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The Ethics of an Atheist by underground

To complement my Monopoly of morality post, this post looks at where atheists get their morals. That post argued that atheists are as ethical as theists and therefore Christianity’s claim to all things moral is unsubstantiated. That argument was brief, and could certainly be added to. This post will look at how evolution is said to have provided us with the morals that we value.

For atheists to justify themselves, it almost takes more than a “but it says so in the bible” style argument. Hence in blog debates, atheist comments tend to be longer and cite more sources, than their Christian counterparts. That is why I’m taking this rant to my blog, instead of posting it as a comment to a debate I’m currently engaged in.

It is usually phrased “how can you have morals without God?” or something similar. Unfortunately there are not many quick effective replies to this common Christian argument. That is not too say that atheists cannot argue it, to some degree my own monopoly of morality does, but the best argument is that ethics are innate. The evolutionary process has given us morals because they are beneficial to the advancement of the species.

I won’t pretend that I am as knowledgeable as an evolutionary biologist in this field, although I do consider myself competent in the philosophy involved in this debate. I won’t go very far into the evolutionary process, merely touch upon the subject before moving into how evolution leads to altruism. This of course will not be a comprehensive essay on the matter, merely an overview of the argument and some scientific examples to back it up. Although I recognise I miss many important ideas and theories, there is too much material to cover. Science is not my strong point, I prefer the philosophical arguments, and so I appreciate suggestions and corrections. In saying that, I stand by the core of the argument point forward, and have cited my sources throughout.

Evolution as a scientific theory can explain many things about our species. Most fascinating for anyone with an interest in philosophy will be arguably most interested in how evolution makes people moral. Critics have even tried to argue that believing in evolution will lead to selfishness and individuality. Richard Dawkins’ book entitled The Selfish gene perhaps helped this misconception take off. He now regrets the title, lamenting that another term may have been more appropriate. The idea of selfish genes gave the impression that evolution demands we act only in own interests. Christians do love to jump on this idea and claim that evolution promotes selfishness. This can easily be refuted. Perhaps the theist should be pondering what isn’t selfish about being moral just so you can go to heaven and not hell. Arguably Christianity promotes egocentrism more so than evolution. And if they do make this argument they have simply missed the point.

Perhaps the most misunderstood Darwinian notion is the “survival of the fittest”. The term was actually coined by philosopher Herbert Spencer, not Charles Darwin. It is often mistaken to mean the strongest individual will succeed at the expense of weaker beings. It actually means the individuals that adapt to a new environment or suit the current environment the best will survive. This could mean the most camouflaged, the longest legs, the most intelligent, or the most altruistic. Consider that although the sabre-toothed tiger was a fearsome predator because of its large teeth, it is believed that these teeth were also its downfall.

There are several different theories as to how evolution has produced altruism, including group selection, kin selection, and reciprocal altruism. There are problems with each, and there is still some disagreement. This is not, however, a reason to dismiss the idea that ethics are not innate, as there is irrefutable evidence of this, particular apparent in research of young humans and in animals.

Arguably altruism is not to the benefit of an individual. However, a group containing members who selflessly act for the betterment of the community, which likely out survive a community of individuals. It’s a bit like a sports team in that respect. Even a team of elite players may lose to a lesser team if they do not work together.

I am yet to meet a Christian who argues that animals are religious, so how would they account for examples of altruism and ethics in the animal kingdom? Many studies have found animals to act selflessly towards their kin, in particular our close ape relatives. If their altruism is non-religious, surely ours can be too?

Vampire bats regurgitate blood to feed other members of the group who did not feed that night to ensure they do not starve. Vervet monkeys give alarm calls to warn other monkeys that predators are around, at a risk of drawing attention to themselves. Consider ants and bees whose social system involves working for the good of the entire community. Animals act in ways that do not assist their personal ability to pass on their genes, but act for the better of their community, thus helping themselves as well. The group that contains vervet monkeys that all risk their own life to warn the group, will more likely survive rather than a group consisting of selfish monkeys.

Let me borrow from David Sloan Wilson an example of evolution enforcing altruism in nature. In his book Evolution for everyone, Wilson looks at the research of a poultry scientist, William Muir. Hens were grouped together, inhumanely kept several to a cage. He compared two methods of breeding chickens to get the optimum amount of eggs from the offspring. The first method involved taking the most productive hens from each cage to breed the next generation. The second method involved taking the best the best egg producing cage, and using these hens to breed another generation. Six generations of hens were bred from each group.

One would think that the first method would be more effective, as the better egg producing hens should produce the best egg producing offspring. Well, instead of their being the nine birds as expected, there were only three. The others had been murdered; the remaining hens were featherless. The study concluded “the most productive individuals had achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of their cage mates”. These were not the best egg produces; they were the meanest. The other group, needless to say, were alive, and producing more eggs than any other cage. Hence the selfish and self-centred would die out and those that work together would survive.

Okay so that is why we are all moral (apart from psychopaths, who perhaps confirm the argument). Just like eating, breathing and so forth, we know to be moral. Religion is not the root of morality. Studies looking at the differences in ethics between religions and cultures frequently find little differences between beliefs of what is right and wrong. This can only mean the religion has little to do with ethics and that we get our morality from elsewhere.

It really is as simple as saying that is in our own and our species best interest to be moral.

It is in my best interest that you do not harm me, and I will not harm you. It is in everyone’s best interest that Israel does not nuke Iran or vice versa. To be honest it is an insult to yourself when you claim that morals come from scripture as it means that you do not know right and wrong on your own. How do you operate?

I recently read of someone who would turn the question around on the theist. Having been asked why they are not out murdering and raping because they do not believe in god, the atheist would ask if that is what they would be doing if they did not believe in a deity. The Christian had to answer yes in order to save face; although it is unlikely they believed it, thus condemning themselves as a monster.

Perhaps a future post could look at where Christians get their morals, when one considers the contradictory messages in the bible and the changing interpretation of the bible as a result of advancing science. This would have to also involve Dawkins brilliant “cherry picking” argument, which proves that Christians get their beliefs from somewhere other than the bible.

To make my point here, let me borrow from Sam Harris:

“The notion that the Bible is a perfect guide to morality is really quite amazing, given the contents of the book. Human sacrifice, genocide, slaveholding, and misogyny are consistently celebrated. Of course, God’s counsel to parents is refreshingly straightforward: whenever children get out of line, we should beat them with a rod (Proverbs 13:24, 20:30, and 23h:13–14). If they are shameless enough to talk back to us, we should kill them (Exodus 21:15, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 21:18–21, Mark 7:9–13, and Matthew 15:4–7). We must also stone people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshiping graven images, practicing sorcery, and a wide variety of other imaginary crimes.

Most Christians imagine that Jesus did away with all this barbarism and delivered a doctrine of pure love and toleration. He didn’t. (See Matthew 5:18–19, Luke 16:17, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 20–21, John 7:19.) Anyone who believes that Jesus only taught the Golden Rule and love of one’s neighbour should go back and read the New Testament. And he or she should pay particular attention to the morality that will be on display if Jesus ever returns to earth trailing clouds of glory (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9, 2:8; Hebrews 10:28–29; 2 Peter 3:7; and all of Revelation).”

So where do you get your morals from?

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13 Comments so far
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hello, i wanted to return the comment you gave me. Again you have made very good points in your arguments. Your references and descriptions all work brilliantly. But i have a few questions of my own. if morals were evolved in animals in order to survive and the first species or organism was not born with a complete set of morals and they had to build slowly build the morals( and those morals are key in survival) then how did they first live without them. For example, if the first breed animal was given the moral to not kill your friend then why wouldn’t he have done so which would escalate to the extinction of the species. Although this question may not be completely solid and there are many ways to argue this such as why would that species kill the other for no reason? You ask that because you have morals? I can not argue that not sort of evolution did not take place because i was simple not there but then again their wasn’t anyone there that is still alive today. I am not closed into the thought that the earth and all of its life was literally created in six days, there may have been evolution and that famous big bang. Believe that evolution could have been in existence does not make you a non believer. I do not believe in all of the theories and there is archaeological evidence of humans(humans not half breeds) being around much longer than thought by scientist. I am referring to a find a few years ago in north east Africa. they found an whole skeleton of a man that was older and had a stronger resemblance us than the previous scatterings. In the bible it states that people are born with the truth about God and i imagine that morality and logic comes through that. Many religious stories including Native American are extremely similar and the bible refers to that. Because people are born with the truth(subconsciously) they create stories of the formation of the earth, gods, etc. almost identically. You would that if culture or groups of people were separated without ever having contact with one another then they would have different stories of something like their own creation, but they’re not. there almost the same or at least every religion that i have done any sort of research on. For me that is more assurance in God. I am sure you are thinking of something that might counter this so tell me as i am sure you will because i will do the same to you in your reply. I looked up one of your verses proverb 13:24. have you read it yourself. If would study it and give it any consideration i am sure you would not refer it as you have done. it is not implying that a good father should abusive but rather strict in raising a child. This is even mentioned by Socrates(or Plato because he was the author) in the Republic not by referring to this verse but this subject. He claims that if you raise a child and not enforce rules on him then the outcome of the child will be poor. this is the same for raise a dog. if you do not enforce rules on the animal, if you do not have authority over the animal then the dog will result in poor behavior. (a great reason why people give up their pets). if someone robs a store and are caught they will (hopefully) be sent to jail in an attempt to correct this behavior, if the person is let free with no sort of punishment then they will most likely commit the crime and greater crimes again. I could continue with this for a while but i am sure you understand what i am saying the verse is not saying be an abusive parent but is saying if you do not discipline when he does wrong your child he will turn out poorly. the bible does not state that you beat your child senseless but give the proper amount of discipline. I only looked up one verse that you mentioned, but I imagine that like this verse, you took it out of context.

Comment by andrewbreece

Thanks for your comment Andrew.

You do make some good points. Let me address them each separately.

Firstly you bring a great point regarding how life survived pre-altruism. This is really also an argument into how altruism also came about. As I said I do not pretend to be a biologist nor an expert on evolution, so I will answer as best I can. My argument focuses on how altruism is beneficial to a species evolutionally, but you question how it came about in the first place. Richard Dawkins argues that altruism may have firstly come about as a by-product of another trait. I cannot pretend to fully understand this idea and would surely butcher it if I tried explaining it. I believe it is a core idea of his selfish gene book, perhaps I will reply to this point when I have actually read that book! As for now I am inundated with university assignments, I really should cut back on the blogging! I am sure another blogger will be able to competently answer your point in the meantime.

You believe that people are born with the truth about God, and that morality and logic come as a result. You refer to the bible as evidence of this, which of course I cannot accept this as credible, as I’m sure you will understand. See my “but it says so in the bible blog” for why I cannot accept the bible as support for anyone’s arguments. In any case I doubt I was born with the “truth about God” within me!

Where in the bible does it mention the Native Americans or even other faiths? Unless God is demanding infidels be stoned to death, I don’t think the bible accounts for other religions. For me, similarities between religions tell me more about man and his insecurities, than god, in that religions typically represent the wills and hopes of their followers. But that will be because I only see all religions as inventions of man, and each religion seems to confirm this for me. Perhaps my “but it says so” post somewhat covers this too.

You pulled me up on using the Sam Harris quote, you are right; I should have looked at all the quotes, instead of taking good old Mr Harris at his word. The one you refer to could be interpreted as you have. However many of the others would be hard to interpret kindly, in fact I would be surprised to see if anyone could find even an acceptable metaphorical definition! In particular:

Leviticus 20:9
9For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.
Exodus 21:15
15And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21
18If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

I’m sure I read somewhere that one book of the bible does explicitly say that the following text is the literal truth of God, therefore negating the ‘metaphorical’ argument. I cannot remember the book so don’t quote me on that! But my main objection with the common tendency of Christians interpret immoral scripture as metaphorical is that if one passage is not literal, perhaps the whole thing is not! This is similar to Dawkins’s “cherry picker” argument. In the past the entire book was considered the literal truth, but the advance of science and the liberal rights movements have led Christians to re-evaluate the bible. The question is: why then take any of it literally?

Cheers,
Paul

Comment by undergroundnetwork

hello, I am new to this website and I am still trying to figure it out. I just saw your reply and I was delighted to hear you respond. I am very glad to see that you did not ignore my comment. First i would like to respond on the very last thing you mentioned and then work my way up. You are quite right “why then take any of it literally?” wells lets say you do take it literally and that the earth was created in 6 days… but first can you define what a day is? You could say that a day is the time it takes for the earth to rotate. But perhaps this was not the intended definition in the bible, maybe a day was supposed to mean a completed cycle. I have a hard time believing that the earth was literally created in the 6 days that we know because God always uses patience in the bible he never rush’s things so why would he do so with the earth? It does not make since. Christianity is to be token by faith and not knowledge which is why it can be so difficult to defend. Obviously you do not believe in it but I think God did this to make sure that it was faith that made us believe in him and not knowledge. But you believe all of that is crap, and I understand because you have become so accustomed to not believing and sought and found supposable evidence against his existence. But however there has never been actual evidence that has been able to fully deny his presence, but you could say that Andrew there is no evidence god does exist and i could not possibly say anything to persuade you because I would say is the nature around is the evidence but you already believe that nature is only a result of evolution.
Now on the verses, I have no checked to make sure how accurate they are but if I am right they were a set of laws given to the Jews for certain circumstances at a certain period of time. Punishment and ethics is often just a matter of opinion and punishment may have to become more or less severe for different situations or time periods such as war. This is not all that crazy; think about it, i am sure you are familiar or somewhat familiar with the philosophies of Pythagoras. Pythagoras said that when ever a man commits a crime and any crime they should be hung. His thoughts on this were that if people were afraid of being killed they would not commit crime. the situation in that period in the bible may have been something like this: the jews have now left the ruling of the Egyptians and now they have to basically make a new society. In this new freedom and with no rules and governmental control you could imagine with any group of people that there would be a lot of chaos especially among the youth. In order for the group to obtain control and set rule in such a risky situation they had to make it severe, very severe. AND THAT is my take on it.

I’m not sure your understanding me, haven’t you noticed that all religions have a story of the creation of the earth and they are almost identical? This has been literary and philosophical study for a long time. Explain to me how every groups take on the world is almost the same. Other religions were mentioned; the bible clearly mentioned the worshiping of ideals, the birds and trees, and even the Greek religions. Native Americans were not mentioned you got me there ill admit it, I never once came across the name native americans but i also never read anything about the Chinese but weren’t to far away. if meant something else by bringing up the N.A as I am sure you did please bring it up.

Unfortunately I know nothing about altruism and if you would like my take on it you will have to enlighten me on the subject.
As always, it was a pleasure hearing and responding to you.
p.s. If you would, could you check out some of my other blogs like my favorite “the one handed politicians”. maybe we can agree on something.

Comment by andrewbreece

Hi Andrew,

Likewise I appreciate your correspondence. Even though you are new I assume you have discovered there is some unintelligent debate taking place on some blogs, so it is nice to have some sincere, open and honest discussion with someone with differing views. All too often to degenerates into insults, although perhaps insults are all that some posts are worth (angryxtian!).

My first objection (perhaps the wrong word, it seems so strong!) to your response is the opting to redefine the meanings of what is said in the bible. You say that perhaps days does not refer to an earth’s rotation, fair enough, I have often have heard of the “days” in genesis representing a larger measure of time than 24 hours. You propose that it could mean I “cycle”, this is perhaps a fair argument. However, if the days in genesis could be reinterpreted to mean, for arguments sake, several million years each, then what is to stop one redefining other parts of scripture that do not hold up when considered literally? Perhaps anything from Jesus’s resurrection to Moses parting the sea could be reinterpreted as something more likely or credible. There is perhaps one of my strongest objection to religion. It is so easily manipulated in order to fit the thinking, and knowledge of the times.

You are right to say that there is no evidence to disprove God, as there is also no empirical evidence to prove that there is a deity. So I do acknowledge that there could possibly be a god, although I am confident that it is not one that has been worshipped by any existing religions, or any that have become extinct. As far as I understand, things that have historically only been able to have been explained using religion can now be explained by science, and therefore we potentially may reach a time when everything in the universe can be explained using science. This is why I believe the intelligent design movement is arrogant, and why it is ultimately not science (see my “irrational design” post for my full thoughts.) So although science cannot disprove god, science can, for the most part, explain life without the need for a god. The burden of proof, as far as I’m concerned is with those that claim God’s existence, just like we would demand evidence from a conspiracy theorist proclaiming alien invasions, or from someone who swore they saw Elvis. Perhaps the thought processes of an alien conspiracy theorist and many deists are very similar, perhaps not.

Your example of Pythagoras merely reminds me of, and reinforces, my belief that the bible is merely a product of its time. This is part of why I see the bible as a man made book, reflecting the cultures and norms of the times in which it was written, and not the dictations of a God that exists outsides of time and space. Other religions appear similar to the bible because religion reflects the desires and wishes of its followers (life after death, justice, prosperity etc). If, as I think you are saying, religions are the similar because God spoke to all these people, not only does this make holy wars all the more ridiculous (meaning God’s demands to kill other faiths are immoral), but it renders all religions just as valid, and perhaps means that one should not follow one religious tradition, but all of them. However there are also massive differences between religions; some are monotheist, others are polytheists, some are in essence violent, others are ultimately much more peaceful, some demand sacrifices of life, others demand dedication in prayer. For me these differences reflect the different cultures these religions arose in.

I hope all that made sense; I have just come home from a few quiet ones after a wee celebration following completion of a particularly difficult university assignment! I hope this has been coherent.

Again, thank you for you comments, it is great to speak to a thoughtful believer, who is humble, open minded and respectful. Let me tell you, that apart from my girlfriend, I meet all too few of them!

Cheers,
Paul

Comment by undergroundnetwork

Hello, I’m always excited to read your comments or replies. I too respect your works, your opinion and how you go about saying it. I very much appreciate someone who can discuss a serious subject that is opposite of what I believe. You would not be as great of a debater as you are if you did loose your temper, I was once told “the moment someone looses their temper or makes a personal attack they have lost the argument. I don’t think people understand how important it is to listen to those who disagree with what you think because that way we have a chance to spot our own ignorance, and we can understand the other side.

You make an excellent point (Perhaps anything from Jesus’s resurrection to Moses parting the sea could be reinterpreted as something more likely or credible), it seems impossible to trap you. But I am a little confused maybe you could help me out and explain any way that those two stories could have been misinterpreted in the same way that the 7 day theory might have been?

You are also quite right; the bible can be manipulated in so many ways. I think the reason for this is because it is literature. I am sure you have read a book or a poem (besides the bible) and your view of what the meaning might have been was different than someone else’s. Why should the bible be any different? People are going to have their own take on each section of the bible.

But there is one thing I do disagree on, I do not think that mankind will ever be able to explain everything by science, I honestly think that we do not realize how much we do not know.

I have another question for you but I am going to build up to the question before I ask.

I was born and I will die, my friend was born and he will die, you were born and you will die. If my neighbor is living then it means one day she will die. If she is living then it also means she was born. That is also true for the plants and animals out side. So far we can say that if something is living it was born and it will die. So now I have to ask, if that one micro-organism that ended up giving birth to everything that is hear today how was it born? If it was not the first how the first born?

Like always it was a pleasure talking to you,
Andrew

Comment by andrewbreece

Hi Andrew,

I’m not aware of any reinterpretations of those two examples I gave, but I could hazard a guess of what potential reinterpretations could be, for someone who is trying to reconcile the bible with science. The moses story could be a metaphor, perhaps he used a boat, or maybe waited until the tide was out before he crossed! As for the resurrection, this was a bit of a dumb example, as science could never prove that Jesus never came back to life, although it is clearly impossible, and no Christian would want to turn that story into a metaphor anyway, as it would surely render the religion particularly meaningless. However my argument still stands that if parts of it are not the literal truth, why should any of it be? If parts are merely stories, perhaps the entirety is, and the bible is really a work of fiction. The burden of proof lies with those who claim it is the truth, either partially, or in its entirety.

As for saying that the bible is open to interpretation just like any other piece of literature, surely this only applies to works of fiction or subjective observational works. Non-fiction books are not up for interpretation, what is said is what is said and nothing else. One can either take it or leave it. Historical texts state exactly what is believed to have occurred. Science books have objective truths backed up with empirical evidence. So for me the bible is either all right, or all wrong. And as Noah’s flood did not occur, rabbits do not chew cud, and the sun does not revolve around the earth, I can only reject the bible in its entirety.

You’re final question is an old one, but a good one. It is one that I cannot answer anymore than anyone can competently answer than the atheists’ counter question: “Who created the creator”.

Evolution can be traced back through all living species today, back through the creatures that are known to have preceded them, all the way back to the simplest organisms. The details of this are considered scientific fact by almost all biologists and most scientists of other disciplines. However they can only theorise as to how life initially arose. Theories range from bacteria forming from chemicals present following the earth’s birth to organisms being transported to the earth via an asteroid from other planet with the necessary preconditions for the development of life. Those are very brief versions of those two ideas. Anyway, an experiment conducted a few decades back found that the building blocks of life can arise through what’s called “chemical evolution”. I’m not too schooled up on the science side of things, but it pretty much explains how life can arise independent of a deity.

Google ‘Miller-Urey’ for the details on the study.

Cheers,

Paul

Comment by undergroundnetwork

I apologize for my long absence in returning this comment. I have been growing fatigued by end of the semester school work.

I am not quite sure how the Moses story could be reinterpreted for him taking a boat in the same way that 7 days might have met 7 million years or so for that is the base that we are debating on. If he did take a boat and one large enough to fit all of those who followed him why would the bible state that he parted the sea after he plunged his staff into the ground. I am perplexed on how a parting of the sea could mean a boat. You also mentioned a low tide, very good idea. Remember that this is in or around the middle of the red sea so the only way the tide could drop would be by some sort of tsunami. But then again what kind of tsunami parts in the middle of a body water as well as parting on both sides like a canyon. If it were a low tide how could that have been interpreted as it was told in bible like the 7 days was because in my theory of the day its definition did not mean an actual day but more like a million years. You said if that story were misinterpreted then whose to say that other stories in the bible weren’t misinterpreted as well. So in this story of Moses how could the parting of the sea mean something else?

You’re final question is an old one, but a good one. It is one that I cannot answer anymore than anyone can competently answer than the atheists’ counter question: “Who created the creator”. I love it, I knew you would answer it that way, the best way to answer a question you don’t know is to admit your ignorance and say I don’t know, you really don’t loose because you didn’t give a answer could be proven false. Then you struck me with an identical question about God. You know what I been asking my self that since kinagarden and all anyone ever told me was “no one, he has always been here.” I have never been satisfied with that because it’s not clear enough, it can be argued- everything that is living will die and everything is living was born. But then again in description of heaven, that was broken because everyone has internal life. So maybe if something can live without dieing the something can live without being born. Confusing. But in order for that argument to mean anything to you, you have to believe in immortality. So besides my typed train of thought, I would have to answer I don’t know as well.

Ciao,
Andrew

Comment by andrewbreece

Hi,

My reason for bringing up the idea of moses parting the sea is that it cannot be proven to have occurred, and like all alleged miracles, as David Hume said:

“No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact it endeavours to establish.”

I love that quote! So for this reason I doubt all biblical miracle myths because it is all the more likely that either a slightly different turn of events occurred, which were twisted to appear supernatural, in order to support a religious movement, or that they did not occur, and followers of Jesus were compelled to make up stuff to support Jesus’ claim to be the son of God. Considering other religions have myths of supernatural occurrences, and they can not all be true, I can be certain these miracles have been fabricated. And although these false miracles are believed by millions, this does not prove their credibility, instead proves the ease at which people will believe lies, if these lies support their world view. The “Protocols of the elder of Zion” is a good example of this. Propaganda from Tsarist Russia, proven false on countless occasions, but held to be true by any racist who seeks evidence on the Jewish intent to conquer the world. Despite evidence that proves the protocols wrong, or parts of the bible wrong, those with particular world views will continue to believe.

So additional to the alleged miracles that are easier disproven than proven, there are the other elements of the bible which have been dismissed by science, particularly ideas on race, gender and astronomy, geography and other sciences. Then there are the parts of the bible that contradict other parts of the bible, there are numerous websites dedicated to these case. To me the book seems horribly flawed. The same criticism can be made about other religious books, and has been made competently in Dawkins’ “God Deluison”, Hitchens’ “God is not Great”, and Harris’ “End of Faith”, among others.

Parts of the bible condone slavery, genocide, rape and other acts condemned in liberal secular democracies. Yet many Christians thankfully do not recognise these parts of the bible. How does one reconcile the bible with the ethical reality that these things are abhorrent?

It seems to me, and this is my personal feeling on faith, that when one considers the evidence, and the flaws in the bible, it is much more rational to come to the realisation that it is all false. However, this runs contrary to what is really the great pulling power of any religion, which is its ability to deal with people’s fears and insecurities. So although it is easier to disbelieve, when one thinks hard about the plain facts, it is easier to believe, when one thinks about their desires, fears and insecurities.

Cheers
Paul

Comment by undergroundnetwork

Hello, you said that there are many points of the bible that contradict each other would you mind telling me where.

Although scientist have came across “evidence” that some story are in fact myths there has also been evidence that proves the same stories to be true. Such the finding of Noah’s Arc that meet the same dimensions and the other stories in different cultures that are identical to the story told in the bible about Noah. Also the story of Moses, they have found many chariots berried in the red sea were the crossing was supposed to have occurred.

Scientist may have found evidence that they think dismisses the biblical stories to a myth but they have never actually proven anything in the bible to be false for we have also agreed that we can neither prove God to be in existence nor to a myth.

I forgot to reply back to what you said As for saying that the bible is open to interpretation just like any other piece of literature, surely this only applies to works of fiction or subjective observational works. Non-fiction books are not up for interpretation, what is said is what is said and nothing else. Yes the bible is up for interpretation just as a fictional book is because you believe it is fictional. If you do not believe that it is real then you can argue against it. If you are implying that the bible is not fictional then you would be saying that the stories told in the bible are true.

Parts of the bible condone slavery, genocide, rape and other acts condemned in liberal secular democracies. Yet many Christians thankfully do not recognise these parts of the bible. How does one reconcile the bible with the ethical reality that these things are abhorrent? I again believe that you have token things out of context so would you mind sharing with the parts of the bible that you are referring to because I can not defend something that I do not know what I am defending.
You mentioned that it would much easier to believe in a religion because of personal desires but I think that most of a man’s desires would lead him away from the bible. It would be much easier to follow the desires of the seven deadly sins rather than the desire of purpose and hope of being saved. For when a man is caught up in things like the 7 deadly sins he no longer cares about the rest. The desires that you speak of are spiritual desires and they are more than often berried under things like lust, drugs, alcohol, greed, envy, hatred, gluttony, etc.
Ciao,
Andrew

Comment by andrewbreece

Hi,

Here is a link to what appears to be religious site, on what Christians select to follow and what they do not. These ones are all from Leviticus, but other abhorrent verses can be found in other books of the old and new testament.
http://www.fallwell.com/selective%20quotation.html

What I would ask those from the site is how they follow Christianity, but willingly discard Leviticus or any other sections that conflict with their world view.

Things in the bible HAVE been disproved, be it the earth’s position in the universe, racial inferiority, or my favourite, rabbits chewing cud!
The bible is clearly a product of the time it was made, and tells man no more than what was known at the time of its writing. Otherwise there would be less things wrong, and more things that sit with contemporary science. What else what explain the churches resistance to the scientific advances of the renaissance? Galileo might have been religious, but his discoveries were not popular with the Vatican, because they contradicted biblical teachings. Christians may like to claim him as proof of Christianity’s compatibility with science, but had he been born today, he would probably be an atheist like most scientists!

As far as the deadly sins go, how many nominal Christians actually follow those to the book? Even the most pious devout Church goers will break those. For me this is typical hypocrisy, where only the easiest parts of the religion are followed. In the end most will follow the religion to only the extent that it is easy to, but still believe that in doing so there place in heaven is assured, and that god will help them in life. So although many believe themselves to be more ethical as atheists, they willingly succumb to the same human traits, reinforcing my original post.

Of course it would be nice if there was a truly benevolent God! Imagine if there was some super natural being who ensured everything is ok? Imagine life after death, where we could be with our loved ones? Unfortunately there is no evidence of such things and no god worshiped who is truly benevolent, all knowing and all powerful anyway.

As for bible contradictions, I haven’t a bible handy, so I’ll direct you to two sites that should be of some assistance.

http://www.atheists.org/christianity/contradictions.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.html

Also this one lists those verses that are immoral, be it in Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/dt/21.html

Cheers,
Paul

Comment by undergroundnetwork

A MORE Perfect Government

Why are governments put into place?
John Locke said that governments are formed to protect the rights of the people. It is not a government’s job to give financial aid such as health care and food stamps, but our government has stepped into the role of a parent and greatly assistances those who desire help. However, people have misunderstood the government’s role, it is not their job to give aid to the people but it is a gift. We have token the succor for granted and have forgotten that excluding or eradicating ourselves from destitution is our own job, although the government certainly plays a role in our finances we still have the greatest control over how we utilize our money and therefore we are also the most accountable for our finances. After this said, what should be done with America’s welfare system?

I am in total support of assisting people in times of need but I am also a greater believer in giving them chances (teach a man to fish he eats for life). The American government should be more along the lines of ensuring the rights of the citizens, maintaining a stable economy, monitoring imported goods to ensure safety, quality, and value (not getting a bad deal on the price of oil).

We need to transform our country from a society to a family. When a child is born its family takes it into their home to be nursed and raised so that child can grow to be strong and independent. The family makes sure the child learns what is needed to survive and become a successful adult. When that child is old enough the child is sent off to work and to live on its own but if that child should experience a period of embroilment the family is there to give succor. The child does not use the help to survive but uses the help to become independent once again.

Our country gives help but many children do not use the help to become independent and self-sufficient, they use it to survive. To reduce the ability for people to leech on the hard work of others and to make the American dream much more accessible for every American I have developed a plan or at least changes that I wish to be made.

Children from one day old to 17 years old are given free health care and if the child’s providers are in financial difficulty then the child will be given a healthy ration of food, for no child should be punished from penury. All children are to be ensured a healthy living environment so poor living conditions as a child will not hinder them from becoming a successful adult. Although, this is much like today’s system and loopholes have defiled the government’s generosity, this system cannot be ostracized on the count of a few bad apples. No matter how great a system is made it will never be made perfect, and therefore people will always find its mistakes, however, our constitution was deliberately made malleable in order to evolve with the changing society and it’s infamous way of finding loopholes.

When the child turns 18 he/she will now have to abide on its own with the same rules and regulations as every other adult unless he/she is a student in high school or can prove he/she is a full-time student at a vocational school or college. As long as he/she is a full-time student from the ages of 18-24 they will be given free health care and financial aid if needed because a young adult should not be punished or obstructed by the pursuit of bettering themselves and the world by education. For adults past the age of 24 and wish to better themselves as a full-time student they will be given aid and health care if they are impecunious but they will not receive as great of a succor as they would if they were between the ages of 18-24. The amount of assistance and health care is depended on their financial condition. The point of this is to give a chance not a free meal.

Adults who are laid-off with no fault of their own will be given a temporary assistance because in a family we help each other. The assistance will only be given for a temporary time for them to find a new job. Lay-off relief has a time cap perhaps between 1-3 months depending on the job availability at the current time.

Elderly from the ages of 65+ will be given healthcare attachments to the current health care plan. Attachments will vary from each individual depending on their current health care and financial situation. After the age of 65 the citizen will be financially ensured that they will never again have to take employment unless he/she becomes in need of succor because of their financially unwise decisions (such as a big spending spree), for no one should be affected by another’s foolishness.

The planning is not only to better the way we give financial aid but also how we would use the millions of dollars that we would save which would go towards education. We can not end poverty, as long as humans inhibit the earth there will always be poverty. Although, we may not be able to eliminate poverty the impecunious people can end it for themselves. We as a society can only give others chances to rid themselves of poverty or stay away from becoming poor, we can not do it for them.

Education is the best way to securely become financially stable. Not only can education bring wealth but it can often bring happiness. Better our education and you better the country.

No matter how much we amend the government it will never reach perfection and it will never be imperishable. No matter how perfect we make a government, changes are inevitable. Our government is our house and when a house is built it is left in extremely good condition but it’s solid construction is not remitting, it will be in need of repair and restructure. Often significant structural changes are made to a house such as room additions or redesign. Likewise, all governments are in need of adjustment in order to reflect the evolution of society. Every improvement is followed by another problem, so no matter how great the change or stableness, nothing reaches perpetual perfection.

I was given a chance of observing human behavior and life style while working at a grocery store in high school. I noticed that there are many people who live off of welfare when they are perfectly capable of not doing so. Some people who use welfare dress extravagant and drive expensive vehicles. The most compromised part about welfare is the EBT card; the EBT card is like a food stamp in the form of a debit card but the EBT card can be used for anything the user desires. Although many people use this help with appreciation and gratitude there are also many people who take advantage of this system, wasting millions of dollars each year. On a daily basis I would notice children using an EBT card on a cart-full of junk food and candy. It was also common to see adults use the card injudiciously as well, buying items such as alcohol, tobacco or junk food. Another fault of the EBT card is that it allows the user to receive cash back, which allows them to purchase anything outside a store even illegal substances. I noticed thousands of dollars each day, going to waste in the hands of people who are capable of living in privation without government handouts. I concluded from these observations that there must be a better way, a more secure way of giving succor to people who need help.

Too many people live without consequences. If I jump off a bridge there will a disastrous consequence, but today’s society breaks that law of nature; if a person does not go to school or does not work the consequence would logically be that that person would be caught in destitution but today that person can easily find a way to live off of government handouts. One of the trite statements that I hear in arguments is not everyone receives the same chances in life, but what if we change that and give people chances so their failure is their own and not to be paid for by the people who worked hard. If we give everyone more chances to achieve his or her goals while they are still young then we give them almost limitless capabilities for the future. Excuses cannot be made for failure and every man and women will have to live with the consequences of their own actions. We should limit the money that we spend on welfare and increase the money that we spend on education. We are hurting more people than we are helping with the current system, not only are we wasting the money of hard working Americans but through our perpetual pampering of the impoverished we detain them from rising themselves upward and out of poverty. The best way to eradicate one’s self from penury is through education. It is eminent that we expand our investments in education in order to expand the chances for every child to become a successful adult. However, we must remember that no matter how grandeur our educational system is, it always comes down to the child’s choice on whether to follow the footsteps of poverty or to lead themselves to a better life. NO government can be made perfect without the rule of God but we can make a better government through the evolution of thought.

This idea is not finished; it is in need of restructure and refinement. An idea for change such as this should not be made by one person because there are much more opinions and ideas such as yours that can make this greater.

-Andrew

Comment by andrewbreece

Wooops! I pasted the wrong thing on my comment. Sorry, please go ahead and delete that one (my blog) here’s the intended comment.

I apologize for my long departure from replying back. After I left for vacation in June I have never logged back onto wordpress until this very moment. I took a brief look at the quotes from the links you gave me and I noticed that a lot of those were completely explainable, for example some quotes had their key words changed which gave them a different meaning and therefore made a contradiction. Some were also token out of context, and the list goes on. I could go through each example that was posted and counter each one without stretching it. I again apologize for the response it was not intentional, I have been meaning to respond as well as post another blog as I did tonight (which you might be interested in).

-Andrew

Comment by andrewbreece

[…] also just looked up a few things from wordpress tags and came across this post.  Hopefully I’l get through the debate that seemed to be going on.  I see my eyes starting […]

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