On Being Ignorant of One's Ignorance and Unaware of Being Unskilled

As a former Christian, especially soon after I first converted, I thought I knew the answers to the riddle of existence. The answers were all in the Bible. And I thought I could also understand the Bible well enough to know, especially before I had any advanced learning. Initially I was a Bible Thumper. My motto was: God said it. I believe it. That settles it. All of the answers were to be found in the Bible, and I thought I knew them--all of them. So without any education at all I soon had the confidence to speak to college professors I met and not be intimidated at all. And I did. I remember walking away from some conversations thinking to myself how ignorant that professor was. Yep. That's right. At that time I was what psychologists have dubbed "Unskilled and Unaware of it." And it appears to me many Christians who comment here are just as I was. They come here with the answers. Some of them do not even have a college education. And yet they offer nothing but ignorant comments. I can't convince them otherwise. They are like I once was.

Looking back on those initial years I could see clearly that I was not able to think through the issues of the Bible, especially hermeneutics, until after gaining a master's degree. I would have told you upon receiving my first master's degree that I was ignorant before then. But I kept on learning and studying. Age had a way of teaching me as well. It seems as though as every decade passed I would say I was more ignorant in the previous one. As every decade passed I see more and more wisdom in Socrates who claimed he was wise because he didn't know. According to him the wiser that a person is, then the less he claims to know. Awareness of our ignorance only comes with more knowledge.

One writer said:
The British philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote that “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” This is true whether one interprets “stupid” as foolish (short on smarts) or as ignorant (short on information). Deliberately or otherwise, his sentiment echoes that of Charles Darwin, who over one hundred years ago pointed out that “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

The Internet is a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of such misplaced confidence. Online, individuals often speak with confident authority on a subject, yet their conclusions are flawed. It is likely that such individuals are completely ignorant of their ignorance. Cough.
And so let me link to this writer who in turn links to an important study that can help us determine whether we are ignorant or not. The psychological study is called, Unskilled and Unaware of it.

And it just doesn't apply to Christians, but anyone who has an overconfident assessment of their skills and abilities, including atheists.

The bottom line is that the more I know the more aware of how little I know. Get it? But there is no way to help a person who has all of the answers know how little he knows except by increasing his knowledge and experience. It's a catch-22 of sorts. Until you do know a great deal you will never really know how ignorant you are. Therefore only the ignorant are unaware of their ignorance. And only the unskilled are unaware of it too. We see this on shows like American Idol and on Who's Got Talent? Does it not surprise you how many people audition for these shows who completely lack talent and yet claim they are good? Most bad Karaoke singers do not know they cannot sing. It's not until they become better at it can they know this for themselves.

It's not that the ignorant and unskilled don't know they are at least somewhat ignorant and unskilled. They do. Just ask them. When asked even the ignorant will say so. It's just that the ignorant do not understand how truly ignorant they really are. They might think it's a small leap to knowledge when there is a mile (or several miles) to travel for it.

Again, the more we know the more we know that we don't know, and only people who know can truly know this. Got it? And only people who know can discern others who know. I can have a great conversation/dialogue with some Christians here because I can tell that they know what they are talking about (even if I disagree). And I know who they are because of what they say. It's a joy to me. In fact, if approved for publication an unnamed Christian scholar and I will be co-writing a book length dialogue about our differences because I can respect that he knows (well, at least as best as a Christian can do anyway). [I'm not defining "know" here as justified knowledge, but in terms of education and awareness, since, as you would expect, I think he's wrong].

So I'll continually be bothered daily at DC by ignorant people who are unaware of their ignorance, especially Christians. That's the nature of this beast. Worse off, they don't trust me to tell them what they should understand. They will most likely only listen when someone on their side of the fence--whom they respect--tells them.

For now I'm challenging people to consider whether they are ignorant/unskilled and unaware of it. Most Christians who comment here are. I would say this about them as a former professor of philosophy, apologetics, ethics, and the Bible. This is much more true of them now from my perspective.

So the more I know the more I know that I don't know. But I do know this: I know a hell of a lot more than most people about Christianity. I am not ignorant when it comes to Christianity. I might be wrong, but I'm not ignorant, at least not as ignorant as most of the Christians who comment here. Is this a contradiction? Not at all. For the only way for us to know something like this is to become knowledgeable. Someone can only say he knows a lot when he knows he doesn't know that much. And only the knowledgeable can have a proper assessment of this because the ignorant are ignorant of their own ignorance!

Enjoy this:

136 comments:

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andre said...

Great post, John. Sure to send people like Paul Coppan into hysterical fits. There are sure amswers, and they belong to the Christian. Only. Surely we cannot live happily ever after in a world without absolutes?

Clare said...

David M should be aware of his own ignorance and learn how to make links work in his posts with HTML! We don't want to bother to cut and paste them.
and by the way, Pascals Wager only works for Christians. It is no problem for atheists who do not believe in God or Hell or souls.What if God is a Catholic or a Mormon, or perahps a Hindu?

Dan Wilkinson said...

This reminds me of the lesson to be learned from Implicit Association Tests. People tend to think that they're completely impartial and objective when it comes to judging others, but taking a few IATs reveals all sorts of hidden social and cultural prejudices that virtually everyone holds.
It's only when you begin to recognize your prejudices, preconceptions and general lack of knowledge that you can start to move forward in a meaningful way.

MKR said...

Skeptical Inquirer ad on Facebook: "Our sponsor says: SUBSCRIBE NOW! (Because banning Mabus alone is a full-time job)." Lol.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

There's a term for what you describe, too, John. The Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Isn't this part of the allure of religion? It suppresses one's perception of one's own ignorance.

It's a scary world out there, and it was even scarier back when religions arose. Back then it was virtually impossible to acquire knowledge of anything, without a lot of work, and/or access to information, all of which was not readily available, much less capable of being obtained.

So having a book handed to you with the explanation that it contains everything you need to know is very comforting, allowing you to believe that you are far more in control of your scary world than you would be otherwise. It's delusional, but for most people not being hit by lightning, or succumbing to infectious diseases, or being killed by natural disasters, there is no reason to believe otherwise. And those exceptions, well, they can be rationalized away too, simply by referring to this book.

With such a handy dandy guide to life, you really don't need to even think about or acknowledge your real ignorance.

Life might still be a bitch, but at least you feel good about yourself.

krissthesexyatheist said...

Was it Carl Jung's concept of the Shadow that states, we know what we know, but we don't even know what we don't know.

MKR said...

Speak of the devil and there he comes. Write about the self-confidence of the ignorant, and DM and Winston show up.

John W. Loftus said...

heh heh, I delete DM's comment as soon as I see it before someone comments on it. Looks like we arrived at the same time MKR.

Breckmin said...

we are all infinitely ignorant and the more we learn the more we realize that we do not know...every mature believer I've known has used "from one fool to another" when it comes to the things of God..

However,
addressing this subject as it relates to specific objective trues and specific points seems general to me, and doesn't deal with any specific point or answer.

It is almost tantamount to saying "we've got a lot to learn."

It is not a competition between who is less ignorant. It shouldn't be a competition at all.

It should be a search for truth
while questioning and examining evidence.

Breckmin said...

"objective trues"

Please understand that I am fully aware that others believe in the subjectivity of all truth,

however,

I stand by the position that it is the nature of truth, fact and reality to be in and of itself dogmatic and consistent with God's Omniscience.

When we align our beliefs with God's Omniscience...this is when we have arrived at truth.

It is not ignorance to disagree with opposing arguments that we are fully aware of (such as a definition for "truth").

Someone can have access to almost all of the same information and evidence that you have...and yet
still choose to disagree with you.

MKR said...

Quoting Breckmin:

I am fully aware that others believe in the subjectivity of all truth

What "others"? "Subjectivity of truth" is not even a coherent combination of words. A proposition is true or it isn't. There's no room for a "for me" or a subjective element about it. This is not a substantive metaphysical issue but an elementary point of logic. You set yourself up as a brave opponent of a position that in fact only an incompetent thinker would profess.

I stand by the position that it is the nature of truth, fact and reality to be in and of itself dogmatic and consistent with God's Omniscience.

When we align our beliefs with God's Omniscience...this is when we have arrived at truth.


People and their discourses may be dogmatic. To predicate "dogmatic" of truth is a category mistake—another logical error.

Setting that aside, I find it comical that religious believers, who scorn probability and evidence in favor of authority, emotion, custom, social influence, and so on—in short, whose epistemic practice favors subjective determinants of belief over objective ones—think that they have "objectivity" on their side because they identify their prejudices and fantasies with divine revelations.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@MKR

Subjective or Objective Truth?

Fornication is wrong.

Either it is or it isn't.
Does everyone agree to that?

MKR said...

Marcus, how is the occurrence or non-occurrence of universal agreement supposed to be pertinent to whether the proposition is true or not? And how is that supposed to be relevant to its objectivity or subjectivity?

Eric said...

"I find it comical that religious believers, who scorn probability and evidence in favor of authority, emotion, custom, social influence, and so on—in short, whose epistemic practice favors subjective determinants of belief over objective ones"

MKR, if you meant to write, "religious believers who scorn probability and evidence in favor of authority, emotion, custom, social influence, and so on," I'd agree, since you then wouldn't be referring to all religious believers, but only to those who in fact scorn probability and evidence etc. As the sentence stands, however -- i.e. with that first comma -- your premise is obviously false.

Also, appeals to authority can be evidence based, so they need not evince a scorn for evidence. Further, evidence is often interpreted in ways that are ineluctably influenced by emotion, custom, social influence, etc. so your hard opposition of these categories is a bit misleading.

shane said...

Marcus.

You said fornication is wrong.

Yet, what is this word refering to? It is refering to procreation of our species outside of your (particular) religions set of rules?

Get real!

shane said...

Marcus.

You said you are a christian who believes in evolution?

Then did Cro Magnon man have to get married in order for our species to procreate without committing the sin of fornication?

Did Neanderthal man get married?

What about about Homo Erectus?.....or Homo Habilis?....what about any of the Hominids in our gene pool?

The answer is NO!....because there was no institute of marriage then!

So much for your incoherent belief in evolution coinciding along with Adam and Eve!

Greg said...

I would take a deep cleansing breath of great relief if I heard some visible somebody with authority utter those three wonderful little words "I don't know". I really would.

The world is so complex, that the only reliable gambit for anyone who is serious about engaging with it is shutting up.

Seems like people are clinging more fiercely to shallower and flakier certainties these days.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Great post John.

The certainty that religionists hold regarding all things invisible based on pre-scientific or rhetorical arguments is a strong reason why I migrated to agnosticism and now rest comfortably as an atheist. No religious argument has the humility to present its assertion with a degree of falsifiability and therefore clings to an intellectual certainty that amounts to intellectual suicide. I don't know is a great sentence.

Steve Wiggins said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, John. We are, as you noted, not far apart. I always wondered at how uncertain the truly great scholars I knew were, until I gained a modicum of knowledge myself. I get more and more humble each day realizing just how much I don't know. Thanks for writing sensible stuff!

beowulf2k8 said...

Isn't the real issue you are talking about being overly trusting of supposed authorities. What you are talking about actually has nothing to do with eduction. I take it you had never actually read the whole Bible (possibly not even the whole of any book in the Bible) but were sure you knew everything only because you trusted your pastor whom you perceived to an authority.

If on the other hand, someone was (without a masters degree or even a bachelors) to read the ENTIRE Bible from cover to cover in several translations. Then they would actually know what was in there and would begin to see the contradictions and the issues would begin to become clear to them. They would end up knowing more about the Bible than even with your degrees. Because to some extent, even with your degrees, aren't you still just relying on what other people say about the Bible? Have you ever read the whole thing yourself?

So it isn't an issue of education but of dedication. Those who want to take the easy way out and assume the Bible is the perfect word of God without actually reading it and want to just trust whatever their pastor says, these will remain idiots all their life. But those who read the thing and therefore see the contradictions, they will become knowledgeable even without any special education on the subject or any other subject. (Of course obviously they'll have to be literate.)

John W. Loftus said...

beowulf2k8, I read the Bible through seven times before I graduated from a Bible college.

I guess reading it with a believers eyes like I had doesn't affect some believers like I was.

Breckmin said...

"think that they have "objectivity" on their side because they identify their prejudices and fantasies with divine revelations."

There is no "side." This isn't believers verses non-believers. Believers PRAY continuously for non-believers. We cry and beseech God for your salvation (individually). That is "just" one of the major differences between born-again Christianity and ALL other religions. It addresses the nature of so called proselytizing.

The objectivity is with respect to whether or not you have your sins forgiven. Objective guilt of the Law, for instance, has nothing to do with personal feelings of guilt.

God knows the objective truth. He is omniscient. It is our job to attempt to discover as much OF that objective truth (facts) in the universe as we can.

Praying that God guides us toward that learning experience and away from deception is called being wise. We are all learning. We are all deceived about something.

Breckmin said...

"because you trusted your pastor whom you perceived to an authority."

I've never met a pastor or a priest that I didn't disagree with(hundreds of peripheral theologies).

It isn't so much about local authorities. It is about Jesus Christ.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

We cry and beseech God for your salvation (individually).

Well, your prayers have been answered. I was saved the day I accepted the fact that I was an atheist. The burden of 45 years of guilt and ignorance was lifted from my shoulders. I breathed a sigh of relief for the balance of my life free of faith.

Lord be praised!

Breckmin said...

"The burden of 45 years of guilt"

Why would you feel guilt?

If the Sacrifice of Jesus was great enough to cover all of your objective guilt of the Law then why would you feel guilty anymore?

No one will feel guilty in heaven because they will KNOW that ALL of their sins have been forgiven. There will be no ignorance of this
reality in heaven.

We had to learn about this here in this temporary creation.

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin said,

"I stand by the position that it is the nature of truth, fact and reality to be in and of itself dogmatic and consistent with God's Omniscience."

God's omniscience (total knowledge) is utterly incompatible with human free will. You have never satisfatorily addressed this. All you have ever given us in response to this is apologetics and gibberish.

Breckmin said...

"God's omniscience (total knowledge) is utterly incompatible with human free will."

If there is no free will (and clearly we have an imperfect usage of words with "free will" since the real issue is a volition or limited sovereignty that is governed by self-impulse)then it completely illogical for God to judge us for anything.

If you say "no dah" then all you have done is expose that you do not understand the basic linear fallacy you are imposing with respect to God's Existence/Knowledge/Atemporal state of being Infinite.

I have said this repeatedly... "Observation of a choice" does NOT mean there is no choice." The fact that God is omni time and can tell us WHAT WE WILL CHOOSE in the future does NOT mean that we don't choose it.

This is clearly an over simplification on both sides...since no where are we addressing infinite determiners in relationship to theology/doctrines of concurrence. All we are doing is addressing the basic concept of omniscience. The fact that God knows what we will choose does NOT mean we don't choose it.

If you miss this, then you miss the whole reason for the universe.

Love. Without choice there can be no genuine love or worship.

You can't agree with God if you can't disagree with God.

Disagreeing with God is cosmically an eternal evil thing to do and will get you into eternally unfathmomable trouble/punishment that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

All because of choice...and God knows every choice we will ever make.

Your problem is that your concept of God is too small and you expect far too little from Him (that is why you over simplify something as basic as choice and don't believe that God has the ability to observe our choices and interact with them the way in which He does).

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Shane

I don't believe in macro evolution which states all living things have a common ancestry from a single living one-celled organism. I don't have enough faith to buy that one.

For anyone who get's angry at my above statement, blame Shane, he brought up evolution when I was merely talking objective morality.

@MKR

"Fornication" means sex outside of marriage. When I aksed you about subjective and objective truth it is from the stand point that you said that there was no such thing as subjective truth. Either something is true or it's not. Many people disagree that Fornication is wrong. They don't see the harm it does to the people involved and to society at large. The question: is fornication wrong? And By what standard? Which standard do you use? If you argue that It is not wrong and there is no standard besides yourself to decide if it is right or wrong than you believe in an objective standard. It is the lack of universal agreement that shows people have subjectivity in their thinking but I agree that there is absolute right and wrong and ambiguity that people project does not change truth at all.

GearHedEd said...

Like I said, Breckmin, apologetics and gibberish.

..."No, no. It's SPELT Raymond Luxury-Yacht, but it's pronounced 'Throat-Warbler Mangrove".

GearHedEd said...

Marcus,

"If you argue that It is not wrong and there is no standard besides yourself to decide if it is right or wrong than you believe in an objective standard."

"...no standard besides yourself to decide..."

is practically the DEFINITION of subjectivity.

Just saying.

Paul said...

Without choice there can be no genuine love or worship.

Breckmin, ever hear of the No True Scotsman fallacy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_scotsman

GearHedEd said...

Both of you two still post things as if no matter what anyone believes, that god is a fact;

god is NOT a fact; it's a BELIEF.

And atheists don't BELIEVE.

MKR said...

Quoting Marcus:

The question: is fornication wrong? And By what standard? Which standard do you use? If you argue that It is not wrong and there is no standard besides yourself to decide if it is right or wrong than you believe in an objective standard.

I can't make any sense of this. To hold that "there is no standard besides [oneself]" to decide whether fornication is wrong or not is to hold that the question is a subjective matter. It means that there is nothing to the matter apart from what the given person thinks or feels about it. Yet you say that to hold such a thing is to believe in an objective standard. You may have some private understanding of these words within which what you have written makes sense, but if so, it is so far removed from how the terms are commonly used as to make it virtually impossible for anyone to understand you. Alternatively, you are so confused in your reasoning that you have no coherent position to advance.

Since I can't make any sense of what you have written, I will try to restate my own point in the hope that you will at least understand what I have been saying. We may describe, e.g., someone's judgment about some matter as "objective" or "subjective" according to whether he has based his judgment on an unbiased and soundly reasoned consideration of the evidence (objective judgment) or has merely followed his feelings or other private dispositions (subjective judgment). This seems to me a pretty clear example of the use of the terms "objective" and "subjective." On the other hand, to consider another case, if I say, "The whole question is subjective," then I am denying the possibility of an objective judgment concerning it. I am then asserting that there is nothing more to the matter than personal feeling and the like.

The point that I have been making is that someone who takes the line of denying objectivity thereby denies the possibility of truth. If a matter is subjective, then there is nothing to be right or wrong about, and therefore no possibility of truth or falsehood. That is why "subjective truth" is simply an incoherent combination of words, and no one who thinks coherently can believe in the so-called subjectivity of truth.

MKR said...

@GearHedEd: LOL (well, chortling, anyway) at the Monty P. reference. "Give me my nose back!"

Spanish Inquisitor said...

"The burden of 45 years of guilt"

Why would you feel guilt?


You've clearly not had a Catholic upbringing.

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin says to us,

"...Your problem is that your concept of God is too small..."

My concept of god is that there isn't one, not that He's not big enough to impress me suitably.

Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Understand? I need God as much as God NEEDS me. Which is not at all.

shane said...

Lol, Marcus says "blame Shane everyone".

It was just a side question Marcus from something I know about you from previous discussions.
If there is no macro evolution where did these earlier hominids come from I mentioned?

Point being, fornication is nothing more then sex outside of marriage!

Marriage is nothing more then a religiously instituded observance.

A religious observance is nothing more then man made!

Besides, according to you, even if Muslims get married in the name of Allah, or if Hindus get married, or if a couple is married by justice of the peace, these all must be forms of fornication since there not marriage under the christian God.

shane said...

Marcus.

Sex is copulation of the species, all animals do this to some extent!
Does God cause animals or expect animals to have a form of marriage?

No! animals simply mate for survival.

Why is it that we are suppossed to be such an acception?
Why is God going to torture us for doing what our hormones tell us, as well as performing a natural act?

Marcus McElhaney said...

@MKR

I see the disconnect now. You seemed to disagree with Breckmin said that:

I am fully aware that others believe in the subjectivity of all truth

Yet you have just posted:

The point that I have been making is that someone who takes the line of denying objectivity thereby denies the possibility of truth. If a matter is subjective, then there is nothing to be right or wrong about, and therefore no possibility of truth or falsehood. That is why "subjective truth" is simply an incoherent combination of words, and no one who thinks coherently can believe in the so-called subjectivity of truth.

Neither Brickmin nor I think that "subjective truth" makes sense. And it seems neither do you.

You had also written:

Setting that aside, I find it comical that religious believers, who scorn probability and evidence in favor of authority, emotion, custom, social influence, and so on—in short, whose epistemic practice favors subjective determinants of belief over objective ones—think that they have "objectivity" on their side because they identify their prejudices and fantasies with divine revelations.

Christians are not arguing for a subjective reality as you seem to be saying, but I do agree with that subjective truth is silly. Either really resurrected or He did not. I take it that you disagree that He did. I understand that this is because you don't think there is any evidence that he did. I disagree, but putting that aside We agree there is no subjective truth. My point about fornication is that it's either right or it is wrong. Yet a lot of people want to make it a subjective thing. This is what Breckmin was referring to if I understood him correctly.

GearHedEd said...

Breckmin,

Here's where you fail:

"...I have said this repeatedly... "Observation of a choice" does NOT mean there is no choice."..."

Knowledge and Observation are not the same thing. If you say God only stands aside and "observes", yuo're denying His knowledge.

Done.

GearHedEd said...

Marcus said,

"Christians are not arguing for a subjective reality as you (MKR)seem to be saying, but I do agree with that subjective truth is silly."

MKR wasn't arguing that Christians are arguing for a subjective reality. He was arguing that Christians have NO BASIS for claiming objectivity.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Shan
Besides, according to you, even if Muslims get married in the name of Allah, or if Hindus get married, or if a couple is married by justice of the peace, these all must be forms of fornication since there not marriage under the christian God.

No, I've never said any such thing. Marriage was instituted before any religion was established. It does not matter if it is Muslims, Hindus, Agnostics, or Atheists. God respects marriage and it is sacred. A Hindu marriage or Buddhaist or any other religion is not about a religion. Its covenant relationship between a man and a woman - Husband and Wife. And every bit just as valid as my own. This is why Jesus said
"what God has put together, let no man tear assunder."

shane said...

Marcus.

You said "it does not matter if it is Muslims, Hindus, Agnostics, Atheists, God respects all marriage as sacred".

Really?
What about the Mormons who practice polygamy?
The bible does say that it shall be only one man and one women.....does God respect polygamy in marriage?

So your God respects all forms of marriage does He?
So God respects marriages based on so called false/demonic religions?

You said marriage was instituted before any religion was established?

Really? can you prove this?
Religions have been around since man has had the ability to wonder why he was here!

Im sure there was primitive forms of worship whether it be the sun, moon, earth, or nature before there was such a thing as marriage!

If your trying to assert the aspect of one man and one women choosing to be life long partners as early as primitive times, then there is no proof of mans monogamy.
And even if there was, then there was still no marriage, it would have been no different then a man and women living comman law today- which you say is a sin!

But I know you will appeal to Adam and Eve since you dont believe in primitive times or macro evolution.

GearHedEd said...

Marcus said,

"...My point about fornication is that it's either right or it is wrong. Yet a lot of people want to make it a subjective thing."

Without appealing to the Bible, show us where "fornication" is objectively wrong.

Here's a hint: The term "fornication" refers only to an act; the 'rightness' or 'wrongness' of it is only found in moral judgements given by the church, based on the Bible. So there's no "objectivity" there. It's a religious opinion.

"Fornication is a term that typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between unmarried heterosexual adults.[1][2] For many people, the term carries a moral or religious association. Fornication is regarded differently by various religions, societies and cultures. Fornication is sometimes defined as premarital sex."

Fornication wiki

Dan Wilkinson said...

This is a relevant site: http://youarenotsosmart.com/

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Shane

I thought you said you used to be christian. Why don't you know what the Bible teaches about marriage?

What about the Mormons who practice polygamy?
The bible does say that it shall be only one man and one women.....does God respect polygamy in marriage?


First, official Mormons don't practice polygamy anymore (though there are some splintered sects that do) and second I'm not going to defend polygamy. The Bible does not condone or condemn it. The closed is that leaders in the Church should have but one wife. Abraham had a wife and a concubine simultaneously, Jacob had 2 wives and 2 concubines. Solomon had 300 wives and 7000 concubines. Neither were condemned for it, however we don't do it today because it's not the best thing for anyone in the marriage or their children. There is not a single case depicted in the Bible that I would call functional. This tells me I don't want more than one wife although there was no condemnation pronounced on polygamy. It's like do /i really need the Bible to tell me not to jump off a cliff to know that it is not good for me? God is no longer winking at our ignorances but is calling us to a higher standard. (Acts 17:30)

So your God respects all forms of marriage does He? No. I didn't say that. You did, I said that God respects a man and woman's marriage irregardless of either religious affiliation.


So God respects marriages based on so called false/demonic religions? I didn't say that either. I said this goes beyond religion and morte about what it means to be human and what is best for us - husband, wife, and their children - whenever possible, That is ideal - besmirched and twisted by sin and death. Two satanists could be married to one another and the marriage would still be valid - I doubt happy but valid.

You said marriage was instituted before any religion was established?

Really? can you prove this?


I think you are defining marriage as the legal contract signed off in a public ceremony. I'm not. I'm talking about a man and woman who have committed to love and cherish each other no matter what happens. I'm not talking about common law marriage as we have it today. In such an arrangement either person can leave the relationship without the baggage of divorce (which in legal terms is way too easy anyway)

And even if there was, then there was still no marriage, it would have been no different then a man and women living comman law today- which you say is a sin!

I disagree. It goes to the heart. Why the tow people are living together. Today, when peoiple ae "shacking" they are trying to get the fringe benefits of marriage without the responsibility and accountabililiy that comes with it. Today there is no excuse for a man or a woman to be living together without being legally married. That has not always been the case. I remember that in America, slaves were not always free to marry whom they wanted and their marriages were not alwats legally recognized. Where they sinning? No. My great-great grandparents were sold away form each other but the were able to to resume their marriage after the civil war! Not everyone was so blessed. On top of that my great grand mother was born after they found each other again.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

Interesting definition of "fornication". The thing in the Bible, it means sex outside of marriage.

You ask for proof that fornication is objectively wrong without the Bible. Easy. Let's define wrong as immoarl using the sasme definition that atheists like Sam Harris and Dan Barker use: soemthing that causes harm to others. So then we need to ask does sex outside of marriage casue harm to other people?

Let's count the ways:
1. Increase in STDs
2. Unwanted babies leading to increased abortions destroying lives
3. Children who don't have fathers taking an interest in them are more likely to be detrimental to society - stealing and maiming instead of constructively benifiting society
4. The emotional pain of giving yourself to another sexually only to be rejected later
5. Selfishness
6. Cheating
7. And there are others that would simply be avoided if everyone just stuck to their own spouses.

About 70% of African-American children are born out of wedlock and neralrly 90% spend a portion of their childhood in a single parent household without a dad.
This has devastated my generation. I was speared so much bevause my parents didn't make those choice, but not the people I grew up with. I know several people who know nothing of their father and they hate ther fathers because of the selfish choices their father made. And to make it worse I see a lot of my generation propagating the same mistakes. It's not just a black problem. I see it in every race in our society. How can you doubt that this is not a problem? How are these consequences not hurtful?

GearHedEd said...

Marcus,

"About 70% of African-American children are born out of wedlock and neralrly 90% spend a portion of their childhood in a single parent household without a dad."

That's a social problem. Whether or not religion could fix it is anybody's guess. The statistics you cited are also problems, but those aren't guaranteed outcomes. It doesn't always work out that way, and being married isn't a sure fix to aviod those issues either.

If there were social incentives for African-American men to stay in committed monogamous relationships, more would probably stay. I agree, it's a problem, but I have little confidence that religion will be effective in fixing it any time soon.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

I didn't say that religion would fix it. I never made such an assertion. I said that Fornication is what contributes to that. Religion is not a fix. In Black churches the statistics are no different. The issue is that people don't need religion they need a relationship with Jesus Christ and that is not the same thing as religion. If we got a better handle on Christ (I mean obey Him) we wouldn't see numbers like these. It wasn't like that 70 years ago inside or outside the church. Much has changed.

GearHedEd said...

OK, Marcus, but how do you propose to get people believing in and obeying Jesus WITHOUT appealing to religion?

If you say "Study your Bible" (implying without pastoral guidance) you'll end up with a plethora of opinion again, because the Bible is subject to interpretation.

GearHedEd said...

"It wasn't like that 70 years ago inside or outside the church."

Exactly!

Social mores attached very negative consequences to sex outside marriage (although the reasoning was taken from church morality).

In short, people responded to the SOCIAL NEGATIVES more than they did to the religious moral proscriptions.

When the social climate changed after WWI is when things began going 'downhill'.

Even though I'm an atheist, I vote in favor of sex within the context of a loving, committed relationship, but not for "objective morality " reasons; it's entirely for the benefit of the inevitable CHILDREN that are the logical consequence of sex.

GearHedEd said...

Oops, that should be after 'WWII'

GearHedEd said...

But this is off-topic.

shane said...

Marcus.

You said that I dont know what the bible teaches, and that the bible does not say for there to be only "one man and one women"?

1 Corinthians 7:2, " each man should have his "own" wife, and each woman should have her "own" husband.

Anything else I dont know?

Also, your reasonong is like a dog chasing his own tail!
First you say that it does not matter whether someone is married under Muslim faith, hindu faith, or atheist, etc....

Then I asked based on the abov "does God respect all forms of marriage then"?
And I asked-"does God respect marriages under false/demonic religions"?
You answered by saying, NO!, to both of these questions.

Then you turn around and repeat yourself by saying, "God respects a man and womens decision to get married irregardless of their religious beliefs"?

Make up your mind, does God respect all forms of marriage including marriages under false religion or not?

Also, you said-" marriage goes beyond religion because of what it means to be human and what is best for husband, wife, children".

Marcus, this is one of the most ad hoc statements you have made!

Seriously, according to the tenets of your bible, anyone who does not believe in Jesus is going to hell...correct?
So why would God give a hoot about what is best for husband, wife, children, as far as their marriage goes, if they are believers in a false religion and going to hell anyway?
What is the point of God acting on whats best for these people, if their souls are going to be damned anyway....lol...?

shane said...

Marcus.

Sorry for the couple spelling mistakes!

I know you tend to snivel about that sometimes.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

Christianity is not a religion. It's a relationship with Jesus. It includes Church but it is more than that.

So what happened after WWII? How did the social climate change? What caused people to detach negative consequences from sex outside of marriages? As a society we have moved farther from God. Given that Social negatives have gotten worse how did people respond more to social negatives than to "religious prescriptions"? Condoms? It hasn't been working.

GearHedEd said...

Marcus,

You completely did not understand what I said, even though I tried to be as clear as I could.

This:

"Given that Social negatives have gotten worse how did people respond more to social negatives than to "religious prescriptions"? Condoms? It hasn't been working."

demonstrates your lack of skill with the English language.

OK, I'm going to try to explain this again.

""Given that Social negatives have gotten worse..."

You used the wrong context here. What I said was

"In short, people responded to the SOCIAL NEGATIVES more than they did to the religious moral proscriptions."

What that means is that people in earlier times paid more heed to things like the idea that an unwed mother was a bad thing (a social NEGATIVE), and those girls who were sexually loose were branded whores, hussies, sluts, etc., i.e., people responded to social negatives.

Also, there is a difference between PROscriptions and PREscriptions. That was not a typo. I wasn't talking about condoms and birth control, I was referring to things being banned by religion on the basis of the alleged "objective morality".

But you completely missed that.

What my statement says is that social mores have traditionally (at least in the first half of the 20th century) carried more behavior controlling force than ill-defined religious concepts, and that THAT is where we might best place our efforts to "correct" behavior patterns we see as destructive to society, NOT by appealing to religion, or "obedience to Jesus".

Religion doesn't work except for one individual at a time.

GearHedEd said...

And again, this is still off-topic.

GearHedEd said...

The 'social negatives' I was talking about have LESSENED since WWII. Unwed mothers aren't shipped off to reform schools and hidden from the community anymore, for example.

Marcus McElhaney said...

No, Ed, I think you misunderstood me. i know what you were saying and i disagree...things got worse when society moved away from God not because society got more religious. I don't know where you live but just in the past 35 years I can see the changes. And trying to fixed things apart from God has not worked. (Hence my condom comment; people trying to have their cake and eat it too.) Society became more broken when we as a society turned our backs on God.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

But we now have more unwed mothers now than in the past in this Country. I'd call that a social negative. I also don't think that shipping off unwed mothers in not the answer, but back then there were fewer.

Marcus McElhaney said...

I mean that I also don't think that shipping off unwed mothers is the answer.

GearHedEd said...

My point was that shipping unwed mothers out of sight WAS the answer before, and THAT was the major incentive for girls to keep their legs crossed, not whether they believed in god or not, since something like 90-95% DID believe.

I'm saying it las less to do with belief and more to do with negative consequences, which we have as a society backed away from. Not that shipping girls to reform school is the answer, but belief in God didn't stop girls from acting on their urges any more then than it does now.

If we're to find a workable solution, it will need to be society based, not God based. You say that won't work, I respectfully disagree.

GearHedEd said...

And this is still off topic.

GearHedEd said...

The difference in our approaches is that I advocate incentivizing 'good' behavior: a "pull" approach, whereas you would appeal to an invisible authority to dictate 'good' behavior: a "push" approach.

Question:

Which is more effective, pushing a string, or pulling one?

shane said...

Marcus.

I take from your lack of response to whether or not the bible says regarding marriage "one man one woman" that maybe "you" dont no what your bible says?

As well, your lack of a response to making up your mind or at least specifying.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd....Your making the presupposition that there is enough good and the desire to be good inherent in people. Nope. There is nothing to pull. That is why people constantly do things that are detrimental to themselves and each other - like lying. Like fornication. It's called sin. In humanity's case...there is nothing to pull from. God has to put that sense into you, whether you give him credit for it or not

Ryan Anderson said...

Marcus; you seem hung up on the idea that because the authors of the various books of the bible made relatively accurate observations of human nature, then the fantastic claims of the bible are also true.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Ryan, while I believe the Bible is true...where have I made that argument?

shane said...

You see, Marcus will ignore me now trying to present the illusion that he has already delt with my post, and he needs not further bother himself!

Yet....the truth of the matter is that I've pointed out his eroor and he refuses to deal with it!

Marcus, go back to your church, you might make some sense there!

shane said...

that would be error not eroor, see Marcus, I can admit mine.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Shane...If you are still confused by my answer why don't you just state what you still don't understand? I haven't seen a response from you since the last time I last addressed you directly. I'm not ignoring you. Where is your response?

shane said...

Marcus.

My 4:56 pm response.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Shane, I apologizing for missing your comment. I'm also not trying to offend you by pointing out that you don;t know what you are talking about. There is more you should know. 1 Corinthians 7:2 is Paul talking to the Church. It's not about people outside the church. It's about the ideal. It's about what we should be striving for. The Church is called to be different than the culture we find ourselves in. We should be living by a higher standard. No where does the Bible expressly condone nor condemn polygamy. Why didn't you say anything about Abraham, David, Solomon, Jacob, or any of the other examples I gave? Of course The Bible shows us all the ways polygamy is band and not something I want to live live in.
And there is more you should know. When I said that God does not accept all forms of marriage I was not referring to religion but the push to change the definition of marriage. I was clear. What didn't you understand? All marriage between a man and a woman is sacred and it's bigger than what the religious persuastions of husband and wife when it comes to legitmating a marriage. I thought I was being clear. I apologize if it was not. Let's look at what Jesus said:

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." - Matthew 19:4-6

Do you see anything about what religion you have to be to be married? No. Look at the rest of the passage vs 1-12. You won't find anything about this being contingent on what church or organization to which you belong. On top of that if a couple happen to be atheists, yet choose to be committed to one another and love one another and respect one another - God will bless them with a good and successful marriage. IF they never come to Christ, they'll go to hell but at least they will have a better marriage until they go. I'd argue that such a scenario is possible but not probable. This is hard thing to live with God's help I'd never attempt it without Him.

God can have mercy on anyone He wants, whenever He wants, and whatever He wants. IT doesn't have anything to do with us. It all depends on what God wants to do. Read Romans 9. God could very well bless a Hindu couple with a great marriage. OR ATHEISTS. The point is that none of that matters in terms of validating a marriage.

beowulf2k8 said...

"It isn't so much about local authorities. It is about Jesus Christ." (Breckmin)

Which one told you the Bible is the word of God? It wasn't Jesus since he only speaks to you through the Bible and you wouldn't believe him if you hadn't already believed the "local authority" who told you the Bible was the word of God. So whether you want to admit it or not, it IS about "local authorities."

beowulf2k8 said...

"I guess reading it with a believers eyes like I had doesn't affect some believers like I was." (Loftus)

It did me. The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles anyway. All the persecution of other religions and the cruelty. That's where my exodus from 'orthodoxy' began. (I'm not an atheist.)

GearHedEd said...

Marcus said,

"(You're) making the presupposition that there is enough good and the desire to be good inherent in people. Nope. There is nothing to pull. That is why people constantly do things that are detrimental to themselves and each other - like lying. Like fornication. It's called sin."

No. Your religious concept of "sin", and the notion that we're all helpless to overcome it is what CAUSES people to behave like idiots. It's a way to say,

" I can't help myself; I'm just a worthless sinner",

which takes away any sense of personal RESPONSIBILITY, and leaves people thinking they NEED what Christianity, the Bible, and Jesus seem to offer.

It MAKES people irresponsible, by TELLING them in no uncertain terms that they CANNOT control their own behavior without divine intervention.

Again, like I said before (Reality Check: 5 ?), the Bible causes the disease, then holds itself out as the only cure.

It's a load of self-serving BS.

shane said...

Marcus.

The problem with your reasoning though, is that God also created sex (according to the bible) sex is also something God created and instituted.

So shouldn't God respect sex regardless of whether two people are married or not, and since it is also something God Himself instituted, and also the natural act of making chilren?

Why would God respect an atheist marriage just because He instituted marriage in the beginning, but He does not respect fornication when He ALSO instituted sex?


The reason I did not bring up any examples of polygamy, is because I believe the bible gives mixed messages and is not consistent within itself.
God condones polygamy in the OT, and condemns it in the NT.

And yes, I do think the bible condemns and condones polygamy despite what you say, and I knew you would simply agrue this.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHeadEd

The Bible does not give us a reason to avoid responsibility. It tells us that we are accountable. We are told by what standard we will be judged. Of course it's not yours or mine. According to our own standard, we are not that bad. If you are right that we are able to hold to such a high standard on our own, then why can't anyone keep the standard? You cannot deny if someone were able to keep the moral prescriptions found in the Bible, they would be living a moral and perfect life. If you are right and the Bible is wrong about our abilities then we should be able to hold to that standard. Do you know anyone who can?

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Shane. The Bible celebrates sex as a gift and a joy - in the proper context of marriage. The verse you gave points to a specific context and if you are going to argue that it condemns polygamy in all contexts then you need to explain where you get that from. You can't just make a claim of contradiction and not explain why. I gave the reason why I am saying there is not contradiction (ie why the verse you brought up is not a condemnation of polygamy) There is also no condoning of polygamy under any context. I'd appreciate an explanation from a historical and exegetical context for why my logic is wrong.

As for your whole argument that God gave us sex and marriage - God gave us sex in the context of marriage. Since it is a gift from God should not God have the right to tell us the purpose and the use of that gift? I'd say God does.

Finally, you need to prove the Bible condones polygamy as you say. Go ahead and state a single verse that tells you it's okay to have more than one spouse. Just because people did it and God did not cut them off does not mean that it was an endorsement.

GearHedEd said...

Your biggest problem, Marcus is that you reason from the Bible as if it were the authoritative subject matter, and everything you say is in that context.

I've had face to face discussions with Christians that have said to me exactly that they have NO CONTROL over their behavior without Jesus.

It's a blame-shifting tactic. The religious person who misbehaves is helpless to stop sinning (and doesn't THAT bring up a new facet of the "free will" debate???), while the atheist person who misbehaves is just "looking out for number one". Mind you, I don't behave this way. If you lined me up against the wall with four Christians, you would not be able to tell which of us was the atheist (and shouldn't an "in-dwelling spirit" be OBVIOUS to someone else who already has one, unless it's another stupid illusion designed to get people into church so they can donate money to the cause du jour?)

Jesus may have really existed, but if so, he's just the sugar coating on a cosmic shit pile.

GearHedEd said...

Marcus,

"Since it is a gift from God should not God have the right to tell us the purpose and the use of that gift? I'd say God does."

If you gave me a gift of say, a bottle of vodka, I'd be peeved with you if you tried to tell me what I coald do with it. If I chose to pour it on the ground, that's OK, because if it was a gift FREELY GIVEN, you would NOT attempt to further CONTROL it after it had been given!

John W. Loftus said...

I'm really thankful for the people here who deal with Marcus. It's as if Marcus didn't even read this original post. He keeps on spouting his ignorance as if he knows what he's talking about. Sheesh.

Marcus, have you read my books yet? At least become informed, okay? I want to know if you have done so. That's all I want to know. Have you? Do you plan on doing so? When?

Ryan Anderson said...

Marcus; "The Bible does not give us a reason to avoid responsibility. It tells us that we are accountable. We are told by what standard we will be judged."

but as a True Christian™, you're not going to be judged at all.

Also, "...you need to prove the Bible condones polygamy as you say..."

There are "divinely inspired" rules for polygamy in the Old Testament. Seems like an "endorsement" to me. See Exodus 21:10. Seems if it was prohibited, the "divinely inspired" rule would have simply been "don't marry more than one woman"...

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

Well, I don't believe that we have control over our behavior. We do. That is why we are accountable. We sin because we want to. At the same time don't you know what it's like to have the best intentions in mind and fall short? To want to do the right thing yet fall short? I disagree that a Christian keeps on sinning. There should be improvement. And I would never say that an atheist is unable to be moral. The point is how moral are you? Do you meet that standard? And to be honest you can't tell a Christian or atheist apart without looking at their actions. IT is obvious. I sure would like to know who are you spending your time with that you so completely mischaracterize what Christians are supposed to be and do.

I think your vodka gift example between adults is a poor illustration for how sex has been given to us. As one man to another I had no right to tell you what to do with the Vodka after I give it to you. We are not God's equal as I am your equal. A better example would be a parent giving a child an iPad or a Computer. Would you let that child just go on any website without supervision or control? Would you be delinquent in your duty and allow the child to, say, pound the machine on concrete? Or would you give guidelines to make the gift last and that will help the child grow? I hope you would. That is what God has done and we won't listen. And by the way, thanks for admitting that I've been consistent in my reasoning. You have said much against Christianity and that is why I've been using the Bible to show what Christianity is supposed to be

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Ryan I'm not going to be judge for my sin because of Christ. However ther are degrees of reward in heaven and the work we do on earth is evaluted and rewarded accordingly. There are also degrees of punishment in hell. As for Exodus 21:10 establishing rules for polygamous marriages is not condoning it. Just like setting rules for Divorce does not mean God thinks Divorce is good thing, So why were things like polygamy and Divorce tolerated? Jesus said:

Matthew 19:7012

7"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

10The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

11Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

I would make the same application to polygamy.

GearHedEd said...

Consistent is not the same as correct, Marcus.

GearHedEd said...

@ John,

I haven't read your books, either. I'd like to, but I'm currently struggling through the crappy economy, trying (as a single dad) to keep food on the table for my kids.

Moral enough for you, Marcus?

Marcus McElhaney said...

@John Loftus

It's funny. I agree quite a bit of things have come up in this thread. I only brought up fornication as it applies to objective and moral value based on what other people said. As for everything else that has come up it was brought up by other people. Why aren't you chiding them?

Is the new definition of "ignorance" is disagreeing with you? No one bothered changing it in the dictionary. If you are saying that in your books you have managed to explain and set aside any and all things I and every other Christian who believes that the Bible is the Word of God I'll take that as a reason for why you are just calling me ignorant without explaining what you say I'm "ignorant" about. And if it is ignorant than you are calling a great deal of educated and sincere people ignorant just because they disagree with you. It's that a tad bit arrogant?

I have not read your books yet because I have not yet purchased them. It'd be more urgent if I were impressed by your debates and blog posts. Thing is, so far, I have not seen anything new. I do find serious problem like your "exegesis" of Mark 10:18. I completely disagree.

I'm not calling you names, or trying to demean your intellect or career, but better men than me and you disagree with you and it's a disservice to truth to just brush it aside as "ignorance".

GearHedEd said...

Here's an example of your faulty reasoning, Marcus:

You said,

"The Bible does not give us a reason to avoid responsibility"

in response to my claim that

"Your religious concept of "sin", and the notion that we're all helpless to overcome it is what CAUSES people to behave like idiots. It's a way to say,

"I can't help myself; I'm just a worthless sinner",

which takes away any sense of personal RESPONSIBILITY..."

Note: What I said is that Christianity TAKES AWAY a sense of personal responsibility through the concept of original sin, and you replied that we make choices.

It's not the argument I was making, but you always key on the wrong stuff. In other words, you didn't address what I said, but spouted some rote statement of dogma.

If you continue to refuse to see the discussion for what it's worth, They why even respond?

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

I haven't read your books, either. I'd like to, but I'm currently struggling through the crappy economy, trying (as a single dad) to keep food on the table for my kids.

Moral enough for you, Marcus?


Commendable and God bless you for living up to your responsibilities. It's what men are supposed to do.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Ed

If I say that we make choice and that makes up responsible for our sin I am disagreeing with your statement that original sin removes responsibility. How does that not respond to what you said? On top of that the Bible does not tell us we go to Hell for what Adam did. We go to hell because of what we are - sinners. It's what we do. It's not Adam's fault you are going to hell. It's because of Jesus you get to Heaven. Of course I've got to bring in what the Bible says here because it does not say what you saying it says. You often confuse dogma and traditions with what the text really says.

Ryan Anderson said...

Marcus; I'll conceed the point on polygamy, but it basically opens up a can of worms regarding your god's omnipotence and omniscense.

However, your own words continued to make our point about atonement and personal responsibility.

"...I'm not going to be judge for my sin because of Christ..."

You man enough to admit that?

GearHedEd said...

Marcus,

I think John's comment about ignorance referred to the appearance that your "library" has only one book in it.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Ryan

The wages of sin is death. Of course I don't want that. I'm not declared "innocent" in the eyes of God. I am declared "not guilty" because Jesus paid the bill. He canceled the debt. It does not mean I'm not responsible. The point is someone has to pay the debt to you have incurred for your sin. You can either pay for it in Hell. OR you can allow Jesus to pay for it. Either way the wrath of God has to be satisfied. That's not shifting blame or responsibility. Jesus took my place. IT's in gratitude and thankfulness and love that I seek to obey him. The older I get the more I understand just what Jesus saved me from and just how much of a gap there really is between what I am and what I should be. Am I guilty before God? Not any more. Am I responsible for my actions and thoughts? Yes. Am I accountable to God? Even more so because He forgave my sins and counted my debt paid.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedED

How would I know other people disagree with Loftus, if I only read one book? And Besides who said that the Bible is one book. I mean 66 books, about 40 authors, written over a span of 1500 years on three continents - with a coherent message?! Telling a single story. God condescending to save us from ourselves. Even if you think I have only read one book - gotta admit it's an impressive book.

GearHedEd said...

"Commendable and God bless you for living up to your responsibilities. It's what men are supposed to do."

Yeah, but I'm the atheist, remember? I'm supposed to be the God-hating hedonist.

I Know my share of atheists, and none of them fit that caricature.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

You are right is a caricature. It's not true in all circumstances for all atheists. And I never said that is what I think of atheists. I've met some atheists who are more moral that some who claim to be christian. Doesn't make the Bible false. It actually supports Romans 2

Ryan Anderson said...

Marcus; "... written over a span of 1500 years on three continents."

This struck me as funny. I guess saying "three continents" is more impressive then saying "within a 2000 mile radius".

Ryan Anderson said...

Marcus said at 1052 last night "...where have I made that argument?"

Although you've made it a number of times previously, but I didn't feel like looking it up. Lucky for me you just made it again.

"Doesn't make the Bible false. It actually supports Romans 2"

GearHedEd said...

I'm pasting this in from "Reality Check #4: (It's mine)

"Christianity interprets the fall in a number of ways. Traditional Christian theology accepts the teaching of St Paul in his letter to the Romans "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3: 23)" and of St John's Gospel that "God so loved the world that he sent his only son (Jesus Christ) that whoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life".[John 3:16]

The doctrine of original sin, as articulated by Augustine of Hippo's interpretation of Paul of Tarsus, provides that the fall caused a fundamental change in human nature, so that all descendants of Adam are born in sin, and can only be redeemed by divine grace. Sacrifice was the only means by which humanity could be redeemed after the Fall. Jesus, who was without sin, died on the cross as the ultimate redemption for the sin of humankind.

The dominant view within Christianity is that the serpent of Genesis was an incarnation of Satan, based on the reference in the Book of Revelation: "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years."

The Fall of Man

Salient points:

1) Some guy named ADAM never existed. It's a story, written about 4.5 billion years after planet earth accreted out of the solar nebula.

2) For the sake of argument, let's assume Genesis Ch.s 1-3 are literal truth, and that God has all the traditional attributes (omipotence, omniscience, etc.).

2a) an OMNISCIENT god would have known before creating Adam that he would fall from grace, yet he created an innocent and naive Adam anyway, then set him, Eve and the serpent (not identified as Satan in Genesis) in the garden and told Adam and Eve not to eat from that tree. This was all done with forethought and malice upon the part of god

2b) An OMNIPRESENT god would have found it necessary to hide from Adam so that Adam could feel comfortable while participating it the Original Sin, and the Serpent (who we hear was an angel once upon a previous time) also could hardly have been unaware of this and even states explicitly that god has lied to Adam and Eve (whether or not god really lied is immaterial; we're talking about what Satan did here).

3) these things, when taken together show beyond a doubt that Adam and Eve were set up to fail before they were created; that they were unjustly smeared with this "Original Sin"; and finally...

4) without having done these things, there would have been NO NEED FOR REDEMPTION, and no need for Jesus.

The bible IMPOSES the disease upon us (humans), then sets itself up as being the only "cure".

Talk about a bunch of self-serving nonsense.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Ryan. What are you talking about? Can you be clearer? As for the remark on the continents, 2000 years ago 2000 miles was very significant. 3 continents are still continents even at 2000 miles distant. You had different contexts and cultures in those 2000 miles. It's not like America today where 2000 miles is not a big deal.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedED

You are missing a fundamental point: There is a purpose at work that included the fall. Had it not happened and everything happen the way it has...I would not exist and neither would you. Jesus was not a contingency plan. He was not a bandaid. God didn't have a Oh-Crap-what-am-I-going-to-do-now moment. Jesus was plan A. This was set up from the beginning. IF you don't like it, take it up with God. I don't understand it all. But I do know I would never have been born without it. Neither would you. There is a masterpiece God is building and we don't know it all looks like yet but we will.

GearHedEd said...

I'll add to that:

2c) An OMNISCIENT God would have known in advance the outcome of His own setting of the stage such that Adam and Eve had NO CHOICE but to partake in the drama that God had set in motion; and thereby conclusively demonstrate either:

humans have no free will due to divine foreknowledge,

OR

humans HAVE free will, and God's Omniscience is questionable, if not outright non-existent,

OR

it's all a made up fairy tale, written by men for the purposes of men; specifically the Old Testament having been collected from extant writings after the reign of King David and used to justify the Hebrews' conquest of Canaan, exalt David as legitimate royalty, and establish his lineage back to the beginning of time.

GearHedEd said...

"Jesus was plan A. This was set up from the beginning."

Ah. Then you AGREE that it was a set-up.

(word verification = "derre": say it with a questioning lilt...)

GearHedEd said...

If Jesus was "plan A", then God took decisive action to separate us from Himself to test us, as opposed to the assertion you made earlier that WE made choices to separate ourselves.

Pick one, Marcus. Or neither, but not both.

GearHedEd said...

Here's more:

If Jesus was "Plan A", then Noah's ark was entirely unnecessary. God could have produced Jesus instead.

GearHedEd said...

Here's more:

If Jesus was "Plan A", the redeemer of all mankind (Jews as well as Gentiles), then we could have skipped the whole 1,300 years of "the Hebrews are God's Chosen People" episode, including the God-ordered genocide of the rightful inhabitants of Canaan.

GearHedEd said...

Shall I go on?

Your argument about a "cohesive narrative" has SO MANY huge flaws in it.

GearHedEd said...

I can hear you winding up to "apologize" for the bloodthirsty nature of Yahweh.

Save it. These arguments are all contained within the Bible.

Like I said, the theology of the Bible is contradictory, inconsistent, and exposes God as a vengeful Dungeon Master.

GearHedEd said...

... Or it's all a myth.

Take your pick.

GearHedEd said...

"This was set up from the beginning. IF you don't like it, take it up with God. I don't understand it all."

Do you understand it NOW?

GearHedEd said...

In the meantime, the "Golden Rule" still applies, as it's common sense, not relevatory, i.e., we didn't need God to tell us to be good to each other.

shane said...

Marcus.

Ryan gave you an example of polygamy being condoned!
Just because the bible does not state-"God said let there be polygamy" does not mean it wasn't condoned!
And then later condemned!

God may not have given precise orders to have multiple wives......But.... As Ryan said, there are "instructions" in the OT regarding the precepts of polygamy, and there are specific "orders" in the NT regarding the precepts of monogamy!

And if the bible is what you claim it to be (divinely inspired), then we can assume God most definitely condoned polygamy at one time and condemned it another.

And if there is a God, then He either contradicted Himself, changed His mind....or....He simply does not care.
More likely, it is all man made and there is no biblical God.

shane said...

John.

My apologies for side stepping the original post here. I take partial responsibility.
I have had extensive discussions with Marcus on his blog before and sometimes I get carried away arguing agianst with his concepts.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

You forget that Jesus could not come earlier. He came at the right time. God had a chosen way to do all of this. He had specific people in mind to exist. they could not have existed if things had not happened the way it did. All of it was necessary. What I don't understand is how it all fits together. I see some of it. but not all of it. Far be it from me to argue for libertarian free will. I reject that. Notice I'm not saying that we don't make choices. I'm still saying that we sin when we transgress the laws of God wer do so because we want to. I'm noit going to apologize for God telling the Israelite to slaughter Israels' enemies. Everything God says is right even if I disagree. He's not wrong. I am. God did not separate himself from us, we walked away from him. You choose to separate yourself from him now. you are setting up a false dichotomy. By the way, is loving your enemies common sense? That is part of the golden rule. Would that have occurred to you?

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Shane

I explained why Ryan was wrong about the Bible condoning Polygamy and he conceded. Feel free to try to argue why my explanation is wrong.

GearHedEd said...

Marcus.

That last comment was a cop out.

I didn't forget anything about Jesus. You're just trying to tap dance your way out of admitting that you all but said that your theology is an incoherent mess. Now you're layering more made up stuff ("...Jesus could not come earlier. He came at the right time. God had a chosen way to do all of this...") on the story to try and patch the holes.

I've seen the Emperor, and he's still naked.

As for loving your enemies.

That part of the "Golden Rule" isn't unique to Jesus, either.

Paraphrased into "atheist-ese", it says,

"Don't escalate confrontations; everyone loses when you do."

GearHedEd said...

"God did not separate himself from us..."

I didn't say that he did.

What I said is that he separated us from himself. That's not the same thing.

GearHedEd said...

And you admitted that he did this in order to spring Jesus on us when he was ready.

GearHedEd said...

And just so you know:

When I said,

"I can hear you winding up to "apologize" for the bloodthirsty nature of Yahweh."

the reason for putting the word "apologize" in quotation marks was to differentiate it from the common definition of 'saying you're sorry'.

You have nothing to apologize for there.

The definition of "apologize" I was after was the one where religious thinkers put a spin on something to minimize the defects in the story.

GearHedEd said...

And you've done nothing but spin for the last 30 comments or more.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@GearHedEd

I haven't tap danced anything. You said that Jesus should have been sent sooner and I explained why He did not.

I disagree with who left whom. Adam mad a free choice. He chose to disobey, God did not make him do that. And you choose to distance yourself from God. He has not rejected you.
I stated it the way I did on purpose because I disagree with you.

You said:

Paraphrased into "atheist-ese", it says,

"Don't escalate confrontations; everyone loses when you do."


Jesus was speaking lot more broadly. Don't just not do to other what you do not want done to! He said do to others what you want done to you. Id you want your enemy to take you out to dinner you should take him out to dinner. It's more than don't kill your enemy if you don't want your enemy to kill you. Jesus raises the bar quite higher than what you are talking about.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

It's been an interesting discussion, gentlemen, but it's now beginning to remind me of the aphorism:

"You can't reason someone out of something they haven't been reasoned into".

Reason is getting exhausted.

John W. Loftus said...

Excellent Inquisitor! Eller said that same thing in chapter one of TCD. Marcus, you ought to read it.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Eller said that same thing in chapter one of TCD

That must be where I got it from. ;)

GearHedEd said...

Let it be said at any rate that my having referenced the Bible in many of these posts doesn't mean I believe in God in any way; but I need to address these allegations by referencing the stories in the source material.

Sometimes, the Christians get the impression that for us atheists to do so somehow confirms the "reality" of their God despite the repeated statements from atheists that we don't believe in any god(s).

I hold to the concept that the Bible is not historical, since it was written with religious AND political motives in mind.

In other words, I cannot "separate" myself from something that doesn't exist.

Ryan Anderson said...

Marcus; "I explained why Ryan was wrong about the Bible condoning Polygamy and he conceded. "

I conceded that the bible endorses polygamy. It definitely doesn't condemn it and it's definitely much more confused on the subject than one would expect from a divinely inspired book (which of course your confirmed with your comments).

shane said...

Marcus.

Give me a break!
This is the last thing I'll say in regards to polygamy.

God obviously allowed many of His so called faithful have multiple wives, Abraham, Jacob, etc.....
So polygamy was obviously allowed by God, otherwise God would not allow such practices among His faithful......especially if He commanded death penalties to people for doing things like working on the Sabbath, or dishonoring thy mother and father...etc..

The new testament does teach the practice of one wife, and Paul says so in 1 Corinthians.
It is a christian doctrine as well, and christians abhor the practice of polygamy.

So therefore, in order for you to make any sense at all, then you must admit that both polygamy and monogamy in marriage, are purely human practices in which God gives no real instruction in!
And therefore also, both might as well be condoned as far as God is concerned.

If you disagree, then you concede with me, that the bible does INFACT contradict itself!

GearHedEd said...

Shane said,

"If you disagree, then you concede with me, that the bible does INFACT contradict itself!"

I agree. One among many contradictions.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Shane, the Bible does not conflict with itself. I didn't say that God did not allow polygamy. I said that God does not condone it. It's not confusing at all. Just like divorce is not condoned but allowed because we are hardheaded and hardhearted. For the new covenant there is no condemnation of polygamy - but an affirmation of monogamy. Polygamy was rampant throughout the world of the the first century. That is what they did, but Paul was pointing to something greater. Something that we should want. So for now for most people, polygamy is unthinkable. Congratulations. Not so in the first century. For the church it was time to make a change for what is best. I quoted Jesus earlier. Jesus definitely had monogamous marriage in mind. I mean to which wife would you cleave to if you had more than one?

The Bible is not giving conflicting messages. Allowing something is not the same as condoning it. When Peter and Paul went out and preached to unbelievers do you think they were thumping them in the head saying that "You have more one wife..you and they are going to HELL!" No. Look at the whole passage. The whole passage is talking about the ideal. What do you do if you became a Christian and already had 2 wives? Pick one? No. In such a situation he has to fulfill his obligation to both of them. 1 Cor 7:17-23.

Therefore you can't say polygamy was condemned or condoned, only allowed in Old Testament times, and revealed to be a real bad idea throughout the Bible. The best you can say is that it happened. And due to the Biblical recorded instances when it did happen I want no part of it.

GearHedEd said...

"...The best you can say is that it happened. And due to the Biblical recorded instances when it did happen I want no part of it."

Nahhh! You're just saying that because your wife is sitting right there next to you.

;o)

Ryan Anderson said...

Marcus "Jesus definitely had monogamous marriage in mind..."

Yeah, but for some reason, he worked polygamy into one of his parables...

shane said...

Marcus.

You are an extraodinary believer!

You fall into the crowd of believers which have the frame of mind-"we dont believe the bible means what it says, we believe the bible says what we mean"!

You made an example of this frame of mind when we argued about God creating day,night,evening and morning, before He even created the sun (according to Genesis).

The thing I find amusing though, is the fact that you assume you know exactly what is meant in the bible, and the exact beliefs held by the OT yahwehists as well as the NT apostles,...yet... all our thoughts, interpretions, and views on scripture are dead wrong...!

Bronxboy47 said...

Brickmin says:

I have said this repeatedly... "Observation of a choice" does NOT mean there is no choice." The fact that God is omni time and can tell us WHAT WE WILL CHOOSE in the future does NOT mean that we don't choose it.



I'll tell you what does mean that we don't choose it: we don't chose it if we don't get created.

But that option is eliminated by God's act of creation. Seems God's determination to create would not-- and could--not be tempered by calm, compassionate consideration of the risks involved. I repeat, a God whose philosophy appears to be, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, is a wee bit too ham-fisted and amoral for my taste.