Thursday, December 04, 2008

Real Controversy Over Atheist Signs, Or Manufactured?

You knew this was coming. The Examiner is going to play it up, okay, let's see where it goes:
Hundreds of people have fired off complaints to Metro for running an ad campaign on its buses that questions the belief in God.

The transit system said the controversial ads have solicited just one compliment, while receiving 251 complaints.

“Why believe in a god?” say the American Humanist Association ads that went up on a handful of buses two weeks ago and inside the buses on Monday. “Just be good for goodness’ sake.”

The ads have sparked more ire than usual for Metro, said agency spokeswoman Candace Smith, even though advertising on buses and in stations has long been a legal morass for transit systems nationwide.

“As a public agency, Metro must observe the First Amendment with respect to the acceptance of commercial advertising,” Smith said. “Although we understand that feelings and perceptions will vary among individuals within the community, we cannot reject advertising because an individual, or group, finds it inappropriate or offensive.” Metro fields hundreds of complaints about bus ads

Of course people will disagree with the sentiment on the signs. I see signs on the Metro that I disagree with, for instance I often find myself driving behind a big sign on a bus promoting a talk show host who has been especially hostile to our point of view, but it never occurred to me to write the Metro and complain about it.

Let's find out what people are saying ...
The transit system has lost lawsuits when it refused to run ads. It had to run posters suggesting that President Ronald Reagan led a “jelly bean republic” after losing a court decision in 1984.

Since then, Metro has allowed many campaigns that spark complaints, including recent ads for the “Fallout 3” video game that some deemed too violent. The transit agency’s ads cannot be factually misleading or false, nor can they violate laws or incite violence, Smith said. Profanity is also out. Everything else must be accepted.

For some, though, even the questioning of the existence of a god translates to obscenity. One person wrote to Metro, “That ad is obscene to me!? I wouldn’t want my children reading that.”

Another wrote of plans to complain to the American Civil Liberties Union on grounds that the ads violate a separation of church and state by a publicly funded organization.

I wonder if the Metro got any letters supporting the billboards. We could look at it this way: there are about four and a quarter million people living in the DC area. Two hundred fifty-one have written to complain about these signs.
The local branch of the ACLU said it had not received complaints about the campaign, nor would the free-speech advocates likely take on the case as they have successfully sued to keep such advertising open.

“The principle is as old as the hills,” said Fritz Mulhauser, staff attorney for the ACLU of the National Capital Area. “If Metro opens its space and walls to advertising, it cannot pick and choose.”

It’s not clear how many of those who complained actually ride the Metro system, as all but five complaints arrived via e-mail. One signed an e-mail as a “D.C. resident, Metro rider, and ‘BELIEVER’ in God,” while another writer acknowledged, “I have never had the privilege to actually visit Washington, D.C.”

Some of the letter writers said they learned of the campaign from FOXNews.com or AOL and wrote in before the ads appeared on any buses.

I have said before, I can't imagine that God is so weak that questioning Him will hurt Him any. If He created the world and the people in it, he must have known that we would use this intelligence He gave us to wonder what's going on, where we came from, what's meaningful and what's not and why. He must have known that people would question His very existence, don't you think? Or, on the other hand, maybe God didn't create the world, but the hominid species that eventually created language and civilization systematically investigated various hypotheses about the world, its origin and the teleological implications of what they found, and concluded that God was an invention of human society, filling gaps where knowledge was absent. The fact is, you can ask the question either way, and there is no logical reason to choose one approach over the other, is there? There is no evidence one way or the other about the existence of a god -- some thinkers take that, skeptically, to the conclusion that there is no god, others take it the other way, you cannot prove that the particular God they believe in doesn't exist.

Either way, if He exists then doubt is probably insufficient to destroy Him; if He doesn't, then there's nothing to complain about here.

53 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea-not anon
If you actually believe why would it bother you? Ads for churches don't bother me- it's not like I get my religion from a bus or a metro sign or a magazine.
There have been some unpleasant ad campaigns- the pictures for Fallout 3(I think that is the name of the game) at Metro Center were really depressing. Some people were upset at the ads at Metro Center with the photos of the 2 hippos - it had something to do with people suing because places like McDonald's serve fattening foods.

December 04, 2008 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's interesting is that the urge to spread the atheist viewpoint has become so strong that they are willing to spend large sums of money to encourage others to accept their view

anyone wonder why?

"Or, on the other hand, maybe God didn't create the world, but the hominid species that eventually created language and civilization systematically investigated various hypotheses about the world, its origin and the teleological implications of what they found, and concluded that God was an invention of human society, filling gaps where knowledge was absent."

This is called humanism. They idea that man is sufficient without God.

Problem is, there is less support for it than any other religious viewpoint.

In the twentieth century, the consensus early in the century was that religion had outlived its utility and man could create a utopia on his own. Several societies experimented with the idea that religion was detrimental to society and banned religious practice. The result was widespread and unprecedented suffering.

"There is no evidence one way or the other about the existence of a god"

Let's amend that to say there is no conclusive evidence.

December 04, 2008 9:23 AM  
Blogger Emproph said...

“This is called humanism. They idea that man is sufficient without God.

Problem is, there is less support for it than any other religious viewpoint.”


Why is that a problem?

December 04, 2008 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

PFOX ran metro ads with their poisonous message. If they can do it, so can humanists.

December 04, 2008 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

I believe in God but also am tolerant of other beliefs. For example, I always see commercials that advertise one religion or another. It is only fair that another point-of-view is accepted. Everyone is different, AnonBigot.

December 04, 2008 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't remember arguing that the signs shouldn't be allowed.

Anon-deluxe: Problem is, there is less support for it than any other religious viewpoint.

Emslob: Why is that a problem?

Because it has been shown to cause suffering.

December 04, 2008 2:42 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Wrong Bad anonymous, the opposite is true, high levels of religiosity are positively correlated with high levels of social dysfunction:

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html



In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health.

If the data showed that the U.S. enjoyed higher rates of societal health than the more secular, pro-evolution democracies, then the opinion that popular belief in a creator is strongly beneficial to national cultures would be supported. Although they are by no means utopias, the populations of secular democracies are clearly able to govern themselves and maintain societal cohesion. Indeed, the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards. The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted. Contradicting these conclusions requires demonstrating a positive link between theism and societal conditions in the first world with a similarly large body of data - a doubtful possibility in view of the observable trends.

There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002).

December 04, 2008 5:36 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous, this has been demonstrated to you repeatedly yet you continue to lie. Morality is clearly not your strong point.

December 04, 2008 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Priya. You're wrong.

All societies which have banned religion- USSR, Maoist China, East Germany, North Korea, Cuba, Romania- have produced ruthless dictators who were worshipped in place of God and murdered hundreds of millions of people. The vast sweep of evil and suffering was unlike anything the world has known.

The Western European secular societies you site are dying slowly but because they have maintained a Judeo-Christian heritage and not banned religion altogether, they have avoided a sharp descent into darkness. Nonetheless, their aversion to life and commitment to hedonism, will result in their demise if not reversed. Their populations are dwindling because of low birth rates and some, like France, are being overrun with Muslim radicals who have exploding population rates.

December 04, 2008 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I'm reading Barbara Tuchman's "Through a Distant Mirror." She reports an endless series of repeated Christian attacks on Jews, in response to almost every even mild disaster that happened. It seemed to have been the standard Christian response to just about everything.

My grandaddy used to go and beat up on the Catholic boys in his home town. My mother of course married one. Hee hee.

Religion may not be intrinsically poisonous. Mandated, group thought is. That may be the connection between the poison of totalitarian religious and marxist societies.

Oh good god, I'm trying to debate with anonymous! A little like Canute turning back the tide. The anonymoid is like an unbeatable force of nature.

rrjr

December 05, 2008 9:48 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 05, 2008 9:51 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "All societies which have banned religion...have produced ruthless dictators".

You've got it backwards. Ruthless dictators came first, then the banning of religion. The problem was the ruthless dictators, not the absense of religion. That's why the Creighton study focused on comparing societal health and religiosity in DEMOCRACIES you idiot. Those societies which have chosen to abandon religion freely have higher rates of societal health as the facts clearly show.

Scandanavia and Japan are not Western European democracies and they are vibrant and successful in all measures, far from dying. That France has problems with Islamic immigrants precisely demonstrates that religion is the problem, not the lack of it.

The facts are irrefutable. The Creighton study is thorough, well documented, global in scope and scientific. You have nothing to back up your wrong-headed opinion but your desperate wishful thinking.

December 05, 2008 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Why is that a problem?

Because it has been shown to cause suffering.


Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century shows plenty of suffering caused in the name of religion. Priya has several times posted some of the suffering caused by religion recorded in The Bible. She has referred us to Evilbible.com , which reports: God, according to the Bible, is directly responsible for many mass-murders, rapes, pillage, plunder, slavery, child abuse and killing, not to mention the killing of unborn children. Adherents of religions that worship this God have long caused suffering.

In the twentieth century, the consensus early in the century was that religion had outlived its utility and man could create a utopia on his own. Several societies experimented with the idea that religion was detrimental to society and banned religious practice. The result was widespread and unprecedented suffering.

There have been many religious wars in the 20th century as well. Of course these wars were not unprecedented because religion has long been a source of conflict leading to wars and widespread suffering. Religion was a major cause of suffering from the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II to the Christian on Christian fighting in Northern Ireland to the never ending fighting in the Middle East, to name a few.

December 05, 2008 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Creighton study"

You've mentioned this study many times, Priya.

Do you have any others?

December 05, 2008 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main problem with the signs are that they were purposefully designed to provoke. Both sides know it, and both sides know that it is rude and obnoxious. We can all intellectualize it all we want, but we all know that the signs were meant to irritate.

December 05, 2008 5:25 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

The signs are no more meant to irritate or provoke than evangelical church signs proselytizing are. Atheists have just as much right to promote their viewpoint as religionists do.

December 05, 2008 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priya,

People can have different viewpoints, but if someone chooses to express it in an irritating way then no one should be surprised if people get irritated.

If I chose Ramadan to post a sign saying: "Why bother to think about the Prophet Muhammad?" And then used part of a famous Muslim song to illustrate my point and take that song part out of context, would you not think that I was out to irritate Muslims?

Now, if the aethiests had posted a sign, in June, saying something like: "Do you feel that God doesn't exist? We do too. Let's treat each other nicely just because we think it's the right thing to do." Then -- that would be a legitimate sign that could not be construed as a provocation.

December 05, 2008 6:51 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

I see no difference between your suggested sign and the one that was put on the bus, they amount to the same thing.

The irritation and provocation rests mostly with the religionists, they're the ones putting up signs saying people will go to hell if they don't follow the religionists myths. That's far more outrageous and obscene than anything any atheist has ever put up - agree with me or you deserve eternal torture. People like you look the other way when signs like that go up and then you've got the nerve to try to deny atheists their right to free speech - Puh-leeeeze.

December 05, 2008 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

And then used part of a famous Muslim song to illustrate my point

Ahem, Ahem! Are you trying to tell us "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is a "famous Christian song?" The rest of us must have missed the part about Santa Claus in The Bible. Where is it exactly?

"Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town"

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He's making a list,
Checking it twice;
Gonna find out who's naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake

With little tin horns and little toy drums
Rooty toot toots and rummy tum tums
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

December 05, 2008 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aunt Bea,

The song is a fun song that has grown up around the celebration of Christmas. Go out today and ask any kid on the street this question:

Is "Santa Claus Coming to Town" sung during:

1. The Fourth of July
2. Ramadan
3. Yom Kippur
3. Christmas

Even a two year old will give you the proper answer.

It's true that there are Christians who don't feel that Santa Claus should be part of Christmas and they have valid points, including the one that you made -- that Santa Claus is not in the Bible.

That being said....the song has come to be known, in our culture, as a song that is celebrated with Christmas. That's a very observable fact. Simply walk down the street and ask anybody.

So, we come full circle. The aethiest group took a well-known Christian holiday, and a well-known song that grew up around Christmas, and chose to irritate Christians during their most famous and celebratory season.

If you don't think that this was done purposefully to irritate, then perhaps you simply aren't familiar with how ad campaigns are created. I have been involved in many campaigns and I can tell you that the aethiest group is receiving EXACTLY what it wished to receive.

So our conversation here...I'll consider it to be a little Christmas gift to the aethiest group. This is, after all, what they asked for!

December 06, 2008 9:47 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous, the advertising is designed to get people to reconsider their irrational beliefs, nothing more, nothing less. That you choose to be irritated by it is your problem.

December 06, 2008 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, surely you don't think Christmas is a Christian holiday! Please show me anything in the New Testament that mentions celebration of the winter solstice. Jesus wasn't born in the winter time, there is nothing in Christianity about worshiping a decorated evergreen, about gift-giving, about caroling, bobbing for apples, reindeer, guys in red suits, putting lights on your house. Yule is a holiday that predates the Christian conquest, they just slapped a different name on the already-existing holy day.

Doing good for goodness sake is a concept that is older than Christianity. The idea that every time you're good it has something to do with some guy who lived two thousand years ago is strange and kind of crazy.

December 06, 2008 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priya -- Your comments make me feel that you're not even engaged in a healthy debate.

Anon,

Now...I happen to agree with you that Santa Claus should be retired, along with lots of the other Christmas trimmings that you mentioned --and for the reasons that you mentioned. They do detract from the meaning of the holiday.

However, that being said, everything else that I wrote about this subject is still valid. Christmas is a holiday that Christians celebrate to honor the birth of Jesus. No one knows exactly when Jesus was born, so you can't say he was or wasn't born in the winter. However, it doesn't matter. It is the day that Christians have chosen to celebrate, and the aethiest group knows this. Since Christians get together and celebrate on this day, it makes it a Christian holiday. It's as simple as that. That it isn't historically accurate makes no difference whatsoever.

The Sabbath should, technically, be held on Saturday and not on Sunday. However, most Christians get together at Church on Sunday. This doesn't mean that Sunday is not a day set aside to worship God. December 25 is the day that Christians have set aside to honor Jesus, so, thus, it is a Christian holiday.

Kawanza is a made up holiday (founded in 1963, I believe), but I wouldn't put up a sign during Kawanza saying: "why believe in community? We're a community regardless." That would be irritating. If my goal were to irritate, then I would do exactly that.

So, you can't put up a sign that's meant to irritate and then turn around and get mad that people are irritated.

The group that put up the "why believe in god" sign should be celebrating right now! This was the point of their ad campaign and their ad execs are getting bonuses right now -- simply because lots of people, like us, are engaged in this conversation right now!

The aethiest group was way out of line on this one -- downright mean spirited.

December 06, 2008 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last comment from the usual anon was at 12:42pm on Dec 5. I don't agree 100% with the comments of the new anon although I think he or she is doing a capable job presenting their views.

I think new anon is right that the atheists are trying to provoke but I don't take offense. They actually are assisting Christian evangelism by giving us an opportunity to answer the question "why believe in God?". The atheists actually show some ignorance because Christians believe one should be good for goodness sake. We worship God because he is good.

While some Christian traditions date to pagan times, that doesn't make them Christian. As Christians evangelized pagan Europe, they superficially adopted customs of the pagans, devising Christian symbolism to supplant pagan belief. This was done to encourage pagan hearers to focus on the meaning of the message being preached rather than superficial issues. This is still being practiced in the mission field. These practices, however, are no more pagan than a Hannukah bush is Christian.

Santa Claus actually has no pagan origin but was a Christian saint who anonymously gave gifts to poor children. Over the years, he has accumulated a great deal of mythical baggage in the same manner as Wyatt Earp, Davy Crockett and Robin Hood but that doesn't change his Christian origins.

The Christmas tree is not of pagan origin but was invented by Martin Luther. Pagans had a similar tradition at winter solstice but there isn't any evidence early Christian missionaries adopted it. If they did, the tradition was lost and the Christmas tree was independently created in Germany about 500 years ago.

Being "good for goodness sake" is indeed a Judeo-Christian concept. Nice rhetorical attempt at diversion though. When you said it predated Jesus, you ignore the fact that Jesus appearance on Earth didn't mark the commencement of Judeo-Christian revelation but its culmination.

December 06, 2008 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea-not anon
Jesus wasn't the culmination of for our part of Judeo- Christian anything. He may or not be the culmination of Christianity- I don't know- I think there must still be more to come but I won't speak for the multitude of Christians- as for us, Jews, not anything to do with our religion.

December 06, 2008 1:58 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Exodus 20:5
"You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me".

Bad anonymous said "We worship God because he is good.".

Obviously not. We instinctively know its immoral to punish the innocent. Your god is blatently immoral and yet you ignore that to praise his evilness.

December 06, 2008 2:45 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous, do you do what your god tells you to do because it is the right thing to do, or is it the right thing to do because your god says so?

December 06, 2008 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Anon Who Posted at 1:09 p.m.,

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain those things about Christianity and the origin of some of our Christmas traditions! My depth of knowledge is lacking. I appreciate your taking the time to set me straight - I learned a lot from your post!

Priya -- I believe you're quoting from the Old Testament. That was written prior to Jesus.

December 06, 2008 3:20 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Being "good for goodness sake" is indeed a Judeo-Christian concept.".

Nonsense. Christianity is a recycling of the many religions that came before it. It laid claim to moral concepts developed by other societies long before Christianity even existed. Even Jesus quotes one of Aesop's fables in the bible as though it was originally attributed to him.

In fact I seriously doubt, recycled or not that the phrase appears in your bible. Show us where it says in the bible to "be good for goodness sake". I suspect this is yet another case of you lamely claiming every concept you like must have originated there, kind of like when you claimed democracy is an Islamic-Christian idea even though the word or a description of the concept don't appear anywhere in the bible.

December 06, 2008 3:21 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "Priya -- I believe you're quoting from the Old Testament. That was written prior to Jesus.".

The old testament is part of your bible too. The old testament is your god you claim to worship.

You want the new testament and your "holy" Jesus, here you go:

Matthew

747 Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn't the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. 5:17

755 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

764 Jesus had no problem with the idea of drowning everyone on earth in the flood. It'll be just like that when he returns. 24:37

Mark

769 Jesus explains why he speaks in parables: to confuse people so they will go to hell. 4:11-12

772 Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children as required by Old Testament law. (See Ex.21:15, Lev.20:9, Dt.21:18-21) 7:9-10

Luke

782 Jesus says that God is like a slave-owner who beats his slaves "with many stripes." 12:46-47

787 In the parable of the talents, Jesus says that God takes what is not rightly his, and reaps what he didn't sow. The parable ends with the words: "bring them [those who preferred not to be ruled by him] hither, and slay them before me." 19:22-27

John

788 As an example to parents everywhere and to save the world (from himself), God had his own son tortured and killed. 3:16

791 Jesus believes people are crippled by God as a punishment for sin. He tells a crippled man, after healing him, to "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." 5:14

Acts

794 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

Romans

802 Homosexuals (those "without natural affection") and their supporters (those "that have pleasure in them") are "worthy of death." 1:31-32

The guilty are "justified" and "saved from wrath" by the blood of an innocent victim. 5:9

God punishes everyone for someone else's sin; then he saves them by killing an innocent victim. 5:12

Ephesians

809 We are predestined by God to go to either heaven or hell. None of our thoughts, words, or actions can affect the final outcome. 1:4-5, 11

God had his son murdered to keep himself from hurting others for things they didn't do. 1:7

The bloody death of Jesus smelled good to God. 5:2

Colossians

813 God bought us with someone else's blood. 1:14

God makes peace through blood. 1:19-20

2 Thessalonians

816 Jesus will take "vengeance on them that know not God" by burning them forever "in flaming fire." 1:7-9

818 God will cause us to believe lies so that he can damn our souls to hell. 2:11-12

Hebrews

819 God will not forgive us unless we shed the blood of some innocent creature. 9:13-14, 22

Revelation

833 Everyone on earth will wail because of Jesus. 1:7

837 "Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." God created predators, pathogens, and predators for his very own pleasure. One of his favorite species is guinea worms. 4:11

844 144,000 Jews will be going to heaven; everyone else is going to hell. 7:4

853 After God's witnesses "have finished their testimony," they are killed in a war with a beast from a bottomless pit. 11:7

861 God gave the saints and prophets blood to drink. 16:6

871 All liars, as well as those who are fearful or unbelieving, will be cast into "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." 21:8

December 06, 2008 3:25 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous, do you do what your god tells you to do because it is the right thing to do, or is it the right thing to do because your god says so?

December 06, 2008 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priya,

Regardless of where the concept "be good for goodness sake" comes from, the fact remains that the Santa Claus song made it popular in our culture, and for that reason it is now associated with Christmas. If someone says "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, had a very UGLY nose," -- we all know the person is referring to a Christmas song. It makes no difference, whatsoever, that Rudolph didn't even exist. The fact is, someone is mocking the song.

So, now we're back to my original point: that the aethiest group purposefully used part of the Santa Claus song in an effort to provoke.

December 06, 2008 3:33 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

It may be associated with Christmas, but not because it had anything to do with the bible or christian doctrine. Massive fail on your part.

Once again, you seem (not surprisingly) to be afraid of the question:

Bad anonymous, do you do what your god tells you to do because it is the right thing to do, or is it the right thing to do because your god says so?

December 06, 2008 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priya,

I have not always done the right things in my life so I am not capable of answering your question. To answer your question would be to say that I know I do the right things. I can't honestly say that I do the right things. In some things, I have believed I have done the right things, but then, in restrospect, I am unsure.

December 06, 2008 3:49 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

You can answer the question, you're just afraid of the implications if you do. You don't have to have been perfect to state your opinion as to whether your god tells you to do things because they are right, or if things are right because he says they are. You have two options:

Either god tells you to do things because they are right, in which case morality exists seperately from your imaginary god

or

Things are right because your god says so, so if he told you to torture and kill newborn babies that would be moral and the right thing to do.

Which is it? You need to think long and hard about this before you presume to tell anyone to worship the Islamic-Christian god.

December 06, 2008 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Second anon:

what denominatrion do you belong to?

Priya:

You continually take bible passages out of context, to your own disadvantage.

If you're really interested in this question, C.S. Lewis addressed it in his Mere Christianity. It's not very long.

Reading's good for you anyway.

Give it a whirl. You might enjoy it.

December 06, 2008 6:34 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

CS Lewis is a joke. One of his favourite arguments was "Lunatic, liar, or lord" as though those were the only possibilities. He forgot about "fiction" and "embelleshment".

There's no context you can put "I punish children unto the fourth generation for the sins of their father" that makes it okay. Ditto for all the quotes I provided from the new testament. Face it, your bible describes the most evil loathesome character in all of fiction.

So, do you have an asnwer yet? Does your god tell you to do things because they are moral, or are things moral because your god says so?

December 06, 2008 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I "asnwered" that already. Work on those reading skills.

December 06, 2008 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"CS Lewis is a joke. One of his favourite arguments was "Lunatic, liar, or lord" as though those were the only possibilities. He forgot about "fiction" and "embelleshment"."

Hmmmm...I don't know what is rarer:

those who consider Priya Lynn less a joke than CS Lewis or historians who believe Jesus is fictional

like Billy Preston said so long ago:

"nothing from nothing leaves nothing"

I guess that kind of approximates how many agree with you, Priya!

December 07, 2008 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priya says: "There's no context you can put "I punish children unto the fourth generation for the sins of their father" that makes it okay."

Priya -- Let's pretend we're in philosophy 101 and use our imagination more broadly. Now, just because you don't like the way something sounds doesn't mean it's not true. Perhaps God does punish into the fourth generation. We may not always be able to recognize what that punishment is, but maybe it is something that we really are accustomed to.

For example, in the biblical quote you mention above....suppose you have a family whose members, generation after generation, die mainly of heart problems. Our science tells us that heart problems are caused by not eating right, not exercising, etc. However, it could, in reality, be a punishment from God -- right down to the fourth generation.

Perhaps God wants us to learn something. Maybe he wants us to learn that we should take better care of ourselves and knows that, being the humans we are, we learn better if we see something happening over generations than when we see something happening just once.

The same principle can be applied to a parent's treatment of a child. When children first learn to walk, they clunk their heads continually. Parents hover around, trying to stop their child from getting seriously hurt. However, sometimes, you assess the risk and allow them to clunk their heads, simply so they can learn that if they don't pay attention to their own well being, then they will forever be clunking their heads. This allowance of head clunking could very well be construed as "punishing" a child. And maybe it would have been written in the Bible as: "Parents teach your stupid child; even encourage his head to be clunked!"

So, Priya, when you read the word "punishment" in the Bible, you seem to see, in your mind, only rape, murder, mutilation and the like. When I see the word "punishment" I see a broader meaning.

If it helps, think of a relationship with God as a parent/child relationship. Parents help us by trying to teach us the lessons they have learned, by punishing us when necessary ("go to your room until you can talk nicely again"), by withholding things from us when necessary (e.g., "no dessert until after you eat your vegetables," etc.). However, in the end, it is up to the child to carry out what he has learned. Just as our parents either let us make mistakes, or watch helplessly as we make mistakes, so God does the same thing with us.

So does a child say he's sorry to someone that he kicks because he's really sorry, or because his parents urge him to do so? It is probably, at first, a little of each. The child probably knows, at a basic level, that what he's doing is wrong, and his parents reinforce this feeling by asking him to apologize. Thus, the child learns, with his parents' encouragement, to trust his own instincts.

So, in the future, when this child grows up, does he refrain from kicking someone because his parents told him not to kick, or because he simply knows it's wrong? It's really a rhetorical question because a person's reasoning and his parents' teachings are inextricably intertwined -- just like our relationship to God.

December 07, 2008 1:13 AM  
Blogger Emproph said...

“I think new anon is right that the atheists are trying to provoke but I don't take offense. They actually are assisting Christian evangelism by giving us an opportunity to answer the question "why believe in God?". The atheists actually show some ignorance because Christians believe one should be good for goodness sake. We worship God because he is good.”

If God is “good,” then what is the difference between being “good for goodness’ sake,” and worshipping God?

December 07, 2008 8:39 AM  
Blogger Emproph said...

like Billy Preston said so long ago:

"nothing from nothing leaves nothing"


Therefore, all is one.

Sure you want to go there?

December 07, 2008 8:51 AM  
Blogger Emproph said...

“Priya -- Let's pretend we're in philosophy 101 and use our imagination more broadly.”

Isn’t that the whole point, that pretending, use of imagination, and/or “belief” is what is being defended?

I accept your complaints about some of the perceived inflammatory nature. Personally I would have said “why need to believe in a god…”

That said, why not just reach out to your next door neighbors and support them? Wouldn’t that be the best way to share your understanding, in and of itself?

Sometimes I think that because you believe in an eternal hell, you think it might be a waste of time to help people who don’t rise to your definition of salvation-worthy.

Personally, I would ask, do you really believe that a just god is even capable of creating an eternal hell?

And why would you consider that fact (the Bible) to even be important enough to be told to worship such a god?

Such a god would be the definition of injustice.

December 07, 2008 9:26 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said " Let's pretend we're in philosophy 101 and use our imagination more broadly...blah blah blah, blah blah blah...".

LOL, that was one of the most pathetic excuses I've ever heard trying to rationalize your god's punishment of the innocent. If you spin any faster you're going to go into orbit. I don't need to debunk your points one at a time they're so preposterous they need no rebuttal. Your god says he punishes children for the sins of the father unto the fourth generation. That couldn't be any more clearcut and evil.


Bad anonymous said "I "asnwered" that already".

No you didn't, you evaded the question with the lame "I have not always done the right things in my life so I am not capable of answering your question.".

Once again, does your god tell you to do things because they are moral, or are things moral because your god says so?

December 07, 2008 12:09 PM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

As a Kantian Realist, "be good for goodness' sake" is an excellent summary of my philosophy.

It's a lot easier to understand than gasbagging about the "categorical imperative", though it means the same thing.

To the extent that God lives up to His own propaganda, all the stuff about love, mercy, forgiveness etc. then He deserves my respect.

Mere Godlike Power - creating the Universe - does not. Might, even Godlike Might, does not make Right.

But that's me, and I realise that others differ.

Those who are most anti-atheist are often highly sociopathic individuals who would happily murder, rape and torture others if they didn't think there was an Invisible Sky Policeman Who Sees All to punish them for it. They don't believe that everyone else isn't equally psychopathic. They certainly can't believe that there are some who wouldn't torture infants even if it meant Eternal punishment for not doing as God commands.

They are afraid of atheists because they think that atheists, not believing in God, would go around slaking their cruelty just the way they would if they weren't Believers.

Such sociopaths are particularly dangerous, as if someone can persuade them that Deus Vult! - God Wills It - there is no enormity they won't commit, be it massacring Jews or 9/11. They're relative easy to pursuade too, as they are just itching for an excuse to do what they really want to do.

Such as lying about sexual predators in bathrooms - for a Good Cause of course. That's small potatoes compared to, say, the massacre of the Hugenots or the sack of Magdeburg.

I also find that there are many Righteous people who give Christianity and other religions a good name. They are good people, doing good in God's name, and it matters not one whit to me whether they call themselves good Muslims, good Christians, observant Jews, or devout Mormons. There are rather fewer sociopathic atheists - they tend to come to a sticky end very quickly, usually at a young age.

December 08, 2008 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To the extent that God lives up to His own propaganda, all the stuff about love, mercy, forgiveness etc. then He deserves my respect.

Mere Godlike Power - creating the Universe - does not. Might, even Godlike Might, does not make Right."

Christians believe this too, Zoe. We worship God because he is good.

December 08, 2008 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

If you read C.S. Lewis' "The Last Battle (from the Narnia series)", it is clear that he also was a Universalist.

rrjr

December 09, 2008 10:58 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said again "We worship God because he is good."


Exodus 20:5
"You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me".

Bad anonymous said "We worship God because he is good.".

Obviously not. We instinctively know its immoral to punish the innocent. Your god is blatently immoral and yet you ignore that to praise his evilness.

December 09, 2008 12:52 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

A new study out of Yale University confirms what liberals have long-known: Offering reality-based rebuttals to conservative lies only makes conservatives cling to those lies even harder. In essence, schooling conservatives makes them more stupid:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-sweeney/theres-no-arguing-with-co_b_126805.html

Bad anonymous is a perfect example of this.

December 09, 2008 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you read C.S. Lewis' "The Last Battle (from the Narnia series)", it is clear that he also was a Universalist."

Actually, I think he is not the orthodox Protestant he's often assumed to be.

How do you come to the conclusion that he is a universalist?

btw, you guys are assuming that I'm a big C.S. Lewis fan because I told Priya that he addressed a question she asked. That's a fallacious assumption.

I like some of his stuff. I've always found his children's fiction a little bizarre although the film versions were well-done. In any case, he's not my favorite writer.

December 09, 2008 1:42 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

What are you afraid of Bad anonymous? Answer the question:

Does your god tell you to do things because they are moral, or are things moral because your god says so?

December 10, 2008 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've answered that questions several times in this thread.

I don't think I'll do it again.

December 10, 2008 7:16 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "I've answered that questions several times in this thread.

No you didn't, you evaded the question with the lame "I have not always done the right things in my life so I am not capable of answering your question.". Then you claimed CS Lewis answered it, but if that were the case and you accepted his belief then you wouldn't be afraid to repeat it. You haven't so you haven't answered the question. Answer the question:

Does your god tell you to do things because they are moral, or are things moral because your god says so?

December 11, 2008 11:22 AM  

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