The Raving Theist

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Hoaks?

January 6, 2009 | 63 Comments

Trina Hoaks of the Atheism Examiner is a former Christian with “a unique perspective on atheism.” What makes her unique is that “[s]he is a ravenous reseacher who constantly seeks truth through exploration of evidence.” Today, she turns her finely-honed investigative skills to the question of why, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, atheists are underrepresented in the 111th Congress. Her shocking conclusion:

It isn’t surprising that there aren’t more atheists in political positions. After all, many states have in place religious restrictions on holding political office. That is to say that no atheist is allowed to hold office in certain states. It makes sense that atheists would not seek careers in politics.

Until states recognize that it is wrong to require that someone profess a belief in God as a prerequisite to holding office, atheists will likely continue to be underrepresented in the political arena.

Atheists, in other words, are underrepresented because it is illegal for them to be representatives, and they are thus sensibly discouraged by the prospect of prison. As proof of her thesis that the laws are wrong, Ms. Hoaks then points out that “[a]ccording to the US Constitution ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.'” So the anti-atheism laws are not only wrong, but unconstitutionally wrong.

As noted earlier, I was once raven-ously atheistic (take it to the other thread, please). However, my researching skills were ordinary rather than unique, so when faced with the same question years ago I followed my dull-witted hunch that if the Constitution clearly forbade something, the states couldn’t do it even if they failed to recognize it as wrong. Lo and behold, I quickly discovered that the Supreme Court liberated atheists to legislate and otherwise impose their morality upon others nearly fifty years ago, and I was forced to find something else to complain about. In other words, Hoaks is perpetrating a hoax.

I think the real reason atheists are underrepresented in politics is that they failed to take my advice to form the the National Atheist Media/Business Lobbying Association. With respect to journalism, however, they appear to be represented uniquely well.

Comments

63 Responses to “Hoaks?”

  1. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 6th, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    I’m too busy with my Club for People Who Don’t Collect Beer Cans to join any atheist organization.

  2. Helen
    January 6th, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

    I don’t know why, but this reminds me of a quote by Will Rogers.  He had said that he does not belong to any organized political party.  He then explained that he was a democrat.
    USJ, so what do you drink at your club?  Or is that you recycle the beer cans instead of collecting them?

  3. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 6th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    We can never reach any conclusions about what we eat, or drink, or what to collect, or where to meet.  Mostly we just tell jokes about beer can collectors.

  4. Helen
    January 6th, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

    Oh.  Empty beer can collectors, or full and unopened beer can collectors?

  5. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 6th, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

    All beer can collectors.  It sounds like we wouldn’t have much to do, but it’s surprisingly entertaining.

  6. Margaret Catherine
    January 6th, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

    I prefer hanging out with my Bud, personally.

  7. Helen
    January 6th, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

    What about beer steins?  Some of those are pretty sucktacular.

  8. Melissa
    January 6th, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

    “With respect to journalism, however, they appear to be represented uniquely well.” 

    That’s for sure! As for representation otherwise, I don’t know how anyone could think that they aren’t represented, because the godless agendas of today continue to thrive and push its way into our society. The decline in morality should be evidence of the fact that we have an abundance of godless representation. Even if one claims their belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Even the demons believe (James 2:19). There are lots of people who say “Lord, Lord” but if they truly believed with all their heart, they would be doing His will (Matthew 7:21). I

  9. Jeffrey L Miller
    January 6th, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

    No doubt though that there are plenty of functional atheists in politics. Ones who truly wear religion, but act and vote as if there is no God. Politicians are not exactly known for being straightforward and so it is easy to imagine an atheist or agnostic not saying they are so to get elected.

    It is a interesting question as to whether a strident atheist could get elected. A campaign slogan of “Beyond Good and Evil” might not exactly catch on. Though I would certainly much more respect someone who ran as a strident atheist than a person who would wear religion.

  10. Brian Westley
    January 6th, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

    In spite of Torcaso v. Watkins, South Carolina tried to prohibit Herb Silverman from becoming a Notary Public because he was an atheist and refused to swear to a “supreme being.”  Out of some 33,000 applications for notaries public in that year, his was the only one refused.  The state spent months and over $100,000 of public money in a vain attempt to prevent an atheist from becoming a Notary Public.  This started in 1993, 32 years after Torcaso, and dragged on until 1999.

    So it wouldn’t surprise me if bureaucrats of one of our more backward states attempted to keep an avowed atheist out of public office, even if it’s blatantly unlawful for them to do so.

  11. Swk6
    January 6th, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

    Oh really Melissa??  Why is it then that the much more religious US is so much more riddled with crime than the more secular Europe??  If it was because of the godlessness agenda, then Europe should be a complete hell hole (no pun intended). 

    So what is this godless agenda by the way?  The fact that some say that schools shouldnt take a religiously sanctioned time out for prayer?  Atheists that I know don’t say that you can’t pray in school, just don’t force a prayer time out.  What else is there?  Oh, the decline must be from all of the mean atheists kicking nativity scenes out of public squares.  I mean, it’s not like theres not a church every 1/4 mile that they can be displayed on.  Please enlighten me Melissa.  I am dying to know how I have contributed to the decline in the western civilization.

  12. Louise
    January 6th, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

    Why is it then that the much more religious US is so much more riddled with crime than the more secular Europe??

    Is it?

    Also, it’s pretty complicated, for while Americans, in general, are more religious than Europeans, Europe wouldn’t even be Europe, without the Catholic Faith in the past.

    In fact, both societies are post-Christian, in many ways, but differently. All up, I’d say it’s exactly the wrong comparison to make. Not sure which comparison would really work, though, because the vast majority of human beings are religious.  Being religious is normative. Being irreligious is an anomaly.

  13. Melissa
    January 6th, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

    Swk6: I guess I am the one that needs to be enlightened since godless Europe, according to you, is not a hell hole. I didn’t realize they were the idealogical model for us all and that they are so perfect. 

    I think Louise makes a good point. The cultures are different to begin with. There is godlessness everwhere, but the degrees can vary by region. Even right here in America, crime levels aren’t extremely high in absolutely every area. I’m in Indiana and in an area that doesn’t see much, if any, violent crime (and these are faith-based communities). Though, if I went north to Fort Wayne, you see more (and even more so if you go south to Indy).  Indiana is  conservative overall, though of course there are some liberal sections (and a lot of crime in the areas that are). 

  14. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 12:08 am

    Melissa,

    I’m not completely convinced that you aren’t flame baiting, but just incase you are sincere, it might interest you to know that there is no statistical evidence that atheists are less moral than theists and at least one study that shows that they are MORE moral than theists.

    I think the study is bias, as it only includes atheists that are out of the closet, and probably wasn’t adjusted for things like education level and income level.  Still, if immorality is your concern….

  15. Kurt
    January 7th, 2009 @ 1:19 am

    it might interest you to know that there is no statistical evidence that atheists are less moral than theists and at least one study that shows that they are MORE moral than theists.

    The question of whether or not theists or atheists are more moral is in part a bogus question.  It is true that many theists and atheists have similar understandings of good and evil and where as I do not see any strict logical reason why an atheist could not have the same understanding of morality as a theist, in practice I find that it is rare.  Are atheists likely to believe – at least more so than theists – that abortion is evil, that euthanasia is evil, that suicide is evil, that contraception is sinful, that homosexuality is sinful, that bestiality is sinful or that drug abuse is sinful?  I doubt it.  If this is true, then atheism is contributing to an overall moral decline.  Atheism may not be the cause of the decline, but it is certainly correlated with it.

    Second, it is quite possible that morally corrupt people are attracted to religion as a method of self-help and salvation.  Jesus was commissioned to the sinners or the lost sheep because it is they who need God the most.  It is kind of like pointing out that there are more alcoholics at an AA meeting than outside of one.

  16. Pikemann Urge
    January 7th, 2009 @ 2:09 am

    Seems that secular and religious populations would have different problems and different advantages.
    Americans can be thankful (to God? :-D ) for their secular constitution.

  17. Beelzebub
    January 7th, 2009 @ 6:18 am

    @Kurt

    The thing is, most atheists don’t take many of those points as morally pernicious.  Homosexuality is not wrong, sexual gratification is not wrong.  Suicide is the consequence of a tragic mental health issue, not a moral disorder.  Abortion IS still a moral issue, however,  even with atheists.

    The encouraging thing is that the US appears to be gradually coming into alignment with the atheist, progressive, moral assessment.  Religious moral evaluations are going to be “left behind,” as it were, in the years to come.  You’re already in the rear view mirror.

  18. Geoffrey
    January 7th, 2009 @ 10:54 am

    “The encouraging thing is that the US appears to be gradually coming into alignment with the atheist, progressive, moral assessment.  Religious moral evaluations are going to be “left behind,” as it were, in the years to come.  You’re already in the rear view mirror.”

    Oh goody!  I can’t wait for Roman Empire 2.0!  Please tell me when I can kill any of my children under 12 for any reason, without legal percussion.  Also, I’d appreciate my right to just whack off my wife when she gets out of line.  You know, biology supports what I’m advocating…or at least, I can make it support my proposal.  Science is a wonderful, squishy thing.

    As for atheists holding office, I’m against it for the reasons laid out in this book:  http://www.irrationalatheist.com/files/TheIrrationalAtheist.pdf

    Note well, however, that I do not agree with the author on all his 
    points, and I’m not a libertarian. He’s also an empiricist, while I’m
    a rationalist, so naturally there’s tensions here, but overall he 
    presents a good, well-documented case. Just what is expected of
    any empiricist worth his salt.

  19. Swk6
    January 7th, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

    Yes, Detroit is also a “faith based” community as well.  I guess the whole faith thing isn’t working out there though is it?  So, maybe in your nice, little rural area where everyone goes to church with their bible, its all well and fine.  In other areas that are a bit more shall we say, challenged, it’s not quite as peachy keen. 

    And yes, I am saying that Europe is a safer place to live than most of America.  Sure it has a “Catholic past”, however are you going back to the inquisitions as well?

  20. Swk6
    January 7th, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

    You know maybe your all right.  I think Violent Jane and I would be much better off converting and praising Jesus like the rest of you.  We should also probably announce our conversion to the ever loving Jeebus just like the Raving……whatever the hell he is now.  All public schools should become Xtian schools obviously.  Those that don’t want to praise Jeebus should be punished.  Anyone caught stealing the flesh of jeebus cracker could be put to death.  I dont know.  It sounds like a great America to me!

  21. Unspeakably Violent Jane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

    Oooh Swk6, I’m glad you posted, or I would have missed Kurt’s remark.

    Kurt, you are correct in assuming that an atheist wouldn’t define anything as “evil.”  We wouldn’t burn the local midwife or perform an exercism on a skitzophrenic, or marginalize a lefty, a menstrating woman, or a gay person.  

     If your definition of “goodness” is just a general sense of guilt, then I am not sure who would win that contest.  Catholic and Jewish guilt are legendary.  It would take a study to seperate truth from myth.

    But it seems to me that the whole point of morality isn’t to feel like shit at the end of the day, but to avoid the behavior in the first place.  So far a ghostly enforcer is having a zero to net negative effect here on Earth. 

    The meaning is in the actions.

  22. Swk6
    January 7th, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

    I can see why you might have missed Kurt’s comment.  When your walking in the backyard amongst all of the dog poop, whats one more turd really?

  23. Beelzebub
    January 7th, 2009 @ 7:13 pm

    “Please tell me when I can kill any of my children under 12 for any reason, without legal percussion.  Also, I’d appreciate my right to just whack off my wife when she gets out of line. ”

    You might permission in Leviticus (?)

  24. Unspeakably Violent Jane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

    ..or switch to that other flavor of Christianity called Islam.

  25. Unspeakably Violent Jane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

    As they say, Geoffrey,  you need science to build sky scrapers and planes but it takes religion to bring them together.

  26. fatherdaddy
    January 7th, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

    Oh, yes! Kill our unruly children (and any children who mock me), kill my wrong-believing neighbors, have sex with my daughters, I can do it all with God’s approval.

  27. fatherdaddy
    January 7th, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

    Oh, wait! I’m supposed to believe first. I guess I’ll have to remain sickened at the prospect of any of those actions.

  28. Kurt
    January 7th, 2009 @ 9:44 pm

    Beelzebub
    The thing is, most atheists don’t take many of those points as morally pernicious.
    That was my point…
    Homosexuality is not wrong, sexual gratification is not wrong.  Suicide is the consequence of a tragic mental health issue, not a moral disorder…
    They are seriously wrong and the fact that you are ignorant of this is the moral decline I am talking about. 

    The fact that you can explain a motivation or reason for why an individual would commit an evil act is not equivalent to explaining the evil act away.  If we conclude that a husband murdered his wife because he was angry with her, we do not conclude from this that murder is not evil.  Instead, we conclude that anger was the motivation that caused him to murder his wife, that is, to commit the evil act.  Similarly, the fact that you can explain the motivation or reason why someone would attempt suicide does not mean suicide is not evil.  Both acts are evil by the nature of what category of act they are irrespective of motives.
    The encouraging thing is that the US appears to be gradually coming into alignment with the atheist, progressive, moral assessment.  Religious moral evaluations are going to be “left behind,” as it were, in the years to come.  You’re already in the rear view mirror.
    Again, this is exactly related to the argument at hand.  Atheism is causing a drastic moral decline, where vices become virtues and virtues become vices.  Morality is being “left behind” in our modern, secular and regressive world.  The difference between theists and atheists is that most atheists encourage the moral decline!  When good becomes evil and evil becomes good, the decline is in full force.  You have illustrated my point exactly.

    Another thing I sense contributing to the moral decline is the insistence by you and Violent Jane that evil, by definition, is something that cannot be explained.  If we explain evil then it ceases to be evil.  This renders good and evil into the irrational or mystical.  How could this view not lead to an overall moral decline?

  29. Gen X Revert
    January 7th, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

    I think people in the US are not able to accept an atheist in a political role and this is a shame.  (Although the atheists/agnostics I have met lead me to believe it is not a big shame- they have been uniformly selfish and immature and pseudo-intellectual).  However, the exclusion of ‘out’ atheists seem to be dueto the ignorance of the populace along the line of John Kennedy having to tell a bunch of Southern racist,  prejudice bigots that he will not answer to the pope if elected.  I would welcome a decent, moral, kind, unselfish, intelligent atheist/agnostic politician if only because if would piss off narrow minded bigoted people of all faiths, as well as create 1 incident that goes against my personal experience of meeting only horrible atheists/ agnostics with drunk/criminal parents.

  30. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 10:25 pm

    Kurt, What evidence do you have that we are in a state of “moral decline?”

  31. Kurt
    January 7th, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

    Kurt, What evidence do you have that we are in a state of “moral decline?”

    Well to start with, the widespread acceptance of abortion, stem cell research, homosexuality and “gay marriage”.   As I pointed out, when good and evil are no longer recognized as such, that is a serious problem.  A few post by you and Beelzebub illustrated this point.  Since both you and Beelzebub agreed that atheists are less likely to understand that my list of vices are in fact vices, it goes to show that atheism is at least correlated with a serious moral decline.  Note that a decline does not mean we have reached rock bottom nor that we are even close to the bottom; it simply means that there is a downward trend.

  32. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

    Kurt, its absolutely true that there things about my code that you find abhorrent, and things about your code that I find abhorrent, but my question was one of measurement.   How are you assessing this “worseness”?

    Reassure me that you aren’t the caricature christian – naked but for his placard reading “The End Is Near,” and tell me you have some numbers to back your instincts.

    For instance, we probably share the opinion that violence is bad (you would say evil).   You might be interested in this lecture on The History of Violence.  We are, as it happens, living in one of the most peaceful periods in our history.

  33. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:07 pm

    Ooops link is here

  34. nkb
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:43 pm

    I’m calling Poe’s Law on Kurt.

  35. nkb
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

    Beelzebub: “You might permission in Leviticus (?)”
    .
    The ability of some theists to self-pwn themselves is just too funny.

  36. UnspeakableyViolentJane
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

    High writing at a high lexile but lack of depth to arguments.  Could be.

  37. nkb
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

    To contribute to the discussion of the actual blog entry, I disagree with the author of the article.  I am convinced that there is a significant number of atheists/agnostics/non-religious politicians serving in public office, who either pretend to be religious, or avoid the subject, if possible.
    .
    The simple reason is, an openly atheist person doesn’t stand a chance of being elected, any more than a black person had a chance many decades ago.   A recent poll showed that atheists are the least trusted minority, behind Muslims and teh gays.

  38. Kurt
    January 7th, 2009 @ 11:52 pm

    my question was one of measurement.   How are you assessing this “worseness”?

    The measurement is that more people today accept and support the things I listed above.  In so far as ideas have consequences, this contributes to the decline.  Note that casting your vote in favor of “gay marriage” is a specific type of act, an act that formally cooperates with sin.  It is always evil to share the intent of those that commit evil.  Thus we could count what percentage of the population supported “gay marriage” in the presidential election.  Do you disagree with what I said above, which was that more people accept and support those specific behaviors?  If you do not disagree, then that is part of the decline.  As I stated, falling to recognize evil as evil is a major factor of the decline.  In fact, it is a catalyst of a moral decline.

    Reassure me that you aren’t the caricature christian – naked but for his placard reading “The End Is Near,” and tell me you have some numbers to back your instincts.

    I have no idea when the end is and I do not intend on speculating, but I am sure if it is near, man made global warming will be the cause.  That is what Al Gore tells me and he did win a Nobel Prize.

    For instance, we probably share the opinion that violence is bad (you would say evil).   You might be interested in this lecture on The History of Violence.  We are, as it happens, living in one of the most peaceful periods in our history.

    Violence is only an aspect of morality, although an important one.  However, when you include the mass murder of millions upon millions of unborn babies, the level of violence skyrockets.  We are also talking about a moral decline and not whether or not we are currently living in moral chaos.  Although, the legal mass murder of the innocent is certainly morally chaotic.

  39. Pikemann Urge
    January 8th, 2009 @ 12:21 am

    ‘Moral decline’ is often subjective. I think, Kurt, that you are merely repeating slogans and catch-cries and not considering the weight of the arguement. Your POV is simply nothing more than “what has the world come to?” – an age-old question.

  40. Kurt
    January 8th, 2009 @ 12:48 am

    ‘Moral decline’ is often subjective. I think, Kurt, that you are merely repeating slogans and catch-cries and not considering the weight of the arguement.

    The wait of what argument?  I do not know what you are talking about.  Considering this thread is not about the nature of morality, I am not arguing that point.  My argument assumed what is good and what is evil, but this assumption illustrates why theists believe there is a moral decline, because from their understanding, there is a moral decline.  You can disagree with my premise, as Violent Jane does, but the logic is valid. If X is evil and more people today believe X is not evil than yesterday, then there has been a moral decline. If Y is evil and more people do Y today than yesterday, regardless of whether or not they think Y is evil, then there has been a moral decline.

  41. T-Dogg
    January 8th, 2009 @ 2:10 am

    How in the heck can “X” be evil??? Or Y? They are just letters made by man with meaning given by man, and there aint nothing moral about it dumbass.

  42. Beelzebub
    January 8th, 2009 @ 5:36 am

    “Another thing I sense contributing to the moral decline is the insistence by you and Violent Jane that evil, by definition, is something that cannot be explained.  If we explain evil then it ceases to be evil.  This renders good and evil into the irrational or mystical.  How could this view not lead to an overall moral decline?”

    — Kurt

    Your writing is a little contradictory, but I believe you’re saying that one can’t explain evil, it’s just evil.  Or that if you explain evil it doesn’t negate the fact that it’s evil.  On that I can agree.  But the thing you’re discounting is that I CAN  explain reasonable well what I consider good and evil, whereas you need to consult a laundry list to do so.  For instance, there’s no way you can explain to me why homosexuality is evil, except that it’s written in the OT.  (And oddly enough, not in the NT)  Without an opinion given to you by an ancient text, you have no leg to stand on.  I, on the other hand, have tons of evidence that homosexuality is in fact GOOD.  It’s fulfulling to its practitioners, who were born gay, it provides them enjoyable sex, it builds what are demonstrably and documented strong families, and so on.  Homosexuality is morally good by any measure except something written in a hateful old book.  Well, sorry, but my reasons trump yours.

  43. Brian Walden
    January 8th, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

    For instance, there’s no way you can explain to me why homosexuality is evil, except that it’s written in the OT.  (And oddly enough, not in the NT)  Without an opinion given to you by an ancient text, you have no leg to stand on.

    This is an unfair caricaturization of Christianity. Look at John Paul II’s theology of the body. The foundations of it’s arguments come from understanding the nature of man. You may think it’s all a bunch crock if you’d like, but traditional Christian sexual theology doesn’t strictly require any specific scriptural reference to homosexuality to make it’s case.

    Heck, many Christians who support homosexual behavior use the same kind of eisegesis which you decry to explain and justify their moral system.  Does that mean that the case for homosexuality is also bunk?

  44. fatherdaddy
    January 8th, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

    Kurt,
    A few days ago, in my home town, a man beat a 10 year old child to death. A few days before that he had taken this child to the authorities in attempt to leave this and another child with them because the children were unruly and out of control. If we are to take the bible as our unfailing moral guide than what this guy did is to be considered moral. As an atheist, I can not  justify what this guy did as anything even close to moral. As a bible literalist, or something close enough, you must believe what this guy did is entirely moral and correct. What is your stance on this matter and how do you justify it? I’ll take my answer off the air.

  45. Brian Walden
    January 8th, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

    Woah, I’ve never seen an interpretation of the Bible that calls for beating an unruly child to death. Which book is that from?

    And what makes you think Kurt is a bible literalist? I don’t know what Kurt has written elsewhere on this blog, but I haven’t seen anything in this thread that indicates he’s a literalist. If I had to take my best guest based on what he’s written, my money would be that he’s Catholic because of what he’s labeled as sinful. Maybe you have a very broad definition of what a bible literalist is – could you clarify what you mean by the term so I’ll understand better?

  46. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 8th, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

    Brian, darlin’, you might want to actually read that book you keep selling

    Deuteronomy 21:18-21

    “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death.”

  47. Brian Walden
    January 8th, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

    Jane, hypothetically speaking, let’s assume that punishment for disobeying one’s parents from Deuteronomy was meant to apply to all people for all time.

    What from the context makes you think it applies to children rather than a grown son. Just in what you quoted, it’s obvious that the text is referring to a grown son – how else could he be a profligate and a drunkard? And what makes you think that gives a man the right to beat his son in secret without first presenting the evidence to the public and letting them decide. You’d have to read into the text a much broader meaning than what is literally given to justify a father beating his young child to death.

  48. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 8th, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

    Brian, you first claimed that it was crazy to think the Bible would say such a thing, then when I produced one quote, you started qualifying it.  It’s clear you will justify anything that you find in your text. 

    Given your disingenuous position, there’s no point in discussing it.  You are  another footnote in my review of Christian Immorality.

  49. fatherdaddy
    January 8th, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

    Homosexuality is evil, suicide is evil, sexual gratification is evil. All of those, literlally, come from the bible. I guess you’re not a literalist if you are against abortion, though, since the bible doesn’t mention it. So, on that individual point, I am mistaken and there are no literalists here.
    Who says a child can’t be a drunkard. I knew of a couple guys in high school who would get pretty drunk.

  50. fatherdaddy
    January 8th, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

    By the way, Brian, if the bible isn’t supposed to apply to all people for all time then for who and when does it apply? I thought Jesus said that he was not here to change the Law. Wouldn’t that mean all of it applies to all people, all the time? Please, educate me.

  51. Brian Walden
    January 8th, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

    Disingenuous? Reading scripture out of context is disingenuous. Earlier you criticized Christians who do so (and I agree with you). At least hold yourself to the same standard you hold them. Is there any evidence that the laws of Deuteronomy ever apply the punishment to children? It’s clear from the context that this is talking about disciplining an adult living a lifestyle similar to that of the prodigal son of the famous parable – not a child who misbehaves. If someone wants to get support for killing children from the Bible, he’d do best to read it non-literally. It’s just not in a literal reading of the text you gave.

    Maybe I’m confused by what you mean by biblical literalist. I assume you really mean literal – like interpreting Genesis to mean that the world was created in 7 days. I don’t think this literalist interpretation is correct, but I don’t see how it could be used to get killing young children from Deuteronomy.  If by biblical literalist you mean everyone who thinks the Bible is inspired or has some degree of authority, then I’d agree someone who thinks that could interpret the passage you cited to support killing their children. But that certainly doesn’t make that interpretation correct. I wouldn’t even know where to find a religious group who uses  the Old Testament laws to claim that the Bible supports parents killing their young children.

  52. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 8th, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

    I wasn’t the one who made the remark about being a literalist.

    But yes,  engaging in any discussion about a text that you are unwilling to evaluate critically is disingenuous. 

    Brian, is there any part of the Bible that you take issue with?  That you think is inappropriate?

  53. Lily
    January 8th, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

    Fatherdaddy: The law Jesus came to fulfill was the law given to Moses, i.e. the 10 commandments. This is laid out very plainly in Matthew 5:17-33. What anyone who reads with a half-open mind will see immediately is that not one of the 617 unique ceremonial and tribal laws of the ancient Hebrews is among them.

    The Bible is not a how-to-manual. It has to be read with care and with regard for the types of literature it is. This is particularly true of the Old Testament. It is filled with stories, poems, law, court chronicles, legend and, in the case of the early chapters of Genesis, mythology. 

    One man is said to have learned the hard way how problematic it is to read the Bible literally and out of context. He was in the habit of seeking guidance by closing his eyes, letting his Bible fall open and picking out a verse without looking at it. One day he did this and lit upon the sentence: “And Judas hanged himself upon a tree“.

    Since he couldn’t figure out how that applied and what he should do, he sought another passage, just as blindly. He lit upon “Go thou and do likewise”.  He finally got it.

  54. Brian Walden
    January 8th, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

    Homosexuality is evil, suicide is evil, sexual gratification is evil. All of those, literlally, come from the bible.

    fatherdaddy, you’re the only one on this thread who claimed that sexual gratification is evil. Read the Song of Songs, the Bible doesn’t say sexual gratification is evil either. The largest Christian body in the world not only teaches that sexual gratification is not evil, but that the way we most imitate the Holy Trinity is through sexual gratification. Don’t take my word for it, John Paul II said it, not me.

    I guess you’re not a literalist if you are against abortion, though, since the bible doesn’t mention it.

    You’re correct, I’m not a biblical literalist. Most Christians aren’t. I do believe the the bible is inspired and inerrant. I think most Christians do too.

    By the way, Brian, if the bible isn’t supposed to apply to all people for all time then for who and when does it apply? I thought Jesus said that he was not here to change the Law. Wouldn’t that mean all of it applies to all people, all the time? Please, educate me.

    Yes, the Bible applies to all people for all time, but not every part of the bible is supposed to be interpreted literally for every particular group of people in every particular time. The bible itself addresses this issue – several parts of the New Testament deal the with apostles struggling with the question of whether the gentile converts to Christianity must obey the Judaic laws. My basic understanding is that God gave his people the Old Testament laws to raise them up out of the pagan nations that surrounded them. The harsh punishments were needed becuase they were constantly tempted to (and quite often did) revert back to their old ways. The Law has not changed. Honor Your Mother and Your Father is still the law.

    I don’t have too deep of an understanding of the Bible, but I’d be happy to try to answer any questions you have. I don’t intend to try to convince you of changing your view, I just jumped in because I like having the impression that athiests are smart and it hurts that impression to see athiests beating down straw men. Anyone can see flaws in reading the whole Bible literally. Anyone can denounce a man who violently kills his 10 year old son.  Move past the windmills and start taking on the real dragons.

  55. Brian Walden
    January 8th, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

    I wasn’t the one who made the remark about being a literalist.
    Jane you’re correct. Looking back at the thread I realize I caused this confusion. Fatherdaddy made the claim that a literalist interpretation of the bible justifies the actions of a father who beat his 10 year old son to death. I was responding to him in that context, but never explicitly mentioned it in my post.
    I apologize for the confusion I caused. When I said “I’ve never seen an interpretation of the Bible that calls for beating an unruly child to death.” I meant it in the context of a literalist interpretation. I agree with you that if you’re not limited to a literalist interpretation the passage you cited can be used in an attempt to justify killing one’s own young children. I don’t however think that this is a correct interpretation nor do I know of any group who interprets it this way.

    But yes,  engaging in any discussion about a text that you are unwilling to evaluate critically is disingenuous. 

    I’m willing to evaluate it critically. I hope my apparent disingenuousness was only because of the confusion I caused with my poor wording.
    Brian, is there any part of the Bible that you take issue with?  That you think is inappropriate?
    It’s difficult to answer this question because I’m not a Sola Scriptura Christian. I don’t see the Bible as an instruction manual – rather it’s more like love letters from God that reveal who He is and His love for us. Certainly I think there are a lot of bad things described in the Bible (most of them done by His own people).  And there are times when the events described in the bible are historically inaccurate. But I don’t think the Bible is telling us that we should commit adultery when it describes David and Bathsheba, and I don’t think it’s attempting to be historically accurate when it gets some dates wrong.
    Off the top of my head I can think of an example from the Bible that I completely don’t understand. In the Old Testament (sorry I’m not one of those chapter and verse Christians) there’s a scene that describes some sort of sick game where to groups of soldiers line up next to each other and kill each other simultaneously with their swords so that they all die. I have no idea what I’m supposed to get out of that passage.

  56. fatherdaddy
    January 8th, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

    Brian,
    Kurt @ 28 does imply that sexual gratification is among those things that are evil. I didn’t come up with that myself.

    Lily,
    I say that because I’ve heard from more than one source that Jesus is not referring solely to the big 10. Reading the verses you mentioned, I find verse 31 talking about divorce and only loosely relating it to anything in the 10 Commandments. Nowhere in those verses do I see Jesus saying he is only talking about the 10, he refers to the law as well as commandments. As I remember, there are more than 10 laws that god has laid down for us. We just call some of them commandments.

    Maybe, the example of child murder I gave is a bit broader than what is specifically laid out in the bible, but, if we only have to follow the specific examples then there is not a whole lot that applies to anyone and we might as well drop the whole thing. What if a gay man does not lay with another man, but, kneals before him? What if they are leaning over? I think that would let abortion off the hook, too.

  57. fatherdaddy
    January 8th, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

    What it comes down to, for me, is that atheists are perceived to be the immoral ones for not worshipping when as much immorality, if not more, is present in all of us. We are no less deserving of public office than any believer. Yet, atheists are the christian whipping boys who deserve nothing but derision and scorn. I find the whole situation highly hypocritical.

  58. Lily
    January 8th, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

    Fatherdaddy: 

    If you haven’t already, pls take a quick look at a Bible that, like most, has headings to help the reader. You will see verse 17 is about murder. Then adultery gets discussed (divorce is covered under the commandment against adultery, which the Jews would know, even if we don’t quite get it today).  The business about oaths is covered by the commandment against misusing the Lord’s name. Jesus doesn’t go through every one of the commandments but his words are quite clear, as is his final admonition to be perfect as God is perfect. The law he is referring to are the commandments given to Moses (there are more than 10, as we know) and the application of them that the Jews had worked out over the centuries.  The prophets were constantly harping on justice (required by the law of Moses) and calling kings to account. They weren’t knocking them for mixing linen and wool ( a ritual no-no) but for failing in justice or committing murder and/or adultery (like King David). In fact, I suppose it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that all the commandments are ultimately about justice in various guises. 

     The ritual laws of Judaism have relatively little moral weight. They were instituted to mark the ancient Hebrews as separate from the pagans around them.  That is why Jesus and, later, Paul had no  use for them. Jesus continually violated the ritual and ceremonial laws during his ministry; he didn’t just preach against them.

    As far as your murder scenario goes, I would remind you that many societies gave fathers the right to kill their children. The Greeks could,  Romans could, etc.  It is the exceptions to that rule that stand out (I don’t know of any, that I can think of off-hand.). Actually, the Hebrew passage you cite is rather more humane– the unruly adult child gets his day in court. Papa can’t just kill him on a whim. He has to have the agreement of the town elders.

    The perception of atheists as necessarily immoral is unfair, of course. There is certainly no reason that an atheist qua atheist cannot or should not hold public office. Many have already. They just kept it to themselves. But they can and must be judged on the positions they take on the issues. Those positions may or may not be moral. That is a decision each voter has to make.

  59. Brian Walden
    January 8th, 2009 @ 10:15 pm

    Fatherdaddy. I was mistaken. Beekzebub originally said sexual gratification was a sin. Kurt quoted him in 28 and you referred to it in 49.

    What it comes down to, for me, is that atheists are perceived to be the immoral ones for not worshipping when as much immorality, if not more, is present in all of us. We are no less deserving of public office than any believer.

    I agree with you here.

    Yet, atheists are the christian whipping boys who deserve nothing but derision and scorn. I find the whole situation highly hypocritical.

    What part of the country are you from? I’m originally from Upstate New York and didn’t experience this? Heck where I come from you get treated with scorn for being one of those Christians who tries to take the faith seriously rather than being a Christian-in-name-only. I’m sorry for Christians who treated you unfairly.

  60. Kurt
    January 9th, 2009 @ 12:16 am

    Fatherdaddy. I was mistaken. Beekzebub originally said sexual gratification was a sin. Kurt quoted him in 28 and you referred to it in 49.

    To make things clear, sexual gratification was Beelzebub’s terminology, not mine.  I did not list sexual gratification on my initial list, but apparently Beelzebub thinks opposition to particular forms of sexual behavior in particular concrete circumstances, is opposition to sexual gratification in the abstract.  This is not so.  Sexual gratification in the proper context is a wonderful thing.  Outside of that context it is a sin.  This is a balanced view between Manichaenism and  hedonism.

  61. Marie
    January 10th, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    First, welcome home Raving Theist.

    Concerning why the general public does not elect atheists, people in general do not trust someone who refuses to be held to an external, common, objective standard of behavior.  The root of atheist morality is fluid, subject to change without notice, and predicated upon the individual atheist’s personal situation and emotive state–both of which are notoriously unreliable moral guides. An atheist may use logic and personal circumstances to argue, for example, that beastiality is a perfectly valid form of sexual gratification, and fellow atheists have no recourse to disagree due to the common assumption that the goodness of an action is predicated on what the individual atheist thinks at the moment and how convincingly the atheist concocts a logical defense of the action. 

    Atheist philosophy exaults the individual atheist as a tyrannical mob of one and people in general, even those who are neither overt nor consistent in the practice of religion, instinctively reject it.

    Again, welcome home Raving Theist. Your intellectual adventure is just beginning.

  62. Dan
    January 11th, 2009 @ 2:55 am

    I just wanted to compliment you on your writing. I certainly enjoyed reading, and its good to know other people are reading tbe examiner. I write for the Boston site myself ;)

    But you’ve definitely earned yourself another reader. ;)

    I look forward tl reading more of your pieves.

  63. nkb
    January 13th, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

    Marie,
    And yet, atheists are law-abiding citizens in society. How do they manage that if all they are out for is personal gratification?
    .
    Maybe they’re just really sneaky, and get away with murder? Or maybe, just maybe, your caricature view of atheists is so completely off that you have exposed yourself as an ignorant douchebag.
    .
    I know where my money is.

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