A Response to Richard Dawkins

Description=Richard Dawkins Photograph: Jeremy Young 05-12-2006This past Friday CNN conducted an interview with Richard Dawkins, the British biologist most widely known for his polemics against religion and on behalf of atheism.

Asked “whether an absence of religion would leave us without a moral compass,” Dawkins responded: “The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible.”

This is the crux of the issue for Dawkins and other anti-religion activists — that not only do we not need religion or God for morality, but we would have a considerably more moral world without them.

This argument is so wrong — both rationally and empirically – that its appeal can only be explained by a) a desire to believe it and b) an ignorance of history.

First, the rational argument.

If there is no God, the labels “good” and “evil” are merely opinions. They are substitutes for “I like it” and “I don’t like it.” They are not objective realities.

Every atheist philosopher I have debated has acknowledged this. For example, at Oxford University I debated Professor Jonathan Glover, the British philosopher and ethicist, who said: “Dennis started by saying that I hadn’t denied his central contention that if there isn’t a God, there is only subjective morality. And that’s absolutely true.”

And the eminent Princeton philosopher Richard Rorty admitted that for secular liberals such as himself, “there is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?’”

Atheists like Dawkins who refuse to acknowledge that without God there are only opinions about good and evil are not being intellectually honest.

None of this means that only believers in God can be good or that atheists cannot be good. There are bad believers and there are good atheists. But this fact is irrelevant to whether good and evil are real.

To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, “Do not murder,” murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies.

So, then, without God, why is murder wrong?

Is it, as Dawkins argues, because reason says so?

My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins’s reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church’s teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.

In addition, reason alone without God is pretty weak in leading to moral behavior.

When self-interest and reason collide, reason usually loses. That’s why we have the word “rationalize” — to use reason to argue for what is wrong.

What would reason argue to a non-Jew asked by Jews to hide them when the penalty for hiding a Jew was death? It would argue not to hide those Jews.

In that regard, let’s go to the empirical argument.

Years ago, I interviewed Pearl and Sam Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt and the authors of one of the most highly-regarded works on altruism, The Altruistic Personality. The book was the product of the Oliners’ lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.

The Oliners, it should be noted, are secular, not religious, Jews; they had no religious agenda.

I asked Samuel Oliner, “Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?”

Without hesitation, he said, “a Polish priest.” And his wife immediately added, “I would prefer a Polish nun.”

That alone should be enough to negate the pernicious nonsense that God is not only unnecessary for a moral world, but is detrimental to one.

But if that isn’t enough, how about the record of the godless 20th century, the cruelest, bloodiest, most murderous century on record? Every genocide of the last century — except for the Turkish mass murder of the Armenians and the Pakistani mass murder of Hindus in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was committed by a secular anti-Jewish and anti-Christian regime. And as the two exceptions were Muslim, they are not relevant to my argument. I am arguing for the God and Bible of Judeo-Christian religions.

Perhaps the most powerful proof of the moral decay that follows the death of God is the Western university and its secular intellectuals. Their moral record has been loathsome. Nowhere were Stalin and Mao as venerated as they were at the most anti-religious and secular institutions in Western society, the universities. Nowhere in the West today is anti-Americanism and Israel-hatred as widespread as it is at universities. And Princeton University awarded its first tenured professorship in bioethics to Peter Singer, an atheist who has argued, among other things, that that “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee” and that bestiality is not immoral.

Dawkins and his supporters have a right to their atheism. They do not have a right to intellectual dishonesty about atheism.

I have debated the best known atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss (“A Universe from Nothing”) and Daniel Dennett. Only Richard Dawkins has refused to come on my radio show.

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  • Consider

    A very bad response.
    Makes perfectly clear why RD does not want to have anything to do with you and your radio show.
    Can be dismissed in two sentences.
    The intelectual first: the “objective morality” of the jihadists tell them that is good to plant bombs and no one can disprove them, who sticks to the nonsense that religion is the custodian of morality.
    The empirical: ask those in Ruanda if they would run to the Catholic nuns to seek protection from massacre.

    • Aizino Smith

      I’ll stick with the likes of Dennis Prager. You follow the likes of Peter Singer. Good luck.

    • Deagin

      Islam is not a religion. It is a totalitarian political system. Allah is not God. Allah is a demon. Mohammad was not a prophet. He was a criminal: a murderer, a pediophile, a rapist and a robber.
      There are times to seek protection from the police and the military. In Poland during WWII the police and the military were the perpetrators. Your analogy with Ruanda was absurd.

      • Consider

        “Islam is not a religion”If you say so…

        • Softly Bob

          Well, it is a religion, but it’s more than that. Some would describe it as a cult. It’s actually a complete political ideology with a religious component.

          • Consider

            What exactly is the difference between religion and cult?

          • Softly Bob

            Several things. Cults are founded by one man. Followers of the Cult are forbidden to criticise the leader or founder. They are encouraged to grass on each other and report anyone who criticises the cult leader. Penalties are severe for those who criticise the leader. Cults usually die out when the leader dies (but not always). Cults involve large amounts of brain-washing. The leader makes rules for his own benefit and is not required to lead by example, in other words, he is exempt from the rules of his followers. He has special privileges. Cult leaders often get rich, by persuading the followers to give money or possessions to the leader.

          • Consider

            It looks as if you were talking about Christianity or Islam.

          • Softly Bob

            Nothing cultish about Christianity. Jesus did not encourage his followers to persecute those who criticised him. Jesus led by example. He never had rules for anyone else that he did not abide by himself, nor did he get rich at the expense of his followers.
            Mohammed on the other hand……..

          • quousque

            For one, many of us left our respective religions for other denominations or just wretched total separation from it. Try the same move with Islam; it will shorten your stature roughly by the length of your head. If it quacks like a cult and it acts like a cult; it is a cult.

        • T

          You are so dismissive of religion and like the reasoning and arguments of Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer so much, have you gone down to the kennel and picked out your significant other?

          After all your guy, Peter Singer, has said bestiality is not wrong.

      • quousque

        Prager’s invocation of Poles during the WWII comes from his hopefully deep understanding what has transpired over there between Poles and the Jews. That history is way more complicated than just ‘police and military’.

      • Seek

        Of course, Islam is a religion, Deagin. It meets all the requirements of a religion. The problem is that, unlike Christianity or Judiasm, it provides no room for interpretation, no reality checks and no humanizing tendencies.
        People like you have a motive: to give religion as a whole an exemption from moral responsibility in perpetuating atrocities. Thus, by retroactively redefining one of the world’s worst religions as “not really a religion,” you achieve argument through alchemy. And yes, for the record, Catholic nuns were involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

    • Charles Johnsen

      Yes, Islam is a religion. But Dennis clearly limited his claims to the Judeo-Christian and biblical moral and religious foundations. He specifically excluded religions like Islam that do not follow the Torah or the New Testament. This is the whole point! Even secular people and nations live in a civilization formed and taught by the Covenants of the OT and NT. And yes, we do not live up to our standards. But at least we have some. I could make the same arguments about governments. Since Stalin murdered more people than anybody except Mao, we had best get rid of the federal government of the United States. You see, the trouble is not which government but government itself.

      • Consider

        How comes that naughty Dennis can chose at will what to limit his claims to? Where is the “absolute” or “objective” morality if Dennis the wag can simply chose what moral code to follow.
        By the way, today’s ‘secular’ people or nations live contrary to the convenants of the OT and NT, other ways they would be grabbing each other’s throats.

        • Drakken

          Let me guess? Your a Obummer voter aren’t you?

        • Charles Johnsen

          You willfully miss the point that religions are different, some producing better character and behavior and others not so good. Argue about which is which but please give up this post modern snobbery that “religion” is bad and your vain belief systems are advanced. Nothing of the kind. Moses was an advance over paganism and you are a retreat to it.
          Without Christianity, especially since the Reformation, there would be no freedom, no science, and no modern technically advanced world. Doubt me? Name another culture that has these acheivements?
          Grabbing each other’s throats? You are ignorant, “Consider,” of this subject. Wars, evil, ignorance–it is all true about us as about any slice of humanity. But there is also the victory of good over evil too often to discount as uninspired by a loving and oh so patient God.

          • Consider

            The moment you start bidding which religion is superior you lose the match even before the starting kick (since in your case,you did this in your opening sentence). You completely destroy the argument that religion is the home of morality.

          • Consider

            Some points that I overlooked:
            Sience and Christianity. Since reformation!
            It doesn’t strike you that the rise of science coincides with the diminution of the influence of religion?
            BTW nazism gave us rocketry, comumunism space flight, therefore they are good.

          • Charles Johnsen

            First, rockets and orbits are the technology that comes from science. Science is freedom of inquiry and speech and publishing and agruing. The influence that had to be diminished for science to thrive was Artistotle’s, not Christ’s. The Reformation was largely a battle between the official “church” and biblical faith. Think of them as two cultures: Greek and Semitic. Clearly we need both for science: the Greeks for their logic and the Semites for their PERSONAL freedom and empirical world view. A careful study of the era of the Reformation will debunk the childish notions you have of a battle between church and science. Maxism is incapable of nuance.

  • abc

    Atheist morality is not based on personal likes or dislikes, as
    the writer has tried to make out. It is based on solid reasoning. Cheating, for
    example, is treated as immoral by atheist morality because if everybody was to
    do it, trust would disappear, which would make living in society impossible,
    which in turn would make our survival impossible. So, atheist morality is based
    on sound self-interest and social interest. So, atheist morality is based on
    scientific reasoning. Hence, it is objective and only one.

    On the
    other hand, religious morality is based on whims of religions manufactured by
    individuals to further their own personal agenda. For Islam, killing
    unbelievers is moral, while for Christianity, if someone strikes on the right
    cheek, it is moral to turn the left cheek! This is why there are so many
    religions with so many contradictory moralities.

    • Smoking Hamster

      “Sound self interest and social interest”

      I those two principles seem to indicate that is is not moral to save Jews in Nazi Germany because that would be against self interest and the social views of the time.

      Plus, I thought Christians, Jews, and all the rest only did good to get rewarded while atheists were the purely selfless ones. Shock, I guess that isn’t true.

    • gray_man

      “Atheist morality is not based on personal likes or dislikes, as
      the writer has tried to make out. It is based on solid reasoning.”

      Nonsense. Self-interest always wins out. Then comes the justification.

      • imafundie

        Amen. Sodomite “marriage” and killing babies in the womb are key examples.

    • L

      Did you just make that reasoning up? First of all what makes “survival” good? Why do we need to value survival?

      Secondly, what makes you think cheating makes it impossible to survival? Do you need examples of people that have cheated and have thrived (and not merely survive) because of cheating?

      • abc

        We are discussing the basis of morality. I say morality can be based on social interest, rather than dictates of God or Allah. Cheating (or killing, raping, lying etc) is bad because if every member of the society were to follow it, society would collapse. Hence, it is bad. It is for the society to detect and punish such immoral acts. Enjoying the booty by the cheater does not make it in social interest.

  • Larry Larkin

    Peter Singer would go close to being the most odious “intellectual” in the world today.
    Many years ago I was a resident in a College at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia, and living at the same place were two of Singer’s hand picked staff from his Philosophy Dept. Both of them, with no shadow of a doubt, were as made as meat axes One of them was thrown out of the College and sacked by the University for biting a student, the other did a jail term for the sexual molestation of a female student and was then deported. Singer went in to bat for both of them on his specious philosophical grounds.
    Every one of my contemporaries who enrolled in first year Philosophy dropped the subject in total disgust as soon as possible, with a significant percentage of them not making it through the first term. Those who genuinely wanted to study Philosophy either changed universities or arranged to study their subject at another institution.
    If any philosopher in the world today can be considered the moral and ethical heir of Fouccault it is Singer. The fact that he has been given a tenured Professorship in Bio-Ethics by ANY university says a lot about the disgraceful standards of ethics of so many of the so called “institutes of higher learning” today.

    • Aizino Smith

      Un-F______ beleivable.

  • GB

    I don’t know where to start. Morality is a construct. It is evidently so given that we do not follow every moral stance in the bible or indeed any other ‘holy’ book. It is indeed based on reasoning but it is also a product of empathy. This has been the case for many years in the Western world. Slavery is not moral is it? Sacrifice isn’t really appealing is it? Why? Dawkins is rightly pointing out that religion does not – and should not – in any modern society, act as a moral measuring device. That notion is truly horrible. Granted it may have acted as a basis in the past for guiding how we form our morality but clearly we have moved away from it and we should continue to do so.

    • The March Hare

      GB: “Granted it may have acted as a basis in the past for guiding how we form our morality but clearly we have moved away from it and we should continue to do so.”

      Are you saying we have moved away from our morality? Or, are you acknowledging that God and religion guided the formation of our morality, but our morality is not good? Or, are you acknowledging that God and religion guided the formation of our morality and now that we have morality we don’t need God or religion, and if so, then, why in the world would you want to throw out the thing that guided the formation of our morality unless you wanted to throw out our morality too? You are a contradiction.

      • Smoking Hamster

        It’s like socialism. They cannibalize the gains of capitalism and all of the prosperity they have is due to vestiges of capitalism.

      • Phil

        I thought it was pretty clear. He is saying the bible does not and should not be used as a moral measuring device.

        The beauty of not seeing the bible as infallible is that you can keep the good bits, and junk the rest of the nonsense.

    • Smoking Hamster

      You are right. Slavery is not moral. That is why. Judaism proscribes capital punishment for dealers and Christianity proscribes Hell for dealers.

    • Mo86

      “Morality is a construct.”

      Says who? You?

      Did anyone actually READ this article?

      Without a transcendent standard for right and wrong, there ARE no moral categories possible in the first place. Feeding a starving person would be the same as deliberately letting them starve Why? Because the morality of either act would simply be a matter of personal opinion. One person thinks feeding a starving person is the right thing to do. Another person thinks deliberately allowing them to starve is the right thing to do. Without an ultimate standard, who decides?

      What I can’t fathom is why, exactly, this very simple, basic idea seems so difficult for people to understand.

      • bluffcreek1967

        It’s because the god of this world has blinded the minds of them who refuse to believe. God gives such fools up to their own folly and, with a seared conscience, they are unable to make sense of that which to the rest of us is quite obvious.

        • Mo86

          That is the testimony of Scripture, yes. But it is also up to us to reason with people and try to get them to think of things in ways they may not have considered.

          Deep down, every person has a conscience and everyone knows there is objective right and wrong, no matter how much they may deny it. If someone broke into their house, stole their possessions and killed their family, you KNOW they would consider that objectively wrong.

        • ReyR

          Allah mocks them and prolongs them in their transgression while they wander blindly. (2:15)
          Deaf, dumb and blind – so they will not return to the right path. (2:18)
          Curse is on the unbelievers. (2:89)
          Not quite your Christian God, but close, eh?

          • Seek

            Hey, Rey: You’re actually forcing these people to think. It might be too much of a strain for some of them.

      • OrionJones

        Mo86: What is this ‘transcendent standard’ you keep going on about. Most of the hundreds of religions that exist, have their own ‘transcendent standards’, so how could we all agree on which transcendent standard to use (have a Crusade?). The fact that there are so many of them is a pretty good indication that they are all made up. Your transcendent standard ultimately comes from a bunch of guys from the middle east in a tent.

        • Mo86

          “What is this ‘transcendent standard’ you keep going on about. ”

          A standard beyond what I think and you think.

          The rest of your rude comment is not worthy of a response. Why you’re talking about a crusade is beyond me.

          • OrionJones

            It’s not in the least bit rude. I think what you mean is that you don’t have a suitable answer.

            The Crusade bit is just a reference to the way one religious group with different ‘transcendent standards’ from another religious group resolved their differences of opinion in the past.

            By the way, if this ‘transcendent standard’ is beyond what you think, how can you use it to distinguish what’s morally good from what’s morally bad?

      • OrionJones

        Mo86: ‘Without a transcendent standard for right and wrong, there ARE no moral categories possible in the first place. Feeding a starving person would be the same as deliberately letting them starve’

        For an atheist it would be partly due to the culture they’ve been brought up in, partly due to thinking about the situation and putting themself in the other persons position, but largely just an innate gut feeling that it would be wrong not to feed a starving person. But if you need the threat of eternal torture hanging over your head just to make you behave like any other decent human being, then I suppose we’ll just have to accept that and hope that you never lose your faith.

        • defcon 4

          What about having the threat of eternal torture being held over your head if you don’t kill and persecute the unbeliever and push him to the narrowest part of the road?

          • OrionJones

            What about it? From an atheist’s perspective it’s just another idiotic threat, this time an Islamic one.

        • Mo86

          “For an atheist it would be partly due to the culture they’ve been
          brought up in, partly due to thinking about the situation and putting
          themself in the other persons position”,

          That’s exactly my point. Without an objective standard to go by, each person would only be left with their own personal opinion about moral questions such as this one.

          “but largely just an innate gut
          feeling that it would be wrong not to feed a starving person”

          Then you are acknowledging that we do have a conscience when it comes to things like this. And while a conscience is generally a good thing to go by, some people’s consciences – for whatever reasons – may not be the same as yours. After all, there are murderers who seem to have no guilty feelings about what they have done. They don’t regret it. Some acknowledge that their actions were wrong but don’t care. Some don’t even think their actions were wrong at all.

          I don’t know anything about ‘threat of eternal torture’ or however you put it.

          The point, again, is that without a transcendent standard, words and ideas like “good/evil”, “right/wrong”, “moral/immoral” have no meaning. It’s literally gibberish because these categories cannot even exist.

          • OrionJones

            Mo86

            Of course most people have a conscience, that is, an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behaviour. And it has nothing to do with religion.

            The threat of eternal torture, which I’m sure that you’re really very much aware of, is burning in hell forever.

            Maybe you could address some of these questions that are puzzling me. Do you have a conscience? If so, does the ‘transcendent standard’ sometimes conflict with your conscience? If so, what do you do in this case – follow your conscience or the ‘transcendent standard’. What would happen to you if you don’t follow the ‘transcendent standard’?

            Also, where does this ‘transcendent standard’ come from? Is it your or theologians interpretations of what’s written in your bible? Is it some direct communication you have with your god? Or is it from somewhere else?

            I know that’s a lot of questions, but I’m genuinely interested in where your morality comes from.

  • Godagesil Rex

    It is obvious that morality has had no material effect on how religions have conducted themselves throughout history and to present day. Once in the majority and in power religions run amok just like the basest pagan that ever walked the face of the earth. It is demonstrated that there is no more violent, murderous and dangerous opponent than one who thinks he is in the right and god is on his side. Morality springs from tribal law and not from god. The ten commandments were no more god given than traffic signs. For a migratory shepherding society that was the early Jewish tribes, they made perfect sense. God given? Hardly. Morals are simply the rules set forth by a society to govern its members. The Nazis were moral in the context of their society. Of course other cultures and societies will judge others by theirs and find them wanting or wrong, just as the Muslims judge the rest of the world and condemn them. So they feel justified in killing those less moral than they. The religionists elitism is what galls me the most. They seem to think that by making the ridiculous assertion that they hold the “key” to morality that makes everyone else less. This argument puts them in the position of judging everyone else who does not adhere to their particular brand of morals. This is the thing that makes them no different than the blood thirsty Jihadists that they rale so much about in these articles. My fear is that once the Jihadis are defeated that these writers will come after people like me, Atheists who want nothing more than to be left alone. They may need a god to feel safe in the world, I don’t. I sleep just fine at night in the dark. So let us alone and clutch your blankie.

    • Smoking Hamster

      ” It is demonstrated that there is no more violent, murderous and dangerous opponent than one who thinks he is in the right and god is on his side”

      Mao, the biggest murderer of all time, was a theist? Stalin?

      • Consider

        Stalin was educated at the Orthodox Seminary in Tbilsi. That’s probably why…
        Hitler was a Catholic. It leaves Mao, but in China generaly they are not particularly theistic.
        But anyhow pointing out that some of the worst dictators where atheists is equaly silly as saying that people with moustache are particularly dangerous.

        • Charles Johnsen

          Exactly! Pointing out that some societies did not follow their own God is equally silly as saying that people with a moustache are particularly dangerous.
          Also, are you actually claiming that the source of Hitler’s evil was Catholic school? Or that Stalin’s time at the seminary turned him into a monster?

          • Consider

            Well, it may have influenced their mindset.
            There have been religious wars but there were no atheist wars (in the sense that the war was fought with the aim of installing atheism).

          • Smoking Hamster

            Yes, but there have been wars fought to establish godless Communism. And atheists have fought and massacred people in the name of eradicating religion.

            Look up Richard Wurmbrand.

          • Consider

            Communism was not about religion but about power, wealth distribution, social (in)justice.etc.
            Atheism was the expected consequence of, what was believed to be, social progress, but not even remotely the motive for wars or revolutions.
            In contrast, the 30 years war fought from 1618 to 1638 exclusively for religious reasons (Catholics against Protestants) reduced the population of Germany to one third.

          • Charles Johnsen

            I am stunned by your ignorance. All of the “religious” wars in history put together have produced only a tiny fraction of the suffereing and death of the atheist wars in the 20th Century. Even then, in the West, it has always been the political tyrannies that used religion as an excuse for their agression. Or, in the Civil War of the United States. Do you blame the Christian church for the blood shed because it so hated slavery? Ya, I guess you could say in that case our religion caused us to go to war. Against evil! Would you have choosen peace with slavery?

          • ReyR

            Perhaps they killed on a smaller scale because the pious and highly moral were not resourceful enough and had to wait until atheists invent more efficient weapons?
            But on the other hand, a whole continent’s population was exterminated in the name of the true Catholic God – now they call it Latin America.

          • Consider

            The institution of slavery (the peculiar institution) was defended precisely on religious grounds. There may be Christians who hated slavery but Christianity that is Christian doctrine was confortable with slavery. Don’t force me to copy paste quotations.

          • Godagesil Rex

            Religion has been behind a large number of the conflicts since the Catholic church and Islam was founded. Add in the wars of the Protestant Reformation, the ongoing sectarian conflicts. The conflicts between Islam and just about every other country and religion that it has ever encountered. I know of no “atheist wars”. While the world wars might not have been at their core secular, they were certainly not started by Atheists. Your ignorance and hubris are showing. Nazis were a mix of christian with an infusion of nordic superstition. Wehrmacht belt buckles stated…Got mit uns…God is with us. The Japanese were Shinto, a somewhat miliaristic religion that by the way was banned by MacArthur as occupational govenor of Japan after the war. The Russians while officially not orthodox Christian, their animosity toward the Poles leading to treaties with the Nazis to invade Poland, were rooted in memory of the religion based aggression of the Christian poles in Russia in the 1400′s. All the carnage in the Balkans in the 1940′s and 1990′s has its roots in Christian – Muslim hatred, as does the Pakistani-Indian warfare. Most conflicts of culture through the ages was more at its core one of religion than anything else.

          • Charles Johnsen

            Okay, the atheists did not do their killings by war. No. But both Stalin and Mao murdered their own people in numbers so vast it did indeed dwarf all of the killing in all of the wars conventional wisdom attributes to “religion.”
            Second point. Atheism is a religion. You cannot get out of this by the rhetorical tactic of equating religion with dualism or supernaturalism. A religion is a way of life and a set of values based on some claims about humanity and the universe. Almost all the atheists I know personally actually stand in the Judeo-Christian tradition of morality and personhood. And the record of the atheist religions is far worse in murder than the Christian or Jewish religions.
            Third point. You childishly lump all faiths together. Christianity is not Islam, Buddhism is not Shintoism. What we do have in common is our human natures. Both love and hate, both peace and war, both greed and generousity come with our skins. Dealing with this reality is the goal of some religions. We try to increase goodness and fight against evil. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes not. So when considering different religions judge them by what they do to the human character.
            Fourth point. The differences are almost always the result of mixing “church” and “state.” Violence comes when political forces join with cultural forces. Personally, I am not afraid of the guy with the sword. I am not afraid of the guy with the book. But I am terrified of the guy with both book and sword. That is why in the American system the government is not the highest authority and the highest authority is not established but free, be that authority reason or the Christian God, or both.

            That is the tragedy of the wars in Europe and the glory of the American Constitution. Until we got this straight our record as a civilization was only marginally better than others. And it was only as the Progressives took over our government that the hubris of empire came to us. The horrors of American foreign wars is not the result of Christianity but the result of the lack of Christianity.
            Fifth point. When Islam invaded Europe a few centuries ago, what was Christendom supposed to do? Give up or fight back? Yes, the Christians took back the Holy Land after the Arabs took it by force. What were they supposed to do? Say, “ah, well, one religion is as good as another so let them have Jerusalem.”? They were brutal like everybody else in that era and there is no excuse for that. But fighting back against an aggressor is not evil.

            Sixth point: Gott mit uns. Not: Got mit uns.

          • Godagesil Rex

            Atheism is not a religion. I have heard this kind of relativistic argumetn before. I don’t get up and pray to nothing. I don’t put my faith in the non-existence of something. I just don’t think about it, period. I don’t understand why religionists want to bring this up over and over again. It must be that they can’t concieved of not believing in Something. Religion IS supernaturalism. What else would you call it. It has and ever will be linked to the supernatural. Name one religion that does not have events or “miracles” in its core history, that were used and still are to seduce the unsophisicated and ignorant into believing their diety is all powerful. The measure is whether those “miracles” if reported today, would be accepted as true or would be considered the ravings of some lunatic. Heard of any miraculous reanimation of the dead lately? Or turning oof water into wine? How about something as simple as parting of an ocean or walking on water? Your second point may be debateable since I no of no primative cultures that were truly atheist, unless you are considering “pagans” and “heathens” in that definition. As discussed in this thread, neither Hitler nor Stalin were truly atheists.
            Third point. To me religion is religion. The basis of all of them is the same. Their adherents rely on a “childish” need to believe in something greater than themselves to provide them an adult blankie to hold onto at night to quell their fear of the big unknown, their boogeyman, and to give their lives meaning. Some of us adults, don’t need that. Fourth point. Thanks you got back to my original statement about the zealotry of the true believer and how they were more to be feared than the person who did not believe. The jihadi with his sure certainty of his cause and the backing of his god is more to be feared than the guy only waiting to get home to get a beer and get laid. They always have and always will. The Templars and Hospitalers demonstrated that. I also stated that while religions are bad, Islam is probably the worst excuse for a religion that exists. Of course Christendom needed to react, the pity is that it could not put aside the petty squabbles over titles and demominational beliefs and see Islam as the true enemy. The Church stood by and fiddled while the holdings of Christendom dwindled by half as all of North Africa, the Middle East, the Levant and the Balkans fell under the sandals of the Mohammedians.

          • Charles Johnsen

            I do not define religion as anything that is supernatural. I actually do not care, in secular terms, what a person’s beliefs are about ghosts and gods. To me religion is that set of values and beliefs about human beings that create good or evil. Like: Does man have a nature? Do we have inalienable rights? Or are we not allowed to know what is good and evil in your world either? Or do you believe the false doctrines of the very superstitious Marx that we are explained by class, era, and deterministic zeitgeist? Marxism is fullblown supernaturalism.

            I do believe that Yeshua came back from the dead but for secular purposes I call religious allies anybody who lives according to the principles and values of Western Culture, which is deeply Christian, wether they agree with me or not about Yeshua.

            Your claim that you do not pray to anybody means nothing to me. You do have an ethic and a way of life and a set of beliefs (yes, I insist that “There is no god.” is a belief, not a fact). You have a religion. You are a human being, our brains need a set of assumptions, right or wrong, to center our explorations around. I call my center the Christian religion and you call yours atheism. Fine. But you skate close to irrational when you make such a simple and childish distinction between your wise self and everybody else who has every lived.
            Am I sick and tired of academic types insulting people just because they follow the way of life that produced freedom and science. Too often, because you folks claim not to have any beliefs, you end up without any sense.

          • Godagesil Rex

            Need I remind you that Christianity did its best to stamp out scientific thought, which by its very nature rebelled against the dogmatic thinking that was at its root. The fact that you have not bothered to read up on the chaotic history of your own faith tells me all I need to know about your critical thinking. With all respect, I was like that too, when I was 15 yo. I chose the path of studying history first, then science. I can tell you, yes, to research the history of the early church will shake your faith, if you are not so indoctrinated already that you won’t even attempt it. It documents simple power grabbing and control of the people’s minds. The various sects killed burned and used any other technique they could to consolidate their control. There were numerous christian sects vying for power and Catholicism won out and their’s by and large is the version all current forms have sprung from. The Gnostic Manichaeism sect was obliterated by the Catholics and all their texts either destroyed or suppressed, there are probably copies in the Papal library in the staff only area…lol. The fact that the catholic church burned the first man to translate the bible from latin or greek into more easily available German says volumes about control Guttenberg almost suffered the same fate for printing it. The muslims with their hight illiteracy rate are very similar to day as Europe was 900 years ago. The priestly parasite class tell them what to think, who to hate, who to kill, and what god would want them to do. Nothing has changed, just the name of the religion and the underlying motive: an imaginary god.

          • Charles Johnsen

            I began an atheist from about 5th grade until about 18. I too changed by reading history, sometimes in the original Greek and Hebrew and Latin. Beside reading I came to know people of character and intelligence who were very conservative Christians. By conservative I mean biblical.
            It is clear to me that all you know of history comes from public school education and the Menonite history. I admire the the followers of Menos and decry what Rome and Saxony did to them. But I do not agree with their particular slant on a few Christian doctrines. I respect them, even love the ones I know personally, but I do not agree with everything they teach.
            But public schools have as central goal the distruction of sectarian religion. You, not I, have been brain washed.

          • Charles Johnsen

            Sometime the system posts before I am done. Pardon me.
            For example, I am no defender of the Roman Catholic Church when it place Galileo under house arrest. But they were not doing so, even with one or two biblical quotes they twisted for the purpose, because of the Christian faith or biblical doctrine. They were defending Aristotle who insisted that the earth did not move. Last time I looked Aristotle was not a Christian or a Jew. And in fact it was the new Lutheran university in Wittenberg that sent their natural philosphy professor to Kopernik. Reticus brought the theory that the earth revolved around the sun to Europe. In fact all of the founders of science were Christians or Jews. Yes, some early Greeks were very good but most of that sound science was suppressed by, not the Christians, but the Platonist and the Gnostics you seem to admire.
            I could go on and on with examples of how someone has lied to you about our history. But one fact stands out without contradiction: Science, and the freedom of inquiry and speech that makes it possible, arose only in Western Europe and then America. No Muslim (accept the knowledge the stole from the library of Alexandria when they burned it), no Hindu (even with a wonderful art and great wisdom), no Shinto, no pagan, no Gnostic did this. But Newton and the two Bacons and Kepler and Kopernik (an abbot) and Galileo and on and on began science when they buried the anceint Greek philosophers and took up the words of the Torah: TOV! It is good, what He named, He called good. Without this love of nature and the physical world, without overthrowing the spiritualism of the Plato, we would have no freedom of speech, no science, no world where it is safe and welcome to be an atheist.

          • tickletik

            Not even remotely. The difference is they were discussing individuals whose brhsvior can vary widely for a host of reasons. Groups of people tend to act based on their commonalities. Their beliefs are the guide by which they formulate policy. A group that believes in an all powerful entity understands they will be held accountable for their actions who will see through their self justifications.

        • The March Hare

          And it is obvious that neither was a believer.

        • gray_man

          Hitler was born a catholic, but as an adult he was not.
          Where Stalin was educated is irrelevant.

          • Consider

            He was Catholic as an adult and never excomunicated by the CC.
            BTW to say that someone is born a Catholic is as silly as to say that someone is born as a socialist.

          • gray_man

            Being excommunicated or not does not make you a Catholic. When you inherit a philosophy from your parents, weather Catholicism or socialism, you are “born” into it. To argue different is silly.

          • Consider

            First you are born and after that you inherit.or do not inherit. What you inherited becomes obvious only later.

            “Being excommunicated or not does not make you a Catholic”. Well this is debatable but I don’t insist. In Hitlers’ case he declared himself a Catholic until the end and the CC did not kick him out.

            There were some in his entourage who dreamed of reviving some ancient German myths, but that don’t make them atheists.

          • gray_man

            “…the only way of getting rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.”

            “It’s Christianity that’s the liar. It’s in perpetual conflict with itself.”

            “As far as we are concerned, we’ve succeeded in chasing the Jews from our midst and excluding Christianity from our political life.”

            “There is something very unhealthy about Christianity.”

            “When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let’s be the only people who are immunised against the disease.”

            “Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.”

            All quotes by Hitler, and there are many more.

            Hitler was not a Christian.

            “First you are born and after that you inherit.or do not inherit. What you inherited becomes obvious only later.”

            Semantics.

          • Consider

            “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so” (Hitler to general Gerhard Engel in 1941.)

          • gray_man

            Hmmm … I gave you 4 quotes from Hitler between 1941-1944 (and have many more in reserve) , you gave me one from 1941 … I guess you win ?
            Not.

          • Consider

            ….

            in a letter to the party faithful of July 22, 1933, Hitler wrote,”The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church … the assertion that National Socialism is hostile to religion is a lie.”

            “We have not only brought thousands of priests back into the Church, but to millions of respectable people we have restored their faith in their religion and their priests,” Hitler’s New Year Message of January 1, 1934.

            “Providence has caused me to be Catholic.” Hitler said this in 1936.

            We are even now, I also have more in store but I am not interested in this kind of competition.

          • gray_man

            Who said he didn’t call himself Catholic in 1934, or ’36?
            His behavior proves otherwise.
            By ’41 he certainly was not claiming that.
            You do know that people change their mind and/or lie don’t you?
            Especially for political gain.
            Obama called himself Christian as well.
            Actions speak louder that words.
            Neither are Christian.
            I guess if you claim to be anything, that automatically means it’s true.

          • Consider

            Why his behavior proves otherwise?
            Christians are incapable of doing evil things or what?
            They never did anything evil, didn’t they?
            There’s nothing evil in their teachings, isn’t there?

            My first quote shows that in 1941 he considered himself still a Catholic. In the following years untill his suicide he had more pressing problems than therorize about religion.

            Your contention that if you claim to be anything doesn’t mean that it’s true is in slight contradiction with what you asserterd regarding excommunication.

          • Maxie

            Hitler was consistently evasive regarding his alleged fealty to the Church. He was, first of all, a pathological narcissist and lying is part of that particular “faith” which trumps all else.

          • defcon 4

            One cannot be a good Christian and a good German…
            Who said that?

          • gray_man

            “Why his behavior proves otherwise?”
            Do you even know what Christianity is?

            “There’s nothing evil in their teachings, isn’t there?”
            Christians are followers of Christ – please show me a scripture where Christ approved of Hitlers behavior.

            “Your contention that if you claim to be anything doesn’t mean that it’s true is in slight contradiction with what you asserterd regarding excommunication.”
            Nonsense.

          • Consider

            “Do you even know what Christianity is?”

            Yes, a collection of lies and advice of dubious morality some disgusting.

            “please show me a scripture where Christ approved of evil, and/or Hitlers behavior.”

            Luke 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

            (this is the umpteenth time that I quote this to Christians who seem not to be aware of such passages or bluff.)

            “Nonsense”

            Sense, sense….

          • gray_man

            Really Luke 27? Hah, hah, hah. Thanks for proving yourself a fool. This must be the umpteenth time you’ve made a jackass of yourself. The reason they look dumbfounded is because they can’t believe someone is stupid enough to use that scripture to prove the point you are trying to prove.
            Jesus was telling a parable about someone else and the kingdom of God to prove a point. He was not giving a command for anyone to do that. You just proved you know nothing about Christianity. Thanks for winning my argument for me. Fool.
            I really hate it when people who can’t comprehend simple things about scripture start lecturing me, about the scripture they don’t understand.

          • L

            Dude, Hitler was NOT a Christian. You are trying too hard here.

          • Consider

            No, Hitler wasn’t even a German nationalist.
            In his final days he complained how they (the Germans) disapointed him, how weak they are, how they deserved all that has befallen them etc.
            In reality he was a German hater.

          • defcon 4

            He wanted all of Germany to die w/him. They had failed him.

          • 11johnmac66

            And would you not think that his claims of receiving recognition from Rome had more to do with assuaging the sentiments of Catholics that were among his followers rather than some deep seated appreciation he might have felt himself for such recognition…i.e. it was a mere piece of useful propaganda for him.
            Its ridiculous to be claiming Hitler as a Catholic as though this had some baring on his ideology when clearly it hadn’t. As though he was a regular church goer. When in fact Hitler was an atheist – who found Himmlers desire to re-establish some old teuthonic paganism amusing or useful if it generated a more warlike spirit with his people. Simply Hitler was an atheist of the Neitzchean mould who played on beyond good and evil – he did not after all think himself or his ideology as evil.

          • defcon 4

            MOre than a million Christians died fighting the Nazis and Hitler.

          • gray_man

            I know. I’m not the one who thinks Hitler was a Christian

          • Godagesil Rex

            30 million atheist Russians died fighting the Christian Germans. What Hitler was is irrelevant. If the German Chrstians had had the strength of their convictions they would not have followed the non-relgious Hitler. Instead they found strengthe and security in their religion….”Got mit Uns” on knives and belt buckles for instance. God is with Us. The Polish Trawniki men manning the extermination camps at Sorbibor and Treblinka were Catholics. The catholics and protestants of Poland, France and other European countries occupied Jewish property before the beds were even cold after removal of the Jews.

          • Charles Johnsen

            Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Look him up.

          • Softly Bob

            Here are some more quotes:

            “The Mohammedan religion (Islam) too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it
            have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness…?”

            Adolf Hitler (from the memoirs of Albert Speer, Hitler‘s minister of armaments)

            Here’s a quote from Joseph Goebbels:

            “The Fuhrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race… Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed. The Fuhrer is a convinced vegetarian, on principle. His arguments cannot be refuted on any
            serious basis. They are totally unanswerable.”

            Now tell us that Hitler was a Christian!

          • Godagesil Rex

            Christian, Muslim, Mithraic…religion is religion. It simply fuels division. We are hard wired to be members of an In-group and to view out-groups antipathetically. Religion just gives us one more reason to see the out-group as something less…”they don’t believe in OUR God…they are pagan…we must save them, or kill them…” It give the believer a dangerous sense of superiority and conviction.

          • Charles Johnsen

            In sixty years of listening to and delivering sermons and classes in Christian churches, I have never, ever, once heard one of us use this sort of horrible language about other faiths or other people. Did it happen in the past? Sure, in bad old Europe where kings used religion in this way. But not here. Not in America. Yes, I believe that humans are ¨hard wired´ for in and out groups. But the teachings of the Torah and the Sermon on the Mount teach against such devils. WE taught the planet that all men are created equal. Not the atheists.

          • Godagesil Rex

            Seriously? Modern Christianity might have done that, but certainly not before the 1800′s. The bible itself, the old testament documents genocide by the Jews…it was a parochial book…we good…them bad. It was a tribal text. Only in the new text were others embraced. You cannot cherry pick, which was my original point. Catholicism is dogmatic…you got to take it all or none. Protestantism, now thats a different thing. Anabaptism by ancestor’s religion was the first to postulate a personal relationship with god. Even Martin Luther found the Anabaptists (forerunners of the Amish, Church of the Bretheren, Mennonites, and Hutterites, all different sects of the Anabaptists) independence too much to swallow and began burning them after they fled Catholic bonfires. They had their own diasphora and I have encountered Mennonite carbon copies of my grandfather in Mennotite communities in such diverse places as the jungles of Bolivia, the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, prairies of N. Montana, and sw Texas. If you really think that chistianitiy has a lock on morality, you are sadly mistaken. Morality rose from the needs of the tribe. You don’t fool around with the other guys wife while he is out tending the flock for weeks at a time, since you don’t want him to diddle yours while you’re gone (golden rule). You don’t kill the other guy for obvious reasons, it doesn’t just piss his family off, it reduces the available manpower for defense and for hunting. You honor your parents, since the old people make the rules and at some age cannot keep up with the young, and everyone gets old, kind of neolithic social security legislation. You don’t steal, because its kind of hard to secure a tent if someone really wants your goods and it can lead to violation of some of the previous “commandments”. Lying goes the same way. All the others referring to god, just underpin and support the fact that the ultimate enforcement was the threat of damnation. The priests(the tribal parasites) needed to make sure that their power was unquestioned and their word absolute. How much better than to make the first five “laws” about god and a constant reminder of how you should submit to him (e.g. the priests). That is the same nonsense that makes the Muslims like rabid dogs. If Christians followed the literal teachings of the bible, they would be no different than the Muslims. But they expurgate the parts they don’t like…gods rules in the old testament. I don’t recall that any of the later writers of the new testament, M, M, L, &J had the authority to change gods word. They wrote their scriptures hundreds of years after Jesus died. So that gave them a lot of literary license. Then add on the Christian dogma wars between the Catholics, Agnostics, and other sects for who passed their version of christianity down to posterity and you don’t know what kind of crap got thrown into todays version. Not to mention all the stuff that got cobbled on along the way to fill the holes, gaps and contradictions in the theology. Take for instance, NO one I have ever met has been able to tell me the correct defintion of the idea of Emaculate Conceptions. I’d be willing to bet you don’t either. No its not about the virgin conception of Jesus by Mary. Its about the fact that Mary was born without orginial sin. I guess that someone asked how she, tainted by Eve’s original sin, could give birth to Jesus, a diety and perfect. So Pope XYX made up the idea of Emmaculate Conception and put it in a Papal Bull(etin) in the 1300′s. Gotta plug those holes! That was a full 1300 years after Jesus was born. Damn! Amazing how them Vatican guys can read god’s mind. No, they just make it up as they go along, like the Muslims do today. They even tell the faithful which hand to wipe their asses with. Maybe that was on the tablet Moses broke. Commandment 11 Thou shalt use thy left hand to wipe thine ass, not the right, but the left and only the left shall be used. Sounds funny today, but with the Muslims still eating with their fingers off of communal plates, it makes perfect sense. Trouble is most of the stuff had an expiration date of relevance about 300 years ago when science started to nibble away at the god filling the gaps in our knowledge. The trouble is most people are still infants intellectually when it comes to god and science. They were taught to be that way from birth. Its all about control.

          • Godagesil Rex

            Yes, but there is ample evidence that the Pontif and the Catholic church knew of the Holocaust and did nothing and said nothing. Presumably they thought the overdue bill was finally being delivered to the Christ Killers.

          • Seek

            Hitler wasn’t simply a baptised Catholic. He affirmed many times, in speeches and writings, that he was doing God ‘s work. And as Fuehrer, he worked with the Church. In 1933 he established a Concordat with Cardinal Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII several years later. Not a bad career move for either.

          • gray_man

            Sorry, I know you want to follow the narrative, but Hitler was not a Christian. His behavior dictated that.
            Christ said many times that there are people who claim to follow him who do not.

        • Smoking Hamster

          Stalin was hand picked by Lenin to be his successor precisely because of Stalin’s hostility to religion and loyalty to Communism, to which Lenin said atheism was an indispensable part.

          So what if he was educated at a Christian university? Why couldn’t he be an atheist? I hear ad nausiam that reading the Bible makes you an atheist. Somehow it doesn’t work on me but whatever.

          • Consider

            The truth is that Lenin warned the Central Comitee not to appoint Stalin as his successor.

        • defcon 4

          Hitler deprecated Christianity and admired islam fool.

        • tickletik

          Correlation does not make causation, but it is still evidence. Calling it “silly” to do so is very silly behavior.

      • Godagesil Rex

        Stalin went to seminary, whether he believed anything is another matter. I am talking about the individual fighter, not national leaders. Given two men one with no particular beliefs, vs one who thinks god is with him and that his death means everlasting life and a hedonistic reward, who do you think will be more resolute, dangerous and viscious? The average jihadi has more resolve than someone looking to serve his 4 years and go home for a cheeseburger and a beer.

    • gray_man

      Well, that is your opinion. As nonsensical as it is.

    • defcon 4

      “once the Jihadis are defeated”, wow, talk about putting the cart before the horse. Why aren’t atheists up-in-arms over the persecution of atheists in Bangladesh? Apathetic? Or is amorality its own reward?

  • PAthena

    Dennis Prager seems to be ignorant about ethics and the history of ethics. He is ignorant of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Cynics, the Epicureans, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and more modern thinkers. He even contradicts himself, since he judges beliefs about God by ethical standards. Incidentally, one of the important religions is atheist – Buddhism.

    • 1Indioviejo1

      “Smart” people like you condemned Socrates 2,500 years ago because he recognized that he knew nothing. It just goes to show that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing for fools.

  • Paul Niland

    According to the author’s wikipedia page he is quoted as saying once “The absurd keeps you sane” and that just about sums things up for me… There is lots of perfect nonsense and presumption in this article. The central theme is that people who live without any god cannot have any morality or know the difference between right and wrong. Entirely incorrect.

    • AKEK

      Dennis explicitly said the exact opposite. He acknowledges that the non-religious can do what you and I might agree is “good.” What they lack is any grounding for their moral categories. So if the Nazis or pre-Christian Germanic tribes–two of his examples–put killing of the defenseless into the “good” category, who are we to say that this isn’t good. To borrow the popular and appropriate phrase, “Who made you God that you should decide what is right and wrong for the rest of the world?” Indeed. I know atheists are going to fight tooth and nail against this dilemma, but they have no objective basis for their dilemma. I admire Dawkins for at least being honest about it, but the fact that his sense of “goodness” matches yours is purely accidental. And as Dennis shows, that has proven to be a precarious foundation for morality historically. The bad examples set by Jews and Christians are bad because they too contradict the standard. But for atheists to say (as some other posters do) there is no standard and then wag their fingers at others for violating it is pretty hypocritical.

  • chance4321

    Can your god say why murder is wrong? Or are you going to just use a logical fallacy to explain it?

    • Texas Patriot

      C4231: “Can your god say why murder is wrong?”

      Murder is wrong because all human beings are created in the image of God. To kill another human being without adequate justification, i.e. the threat of immediate bodily harm or death, is to murder the image of God if not the actual presence of God within the human being.

      • chance4321

        1) You have to establish the unique presence of this particular deity within human beings that cannot be explained any other way or attributed to another deity like Brahma. Can you?

        2) You would also be required to show one specific biblical passage that
        explains it the way and how the passage cannot be interpreted any other
        way. Can you?

        3) Your apologetic argument works against itself as it would include children who turn into, or who can be born that way, sociopaths who murder. But considering the old testament narrative, your particular deity does come off as a child who displays sociopath-like behavior so maybe that is the true image of your particular deity.

        • gray_man

          Nonsense.

          • chance4321

            I am taken aback by your well articulated argument.

          • gray_man

            It is complete.

  • Sam West

    Read Ayn Rand. Altruism is one, just one possible, of the several moral codes. Rand’s ethics of rational egoism is a superior alternative to altruism and, certainly, is more consistent with the view of the Founding Fathers. Altruism, on the other hand, is fully consistent with Obamacare and any other “public interest” regulation. Freedom to ONE’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can only be supported by the ethics of rational egoism.

  • Dr. John M. Whitney

    I am and have always been an atheist. Why is it then that I have not ever committed a felony? Why do I donate money to social causes? Why do I volunteer countess hours with the PTO? Why do I open door for strangers and let them pass me? I do not need a book to tell me how to behave. I have an innate sense of what’s good. It’s probably a derived trait from natural selection – a survival tactic from the dawn of humans. Do you believe everything your bible tells you? No, you pick and choose. How do you do that? Because you have an innate sense of what’s good for you, for your family, and for the “village”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Paddon/100001252965548 Eric Paddon

      No sir, we do not “pick and choose” from the Bible, unless one is a theological liberal who wants to subordinate the word of God to the subjective inclination that the imperfect subjective mind is superior to the perfect will of God. The person who takes his faith seriously knows he must grapple with those parts of the Bible that are not as easy to live by as others and realize again his sinful impulse is restrained only by faith. You can get away with not committing a felony and and giving to causes but some would note that there is a distinct aura of pride in your boasting of your deeds, and the Bible also warns us about those who feel in their hearts a need to boast about their good deeds.

      • Dr. John M. Whitney

        The fact that your “we” above can refer to any large number of bible-based religious denominations makes your claims questionable, and more of a personal opinion. I can bring up a host of unsavory and, to me, immoral behaviors in your bible. Take Leviticus 20:13 NAB and Exodus 31:12-15 NLT as an examples. Grapple with that.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Paddon/100001252965548 Eric Paddon

          No sir, my claims are not questionable merely because there exists competing denominations with flawed interpretations of Scripture (which is my view of any “Christian” denomination that would question the tenets of “Mere Christianity” as C.S. Lewis described it, but that’s another story). After all, there are competing factions of atheists, who as Dennis points out, don’t agree with your premise that religion is not required to move concepts of good and evil beyond that of subjective opinion so by your own standards, your perspective as an atheist is therefore “questionable.”
          I’m not sure I get your characterization of “immoral”. The Exodus passage is God’s call to the Israelites he has just led out of captivity in Egypt to keep the Sabbath Holy and to honor it. Your obsession with the line of “put to death” ignores the contextual meaning of those who do not keep the Sabath in their hearts in keeping with the Covenant God has now established, will have their souls cut off from dead (this is a favorite trick of atheists who refuse to be serious Biblical scholars; their avoidance of broader contexual meaning). If the issue was as troubling as you make it out to be, we would have no Biblical scholars of note who long ago understood what the true meaning of this represents. As for the Leviticus passage, which is a Biblical injunction on homosexual behavior in the OT law, it again refers to how this is ultimately sin in the eyes of God, and that those who wish to challenge God’s law on this point are in the end guilty of the greater sin of arrogance in presuming themselves to be superior to God. And given St. Paul’s validation of this as a sin in the NT, I as a Christian can also reject the notion that the Biblical command against this kind of behavior is unique to the OT only.
          So these in the end are very weak objections, especially when the atheist still has to grapple with the fact that state-sponsored atheism has ultimately been responsible for more death and human misery than any other ideology alone in the annals of human history (as we saw with Communism in the 20th century and the earlier precedent of the Jacobin terror in France).

          • OrionJones

            Eric Padden: Your talk about finding the ‘contextual meaning’ of passages from your bible is just a smokescreen – all it amounts to is ‘picking and choosing’. Any immoral bits are interpreted (usually with a lot of convoluted sophistry) as having some other ‘contextual meaning’, so they can be conveniently ignored.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Paddon/100001252965548 Eric Paddon

            I’m afraid you’re missing the point of my remarks. First off, I’m not “disregarding” anything since I believe the scriptural passages cited do not show God as “immoral” so therefore I am rejecting the arbitrary subjective 21st century human premise of you and Dr. Whitney. I am rejecting *your* contextualization of the passages in which you want to arrive at an arbitrary conclusion of God as immoral to justify your atheist perspective for disregarding the Bible, and pointing out that the *proper* contexualization of the passage does not allow for your substitution of a flawed standard of 21st century secularism. God is pointing out in both how one can ultimately be condemned and be absent from God and thus facing eternal death through these acts of sin and that will remain true even in a society where there is no secular law punishment for violating the Sabbath or engaging in homosexual acts. You confuse the passage with a call for having secular laws on the books when that isn’t the case at all, it is the articulation of what *God’s* Law is, which for the believer is never immoral because we start from the premise of humility that the flawed mind of man pales before that of the Creator of the Universe.

          • OrionJones

            I’m not missing the point of your remarks. Anything you find immoral in your bible, you just re-interpret, with a lot of mental gymnastics, to make it moral. This could be done with any evil book – another good example is the Koran. I expect the same could be done with ‘Mein Kampf’. I’m sure you, too, wouldn’t think much of anyone who did that. In the same way, I’m always shocked when people do the same thing with your bible.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Paddon/100001252965548 Eric Paddon

            Nope, you are once again purposefully forcing *your* subjectivism on the text so it can suit your own personal agenda rooted in hatred of God and the idea of a God as superior to you (which ultimately represents the height of arrogance since I don’t believe you have the power to create the Universe or to forgive sins) rather than to let the text speak for itself as it was meant to both the people it was written for originally and to the generations later. You still incidentally haven’t explained what is “immoral” about the texts, other than the fact it is something that doesn’t suit your secularist agenda conceived by the minds of sinful and imperfect men who also have their aforementioned legacies of more death and human misery on their hands by pushing the absence of God (the Jacobins; Communism). I took the position there is nothing immoral about them in the context of my faith and is not, contrary to the Doctor’s intiial assertion an attempt to say, “Yes, God is immoral but I believe him.”

          • OrionJones

            You seem to be confused in what you think about me (and presumably other atheists). Firstly, I don’t hate your god, or any other gods, because that would be meaningless – they don’t exist. As for you thinking that I don’t like the idea of a god superior to me, that’s such a bizarre idea that it’s never even occurred to me – who on earth put that ridiculous notion in your head? Next, letting the text speak for itself is exactly what I’ve done. I don’t need the re-interpretations of generations of ‘sophisticated’ theologians, working over millennia, in an attempt to turn your bible into something palatable. As for where the immoral bits are in your bible, I’m quite sure that you do know where the are, if you’ve ever taken the trouble to read it from cover to cover (incidentally, have you? OT and NT?). The bible is littered with of some of the most terrible acts in all literature – rape, child abuse, slavery, murder, infanticide, genocide. If you don’t know where they are then just google something like ‘bible evil’. And finally, I’m not suggesting that your god is immoral, but you believe it nonetheless. I’m suggesting that parts of your bible are (extremely) immoral, but you’ve been duped into believing that it’s not.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Paddon/100001252965548 Eric Paddon

            You just spend two posts calling the passages immoral and then likening the Bible (people who are objective remember to capitalize it regardless of their beliefs, BTW) to Mein Kampf and then you decide to reverse course and say you’re not calling God immoral by your reasoning. Sorry, but that’s trying to have all sides of an argument.
            As for my saying you don’t like the idea of a God who is in order of the Universe and ultimately superior to you, that is merely taking your train of thought to the logical conclusion whereby you presume *your* subjective definition of “morality” as *you* decide it to be to be superior to that of the God of the Bible, and that is no different then the same kind of arrogance that manifested itself in those who preached the supremacy of the State. That is *your* inconvenient truth that you as an atheist must grapple with before you profess that an order without God is superior to one with God and you I note, refuse to deal with that.
            You have also I noticed changed the definition of immorality in the Bible from that of the actions of God, which was the subject we were discussing, to describing events committed by men (where does God rape someone? Where does God commit murder? Oh, you believe that if God judges someone to death, that’s “murder”? That’s not a sign of God’s immorality, that’s a sign of colossal human arrogance on your part to presume you have a greater conception of “morality” and “justice” than God). Here again, is the scattershot approach of the atheist which is to ignore the fact that his philosophy is directy responsible for more human misery than anything else the world has ever known and the perpetual silence on such events like the Jacobin Terror or the escapades of all atheist-based communist regimes is quite telling. Start addressing those, if you please.

          • OrionJones

            1) As I’m sure you’re quite aware, I have called it ‘your bible’ throughout, which is quite correct, apart from where I slipped up once and called it ‘the bible’ by mistake. OK, my error. 2) In a previous reply to me you claimed that John M. Whitney said you were saying “Yes, God is immoral but I believe him.”. Well that’s just a flat out untruth on your part. (He even said that ‘you have an innate sense of what’s good’). When I explained to you that I wasn’t suggesting that either by saying ‘I am not suggesting that your god is immoral, but you believe it nonetheless’ you twist that to say that I am now claiming that your god is not immoral. That’s just disingenuous, but quite typical of the tricks that some theists use when you debate them. 3) Nowhere have I claimed my ‘subjective definition of “morality” is superior to anyone elses’, so the rest of that bizarre argument of yours falls apart. 4) You then seem to be arguing that if someone rapes or murders under your god’s instructions, then somehow no immoral act has been committed. That’s just sick. I’ve read it several times, and it seems quite unambiguous. But please tell me that’s not what you meant. And you completely ignored the matter of genocide. These acts are in your bible, all commanded by your god – it’s not difficult to find them – google it. Prior to your last post I agreed with John M. Whitney that you had an innate sense of goodness, but now I’m seriously beginning to wonder. 5) You forgot to say whether you have actually read both the OT and NT from cover to cover. Maybe you could answer that first in your next post, so that you don’t forget again.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Paddon/100001252965548 Eric Paddon

            #1-I did not ignore genocide, because there is no genocide committed by God in the Bible. You are again injecting a false premise, which is your subjective judgment of God by your imperfect 21st century human mind to depict the event in something it is not. If this is to refer presumably to God rendering judgment of the nations who were out to destroy His chosen people, the Hebrews, with whom God established the Holy Covenant relationship, then what you are saying is that its terrible God did not break His Covenant with the Hebrews at that moment to put favor on those who followed pagan gods. That’s a very strange expectation to ask of God, and its one that i am quite comfortable in rejecting for the arrogant and context-free premise of modern man looking for an excuse to proclaim himself superior to God to justify unbelief in Him. Because yes, I have gone through the entire Bible in my lifetime and when I see something that troubles me, it’s only when I am troubled in how I have to be mindful in how I live my own life in accordance wiith God’s law and live up to HIs expectations and not presume arrogance that my basic belief in Christ as my Savior is something I can be complacent about.
            #2-The word “Bible” when referring to the particular book is always capitalized regardless of which possessive pronoun you place before it. If the descriptive term “your koran” were ever used, I think we’d see a lot of people scream about how insenstive that person is given the tone of today’s PC police.
            #3-John Whitney’s argument was to condemn God as immoral and to suggest that I as a believer was avoiding what he considered the reality of God’s immorality based on two cited passages that show nothing of the kind and when I pointed that out he then chose to suggest I was “picking and choosing” which was untrue. I was confronting the passages and pointing out how they do not validate his standard, but he chose to be dishonest (something atheists are often prone to be; the number of atheists who will still try to insist Jesus Christ never existed is astonishing) and characterizie it in the terms as I described it, that I avoid the ‘reality’ of God as immoral by being selective about Scripture which is the falsehood I rightly objected to. I stand by that characterization completely.
            #4-The atheist by his very intellectual premise assumes his mind is superior to that of the God of the Bible beacuse that is his justification for feeling he has no need to believe in Him. You have been, like Whitney asserting that there are passages that prove the supposed immorality of God’s behavior and thus, that is supposed to be our albatross as believers. I merely point out that this line of thinking requires an arrogant presumption on your part to judge God and render yourself superior to the judgment of God, and I have long come to view man as an imperfect being not worthy of that kind of treatment on my part.
            #5-You were asked to cite examples of God ordering rape or murder. You haven’t provided it. This is generic soundbite nonsense in which you get to avoide the inconvenient problem of context (which Whitney was guilty of on the two passages he cited) You have also I noticed been conveniently silent in answering the inconvenient truths of the long trail of state-sponsored atheism’s genocide from the French Revolution onward.

          • OrionJones

            1) Words can have more than one usage, and my usage of ‘bible’ is quite correct. ‘bible: a book considered authoritative in its field e.g. ‘the bible of French cooking’; ‘your bible is the Bible’; ‘her bible is the Koran’.

            2) Your last sentence in #1 attempts to explain what you do when something in your bible troubles you. You clearly found this very difficult, because the sentence is so tortuous and convoluted, that it it doesn’t actually make sense, grammatically or semantically.

            3) I’ve asked twice if you’ve read both the OT and NT from cover to cover. You eventually said ‘I have gone through the entire Bible in my lifetime’. Given your initial reluctance to answer the question, I find that sentence a bit equivocal. It’s not the kind of answer you usually get when you ask someone if they’ve read a book. So could you just state unequivocally and unambiguously whether you’ve read both the OT and NT from cover to cover?

            4) I’m not surprised you try to change the subject away from immoral acts in your bible, to what you perceive as immoral acts of atheism. I could just as easily ask about the Inquisition, Crusades, Wars of Religion, or why there’s proportionately more religious people in prison than there are religious people in the general population. So let’s avoid cheap diversionary tricks.

            5) You wanted citations of evil things your god does or commands. Try this link http://www.evilbible.com/ for example. Surely you could have found that for yourself? But I’m sure you’ll either argue again that when your god commands something, it can’t by definition be immoral, or you’ll come up with convoluted sophistry as to why they mean something else. As I’ve said before, this just amounts to picking and choosing.

            6) You *have* avoided the genocide of your bible. When your god orders genocide, you just redefine it as not being genocide. You argued the same before with rape and murder, performed under the instructions of your god. I gave you the opportunity to say that that’s not what you meant, and you didn’t take it – all you’ve done is add genocide to the list. So it seems clear that you really do believe that when people rape, murder and commit genocide under the orders of your god, that the acts are not immoral. Well, that sounds totally sick to me. But let’s make this really clear with a thought experiment. If your god ordered you to kill someone against their will, would you do it? And I’d really, really like an answer to that question, as I think it gets to the core of the immorality of your beliefs.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Paddon/100001252965548 Eric Paddon

            We will start with #4 in which you demonstrate the usual atheist tendendcy to avoid letting your views be subject to the same critical scrutiny you apply to others. The confirmed factual record of the destructiveness of atheism and its inevitable byproducts of the French Revolution Jacobin Terror and of the legacy of Communism in the 20th century (which in that century produced more death than all the “wars of religion” combined) is the spot that will not out for you and for which you must give a full accounting of in order to justify your assertions of the “immorality” of the Judeo-Christian belief system rooted in the view of the Bible as God’s law. That you keep avoiding this merely reveals how this strikes a raw nerve for you that compels you to keep avoiding it, and given your determination to avoid answering tough questions put to you in response, there is little point continuing this discussion. When specific verses were cited to claim the “immorality” of the Bible, I answered those charges and noted how they were not “immoral” except by the subjective standard of the arrogantly flawed human mind that looks for an excuse to avoid belief in God. You then bandy about terms like “rape”, “genocide” etc. with no reference to specifics which is another intellectually dishonest trick and were silent when specifics were asked for. What is your definition of “Genocide”? Unlike you, I’ve given you specifics of atheist genocide in action: The Jacboin Terror and all Communist holocausts and we can by extension include the Nazi Holocaust as Nazi philosophy is derived from Social Darwinism, the same philosophy embraced by so many atheist intellectuals. It amuses me how you keep trying to ignore this, but so long as you do, then there is little point wasting further discussion with someone too insecure in his own belief system to be able to answer challenging questions put to him by the other side.
            I also answered your question about my reading the Bible and you’re disappointed its not the one you were hoping for. I have also read the works of Eusebius, C.S. Lewis and other great authors who have commented on the Bible, as well as great Biblical commentators who unlike theKKK style bigots who put up a name like “Evil Bible” in front of their website are ones who can be taken seriously. Having dealt with shallow atheists who don’t even believe in the reality of the existence of Jesus Christ (showing their unfamiliarity with Josephus and Tacitus in the process), the mindset of a shallow atheist is quite easy for me to spot and I thank you for giving me another example of it.

    • Mo86

      The fact that atheists do this or that good thing is not the point.

      The point is that without a transcendent standard, there are no such categories as “good” or “evil” / “moral” or “immoral” at all!

      • Dr. John M. Whitney

        So what?

        • Mo86

          What do you mean, “So what?”

          That’s the entire point of the article, to show that on the worldview of atheism, there are no such categories even POSSIBLE.

          • Dr. John M. Whitney

            What matters is people treating each other with dignity and respect. It’s clear you (and others) are really bothered by the possibility that some absolute moral standard may not exist. What’s in it for you?

          • Mo86

            Do not deflect from the point.

            The point is that on the atheist view, with no ultimate standard aside from mere human opinions, moral categories such as “good” or “evil” cannot even exist.

            Your use of words like “dignity” or “respect” becomes utterly meaningless because those words have no objective meaning.

          • Dr. John M. Whitney

            Those words have great meaning to me. How do you reconcile that with the fact that I’m also an atheist? And I’m not deflecting anything, I’m very curious why it’s so imported for you personally that an absolut moral standard must exist. If it’s too personal, I’m ok if you don’t want to talk about it.

          • Mo86

            But that is the point. These words mean something to YOU. But with no ultimate standard to go by, they may mean nothing or perhaps the opposite to someone else. All moral categories become simply a matter of one person’s opinion over another’s.

            Why does this have to be personal at all? Why do you wish to make it personal? We are talking about moral categories here, and the basis for grounding morality. I really can’t improve on what Mr. Prager has said in the piece.

          • Dr. John M. Whitney

            “But with no ultimate standard to go by, they may mean nothing or perhaps the opposite to someone else.” that’s true only for the religious. Not the case for secular humanists like me.

          • Mo86

            Okay, now I know you must just be joking around. Looks like you missed the entire 20th century with its millions of dead bodies created by atheistic philosophies like communism and other “isms”, where they rejected ultimate standards and thought killing people by the MILLIONS through gassing, starvation, labor camps, etc., was morally acceptable.

            I’m sorry, I don’t have time for games. I wish I could discuss serious topics in a serious manner. But instead I get something like this.

  • emptorpreempted

    “Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses.”

    Prove it.

    “If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right”

    That’s ignorant. The extermination of the Jews by the Nazis was never supported by the mass of German people.

    “the history of slavery throughout the world was right;”

    Well, most Jews and Christians did not think it was wrong — until they did. It is an unquestionable fact of history that ideas about morality have evolved, even within any particular religious tradition. Don’t you see how this poses a problem for your argument? If morality is objective and decreed by God, isn’t it strange how it happens to coincide with *your current preferences*? That people throughout the ages have *all* gotten it wrong?

  • ReyR

    Religious morality is an imposed value system. Such value systems are imposed on cattle, who are unable to research facts and make conclusions. The sheeple need religion. In fact, when not told what to do, they feel confused.
    An intelligent human being protests imposed values and wants to discover a system on his own. He may or may not invent a deity, but even if he ends up religious, his approach to faith will be different from the institutionalized dogma. Hence heresy, btw.
    Most intelligent – and moral – persons I’ve met in my life were atheists.
    Most pious practicing believers (whatever the religion) I’ve met were scoundrels.

    • Consider

      Regarding cattle, it is interesting to note that elephant or buffalo herds, lion packs, gorilla communities etc (as we can watch on TV in programs about animals) all follow certain rules of behavior within the group that help them survive and all that without religion.

  • Phil

    I am an atheist. Unfortunately I have to agree with you. For many religious people, their own sense of morality is so weak, they lack the ability to make a moral decision without an external threat of eternal damnation to keep them in line.

    Thankfully, as an atheist, I am able to follow my own well developed, moral compass. I don’t steal or murder and I generally obey the road rules. I try to mow my lawn frequently so it doesn’t impact the value of my neighbor’s property.

    The great news is, society already has a moral compass in place – it’s called the criminal code. If you ever bother to read case law, you’ll find Judges all over the country making decisions based on “society’s moral code” rather than the bible.

    Well that’s enough for now – I didn’t even need to mention the moral sink occurring in Scandinavian countries with their IKEA furniture.

    • L

      Right. What do you think about the moral code in Islamic countries? In Nazi germany? In Maoist China? In Stalinist Russia? In North Kora? Was it great news for the people there?

    • defcon 4

      Gee, the “criminal code” in islamic states is just the same as it is in any Western democracy eh?

  • Phil

    “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything;…” Colossians 3:22

    Sounds like the Bible doesn’t mind a little slavery now and then.

    • Smoking Hamster

      Ephesians 6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

      Exodus 16
      16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.

      Slavery in both times was much more similar to modern contract labor than black slavery in the 19th century. That kind of slavery where people were kidnapped and sold was punishable by death in the Old Testament and condemned as a grievous sin, comparable with murder, in the New.

      • Consider

        Would you like quotes that prove exactly the oposite of what you are asserting?

        • OrionJones

          Yes, I’d like you to give some quotes from the bible where slavery is categorically and unambiguously condemned.

  • brutus

    JUDAISM AND THE TALMUD GIVE OTHER RELIGIONS A BAD NAME

    • defcon 4

      ONE SHOULD NOT EXHIBIT THEIR STUPIDITY PUBLICLY, BUT HIDE IT IN SHAME.

      • brutus

        go away..jewish fanatic

  • WW4

    Religion–and we can be picky and choosy and arbitrary, here, like Mr. Prager, and say the many Judeo-Christian strains of religion–is at the end of the day a metaphor. It is something we use to express the inexpressible.

    For me, it happens to be a metaphor that works.

    Others don’t want to be bothered with that dimension of it.

    Still others believe a snake literally told the first woman to eat a very special apple.

    As long as all these people follow the law, treat their neighbors with respect, and try to do more good than harm, I really don’t care what club they belong to.

  • AlexanderGofen

    Even in the scientific community of the former USSR, the militant atheism and vulgar materialism a la Dawkins was considered as stupidity, as a lack of philosophical civics. In “The Master and Margarita”, Bulgakov (impersonated by Woland) mocks a “knowledgeable interlocutor” whispering to him: “… And you perhaps are an atheist (God forbid) – but I will not tell anybody”… Dawkins (and the Western academic establishment) are merely moronic commissars at science acting on their own (rather than listening the commands).

    • Consider

      It would be interesting to know what kind of animal are the “philosophical civics”.
      BTW when a world outlook is promoted from thousands of churches, TV programs, publications, when symbols related to that outlook perk from every building, hill and mountain, this is not considered ‘militant’.
      A few books and TV shows oposed to that outlook, in contrast, are extremly irritating and, hm, militant.

      • AlexanderGofen

        In “philosophical civics” students learn things about existence of physical (the matter) and non-physical (non-matter) worlds, free will; approaches to the issue of what is primary (if anything): the matter, or the ideas (non-matter). They learn that LOGICALLY both atheistic and religious views are equally acceptable, just like Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries. There is no point for sabre rattling against religious views as though something utmost ignorant. There existed greatest scientists who where religious, and who were not.

        However in terms of NATURAL sciences, the modern day Physics came to a few conclusions supporting some of the religious tenets: The creation of the Universe in the Big Bang, its particular fine tuning, and especially inevitability of an intelligent designer in creation of life (the main discovery of the Micro-Biology).

        As to the militancy, what is really militant is the total suppression of the religious views in all Western universities and academia (See “Expelled”), paralleled only by that in Stalin times in the USSR. (In the post-Stalin times some freedom of thought partially emerged).

        • Consider

          What a pap!

  • Andreas Müller

    The secular philosophy of objectivism by Ayn Rand clearly states and explains why ethics is not subjective without god but objective. Life is the standard of ethics. Only living entities can have values. Only humans who have free will need a code of ethics because they have to make a conscious decision to survive.

    Religious ethics is based on the arbitrary statement that a supernatural entity for which no evidence is provided does not only exist but also has a specific way of life in mind for all of us. Whatever can be stated without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    • Mo86

      There’s plenty of evidence for the biblical God. Atheists just refuse to examine it.

      The rest of Mr. Prager’s argument stands. If there’s no transcendent standard for right and wrong, everything is simply one person’s opinion over another’s.

      • kanehau

        Burnt toast doesn’t count

        • Mo86

          Where’s anyone talking about toast?

          Now, which of Mr. Prager’s arguments did you disagree with, and why?

          • kanehau

            According to the bible, god and jesus were always popping off major miracles – parting seas, leveling cities, raising the dead, the list goes on and on…

            These days it seems the most they can muster is an occasional appearance on burnt toast.

            So I was responding to your argument that there is “plenty of evidence for the biblical god”

          • Mo86

            Well, no one who seriously holds to the biblical worldview makes their arguments based on burnt toast. The fact that you’d say something so frivolous shows me you have little interest in a serious discussion about a serious topic.

            The fact that you won’t answer my question demonstrates it too.

          • kanehau

            “Serious discussion about a serious topic”… that a mythical sky fairy created the universe?

            Sorry. I used to be a christian but then reality took hold.

            As a scientist (computer science, astronomy, cosmology) I can assure you that nothing we have seen in the universe around us requires a deity. This includes our current hypothesis for what creates universes (of which experiments are underway that should have that answer in about 5 to 10 years).

            When you can provide empirical evidence (that means evidence that can be reproduced by others and is based on observations) for a so-called ‘god’, I’ll be more than happy to listen.

          • Mo86

            “Sorry. I used to be a christian but then reality took hold.”

            There is no such thing as “used to be a Christian”. Being a Christian according to the Bible’s definition means you are born again – something that God does. (See John 3.) The same way you cannot be unborn physically, you cannot be unborn spiritually.

            “When you can provide empirical evidence (that means evidence that can be reproduced by others and is based on observations) for a so-called ‘god’, I’ll be more than happy to listen.”

            There are plenty of evidences for God’s existence. The problem is that you have zero interest in listening to any evidence that I or anyone else may provide.

          • kanehau

            I don’t think you understand the meaning of the term “empirical evidence”.

            Seeing that christianity was rather late on the scene, gods wise… I mean, there are over 10,000 documented gods and goddesses, the majority of which were pre-christian era.

            So many gods… you would have thought the ‘first god’ would have made sure the rest didn’t come about.

            And yes, I’m no longer christian – regardless of what YOU think. I’m atheist. I renounce christianity. I renounce ALL gods, period. No heavens… no hells… no gods… period.

            No santa claus either… sorry.

          • Mo86

            There’s evidence from history, archaeology, fulfilled prophecy, the observation of the created world – on and on I could go.

            You have zero interest in ANY of it.

          • kanehau

            I love the way you profess to know what I have interest in and what I have not. You have no idea what type of biblical study I have behind me… or the fact that my parents were missionaries and my dad, later, a preacher (though he was open minded enough to not fall for some of the things you are falling for).

            Again, you miss the point of the word “empirical” – you really should look it up. “empirical” means it requires proof that can be confirmed by ANY independent party.

            All you offer are words… I see no ‘proof’ of ‘observation of the created world’… I can just see Ken Hamm waiting in the wings… bet we’re in for a 6000 year old earth.

            As someone that works with world class observatories – every time we look at a star we are seeing it in the past.

            The light, for example, from our sun take 8 minutes and 16 seconds (on average, as our orbit is elliptical) to reach your eyes. If the sun ‘blinked out’ this instant, we wouldn’t know it for 8 minutes and 16 seconds.

            Likewise, if I look at a very very distant star – say, 13.5 billion light years away, I am seeing that star as it looked 13.5 billion years ago. That star may very well not even exist today, or be in a totally different place – but the vast distances between us and that star mean we are seeing the light as it was emitted so very long ago.

            The OLDEST light in the universe is from 370,000 years after the big bang, and is called the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background). Prior to that photons could not persist and the universe was dark (this was due to pressure and temperature of the early primordial universe).

            We see, and study that light today – it is 13.7 billion years old.

            In fact, the first stars did not appear until roughly 700 million years after the Big Bang.

            That is one heck of a timeline we can study. The only part we are missing from 13.75 billion years is the earliest 370,000 years. And that we can extrapolate backwards since we have such a huge rich history of data.

            Now… the above is science. I can show you the stars, the various means we can measure distance, how red shift works, how dark energy is causing accelerated expansion of the universe – which we can measure.

            I can take you to many independent places that use different types of equipment and arrive at the same conclusions.

            I can show you MANY technologies that would not work at all if our understanding is wrong – such as the computer you are using right now.

            That is science… and that says the earth is not young… the universe is not young… it tells us the history of the Big Bang from 13.75 billion years (now) all the way to 370,000 years after the BB – a visual record.

            But, as you say… “You have zero interest in ANY of it”

    • imafundie

      EVERYONE knows God exists; it’s programmed into them from birth and reinforced by creation. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:19-20)

      • kanehau

        Which god? It must be Odin because he promised to get rid of all Ice Monsters… And we don’t see Ice Monsters today… so Odin MUST be real… Right?

  • Jillian Becker
  • JoeFreedom

    Blah blah blah, Prager. I used to have real respect for you. No longer. NO RESPECT! Since you made it plain that you fully supported that Orwellian nightmare in Utah, that NSA facility that WILL track YOUR email. Legislation is NOT going to fix the problem!
    You need to reregister as politically certified FOOL!

  • c o

    IF ONLY WE COULD STILL SLAUGHTER ATHEIST HEATHENS LIKE WE DID IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS

    GOD BLESS

    • Hass

      WTF? You want to slaughter Atheists with Gods blessing?

      That’s what Muslimes are doing and you’re no better.

      I think it’s better that you just STFU. Idiot!

      • c o

        “Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.” Deuteronomy 17:5

        GOD BLESS

    • defcon 4

      LIKE THE MUSLIMES IN BANGLADESH WANT TO DO TO ATHEISTS RIGHT NOW. MAYBE YOU SHOULD MOVE BACK TO BANGLADESH OR PAKISTAIN.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    Prager seems not to have read Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. They all believed that an absolute objective morality was possible by examination of man’s nature and the needs to live on earth. Of course he hasn’t debated any philosopher that wasn’t a relativist … they’re all dead. He has debated the pathetic remains of a once great tradition. However, all the great theologians have acknowledge the contributions of the great philosophers. Augustine relied on Plato and Cicero. Aquinas drew heavily on Aristotle and to some extent on Cicero.

    Locke drew on Cicero. The founding fathers formed their basis of a just society from Locke, Cicero, and Aristotle. Of course, in their private life they accepted that faith in Jesus leads to salvation but His kingdom is not of this earth. For secular matters they relied on secular philosophers. Prager ignores the great philosophers and deals with the pigmies. We’ll never discover what drove our founding fathers when Prager gives us this drivel.

  • Pedric

    Dennis Prager: “If there is no God, the labels “good” and “evil” are merely opinions.

    Figure it out, Dennis: ‘Claiming there *is* a God is an opinion. Your opinion. There’s zero evidence for God. It’s all just hand-waving arguments and just-so stories.You can’t escape it. Religion is entirely subjective.

    Further, your God gives commandments to be followed under threat of extreme punishment. Coercion cannot be a source of morals. Following orders out of mortal fear is not moral behavior. Your religion is not a source of morals. Neither are Islam or Judaism. Or any religion that imposes an absolute and mortally coercive rule giver.

  • 11bravo

    ” If there is no God, the labels “good” and “evil” are merely opinions. They are substitutes for “I like it” and “I don’t like it.” They are not objective realities.”
    Your first example was horrible. Did not man continue to develop mentally and emotionally before religion was even around?
    We were all more barbaric and simple 5-10,000 years ago – but we must of had morals to survive.
    The moral lessons taught in all religions except Islam are good, but in no way exclusive to Religion.

  • Consider

    That’s how they instruct you in Sunday school to get around this passage? Sorry, it doesn’t work. The passage means exactly what is written.
    There is more of this (Jesus promoting hate and violence) in the NT, but I am not in the mood of enlightening the ignorants.

    • gray_man

      B.S. Because you are an incompetent and can’t understand simple scripture, doesn’t mean you get to change the meaning.
      Go wallow in your ignorance.
      You can’t “enlighten” me because your full of S**T.

      • Consider

        …there is a verse at the end of the parable of the pounds which is generally omitted when the story is read. In Luke 19:27 appear the words: “But as for those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here, and slay them before me.” why do we omit it? Because it does not sound like Jesus…etc, etc.”

        (Georgia Harkness, Christian ethics, 1957).

        Leaving at rest at this moment the question of ‘sounding like Jesus’, obviously, trained theologians have a problem with this passage. Their solution is simple. They omit it. They do not pretend that it means something other than that what is written.

        This is how they try to make Christianity and its “objective morality” digestible to the modern man.

        • gray_man

          Nonsense. The ten commandments, the two greatest commandments, the sermon on the mount, the life of Christ, the mission of Christ, the acceptance of the sins of all mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, the dying on the cross for all mankind, the entire plan of salvation, prove your argument as false.

          • Consider

            The fall of man from monkeylike creature to rational and productive being (I exclude you).
            The ten comandments that were not decreed by him, (I like that one that proclaims Sabath as the day of rest, and by process of contextualisation, interpretation, mistraslation, transubstatiation, etc. Saturday becomes Sunday).
            The sermon of the mount where cretinism is glorified, and other advice is unacceptable to anyone with a shred of dignity. Dying on the cross for all mankind , under what agreement, with whom, he sacrifices himself to himself (he is 1/3 god, beside the Father and the Holy Ghost, the fucker of virgins).
            And he resurects after three days, which means that it is not a scrifice after all.
            So how shall we recognize gibberish and mistranslation in the ‘objective morality’ world of Dennis Prager and yours.
            I would not like to be in theologian’s shoes.

          • gray_man

            ROTFLMAO yeah OK.

          • gray_man

            Yawn … ZZZ

          • Consider

            Had you yawned and ZZZed at the very beggining the world would be a better place.

          • gray_man

            Gosh, you got me there. You are so witty. Are you a trained comedian, or just naturally a clown?

  • Gamal

    I know an atheist who says that morality is objective and real. We may have subjective opinions about it for example a jihadist who believes in Allah may believe it is moral to murder infidels, but that Jihadist is wrong. The argument that there is no objective morality if one doesn’t believe in God is nonsense. The argument that that believing in God creates objective morality is also ridiculous since there are many religions with Gods who believe that it is moral to do the most immoral things.

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.hudson.503 Linda Hudson

    nothing comes from nothing, is so unbelievable, and impossible, and to have what we have is so unbelievable, but true!

  • stone7

    “They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.”

    Does Mr. Prager really think this is a reasoned statement? This is a big whopper contradictory statement. Mr. Prager thinks reason is or should be automatic, just like his religion. For him logic doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t need to be applied with mental effort.

    Reason is not a magic cloud dispensing free knowledge. Reason is a logical process that requires standards and resolving of contradictions. It’s a way of thinking. It’s how you drive your car or fly your aircraft.

    You wouldn’t make it very far if you jumped into your car, threw up your hands and declared it’s god’s will, and jammed on the accelerator. You wouldn’t have even had the engine running because you hadn’t turned the key. That key is logic and reason.

    And religion is very much against this. What about the religions that tell you that it’s good to murder? Gee, can you think of a good example here?

  • Consider

    Rereading the article I found that somehow I overlooked the following:
    “The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church’s teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.”
    The Germanic tribes of Europe were champions of rationalism (and supposedly, atheism) according Prager.
    They had no ‘objective morality’ of their own !?
    This Prager guy is a total idiot.

  • OrionJones

    That’s the sort of reply that I was expecting: continuing to try and change the subject from your bible and it’s immorality. I’m not surprised you want to end the discussion, and completely ignored the thought experiment: ‘If your god ordered you to kill someone against their will, would you do it?’. If you answer ‘no’, then it shows that you think you are more moral than your god, which is inconsistent with what you were arguing earlier. If you answer ‘yes’, which based on your previous arguments wouldn’t be immoral, because your god sanctioned it, then you are admitting that you would murder someone. I think the fundamental problem you have is that thought experiments require thinking for yourself, something which lots of theists have little experience of in matters of morality. Really, it’s the sort of thing you should have been doing all your life, to check that your moral beliefs are reasonable, and consistent. My view on this is that your answer really would be ‘no’ if you would just admit it to yourself, just like any other sane person. So I believe that you really are a moral person, and more moral than your god, even though you try to deny this.

    PS I still think should actually read the whole of your bible (OT and NT), from cover to cover, something that you have refused to unequivocally and unambiguously state that you have done. It looks like you have looked at the website I gave you, detailing immoral acts in your bible – yes, there’s a lot of them isn’t there! I’m not surprised you haven’t attempted to explain all those away.