is impossible because of the Bible. The world is either better then it was 2000 years ago or it's worse. Which is it?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Jason: I do have to agree with those who suggested a reading comprehension course for you -- though admittedly my own writing is not always as clear as it could be. But your response to me answers things I haven't said, and ducks the things I have.

You say: "I also have a big problem with the concept that the Bible prevents a 'truly good ethical system' because this would imply that all pre-Biblical civilizations must have achieved, or come close to achieving, such a system." How does that follow. I have, and you show you do understand this in your next paragraph, that mankind's system of ethics is continually evolving.

I have no problem at all in saying that, in many areas, the Old Testament was a substantial 'step forward' in its ideas over the ethics of surrounding civilizations, particularly in such areas as social justice and legal procedure. (There are even the first syirrings of democracy in it.)

In fact, had Christians viewed the OT the way Jews -- then and now -- view it, had they chosen the best from it and added the Christian ideas of universalism to it and simply subtracted some of the specific regulations that the Jews required for membership, then perhaps there would have been a shortening of the period of darkness after the barbarian invasions.

But instead they cherry-picked the mythical prophecies supposingly foreseeing their prophet, added ideas such as demonology and hell from the Persians, and chose the social structure and heirarchialism of the Romans, and treated the early parts of the Pentateuch as literal and historical rather than mythical and symbolic -- a mistake that jews did not make.

More importantly they treated the words of the Bible as simple answers to be quoted, rather than difficult problems to be debated and discussed and argued over. (I have stated before that the structure of the Sermon on the Mount with its 'you have heard it said ... but I say unto you' is a perfect example of rabbinical disputation - then and now. This is why many scholars see Jesus as having studied in the school founded by Hillel -- and Hillel had anticipated the 'Golden Rule' which Jesus is merely quoting.)

As for your second point you answer does not seem to be responding to my points. Let me try and restate them. Mankind's ethical system is evolving -- totally absent any religious influence. (And, in fact, the past century has shown this process progressing ever more rapidly -- partially because of the increase in communication.)

I should footnote this to say I am referring to 'the West' and Westernized parts of Asia and other areas. Certainly Eastern Europe is 'lagging behind' and the Islamic world -- outside of the more cosmopolitan cities -- has barely started and is fighting desperately against these changes.

But, while it is true that you can find some Christians involved in most of the ethical advances, from the abolition of slavery, to the challenge to racism and anti-Semitism, to the cutting back -- and, except in America, abolition -- of the death penalty, to the equality of women, to the dimunation of the horrors of war. (To, for that matter the triumph of democracy in a world that, a hundred years ago still accepted functioning hereditary monarchies as a sane form of government.)

But in every one of these cases, the majority of Christian leaders opposed these changes, and used the Bible to bolster their positions. And, since the Bible is a primitive document created by primitive people, their cases were usually strong.

But once the common ethical system had proceded beyond the Bible, they rapidly reinterpreted the Bible so that it didn't say what their predecessors as Christian leadetrs claimed it did. No, democracy wasn't really condemned by the Bible, no, the Bible really wasn't a strong weapon in the defense of slavery, etc.

Meanwhile they continued to claim that it was still the unchanging and inerrant 'word of god.'

Jason said...

Prup,

Your words:

“…following the words of the writers of the Bible…has made the world a much worse place. That they have created such evils as 'cognitive dissonance'…and self-hate, and provide a warped code of ethics, no matter how people have scrambled to reinterpret them so they are in concert with man's ever-evolving sense of ethics.”

In other words, you’re saying the world is a worse place because of the Bible.

“…my position is that bibliolatry and Christian ethics have been the greatest stumbling block in creating a truly good ethical system…”

Here you’re saying that the Bible, in tandem with Christian ethics, is the greatest stumbling block to humankind achieving a good ethical system.

One doesn’t need a reading comprehension test to understand this – unless your writing is so cryptic, only atheists have the secret code to unlock it.

Giving you the benefit of the doubt though and looking at your comments at face value, you’re quite obviously implying that in the absence of the Bible, the world is a better place (since with the Bible, the world is a “much worse place”). Based on this, one must logically conclude that the pre-Biblical world was ethically superior to ours today. Assuming a date of 400AD for the compilation of what today is the Bible, this would mean that the world was better and civilizations more ethically pure prior to the 4th century AD. Since there’s nothing to suggest this was the case however I’d like to know how you justify your position.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Jason: While I think most of what I said is clear, I do see one ambiguous statement that could have confused you. That was "a much worse place."

I did not mean 'than it had been -- before the Bible.' The Old Testament was a major improvement over what had gone before -- and had the Christians built on those improvements, rather than abandoning them, it would have made the last 20 centuries much better.

The New Testament is much more a mixed bag -- and the way both Testamets were interpreted by the Church fathers made things much more difficult. Even then, it might have been an improvement then. My point though is that it froze mankind's ethical development for many centuries. It did and has made mankind's situation much worse than it could have been.

To use a simple analogy. The telegraph, complete with morse code, was a MAJOR improvement in communications over what had gone before. But had a society rejected telephone, radio, television and internet because of a worshipful love of the telegraph, that society would have fallen behind.

I'll also concede that, because of the Barbarian Invasion, the Christian influence in holding European civilization together probably was positive. It kept both a political and ethical structure alive until the influx of new ideas from the Islamic Civilization -- how surprising it is that Islam, before it was itself frozen by the Ulemma, did create the highest Civilization and introduced (or, in some cases reintroduced) so many of the ideas we think of as the core of Western Civilization.

But once the Enlightenment came along, the influence of the bibliolatry and other aspects of Christianity slipped strongly into the negative, to where it has been a positive drag on man's ethical -- and other -- progress.

Does that make my position clearer?

Shygetz said...

jason said: Based on this, one must logically conclude that the pre-Biblical world was ethically superior to ours today.

That is only a valid conclusion if prup had said that bibliolatry and Christian ethics were the only stumbling blocks; otherwise, they could have been outweighed in pre-Biblical times by a large number of other smaller obstacles.

Jason said...

Prup,

I wasn’t confused about your statement, I took it as meaning you felt the world was a “much worse place because of the Bible”. If this isn’t what you meant, please say so.

I’m also not sure how anyone can positively claim the Bible ‘froze’ the development of ethics. If ethics can be altered in the absence of the Bible, and surely they must, then what historical evidence can be produced showing the Bible alone froze the development of this system (or at least evidence proving we’re ethically ‘behind’ where we should be)? I understand your position but you seem to be painting a rather one-sided view. What objective criteria are you using to measure the value of an ethical system? Who’s to say the world wouldn't be ethically worse in the absence of the Bible?

Finally, back to a point of mine which I don’t believe was answered. Based on the claim that the world is ethically worse off with the Bible, one must logically conclude that the pre-Biblical world was ethically superior to ours today. Assuming a date of 400AD for the compilation of what today is the Bible (OT & NT), this would mean that the world was better and civilizations more ethically pure prior to the 4th century AD. Since there’s nothing to suggest this was the case however I’d like to know how you justify your position.

Shygetz said...

Finally, back to a point of mine which I don’t believe was answered. Based on the claim that the world is ethically worse off with the Bible, one must logically conclude that the pre-Biblical world was ethically superior to ours today.

Seriously, do you not read? The comment directly above yours points out how your conclusion does not follow the premises. There are factors other than the existence of the Bible that can (and do) contribute to the overall morals and ethics of a society, and these factors could outweigh the stultifying effects of Biblical adherance.

I’m also not sure how anyone can positively claim the Bible ‘froze’ the development of ethics.

I wouldn't say "froze", but I would certainly say "retard". And it does it by nature. The Bible contains an ethical system that existed either >4000 years ago or ~2000 years ago (depending on the book of the Bible), perhaps older. And it presents this ethical system as THE ONLY ethical system to follow. Now, if a large number of people in a society believe this to be true, then the development of ethics will be curtailled because most of the people of the society will KNOW they have the correct and ONLY correct answer (the drawback of absolute certainty). The Enlightenment only occurred because of religious freedom; should I believe that the increase in moral thought/philosophy and the increase in apostasy during the Enlightenment were mere coincidences?

Jason said...

Shygetz,

Thanks for your input but I'm interested in hearing from Prup.

(You say "retard", he says "froze". Just another example of that multi-headed atheist hydra. You guys need to get your stories straight. lol )

Joseph said...

"Seriously, do you not read? The comment directly above yours points out how your conclusion does not follow the premises."

A favorite tactic of folks like Jason is to deal with the points they think they can tackle and ignore the ones they clearly can't, as though they were never spoken to begin with. Classic case of selective hearing (or reading, in this case). He's done the same to me elsewhere. It's fun to watch 'em squirm, though.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Jason: Shygetz put it well enough that I will adopt his comment. I repeat what I had already said before, your 'logical conclusion' about what I said does not follow from what I said. I rarely yell, "Strawman" but in this case your argument is a 'dictionary definition' of the fallacy.

As for 'froze' vs. 'retard' perhaps retard is better, because as much as Christianity tried to freeze the ethical system, man did manage to advance, and Christianity tried to gallop ahead of the pack, claiming 'oh, that's what we've really been saying all along.'

Jason said...

The reason why I didn't respond to Shyget's comment is because he's missing the point. He said:

"That is only a valid conclusion if prup had said that bibliolatry and Christian ethics were the only stumbling blocks; otherwise, they could have been outweighed in pre-Biblical times by a large number of other smaller obstacles."

This unfortunately is wrong because we're not talking about stumbling blocks. The comment was made, quite clearly, that the world is a worse place because of the Bible. This is an absolute statement. I'm enquiring about this, not the stumbling blocks.

Jason said...

Prup,

You haven't dealt with these points which is why I continue to ask.

1. If ethics can be altered in the absence of the Bible, and surely they must, then what historical evidence can be produced showing the Bible alone froze the development of this system (or at least evidence proving we’re ethically ‘behind’ where we should be)? What objective criteria are you using to measure the value of an ethical system? I say the world would be ethically worse in the absence of the Bible. Can I prove it? No. Does it matter? Apparently not.

2. Based on the claim that the world is ethically "worse off with the Bible", one must logically conclude that the pre-Biblical world was ethically superior to ours today. Assuming a date of 400AD for the compilation of what today is the Bible (OT & NT), this would mean that the world was better and civilizations more ethically pure prior to the 4th century AD. Since there’s nothing to suggest this was the case however I’d like to know how you justify your position.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

This is getting ridiculous. Three times you have asked me to justify a position. Each time I have repeated that this is neither the position I stated nor a logical conclusion from what I have stated. Shygetz has made the same points. Let's try one last time.

I did NOT say 'the world would have been a better place without the Bible.' (I even stated that the Old Testament at least -- as used by the Jews, not the Christian misunderstanding of it -- was a major ethical improvement.) I said that Christian bibliolatry, the idea that the Bible was not just an improvement over the previous moral codes but -- as the 'word of God' -- the final word on ethics has proven a handicap towards man's ever progressing moral sense.

I have also stated that Christians, once the consensus of opinion has changed against ideas in the Bible have reinterpreted it so that they could claim that the new ethical position was 'really' in it all the time.

The bible has been surpassed in several areas.
Its support of slavery is an obvious one.
Its support of a vicious and irrational sexual code -- this is one area where the OT was particularly guilty.
Its too-ready acceptance of war against the unbeliever. (I am not a total pacifist, but war should be a last resort in extreme circumstances.)
Its support of the notion of 'divine right monarchy.' (That one is particularly Christian.)
Its support of the subordination of women.
Its injection of Zoroastrian demonology and its teaching of man's inherent wickedness.
Some of these ideas certainly existed in pre-Biblical times, as did others that the Bible brought to an end -- which is why it was an improvement.

Again, it may have been ahead of its time, the problem is that it is not viewed as a book of and about its time but as a book that has relevance to all times, and that is how it has been a hindrance.

Now do you finally understand what I am saying? I am not asking if you agree with me, I'm sure you don't. But do you finally understand that what you ask me has no relelvance to the point I have been trying to make. (And, ironically but honestly, I can thank you. Your obtuse parroting of the same question has given me a chance to refine my statement so it is much clearer.)

Shygetz said...

jason, my quoted response was to your conclusion:

Based on the claim that the world is ethically worse off with the Bible, one must logically conclude that the pre-Biblical world was ethically superior to ours today.

Your characterization that I "missed the point" is wrong; the point is clear, and your conclusion is unfounded. Yet again, you refuse to admit error and hope that no one will call you on your obfuscation.

No dice. Quit misrepresenting my position. If you can't argue against it, admit your error and amend your argument rather than pretend your error never existed. The evidence is clearly in the comments, so you're not fooling anyone.

Jason said...

Prup + Shygetz,

I’m not sure why you guys are so confused. Prup, did you or did you not say “My position is that following the words of the writers of the Bible…has made the world a much worse place?

My conclusion therefore is simply based on the “My position is that following the words of the writers of the Bible…has made the world a much worse place statement. I’m surprised you keep missing the point considering I’ve been ‘obtusely parroting’ it for quite some time now.

So if “following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place, then it logically follows that a world prior to the Bible must have been better off since following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place.

Worse compared to what, one might ask? Worse compared to a world which doesn’t follow the words of the writers of the Bible. Makes sense. So I’ll ask again: What evidence shows that prior to the 4th century AD, or even prior to Christ, the world was ‘better’? (and surely it must since prior to the Bible, the world wasn’t following the words of the Bible)

I’m also enquiring how one MEASURES the VALUE of an ethical system. What’s the criteria? It’s really not a difficult question. Without a reasonable and fair means to measure ethics, then the claim that the Bible prevents a ‘truly good ethical system’ is completely unfounded.

Shygetz said...

jason, you are still drawing an illogical conclusion.

“following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place” means that, had we not followed the words of the Bible, the world would now be a better place than it is now. One might infer that the phrase also means that the world at any point and time since the Bible would have been better off had the Bible not been around. I don't know if prup meant this inference or not, but either way, it does not follow that he is claiming that the world now is worse morally than the pre-Biblical world.

Let me make an example for you. Let's quantitate morality, as that is the only way to really say something is "more" or "less" moral. We will say that morality varies on a numerical scale, with 0 being a complete lack of morals. Now, in order to prove that your conclusion is incorrect, all I have to do is demonstrate one possible case in which the conclusion does not follow the premises; it doesn't have to be a true case, just a possible one. I shall do so now.

Let say that the world at the time of the arrival of the Bible (say, 107 C.E. just to keep the numbers easy) had a morality scale of 10. Now, let's say that basic human progress (improvements in education, health, agriculture, etc.) improves our morality factor at a rate of 2 units per year. However, the cultural effect of the Bible decreases our morality factor by 1 unit per year.

Pre-Bible morality score: 10
Current morality score with Bible: 1910
Current morality score without Bible: 3810

At any time post-Bible, the score would be higher than pre-Bible. However, at any time post-Bible, the score would have been higher had the Bible never been writted.

Now do you see how your conclusion does not follow?

Shygetz said...

Oh, I forgot to address this point:

I’m also enquiring how one MEASURES the VALUE of an ethical system. What’s the criteria? It’s really not a difficult question. Without a reasonable and fair means to measure ethics, then the claim that the Bible prevents a ‘truly good ethical system’ is completely unfounded.

I would measure it against a humanistic utilitarian standard (greatest good for the greatest number), which I think is reasonable and fair means of measuring ethics in human relationships, albeit one that is damnably difficult to measure. You might object that this choice is subjective, but what of it? It is no more subjective than your choice to follow the teachings of 2000 year old writings for morality. I could as easily claim that humanism is a self-supporting objective moral system as you could claim the same for theology.

Jason said...

jason, you are still drawing an illogical conclusion. “following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place” means that, had we not followed the words of the Bible, the world would now be a better place than it is now.

lol Yes but better compared to what, a theoretical non-Bible world created by atheists?

One might infer that the phrase also means that the world at any point and time since the Bible would have been better off had the Bible not been around...

One might infer that? Really? It's funny because I’ve been saying the same thing over and over again for the past half dozen posts. If the world is ‘much worse’ because of the Bible then logically, a world without the Bible must be ‘much better’. How is this not a logical conclusion?

Let me make an example for you…Now do you see how your conclusion does not follow?

What a great laugh! You’re kidding, right? Since when does the ‘value’ of ethics have anything to do with man’s new found ability to farm canola oil or floss their teeth twice a day? How on earth can you create an entirely theoretical world without the Bible and then claim it’s proof we’re worse off because of the Bible?? That’s ridiculous! In both scenarios you presented, you’re claiming the world is ethically better off today then it was in 107AD – why??? Did people lie and cheat more in 103AD? Were there more instances of elder abuse in 284BC? Was personal responsibility non-existent in 99BC? Your entire claim is based solely on theoretical “evidence” and you’re behaving as if it’s the truth. Incredible! Isn’t this what you criticize Christians for????

Anyhow, after much consideration, I thought it best to follow your lead. In order to prove your conclusion is incorrect, all I have to do is demonstrate one possible case in which your conclusion doesn’t follow the premises – get this, it doesn’t even have to be true, just possible.

Now, the world at the time of the arrival of the Bible had a morality score of 934,948. Let’s say basic human progress improves the morality factor by 902 units per year. The cultural effect of the Bible has no effect on North American Indians or migrant workers but increases the morality factor of Jews by 400 units in 1969. However, with the influx of closet atheists coming out post-1981, the global morality score drops by 483,000 units.

Pre-Bible Score: 934,948
Current Score w/ Bible: 1.2 million’ish
Current Score w/Bible and w/o atheists: 1.7 million’ish

At any time post-Bible, the score would be higher then pre-Bible. However, at any time post-Bible, the score would have been higher had atheists never existed. It’s proof atheists are the stumbling block in the way of the world achieving a “truly good system”

Damn you all.

Joseph said...

I guess that last line said it all Shygetz, you are dealing with an irrational fool who cannot track and argument from start to finish. Nor does he care to exert the mental energy to do so. He does like playing dodge ball, though. I think Solomon says it best: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly" (Prov. 26:4). Fool: "a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding" (Webster). Better off ignoring him because you'll get nowhere.

Are there any respectable, intellectually honest Christian debaters out there who will actually READ and LISTEN and respond accordingly? Richdurrant, drsimrak: you've been quiet lately. We miss you!

Jason said...

Joseph,

The whole argument stems from the statement "following the words of the Bible has made the world a much worse place" and the criteria for placing a value on ethics. Where have these issues been addressed using real-life evidence?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Jason:
You have the Christian skill for taking a few sentences out of context and building a gigantic structure on them. Matthew would be proud.

The difference is that his out of context quotes came from people who were long dead. Isaiah wasn't going to yell at him for misconstruing him.

I, on the other hand, am still alive -- the last I looked.

You say 'The whole argument stems from the statement "following the words of the Bible has made the world a much worse place"'

This was the spur for your repeated use of the same paragraph ...

despite the fact that, as soon as you used it, I said the following in my comment of 2:55 AM Oct. 7th:
"I do see one ambiguous statement that could have confused you. That was "a much worse place."

I did not mean 'than it had been -- before the Bible.' The Old Testament was a major improvement over what had gone before -- and had the Christians built on those improvements, rather than abandoning them, it would have made the last 20 centuries much better."

You say that there has been no direct 'real-world' evidence. I would state that the following schema represents 'real world evidence'

A. The Bible holds forth a specific position.
B. Humanity's 'general consensus' evolves ethically beyond that position, and attempts to introduce this new understanding
C. Substantial number of Christians work against this new understanding and delay it because 'the Bible tells us' that the older position is sanctioned by God.
(with the eventual position being accepted and
D. Christians then explain how the new position was what the Bible said all along)

This schema has been played out many times:
in racial matters first an acceptance of racial slavery and the acceptance of the natural inequality of blacks based on the Biblical precept that blacks are decendants of -- oh, whichever of Noah's children it was, no time to check it.

Then an acceptance of segregation, again on a racial basis

Then a final attempt to draw the line at a condemnation of racially mixed marriages -- based, among other sources on the story of Phinehas.

On gender matters
The acceptance of a daughter as being the property of, and a marketable asset to, her father

Then an insistance that women were -- again -- naturally inferior and should not be placed in a position of authority over men

Then an insistance that the proper arrangement of a marriage is that the 'wife should be to the husband as the church is to god.'

Then you have the political support of monarchy and specifically divine right monarchy -- and in the Eastern Church even the ultimate of Caesaropapism.

Shall I go on?
(I hope not. In a court I'd be able to say to the judge 'Objection your honor, this question has already been asked and answered numerous times.)

Shygetz said...

lol Yes but better compared to what, a theoretical non-Bible world created by atheists?

Yes, jason, a theoretical non-Bible world. That was prup's position.

One might infer that? Really? It's funny because I’ve been saying the same thing over and over again for the past half dozen posts.

No, jason, you've been saying:

"So if “following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place”, then it logically follows that a world prior to the Bible must have been better off since following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place."

Your conclusion does not logically follow.

What a great laugh! You’re kidding, right? Since when does the ‘value’ of ethics have anything to do with man’s new found ability to farm canola oil or floss their teeth twice a day?

Agriculture altered the social structure of mankind, allowing the growth of population centers instead of nomadic bands and encouraging morality not based directly on familial ties. Sanitation, medicine, and other technologies increased leisure time and decreased the harshness of life, both of which lowered the cost of altruism and encouraged cooperation to complete larger and larger civic projects. Learn to think rather than just lash out, jason.

How on earth can you create an entirely theoretical world without the Bible and then claim it’s proof we’re worse off because of the Bible??

I did not; I proposed it as a counterexample to your logical conclusion. You stated that the conclusion "a world prior to the Bible must have been better off (than now)" based on the premise “following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place”. The counterexample based solely on the premise shows how your conclusion does not follow.

Anyhow, after much consideration, I thought it best to follow your lead. In order to prove your conclusion is incorrect, all I have to do is demonstrate one possible case in which your conclusion doesn’t follow the premises – get this, it doesn’t even have to be true, just possible.

When did I or prup ever argue that the conclusion "athiests must make the world a better place" logically followed from the premise “following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place”? I didn't, prup didn't, and you know it. In fact, I didn't see prup make any deductive arguments, only evidentiary ones. You, on the other hand, made a faulty deductive conclusion when you said:

"So if “following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place”, then it logically follows that a world prior to the Bible must have been better off since following the words of the writers of the Bible has made the world a much worse place."

See the phrase "then it logically follows"? That's an indicator for a deductive argument. In order to disprove it, I must show one and only one case in which the premise does not result in the conclusion. I did so.

Damn you all.

You're welcome.

Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you said "Thank you all." See, that's the typical response when someone patiently and politely corrects a mistake that you have persisted in making, and provides a detailed counterexample to your faulty logical conclusion. If this is how you typically responsd to those who attempt to educate and correct you, perhaps that explains why you continually make the same errors and rarely attempt to cure your ignorance.

Keep it up, jason, and I'll have to put you in time out.

Jason said...

Prup,

Your comment fortunately wasn’t ambiguous at all. As I replied shortly after your reply, I took your statement to mean you thought the world was a much worse place because of the Bible. It’s an absolute statement, one that doesn’t require any further explanation. I understood it perfectly.

As for the matter of your so-called real-world ‘evidence’, the only way the impact of the Bible on an ethical system can truly be measured is by comparing a world or civilization which didn’t have the Bible to one that has the Bible. If the civilization without the Bible maintains an ethical system of equal or less value to one that has the Bible, then your statement is wrong. If the system is better, the your statement is correct.

For example, the Bible didn’t arrive in the Far East until at least the 6th century. Evidence must exist showing that this part of the world was ethically “better” then other parts of the world. So where' the proof?

Shy,

“Agriculture altered the social structure of mankind, allowing the growth of population centers instead of nomadic bands and encouraging morality not based directly on familial ties.”

All you’re talking about is a change to a social structure. You’re not explaining why this change must result in a superior ethical system. Prove that the ethical system of 1st century BC nomads was inferior to the ethical system of 8th or 17th century AD citizens.

Sanitation, medicine, and other technologies increased leisure time and decreased the harshness of life, both of which lowered the cost of altruism and encouraged cooperation to complete larger and larger civic projects. The ancient Romans dabbled in sanitization and medicine but this didn’t make them ethically superior to the Babylonians. Honesty is still honesty, responsibility is still responsibility and respect is still respect. Developing a cure for cancer won’t suddenly make the world a more ethically ‘better’ place, it’ll simply make mankind more ethically responsible.

The counterexample based solely on the premise shows how your conclusion does not follow.

My analogy simply highlighted the fact that my theoretical non-atheist world in comparison to this world, is a much better place. Therefore, I can easily ‘prove’ it’s not the Bible that’s made the world a much worse place, it’s atheists as much as you can ‘prove’ the Bible made the world a much worse place.

If creating any kind of theoretical world and using this make-believe world as proof in an argument is allowed, then I’ve just demonstrated that the world is a much worse place because of atheists. It actually has nothing to do with the Bible at all. This is my evidentiary argument and counterexample. ☺

Any theoretical proof you can offer to prove your point, I can just as easily do the same.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

This has reached a state of high comedy or absolute idiocy on your point. I made a specific statement, that the world was a worse place NOW because of the inluence of the Bible in slowing and combatting the evolving moral sensibility of mankind. It has retarded the progress.

I MADE NO COMMENT -- ORIGINALLY -- THAT THE BIBLE REPRESENTED A STEP BACKWARDS.

When you argued that I had, I specifically stated that the Old Testament was a step forward -- though I implied that the New Testament, by ignoring some of the positive steps taken by the Old might have been a step backwards there. But I did not discuss or imply any sort of pre-Biblical 'ideal ethical state.'

The fact that you misread my original statement might have been a result of your poor comprehension or my poor writing. The fact that you continue to insist that I defend a statement I never made, do not believe in, despite my having explained this, may be the most absurd argument I've heard here.

You MIS-INTERPRETED MY STATEMENT!

My statement doesn't mean what you claim it does!

And your repeated insistence that your interpretation is correct proves you are a total IDIOT!

Shygetz said...

Wow, jason, you are beyond belief. You made a faulty deductive conclusion. I pointed out it was faulty. I provided a valid counterexample. You whined, complained, tried to change the subject, tried to obfuscate the matter, all to weasel out of admitting that you made a faulty logical conclusion and were caught.

This is not the behavior of a mature person seeking truth; this is the behavior of a petulant child who got his hand caught in the cookie jar. I'm really starting to think that you are not capable of mature discussion, but rather think of this as a game of "gotcha" where the object is to avoid admitting defeat for as long as possible.

You screwed up making you logical argument. Admit it and move on. You're making a fool of yourself.

Jason said...

Prup,

All throughout this argument you've been attempting to cast a blanket statement that the "world" is a much worse place because of the Bible. The NT was first given only to the Jews and Gentiles living in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Then it spread to areas just outside of Israel such as Greece and Rome before slowly branching out from there. What I've been asking is why isn't there evidence of superior and inferior ethical systems in nations which received the Bible at different time periods? By definition, there must be differences if the Bible truly does affect an ethical system on the level you claim it does. This is the major flaw in your argument. The Far East, for example, must have ethically progressed much further then the Middle East given the length of time it took for the Bible to get that far. However there's no evidence to suggest this is the case. And that's just forgetting for a moment the logistal and analytical impossibility of measuring the status and progress of a global ethical system...

No, there's nothing suggesting the Bible 'retarded' an entire ethical system.

(I am constantly surprised though that you consider the OT a "substantial step forward" in ethics considering the horror atheists constantly express about God killing all those innocent people because they broke the law)

Shygetz said...

The NT was first given only to the Jews and Gentiles living in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Then it spread to areas just outside of Israel such as Greece and Rome before slowly branching out from there.

This is true; however, the religion spread fairly rapidly (over the course of a decade or two) and to a small number of people who were largely socially downtrodden (poor, women, underprivileged groups, etc.) The effects such a small number of uninfluential people would have on societal morality during the short time of the spread of Christianity would be very small. I would argue that Christian morality really took off as a societal driving force after the conversion of Constantine. Unfortunately for testing a hypothesis, this occurred throughout the Roman Empire simultaneously.

What I've been asking is why isn't there evidence of superior and inferior ethical systems in nations which received the Bible at different time periods? By definition, there must be differences if the Bible truly does affect an ethical system on the level you claim it does.

I think Prup was claiming that the Bible influenced the rate of change of a moral system. In order to test the claim, we would have to have two societies; in one, the Bible would be accepted at a much earlier time point by a portion of the population that had sufficient influence to drive society. In the other, the Bible would have to be introduced much later, if at all. In all other areas, the societies would have to be similar, and the rate of moral change would have to be followed over the time periods valid for this argument (i.e. centuries). Unfortunately, I don't think this case exists, so I don't think it is possible to test Prup's idea via historical observation. The closest we could come may be examing the morals of similar lands colonized by countries with differing levels of fundamentalism during the colonial period. Unfortunately, I know VERY little about the colonial period.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Shy and Jason:
No, it is NOT true that "The NT was first given only to the Jews and Gentiles living in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Then it spread to areas just outside of Israel such as Greece and Rome before slowly branching out from there."
Christianity -- in wondrously diverse forms -- had already spread to many areas before the need was felt to produce Gospels. Paul's letters predate the Gospels by ten years or so, and were written to individual Churches, many of which he had founded. (Check out where Galatia, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. are.)

Then people wanted to have written stories of who this 'Jesus' was, and many were written in different areas, including the three Synoptics that we 'kept.' Some churches used one, some another, etc. Thirty or so later, the theologically based John was written -- long after almost everyone who had actually witnessed the events was dead.
After a while the 'Church Fathers' and other writers began to argue as to which books were, in fact, authentic, and which were 'heretical.' (Meanwhile books were still being written in the names of the early Apostles. The latest book we have is II Peter, which dates from the middle of the Second Century.)

I would suggest, Jason, that you look into any good studies on the history of the Bible -- questia.com has many of them.

Shygetz has made my point, that the effect of the Bible has been to retard the ethical progress that has been made externally to the bible over the past 500 years. It is hard to judge whether the overall effect of the millenia before that was positive or negative because of the other factors involved, the Islamic battles, the fall of Rome.

The reason for the negative effect has been the Christian attitude towards the Bible -- and the difference between that attitude and the Jewish attitude is why I consider the OT a major improvement for its times.

No Jew would ever have said "Thje Bible says it; that settles it!" Rather the Bible is a text to be argued over, reinterpreted, authorities are tro be compared, with every student coming up with his own interpretation after weighing the arguments of the rabbis who went before. (I've pointed out that the "You have heard it said... But I say unto you" of the Sermon on the Mount is very much within the format of Talmudic arguing -- and the interpretations given by Jesus are not new and innovative, but very much along the line of the School of Hillel -- another reason why the supposed hostility of the Jews to him in the Bible -- if we have the essence of his teaching -- is so obviously apocryphal.)

It is not the Bible per se that has been so negative, but the attitude of Christians towards it, the bibliolatry -- which is why your constant refrain has missed my point so totally. Maybe -- it is at least arguable -- the Bible was an ethical advance for its time -- though the ethics of the Far East in some ways was superior, in others inferior. But eventually it became not an improvement but a dead weight, from the beginnings of the Enlightenment, and particularly over the last century, which has been -- despite the obvious backward steps -- overall the period of the most rapid ethical growth in the history of mankind.

ronnie_obrien said...

The post does not give the credit as far as David Hogan goes in sharing amputees being restored.
David has shared that one person had their legs from the knee down totally restored, and on that same conference shared how one person from the waist down had grown the full leg down by Christ.

The post by a so called critic who is Christian is definitely critical. When it comes to hearing someone out, they should at least try to present it the way it is rather than twist things. The author Brian Karjala also appears to be out of touch with some of the common dealings of the Holy Ghost. If Brian Karjala has listened to DAvid for any length of time, then he would know that Mr. Hogan is one for constantly giving Jesus glory, and if there are boasts that appear prideful, then as Paul so put it, he had even more reason to be that way. When Christ works through you, you have reason to boast in Christ works!
Ronnie

ronnie_obrien said...

The post does not give the credit as far as David Hogan goes in sharing amputees being restored.
David has shared that one person had their legs from the knee down totally restored, and on that same conference shared how one person from the waist down had grown the full leg down by Christ.

The post by a so called critic who is Christian is definitely critical. When it comes to hearing someone out, they should at least try to present it the way it is rather than twist things. The author Brian Karjala also appears to be out of touch with some of the common dealings of the Holy Ghost. If Brian Karjala has listened to DAvid for any length of time, then he would know that Mr. Hogan is one for constantly giving Jesus glory, and if there are boasts that appear prideful, then as Paul so put it, he had even more reason to be that way. When Christ works through you, you have reason to boast in Christ works!
Ronnie

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