New atheism: A bridge to nowhere

By Douglas Wilsonminister, Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho A billboard in my small town has informed us that it is … Continued

By Douglas Wilson
minister, Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho

A billboard in my small town has informed us that it is possible to be good without God. And I recently had a radio discussion with Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard, on the very same question. And this problem is also posed at the climax of the film Collision, in which Christopher Hitchens and I are . . . um . . . colliding.

When I was a boy, we used to get corrected on a point of grammar that may have been abandoned these days. I don’t know, for these are dissolute times. But it used to be that if we asked something like, “Can I go play ball with the guys?” the maternal eyebrows would go up, and we so corrected it to, “May I go play ball with the guys?”

Can I be good without God? Sure. Knock yourself out. May I be good without God? Again, sure, but here is where the question starts to cut both ways. The question is double-bladed because it is here that we realize that we are alone by ourselves, and we are not really asking anybody for anything. I may be good without God for the same reason that I may be evil without Him or, as it suits me, indifferent without Him. There is no one here to get permission from. For anything. Mom doesn’t care if I go play ball, and she doesn’t care if I shoot my sister. She doesn’t care because she doesn’t exist. Turns out I have been asking questions of a deaf and indifferent universe.

Near the end of our film, Christopher admirably acknowledges that you can be a fascist and an atheist, a communist and an atheist, a sado-masochist and an atheist, and so on, and you can do it all without contradicting anything within the tenets of atheism. Christopher does not think of this as a concession to my central point, but I do want to press it. He wants to go on to insist that atheism does not commit you to the “absurd belief” that if you are an atheist then you “have no morality.”

If we piece all this together, the only thing he can possibly mean is that every atheist has the authority to generate his own code of morals, and that these morals do not need to conform to the tenets promulgated by the International Society of Nice Atheists, and that they further do not need to conform to the code of morals being generated in the fevered brain of the fellow next to me. But notice what this does. It makes all morality a matter of radical personal choice.

But once we do this, how can we come back in later to restrict or limit the choices? Once the individual generates his code, he certainly may seek out other like-minded people in order to form what sociologists call a plausibility structure. But there is no such thing as an overarching moral code, independent of the individual, one that is authoritative over him. There is no ultimate reason why he cannot decide to defy his societal norms (his plausibility structure), or move to northwest Pakistan to join up with another plausibility structure–one with more excitement and explosions.

Once we have gotten to this point, we may certainly fight with those who have made different choices. But we may not appeal to a standard that overarches both of us, which they are disobeying and which we are not. They have as much right to generate their code as we do ours. We may fight with them, but we have lost the ability to reason with them.

Centuries ago, David Hume pointed out how deep and broad the chasm was between is and ought. The new atheists, for all their vaunted skill in engineering, have not been able to build a bridge.

Douglas Wilson is the minister of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and a senior fellow of theology at New St. Andrews College. He has written numerous books, including “Five Cities That Ruled the World, Heaven Misplaced, and Reforming Marriage.”

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  • Kyriosity

    Speaking of dissolute times, let’s talk about that second bio sentence. How ’bout dropping the quotation marks and un-italicizing the three separate book titles?Oh, and excellent column, Pastor Wilson!

  • saintluke

    Kyriosity: always the editor!Pr Wilson: Yes! And doesn’t the admission that a man has no standard of goodness outside himself mean that any attempt by that man to persuade others to agree is really sophistry? He is trying to convince many people to accept something that he himself has already admitted isn’t really “true” or “standard.” He wants to win a fight, but doesn’t have a reason to win the fight except for immediate personal gratification?

  • metzler1

    Wilson here writes: “If we piece all this together, the only thing he can possibly mean is that every atheist has the authority to generate his own code of morals.”It is curious that after a published debate and after a three day debate tour, Wilson is here surmising many months later about what happens if “we piece all this together”. Piece what together? Need we get creative with the scissors and Elmer’s glue paste after Christopher Hitchens’ actual arguments during the course of that published debate and three day debate tour? And I shyly call your attention to a nice book preceding Wilson’s to-do with Hitchens: god is not Great (2007). The truth is that Hitchens has said a good deal pertaining to what “he can possibly mean”. Given Hitchens communication ability, it is hard to imagine Wilson has truly missed the fact that Hitchens has been concise from the beginning over the nature and source of genuine morality and that he has thoroughly rejected Wilson’s archaic idea of an external law code. When a pastor has no genuine morality, the need for a law code might seem intuitive. But for those of us who know that law codes do anything but give a person genuine morality, there will continue to be nothing persuasive about such an appeal. I am writing a book about Douglas Wilson and his Kirk in north Idaho (The Kirk: Mother of War) and I have given some analysis of Collision at my blog http://www.poohsthink.com .

  • Carstonio

    “It makes all morality a matter of radical personal choice…But there is no such thing as an overarching moral code, independent of the individual, one that is authoritative over him.”That’s an anti-human straw man based on authoritarian myths. Wilson is promulgating the lie that without authority, people will always value their individual pleasure over everything and everyone else regardless of the circumstances. It’s as though Wilson has never heard of the human conscience. Humans are capable of both enormous good and enormous evil, but in Wilson’s view we will always do the latter unless otherwise prevented from doing so. There’s no room in Wilson’s view of humanity for a Pat Tillman or an Arland Williams. It must again be said that obeying authority and following rules do not constitute morality. True morality is about one valuing others and valuing the effects of one’s actions on others.

  • Carstonio

    “If you base your morality on some exercise in interpreting words, and fear of punishment and promise of reward, all you get is people focused on trying to escape that punishment, or gain that reward, whatever else happens in the process.”True:

  • ccnl1

    And once again we see that “Carstonio” person again. Keep in mind that this is an anonymous blog and imposters abound violating blog rules and etiquette.

  • crewsin

    Where does this idea of morality originate?? IF atheism is plausible why is this concept of right and wrong implanted in the human DNA?? It was CS Lewis who debunks the atheistic argument with grace and flair. I recommend his “On Faith” to the fence sitters in this debate.

  • Carstonio

    “Where does this idea of morality originate?? IF atheism is plausible why is this concept of right and wrong implanted in the human DNA??”There are hypotheses about morality being an evolutionary adaptation. Some varieties of moral behavior have been observed in other primates and in dogs. Obviously these hypotheses aren’t conclusive. But the existence of morality alone doesn’t prove that gods exist. That’s merely the argument from incredulity, the automatic assumption that anything that appears miraculous has to be the work of godlike beings. The only responsible conclusion we can make at this point is that we don’t know why morality exists.Wilson’s article comes close to implying that humans need to believe in gods even if they don’t exist. What about the possibility that gods exist but these gods have nothing to do with morality? Why assume that if gods exist that they have to be moral authorities?

  • ccnl1

    And once again we see that “Carstonio” person yet again. Keep in mind that this is an anonymous blog and imposters abound violating blog rules and etiquette.

  • harveyh5

    ” . . . blah, blah, blah . . . makes all morality a matter of radical personal choice.” Hardly. That’s why we have laws Douglas, to identify standards of morality – not to cheat, steal, rape, kill, etc., or face legal consequences. Laws deriving throughout time, not from any God, but from a consensus among human beings.

  • harveyh5

    “But we may not appeal to a standard that overarches both of us, which they are disobeying and which we are not. They have as much right to generate their code as we do ours. We may fight with them, but we have lost the ability to reason with them.”Douglas, wrong again. Though they were formerly generated codes of behavior, severe inequal treatment of women and minorities came to an end, notably once the religious bases for these standards were overcome. Logic, reason, and persistence do work in breaking down codes that can be recognized as universally immoral. The difficulty arises primarily when generated codes are tied to “God’s law” through ancient religious texts.

  • barferio

    I don’t rape, pillage and murder because this is my investment in the kind of world I want to live in. I have no desire to do those kinds of things, never have. If I were to listen to this christian nonsense, to believe what they say, why is it that I am not out stealing everything I can get my hands on?Religious believers never develop their own morality. This process is stunted in them, they never have to examine their own morality because they do not have one. It may seem strange to consider it in this manner, but it is what has happened to them – they never grew up.

  • mbeck1

    So that’s why I rape and pillage with abandon; I don’t believe in god and have no morality. What’s amazing is that I’ve never been caught. Perhaps god is looking out for me.To refute Mr. Wilson’s argument, Hitchens points out that believing in god does not protect them from immoral behavior. In fact some of the most gruesome crimes have been committed by very religious people. Perhaps, though, I should be happy that Mr. Wilson does believe in god and his belief stops him from joining me as a raper and pillager. On second thought, please Mr. Wilson, give up your god and your morality and join me in some fun.

  • Carstonio

    “The difficulty arises primarily when generated codes are tied to ‘God’s law’ through ancient religious texts.”I’ll add that there’s no way to prove that those texts were dictated or inspired by gods. Obviously some of the codes in the texts may have merit. But the advocates for the texts are not asking everyone to judge those merits. Instead, the advocates demand that everyone obey the codes with no questions asked or permitted.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Can we be good with religion? Does religion do good when it requires oppressing gay men and women, forces teens and poor women to stay pregnant and deliver unwanted children?Is it good for clerics to fight at the UN to keep condoms out of Africa, thereby, increasing the AIDs population, causing the birth of AIDs babies, overpopulation, starvation, illness, death?This is a very short list, but even so, it shows the inherent incompatibility of goodness and religion.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    PART II:Can we be good WITH religion, Douglas?—————————————By CORNELIU RUSNAC, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 14, 12:35 pm ETCHISINAU, Moldova – Dozens of people led by an Orthodox priest smashed a menorah in Moldova’s capital, using hammers and iron bars to remove the candelabra during Hanukkah, officials said.The 1.5 meter(5-foot)-tall ceremonial candelabrum was retrieved, reinstalled and is now under police guard.Police said they were investigating the Sunday attack but there was no official reaction from Moldova’s Orthodox Church, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and counts 70 percent of Moldovans as members.The U.S. Embassy and Chisinau city government condemned the attack. City officials called on the church to investigate. The head of the church, Bishop Vladimir Cantarean, was at his mother’s funeral in Ukraine on Monday and was expected to make a statement when he returns, the church said.The national government said in a statement that “hatred, intolerance and xenophobia” are unacceptable.Jewish leader Alexandr Bilinkis called on the Orthodox Church to take a position over the priest’s actions.The Jewish community was thriving before World War II but there are now estimated to be just 12,000 Jews in the former Soviet Republic. Twenty years ago there were 66,000 Jews. Many emigrated to Israel.

  • ccnl1

    And once again we see that “Carstonio” person yet again. Keep in mind that this is an anonymous blog and imposters abound violating blog rules and etiquette.

  • ccnl1

    Off topic but since the subject was noted:FIRST-YEAR CONTRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES Pill (combined) 8.7 %Tubal sterilization 0.7 Male condom 17.4 Vasectomy 0.2 3-month injectable 6.7 Withdrawal 18.4 IUD Periodic abstinence 25.3 Calendar 9.0 Ovulation Method 3.0 Sympto-thermal 2.0 Post-ovulation 1.0 1-month injectable 3.0 Implant 1.0 Patch 8.0 Diaphragm 16.0 Sponge § Female condom 27.0 Spermicides 29.0 No method 85.0 (Abstinence 0)(Handjiving 0)Obviously condoms don’t work well.

  • mmemab

    “There is no ultimate reason why [an atheist] cannot decide to defy his societal norms (his plausibility structure), or move to northwest Pakistan to join up with another plausibility structure–one with more excitement and explosions.”Most people, as has been historically the case, prefer to live in a world where certain facets of daily life are relatively ensured (life, liberty, and property…sound familiar?) by whatever power structure is in place (king, congressman, etc.). Finding that has taken various formats, but more often than not it has involved people making laws and living by them for their own general safety and prosperity. So, certainly, there is no reason that an individual should necessarily be compelled to go along with this structure if he does not like it, but most atheists probably like that safety structure just as much as their next door neighbor the christian, muslim, jew, buddhist…you name it, regardless of their belief or non-belief. People like to have certain things, because it makes life worth living (and for those of us who aren’t banking on an afterlife, real life is pretty important to do right). Life is easier when certain things are, quite simply, respected. That in and of itself is enough for me to continue participating in American government.-Atheist voter

  • khote14

    This is why we refer to religious people as sheep.And look at the source of your morality once in a while. Look at all the horrible things this petulant child abuser god of yours has done in your bible. How many different death by stoning penalties are there? You’ve seen the list, unless you are careful you can’t have missed it.A truer case of do as I say, not as I do I’ve yet to see. Your god character is a brutal despot, incredibly immoral, and so are you to promote it as having superior morality to ours.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Creating a vengeful, lunatic god who forces humanity into human sacrifice to atone for the “sins” of Adam and Eve, could only lead to ongoing sacrifice. And so it has gone on. For two thousand years.Can there be morality with religion? Judging by the recent activity of the Orthodox priest on whom I posted, the answer would be no. There are God knows how many other far more hideous incidents occurring at this very moment that would contribute further evidence.No.

  • khote14

    How effective have your christian morals been in real life?Atheist representation in the population is at most 16%, yet we make up 0.21 percent of the prison population – less than one percent.By far the largest population in the prisons are christians, exceeding their representation in the population.Tell us again about your superior morality.
    The Federal Bureau of Prisons does have statistics on religious
    affiliations of inmates. The following are total number of
    inmates per religion category:

  • barferio

    “How effective have your christian morals been in real life?”Have you noticed how christians never bother answering questions like this? When you can show them, to their face, how irrelevant their beliefs are in reality, how ineffective their morality is, they not only won’t address it – they can’t even see it.And they also claim their blind faith as a virtue. Just amazing.

  • AxelDC

    Humans are “good” because we evolved empathy to survive as a communal species. Giving credit to Christianity for our innate ability to understand and care for each other ignores the fact that human civilization is tens of thousands of years old and Christianity is celebrating only its 21st century.

  • Freestinker

    If we piece all this together, the only thing he can possibly mean is that every atheist has the authority to generate his own code of morals, and that these morals do not need to conform to the tenets promulgated by the International Society of Nice Atheists, and that they further do not need to conform to the code of morals being generated in the fevered brain of the fellow next to me. But notice what this does. It makes all morality a matter of radical personal choice.———–Dude, every person’s morality is a matter of personal choice! In a free society, every person “has the authority to generate his own code of morals”. Your choices are no different. You just choose to divine your morality from an archaic collection of contradictory old books. If you think that makes your choice any more valid or any less radical than anyone else’s choice, then you are sadly mistaken.Although many have adopted the godlen rule, no religion has ever improved the golden rule because no religion is necessary to live by it. Living by the golden rule for it’s own sake is all “being good without gods” means. And it’s perfectly true.

  • Carstonio

    “how irrelevant their beliefs are in reality”Applying belief to any question of fact is misguided, and this includes the question of whether gods exist. Either they exist or they don’t, and we have no basis for either believing that gods exist or believing that they don’t. That’s because in both cases, we are claiming to have knowledge that we don’t have. Belief is a concept best left to questions of value, such as belief in one’s country or one’s spouse.

  • gwcross

    Once again, we have been treated to a sleight-of-hand argument in favor of SOME kind of God, SOME kind of overarching moral authority in the universe. Call it Eisenhower’s God, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, and yet vague enough to defy counter argument.Whose God is this an argument for? The mushy, Phil Donohue figure that the Anglicans appeal to? Or the hairy, thunderbolt kind that motivates Osama Bin Laden?It’s certainly true that atheism leaves you in a quandry when it comes to having a pre-determined meaning in your life and in the universe as a whole. But that’s part of growing up, just like giving up on Santa Claus. You have to provide that meaning yourself. Sorry if that’s too scary for you.Atheism, in and of itself, allows you to be a jerk, even a murderous jerk. But it does at least require that you defend your actions with something like a reasoned argument.No such restrictions apply to monotheistic Gods. You can destroy Jericho, murder all of its non-combatant residents, and justify it for thousands of years to come based on a claim that God told you to do it.If I have to choose between Atheism, which ALLOWS me to be a war criminal, and a religion which occasionally COMMANDS me to be a war criminal, I will opt for Atheism.

  • ccnl1

    Cable Show Alert!!!!”Letting Go of God”A “must see” for all is Julie Sweeney’s take on the Christianity that is being shown on Showtime (12/29/2009, Comcast, Philly area). With great humor, honesty and preparation, she lampoons the bible, Catholicism, Mormonism, Buddhism, religion in general, the Pope, Karen Armstrong and Deepak Chopra.

  • gibsonpolk

    What we call morality clearly has an evolutionary adaptive basis, and predates and precedes religious codification, The interesting genetic component to this discussion is that some people clearly need simplistic prescriptions to moral authority (gods, magic tablets, etc.), while others are capable of relying on their own judgement. Evolution at work.

  • gibsonpolk

    Folks who need (the thin ice of) religious mythology to know the difference between right and wrong are a bit scary, don’t you think? Why are there so many religions?

  • coloradodog

    History shows us all too many also believe you can be a fascist and an “Christian”, a communist and an “Christian”, a sado-masochist and an “Christian:, and so on, and you can do it all without contradicting anything within the their twisted, Leviticus cherry-picking tenets of “Christianity”

  • ccnl1

    Khote14,Thanks for the youtube reference. Unfortunately, the video is not available so one misses a lot of the impact of the “Letting Go of God” show.

  • ccnl1

    And we see that “Carstonio” person yet again. Keep in mind that this is an anonymous blog and imposters abound violating blog rules and etiquette.

  • ccnl1

    “A 2004 BBC poll showed the number of people in the US who don’t believe in a god to be about 9%.[6] A 2005 Gallup poll showed that a smaller 5% of the US population believed that a god didn’t exist.[21] The 2001 ARIS report found that while 29.5 million U.S. Americans (14.1%) describe themselves as “without religion”, only 902,000 (0.4%) positively claim to be atheist, with another 991,000 (0.5%) professing agnosticism.[22] The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 34.2 million Americans (15.0%) claim no religion. Of which, 1.6% explicitly describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, double the previous 2001 ARIS survey figure. The highest occurrence of “nones”, according to the 2008 ARIS report, reside in Vermont, with 34% surveyed.[23]”

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Continued:# Christians will fight in the war between Jesus and those allied with the beast. 17:14

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    # Christians will fight in the war between Jesus and those allied with the beast. 17:14

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    CONTINUED:Titus# The people of Crete are “always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” 1:12# Heretics are to be rejected since they are subverted, sinners, and condemned by God. 3:10-11Philemon (None)Hebrews# Every skeptic and nonbeliever has “an evil heart of unbelief.” 3:12# Whoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. 4:41 Peter2 Peter# God drowned everyone else on earth except for Noah and his family. 2:5, 3:61 John2 John# “Whosoever … abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” 9# Don’t associate with non-Christians. Don’t receive them into your house or even exchange greeting with them. 103 John (None)Jude# God destroys non-believers. 1:5RevelationS# False Jews are members of “the synagogue of Satan.” 2:9# Those who obey God/Jesus until the end will rule everyone else with an iron rod. They’ll even get to smash the others into smithereens. 2:26-27# God will make “the synagogue of Satan [that would be the Jews] … come and worship before thy feet.” (Whose feet? Well, the feet of Christians, of course!) 3:9

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    CONTINUED:Galatians# If anyone dares to disagree with Paul on religious matters, “let him be accursed.” 1:8-9# Those who try to follow the law are cursed 3:10# “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” Gosh, that doesn’t sound very nice. But I wonder what Paul meant by “cut off”. The New Revised Standard Version translates this verse as: “I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!” 5:12# Witches, idol worshippers, and heretics will not go to heaven. (Guess where they’ll be going.) 5:20-21Ephesians# No “unclean person” or “idolater” will inherit the kingdom of God. (They’ll all be going to hell.) Don’t associate with them. 5:5-7# Those who refuse to obey will face the wrath of God. 5:6Philippians# Everyone will have to worship Jesus — whether they want to or not. 2:10-11# “Beware of dogs … beware of the concision.” I’m not sure who Paul is calling “dogs” here, but it’s probably the Jews — those of “the circumcision,” as opposed to Christians, who are of the “true circumcision.” 3:2Colossians (None)1 Thessalonians# God is planning a messy, mass murder in “the wrath to come” and only Jesus can save you from it. 1:10# Paul accuses “the Jews” of killing Jesus, persecuting the prophets, displeasing God, and being “contrary to all men.” He concludes that the wrath of God will “come upon them to the uttermost. 2:15-162 Thessalonians# Jesus will take “vengeance on them that know not God” by burning them forever “in flaming fire.” 1:7-9# God will cause us to believe lies so that he can damn our souls to hell. 2:11-12# Shun those who disagree with your interpretation of this epistle. 3:6, 141 Timothy# “Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Apparently (see 2 Tim.2:16-18 and 4:14-15) their “blasphemy” was disagreeing with Paul. 1:20# Stay away from those who discuss important matters — especially if they disagree with Paul. 6:5# Paul instructs Timothy to avoid science, especially that which disagrees with him (“science falsely so called”). Other versions translate this phrase as “false knowledge”, which may be more correct. However many fundamentalist Christians still use this verse (“science falsely so called”) to justify their rejection of any idea, scientific or otherwise, they believe contradicts the bible. 6:202 Timothy# “If we deny him [Jesus], he will deny us.” Fair is fair! 2:12# Shun non-believers and other profane babblers. 2:16# Hymenaeus and Philetus are condemned for disagreeing with Paul about the timing of the resurrection. (See 1 Tim.1:20 and 2 Tim.4:14-15) 2:17-18# “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” This verse was used by the Catholic Church during the inquisition to justify killing those suspected of heresy. (Kill them all, for `the Lord knows them that are His’.” ) 2:19

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    CONTINUED:Paul condemns homosexuals (including lesbians). This is the only clear reference to lesbians in the NT. 1:26-281 Corinthians2 Corinthians# Keep away from unbelievers. Neither marry nor be friends with them. 6:14-17# Christians cannot be freethinkers, since all their thoughts and imaginings must be brought into captivity in obedience to Christ. 10:5# Paul says he “will not spare” when he comes back to punish those who have sinned. 13:2# Are you a reprobate? Here’s the test: if you know for sure that Jesus is in you, you’re not a reprobate. Otherwise you are. 13:5CONTINUES

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    CONTINUED# “The unbelieving Jews” stir up trouble again for Paul and incite the people to try to stone him to death. 14:2-5# In Thessalonica, “the Jews which believed not, moved with envy” stir up trouble for Paul and his friends. 17:5, 13# “And when they [the Jews of Corinth] opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he [Paul] shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads.” (Have a nice day?) 18:6# “The Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat.” 18:12# The first Christian book burning occurs when Paul’s converts at Ephesus burn 50,000 silver pieces worth of books. 19:19# Poor Paul complains, once again, of being mistreated by “the Jews.” 20:19# The Jews, once again, incite the people to kill poor old Paul 21:27, 31# The Jews form a grand conspiracy to kill Paul. They vow not to eat until the job is done. 23:12-15# Claudius saves Paul from being killed by the Jews. 23:27RomansCONTINUES

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    CONTINUED:Acts# Peter blames the Jews for the death of Jesus. 3:14-15# Peter claims that Dt.18:18-19 refers to Jesus, saying that those who refuse to follow him (all non-Christians) must be killed. 3:23# God will torture forever those who don’t know the password to heaven. 4:12# Once again, Peter accuses the Jews of murdering Jesus. 5:30# Stephen blames the Jews for persecuting the prophets and murdering Jesus. 7:51-52# After Saul “increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews,” the “Jews took counsel to kill him.” 9:22-23# The Jews are again blamed for the death of Jesus. 10:39# Herod kills James the brother of John and imprisons Peter “because he saw it pleased the Jews.” 12:1-3# The “angel of the Lord” killed Herod by having him “eaten of worms” because “he gave not God the glory.” 12:23# Paul and the Holy Ghost conspire together to make Elymas (the sorcerer) blind. 13:8-11# The Jews of Antioch, after seeing Paul’s success in preaching, were envious and blasphemed God. Paul then declares them to be “unworthy of everlasting life.” 13:45-46# Once again “the Jews stirred up” trouble and “raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” 13:50CONTINUES

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    CONTINUED:# No one could speak openly about Jesus “for fear of the Jews.” 7:13# If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will “die in your sins” (and then go to hell). 8:24# Jesus calls his opponents (the Jews) the sons of the devil. 8:44# Once again, “the Jews” are accused of trying to kill Jesus. 11:8# Jesus is the only way to heaven. All other religions lead to hell. 14:6# John blames the Jews for the death of Jesus. 19:7, 12, 14-15# “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father.”# Now that Jesus has come, non-believers have no excuse for not believing in him. 15:22# “For fear of the Jews”# John, with his usual anti-Semitism, says that the disciples hid in locked room “for fear of the Jews.” 20:19CONTINUES

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    CONTINUED:# In the parable of the marriage feast, the king sends his servants to gather everyone they can find, both bad and good, to come to the wedding feast. One guest didn’t have on his wedding garment, so the king tied him up and “cast him into the outer darkness” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 22:12-13# Jesus condemns the Jews for being “the children of them which killed the prophets.” 23:31# Jesus blames his the Jews (who were then living) for “all the righteous blood” from Abel to Zecharias, 23:35# The servant who kept and returned his master’s talent was cast into the “outer darkness” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 25:30# Jesus tells us what he has planned for those that he dislikes. They will be cast into an “everlasting fire.” 25:41# “His blood be on us, and on our children.” This verse blames the Jews for the death of Jesus and has been used to justify their persecution for twenty centuries. 27:25Mark# Jesus becomes angry at those who said that he had “an unclean spirit,” so he announces the unforgivable sin: “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.” 3:29CONTINUES

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Can we be good WITH religion?A SAMPLING OF NT DELIGHTS:Matthew# While insulting the Pharisees and Sadducees, John the Baptist calls an entire generation a “generation of vipers.” 3:7# Those who bear bad fruit will be cut down and burned “with unquenchable fire.” 3:10, 12# Jesus says that most people will go to hell. 7:13-14# Those who fail to bear “good fruit” will be “hewn down, and cast into the fire.” 7:19# “the children of the kingdom [the Jews] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 8:12# Jesus tells his disciples to keep away from the Gentiles and Samaritans, and go only to the Israelites. 10:5-6# Cities that neither “receive” the disciples nor “hear” their words will be destroyed by God. It will be worse for them than for Sodom and Gomorrah. And you know what God supposedly did to those poor folks (see Gen.19:24). 10:14-15# Families will be torn apart because of Jesus (this is one of the few “prophecies” in the Bible that has actually come true). “Brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” 10:21# “Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” 10:33# Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. He has “come not to send peace, but a sword.” 10:34-36# Jesus condemns entire cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell because they didn’t care for his preaching. 11:20-24# “He that is not with me is against me.” 12:30# “Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.” 12:31-32# Jesus often called people names. One of his favorites was to call his adversaries a “generation of vipers.” 12:34# Jesus will send his angels to gather up “all that offend” and they “shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” 13:41-42, 50# Jesus refuses to heal the Canaanite (Mk.7:26 says she was Greek) woman’s possessed daughter, saying “it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs.” 15:22-26

  • DaveL2

    I don’t think Hitchens, if he’s a good thinker, would concede that this leaves morality to the whims of atheists’ personal choices. Rather, one would come to conclusions about what is moral through the use of reason. The problem is that there is still so much that is subjective about human reason (personal limits to one’s intellect, one’s biases and presuppositions, etc.). This is why I think he stated that one could be an atheist and a fascist, or communist, or whatever. If we’re going to criticize him, lets at least criticize what’s there, not what isn’t there, in this case a reduction of morality to a mere choice.Cheers,

  • ccnl1

    Of course the authors/embellishers of the NT, MMLJP, used the OT/Torah as an example of how to treat non-believers:To wit:Biblical AtrocitiesExodus 32: 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf. Numbers 31: After killing all men, boys and married women among the Midianites, 32,000 virgins remain as booty for the Israelites. (If unmarried girls are a quarter of the population, then 96,000 people were killed.) Joshua: Joshua 8: 12,000 men and women, all the people of Ai, killed. Joshua 10: Joshua completely destroys Gibeon (“larger than Ai”), Makeddah, Joshua 11: Hazor destroyed. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), estimates the population of Hazor at ?> 50,000] Judges 1: 10,000 Canaanites k. at Battle of Bezek. Jerusalem and Zephath destroyed.Judges 8: 120,000 Midianite soldiers k. by Gideon Judges 20: Benjamin attacked by other tribes. 25,000 killed. 1 Samuel 4: 4,000 Isrealites killed at 1st Battle of Ebenezer/Aphek. 30,000 Isr. k. at 2nd battle. David: 2 Samuel 8: 22,000 Arameans of Damascus and 18,000 Edomites killed in 2 battles.1 Kings 20: 100,000 Arameans killed by Israelites at Battle of Aphek. Another 27,000 killed by collapsing wall. 2 Chron 13: Judah beat Israel and inflicted 500,000 casualties. 2 Chron 25: Amaziah, king of Judah, k. 10,000 from Seir in battle and executed 10,000 POWs. Discharged Judean soldiers pillaged and killed 3,000. 2 Chron 28: Pekah, king of Israel, slew 120,000 Judeans TOTAL: That comes to about 1,283,000 mass killings specifically enumerated in the Bible.

  • globalone

    Farnaz,You do realize that you can never get the time back that you spent pasting biblical verses in this thread? And I’m sure you are also aware that quoting scripture, without any regards to context or historical footing, is a fool’s errand?Rich blessings.

  • presto668

    “But notice what this does. It makes all morality a matter of radical personal choice.”Except that this does not follow. Nobody exists in a vacuum. You can’t choose any morality because you are also limited by what the people around you (society and the law) will allow.There is also the golden rule to consider. Being able to choose any brand of morality also implies that there are no repercussions from it, which is clearly false.Your entire argument is based on false reasoning.

  • m052699

    I honestly dont care if others believe in God or not, or what God they believe in so long as they dont a. impose their belief on others or b. restrict others from practicing their beliefs.The main problems today are not true Christians or true atheists. The problems are people who are trying to impose their religion (be it Chrisitianity, Islam, or antyhing else) and those trying to impose their anti-religion (anti-theists).The idea that you have to believe in God to be a good person and exist in a vacumn if you dont is wrong headed. The author needs to read J. J. Rouseau’s “Social Contract”.I am a Catholic, and I have no issue with atheists or anyone of any other faith. I have issue with anti-theists and zealots who are “extremely offended” by Christian symbols on a Christian Holiday or other such bigoted views.