Atheism and Pedophilia Part II: The Incoherent Moral Philosophy of Michael Ruse

January 3, 2012 5:11 pm 318 comments

Dr. Michael Ruse, Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He has a winning smile, but an incoherent moral philosophy.

On 8/29/11, I posted a column on Algemeiner.com entitled, A Plea to Atheists: Pedophilia is Next on the Slippery Slope; Let Us Turn Back Before It’s Too Late.

Many of the hundreds of comments posted were thoughtful and insightful, but most were angry and indignant push backs from non-believers who felt I was accusing them of child-molestation. Many also charged that it was unfair and misleading of me to cite statements from atheistic philosophers of “ethics” that seemed to indicate that there was nothing inherently immoral about pedophilia. The most common complaints were (a) that I falsely implied that these philosophers approved of pedophilia and (b) I was guilty of presenting a sweeping generalization that atheists have no moral values.

Based on the above, it is clear to me that a good number of those who posted comments did not read the article carefully. In an attempt to eliminate further confusion, let me clarify my position on these matters. Please read the following points carefully before commenting.

  • Atheists certainly have values and principles that guide their lives and decisions. The word(s) that one chooses to describe or conceptualize these values – morality, ethics, utilitarianism, humanism, etc. – is beside the point; the values are whatever they are, no matter what one calls them.
  • I have never called into question the existence of atheistic values; it is the significance of atheistic values that is the crucial issue under discussion. In other words, it is an attack, if you will, on the concept of atheistic ethics and morality, not an attack on atheists themselves.
  • I have never accused any of the so-called atheistic philosophers of “ethics” – be it Peter Singer, Joel Marks, Michael Ruse, Michael Tooley, (Sam Harris?) et al – of approving of pedophilia. I accused them of laying the philosophical groundwork that could pave the way for the acceptance and approval of pedophilia.
  • My assumption was and is that the overwhelming majority of atheists who live in the United States of America and Canada strongly oppose the acceptance of pedophilia.
  • The central point of my presentation was that an honest, consistent, and candid articulation of an atheistic worldview must admit that “ethical” values (including those on pedophilia), have no significance at all outside of the heads of those who espouse them. They have no objective reality and any actual significance ascribed to these values is rooted squarely in the human imagination. They are desperate attempts to create the illusion that human actions and decisions have real purpose and meaning. In other words, they are as foolish and illusory as (what the atheist would consider to be) my imaginary notion that God spoke to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai.
  • Human beings have an innate sense of compassion, empathy and the ability to love. Human beings also have an innate sense of selfishness, the ability to hate, dominate, and the desire to act with brutality and cruelty. From the viewpoint of the intellectually honest atheist, none of these – in objective reality – are “better” or “worse” than the others. How an individual views these different emotions and drives and chooses to prioritize them are matters of personal preference. If one so desires, he can label these personal preferences with the words moral or immoral; the word that one chooses does not change the fact that they are nothing more than personal preference or perhaps societal conditioning.
  • To put it a different way; in an atheistic world, the terms morality and personal preference are identical and interchangeable. Examples: (1) I believe it is immoral to put Down-syndrome babies to death so as not to waste medical resources that could be used more efficiently = My personal preference is that Down-syndrome babies not be put to death…etc (2) I believe it is immoral to sodomize young boys in a shower room = My personal preference is that young boys not be sodomized in a shower room. In many cases the term societal conditioning could also be substituted: I have been conditioned by my society to believe that young boys should not be sodomized in a shower room.

The moral philosophy of Michael Ruse

Michael Ruse is a Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. Some of his recent posts on the Brainstorm section of The Chronicle of Higher Education site, on the subject of morality, have been the focal points of a disagreement/discussion between Dr. Ruse and Dr’s Jerry Coyne and Jason Rosenhouse (all three are non-believers). Those who are interested in “the full monty,” that is to say a comprehensive understanding of the disagreement should read the different posts in their entirety. My interests are only the parts that illustrate the atheistic concept of morality.

In a Brainstorm article entitled “Scientism Continued,” Ruse makes the astounding claim that not only is pedophilia immoral, but that this moral principle is an objective truth!

“I want to say that what Jerry Sandusky was reportedly doing to kids in the showers was morally wrong, and that this was not just an opinion or something based on subjective value judgments. The truth of its wrongness is as well taken as the truth of the heliocentric solar system.”

Where is this source of objective moral truth that Ruse seems to have discovered or what is the identity of this absolute moral authority with whom Ruse has been consulting? In an earlier article that appeared in The Guardian in March, 2010, Ruse appears to contradict what he wrote above:

“Morality then is not something handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is something forged in the struggle for existence and reproduction, something fashioned by natural selection…Morality is just a matter of emotions, like liking ice cream and sex and hating toothaches and marking student papers…now that you know morality is an illusion put in place by your genes to make you a social cooperator, what’s to stop you from behaving like an ancient Roman? Well, nothing in an objective sense.”

Here, Ruse is clearly stating that morality is purely subjective. It’s not like he is the first thinker to come to this conclusion. To most believers it’s rather obvious. Bertrand Russell said the same thing: “I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of ethical values, but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty is that I don’t like it.” In Russell’s atheistic world all values are subjective and the only thing that could possibly be wrong with wanton cruelty (or pedophilia, for that matter) is that he doesn’t like it. Ruse understands the dilemma quite well. A subjective system of morality is nothing more than a rickety shack with no foundation; it will collapse in the first good wind:

“But it [morality] is, and has to be, a funny kind of emotion. It has to pretend that it is not that at all! If we thought that morality was no more than liking or not liking spinach, then pretty quickly it would break down…very quickly there would be no morality and society would collapse and each and every one of us would suffer.

How then do we escape this seemingly intractable problem? Ruse offers us his solution:

So morality has to come across as something that is more than emotion. It has to appear to be objective, even though really it is subjectiveBecause that is what morality demands of us. It is bigger than the both of us. It is laid upon us and we must accept it, just like we must accept that 2+2=4.

In another Brainstorm article entitled, “The Nature of Morality: Replies to Critics,” Ruse “clarifies” [?!] the issue further:

“If you place “subjective” in opposition to “objective” and mean by the latter something external, then clearly the kind of ethics I propose is subjective…but it is not subjective whether you think sodomizing little boys is right or wrong…My position is that evolutionary biology lays on us certain absolutes. These are adaptations brought on by natural selection. It is in this sense I claim that morality is not subjective.

And back to the original article “Scientism Continued:”

“So how do you justify moral claims? Some philosophers and theologians think you can do it by reference to so-called non-natural properties or perhaps the will of God. Others, and this includes me, think that perhaps morality has no objective justification in this sense…So what does this make of morality… As evolved human beings, the rules of morality are as binding on us as if we were the children of God and He had made up the rules.”

If all of this sounds incoherent it is because it is incoherent. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Some prominent atheist thinkers agree.

The moral philosophy of Jerry Coyne and Jason Rosenhouse

On 12/20/11 Dr. Coyne offered us a post on his WhyEvolutionIsTrue blog entitled, “Ruse goes after scientism again, but screws up on morality.” Need I say more?

We don’t even need to cite anything from the article. Ruse himself had written, “My most doughty critic, Jerry Coyne, says: “While science can inform moral judgments, in the end statements about right or wrong are opinions, based on subjective value judgments.” Much to my chagrin, I actually find myself enthusiastically agreeing with Jerry Coyne!

For once, I actually agree with Dr. Jerry Coyne!

Coyne also tells us that Dr. Jason Rosenhouse on Evolution Blog had already pointed out the glaring flaws in Ruse’s approach very effectively. Rosenhouse echoes my own observations regarding the incoherence of Ruse’s position:

“I can’t follow this at all…He seems to be saying that Sandusky’s actions are really and truly wrong because natural selection has programmed us to believe they are wrong. Can someone explain what I am missing? It sure looks like Ruse has contradicted himself here…Concepts of right and wrong differ among contemporary cultures. They also evolve over time. Can Ruse help us make sense of this? Can Ruse apply his methods to resolve any current area of moral controversy? Do appeals to psychology and natural selection help us resolve questions about abortion or homosexuality?…Ruse’s essay was meant to establish that there are moral facts that we come to know by non-empirical means…To the extent that I understand what he is saying…he has established neither that there are moral facts nor that he has some reliable, non-scientific means of determining what they are.

To which I can only add, Amen. Let us sum up. Michael Ruse’s proclamation that child-molestation is objectively immoral is based on an incoherent and self-contradictory, atheistic moral philosophy. However, I do understand what is creating the cognitive dissonance in Professor Ruse and frankly, I feel for him. It is the same terrible frustration expressed by Bertrand Russell about wanton cruelty. Ruse is psychologically unable to accept that the only thing wrong with child-molestation is that he doesn’t like it; or perhaps even more terrifying, that his abhorrence of Jerry Sandusky’s behavior is nothing more than the results of his societal conditioning. He therefore has no choice but to take a leap of faith and declare his moral principles to be true with mathematical certainty and to be binding as if they were proclaimed by God himself. To their credit, Dr’s Coyne and Rosenhouse were not fooled by this gibberish.

We are back where we started from

We are, of course, right back where we started from. In an atheistic world there is nothing inherently wrong with pedophilia or anything else for that matter. No one has stated it more clearly than Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of New Haven, Dr. Joel Marks:

“The long and the short of it is that I became convinced that atheism implies amorality; and since I am an atheist, I must therefore embrace amorality. I call the premise of this argument ‘hard atheism’…a ‘soft atheist’ would hold that one could be an atheist and still believe in morality. And indeed, the whole crop of ‘New Atheists’ are softies of this kind. So was I, until I experienced my shocking epiphany that the religious fundamentalists are correct: without God, there is no morality. But they are incorrect, I still believe, about there being a God. Hence, I believe, there is no morality.

Dr. Joel Marks, as an atheist he "embraces" amorality

Dr. Marks specifically addresses the atheistic attitude towards child-molestation:

Even though words like ‘sinful’ and ‘evil’ come naturally to the tongue as a description of, say, child-molesting, they do not describe any actual properties of anything. There are no literal sins in the world because there is no literal God…just so, I now maintain, nothing is literally right or wrong because there is no Morality.”

Dr. Marks goes on to confirm what Coyne, Rosenhouse and Russel have already said about atheistic morality. It is nothing more than personal preferences and societal conditioning:

“Yet, as with the non-existence of God, we human beings can still discover plenty of completely-naturally-explainable internal resources for motivating certain preferences. Thus, enough of us are sufficiently averse to the molesting of children, and would likely continue to be so if fully informed, to put it on the books as prohibited and punishable by our society.”

We all know of course that human preferences are notoriously fickle. What is the deadly, logical outcome of Dr. Marks’ atheistic moral philosophy?

“I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime…if a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? (Jeffery Dahmer)

What is the point, indeed? If we are not accountable to a higher power for our actions, it only becomes a question of “am I psychologically able to jettison the societal conditioning to which I have been subjected?”  Please ask yourselves the following question: If I had the sexual desires of a pedophile, how  would I view the actions of Jerry Sandusky? If there is one thing we have learned from the horribly bloody history of the 20th century, it is that there is nothing that human beings are not capable of doing.

I reiterate my “plea” to atheists

Michael Ruse and I do agree on one thing. Once the atheist realizes that all of his noble moral principles are nothing more than subjective feelings – “no more than liking or not liking spinach” – then “pretty quickly it would break down…very quickly there would be no morality.” Actually, it’s not that there would be “no” morality. It’s just that the moral values would change according to societal whim.

I repeat my original plea to atheists:

“The choices before us are clear: we will either seek a transcendent moral law to which we will all submit, or we will seek our own personal and societal indulgence. If we turn to God in our quest to create a moral and just world, we have a fighting chance; if not, we are doomed to spiral into the man-made hell of the human jungle.”

Atheism stands for nothing, signifies nothing, and affirms nothing except for one thing: All the moral aspirations of the advanced primate we call a human being are nothing more than a cosmic joke….and not a very funny one at that.

If you wish to be notified when Rabbi Averick’s new columns appear, send an email to moe.david@hotmail.com and simply write the word Subscribe in the subject bar.  Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. .


318 Comments

  • The statement that atheistic moral values are simply personal preferences is true but at least an atheist will base, to the best of his abilities, his moral values upon something real such as natural selection.
    What I see primarily in this discussion is members of various organized religions, cults, sects or what have you being defensive about what they hold as moral values because they are based upon whatever dogma they have been indoctrinated into, never mind that whatever that may be cannot hold up to scrutiny as anything but mythology. I can guarantee that in whatever church, synagogue or mosque they inhabit there will be a wide variety in the life practices of their members, because they too will apply what they wish to apply as life rules based upon their own personal preferences. the difference is that they are rationalizing their behavior based upon delusion and mythology as opposed to their best attempt to see a logical, natural approach to a socially responsible way of living.

  • More statistics & studies:

    per The Kripke Center (Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke): “Christians are over-represented in jails and prisons compared to atheists and the evidence shows that the most religious regions of the US have the highest rates of societal dysfunction, including markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, and marital and related problems than the more secular regions”.

    93% of pedophiles are religious:
    childmolestationprevention org/pages/tell_others_the_facts html

    Per research of Denise Golumbaski, Research Analyst for the Federal Bureau of Prisons 1977:
    Adherents to various faiths were 9x more likely to be convicted & in jail than atheists;
    Jews were slightly less felonious than other religions.

    • The reason for the 93% amount is that a bit less than this amount accounts for the makeup of mankind being religious (according to many atheists). If Atheists represent 10-15% of the population leaving only 85-90% of people being religious, your statistic indicates that they are 30-300% more inclined to be convicted pedophiles as a subgroup of the whole.

  • Since “God” is a fictional character, the “image of God” is a literary device. (Actually, several of them, since there are different versions of “God,” like there are different versions of “Batman.”)

  • Rabbi Averick: “A. All human beings are created in the image of God.”

    The image of God as a slave, or the image of God as a master?

    Or:

    The image of God as a productive business executive, or the image of God as a mooching “occupier”?

    Or:

    The image of God as an Obama/Ayers/Wright/Holder type, or the image of God as a Washington/Adams/Jefferson/Madison type?

    How is anyone supposed to make any sense out of the notion of “the image of God”?

    • Mr. Stoddard,

      Initially, I arrived at this website in order to complete an assignment for my introductory college philosophy course. Unfortunately, I am already off track. After reading Moshe Averick’s article, I noticed your commitment to the comments section, and while I have not had the time to look through the extensive spread of previous conversations and arguments, to the best of my ability, I would like to provide an answer to your question on the “image of God.” I apologize if my response was addressed or discussed earlier.

      As I am sure you already understand, the phrase “image of God” is directly taken from Genesis 1 (and it is then utilized in subsequent Scriptures). Since we are logically approaching this concept of “image of God” with respect for its’ intrinsic context, in order to discover its’ meaning, we are compelled to check the immediate, surrounding text.

      Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
      So God created man in his own image,
      in the image of God he created him;
      male and female he created them.
      God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

      In a more complete study, I would include Genesis 2, which is a specialized case study of humanity within the larger overview of creation (Gen. 1), but I’ll leave that to the people who get paid for writing books. And one more note on Genesis 2, all the particulars that are found within the above set of verses are simply expanded and elaborated in the second chapter of Genesis.

      Now in the text, the closest information to the “image of God” refers to specific qualities. God’s image and likeness is revealed as “male and female” (diversity as well as unity, relationships, community). These items are distinct to humanity – distinguishing us and conveying our identity. God’s image and likeness is also described in the commandment: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over…” (dominion, authority, leadership, stewardship, rulers as Godly representatives – we reflect God in some way, hence, the word choice of “image” and “likeness”). Many times it is explained as a top to bottom chart: God’s relationship with humanity and then humanity’s relationship with creation. Christians are often instructed in the “image of God” as it relates to stewardship of God’s earth and its’ finite resources along with the “image of God” as it applies to community among God’s people and those loving relationships. There is also significant New Testament Scriptures on the image of God, the way in which Christ stands as God’s perfect image, and the way in which the image of God reveals the moral potential we have to reflect His character (2 Cor. 4:3-9; Col. 1:15-23; Rom. 8:11-25; Rom. 5:17-19; James 3:9; Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 3:18; Matt. 12:12 and OT Scriptures: Psalm 8:3-6).

      For much of my understanding, my notes, and the Biblical references, which I only just gained last semester, I am indebted to my college and its’ professors. I personally believe that without the Bible as our point of reference, we cannot coherently define or describe “image of God.” When talking about the meaning of a concept, one must be rooted in the context of that concept – it is a basic strategy for good readers who ultimately become: good learners.

      Thanks for the challenging question, Mr. Stoddard. I probably don’t need to say it, but please feel free to express your thoughts. Now, my only regret is that I cannot use this response as a substitute for my actual philosophy assignment.
      Ok, perhaps a few quotes for good measure: “For the glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God” (Irenaeus). “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). “…the whole is of God, and in God, and to God” (Jonathan Edwards). Mr. Stoddard, my prayer for you is that you may forever behold God’s beauty. Blessings!

      • ‘… without the Bible as our point of reference, we cannot coherently define or describe “image of God.”’

        Even with the Bible, you cannot do it.

        Notice, for instance, the lack of coherence in this part of your post: ‘God’s image and likeness is revealed as “male and female” (diversity as well as unity, relationships, community).’

        Even is that is not deliberately (i.e., religiously — humbly submissive to blind faith) incoherent, it is nevertheless a tall order of nonsense.

        In any case, the Bible is fiction, not factual reporting.

        • Mr. Stoddard,
          I apologize that in my attempts at brevity, I left you with a sense of incoherence. Particularly in regard to the section that has the most contextual significance when describing the Biblical concept of the “image of God.” Like I stated in my previous post, the connotations of “male and female” are expanded and explored in Genesis 2 – please feel free to read the continual confirmation of these concepts (diversity as well as unity, relationships, community) there as well. “Male and female He created them” – adam and eve are made with distinct genders, roles, and features as outlined in Genesis 1-3 (diversity), but are similarly connected to each other in their humanity/species (unity), furthermore, adam and eve are brought together in the very first blueprint for marital union (see Genesis 2:20-25). This relationship is distinctly given to humanity, and Genesis 2-3 elaborates on the relationship between God, the man, and the woman. “Be fruitful and increase in number…” – adam and eve are commanded to become committed to the expansion of this community.

          This step-by-step reading could be similarly applied to the dominion/stewardship half, which I described in my last post, but for lack of time, I will leave my above reading analysis (of how I arrived at the descriptive terms for “image of God” – diversity, unity, relationships, community) as an example of the text’s progression. Thus, the “image or likeness of God” could be drastically simplified (since my time is limited) to how humans differ from all other life in their relational, community-focus as well as their dominion over and stewardship of the earth. Humanity looks very much like God when they humbly serve others as loving leaders. And notice, how beautifully those two concepts intertwine. You cannot have authority or any type of leadership position without relationally interacting with other people, and also, so as to not overlook the nuance of this: how you lovingly serve those people is what truly identifies you as a leader.

          Biblical Christianity is about being aware of the details without neglecting the overall picture. It is about being a good quality reader of the Biblical text – using the basic reading strategies we were taught in grade school, but on a more complex level. Fortunately, when you asked the original question: what exactly does the “image of God” look like? It was an inquiry directly pertaining to Scripture! After all, if anyone asks a question about a Christian concept – I don’t have to pull an answer out of thin air – the answer will always be found in the Scriptural texts where the concept is foundationally located.

          Now, I will briefly, oh ever so briefly, address your statement, “In any case, the Bible is fiction, not factual reporting.”
          Ok, I will admit, the Bible is nothing at all like the ‘factual reporting’ which populates the news media today. In all honesty, I wonder why anyone would want a manipulated, propagated, and twisted factual reporting of events – one that mutates facts into an unrecognizable form. After humanity’s abuse of it, simple fact-reporting is a scary thought. Instead of a popularized, or should I say, money-making production and presentation of facts, I desire, above all, a truthful reporting of events – one that is faithful in conveying historical happenings as well as multiple life perspectives.

          In any case, why would I want facts when I could have truth?!

          Finally, religious texts cannot be designated as ‘fiction’ – they claim a specific category, all their own, in the academic study of literature. Most predominately, they are compilations or collections of books and genres. The Bible, Koran, Torah, and other Holy Books contain poetry, narratives, proverbs/wise sayings, eyewitness reports, genealogies, numerical lists, laws, expository writing/preaching, dialogue, speeches, parables, etc. etc.

          In serious scholarship, religious texts stand as historical documents with historical facts and data on people, places, wars, natural disasters, nations, events, etc. If you choose to label the Bible as fiction, you must inevitably concede all ancient or historical documents as categorically fiction as well. The corroboration of evidence between the Bible, other historical documents, and archaeology is the way in which we construct an accurate account of history. The study of history cannot occur without the study of religion – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, etc. have indelibly left their mark on every bit of human existence. They were (and still are) active in people, communities, and nations. Religions affected the course of history and they happened within history. Generally, the religious texts of each religion include or recount history because of the fact that the events of each time period were integral in the explanation of their belief system. After all, our life experiences are connected to our beliefs.

          The core problem with blanket statements, “The Bible is fiction,” is not necessarily that they are erroneous (which is ultimately a secondary concern even though I addressed it first), but that these statements usually do not add any clarity to the conversation. I do not want to reduce this dialogue to the level of stereotypical boxes; such as those found in the halls of high schools everywhere – - – kids ignorantly yelling out a bit of propaganda they once heard from someone else instead of actually sitting down and discussing their own more nuanced knowledge, ideas, and beliefs. And gorilla-gluing the word ‘blind’ onto ‘faith’ is simply a part of the slang that surfaces from the stalwart ‘schoolyard’ skeptic. (Sorry for including schoolyard, it was simply too suitable to skip – hello! Awesome alliteration! I know, I know. I get a bit carried away with writing.)

          Would you mind explaining to me how you get your quotes to show up in bold? It’s a very professional touch in your posted comments – I like it a lot. And please feel free to explain your motivations for tirelessly fighting against religious beliefs. What essential truth would you like to persuade me to recognize or see (in order to replace my obsequiously “blind faith” as you declare it to be)? Would you define yourself as an atheist? Or perhaps another philosophy/worldview describes you better?

          I pray that our conversation would bring us closer to the truth as well as to the abundant life of Christlikeness. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

          • Sometimes people say they have faith in their friends, or even in themselves, but that is a quite different idea from that of religious faith. So to make it clear that I am referring to religious faith, the phrase “blind faith” is a good, descriptive shortcut.

            It can sometimes be reasonable to have “faith,” i.e., confidence, in your friends. It can never be reasonable to have “faith” in anything supernatural (e.g., God, miracles, the Holy Ghost, “Creation by God!”). In the religious sense, faith is the rejection of reason (which is what makes it blind).

          • Would you define yourself as an atheist?

            I don’t believe in God, and that is what being an atheist means. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking of “atheism” as a “philosophy/worldview,” because it is nothing of the sort.

            Being an atheist says nothing more about a person than that said person is not a theist! It tells you nothing whatsoever about what that person holds as a “philosophy/worldview” in any wider way.

          • “Generally, the religious texts of each religion include or recount history …”

            Sure, works of fiction can certainly include reference to real history as a backdrop. Jesus dying on the cross could even be real history. But the “rising from the dead” part is pure fantasy fiction.

            “Creation by God!” is pure fantasy. Etc.

          • “… simple fact-reporting is a scary thought.”

            If you have a preference for fantasy over reality, I guess I can understand that? But the question is: why have a preference against reality (thus feeling that facts can be scary)? Really: why?

          • “… eporting of events … that is faithful in conveying historical happenings as well as multiple life perspectives.”

            Does that mean you want lots of fantasies?

            “In any case, why would I want facts when I could have truth?!”

            Since the truth consists of facts, how in the world can you feel that there is some conflict between “truth” and “facts”? Are you hoping for “untrue facts,” or “non-factual (i.e., fictional) truth”?

            Where did this mix-up come from?

      • ‘… “male and female” (diversity as well as unity, relationships, community). These items are distinct to humanity…’

        You need to study some biology.

  • http://bit.ly/y9uaZ9

    (Any luck with the Fox job yet, Moshe?)

  • How hard can it be? Master or slave? What’s your preference?

  • I am curious, Moshe.

    When the temple brings back servitude (or whatever the story is supposed to be) are you aiming to be a master or a slave? So far, you’ve been clear as mud on this issue (claiming to be misunderstood without ever having bothered to try to explain yourself).

  • Very well written Moshe Averick. Thank you. I must confess that I did not read all of the comments because Mr. Stoddard’s comments became contradictory within the first few of them and as I am a christian and not a scholar of the Jewish traditions, it would be unlikely that I could address the commenter that was criticizing them.
    I think there is very little to support the view that atheists have any philosophical incentive to behave in a manner that is supportive of a stable society.

    such a viewpoint assumes that they want a stable society or that a stable society benefits them in some way. The very base of the word “benefit” assumes an absolute standard of good and evil. Without God, no such standard could exist.

    • “I think there is very little to support the view that atheists have any philosophical incentive to behave in a manner that is supportive of a stable society.”

      In fact, there is nothing whatsoever to support that view. Knowing that someone doesn’t believe in God tells you absolutely nothing about what that person does believe in.

      Regarding theists, on the other hand, the long history of religious wars shows that theists have often followed the “philosophical incentive” to behave in a manner that is highly destructive of a stable society.

      So: while atheism does not contribute anything bad to society, theism tends to contribute instability and immorality (as in war and slavery, for example).

    • Regarding the assumption that “an absolute standard of good and evil” is necessary, but impossible without God: how would you go about deciding which among the plethora of religious doctrines is “The One“? (Might it be decided by whoever wins the last religious war? But then, how would anybody know that was the last one?)

    • “… Mr. Stoddard’s comments became contradictory within the first few …”

      If you actually found something contradictory, AF might appreciate it if you pointed it out. Even Moshe might be tickled.

      I, for one at least, would certainly like to know what you discovered (to learn from it, if nothing else).

    • “I think there is very little to support the view that atheists have any philosophical incentive to behave in a manner that is supportive of a stable society.”

      Take a look at this ranking of countries by religiosity:

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

      The 20 least religious countries, with a strong majority regarding religion as unimportant are amongst the most stable on the planet.

      On the other hand, the list of countries where 80% or more of the population are religious includes a Who’s Who of the world’s most unstable countries.

      So regardless of philosophical motivation, it seems that atheism correlates very well with social stability.

    • Is your idea of a “stable society” one in which the slaves are always perfectly obedient and never get uppity, everyone pays 100% of their income in taxes, and we never have to bother with such messy stuff as elections?

  • I love when people who believe in objective morality start making baby-steps into the adult world of philosophy and panic at the lack of a priest to pat you on the head and tell you you’re definately right and jebus lubs yoo. yes, subjective morality means there is a possibility of the moral landscape to change. but do you really think an argument from adverse consequences is going to fly in the world of people who give a dang about the truth? and also, how likely do you REALLY think it is that paedophilia will be an accepted norm. consider how connected this world is now; you couldn’t have just a few countries start changing their laws because their would be war before the idea could spread. yes, you made you a correct observation that, logically, anything could be ‘right’ with no objective morality. But you failed to apply the actual world to your thought process. just a small thing, i believe christians believe in objective morality, but behave as though it’s all subjective. do you work on Sunday, or stone Witches? there is plenty the bible says is moral that we wouln’t dream of today. really, you’re a good person precisely BECAUSE you defer to your own conscience, which is informed by your parents, society and what you’ve experiencd as good and bad. not that im an expert, please ignore me and read up on Existentialism, and Absurdism.

  • Rabbi Averick quoted a Dr. Marks: “There are no literal sins in the world because there is no literal God.”

    In this case, it is Dr. Marks who is quite mistaken. Violating the “Commands of the Lord God” is only one of the notions of what “sin” actually is. That is a subjectivist error. The real, objective, concept of “sin” is to violate your own moral values.

  • Another example of the view of Rabbi Averick: ‘If we are not accountable to a higher power for our actions, it only becomes a question of “am I psychologically able to jettison the societal conditioning to which I have been subjected?”’

    Wrong again, Moshe.

    Since we are not “accountable to a higher power” (there being no “higher power”), the real question is: what is the correct ethical system to choose in order to live the life of a good/rational human being?

    “Societal conditioning” be damned.

  • The following may be clear in your mind, but do not constitue a valid argument.

    I repeat my original plea to atheists:

    “The choices before us are clear: we will either seek a transcendent moral law to which we will all submit, or we will seek our own personal and societal indulgence. If we turn to God in our quest to create a moral and just world, we have a fighting chance; if not, we are doomed to spiral into the man-made hell of the human jungle.”

  • Rabbi Averick declares, “Many people have used Scripture to justify their own desires and distorted viewpoints.

    Well, Moshe, that is precisely why people have Scripture in the first place.

    The whole point of writing (and venerating) religious Scripture is to attempt to justify “desires and distorted viewpoints” that cannot stand up to rational analysis.

  • The Talmud says: “Love your neighbor as yourself” -This is the great underlying principle of the Torah.

    The subjectivism of this principle renders it unfit for human consumption.

    The correct principle would be to “love your neighbor as he deserves and love yourself as you deserve — according to the standard of rational human life.”

  • How hard can it really be to see the fallacies of this kind of argumentation: “God is an Advanced Bacteria — Humans are made in the Image of God — therefore humans are nothing more than advanced bacteria”?

  • I’m also curious as to what remedy for the secular encoding of consensus morality people like Moshe propose.

    Theocracy?

    • Santorum looks like a theocrat. I could even buy that Obama favors theocracy. But I don’t see it in Moshe Averick. Am I missing something?

    • I suppose it is not too much to point out that even if such people do not explicitly propose theocracy, theocracy is still the logical outcome of wishing for God to Command everyone.

    • JP,

      Our system of government is already based on Torah principles, the most of important of which is “All men are created in the image of God.”

      • That is so ludicrous, Moshe. We’re supposed to have our rights to liberty and property because God has the right to liberty and property???

        Maybe you think the “trinity” wasn’t the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” branches, but rather the “Executive, Legislative, and Judicial” branches . . .

      • Propostion: ‘Our system of government is already based on Torah principles, the most of important of which is “All men are created in the image of God.”

        Is that supposed to be an explanation of why Democrats and Republicans feel that the government is omnipotent? What a vision: “Bush and Obama as God!”

      • Why do you think “all men are created in God’s image” is the most important principle? For example, that principle is something that’s also a basis for the Iranian system of government.

        Surely it’s the other principles, the ones that are different from Iran’s, that are more important in making the US what it is.

        • One thing that makes the “God’s image” “principle” popular is that it is totally subjective. You can imagine “God’s image” to be whatever you feel like — and there are no objective facts to which anyone can refer to prove you wrong.

          “God” is an empty vessel which any theist can fill with whatever nonsense he prefers.

          Also, claiming the the U.S. system of government is “God-based” is an insidious way to trying to undermine this country. (Probably especially so for those who feel that imposing involuntary servitude is proper.)

        • JP,

          The Iranians do not believer that all men are created in the image of God, that all men stand equal before their infinite creator. they believe that ADHERENTS OF ISLAM are in the image of God, Jews and Christians are monkeys and pigs, however as long as they submit to the rule of Moslems they are tolerated.

          • The Iranians/Islamists want to destroy the United States, and so does “the Lord God,” in case you hadn’t noticed.

          • Neither do the Torahists, if, as you say, they really believe in “Masters and Slaves.”

          • “The Iranians do not believer that all men are created in the image of God, that all men stand equal before their infinite creator.”

            Neither do the Torahists, if, as you say, they really believe in “Masters and Slaves.”

          • Kinda like how you think that atheists are morally inferior, however as long as they submit to Godly morality they are tolerable, am I right?

  • One of the big problems with the anti-atheist rhetoric religious believers like to use in the context of the topic of morality is that it is based on the religious believer’s delusion that there exists some kind of “absolute morality”. Now, do keep in mind that that is in fact one of the functions of religious belief, to create an illusion in the mind of the believer that “You must do things this way or else this god will strike you down” – a very primitive kind of belief system that’s been around for thousands of years in all kinds of societies.

    But the thing is, atheists are right about the fact that no such thing as an “absolute morality” exists. It never has and never will. (Do bear in mind that the fact that such a thing as an absolute morality doesn’t exist does not mean or imply that morality doesn’t exist – it simply means that morality is not, and is not based on, the “absolute morality” delusion religious believers conjure up.) Morality evolves by social traditions and laws of the communities where they exist. Moral standards have a great deal of variances, such as in the United States where differing moral standards exist in different communities (while many standards are, of course, codified into law, where through a political process government enforcement holds sway).

    But my primary point here is that religious believers seem very worried about the idea that morality is not some kind of intransigent monolith (handed down by a god), despite the fact that they themselves do not possess any such thing as an absolute morality in the first place, which makes their use of this topic as an attack on atheist entirely moot. Even just taking, say, Christians, or, say, Jews, there is a wide variety of moral standards, and they cannot come to agreement on what those are supposed to be. (There are thousands of Christian denominations.)

    The Bible, which is allegedly the source of some supposed absolute morality given by a god certainly doesn’t contain any “objective” or “absolute morality”. Indeed, the book of Joshua for example tells about the Israelite tribe being command by their god to go on a campaign of mass genocide to take over some territory from the people who already lived there in their towns and villages, saying that their god commanded them to slaughter even all of the children and the women. And then there’s the whole slavery issue – the Bible never says one single word against the institution of slavery, but instead commands it, condones it, and gives guidelines to slaves on how to be a good one!

    Seriously, when it comes to some alleged “absolute morality”, religious believers simply don’t have anything to base any anti-atheist argument on in the first place. It’s actually rather amusing to see them, for the purpose of attacking atheism, just blithely and blatantly ignoring the contents of their own particular holy book.

    • “Morality evolves by social traditions and laws of the communities where they exist.”

      In practice, the opposite is the case. “Society and law” evolve according to the morality that people hold to be dominant in their lives.

      Morality is such a powerful force in the human mind, that it is morality which drives society (not the other way around — though many people do simply accept the dominant morality, as if they were helpless in the matter). And the dominant morality in Western culture is based on self-sacrifice.

      In this context, I’m always reminded of a description Hannah Arendt gave of Nazi society, something to the effect that, “Surely many Germans were tempted to reject Naziism, but they had certainly learned to resist temptation.”

      • To Steve Stoddard: I agree with you that “Society and law” evolve according to the morality that people hold to be dominant in their lives. We are born with a certain kind of “moral sense”. Social mores and laws are the results and codification of detailed expectations in this regard. It’s a dynamic interplay, because those social mores and laws affect each generation. Today we take anti-slavery for granted, whereas in generations significantly past, they took slavery for granted. As “society” is the complex interaction of individuals, the details of what is considered “moral” or “immoral” itself is complex.

        Contrary to the mindless denigrations of atheism and atheists by religious believers, atheists recognize that “morality” is a complex thing, a complex working out of our sense of fairness in regard to the interactions between people, and that just because there isn’t any such a thing as the “absolute morality” conjured up by religious believers (which in fact they themselves don’t possess even while they pretend to) doesn’t mean morality doesn’t exist. The anti-atheist rhetoric religious believers use in regard to this topic relies on the premise of just ignoring the real world complexity of the human moral sense and morality as it exists in reality.

        • ‘…atheists recognize that “morality” is a complex thing, a complex working out of our sense of fairness…’

          Some do, some don’t. You cannot legitimately make such a blanket statement about “atheists” as such. After all, for instance, atheists can be Communists — in which case their goal is to destroy fairness (and even the sense of fairness). Or they could be Democrats with that same goal. (Republicans with that same goal tend to be theists.)

          “Today we take anti-slavery for granted, whereas in generations significantly past, they took slavery for granted.”

          Human nature has not changed over those generations. Slavery is now and always has been immoral, regardless of who took what “for granted.”

    • ‘Now, do keep in mind that that is in fact one of the functions of religious belief, to create an illusion in the mind of the believer that “You must do things this way or else this god will strike you down” – a very primitive kind of belief system that’s been around for thousands of years in all kinds of societies.’

      Primitive beliefs are sometimes based on a grain of truth. In this case, people are trying to deal with the fact that reality is an absolute. For instance, you cannot dive 10 stories into the pavement and survive. It is reality that “will strike you down,” not any supernatural shenanigans.

      Reality is an absolute — and that is why an objective morality is both necessary and practical.

  • If the premise (or one of the premises) of an argument is wrong, then it’s just a bad argument. Bad premise, bad argument.

    Moshe Averick kindly demonstrated that his whole argument is bad by openly stating an obviously false premise it’s based on: “Human beings have an innate sense of compassion, empathy and the ability to love. Human beings also have an innate sense of selfishness, the ability to hate, dominate, and the desire to act with brutality and cruelty. From the viewpoint of the intellectually honest atheist, none of these – in objective reality – are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the others.”

    The “objective reality” is what occurs in the real world. Since our actions have real world consequences, it is precisely those real world consequences that determine what is better or worse.

    The fact that religious believers must so often ignore such simple and obvious facts in trying to back up the ultimately irrational nature of their religious beliefs (which, by the way, are religious precisely because there isn’t any credible real world evidence for them -”objective reality”) is yet another example of the erroneous nature of religious belief.

    Thanks, Moshe!

    • ‘The “objective reality” is what occurs in the real world. Since our actions have real world consequences, it is precisely those real world consequences that determine what is better or worse.’

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

      In this context being rational means dealing with the real world, which means, not to put too fine a point on it, avoiding sliding down the slippery slope of theism.

  • Speaking of religious wars, in the war against Israel, is the U.S. going to force the Arabs/”Palestinians”/Egyptians/Islamists/whatever to return Gaza and Sinai?

    We should remember that religious wars are not a thing of the past. The world has not outgrown religion, yet.

  • Not being there:

    Theism stands for nothing, signifies nothing, and affirms nothing except for one thing: All the moral aspirations of the advanced primate we call a THEIST are nothing more than a cosmic joke — on all those very theists themselves. They believe in something, i.e., GOD, that isn’t there.

    Many of them keep believing anyway. It’s like an exercise in comforting futility.

    Still nature does give them a break: their beliefs don’t make them go “poof” into the void of the God they wish to emulate.

  • Moshe has the idea that: “It would be absurd then for the atheist to suggest that any particular individual or society has the authority to dictate to all human beings what their values should or should not be.”

    He doesn’t seem to get it that dictatorship is bad, bad, bad — even if the dictator is a THEIST.

    By rights, no individual or society has the authority to dictate anything to “all human beings” — period. Exclamation point!

    Moshe and the relgionists might wish for God to be the dictator, but even if God existed, He wouldn’t have the right to do it. Of course, we are not in any danger on that score, since God doesn’t exist. The potential dictators we need to worry about are those that want to impose the rule of God/State on the people.

  • Are the Torah, the Koran, and the Old Testament all actually the same work?!

  • Hey Moshe, I was just looking at http://www.torah.org/learning/mitzvah/ and I came across this:

    “Of the 613 mitzvos, there are 248 positive commandments, meaning, “you shall do”, and 365 negative commandments, meaning, “you shall not do”. According to the Chafetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaCohen Kagan, 1838-1933), 77 out of the 248 positive commandments are applicable and relevant today.”

    Only 77 of 248 positive mitzvos still relevant? How is that possible if God’s morality is objective and hence unchanging? If God’s morality is objective and absolute, why do mere humans, even as illustrious as the Chafetz Chaim, get to declare which parts are relevant, and which not? Surely you must reject such subjectivity.

    • Damn typos: “as illustrious as the author of the Chafetz Chaim”

    • Jp,

      Many of the commandments are only applicable when the Temple is standing in Jerusalem, or when there is a Jewish King in the land of Israel, etc. Please don’t misunderstand the following statement: Your question about the commandments and why they are not all applicable today and the connection to objective morality only reflects how little you understand about Torah and Judaism. That is not meant to be insulting, just a statement of simple fact. Most of what you think you know about Torah are false preconceptions, prejudices, or you have confused Judaism and Torah with other religious faiths. There is no contradiction whatsoever to the fact that God’s commandments are absolute and unchanging and the fact that some are not applicable today. There are some commandments we hope will never be applicable. For example, there are commandments dealing with the process of divorce.

      The commandments that deal with human relationships are all applicable.

      I would recommend “Gateway to Judaism” by Rabbi Mordechai Becher if you would like to get a better understanding of the Torah System. “Horeb” by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch is a classic exposition of the torah system, but he was a German rabbi in the mid to late 19th century so his writing style reflects that period. Not everyone relates to his style of writing.
      Worth checking out though if you would like to gain some type of serious understanding of the subject.

      • Thanks, Moshe.

      • >Many of the commandments are only applicable when the Temple is standing in Jerusalem, or when there is a Jewish King in the land of Israel, etc.

        Why? Do those factors suddenly change the relevancy or morality of those laws?

        Are you hoping that the Temple is rebuilt and a Jewish king is anointed?

      • JP,

        It might be worthwhile to compare a list of the 77 applicable mitzvot with the original 613 to see what’s not applicable today. If I remember properly, a lot of them deal with slavery and the proper disposition of women as property. The one I always liked was “Love other Jews as you would love yourself.” Not everybody, just Jews.

        Never take claims like this at face value. Atheists do the research.

        • Salvage,

          Read the book of Isaiah. We are not only hoping, but fully expect the Temple to be rebuilt and a descendent of King David to be annointed as King. Some of the precursors to this event are the return of the Jewish People to the land of Israel with the assistance of the leaders of the nations of the world (Hmmm, that seems to be happening, I think), the re-blooming of the agricultural produce of the land (which for roughly the past 18-19 centurew was essentially desolate), and the gathering of many of the nations of the world against Jerusalem (that also seems to be a project in the works.)

          I don’t understand your first question. If there are certain commandments that only apply when the Temple is standing, and it is not currently standing, how would anyone go about fulfilling those commndments? There are commandments that are connected to the giving and receiving of loans. If I don’t owe money to someone the commandment doesn’t apply. Please explain what you mean.

        • Andrew,

          Your ignorance is showing. There is no such thing as teh “proper disposition as woman as property.” Perhaps you are confusing Judaism with another religion, or your own fantasies or the propoganda you have heard from feminists.

          The fact that you imply that there is no obligation to love all human beings is also a distortion of the Torah on your part. It may be true that the primary obligation is to love your own people, just like anyone’s primary obligation is towards those closest to him, parents, immediate family, community, etc, that then moves out in an ever widening circle. One of the greatest signs of emotional/psychological/spiritual sickness is somebody who is kind to everyone else, but is nasty to his own wife/spouse and family.

          Healthy people always understand that their first committment must be to those they are closest to.

          • Moshe Averick,

            Deuteronomy 21:11-14
            Leviticus 25:44-46

            Love your fellow Jew but the first ring of the ever widening circle is a good target for slavery. Someone who is kind to his own family but racist, segregationist and xenophobic isn’t exactly the picture of mental health.

            This isn’t my argument, though. JP and salvage seem to be interested in this one.

  • Moshe considers it a possibility that “…we are doomed to spiral into the man-made hell of the human jungle.”

    The “human jungle”?! Is that the place where they torture heretics, burn witches, behead unbelievers, “kill all the boys,” etc.? Or is that your religious idea of heaven, while the “man-made hell” is where they make penicillin, Learjets, and iPads?

  • If people keep trying to turn to God in a quest to create a moral and just world, they will continue to fail spectacularly — as they have throughout history. Religion is a dead end, and people will sooner or later have to learn to give it up. The sooner the better, but I’m not holding my breath.

    The demands of an objective morality just seem to be too much for too many people — and the slippery, sliding retreat into the subjective cocoon of religion just seems too easy to too many people. Things might get more religious before they turn around and start to get better.

  • Moshe Averick,

    You and Goebbels would get along great. You’ve written yet another entire article to trash atheists, and like your others the logic just plain didn’t show up.

    First off, intent. You say several times that you’re not accusing atheists of pedophilia or being immoral, then you go on to say that atheists are basically just a hairs breadth away from pedophilia and immorality. I’m not calling you a liar. I’m just saying you don’t tell the truth very much. Even without considering the body of your work, this is a transparent smear.

    This article brings nothing new to an old, old religious smear tactic. The old trick of crying “Atheists are evil, for they have no objective morality!” while never actually showing a basis for or even the existence of objective morality. Essentially what you’re saying is, “Atheists are icky, because they don’t have a god like we do.” It’s a baseless accusation which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, and it plays to the lowest of mentalities.

    Clearly history has shown us that atheists are no less moral than the religious. Granted, that’s a pretty low bar, but the statement stands. Even if there were such a thing as objective morality, religion either doesn’t have it or it isn’t any more effective than subjective morality.

    What is really interesting is this certainty among religious people that without God, murder, rape, mayhem and debauchery are totally acceptable. One can only assume that if these people ever decided that belief in an unprovable and unreasonable concept wasn’t warranted, they’d instantly turn to mass murder. And yet, somehow this isn’t what happens when people leave religion. Imagine that.

    The bottom line is, you have no reasonable basis for your accusations, and these are accusations. There is no slippery slope. You are no better than us. Most importantly, this sort of attack is nothing new. If you weren’t saying atheism leads to pedophilia, some other crank would be saying that evolution leads to school shootings. It almost sounds reasonable if you don’t think too hard, but the logic just isn’t there.

    Regards,
    A.F.

    • An objective morality is one based on the facts of human nature, and setting values for the pursuit of life as a rational animal.

      Religious morality cannot be objective because religion ignores human nature in favor of imaginary commands from imaginary characters — based on feelings (that’s what makes it subjective) rather than on facts-logic-reason.

      Both subjective and objective moralities are possible for people to devise, and even to follow, but only an objective morality has a real chance of working well.

      To repeat, religious morality is necessarily non-objective because of the resort to supernaturalism and faith.

    • “…some other crank would be saying that evolution leads to school shootings.”

      But it did exactly that. If humans had never evolved, there would never have been any such things as “school shootings.” There’s no getting around it.

    • “What is really interesting is this certainty among religious people that without God, murder, rape, mayhem and debauchery are totally acceptable.”

      An interesting question is: how many people have been convinced by religious authorities that that’s exactly what they would do if they didn’t bow down to the religious authorities (including giving them financial support)?

      • Steve Stoddard,

        Well, I didn’t get into the fact that all of those things (possibly excepting debauchery) are also done in God’s name, and have been done in God’s name more frequently than due to an absence of religion. It makes you wonder about the mindset of religious people. The most powerful argument for religion I’ve heard to date is that it gives the real nutjobs something to keep them occupied.

    • Andrew,

      First of all I disagree with you on one major point. The atrocities committed by Communist regimes, in my opinion, are certainly related to the fact that they were staunchly atheistic ideologies. They managed to far surpass the level of bloodshed and brutality that religious tyranny had managed to accomplish up until that point in history. The notions that “to make an omelet you need to crack some eggs” of “whatever advances the revolution is ethical and whatever holds back the revolution is unethical” make perfect sense from an atheistic point of view. That doesn’t mean that every atheist will agree with system, but it is not unreasonable or illogical. I don’t want to get embroiled in the argument about whether Hitler was an atheist or not (Please don’t tell me he was a Christian) but there is no question that if he had some sort of “god”, it was a god whose gospel was the Darwinian system of survival of the fittest and that the Aryan race was clearly at the top of the heap of the human-type races. Whether or not the Aryan/Germanic peoples actually were the most advanced and sophisticated races and had arrived there through a process is natural selection is beside the point. From within a Darwinian world view it is certainly a viewpoint that is distinctly possible.

      Please don’t also accuse me of saying that whoever believes in strict neo-darwinian theory will be a Nazi. That is obviously not my point.

      The reason the United States is such a good place is because it is built on the principle that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and they have been endowed by their creator with unalienable rights.” This is an idea which permeates the consciousness of everyone who lives in this country, believer or non-believer. It is also an idea that is absurd from a purely atheistic point of view. Not only are we not created equal, not only are humans not endowed with any rights whatsoever, but we have EVOLVED very unequally.

      I’m not worried that tomorrow pedophilia will become acceptable. I’m looking ten years down the road, when many of our so called “intellectual elite” who have been indoctrinated to believe that the sum total of the human being can be reduced to some molecular, chemical, and electrical impulses bouncing around inside our brains, and that the human is nothing more than a peculiar arrangement of atoms and molecules, are the ones determining the “ethical” direction of our country. We already have lunatics like Peter Singer who think that apes have “rights” because they are advanced primates. He teaches this drivel at Princeton University.

      If some people are born with a sexual orientation towards children and if some children enjoy that type of attention (I’m not talking about brutality here, I mean the type of “relationship” that was discussed by some of the academics I quoted in the first article), why would you say it is “wrong?” Don’t you think that a case could be made for the other side? I remind you again that when I was in High school as a freshman in 1969 it was INCONCEIVABLE that homosexuality would ever be considered “normal.” In the late 50′s and 60′s a doctor who performed an abortion was considered to be the lowest form of human life. You are simply naive to think that there cannot be radical shifts in social mores.

      • Moshe,

        You have a real blind spot about atheism. You present yourself as having an irrational fear of atheism, as if you felt that it was like a disease that would destroy the mental facilities of humans — and tear apart the social fabric like a religious war.

        But, really, not believing in God is no more dangerous or disease-like than not believing in unicorns, witches, or the Easter Bunny.

        You also misunderstand Communism, and even the American Constitution.

        You seem to feel that Communism is bad because it is atheistic, but that, per se, has nothing to do with why it is bad. Communism is bad because it goes by the rule of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” And there is no way that you can make a case that there are no religious people who share that altruistic creed.

        You also overlook the fact that humans evolved to have inalienable rights — that God never came into it.

      • Moshe points out that “The atrocities committed by Communist regimes …. managed to far surpass the level of bloodshed and brutality that religious tyranny had managed to accomplish up until that point in history.

        That is true — but it does not support your notion that atheists are bad when they commit atrocities, while theists are good in spite of committing the atrocities that logically flow from theism.

        Ideologically, atheism, as such, does not logically lead to atrocities. Ideologically, theism, as such, does logically lead to atrocities.

        While atheism is perfectly compatible with people living peaceably with one another, theism never has been and never will be logically/practically compatible with peaceful, rights-respecting cooperation in the world.

      • Moshe,

        When you state that “The atrocities committed by Communist regimes …. managed to far surpass the level of bloodshed and brutality that religious tyranny had managed to accomplish up until that point in history,” why does it appear that you are trying to excuse religion by condemning “atheistic Communism”?

        In fact, aren’t theists guilty of precisely what you accuse atheists of? Why should atrocities be okay for theists, but not for atheists? (Why do you feel it is worse for Lenin to say, “Kill all the capitalists,” than for the Lord to say, “Kill all the boys”? Why should theists be given a pass, let off the hook, or even be forgiven?)

      • Moshe feels (apparently very strongly) that ‘the principle that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and they have been endowed by their creator with unalienable rights” … is absurd from a purely atheistic point of view.’

        Once again, Moshe is taking a position that is clearly false. There is absolutely nothing at all about atheism which makes the concept of individual rights “absurd.” It makes no sense to claim that rights depend on theism.

      • Moshe feels (apparently very strongly) that ‘the principle that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and they have been endowed by their creator with unalienable rights” … is absurd from a purely atheistic point of view.

        Once again, Moshe is taking a position that is clearly false. There is absolutely nothing at all about atheism which makes the concept of individual rights “absurd.” It makes no sense to claim that rights depend on theism.

      • Moshe Averick,

        “The atrocities committed by Communist regimes, in my opinion, are certainly related to the fact that they were staunchly atheistic ideologies. They managed to far surpass the level of bloodshed and brutality that religious tyranny had managed to accomplish up until that point in history.”

        Not true, actually.

        http://www.skepticlogic.com/2011/11/

        I did the math. Christianity alone has a higher death toll than Communism. If you include Islam and Judaism, the number would increase by about 50%, more if anyone had actually kept count of bodies in the holy books. If you were to add the religious campaigns of China and surrounding nations, I’m sure that number would double.

        I’m guessing you liked the sound of atheists being evil, murderous bastards, so you never bothered to check your facts. That’s a great argument for faith.

        “From within a Darwinian world view it is certainly a viewpoint that is distinctly possible.”

        You know, I was just being snarky with my comment about cranks saying that the teaching of the theory of evolution causes school shootings, but you went there. You do never disappoint. You seem to think that because atheism and evolution do not have a moral component, people who accept either of these things have no access to morality. It’s like saying a Methodist can’t drive a car because there are no cars in the bible. It’s entirely false, not even remotely logical, stupid, and pretty damn offensive. Worse yet, when you look at how little religion actually does to prevent amoral behavior, it’s completely absurd. You simply do not have the evidence to back your claims, Rabi, and these are not faith based assertions, but accusations in the realm of cold hard fact.

        Your overall message seems to be that religious morality is desirable because it doesn’t change with the times or with the application of reason. So, essentially, you’re in favor of pelting people with rocks in public for the crime of being homosexual, women being just slightly above slaves in status, that sort of thing. Heck, as long as we’re not changing anything, we may as well have segregation and witch burnings as well. If you keep arguing down that path you should come around to pedophilia and mass murder in no time.

        • Moshe cannot take criticism very well; neither can he dish it out with much effect. A big disappointment.

          He doesn’t seem to have any “overall message,” unless it’s simply that people should run and hide behind God-directed pontification and obfuscation.

          Maybe we could crown him the Prince of Theistic Fog.

        • Christianity alone has a higher death toll than Communism.

          I did not know that.

          Of course, Christianity has been around a lot longer, but I just figured that there was never enough population in earlier centuries for 20th century mass murder to be topped.

          Are you including Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot? What if you include the Nazi mass murders (since there is not enough difference between National Socialism and Soviet Socialism to bother about)?

          • I left Nazi Germany out because the issue of religion there tends to distract from the core of the issue. Even if I had totaled those in the Communism column, Christianity would still be ahead by about 10 million.

        • No, AF, I don’t think I’ll go along. Those numbers look dubious.

          I’ll have to stay on Moshe’s side here: viz.. that 20th century totalitarianism has killed more people than the religious wars of the previous centuries.

          Where Rabbi Averick goes wildly wrong is in his nutty notion that “atheism” has anything to do with it. While the case can be made that theism logically/practically leads to murder and war, the same simply cannot be said of atheism.

          Sure, atheists can kill as well as theists, but that is not the point.

          Theistic totalitarians have historically killed in the name of God, to preserve the faith in the face of heresy and unbelief. 20th century totalitarians (Communists/Nazis) have historically killed in the name of the state (“social justice”), to preserve poverty in the face of capitalism and wealth.

          Atheism has nothing to do with it, either way.

          • If you can find any problem with the numbers, let me know. I did put a lot of effort into running them down.

            I don’t recall if I said it in the article, but the Communist mass murders were perpetrated over less than a hundred years at the behest of about half a dozen individuals, while the Christian mass murders took place over more than a thousand years. That would indicate that mass murders not involving God are an anomaly, rather than the norm.

          • “That would indicate that mass murders not involving God are an anomaly, rather than the norm.”

            Interesting point.

            The problem is that Communism/Naziism is just an updated version of religion — putting the state in as God instead of some imaginary human-like character. Whether they kill people for “the faith” or for “social justice” simply doesn’t make that much difference.

          • “The problem is that Communism/Naziism is just an updated version of religion”

            Whatever you want to call it, when you do the math it’s clear that religion and religious morality have no demonstrable influence that keeps people from being bloodthirsty psychopaths, so the concept that a lack of religion automatically makes one a psychopath or even at greater risk for amoral behavior is absurd and, quite frankly, libelous.

          • I haven’t read all of the relevant posts to every detail, but do note the technological difference: With the 20th century came significant developments in the technology used to kill people, so that those who were motivated to do so could do it with much greater consequences. It’s not that they were any more “evil” than previous regimes (religion-based or otherwise), it’s that a factory-tooled rifle or a machine gun (or, say, a chemical bomb, or a tank shooting explosive shell) can simply kill and maim an awful lot more people at the “pull of a trigger”.

            So the argument “they killed a lot more people” is actually completely irrelevant to the principle of the argument. Religious regimes have killed a lot of people *for reasons based on the religious faith* (but have also killed a lot of people as a function of being a political regime). If they had used the same 20th century killing technologies then they would have killed more people. This differential can’t be ignored.

            In regard to Communism, they mass killing was conducted on the basis of political totalitarianism to promote the Communist regime. It was not done *because of* atheism. Atheism simply means you don’t accept religious belief in any gods. It isn’t a political ideology.

            The real problem, of course, is that an awful lot of religious believers, in trying to prop up the facade of the conjured up mystical fabrications of religious faith, will never cease trying to denigrate those who reject their pretensions (the religious approach of adhering pretensions about reality despite having no credible evidential basis to actually be found in reality in the first place) by also pretending that they eat babies – or at the very least don’t have any “objective morality” to indicate that there’s anything wrong with eating babies. It’s just the same old “You’re evil because you don’t accept our religious beliefs” nonsense year after year, decade after decade, and century after century. Nothing is new with these guys.

        • “The Crusades: 58,000 to 133,000 (The most conservative estimate I found was 1 million. High end was 20 million. I went with 9.)”

          This looks bonkers to me. How is 9,000,000 supposed to fit in between 58,000 to 133,000?!

          • That references Kirk Dunston’s article on the subject. 58,000 to 133,000 was the number Kirk used to illustrate how bad atheists are. The numbers I found were considerably higher, 1-20 million. The number I used for my calculations was 9 million.

            Kirk’s overall estimate for the number of people killed in the name of Christianity was 264,000. He places the “atheist” death toll at 141 million. Kirk only counted what he refers to as “the top three largest examples” of Christian murder. Just three. What’s better, right before he gives an absurdly low estimate of Christian atrocities, he says, “The facts are clear, but Christians continue to cower under the critiques of secular and pagan folks.”

          • Looking at this, I realize that the comparative numbers are irrelevant anyhow. Whether people are being killed for the glory of the Kingdom of God or for the glory of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat makes no difference. Religion leads to war and socialism leads to war — because both are are ideologically at war with reality and human nature.

            Whether you are forced to obey Obama’s czars or the Inquisition’s Cardinals, your rights are being violated and they are trying to do evil.

        • Andrew,

          I looked at the article you referred to and I don’t know if his statistics are accurate or not. Who actually is “Number 1″ is beside the point. Christians don’t massacre people anymore, Jews never did as a policy (except in very specific wars over 3000 years ago, just like the US massacred hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese civilians as part of the war effort to combat an existential threat)and Islam is certainly poised (with Nuclear weapons) to outperform all previous competition.

          It is noteworthy that atheistic idealogues managed to at least catch up in terms of brutality and bloodshed with religious tyrants in a very short time. This has to give anyone pause for thought. Even though I have repeated it over and over you do not seem to get my point. I have never said that atheists are icky or on the verge of pedohilia or massacring people,etc. I said that an intellectually consistent understanding of an atheistic worldview leads to the obvious conclusion that there is no objective morality and that objectively human beings are no more or less valuable and significant than animals or insects.

          Sigmund Freud spoke the simple truth when he wrote: “When a man contemplates the MEANING and VALUE of life he is sick; since objectively neither has any existence.”

          I cannot speak for Christianity or Islam because I do not understand them well enough, also they have radically different views of how to relate to people outside of the faith community. Christianity and Islam basically teach (there might be more modern, liberal forms of Christianity)the only way to have a relationship with God is to accept the tenents of their faith. Judaism never taught that. The Torah is a unique covenant with a certain nation (than anyone can join if they so desire) with laws and commandments that only apply to the people of the covenant. The gentiles can have a full, eternal relationship with God by keeping basic laws of morality.

          • Rabbi Moshe Averick said “that an intellectually consistent understanding of an atheistic worldview leads to the obvious conclusion that there is no objective morality and that objectively human beings are no more or less valuable and significant than animals or insects.

            It is worth noting that Rabbi Averick’s view on this subject is mistaken. The Rabbi wants us to think that if we don’t believe in God, then somehow it miraculously becomes “the obvious conclusion” that humans are the moral equivalent of insects. He presents this simply as an article of faith — without supporting logic, facts, science, reasoning, etc. He is a man of faith, not of logic and clear thought.

            He may even consider it a virtue to eschew reason for faith.

            At any rate, in real life reality is out there as it is regardless of whether anyone believes in God or not.

            Believing in God cannot magically change reality and make you omniscient. Not believing in God cannot magically change reality and make you an insect.

          • I have never said that atheists are icky or on the verge of pedohilia or massacring people,etc.
            That’s a lie. You’ve repeatedly used the words “slippery slope”. This phrase explicitly and literally means “on the verge of” whatever you’re claiming the slippery slope as heading to.

            If you really don’t think atheists are on the verge of condoning or perpetrating paedophilia and massacres, then what’s the point of your article? We agree: atheism is no threat to the moral or social order.

            I said that an intellectually consistent understanding of an atheistic worldview leads to the obvious conclusion that there is no objective morality and that objectively human beings are no more or less valuable and significant than animals or insects.

            Onjectively, we’re not more important than insects. That idea of importance is a very much a subjective idea amongst humans. Onjectively, “importance” isn’t even a valid concept. Importance is, and always will be, a value that intelligent agents subjectively ascribe to things.

            Because you are so obtuse, I feel the need to point out that “subjectively” is not the same as “arbitrarily” or “randomly”, but rather reflects each individual’s judgement and rational evaluation of what it means for something to be important, and all of these things are informed by our biology, and our nature as social animals.

          • Moshe Averick,

            You can take those statistics as given or do your own research. Either way is fine with me.

            You are right that it’s not about who has the biggest death toll, although YOU SPECIFICALLY SAID THAT IT WAS in your last post.

            “They managed to far surpass the level of bloodshed and brutality that religious tyranny had managed to accomplish up until that point in history.” – Moshe.

            So now that “atheists” didn’t kill the most people, you’re saying that they killed people most recently. Well, guess what, that’s on religion, too. And you say that “atheists” managed to catch up quickly. First off, the death toll for Communists was close to the known death toll for Christians, but it’s nowhere close to the death toll for religion in general. That’s the distinction you made. Also, toward the end of that article I pointed out that despite population and technology differences, religious people still managed to kill a higher percentage of the population than Communists. I can’t prove that religious nutjobs would have killed more people if they had a larger population to work with, and that’s a good thing, but the math does show that they killed a bigger chunk of the population they had to work with. And that’s also totally irrelevant.

            The fact of the matter is, history shows that no religion has had any demonstrable ability to stop people from committing atrocities.

            Here are some other not-so-fine points you seem to be missing.

            You claim that that atheism as a philosophy doesn’t teach that life has intrinsic value. That’s fair, it doesn’t. It says nothing about the value of life, liberty, happiness, honor, decency, cruelty, persecution, justice, love, hate, duty, or any other abstract concept. All of that comes from outside atheism. So why do you insist that pedophilia and murder are more accessible to the atheist than kindness and empathy?

            Your original statement was that atheism leads to pedophilia because religion prevents such things. Now you seem to be saying that only Judaism can prevent pedophilia. So your argument, by extension, is that everyone BUT JEWS could turn into ravening, murderous pedophiles at any moment. Would you care to think that over? Why are you singling out atheism if everyone who isn’t a practicing Jew is at risk? How about a little intellectual honesty, Moshe? Call the article “Non-Jews and Pedophilia: It’s Just a Matter of Time.”

            “I said that an intellectually consistent understanding of an atheistic worldview leads to the obvious conclusion that there is no objective morality and that objectively human beings are no more or less valuable and significant than animals or insects.” – Moshe again.

            Did you somehow forget the title of the article? Are you seriously of the opinion that saying “There’s nothing stopping them from being pedophiles. It’s probably next on their list,” is somehow better than saying, “They could turn into pedophiles at any time.” Once again, I’m not calling you a liar, I’m just saying you don’t tell the truth much.

          • jp said: “Onjectively, we’re not more important than insects.”

            Since we are using human language, we cannot reasonably make the claim that “objectively humans are no more important than insects.” It is not possible that you are being rational unless you understand that there are at least some human beings who are more valuable than insects. (Not Dodd and Frank, of course, but Washington and Jefferson for sure.)

    • You and Goebbels would get along great.

      You may wish that were so, but, come on, it’s really nonsense. Right?

      Rabbi Averick may be rather a nut, but there is no more evidence that he is a killer than there is evidence that God exists.

      • The point is, what Moshe is doing is spreading lies to justify the persecution of a minority. This is something Goebbels excelled at. I’m not saying Moshe is a killer. Goebbels never got his hands dirty. He just made sure that everyone hated Jews enough to kill them. In the end, Goebbels even had others kill his wife and children for him, while he justified it through his writing.

        • Goebbels never got his hands dirty.” (!)

          Goebbels was a Nazi. You can’t get any dirtier than being a Communist/Nazi/Islamist.

        • …what Moshe is doing is spreading lies to justify the persecution of a minority.

          That is not an objective evaluation of the situation. Moshe is not trying to “justify the persecution” of anybody.

          As far as the available evidence goes, he is simply pontificating over having an irrational fear about not having a “higher power” to command him. It does not appear that he is a Nazi/theocrat.

          • Moshe’s argument here is without rational basis or factual support, and it paints atheists as a ticking time bomb that could start raping children at any time. Causing people to think that atheists are a threat is as much a part of his agenda as causing people to think that evolution is so flawed that it should be discarded. If you actually think for a moment that he isn’t contributing to the persecution of atheists, you really need to get out more. This idea that atheists are evil because of communism is spreading like wildfire, and the corollary is that atheists need to be exterminated before they can strike again. This is hate speech, pure and simple.

          • AF said, “Moshe’s argument here is without rational basis or factual support,…

            Well, at least you got that much right.

            But then, AF, you claim that Moshe is “contributing to the persecution of atheists,…” which seems wildly farfetched. Perhaps, AF, you really need to get out more. Where in the world do you imagine atheists are being persecuted?

            AF, your claim that “This idea that atheists are evil because of communism is spreading like wildfire,…” doesn’t seem to have any rational basis or factual support. What part of the world are you living in where that is happening? I’ve lived most of my life here in the western U.S., and I don’t see it happening.

            Then you claim that “the corollary is that atheists need to be exterminated …“(!) Wow! What do you see as the solution to this problem?

            Are you just being hyperbolic to try to make a point? Or are you serious?

          • In constitutionally Islamic countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Malaysia, apostasy is still a criminal offense. If you are a citizen, it is assumed that you were born and raised Muslim, so if you ever admit that you don’t believe, you are automatically guilty of apostasy. The punishment ranges from fines to execution. In much of Africa, admitting your atheism will get you dragged off in the night and killed for being a witch. But hey, not America, right? Yeah, America is leading the free world in the use of social media to propagate aggressive ignorance and hate.

            http://bit.ly/wuWNqh

            I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m vocal about my atheism in my day-to-day life, but I’m still in the closet at work. My co-workers are very vocal about how little they trust atheists. Every week I get to hear about how you can really judge the quality of a person by how religious they are. The one little consolation I get is that they seem almost as distrustful of homosexuals as they are of atheists, which actually makes things worse, if a little less personal.

            With regard to people trotting out this line of crap about atheists being evil because of communism, I heard it once before Bill “Look at the moon!” O’Reilly trotted it out on air, and at least a dozen times since then. It sounds plausible, and it plays to the prejudices of the people who repeat it, so in their eyes it must be true. Also, you’d have to be mildly brain damaged to think that an admitted atheist can be president in this country, and it’s damn near impossible for an atheist to hold any elected office in the US.

            So yeah, there’s plenty of prejudice, persecution, double standards, distrust, hate speech, death threats, and murder for atheists in the US. And here’s the good Rabbi helping it right along.

          • An example of “this paranoia and flawed logic I’m supposedly slinging around” which someone asked about:

            Andrew Feinberg
            January 8, 2012
            2:21 am
            So yeah, there’s plenty of prejudice, persecution, double standards, distrust, hate speech, death threats, and murder for atheists in the US.

            Not that it makes much difference, but what the heck, why not mention it . . . .

          • Steve Stoddard,

            You just quoted something I said and didn’t explain why you felt it was paranoid and/or illogical.

            I’m guessing you don’t feel that atheists have enough bigotry and ill-will to deal with in the US, or maybe in general. Good for you. I’m sure your sense of satisfaction will do wonders for those who actually have to deal with this crap.

          • Andrew Feinberg: “I’m guessing you don’t feel that atheists have enough bigotry and ill-will to deal with …”

            Well, you and Moshe are dishing out some “bigotry and ill-will” but it doesn’t seem to amount to much. Why should anyone worry about it?

            Do you think death threats are likely to show up? My guess is that you are being paranoid — but maybe you know something you’re not telling us.

        • Andrew,

          My assumption is that you don’t believe in a Eugenics policy. However, I don’t see how it is possible to deny that Eugenics was a perfectly reasonable and logical application of a Darwinian/Atheistic worldview. That does not mean that all atheists will be inclined to go along, in fact many will be vehemently oppposed. That doesn’t change the fact that the disagreement is an emotional one, as opposed to finding and intellectual/philosophical flaw in the reasoning.

          Eventually the notion that we are nothing more than advanced bacteria seeps into everyday actions and values. That doesn’t change the fact that people who believe that anyone who doesn’t accept their relgion is accursed by God is also a very dangerous worldview.

          • Moshe says, “I don’t see how it is possible to deny that Eugenics was a perfectly reasonable and logical application of a Darwinian/Atheistic worldview.

            You don’t see it because you are keeping your eyes and mind closed on the subject.

            You don’t want to admit the facts that Darwin was a scientist, while “eugenics” was pseudoscience. Eugenics was never any more reasonable and logical than the goofiness of “Creation science.”

          • How hard can it really be to see the fallacies of this kind of argumentation: “God is an Advanced Bacteria — Humans are made in the Image of God — therefore humans are nothing more than advanced bacteria”?

          • Moshe, do you understand the difference between natural and artificial selection?

            Eugenics seeks to overturn natural selection, allowing the survival of not the fittest for their environment, but those selected by the powerful.

            And, you know what. That would still work without Darwin – he didn’t invent anything, he just observed what happens in reality and explained it.

            If you want to see support for eugenics, you need look no further than your beloved Torah, where God ordered the total annihilation of the Amalekites, lest even one drop of Amalekite blood pollute the Israelite chosen race. Why else order the killing of innocent children who could have been raised in the Israelite culture?

          • Moshe Averick,

            The fact that you see Eugenics as a perfectly reasonable and logical extension of accepting the theory of evolution or being an atheist says far more about you than it does about the theory or atheism. Let’s try walking through some logic. If very nearly 100% of scientists accept the theory of evolution as fact, and very nearly 100% of scientists would object to genocide, and very nearly 100% of atheists would object to genocide, A) What does that say about the validity of your logic, and B) is the rejection of genocide actually a flaw in anyone’s thinking?

            You keep saying that the logical extension of atheism and now evolution is murder, rape, and mayhem, but many of the most logical minds in the world understand and accept evolution and are atheists and they have no problem not being murderers. The only people who see that as a logical path are the religious, really, and the majority of the people who feel that way have no understanding of what evolution and atheism are.

            Clearly, you are failing to account for something. You’re missing a variable. I’m not a philosopher by nature, so I can’t tell you how to connect all the dots in such a way as to allow you to assert that there were never any dots in the first place. Perhaps you’re not accounting for empathy. Perhaps you’re doing the math wrong. Heck, maybe the problem is that you’re a prejudiced bunghole who wouldn’t be able to spot logic if you were bobbing in an ocean of it.

            The bigger issue here is that, even if it were logical, your argument doesn’t even remotely reflect reality. You are casting aspersions on an entire group of people just for spite.

          • Eugenics is a fairly logical application of a Theistic/Religious worldview. It is not reasonable at all, because theism is not at all reasonable. But if you accept any Theistic/Religious notion that “God has chosen His People,” then trying to be logical would lead you to eugenics and the like. That does not mean that all theists will be inclined to go along, in fact many will be vehemently opposed — because trying to consistently, logically live by Theism/Religion is a losing proposition and people can rarely stand a full dose.

        • While Moshe Averick is doing his part to make theists seem like paranoid nuts obsessing over atheism, Andrew Feinberg adds to the problem by doing his part to give atheists a bad name as being paranoid idiots obsessing over theism.

          You two guys seem to deserve each other. Neither of you is being objective and logical.

          • Steve Stoddard,

            I’m so sorry. It must be tough being the only sane, rational person in the room. Hey, since you have the market cornered on lucidity, how about you point out some examples of this paranoia and flawed logic I’m supposedly slinging around.

          • AF, “It must be tough…

            We all have our crosses to bear.

            Still, it’s not as tough as you seem to feel it ought to be.

  • Moshe, I hope your offer to discuss this still stands:

    Your question about slavery is a fair one. However, before I write anything you need to realize that the concept of slavery you have in your mind, which is probably based heavily on the history of the enslavement of blacks in this country or slavery in general in the ancient world, say among the Greeks and Romans has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of slavery in the Torah. You would need to start with a completely blank slate. If you are prepared to do that, I am certainly prepared to discuss the subject.

    A good starting place would be for you to outline what you see as the extenuating features of Torah-approved slave-keeping that differentiate it from other systems of slavery.

    I’m certainly aware that Biblical slave-keeping had differences to other systems of slavery, as well as similarities.

    • >nothing to do with the concept of slavery in the Torah.

      And you’re wrong again. In the ancient world the concept of slavery was perfectly uniform. You were a slave, you were property, the end. This was consistent from Upper Egypt to the most northern parts of Europe and all points between.

      Just as Southern Heritage Americans* will insist that the Blacks were happy as slaves every culture insists that their past barbarities were no where near as bad as the other guys who are not them.

      *guess what book they said told them slavery was just fine?

      • I’m wondering whether Moshe will come good on his offer to discuss this – he’s made plenty of other comments since his offer, but he seems to be leaving this one alone. I’ll be charitable and assume he wants to give a very thoughtful response.

        As far as the line you quoted of Moshe’s, I agree that saying it had “nothing” in common with other forms of slavery is hyperbole, but again, being charitable, I’ll assume that Moshe simply meant that the differences were significant. Beyond that I’m not going to speculate on Moshe’s position, but simply wait for him to make it.

      • Salvage,

        I’m curious. Are you Jewish? Do you know Hebrew? Where does your expertise in Judaism come from that you can make such a statement? For instance, do you know where you could find a comprehensive compendium of all the Jewish laws related to servitude or slavery?

        • >I’m curious.

          No, you are not, that’s part of your problem.

          >Are you Jewish?

          My father was Jewish, my mother “converted” (but only in name, she thought it all nonsense, the things we do for love) I had a bar mitzvah. Then I went to Israel and that pretty much killed it.

          > Do you know Hebrew?

          Sadly not anymore, not that I was terribly proficient when I did and even then only the very basics.

          >Where does your expertise in Judaism come from that you can make such a statement?

          Books and lectures on ancient history, I’m a total Rome nerd (just finished a great book on Caesar’s X legion, the bits on Masada were particularly interesting, did you know the Zealots weren’t above a bit of massacring surrendering forces?).

          Hey why didn’t your god come and save them from Rome anyway?

          You know if the Zealots hadn’t whipped up their rebellion the Romans would have been happy to leave them be. Imagine the history of the Jews if that had happened?

          Crazy thing about these books and lectures, they depend on stuff they can prove and back it up with actual physical evidence!

          >For instance, do you know where you could find a comprehensive compendium of all the Jewish laws related to servitude or slavery?

          Not off the top of my head but that doesn’t change the fact that slavery at any time place and culture is the reduction of a human being to, at best, livestock.

          I know, I know, that was all the OTHER cultures that were cruel to their slaves, Jews being the Chosen People were nice to their slaves.

        • Why is this ad hominem questioning of salvage relevant to the argument? Are you trying to work out whether someone will call you on any false claims you may make?

          • C’mon jp, this is a classic theist dodge, whenever you point out how bat guano crazy some of their stuff is, like saying slavery is moral, they insist that you JUST DON’T GET IT!!

            I have yet to read any proper explanation how their god killing Egyptian babies for the crimes of their parent’s government makes the slightest bit of sense.

            Why not kill any Egyptian with a whip or who otherwise hurts Jews?

            Moses: Pharaoh let my people go!

            Pharaoh: No! Build me an giant cat with a pig’s head and a baboon’s butt.

            Angel of Death pop in behind the Pharaoh, sticks a bony finger through his neck, Pharaoh dies.

            Moses: Anyone else got a problem with us leaving?

            Silence.

            Moses: Right, we have a bit more time now, let’s make sure the bread has risen, otherwise it’s like eating cardboard.

            Then again baby killing is pretty easy, guess the One True God of the Torah is just lazy.

          • Couldn’t be a God if He was lazy, could he? What else is the point of having supernatural powers except to avoid doing any real work?

          • oops — that should be:

            Couldn’t be a God if He was’NT lazy, could he? What else is the point of having supernatural powers except to avoid doing any real work?

          • Yeah, I’ve always wondered why it had to rest on the 7th day. I have to rest because of my biology demands it, weird that a god is similarly hobbled.

        • “Do you know Hebrew?”

          What in hell is that supposed to have to do with slavery??!!!

    • That offer seems to have evaporated.

      Or maybe we could say it was about as substantial as the Holy Ghost.

    • JP,

      I’m a little wary of getting into this after I saw how deeply you misunderstood what I wrote about Euthyphro, but we can explore it a little bit.

      First of all you have to understand what are the underlying principles of a Torah outlook. In other words these are the views that permeate and create the paradigms for all our values and actions.

      A. All human beings are created in the image of God. You’ll notice the Torah does not start with the founding of the Israelite/Abrahamic nation. All humans who have a Godly soul are from one man and one woman.

      B. We are commanded to emulate God. Just as God is merciful, compassionate, patient, etc so we are enjoined to emulate those traits. Just as God loves all of his creatures we must emulate God and love all of his creatures. This includes being careful in the treatment of animals (although they are obviously not on a level of human beings) and the way we relate to the natural world.

      C. The Talmud says: “Love your neighbor as yourself” -This is the great underlying principle of the Torah.

      D. All “slaves” were converted to Judaism and had to be treated humanely and with the dignity that was due all human beings. The idea of killing a servant who was trying to escape or tying him to a post and whipping him senseless as a punishment would be absolutely unthinkable among Jews. In many circumstances,undue cruelty was grounds for a court ordered freeing of the servant. There is no obligation to own servants and the institution has been non-existent among Jews for a long time.

      While there is certainly no obligation to have an institution of servitude it is clear from the Torah that it is not inherently immoral. It depends on the era and culture. (Remember, we are ONLY talking about the Torah system, not the inhuman, brutal, Persian, Greek, or Roman system of slavery)

      Due to human weaknesses and due to the choices people make and the internal effect these choices have on them, there are any number of people in the world who are in a state of being, that there lives would be greatly improved if they were owned and taken care of by a benevolant master. Neither I, nor any other Jew has the slightest interest in re-instituting servitude, I am just pointing out why it is not inherently immoral if done in the proper way. Those southern christians who used Jewish Scripture to justify slavery and declaring Negroes to be inherently inferior to whites, had no understanding of Judaism and clearly distorted and corrupted the understanding of the Torah that Jews had. The treatment of black people that took place in the early history of this country has no basis at all in Judaism. Many people have used Scripture to justify their own desires and distorted viewpoints.

      • …”there are any number of people in the world who[se] lives would be greatly improved if they were owned and taken care of by a benevolent master.

        The vicious immorality of that belief is incredible.

        I suppose I shall have to admit that the type of person who can believe in the worthiness of “a benevolent master” cannot be above wanting to bring theocracy to America.

        Does Rabbi Averick really believe that the lives of atheists would be “greatly improved” if they were enslaved to prevent them from becoming Darwinists?

      • Rabbi Averick comments, “Just as God is merciful, compassionate, patient, etc….”

        That raises the question of how Rabbi Averick can think that it is somehow (miraculously?) “merciful, compassionate, patient, etc.” for the Lord to issue commands such as, “Kill all the boys.” What’s up with that?

      • Rabbi Moshe Averick on slavery: “I am just pointing out why [involuntary servitude] is not inherently immoral if done in the proper way.

        How far does the Rabbi think it is down that slippery slope of servitude to having a religious belief that “pedophilia is not inherently immoral if done the proper way”?

      • Moshe, you say that “I am just pointing out why [servitude] is not inherently immoral if done in the proper way.”

        Is it your belief that the Torah system of servitude is “the proper way” and therefore moral (and so by your philosophy, objectively moral and an action that brings one closer to God)?

        I just want to be totally clear on this before I post again: do you think that the system of rules for servitude described in the Torah is beyond moral criticism? Yes or no, please, no equivocation or evasion.

        • I vote that slavery is wrong, period. Wrong for everybody, and always.

          Let’s see how the Rabbi votes.

        • JP,

          I see that this was a mistake. Forget about what you read in your English translation of scripture, you cannot possibly understand the Torah concept of “servitude” from that anymore than you could have any type of meaningful understanding of the Torah system of jurisprudence and laws of evidence, torts, etc from reading your English translation of Scripture. If you want to comment, use what I wrote as your guide. The problem is JP that Judaism is a subject about which you are profoundly ignorant but do not realize it. You think that because your read the “Bible” that you understand what it is. REad what I wrote carefully and go from there. EVen from your question I see that you did not read what I wrote carefully.

          • Your evasion is noted. Your words condemn you – nothing I could add would make you look worse than you do now.

          • Wow! Rabbi Moshe Averick votes that slavery is good and right. That is crazy and amazing.

            The Rabbi venerates ‘the Torah concept of “servitude”’

            That is another illustration that point of writing (and venerating) religious Scripture is to attempt to justify immoral “desires and distorted viewpoints” (such as the acceptance of involuntary servitude, i.e., Masters and Slaves) that simply cannot stand up to rational analysis.

      • Rabbi Moshe Averick says, “Many people have used Scripture to justify their own desires and distorted viewpoints.

        Well, Rabbi, that is precisely what people have Scripture for.

        The whole point of writing (and venerating) religious Scripture is to attempt to justify “desires and distorted viewpoints” that cannot stand up to rational analysis.

  • There is no scientific foundation for atheism in this universe whereas there is omnipresent evidence for theism.

    “Theism has no values”
    For the atheist, theism has no values because for the atheist nothing but self interest has value. For the theist, theism has more than values, theism has imperatives.

    The atheist may choose “a system that allows for slavery and murder.” The theist cannot and still pledge allegiance to theism.

    • Normann Wheland

      Come on Joe! The sales for your self-published tract (trash is a better description) must be DOA. Don’t quit your day job which, from what I can gather, is retirement.

    • “…in this universe there is omnipresent evidence for theism.

      Yes, if you conceive of Nature as your God.

      But with respect to Moshe’s not-of-this-world/outside-the-universe God, then, no, there is zero evidence. There is not even the possibility of any evidence.

    • “…for the atheist nothing but self interest has value.

      If only all atheists were that smart. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t, not by a long shot.

      But here you are giving Moshe a hint to the answer to his question about why human life is valuable. Your life can be a value to you because it is your life. The purpose of morality is to guide you in making the choices which will help you make the most of your life. If you care about it.

    • “…pledge allegiance to theism.”

      It is not the best practice to have such a low opinion of yourself that you feel the need for God to tell you how to live.

      Pledging allegiance to theism amounts to evading responsibility for your own life and actions. Religion is thus detrimental, not only to individuals, but to civilized society as such. The chaos of theism is not a comfortable sight — even though a great many people try to seek comfort through believing in God.

  • Most atheists despise child molesters as much as everyone else, and want them kept as far away from society as long as humanly possible. Anybody that DOESN’T hate child molesters is morally bankrupt, regardless of whether they believe in a god or not. For you to have even THOUGHT for a picosecond that atheists don’t despise pedophiles as much as theists do is ignorant at best, and hateful and bigoted of you at worst.

    • Unpromised,

      If you had read the article with just a little bit of care you would have seen that I stated explicitly that most atheists are opposed to pedophilia. Before you react, it is worthwhile to consider carefully whether or not what you’re saying makes sense.

      • America’s prisons are 98% packed full of true believers. Apparently belief in God leads to crime. It certainly doesn’t inhibit dishonesty. Does it?

    • Moshe is utilising a slippery slope argument regarding DSM V. DSM IV has a failing in recognising paedophilia solely as the act of having sex with a minor rather than the drive to do so as well. So a paedophile is a person who has sex with children, but there is no classification regarding a person who merely has the urge to do so.

      Now the idea in DSM V is to classify the urge to do so and in a way that causes people who have the urge to be more likely to come out and seek help and not ACT on their urges. Calling them paedophiles is true according to the letter of the current definition but the word is forever associated with the action rather than the ideation. We cannot punish ideation nor should we ever. Only religion declares thought as a sin.

      Instead we want people with ideation of paedophilia to seek help. A poor but similar example (I am not indicating that the conditions are the same or the problems are equal but I am indicating that the treatment is similar) is how suicide is different from suicidal ideation and ideally we want people with suicidal ideation to come forward and get the help they need to not kill or try to kill themselves or indeed suffer in silence.

      Moshe simply doesn’t understand why psychiatrists want to find out more about the condition. He thinks they want to normalise it. Not turn it into a proper medical issue with treatments for those who have it. Not to encourage paedophiles to come and seek help before they hurt a child. A kleptomaniac (DSM) is still punished for his theft despite his condition. The rule will apply to paedophiles. I would honestly admire a man who said that he had this problem and came to me (when I am a doctor) seeking my help in defeating it and I would give him whatever the help he needed so that he never did something that horrible. Unfortunately Moshe didn’t really think that through in his first slippery slope argument.

      Moshe also makes the assumption that all morality stems from the single source of the Abrahamic God without realising that nearly every culture on earth has roughly the same rules because some rules are what is required to run a stable society and by a process of deduction people come to the same conclusion. What atheists say is that there is no inherrant wrong in murder. There is no magic criminal board in the sky that says murder is wrong. It is humans that have said it.

      Why?

      Well murder is the taking of another human life without any legal reason or extenuating circumstance. (To keep it simple we shall ignore accidents and manslaughter). A society with legitimate murder (Afghanistan’s tribal region) is fragmented into family groups where violence is so common that no progress can be made because people are more worried about being murdered than working together. If one were to form an agreement where murder is punished and bad then people in the agreement are less scared of being murdered. These people can now get together and work on “things”. Let’s say… sharpening rocks. Suppose another family signs up to this idea. This family makes sticks and ties sharp rocks to sticks. Now suppose they come into contact with a group of people that doesn’t agree with them. One of the family members is killed by that group.

      Now the question remains… Who do you think would win? The group that trusts each other and gets along and so has spears? Or the group without the no murder rule? The group which trusts each other and has these rules quickly dominates other groups. The more permissive a society the more powerful it gets because the more inclusive it is and the more inclusive it is, then the more people who live within it’s boundaries and the more stable it is.

      God does not appear even once in this argument. With time most of our rules came about. Be it murder, stealing, slavery (perfectly legal by Moshe’s book), child molestation (also perfectly legal and banned by Europe in the 1920s only…), rape (again treated as property crime… marital rape was only recently a crime and many countries still don’t recognise forcing your wife to have sex as a crime).

      We as a species utilise morality because we can genuinely think about things and what they mean. We do not require a fixed morality because frankly where and what would we fix it at? The fixed morality Moshe wants is one that is far less moral than what we have in this day and age because he labours under the massive assumption that there is indeed a god (despite there being no absolute proof) and it’s the particular god prayed to by the Abrahamic faiths rather than anyone else’s idea of a god.

      The ultimate joke is he is only slightly less of an atheist than me. He doesn’t believe in any god except one. I don’t have an exceptions.

  • Theism has no values and a theist can choose any value system that suits him, including a system that allows for slavery and murder. Theists are human beings, too.

  • There is no scientific foundation for atheism in this universe.

    That fact has been established scientifically. http://originalitythroughouttheuniverse.com/

    Are all the atheistic commentators here admitting that they depend entirely upon hallucinations to support their atheism? If so, then why ask an atheist about morality? Who needs hallucinatory morality?

    • Science is the study of things in the world around us to learn more about them. Impossible things like Gods and square circles don’t rise to the level of science, and science has nothing to say about them, one way or the other.

      There is no scientific foundation for theism or squarecircleism. Likewise, there is no science behind atheism or asquarecircleism. There are no Gods or square circles to study and find out anything about.

      I suppose you could hallucinate a God who commands your submission, or just simply try to imagine one. But to look to such subjective disconnects from reality for moral guidance is not wise or healthy.

      Still, if you wish to believe in God, what could stop you?

  • “To put it a different way; in an atheistic world, the terms morality and personal preference are identical and interchangeable.”

    This is where you are wrong.

    Morality is a very real concept based upon the logical foundation of the golden rule.

    It is not a matter of personal preference.

    • ZenGardner,

      What is the sound of one’s personal preference clapping?
      If your personal preference is to follow the Golden Rule then that becomes your “morality.” Of course it will also be your personal preference that will determine how you interpret and apply the so-called Golden Rule. For instance, if your agenda is a feminist agenda it will be obvious that unborn babies don’t count for anything and you can slice and dice them at will. If you are the type of Darwinist who feels that the caucasion races have, through natural selection, evolved to a more sophisticated and intelligent level than the negro races, you will also apply the rule differently. There are endless permutations, all depend on personal preference. The reason why we are in the same ball park is not because of the Golden Rule, but because of the Biblically-based principle in the Declaration of Independance that permeates our consciousness: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and that they have been endowed by the creator with unalienable rights.” This is a concept that is incompatible with a consistent atheistic view. The consistent atheist view is that not only were we not CREATED equal, but that we EVOLVED EXTREMELY UNEQUALLY.

      • Wow, Moshe, are you going for some sort of record for the amount of gratuitously offensive baiting in one post?

        Seriously, there’s more straw in that post than on my farm.

      • An Averick-type argument: “Of course it will also be your personal preference that will determine how you interpret and apply the so-called Golden Rule. If you are the type of religionist who feels that the negro races have, through divine selection, been elevated to a more sophisticated and intelligent level than the asian races, you will apply the rule differently in different cases.”

  • Kevin Bjornson

    Atheism does not propose values and has no value system at all.
    Individual atheists may have values and there are many possible value systems they may choose from. A-theism simply opposes theism. Period. That’s all there is to it. Similarly, I may oppose witchcraft without being a nihilist. I am not an “atheist” because theism does not define what is meant by the term “God”. I don’t define myself negatively with reference to the undefined.

    Humanism is not the same thing as atheism. Because humanism posits a value system, whereby the proper measure of value is the thriving of human life.

    Accusing atheists of laying the groundwork for child molestation, is like accusing astronomers of the same because they oppose astrology. There maybe some positive correlation but we cannot assume that, considering the positive correlation of priests and preachers with sexual deviance.

    Of course Averick understandably opposes atheism because if all were atheists, none would follow him and pay his salary. Perhaps there is some personal animus at work here, also. Accusing his philosophical opponents of laying the groundwork for a psychological malfunction is dirty pool and an attempt at an end-run around debate. Those who are not theists could as easily link theism with mental illness, and with far greater credibility.

    • >none would follow him and pay his salary

      While that is true in many cases I think fear is a far more potent theist motivator. Life is scary but if there is a omnipotent being who shares your cultural and political beliefs and as a result is taking care of you and will reward you when you die?

      Takes the edge off considerably.

    • moshe averick

      Kevin,

      It seems we agree. Atheism has no values and an atheist can choose any value system that suits him, including a system that allows for pedophilia. I don’t say that facetiously, that is my whole point.

      • And a theist could claim that God told him child sexual abuse was acceptable, too. There are certainly plenty of cases of murderers feeling commanded by God.

        In both cases, society is the final arbiter, as it must be.

        • moshe averick

          JP,

          YOu mean Nazi society of course, don’t you?

          • I mean ALL societies, for better or worse. To think otherwise is simply wishful thinking.

            Nazism was defeated by people who subjectively rejected it. this is how things work in reality. What’s the alternative? Divine intervention? Didn’t see any of that in the Holocaust.

          • “The anti-Semitism of the new movement (Christian Social movement) was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.”

            [Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf", Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

            “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”

            [Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]

        • JP,

          To paraphrase Chairman Mao: Morality grows from the barrel of a gun. Is that what you are proposing? Whoever wins the war gets to determine morality?

          • Killing children because their parents chose another religion is godly!

            Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. (Deuteronomy 13:13-16 KJV)

            In other words, kill the entire town, every man, woman, and child, even every animal, and don’t even take anything from the town, just burn the whole thing straight to the ground. Why, you ask? For choosing to leave Yahweh and worship another god!

          • The notion that morality grows from the mouth of God is just as wrong as the notion that morality grows from the barrel of a gun.

            Both approaches ignore the basic facts of human nature as a rational animal.

          • Yahweh was a bigger fan of “might is right” than Mao, Moshe.

            And no: ALL the people of a society, collectively, decide on morality. And any attempt to enforce a contrary morality by force will be seen as such – that’s how it works in the real world. Nobody’s knowledge of right and wrong is changed by someone holding a gun, even if their actions may be for pragmatic reasons.

      • Theism has no particular values. Theists just arbitrarily choose what they want their God to tell them to do. Some religions go for pedophilia, some don’t. Some religions go for murder, some don’t. There’s the brutal Old Testament (and Koran) and the not-so-brutal New Testament. There’s Buddhism and scientology. Religion is a bubbling brew of conflicting subjective preferences.

      • A 15-year-old boy who died from “unspeakable savagery and brutality” was attacked by relatives who believed he was a sorcerer involved in witchcraft, a London court heard Thursday. The jury was told the attack was linked to Congolese culture, where witchcraft, or “kindoki” as it is known, means a negative or malicious force.

        http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/01/05/uk-court-hears-horrific-details-boys-witchcraft-murder/#ixzz1ibgyawDE

        Millions of children every year are denied their human rights, cruelly mistreated, harmed or killed for religious reasons (for example: every year 3 million girls in Africa alone have their genitals mutilated). As Carl Sagan wrote, it is a demon-haunted world we live in and somewhere right now children are suffering because of religious superstitions, traditions and dogmas.

        You cannot name a single person who has committed pedophilia and used atheism as a justification.

      • “…an atheist can choose any value system that suits him, including a system that allows for pedophilia.”

        In other words, an atheist can act precisely like a theist in that regard. Either one can reject objectivity and believe any damned nonsense they feel like. That’s really the essence of theism, and atheists are not necessarily any wiser or more courageous than theists.

  • “There is no scientific foundation for atheism in this universe.”

    “Now that is absolutely true. Atheism is nothing more than the recognition of the fact that there is no possible scientific foundation for theism anywhere in the world. It’s not rocket science.”

    Correction: Atheism can account for nothing in this universe. Atheism is a hallucination.
    Theism can account for everything in this universe. Atheism is irrational whereas theism is rational.

    • Why does God make atheists, then? Why does your God make whole cultures of people that believe in other Gods?

      (OK, I know, the answer is: don’t ask questions, that’s an insult to God.)

      • moshe averick

        JP,

        Why don’t you ask him? Maybe he wants to give people the choice to do what they want, including the choice to have sex with children. If he didn’t we would all be nothing more than programmed robots. Which would you prefer: to be free or to be a programmed robot?

        • You’re the one touting a system of binding oral mobligations. Are you now saying that theists aren’t bound and obligated morally either?

          • moshe averick

            JP,

            I assume you have a job and you are accountable for your performance at work. You are free to goof off and do poorly at work and you are free to work hard and do the best job you can, there are consequences to both. Freedom does not mean there are no consequences to your actions. If there is no accountability and no consequences the freedom is meaningless. Freedom means you can do as you please and are responsible for the consequences of your actions.

          • So why is to so bad that atheists aren’t bound by moral absolutes, and instead can choose to act however they please as long as they accept responsibility for the consequences?

            Why on earth do you think that for atheists, freedom means a slippery slope to paedophilia, but theists having the same freedom doesn’t? You’re not being even slightly consistent.

          • “Why is IT so bad” above, not TO.

          • Moshe: “Freedom does not mean there are no consequences to your actions.”

            There are always real, objective consequences to human actions. But there are never imaginary consequences, like “The Wrath of God.”

          • I agree:

            “Freedom means you can do as you please and are responsible for the consequences of your actions.”

            So in this context, subjective morality is freedom, but not freedom from consequences.

            Moshe, why do you hate freedom?

        • Moshe,

          I thought you were against people following personal preferences, and you wanted them to submit to God’s commands instead. Aren’t you being inconsistent now?

    • Atheism can account for nothing in this universe.

      Absolutely true. Neither can theism.

      The problem is that theism claims to be able to account for things — which it utterly fails to accomplish — so the wise choice is to be an atheist and not put up that false front of theism.

  • Moshe wrote:

    Your question about slavery is a fair one. However, before I write anything you need to realize that the concept of slavery you have in your mind, which is probably based heavily on the history of the enslavement of blacks in this country or slavery in general in the ancient world, say among the Greeks and Romans has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of slavery in the Torah. You would need to start with a completely blank slate. If you are prepared to do that, I am certainly prepared to discuss the subject.

    We’d run out of Reply buttons below, so please feel free to discuss the subject here. A good starting place would be for you to outline what you see as the extenuating features of Torah-approved slave-keeping that differentiate it from other systems of slavery.

    • An interesting question would be whether Moshe wants us to take the “blank slate” approach to murder and pedophilia, also.

      But it does seem that questioning Moshe is not too productive. Moshe tends to deflect, avoid, evade, pontificate, etc., rather than engaging. He doesn’t like to discuss his ideas, or offer argumentation in support of his positions. He seems to offer himself up as a punching-bag, and lets it go at that. (Of course, it could be that he’s an admirer of Ali, and sees this as his version of the “rope-a-dope” strategy . . .)

      • I think it’s perfectly reasonable to take a “blank state” approach – even to killing or sexual abuse. It’s not as if starting from first principles and working through things leads to different conclusions, and it’s useful to understand the intellectual underpinnings to deal with nuance, such as killing in self-defence. Such nuance just isn’t possible if you take an absolutist stance like “thou shalt not kill”.

        I’m open-minded as to what Moshe might bring to the table about Torah-approved slavery, and am happy to discuss the argument on its merits.

  • Plato’s Socrates, I assume you are all aware, was the first of the new post-Tragedy philosophers to condemn homosexuality. Platonic love was for the ex-practicioners of homosexuality.

    Overcoming homosexuality was about refining live, and overcoming what today we would deem masculine narcissism.

    It is the woman that Socrates quotes that understands love the best. Diotima.

    It is also a great explanation in terms of a conjunction of myth and rationality.

    Game theory does not explain this development though it may not be at odds with it.

  • What is not grasped here is the difference between a subject and an object.

    Only subjects have morality, moral responsibility. Game-driven synapses are about survival, and, yes, some accommodation will resemble the Golden Rule, but said objects will in no way be capable of grasping what the Golden Rule entails.

    Only at a certain level of being, of psychological sophistication, can a subject pass over from the animal kingdom to the human moral situation.

    That is why the story of the Garden of Eden, however fanciful it may be as a literal description of our origins, nevertheless hits all the right tones in terms of painting an “as if” picture of the meaning of the event of passing out of animalhood, as it were, into being a human.

    Buddhist atheists get that one of the central questions is “where does the ‘I’ come from?”. Indeed!

    Where does that “I” come from? Out of what? And the feeling that the “I” is subject to, that conjunction of interpretation and sensation?

    Do we think thoughts or do we merely translate them into a language, and are no more responsible for them than a telegraph agent would be for the messages he decifered?

    That conjunction is no mere coincidence of synapses which cause thought and feeling. No, the synapses interact, let’s say, with a field of meaning which has an objective existence.

    The source is the Self, as Jung deemed it, one of the archetypes of the psyche itself and of its processes.

    Meditate on the meaning of Wodin losing his eye to the troll to get a drought of that water of all knowledge to understand that knowledge, category, reason, are not mere synaptic dominoes.

  • Charles Samuel

    Ruse says, “but it is not subjective whether you think sodomizing little boys is right or wrong… My position is that evolutionary biology lays on us certain absolutes.”

    Therefore using Ruse’s logic, homosexuality between consenting adults should be wrong as well. Evolutionary biology would dictate that.

    Moshe, has Ruse been asked if he makes a moral distinction between sodomizing little boys, and sodomizing a consenting male? If he does, what does he base it on?

    • Consent, and the harm that unconsensual sex brings, presumably.

      The fact that homophobes often can’t tell the difference between consensual sex between adults and child sexual abuse could explain the prevalence of child sexual abuse amongst adherents of homophobic moral systems.

      What a sickening question.

  • Rabbi Averick wants us to believe that: “All men are created in the image of God and are therefore inherently and intrinsically precious.

    That is nonsense of a high order.

    There are, in fact, some quite “unprecious,” i.e., bad, people in the world. But if you don’t believe that, if, for instance, you feel that pedophiles are “inherently and intrinsically precious,” why wouldn’t you be in favor of a nice slippery slope to help them indulge their preciousness?

    Favoring such a slope is, naturally, an extremely horrendous notion — but if you believe in God, how do you know that is not what He wants to you be? (What about the famous passage where Moses passed along God’s Command to “kill all the boys”?)

  • I’m surprised that no one has brought up good ol’ Euthpyro’s Dilemma. Namely, is something good because God says it is, or does God saying something make it good? Because in the first instance, there are objective morals independent of God. In the second instance, morality from God is just as arbitrary and subjective as morality from people.

    So theistic morality offers no better alternative to secular morality.

    I would also hate to think we get our morality from God, since, if the Bible’s depiction of God is correct, God is a genocidal monster.

    I happen to think there are objective morals, and I’m an atheist. I believe this based on Sam Harris’s arguments in his book “The Moral Landscape.”

    • moshe averick

      Jephrei,

      I certainly haven’t forgotten about good old Euthyphro.
      I have a complete chapter on it in my book. The name of the chapter is Euthyphro: A Philosophical Dinosaur.
      The Euthyphro Argument applies only to the pagan gods of the ancient world, it is not valid when applied to the One God of the Torah. If you read what I have to say and you would like to discuss it, I am more than happy to respond.

      • How much does the book cost?

        • moshe averick

          Andrew,

          Go to amazon and see what they’re selling it for.

          • Looks like it’s 13.50. I’ll tell you what, if you send me just five bucks, I’ll tell you what my argument is so you can refute it. Until then, we should just assume that I’m right.

      • >the pagan gods of the ancient world, it is not valid when applied to the One God of the Torah.

        Okay, I’ll bite, why does it apply to those gods and not yours?

        Have you ever noticed that the only real gods are the ones theists specifically believe in? Yet there have been countless thousands of them in the last 10,000 years.

        It’s weird how the One God of the Torah tolerates all these other Fake Gods of the Koran, New Testament, Golden Verses of Pythagoras, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Pāli Canon, Heart Sutra, Donghak Scripture, Pyramid Texts, The Book of Mormon etc.

        I guess the One God of the Torah enjoys people fighting over lies because he’s such a source of morality!

        Strange that this One God of the Torah only revealed itself to a tiny sliver of humanity, it completely ignored the Americas and the people there and only pay scant attention to the Far East. Almost like it could only go as far as the people who believed in it!

        Why is that Mushe? Why did your One True Only Real All Others Are Fakes! God not enlighten the Aztecs as they worshipped the sun ripping each others hearts out?

        Let me guess, he was waiting for the Christian Spaniards to take some time off from torturing Jews to exploit the New World, kill the natives. Fast forward a few hundred years, post WWII some Jews wisely decide to get as far away from Europe as possible and head to South America to start small but vibrant Jewish communities!

        Makes about as much sense as anything else infected by theism.

      • Moshe, a funny thing happened to me the other day: I was visiting a friend and we were talking about intellectual bankruptcy when he (not knowing that I comment on your blog) brought you up as an example. I mentioned that we had exchanged correspondence, and he gave me his copy of your book, which he described as “polluting his bookshelf”.

        So now I have a copy.

        I’m reading your chapter on Euthyphro now, out loud to my wife. She’s amused but not impressed. We’re up to the bit where you argue that we’re all just figments of God’s imagination, and so figments of imagination can be considered real (pp203-4, paperback edition). Does it get better?

        (Actually, I’ll answer my own question: it gets worse. Page 205 is devoted to the argument “humans want something transcendent in their lives, therefore God exists.” “Humans want to better themselves and be independent, therefore God exists so humans can strive to emulate Him”. Argument from wishful thinking, in other words.)

        • “humans want something transcendent in their lives, therefore God exists.”

          That is astonishingly shoddy thinking. Are you sure it’s not a misprint? Calling it “wishful thinking” seems too kind.

          Unless, of course, he is thinking of “God” as simply a fictional character offered for inspiration. Then it might make sense. (It could be called the “God, Superman, Zorro approach”.)

          • It’s a paraphrase, but an accurate one. Moshe starts by making this striving to emulate God conditional on God’s existence, but then that condition just gets dropped over the next few pages and replaced with bald assertion.

        • >We’re up to the bit where you argue that we’re all just figments of God’s imagination,

          I made a variation on that arugment once.

          In my defence I was a teenager on his first acid trip listening to “Tubular Bells” talking with his equally tripping buddies.

        • God can only exist as a fictional character, but that is all that is necessary for people to use the character as a source of inspiration and emulation. It’s like imagining (or daydreaming about) how one could be a better person.

        • moshe averick

          JP,

          It seems you haven’t quite grasped the argument that I presented. From what you wrote so far, I’m not sure you even understand the question that is being discussed.

          • Well, you start by saying a beach in a daydream is real even though it’s just in your head, just in a different way to ordinary real things, and conclude, a few pages of tortured logic later, than subjective morality isn’t real in any way, because it doesn’t exist outside someone’s head.

            Euthyphro sets up a dilemma, and shows how either choice for an explanation of divine command theory is problematic. While you claim to have found a third option, in reality you are just arguing for the equivalence of God and good, which means that your theory is problematic in BOTH the ways that the Euthyphro argument sets out.

            If submitted as an undergraduate essay on the subject, I’d suspect your chapter would be marked: FAIL.

  • There is no scientific foundation for atheism in this universe. That fact has been established scientifically. http://originalitythroughouttheuniverse.com/
    Are all the atheistic commentators here admitting that they depend entirely upon hallucinations to support their atheism?
    If so, say so. Then let’s debate the pros and cons of basing one’s life on psychosis.

    • There is no scientific foundation for atheism in this universe.

      Now that is absolutely true. Atheism is nothing more than the recognition of the fact that there is no possible scientific foundation for theism anywhere in the world. It’s not rocket science.

    • That website is hysterical! It’s almost like it tries to be wrong and insane.

      Like:

      >Evolution has no objective scientific evidence.

      Ya mean like DNA and fossils?

      What is your Ph.D. in and where did you get it?

  • Moshe wonders what it would be like “If we are not accountable to a higher power for our actions,…

    It would be like real life, just like what we are all experiencing now, and have experienced throughout our lives.

    That is clearly the case since there is no such thing as any not-of-this-world “higher power.” Nature exists; the supernatural is only a fantasy.

    The notion of a “higher power as moral authority” is a subjective delusion, an evasion of reality, reason, and self-responsibility.

    So long as people keep following “higher powers” instead of being reasonable and fair with each other, trouble is going to continue to be the result.

      • moshe averick

        YS,

        Amen

      • Prove what? That God doesn’t exist? Sorry, but there is nothing to prove.

        Moshe pretty well covered it: he explains that God is supposed to be not-of-this-world, not part of the universe/reality, non-physical, void, supernatural, etc., etc. In other words, God is nothing except one impossible thing after another. No way to prove anything about any of that in any fashion at any time to anybody for any purpose.

        Regarding God, about all you can say is, “Amen to Zilch.”

        If you wish to believe in God regardless, well, go ahead. What is there to stop you?

  • The emptiness of the theistic approach to life has been highlighted throughout history by depredations such as the Inquisition, Jihad, theocracy, etc. Many religionists do redeem themselves when they ignore their supernaturalist fantasies and try to work in the real world, such as fighting to end slavery or bring down totalitarian regimes.

    But there is no getting around the fact that “theistic values” are baseless, subjective, and not-suitable-for-this-world. Moral commandments are irrational when they come from people, and empty when they come from God.

    • prove that too. you seem to say a lot of heated and passionate statements, with no evidence whatsoever. neither are you actually capable of ever bringing any objective evidence for such OPINIONS. please remind yourself that you’re just as human as the rest of us, and therefore equally subjective. it would be nice, and honest, if you would preface your potentially offensive, and clearly ignorant, statements with “in my opinion”, as that’s just about all they will ever amount to.

      • moshe averick

        YS,

        Amen, again

        • Apparently you haven’t been paying attention: not all humans are equally subjectivists. Some are, some aren’t. Some who are subjectivists are more subjective, and some are less.

          Not all humans are equally willing to evade reality and self-responsibility for the comfort of religious submission. Some don’t wish to do it as totally as others; some don’t want to do it at all.

  • Theistic values have no significance, and theism, as such, stands for nothing, i.e., the not-of-this-world.

    Theistic values have no significance because they are supposedly revealed and commanded by God, an imaginary creature lacking viable ties to reality.

    Moral values are significant when they are objectively tied to the real world we live in — and “theistic values” fail to rise to that standard.

  • I’m really very upset by this article from Mr. Averick. -.- Sadly Michael Schmidt-Salomon hasn’t realised english translations of his books yet, maybe then he would understand…

  • You should really read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins!

  • This article is just ridiculous beyond words… There were NO atheists who rape children- but there are A LOT of priests who are pedophiles and did that!!! How pathetic…

    >.< Religion is really a mental illness. -.-'

  • You believe this because you want to believe bad things about others.

    God has whatever morality that humans have assigned to him. Humans invent God, and humans decide what qualities God has.

    All of the reasons that humans have for being opposed to child molestation are very real – the pain and suffering is real. It is the reasons that we have to care about this issue that are real. God isn’t. Those reasons do not disappear simply because we realize God does not exist – any more than trees and elephants disappear when we learn that God did not create them.

    • Alonzo,

      I hope you are correct that people will continue to see pedophilia as horribly immoral. I think perhaps you are being naive about what people are capable of. With a wave of the hand we changed the notion of killing unborn children from the category of being something despicable to something noble and enlightened. There are people right now who are trying to change society’s attitudes towards pedophilia. The question is if the right conflux of societal factors will appear that will make us change out attitudes.

  • If there is a god, and a god given moral law, what objective way do we have of determining what that law is and how it should be applied in the myriad of complex moral decisions that we have to make everyday?

    The fact remains that god or no god, there is no path to objective moral truths that isn’t blocked by a wall of subjectivity. So to argue that theists are possessing something that atheists don’t, ignores that obvious problem that theists can’t agree as to what the supposedly transcendent moral laws are, let alone where, when, and how to apply them?! If you claim to be the true holder of such god given laws, feel free to take a ticket, and get in line.

    The only moral “truths” that remotely approximate the questionable goal of objectivity, are those which can be judged based on their impact on fellow conscious creatures.

    Whereas, the best way to increase the arbitrary and subjective basis of such moral decisions, is to play a subjective game of pick the prophet, and anchor one’s morality to their self-aggrandizing subjectively interpretable writings, with potentially callous disregard for any impact on real humans (i.e. consider the treatment of women, homosexuals, apostates, other religious adherents, and children’s bodies from such god mandated behaviour).

    In short, no thanks. Because a subjective morality that is subject to challenge and open debate is far better than a subjective morality that hides behind a god given mandate.

  • Wow. Isaac took a three year old wife. Twelve year olds marry. That is not bad. We have evolved. Oops. The Rabbinic leaders can’t add and have figured out that women are untouchable for twelve days because the torah was not strict enough. Ankles are sexy. Fathers can sacrifice the daughter who greets them. Saul can be punished that he did not kill innocent civilians.
    Wow. That is morality.
    Uncles marrying nieces.. Men marrying many women. Aunts not allowed to marry nephews. Women not being allowed to marry many men. Pedophilia as long as it is not intercourse is not too bad according to the leading gedoylim.

    • Adam,

      YOu raise a good point. I happen to be of the opinion that the torah is a divine document and the truth of it can be demonstrated rationally. However, this is not an issue which is appropriate to discuss on such a forum for a number of different reasons.

      In the meantime there are certain principles that we can all agree on, and that we can accept are absolutely binding as eternal, God-given moral principles. Please see the end of the original “Plea to Atheists” article where I list some of them. These are excellent starting points, we can go on from there.

      • Moshe, you have declared that “there are certain principles that we can all agree on, and that we can accept are absolutely binding as eternal, God-given moral principles.

        However, that is not true. It is a point upon which you are profoundly mistaken.

        There are no such things as “eternal, God-given moral principles” — basically because there is no such thing as God. You are letting your imagination run away with you.

        Of course, you may have noticed that you can get a lot of people to agree with you that God exists, and even that it is good to follow His Commandments — but a shared delusion is no more real than an unshared one. God still isn’t there to tell you what to do. That is your own responsibility.

        You need to stop trying to live in the confused and illusory world of theism.

      • The Rabbi chides,”Mustn’t forget about the “unborn”. Religious nuts are strangely silent when it comes to children that have been born. Here are a few examples of how religion protects children.

        Rabbi/Cantor Sidney Goldenberg (Convicted of molesting children. The first complaints came in 1971. He was finally convicted in 1997.)

        Rabbi Ze’ev Kopolevitch (Convicted of molesting students at Rosh Yeshiva, Netiv Meir yeshiva high school)

        Rabbi Richard Marcovitz (Convicted of indecent or lewd acts with a child, and sexual battery)

        Rabbi Baruch Lanner (Convicted – child molestation.)

        Rabbi Jerrold Martin Levy (Convicted of two counts of soliciting sex through the Internet and two counts of child pornography. He was sentenced to six years and sex in prison. He was caught in the “Candyman” year-long sting operation by the US government.)

        Rabbi Richard Marcovitz (Convicted of indecent or lewd acts with a child, and sexual battery)

        Rabbi Juda Mintz (Convicted – internet sting on child pornography)

        Cantor Stanley Rosenfeld (Convicted of molesting a 12-year-old boy he was tutoring.)

        Cantor Phillip Wittlin (Convicted of molesting two girls)

        Rabbi Mordechai Yomtov (Convicted of sexual abuse and committing lewd acts against three boys)

        Gooogle them. They’re all real.

    • Anon,

      I am never bothered by honest questions. Most of the things you wrote are distorted presentations of what the Torah system espouses. If you have an honest question, why not pose it like a mensch and I will be happy to try to respond.

  • The theist realizes that all of his “noble moral principles” are nothing more than subjective feelings – “no more than liking or not liking spinach” – so the theist substitutes commandments from God for moral choices. Thus, the theist tries to pretend that his subjective feelings are really a connection to something otherworldly — and that that otherworld of the supernatural is somehow superior to reality. The theist rejects the rigors of objectivity for the comfort of blind faith.

  • When the intention is to go to war against a certain people, a very effective strategy is to dehumanize them by spreading malicious lies about them. That way your soldiers don’t have to feel that they are killing humans.

    The dehumanizing strategy has worked well when negros are to be sold as slaves and most notably against the Jewish people. If you are able to believe that a race or group is something less than human, like congenital child molesters, it is a lot easier to throw them in the ovens. You couldn’t do that if you believed they were somebody’s mother or father, son or daughter.

    So it appears that Averick would like to dehumanize atheists by spreading malicious lies, intimating any and all wicked doings by the non-believing heathens.

    How sadly ironic.

    Thankfully, I have enough Jewish friends and have worked side by side with enough Rabbis to know better than to blame one man’s ignorant rantings on an entire race of people.

    • william,

      You obviously didn’t bother paying attention to what I wrote in the article, that is , if you bothered reading it at all. Everything you wrote is either a lie, or a complete distortion of what I said. Go back and read the article again.

      • I read your lame excuse to put the words “Atheism” and “Pedophilia” in the same sentence.
        Your article contains zero support for such an inflammatory headline. Therefore I call malicious intent to put those two words together in the minds of fearful people.

        I read your article, but more importantly I read between the lines.

        You meant to use an instance of a hypothetical discussion on philosophical morality to somehow link atheists with pedophiles.

        You may have tried obscure your intent, but it comes across to everyone but you as only slightly less obvious as slapping a yellow star on my shirt and every other atheist’s shirt.

        The Rabbi points and shrieks,”Atheist! Pedophile!”
        “Watch out for them! You can’t trust them non-believers! There’s no tellin’ what they’ll do!”

        I read what you wrote and I know why you wrote it.

        Apparently a good many others recognized your thinly veiled attack. For each one your response is the same,”Nobody read the article. Everybody is distorting what I wrote.”

        Answer this, please; Why is it that the nations with the least amount of believers and the highest percentage of non-believers are rated as the “happiest places to live” and have the highest standard of living with the lowest crime rates? Denmark, Canada, Norway and Netherlands.

        The most miserable and dangerous hellholes to live are coincidentally the most religious. Why is that?

        Everyday some religious figure is revealed to be a pedophile or other kind of sick pervert. You cannot name a single person who has committed pedophilia and used atheism as a justification.

        America’s prisons are 98% packed full of true believers. Apparently belief in God leads to crime. It certainly doesn’t inhibit dishonesty. Does it?

        Your absurd theory is built upon an un-provable superstitious fiction.

        Your whole phony article is revealed to be the opposite of the truth. Your lies fly in the face of real world facts.

        Maybe you should get out more often, because what you believe is absolutely contradicted by reality.

        • moshe averick

          William,

          I said exactly what I meant and I meant exactly what I said, your hysterical accusations notwithstanding. You covered everything in your comment except for dealing with the points I made in the article.

          • Ha Ha Ha Ha You have a charade and you are sticking to it.

            Poor Moshe wants to have a serious conversation while he urinates on the other man’s shoes.

            If there is one thing learned it is that people who claim to have the moral high ground because of some fairytale shtick are deceivers at best.

  • “While science can inform moral judgments, in the end statements about right or wrong are opinions, based on subjective value judgments.”

    I think this is true. Nevertheless what goes on in our minds is neither here nor there. What matters is what we actually do. If we do not conform to the tenets of the moral code of conduct of the society in which we live society will take steps against us.

    Moreover, no individual or group ever gets to sit down and decide exactly what a society’s moral code actually is. A code of conduct evolves over time and I suspect that utility is the order of the day. That activity which is culturally acceptable and works for the smooth functioning of society is labelled “good” otherwise the activity is “bad”. I guess that which is “culturally acceptable” is influenced both by cultural conditioning and our social emotions and instincts.

    We might note that the behaviour of our ancestors towards members of their social group was modified to encourage co-operation long before the advent of religion and even speech. Our social emotions and instincts have been tested in a very exacting “school of hard knocks” and, if they were not the dominant motivation for our relations with others I suspect we would not be here today to tell the tale.

    So I think the real moral code to which we adhere is the same for both theists and atheists who share the same society. One thing that is only touched on in the article above is the utility of society’s moral code of conduct in promoting societal co-operation. I believe that this is crucial for the survival of society in competition with other societies and when battling other existential threats.

    One consequence of this view is that it is to be expected that different societies will have different moral codes of conduct because they face different problems requiring different degrees and types of co-operative behaviour.

    In the long run if too many anti-survival preferences end up in the moral code of conduct our society will fail.

    • Gordon,

      A quick comment: What goes on in our minds eventually will determine how we act and what we do. that is why ultimately, the intellectual and conceptual underpinnings of our morality is so crucial.

      • If you’re committed to intellectual and conceptual underpinnings for morality, isn’t it better to engage your reason about defining harm, and effective ways to minimise it, than to abandon intellectualism entirely, and go with a pre-packaged, inconsistent, off-the-shelf job?

        • Jp,

          I don’t understand what you are saying here.

          • That doesn’t surprise me ;)

            Perhaps you can explain how having your morality commanded by God, which requires no intellectual heavy lifting on your part, is a more intellectual basis than making moral decisions based on a rational assessment of harm and benefit.

            Alternatively, you could explain how there IS intellectual heavy lifting involved in following God’s prescriptions.

        • moshe averick

          JP,
          Don’t understand your point about heavy lifting. All the heavy intellectual lifting in the world cannot discover something that doesn’t exist in the first place. “Defining harm”? According to who? I define killing unborn children as harm, it seems the Supreme Court of the US does not agree and neither do many people who live in the US. We haven’t even begun and we’re already dealing with a question of mass murder. Or perhaps you define “harm” differently? Let’s try to deal with an even simpler question. In objective reality, why is a human life more or less valuable than the life of a cockroach? In objective reality why does human life have value at all? I’m curious to hear your answers.

          • The US supreme court absolutely does define harm. Where you have differences in opinion is on the definition of personhood, and the supreme court rejects your assertion that a zygote is a person, that’s all, as do I.

          • Moshe,

            If you believe that God created life in order to give his creations the opportunity to emulate and connect with Him, how do you know that God is not a Cockroach Who considers humans to be an irrelevant side show?

            Do you presume to know the mind of God, or even to have the power to control His Form and His Preferences?

            How is that supposed to work?

        • moshe averick

          JP,

          On the very first point we are at an impasse. Unless there is an objective truth behind morality, it’s meaningless. You will just say what you like, and I will say what I like. In an atheistic world, there is just your opinion versus my opinion. you will state your preference and I will state my preference.

          • Theism cannot save you from the dreaded possibility that other people will have opinions that differ from your stated preferences.

          • Moshe, a lack of objective moral truths does not make morality meaningless, it just makes it subjective (and subject to biological constraints, at that).

            Indeed you, and I will state our preferences, and together with everyone else, we’ll contribute to a societally defined moral code.

            You may not like that that’s how reality works, but reality couldn’t care less about your opinion, and all your wishing and a-hoping won’t change the fact that we observe morality – in the real world – to operate very differently to the way you want it to.

          • “In an atheistic world, there is just your opinion versus my opinion.”

            In an religious world, there is Catholic dogma vs. Jewish dogma vs. Muslim dogma vs. Hindu dogma vs. Baptist dogma vs. Mormon dogma vs. Pentacostal dogma vs. Coptic dogma vs. Orthodox dogma vs. Reformed dogma vs.Messianic dogma…….

            Your theory is invalidated because there is no agreement on “morality” among believers of God.

            In fact many of these “believers” are murdering other “believers” due to the disagreements in religious morality.

          • “Unless there is an objective truth behind morality, it’s meaningless.”

            That is certainly true. And that is why religious (i.e., God-given) morality is worthless.

            There is no objective truth to God, the supernatural, the not-of-this-world, in short, the basic ingredients of religion. Religion is totally subjective: based only on feelings about how nice it would be if there were a God, and if He commanded you to do things you feel like doing (or felt guilty for not doing, or at least wished you felt like doing even though you really don’t).

  • This is just the old straw man fallacy. Also, its bad logic follows this syllogism:

    1st. premise: Atheist guide their lives with values and principles that come from a different source than theists values and principles.

    2nd. premise: theist principles and values are the good ones.

    Conclusion: atheist are wicked.

    Being the first premise false, and the second one questionable, the conclusion is wrong. It is easy to see that values and principles come to everyone from the same source: human society. Of course, some will claim that it comes from a god…but wait, don’t you have to prove first that this source exist before placing it in a logical argument?

    I think it’s a more reasonable possibility that innate or acquired human values and principles created an artificial personification of those values and called it “god”. But now we are mature enough to get rid of that artificial figure and embrace our human values as they are, human.

    • Jose,

      I never said anywhere that atheists are wicked. In fact, I made it very clear in the beginning of the article that that was one of the misunderstandings that people had who read my original article. Please go back and read the article again, particularly the opening section. You obviously did not read it carefully.

      Nowhere in the article did I try to prove that God gave us moral principles, I said that if moral principles do not come from God they are totally insignificant. On this point Michael Ruse and I agree, and in fact so do Coyne, Rosenhouse, Marks, etc.

      • No, all those people do NOT agree that non-God-given moral principles are totally insignificant.

        That’s just a lie.

        Non-objective does not, in any honest way, equate to “totally insignificant”, and you know it.

        • Jp,

          You did not read carefully what Ruse wrote. He said that in order for atheistic values to be significant we have to PRETEND they are something more. Besides, JP, the point is not really debatable. Subjective values are only significant inside the head of the person who espouses them. They have no objective reality.
          Objectively speaking, your values are no more significant that than the values of a headhunter or a Nazi.

          • But you forget society.

            We do not live in our own little bubbles. If we did, what you said would be true. But since we interact with other humans, we find it beneficial to communicate and establish mutually acceptable social rules to mediate our subjective positions. This is what society is, and I know that you know societies exist.

            Failing to recognise that there’s a social layer between the individual and your posited God is the crux of the failure of our argument. Given that society performs all the actions that you ascribe to your God, it’s not surprising that you do your best to keep it out of the discussion, but it’s the elephant in the room, and everyone else can see it.

        • moshe averick

          JP,

          Everything you said about society and interacting with others is your purely subjective view. If you find that appealing be my guest. It has nothing to do with me or anyone else for that matter unless they also happen to find it appealing. It binds and obligates no one.

      • Moshe,

        I’ll take your point that you did not say “atheists are wicked”, but I believed that in general, the whole purpose of the 2 articles was to imply that. To put it in your own words, you were laying the philosophical groundwork that would pave the way to prejudice against atheists. But OK, let’s say I misunderstood you completely when you stated that “in the atheistic worldview we are nothing more than upright walking primates, our value systems have no more significance than those of our jungle dwelling relatives”. So let’s start from zero.

        Let’s first note that when you talk about “moral principles that come from God”, you didn’t clarify to which god you are referring to. There are thousands of gods that are claimed to have given moral principles to humans, and those principles are as diverse as the gods themselves (and the cultures in which they appear), so some of them will allow to kill other human beings, slave women or have sex with daugthers (and very interesting to note that some of these gods change their value system over time). If a theist believed he should take one of these moral systems as the “real, objective” one, that still would be his own personal preference. In fact, that’s what all religions do, claiming that their “truths” are the real ones, right? As you have stated, preference “is subjective and notoriously capricious”, and we shouldn’t exclude from that definition the preference for a particular god. Religious morality is as subjective as any other morality, because an individual would always be facing a moment of choice: this god or the other. His decision would be arbitrary (unless he dealt with evidence, which is just the opposite of religious faith), that is, no better or worse than the preferences of any other theists. Wouldn’t that mean that these values have no significance, either? It would be absurd then for the theist to suggest that any particular god or religion has the authority to dictate to all human beings what their values should or should not be.

        I think the biggest mistake is actually believing that any product of human consciousness (as values are) can be thought of having “objective reality”. That is a contradiction in terms, since objectivity comes from the notion that something exists outside the human mind. Values are always subjective, they imply judgment and choice, regardless of the value system itself.

      • I said that if moral principles do not come from God they are totally insignificant.

        Oops, you got that backwards.

        Since your vision of God is of a Supernatural Being Not Of This World, then whatever moral principles would come from such a God would be totally out-of-touch in this world. And since this world is where we live, your God is of no help.

        You may try to dream about living outside the universe/reality, but you cannot actually live that way.

  • Moshe wonders what it would be like “If we are not accountable to a higher power for our actions,…”

    But what he needs to think about is how he is going to figure out if what that “higher power” tells him to do is right or wrong. How is he to know? Does he just blindly obey? And how does he deal with people who blindly obey a different “higher power”?

  • It occurs to me that this obsession with trying to tie pedophilia to atheism (!) is a bizarre and desperate attempt to make religion seem somehow relevant to life and morality. But religion actually undermines morality by substituting commandments from God for moral values.

    Pedophilia is bad. Atheism is correct. Religion — not so good.

    • Or maybe it’s a “look, over there!” strategy.

      If everyone is tied up in debating whether it’s possible for secular morality to condone paedophilia, then they may not spend as much time:

      1) discussing the actual child sex abuse perpetrated and covered up by adherents of various “objective” moral systems.

      or 2) discussing the fact that Moshe’s particular “objective” source of morality approves of slavery and genocide of unbelievers. He’s not worried about a slippery slope argument being made against Torah morality as it’s already at the bottom of the slope looking up.

      • The God of the Old Testament is certainly a vicious brute. So why would anyone want to follow a religion starting from that?

        Religion is like a slippery slope for slipping away from reality and self-responsibility.

      • Hear hear…the same concern crossed my mind.

      • JP,

        Maybe your statements are nothing more than an attempt to avoid the point of my article. namely, that atheistic values have no significance whatsoever. That is true no matter what you have to say about the Torah.

        In fact, you have a very superficial and distorted understanding of the Torah system of values. If you are prepared to honestly pose a question about the Torah system, I am more than happy to try to respond. However, before you could do that, you would have to be prepared to admit that perhaps you don’t really understand what Judaism and Torah are all about? I’m not sure if you are able to do that.

        • Sure I’m able to do that – I’m sure your understanding of Judaism is deeper than mine.

          So how about you explain Torah morality for me? Perhaps you can use the morality of slave-keeping as a worked example.

          (Then perhaps, I could give you a lesson or two in secular morality, as your understanding of it seems even poorer than my grasp of Judaism).

          • Jp,

            Your question about slavery is a fair one. However, before I write anything you need to realize that the concept of slavery you have in your mind, which is probably based heavily on the history of the enslavement of blacks in this country or slavery in general in the ancient world, say among the Greeks and Romans has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of slavery in the Torah. You would need to start with a completely blank slate. If you are prepared to do that, I am certainly prepared to discuss the subject.

          • Is Moshe trying to tell us there is a good kind of slavery?! What’s up with that?

          • Well, you prepared the “blank slate” for him, so what happened to Moshe’s willingness to discuss the subject? Did God step in and forbid it?

        • Dear Moshe,
          Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

  • A Plea to Atheists: Pedophilia is Next on the Slippery Slope???
    Who is presenting a phony strawman argument?
    Rabbi Moshe Averick!!!

    My equally repulsive,
    Plea to Religious Types like Rabbi Moshe Averick: Torturing and Murdering People Who Do Not Share Your Religious Beliefs is Next on Your Slippery Slope!

    For thousands of years religious believers have tortured and murdered innocent people for the sole crime of not paying homage to the religious fanatic’s god(s).

    Possibly hundreds of millions of people slaughtered in the name of whatever make-believe diety.

    In your own Hebrew Scriptures are accounts of armies of Jewish believers slaughtering and being slaughtered because of religious beliefs.

    May I remind you that the soldiers who sent families of particular religious beliefs to their deaths, proudly wore on their belt buckle “Gott Mit Uns” which means “God With Us”

    I can name a hundred historical atrocities occurring because of religion starting with the Holocaust. Can you name a single instance where a crime was perpetrated in the name of atheism?

    You are an ugly, evil man Mr Averick who writes inflamatory lies and hides behind an imaginary belief system.

    An atheist may feel free to have a hypothetical discussion about morality. But it takes a religious believer like David Koresh or Warren Jeffs to rape children because God said to do so.

    An atheist may feel free to have a hypothetical discussion about morality. But it takes a Pharisee to condemn a man to Roman crucifixion because he didn’t kowtow to their religious laws.

    Please stop using the title “Rabbi” You are no teacher.

    • William,.
      Even if what you are saying has some truth, it doesn’t change the fact that atheistic values have no significance or meaning outside of the heads of those who espouse them.

      Before you get TOO self-righteously indignant please remember that the greatest mass murderers in the history of mankind were all atheists.

      Your understanding of Judaism is certainly distorted.

      • Moshe,

        By positing such nonsense as “atheistic values,” you are sadly distorting the discussion. They are as illusory as your “God-given values.”

        Values have to do with REALITY, not with the non-existent.

      • “the greatest mass murderers in the history of mankind were all atheists”.???

        Really? Would you care to give names?

    • Mark Patterson

      Moshe is not saying that claiming a belief in God is a guarantee against evil, or even that the morality in the Bible makes sense to us. He is saying that without a creator to inform us, our own morality has no solid foundation.

      Much as we all deplore for example child molestation, there are people who actively promote it as normal. And more than that, a form of sexual molestation was actually policy in Germany in the 1970s. http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,702679,00.html

      It may be that people like Koresh exploit certain more trusting people, but it is not their scriptures that tells them to do this.

      • Mark, I don’t doubt that many things occur in the world which are the cultural norm for some and the antithesis of morality to others.

        In parts of Asia and South America families live in one room and son and daughters are present when the parents have sex. Not what I would do, but its normal for them.

        In Saudi Arabia woman are whipped and stoned to death for breaking the religious taboos of choosing their own marriage partner, appearing in public without a male family member’s escort, revealing their face in public. Even if a girl is forcibly raped by a stranger, the Mullahs have pronounced and condemned the victim as immoral.

        Topless woman are all over Italian Television. That would carry a death-sentence in Pakistan.

        The sources for this Spiegel bit of neocon propaganda are suspect to say the least. No arrests. No scandal. No convictions. Merely a cloak and dagger story from a rightwing politician who sounds remarkably like Michelle(crazy eyes)Bachmann or Christine(Not a Witch)O’Donnell.

        “In the spring of 1970, Ursula Besser found an unfamiliar briefcase in front of her apartment door. It wasn’t that unusual, in those days, for people to leave things at her door or drop smaller items into her letter slot. She was, after all, a member of the Berlin state parliament for the conservative Christian Democrats.”
        It sounds to me more like the National Enquirer than the Washington Post.

  • Moshe, do you think it’s morally acceptable to keep slaves? If not, why not?

  • Rabbi Averick declares: “The choices before us are clear: we will either seek a transcendent moral law to which we will all submit, or we will seek our own personal and societal indulgence.”

    He presents this false alternative in order to try to obscure the possibility of an objective morality.

    But for rational living, we need to avoid both “transcendence” and “indulgence” — as neither fits the requirements of human life.

  • Atheism is the belief that there are no such things as gods. It makes no comment on anything else.

    Your convoluted Rube Goldberg machine of an argument doesn’t change that simple fact.

    • But without Gods you wouldn’t have, as objective God-given truth, a morality system that considered slavery acceptable, not to mention divinely-sanctioned genocide.

      I wonder if Moshe will tell us again in this thread how Talmudic sages have, over the years, reinterpreted the revealed truth to better fit with societal expectations, while not in any way altering the “objective” morality that God gave his people.

      • Objective morality and “God-given” morality are opposites. “God-given” morality stands for nothing except an exercise in subjectivism.

        The real world is objective. The “supernatural” is imaginary, i.e., utterly subjective.

    • Right. Atheism stands for nothing, signifies nothing, and affirms nothing except for one thing: All the theistic aspirations of all the religionists throughout all history are empty and void.

    • Salvage,

      In fact, you are right. That is exactly what I said. Atheistic values have no significance and atheism itself stands for nothing.

      • You are not understanding what I wrote. Atheism is the believe that there are no such things as gods.

        If that is a value it’s only in the strickest mathamatical sense and, once again, only limited to the belief of the existence of gods.

        I can only assume that your refusal to understand this very simple thing is a deliberate obtuseness.

        At any rate your baby killing, war loving,, genocidal god is hardly a source of morality so even from that angle your argument fails.

        • Salvage,

          Again, if you have a serious question about Jewish/Torah morality I am prepared to respond, but like they say on Jeopardy: Please put it in the form of a question. I can tell you categorically that your understanding of Judaism leaves much to be desired.

          • I have no serious questions when it comes to your very silly god.

            I am pointing out that atheism has nothing to do with morality, it is not a philosophy, it is not a way of life, it is nothing deep nor wide.

            It’s simple, there are no such things as gods. The End.

            I could list off every single god every dreamed of, including the ones that came before your god and ask you if they were real and you’d say “no” until we got to yours, then suddenly all the reasons you were previously saying “no” go right out the window.

            Why is as obvious as it is sadly self-serving.

            I was raised in a Jewish home and even without that experience I understand Judaism to be a theistic enterprise centred around a god and that’s all I need to know to know it’s rubbish.

            It’s a bit like finding a cockroach in the punch-bowl, doesn’t matter what the flavor is, you know it’s undrinkable.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Pedophilia hurts the well-being of the child. If we allow it in our society we increase the probability of the well-being of our own children and ourselves being in jeopardy. These are objective facts that most of us don’t have to think through because we empathically feel the victim’s pain but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    This seems true no matter what your religious beliefs happen to be particularly since the scriptures have many brutal devine commands that most believers selectively ignore using their independent moral reasoning.

    • moshe averick

      Self Aware,
      Abortion hurts the well being of the unborn baby but we have found a way to get around that when we need to.
      I hope that our society will never accept pedophilia, but if you think that the fact that it may be “harmful” is enough of a reason you are mistaken. when there is a strong enough need people will rationalize anything.

  • An honest, consistent, and candid articulation of any theistic worldview must admit that “ethical” values have no significance at all outside of the heads of those who espouse them. Theistic values have no objective reality and any actual significance ascribed to these values is rooted squarely in the human imagination. Theistic attempts a ethics are desperate attempts to create the illusion that religious actions and decisions have real purpose and meaning. In other words, they are foolish and illusory.

    Since the supernatural is totally imaginary, no viable real life values can be derived from theistic attempts at morality.

    Morality not grounded in reality (that is, in this world rather than in the not-of-this-world of God) is dangerous for human life.

  • But Moshe, our morality – being based on a fiction – is as subjective as anyone else’s. You seem to be saying that what makes it superior is that you perceive it to be objective. In doing so, you’re not actually agreeing with Coyne, you’re agreeing with Ruse.

    Also, when people talk of biological/evolutionary sources of morality, it is deeply dishonest to characterise those people as saying that they believe that morality is subjective to the point of it being capricious. You know full well you are making this misrepresentation, and you should stop.

    • That should be “your morality” on the first line. My “y” key has biscuit crumbs under it :)

    • JP,

      If God does not exist or if he does exist and has no personal connection to human beings, you are right. All morality is nothing more than fiction. I am not saying that those who believe that morality is based on some sort of biology believe that morality is capricious. They are schizoid, like Michael Ruse. They BELIEVE it is significant and binding, even though in reality it is nothing more than the product of their imagination.

      • Moshe,

        You seem to believe that God is necessary for morality, when in fact God is inimical to morality.

        Morality requires rationality, but God demands irrationality, i.e., faith instead of reason.

        • Mark Patterson

          Steve, your short post shows up how divergent theist and atheist are in their thinking or at least use of words.

          Morality does not require rationality. It requires values. Rationality is a tool of the intellect, but it could be moral or immoral. Pure reason doesn’t give us values.

          Faith and rationality are orthogonal properties of human experience. Our human experience is utterly permeated with acts of faith. Every time we use language, for example; every time someone starts a new business, or course of study, or invests in the share market, or decides to have a child, faith is involved.

          Human reason in most cases has a very short reach. If we limited ourselves to that we would still be living in caves or rather would have died out.

          For the theist, God is the creator, he intended us to live in large numbers for long periods of time and achieve great things. Our feeble human minds are not capable of sorting out all that is required for that. But the Designer had it in mind from the start.

          Notice that it is the nations that have most fully been informed by the Judeochristian tradition that have made the modern world, with its institutions of justice, government, education, medicine and science. Other cultures have had access to just as much rationality and have achieved something, but nothing as far-reaching as the West. And when those traditions have been suppressed, as they were in the French revolution and the Soviet bloc, things have gone downhill fast.

    • moshe averick

      JP,

      If I am wrong about the existence of God and the truth of Torah, you are absolutely correct. My morality is nothing more than a figment of my imagination and it is as significant and/or meaningful as that of the Nazi or the cannibal of the Fiji islands or you for that matter. None of it would really matter. Subjective morality by definition is capricious. Subjective morality means it is based on what I feel at any given moment. Isnt that obvious? What else could it be based on? If it’s not based on my feeling, should it be based on YOUR feeling?

      • The cannibals of the Caribe islands were religious polytheists.

        The Nazis were Catholic and Protestant.

        “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross.”
        Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich on April 12, 1922

  • You have hit all the nails on the head.

    If an objective morality exists, then a Divinity exists, albeit an impersonal one.

    The problem is that atheist morality refuses to deal with the how and why of where the Golden Rule comes from,the foremost and most compelling expression of objective morality. It comes from the psyche, the whole psyche, from its center, a place most decidedly outside of the ego and of egocentric Cartesian “thinkers”.

    The failing aspect of the Golden Rule derives precisely from a person’s incapacity to feel what he does to others, partly out of lack of development, and hindered greatly by his own lack of feeling about what had been done to him in his own life, particularly growing up.

    Thinkers refuse to move to differentiated feeling function which would clarify the origins, significance and other-than-ego origins of objective morality because all the development of the intellect has given it an addictive control of the greater psyche.

    This is the real wound of European and other intellectuals world-wide.

    Reading the appendix of Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections,you get an interesting perspective on this in his conversation with the Hopi Indians and his realization of what the Roman conquest of Gaul did to Western civilization.

    • The problem is that atheist morality refuses to deal with the how and why of where the Golden Rule comes from,the foremost and most compelling expression of objective morality.

      That’s simply a lie. There is no refusal at all to deal with the origin of the Golden Rule (which transcends religion, and requires no gods). Go get an education.

      You can disagree all you like with evolutionary biologists’ explanations of the Golden Rule, and disagree with sociobiologists’ explanations of the Golden Rule, but you can’t say that atheist philosophy refuses to deal with the Golden Rule unless you are ignorant or lying.

      Perhaps you could explain why the Golden Rule needs God. It seems perfectly reasonable to me without God. Why would I need God? Is it so hard for you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you without fear of divine punishments?

      • The truth is not insulting but you were insulted.

        Golden Rule, physics laws, how does it come to be that a chaotic universe has order? Has the capacity to have its myriad data processed to create universals that can be inferred and that can be substantiated as objectively true?

        You are most likely offended because your idea of God is pure knee-jerk comic book, a kind of subject standing outside of the object of the Universe directing it.

        If that is the case, you need to work on that image and come up with a Spirited universe housing a subject in the same way that your body houses the subject that you are.

        Further, no one has proven that God does not exist. Even when I was a committed atheist, I knew I could not prove such a hypothesis.

        And, how does it come to be that the universe is only an object, the greatest, most mysterious black box of all time, one that overcomes entropy by the way, and that there is no subject aspect to the Universe itself?

        The real question is: do moral universals exist?

        Or you cold read Ouspensky’s book on Gurdjieff and try the exercise called self-remembering and see if it is “conscience” that comes to you.

        You know “conscience”; it is the organ of the psyche that finds a neutralizing third force allowing contradictory principles to complement each other.

        But, as I said, all moral judgments are good only as products of differentiated feeling function. If you can’t feel, you can’t have conscience.

        • I’m not offended at all, actually.

          I merely noted that when you said that atheist philosophers refused to contemplate the origin of the Golden Rule, you were either lying, or ignorant.

          Neither of those options offends me in the slightest, but after reading the rest of your latest post, I’m leaning towards the second.

      • “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” + our existing biological emotion of indignation (motivation to punish poor cooperators) + our existing knowledge of who is a good cooperator fully summarizes the well known winning game theory strategy called “indirect reciprocity”.

        If you want to understand morality, you ought to first understand game theory.

        I am a stone cold, granite hard, atheist and I will challenge you to a match of my morality against yours theistic nonsense morality any day.

        You will lose, because your morality is based on self delusion and mine is based in what morality, and our obligation regarding it, really is.

        • Markus7,

          If human beings are nothing more than the most intelligent members of the animal kingdom. If all “morality” is reducible to neural synaptic connections and some chemical configurations in the brain what could possibly be “obligatory” about it. It all boils down to “whatever floats your boat.” If you enjoy altruism and empathy be my guest. I don’t see how you can “obligate” anyone to do anything except if you have the gun in your hand. Group cooperation that is mutually beneficial is not morality, it is pragmatism. When it becomes more advantageous not to cooperate then an individual will do as he sees fit. I don’t see how anyone can argue with this.

          • I bet you wish nobody could argue with it, but wishing won’t make it so.

            Since “group cooperation” is not the basis of morality, then you have no basis for believing that not cooperating with a group is therefore immoral (or amoral — or somehow “bad”).

            And notice that, whether you believe in God or not, there is no way to eliminate robbery by claiming that people are “obligated” (by God, the “social compact” or whatever) not to rob you. That is why it is sometimes wise to have a gun in your hand (and/or in a policeman’s hand).

          • You’re making a category mistake – deliberately conflating, for example, a biological obligation to see murder as wrong with an individual obligation not to murder.

          • Moshe’s making that mistake, not Steve, just to be clear.

          • “I don’t see how you can “obligate” anyone to do anything except if you have the gun in your hand.”

            Don’t you really mean “I don’t see how you can “obligate” anyone to do anything except if you have the GOD in your hand.”

            Why is it that the nations with the least amount of believers and the highest percentage of non-believers are rated as the “happiest places to live” and have the highest standard of living with the lowest crime rates? Denmark, Canada, Norway and Netherlands.

            The most miserable and dangerous hellholes to live are coincidentally the most religious. Why is that?

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