Posted by: Jim | April 15, 2009

If I Had Absolutely No Morals

joinme-tmPeople often think that if you become an atheist, this is automatically the result–that you become morally unstable, with no ethical foundation for your life.

That’s ridiculous, of course. I think I’m actually a much better person now as an atheist than I was as a Christian. Certainly happier.

But one day I mused over this. What would I do if I actually were completely immoral? The answer was startlingly clear and profound. I would prey on the single greatest weakness humanity has.

I would start a religion. There would be no better way to gain profit for myself, imbue myself with every sort of egotistic quality, and manipulate others into abiding by my every whim. And the harm to others wouldn’t really be my fault, after all … they would be consciously choosing to relinquish their will over to me and abandoning their reason.

I could so easily do it … if only I didn’t have any morals.

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Responses

  1. That you have morals is a personal judgment, which I will not be so bold as to make. That it makes any sense for you to have morals, (This life is all that matters, and you have no obligations beyond those imposed upon you by natural selection) is another question entirely.

    Who am I to complain? You do the right thing, and I would not have you stop just because I disagree with your motivations.

  2. To be moral requires a critique of action.

    To do the right thing without knowing why, or from blind obedience, this does not constitute a moral act. Animals are not moral actors. Similarly, while Christians, for example, may talk about their morals, if this means that they observe a set of limits, and refrain from worldliness (which some of the strange anti-science, anti-intellectual comments suggest), that does not necessarily constitute moral behaviour, but simply behaviour consistent with a body of laws, ie: servitude. Int that respect, it does not differ particularly from an atheist who perhaps substitutes the rule of law for this purpose, something that actually makes good sense, as the history of the secular law is as a necessary outgrowth of the waning power of religion to resolve disputes, regulate behaviour, etc, and the necessary structures required to serve societies where people are free to practice a variety of religions.

    I am sure there a set of Christians who actively pursue the moral dimension of their actions in a meaningful way, ie: a personal way, rather than simply bowing to authority, so I reserve judgement on this. By the same token, though, a Christian is obliged to extend an atheist the same courtesy, as the removal of the moral framework of a major faith does in no way, of itself, remove the individual’s capacity to be a moral actor. Jim’s assertion is that it enhances it, because there is no such ready recourse to easy prescriptions, etc. That a person becomes more resourceful as the things they depended upon previously become unavailable, who can argue with that?

    The idea that a morality that considers ‘this life is all that matters’ to be weaker than one that is intent on the afterlife, Sidney’s comment reveals a stunning prejudice. Many humanists use the idea that this life is all that matters precisely as the departure point for a morality of action, of doing everything that is possible for people now, and to not instruct people to accept their sufferings as transitory, or even as necessary adjuncts to preparing their spirits for the next life. There is plenty of evidence historically that such a view has created an uncaring and indifferent form of Christianity, and one that simultaneously requires suffering while professeing a mission to alleviate it. Having lived in the Third World, it seems quite obvious that the more religious missions you have in a country, the more necessary poverty becomes, and the more entrenched people become in their situation, waiting and praying to God for help, rather than galvanising for social action to overturn the actual concrete sources of injustice that produce the conditions they live in.

    The only genuine movement in this direction in living memory is Liberation Theology, for which I have the greatest respect, being a movement that did not seek to ignore the injustice that causes poverty, rather than simply handing out bread rolls to the needy as if this constitutes an end in itself.

    Ok, I have to stop at this point, crouch on the floor with my head pointed in the direction of SF, and pray to Jim.

  3. Sidney, after putting on my passive-aggressive-filtration goggles, I THINK what you are saying is that since I only believe in this life, and in natural selection, that it makes no sense for me to have morals.

    I would like for you to explain the connection please.

    However, I’m glad you agree with my decision. The more subtle message of my post might have been lost, however, and that was that you might consider that any religion you might be involved in MIGHT have been invented by mean men with no morals.

  4. Felix, I’m in LA, so you might have to scootch over and point a bit further south. Otherwise I might hear a garbled message. Thanks.

  5. Hey, why not? It worked for L. Ron Hubbard.

  6. I am realigning my prayer mat. However, be aware, that due to not bringing other followers up to speed, we already have a schism that will define the future of your nascent faith, those who insist that you were stationed in SF, and the Los Angelinos…

    It’s war in 300 years…

  7. That’s ridiculous, of course. I think I’m actually a much better person now as an atheist than I was as a Christian. Certainly happier.

    I grew up the first eighteen years of my life going to church on Sundays, but in a much more relaxed atmosphere than it sounds like you grew up in. I never swore, drank, did any sort of drug, or had premarital sex. There were not traits that were drilled into me, I was just a good kid. A REALLY good kid.

    I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1984 and with a year had smoked, drank, had sex and of course, swore like a G.I.

    Being away from the influence, good or bad, of my religion and my home didn’t make me a better person or a happier person. I thought I was happy, but I truly wish I had not lost my innocence like I did.

    I think you can judge yourself a better person, but that is as biased a review as anyone can receive. I strive to be good each and every day – it is actually on my mind when I wake up. I may be blind to why I think like this, and I admit it may be the influence of my religion, but I most certainly did not sit down in Sunday School and have the “be a good boy” speech drilled into my head. I merely listened to my parents.

    I would like to know why you think religion has anything at all to do with what kind of person you are. You seem to embrace the notion that religion has no meaning for you, yet in the same breath you claim to be happier to be rid of it.

  8. Most of our laws and “moral” establishments are written based on the Bible and Ten Commandments. I guess most people forget that. So I’m not sure how it’s reasonable to say you still have morality when you have denied the very thing that morality was set upon. Also if you are an atheists and really don’t care then why care about morality? Isn’t that just another drug of the masses where other try to govern your actions? Who is anyone to judge you? If your moral compass is gone then why does it matter what you do or where you go? No really you said you no longer a christian your an atheist and you are much happier. Well perhaps you were never a christian anyway because being a christian isn’t about some religion. Being a christian is about wanting to live right and be good and kind to others but yet knowing that you were born in sin and believing that Jesus Christ payed the ultimate sacrifice so we can have eternal life. Now if your comfortable no “happy” you said with having no hope and thinking this flawed world is it..that’s all for you for your family and friends. That your spirit dies with your body then well go right ahead. I praying for you. If you think this world just somehow happened through some evolutionary explanation well that theory has more wholes than creationism. If you want to put your faith in nothing that still requires faith to do. I myself look outside and see how different everyone is from each other, I look at the uniqueness of every plant, every bird, every tree and every animal. Then I don’t think oh this just happened but I think of the masterful skills of my designer. I feel sad for you that you don’t have anything to believe in greater than yourself and greater than this world. You know I don’t think your that sure of your beliefs as you claim because you don’t know for sure and you know sometimes I don’t know for sure that why it’s called faith. Believing without knowing and I rather have faith in something wonderful than have faith in literally “nothingness”. I’m sorry if fellow Christians turned you off of Christianity but you should have realized it wasn’t about them anyway but about God and Christ. They are just flawed begins like me and like you but I wonder if you even think your flawed. Happiness is a circumstantial thing but joy is eternal. And the only reason I can come up with to describe your happiness is that you delude yourself into thinking you have it all together and know all the answers. You describe yourself as so moral so intelligent that you are fooled into giving over the control of yourself. As for what the other person said about missions making places more impoverished and doing no good. I think that is just pure silly. You don’t even understand how many people these hated Christians have helped. How many times they have gone into danger and harm to help somebody else. How much they have sacrificed to help others and I’ve seen it heard it. You talk about the government needing to help themselves and say Christianity weakens the government. You don’t even know what you are talking about because most poverty stricken countries that they go risk their lives to help have civil unrest and an unstable government. That’s the reason so many people are starving there. The government is going to become stable just because you say so…so in the mean time I guess you just want people to starve or die. Well I’m sure the people that are helped are grateful even if you aren’t grateful that other people help your fellow man.

  9. Heather, there are so many fallacies in what you’ve written I hardly know where to start.

    Our moral establishments existed before the 10 commandments, it is silly to think otherwise. How did societies exist before the 10 commandments if there were no morals before that? I didn’t “forget” it because it isn’t true.

    Second, I really DO care. Being an atheist does not mean I have no moral compass. A godless universe does not equal an amoral universe. Sigh.

    Third, it indicates you have a pretty weak argument if you have to invalidate MY personal experience. This is the second time in a week I’ve been told I wasn’t a true Christian. Seriously … I’m offended by that. You should apologize.

    The rest … I couldn’t read due to lack of paragraph breaks.

  10. I really don’t think you know what you’re talking about. The system of morals way back when aren’t the same ones we have the day and civilization style existed devoid of morality like a Greece or the Vikings. But I guess your saying they were moral and besides the ten commandments have been around for a long time. So how can you say otherwise and the morality I was referring to was the standards that America’s system of morality is based on. The law of America was based on the 10 commandments Thou shall not kill, steal etc etc and even all different religions (Jews, Muslims and Christians) use the Torah which has the 10 commandments as there system of judging morality.
    Furthermore, what does a compass do ….it guides, you have nothing to guide you but yourself. That is the reason I said you have no compass. What do you go on to establish what is moral or immoral. What other people tell you or have taught you. Where did they get their concept of morality. What are you judging morality on?
    I said you weren’t a true christian because well you weren’t If I offended you for saying the truth then I do apologize. I sometimes forget people don’t like the truth. Let me tell you again what a true christian and really a Christan is..it means leaning not on your own understanding but trusting God with all your heart. How could you have done that when your whole life you questioned everything and thought you were always more enlightened than everyone else.
    I can tell just from the way you responded to my note that you think you know so much. Well I freely admit that I don’t have the answers and neither do you. One day you’ll know that and I hope you truly seek God. Going to church, saying all the words doing all the actions doesn’t make you a christian and didn’t make you a christian. God says he judges the heart it’s clearly written in his word. And if your heart never changed and you never humbled yourself and said God I need your help and show me you and allowed God to show himself to you then no you weren’t a christian.
    Sorry about the lack of paragraph breaks I didn’t realize I was writing a paper and I”m not trying to argue with you. I don’t have to justify my faith to you or anyone. Your lack of faith doesn’t threaten my Christianity. Honestly I was hoping to shed some light where I felt there was none. That’s my job has a christian to let my light shine to let the truth be spoken. One day we’ll all stand in judgment and my biggest hope is some of these people that responded to you touches your heart. You know maybe by some tradegy we are wrong and htis world this world that has so much heartache and violence is it and that’s all end of story. The spirit man not separate from the body but I pray and believe you are wrong. But what if you are wrong are you prepared to met your maker not believing in him and rejecting everything he did for you? You know if I didn’t care about you I wouldn’t waste my time responding to you. I’m praying for you.

  11. oh and forgive me for my spelling errors I didn’t use spell check and I didn’t proofread. I hope my mistakes don’t profound you because I’m sure you don’t make any and don’t know how to deal with them. Anyway have a wonderfully blessed day may the Son shine on you.

  12. And if your judging morality saying it’s innate and is just your moral conscience then how did that sense of morality get in us? What makes us different from the animals? What makes us different from the animals that’s main motivate is to survive..The survival of the fittest. Or are you saying animals have morality too. Or are you saying somehow we just developed and evolved to have a system of morality? I don’t see how that one flies but my belief that even the ones that didn’t know about the commandments still had God in their hearts. I think God governs all and is apart of everything but now so is sin. God and Sin (Evil) Coexist in man and it’s up to us what we choose to follow and what reasons are behind our decisions.

  13. “Your lack of faith doesn’t threaten my Christianity.”

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  14. No not really I just was trying to let you understand my motives for responding. It wasn’t to argue with you because you said that my argument has too many fallacies. I was just letting you know I wasn’t writing anything to argue because there would be no reason for me to argue. That is all and again that is the truth and it doesn’t.

  15. threaten me or my faith

  16. It is my personal belief that we all have a God given conscience. I think we struggle with morality, even if we aren’t “religious”.

    We have a sense of right and wrong that is separate from our will to survive. Case in point would be to sacrifice one’s own life for a cause or a person.

    Even if one decided to be an atheist, or a naturalist or relativist, that person was made by God and was given a spirit, and what has been termed a “God shaped hole” in their soul, that can only be filled with God (this of course is from a Christian point of view).

    In my view, the atheist would continue to have these yearnings, but would sporadically or continually rationalize their thoughts and actions.

    They could make up a moral code that fits their lifestyle. They could change their morals to fit situations as they arise.

    Why wouldn’t this make them happy? If I could be 100% moral because I’m the one who makes up the morality, then happy day!

    It’s my suspicion that even if I make up my own morals, or adopt portions of morals from different sources to make a personal moral code, that I would have that God-shaped hole in my heart still, that would tug at me.

    It would be so much easier to write off all Christians as quacks. If I convince myself that God is a fairy-tale then that would make me feel better. I could intellectually pacify myself into thinking that I am the beginning and the end of my own existence.

    If you then WANTED to be moral, you could, but only if you wanted to be, and only as far as you wanted to be.

    You could be an atheist that enjoys being moral and the feelings that come with it. You could engage in altruistic endeavors and reap what you sowed. I say reap what you sow because I believe that God has set in motion cause and effect.

    He says that it is good to care for the poor and to love. You could accidentally love or care for the poor and still receive the good things that come from doing so.

    This is true of the reverse also. God says that it is bad to take advantage of others. You could take advantage of others (and justify it by your own moral code (for example you could decide that it is okay to steal if you really want something or need something). Well, you might reap the consequences of that action and be the subject of the law or of revenge or any other ill.

    So can an atheist be moral? Because “morals” exist already, then of course. They could pick and choose.

    Which morals are real, universal right and wrongs? I believe in the Bible and God’s word to be the Universal right and wrong from which all humans are held accountable to. Your own conscience will most likely let you know what morals are Universal in your own life.

    http://store.reasons.org/us/books/more-than-a-theory

    Revealing a testable model for creation.

  17. Jim,
    You posted ” What would I do if I actually were completely immoral? The answer was startlingly clear and profound. I would prey on the single greatest weakness humanity has.

    I would start a religion. There would be no better way to gain profit for myself, imbue myself with every sort of egotistic quality, and manipulate others into abiding by my every whim. And the harm to others wouldn’t really be my fault, after all … they would be consciously choosing to relinquish their will over to me and abandoning their reason.

    I could so easily do it … if only I didn’t have any morals.”

    ABSOLUTELY! :o)

    I agree with you completely. That would be a really immoral thing to do and a manipulative thing to do. I live in San Diego, and there was a man named Marshall Applewhite who started Heavens Gate in Rancho Santa Fe, do you remember that?

    How about people like David Koresh?

    I’m not sure what this argument is for. It seems obvious that it would be a horrible thing to do.

    I think perhaps you are equating “starting a religion” to Christianity being a religion like the one you described.

    The real question is whether there really IS a God or not. Once that is established, you would have to ask If there is, what does he want from me or anyone, if anything?

    If there is a God and there is a truth, then it is not a “started religion” as you write about. It would just be reality.

    If we all have that “truth” in us somewhere, then it would be easy for false religions to take advantage of that and twist it enough to achieve gain and profit.

  18. Marshall Applewhite and his followers knowingly went to their graves for their beliefs. It beats sending other people to theirs.

  19. Are you really defending Marshall Applewhite?

  20. What’s not to defend? He had his faith, you have yours. Christians have martyred themselves in the name of their beliefs, so did he. Christians have also killed others in the name of their beliefs, Mr Applewhite, as far as I can see, did not.

    If people pursued Applewhite’s beliefs for 2000 years, who is to say it might not be a world faith at the end of that, just as Scientology has developed.

    What exactly is your problem with it, Ted?

  21. http://www.heavensgate.com/misc/intro.htm

    It was all inspired by Christianity.

  22. kingfelix,

    You seem to be trying to bait me into a ridiculous conversation. I’ll bite and give you the benefit of the doubt in case you are sincere.

    When you say it is all inspired by Christianity is a HUGE miscommunication. There are a LOT of things in Christianity that people can be inspired by, but that does not mean that he was a Christian by any stretch of the imagination.

    I looked up the difference between a cult and religion and this is the very first one that I encountered. I’m sure that if I looked farther I would find more info, but here you go:

    What is a cult:
    “A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.) designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community.” (West & Langone, 1986)
    http://hometown.aol.com/carol2180/wcult.htm

    What is a religion:
    “A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term “religion” refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

    You have two descriptions taken from the Internet.

  23. Wow, this is getting interesting.

    Ted, you’ve provided a definition of a cult that would apply 100% perfectly to Christianity. This is no surprise to me, as there is basically no difference between a cult and a religion. None. There is only a sliding scale between how excessive and destructive said religion/cult is to an individual. They are ALL destructive to some degree.

    The only difference between a cult and a religion is that a cult does not have long-standing cultural roots in any geographic area.

    And yes Ted, you understood the implied point of my post. While Applewhite’s cult was started by someone who was clearly insane, a cult started by someone who is sane, with the purpose of controlling entire nations of people, would look an awful lot like Christianity.

  24. Jim,

    100%– That is crazy and you know it. Can a church become cultic? YES. Is that church a representation of what Christianity really is? Not even close. The problem with Christianity being around for so long is that it has been ripped off piece by piece and people have taken pieces and made their own versions and perversions either for selfish gain or for some other benefit.

    Either Christianity is real or it isn’t. If it’s real then it simply is reality and truth and you can’t do anything about it. If it’s not, then it’s one of the biggest deceptions on the planet.

    Your argument assumes that it’s bunk and just as meaningful as Heavensgate and the others
    http://listverse.com/religion/top-10-cults/

    Being realistic, a man leading people to kill themselves by drinking poison is not comparable to Christianity. People have tried to disprove Jesus’ historical evidence and his resurrection, to no avail.

    The Bible teaches to love others and to be selfless, not to isolate yourself from others and mechanically obey another human.

  25. Ted the new link you provide gives a definition of cult that I can agree with: “a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture considers outside the mainstream.”

    It’s only a matter of mainstream or not. However, the “top 10” list they show is only the most destructive of these.

    Ted, it really isn’t crazy to call Christianity a cult. Furthermore, every facet of your definition of religion could easily be applied to the Comet kooks. Christianity might be less destructive to THEIR OWN than other cults. But a cult that has ritual suicide as part of its doctrine has the unfavorable characteristic of not surviving through time. Christianity does not have this meme as part of its doctrine, and has survived much longer. Lots of cults are peaceful and nurture their own well-being. What makes them a cult and not a religion. What makes Christianity a religion and not a cult? Only status quo, and that is all.

    If Applewhite had been born a few hundred years ago, had nixed the little pudding element of his doctrine, and had garnered enough support in the San Diego area, you might be sporting a bad Beatle’s haircut right now.

  26. :o)

    I would imagine that Christianity and all religion would be considered a cult to anyone outside of it for the mere belief that it is bogus and that people follow it!

    To an atheist or naturalist, although a natural result of evolution, “religion” would seem to have an old fashioned, third world, voodoo, fairy tale type of association to it.

    Our discussions have always been about what is reality? To a devout Heaven’s Gate believer, Christianity as well as atheism are cults. The word cult is just a descriptive word that has meanings that vary depending on your perspective.

    If we agree that it is defined by being out of the mainstream then “cults” would vary by cultures and they could change as they gain acceptance.

    This is a case where words get in the way of what we are actually trying to communicate.

    Follow me, avoid contact with the outsiders, give all your money to me, believe everything I tell you without questioning and without testing, drink poison and die in a collective uniform with brand new Nike’s. — from my earlier posts in this same section, this type of “behavior” is filtered by our own conscience and labeled as bad/wrong/dangerous, etc.

  27. The religion/cult thing is like the old saw about a language being ‘a dialect backed up by a navy’ etc.

    Ted’s use of cult reflects the way in which the mainstream of Christianity has forevered resisted new offshoots of the faith, just as Bunyan and the Puritans were persecuted after the Reformation. Anglicanism, Methodism, Presbyterianism, etc, are all cults, too, founded in a rejection of the Mother Church. What is ‘mainstream’ today, Protestantism, was seen as wholly illegitimate in its infancy.

    Moving forwards a few centuries, the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Seventh Day Adventists, etc, these are rooted in American cults and have achieved a measure of respectability as religions proper – it really is just a numbers game, but Ted is not about to acknowledge that. Charismatic ministry of the type popular in the US is rooted at the least in the cult of personality.

    Or, is something else happening – let me guess, Christianity is evolving!

  28. ” it really is just a numbers game, but Ted is not about to acknowledge that. ”

    Why wouldn’t I acknowledge that? I’m not concerned with what is labeled a cult. I am pointing out the elusiveness of the term myself.

    I even pointed out that something could be labeled a cult if you look at it from a different perspective, sheesh.

    Anyway, I’m interested in truth. Naturalists would say they are as well.

    Someone once said, “It’s not what you KNOW you don’t know that’s the problem; it’s what you don’t know that you don’t know.”

    I feel it deep in my soul that we are NOT cosmic accidents created from nothing. I’ve looked at science and there are no explanations for a first cause save a supernatural one.

    Who or what put it all into motion? That’s the Zillion dollar question. Call it a cult, call it anything you want, if it’s true, then I’ve got nothing to worry about. Actually, if it’s not true I have nothing to worry about also.

    Why does an atheist care what others may think of religion? Are they worried that they would change the course of evolution? Isn’t religion just a natural part of evolution from an evolutionists perspective? Then just chill and let people live their lives as they feel and think it right.

    It must be frustrating to see someone else getting anything good from their religion when your gut is wrenched with the idea that we are all being fooled and that we are all stupid sheep just following without thinking.

    Did you do that growing up as a kid if someone got the wrong answer or if they had a different opinion? Did it keep you up at night wanting to manipulate them and change the way they think so that it matched your reality and view of the world?

    How about enjoying our differences and as long as we are following the law of the land, let real freedom ring in this great nation of ours?

  29. I’m pretty sure it was Donald Rumsfeld who said that Ted. LOL … one of the few words that came out of his mouth that might be true.

    I think we agree on the usage of the term “cult,” and why I think it’s important is that the same way mainstream religions write-off “cults” is exactly how I write off religions.

    We’ve had the first cause argument before and since the answer is “we don’t know” … why ask it again? Not knowing is not a weakness.

    Ted you make it sound like I have a vendetta with anyone I don’t agree with. Come on, man! As I’ve said before, we Christianity kept their agenda out of the public sphere, I would be all about “enjoying our differences.” But because you don’t, I can’t.

  30. Do you think it’s good the way mainstream religions write off cults? If no, why do you write of religions in the same way? If yes, is it because you see the intrinsic dangers in some of the more violent cults?

    Just using the word cults is awkward because of the whole perspective thing.

    I wasn’t arguing the first cause, and I was not saying it is a weakness, I am using it as a possibility for a supreme being/force, God.

    You stereotype Christianity and label it as dangerous, that sucks from a Christian’s point of view. Dangerous? Some Christians are dangerous because some people are dangerous.

  31. The Romans thought that Christians were dangerous, Adolf Hitler thought that the Jews and Christianity was a danger and they both executed the religious for fear of their influence.

    I’m not saying you are like Rome or you are like Adolf Hitler. I’m saying that going around saying that religion is dangerous to society is prejudice at a high level.

    Here are some quickly found Hitler quotes that should be interesting:

    “The Ten Commandments have lost their validity. Conscience is a Jewish invention, it is a blemish like circumcision.”

    “If only one country, for whatever reason, tolerates a Jewish family in it, that family will become the germ center for fresh sedition. If one little Jewish boy survives without any Jewish education, with no synagogue and no Hebrew school, it [Judaism] is in his soul. Even if there had never been a synagogue or a Jewish school or an Old Testament, the Jewish spirit would still exist and exert its influence. It has been there from the beginning and there is no Jew, not a single one, who does not personify it.”

    “The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us, between Germans and Jews. All else is facade and illusion. Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States. Even when we have driven the Jew out of Germany, he remains our world enemy.

    “Providence has ordained that I should be the greatest liberator of humanity. I am freeing man from the restraints of an intelligence that has taken charge, from the dirty and degrading self-mortification of a false vision called conscience and morality, and from the demands of a freedom and independence which only a very few can bear.”

    “The internal expurgation of the Jewish spirit is not possible in any platonic way. For the Jewish spirit as the product of the Jewish person. Unless we expel the Jewish people. Unless we expel the Jewish people soon, they will have judaized our people within a very short time.”

    – Jackel, Hitler’s Worldview, p. 52; from a speech at Nuremberg, January 13, 1923
    “The heaviest blow which ever struck humanity was Christianity; Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew.”

    – Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens, trans., (Oxford, 1953), Hitler’s Table-Talk, p. 7
    “The law of selection justifies this incessant struggle, by allowing the survival of the fittest. Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.”

    – Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens, trans., (Oxford, 1953), Hitler’s Table-Talk, p. 51
    “.. Do you now appreciate the depth of our National Socialist Movement? Can there be anything greater and more all comprehending? Those who see in National Socialism nothing more than a political movement know scarcely anything of it. It is more even than religion; it is the will to create mankind anew.”

    – Rauschning,Hitler Speaks
    “The earth continues to go round, whether it’s the man who kills the tiger or the tiger who eats the man. The stronger asserts his will, it’s the law of nature. The world doesn’t change; its laws are eternal.”

  32. ““The Ten Commandments have lost their validity. Conscience is a Jewish invention, it is a blemish like circumcision.”

    I see nothing wrong in this, it is my position, too, that Christian morality, implanted in the West with the rise of the Holy Roman Empire, is indeed a blight and is responsible for the decline of the West. Hitler was paraphrasing Nietzsche here. You are going to find such a view repellent because you, Ted, are a Christian. I am not, and I dislike the effect of this slave morality, the shame and the gore and the sin at the heart of its message.

    But go ahead, quote Hitler.

    The Catholic Church did an able job of supporting him. You’d be better off addressing your quotes to Pope Razinger, who is/was after all, a Nazi.

    As for this, if it is directed at myself:

    “It must be frustrating to see someone else getting anything good from their religion when your gut is wrenched with the idea that we are all being fooled and that we are all stupid sheep just following without thinking.

    Did you do that growing up as a kid if someone got the wrong answer or if they had a different opinion? Did it keep you up at night wanting to manipulate them and change the way they think so that it matched your reality and view of the world?”

    The answer is no. I am tolerant. I just dislike the superstitious trying to roll back the secular state. I oppose that, absolutely. And no, that doesn’t mean I am intolerant of those I consider intolerant, and guilty of some hypocrisy, etc, seeking to oppress poor Christians, etc, although I do feel that, historically, persecution rather brings the best out of Christians.

    It is just that, as a person who wishes to abide by the laws of the land, I require that those laws be written in accordance with reason, rather than the dictates of Holy Books and demagogues.

    Some of us are through with all that hocus pocus and mummery.

    I am not an atheist, so I don’t know why you keep repeating that, perhaps you are just unable to process something so basic as a fact.

  33. Actually, I just can’t be bothered. Ted, you’re a well-meaning person, but you’re also a moron.

    You can do the Christian thing and consider the well-being of another (me) and spare me a response.

    Thanks.

  34. Ted, I try to avoid comparisons to Hitler. Every time I’ve done it I’ve been sorry. Here’s the thing: Hitler had the look and feel of many other pursuasive people. You could find similarities between Hitler and Einstein, Carl Sagan, Jesus Christ, and Charlie Chaplin.

    The fact that Christianity (and western religious culture) is dangerous is a GIVEN, Ted! Proposition 8 is where I will begin and end that statement. Prop 8 was a political embodiment of the Christian Culture, and purposefully singled out a minority of people and tried to take their rights away. That is WAY MORE DANGEROUS, pound for pount, than anything Applewhite tried to do.

    But to your original question, I do not think that it’s bad how Christianity writes of cults with a wave of their hand. That is exactly the correct response to them. And it should be how you respond to your own doctrines as well. They are mystical, magical answers, and they have no basis in rational thought.

    Well, actually … if I say the world was created out of a large ball of yarn, the truly scientific approach would not be to simply dismiss it, but to find a way to test my theory. Then, once the facts show that the theory does not conform to our known universe, THEN it is discounted. That has been done with Christianity, and was also done with Applewhite’s hale-bopp comet theory.

  35. Glad to read the passion on all sides.

    Kingfelix, you can’t be bothered, but I bet that’s a lie. I know you think I’m a moron but really, I don’t care. So you’re not an atheist, great. This is an atheists blog and people who are reading this may be atheists and that is why I wrote that.

    I have no problem at all posting Hitler quotes. I have no problem quoting anyone on this planet. Are there really people off limits? Why on Earth would there be?

    Those quotes are very telling and they get the hair on the back of my neck standing up, precisely because I am of that “religious” group.

    When people want to point all the fingers at religion for the worlds problems it concerns me and people like me. It’s this kind of speech (Hitlers, and anyone on a blog or in a classroom or anywhere) that starts to make people think it’s okay to call people morons.

    They think it’s okay to attack people for their faith. It becomes so normal to think of religious people as something lesser or broken or evil or negative. I challenge anyone reading this to question your own prejudices.

    Actually allowing other possibilities to your currently, acknowledged, “known” universe can be liberating. You don’t have to hate. You don’t have to look down your nose and backslap your buddies when someone walks in carrying a Bible.

    You could see us all as equals sharing the planet and trying to live our lives in freedom. You could hate that SOME Christian’s voted against proposition 8, and that should be your battle. Jim, you did an excellent job talking to me about that personally and I respect that and it helps me to be more tolerant.

    You can focus on the subject matter, the issue, without destroying the faith or a persons convictions. You can still value them as a person, and understand their own quandaries and thought processes without calling them stupid and cutting them down.

    This is where you lose a lot of readers and people who would listen to your arguments. If the message is full of hate and or personal attacks, it will be hard for anyone to listen unless they share your disgust, in which case you are already preaching to the choir.

    You could say that I should look at my own faith through the narrow lens of science only (I have and there is plenty of research done by scientists who hold onto their faith with a clean conscience), but there are so many other aspects.

    Just because you cannot see a man called God, I see him through people and through creation. I am a better husband and friend and father because of Jesus. I am more forgiving. I have more patience. I am more selfless. I care for and value others. I’m not hung up on status or class or ethnicity, but love people.

    When things are bad, I have hope. I’m not afraid to die. There are so many other things, so many.

    Yes these are emotional things. Just because they are emotional does not mean that they are irrational.

    The reason I brought up first cause again is because it allows a possibility for God even in the extremely naturalistic world.

    That is a rational thought. Everything else naturalistic depends on this event this thing happening. You can view the world as it is and study it and predict what will happen and try to figure out what happened in the past, but you will always wind up back at first cause.

    This is what precisely brings some scientists to faith in a “God”. “A creator”. It is rational that there is something beyond what are finite minds tell us there is. In fact it is more rational and open minded in my opinion than thinking that we already have the world figured out.

  36. Just as you protect peoples right to marry if they are homosexual, and with as much fervor, it would be great for you to protect peoples right to faith.

  37. Ted, I have said many times the following things, but let me reiterate them:

    First, I do not–in any way–think that people should NOT have the right to hold to whatever faith they want. I think people should have the choice to believe whatever they want. I would fight and die for this right; that’s how important I think it is. What have I ever said to contradict this? Please find anywhere on this blog where I have said people should not have “THE RIGHT” to believe anything they wish. I haven’t said it. If I have, I will retract it because that is not what I believe. I HAVE said that people whose beliefs are not grounded in material reality should not promote those beliefs into the public sphere, i.e. Prop 8. I have also said that the people who believe in Christianity are dead wrong–but that is very different from saying that Christians don’t have the right to be Christians. Please stop putting those words in my mouth because they’re not there.

    Second, and on this point I may not have been so clear, but let me clarify now. I don’t ever want to attack *you* Ted, or any Christian. I am only trying to dialog in the world of ideas. I think you’re a good guy. It would like to have a beer with you someday. None of my attacks against Christianity are against Christians themselves (except in maybe a few cases where I specifically name them, in which case they deserve it.) I was once a Christian too, and I fully understand the unction to believe in God. I once felt it too. That feeling did not make me a bad person–it only made me a deceived person. I don’t think Christians are bad people, I only think they have fallen prey to the greatest mass deception in human history.

    Please indicate to me anywhere where I have personally attacked or indicated that I hate anyone. I have gotten pretty steamed on a few occasions, but I don’t think that I ever have. I will apologize if I have. I am not responsible for what other commenters may say. If they personally attack you, that is their business.

  38. Jim,

    Thank you. I don’t need to try to find any specific circumstances because of the post that you have just published. You are saying that if you said it before you would retract it, and that is enough for me. I deeply appreciate that and I too would love to have a beer with you one day! Let me know when you are in SD and I’ll buy!

    I think where I get this is obviously from other people who post comments, but also let me ask about what you just said here and maybe you can clarify it…
    you said “I think people should have the choice to believe whatever they want. I would fight and die for this right; that’s how important I think it is.”

    And then you say “I HAVE said that people whose beliefs are not grounded in material reality should not promote those beliefs into the public sphere, i.e. Prop 8. ”

    This is where we have a disconnect. [I think it’s really great to be able to discuss these types of things open and honestly with you by the way.]

    What good is it to have a RIGHT to do something without the ability to exercise that right?

    You say we have a right to believe what we want, as long as we don’t act on it. Well, we can act on it when we vote for presidents with policies that we agree with, and we can act on it in our personal lives. BUT we can’t act on it when it comes to voting directly on public policy?

    Why the stipulation? I suppose you could say that we SHOULDN’T, and that was your appeal to me for prop 8 that I responded positively to. You posed the question about a Muslim population growth and their policy changes to be something from the Qua ran about some religious doctrine, and asked me if I would like it, etc…

    That makes me think about the kind of power one group can have in the public square and whether they should exercise it just because they have it?

    It is important to think of others and their rights and their desires, etc.

    I think the argument is best suited for persuasion, not to promote your religious doctrine when it limits another section of the population unfairly.

    The other thing that I take offense to is constantly saying that I am deceived. That just throws out all possibilities that my entire worldview has any validity. Since I base who I am on my worldview as a Christian, that is very personal and hurtful.

    It would be SO much nicer to hear words like, “in my opinion, I think Christians are deceived.” You think there is a small difference or no difference at all? Think of it this way. If a Christian says that you are going to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ to you, you feel a certain condemnation from that person. You have discussions and they never back down and say it as fact and prove it to you up and down through verses in the Bible and what pastors and other people say, etc.

    If a Christian says, this is what I believe the Bible teaches, and this is my opinion based on that….

    If a Christian says “This is my personal faith, and I believe it, but I believe that you have the right to reject this and believe anything you wish and live your life how you see fit as long as you obey the laws of the land.” then we can both live in the world of ideas equally.

    Since there aren’t answers to a first cause then I would hope that the naturalist could be open to information that he may not understand yet.

    Do you think that everything in the universe can be explained naturally? Is it a hunch, or has every phenomenon been explained? Do you have faith that it can be, or is it a fact?

    It’s my understanding that there is a whole heck of a lot that we don’t yet understand and that we are learning as a race (the human race) as time goes by.

    Please, please, please just mentally and physically allow a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist to act on their convictions within the law.

    Please teach and persuade with wisdom on specific injustices or things that you feel are unfair, but, with dignity, allow the right to act regardless.

  39. P.S. Jim,

    I realize that when I’m writing I’m not always writing just to you specifically (unless it’s labeled to you) and I’m talking in generalities to a perceived audience of either agnostics or atheists, etc. I have said before and I’ll say it again to make it more clear, I respect you and your right to your opinions.

    I just feel that I’m fighting for a mutual respect (for Christianity in general from a worldview that appears to be hostile toward it or any other religion).

    Hitlers quotes are important because there is a powerful and memorable notion that responds to it and that is “Never again.”

    People may not even realize that they are being prejudiced. Quick off the cuff comments by bloggers initiate an acceptance of a form of racism that can spread like wildfire destroying lives in it’s path.

    I really appreciate your personal sympathy and thank you for your obvious efforts to have peaceable discussions.

  40. Ted,

    You have the right to believe what you want. But when you elevate your beliefs to dictate public policy, you are forcing other people to live how YOU believe, and that is wrong (although legal!). Public policy should be dictated not by abstract belief systems, but by material reality and science. By all means vote your conscience. That’s the best way to exercise your rights.

    It is also your *right* to create legislation that makes everyone go to church on Sunday. Christians *shouldn’t* write such bills, but they do. In so doing, they betray their desire to create a nation full of Christians. They will never get what they want, but they will create hell on earth trying. That is why I am so vocal about the deception of Christianity. As long as Christians are trying to impose their incorrect value system on my country, I will remain outspoken against those values. Because that is *my* right. Does that make better sense?

    I can see why my unqualified opinions might be offensive. I’ll give that some thought, but I do it for a reason. Part of the reason is that while you ascribe your goodness as a person to God, I do not. I think that if Ted is good it is because Ted is good, not because God made him that way. So when I say “Christians are decieved” without qualifying my opinion, I do it because I don’t see it as offensive to their goodness as people. But … let me think more about that one. My purpose is not to offend, but to pursuade.

    I DO think that everything in the universe can be explained naturally … but not yet. Science admits that it is ignorant about some things. I accept ignorance. Christianity claims to know these answers, even though they have no evidence, and even though they are not answers at all. If God is the first cause, then who created God?

  41. http://www.web-books.com/GoodPost/Articles/Gravitation.htm

  42. http://stayhomeandsleep.com/cosmos/SeeGod.htm

  43. God is the creator the beginning, the end, he is all. He is everything.
    then who created God?
    That’s like saying “Jim came first and absolutely first” So then who came first?

    You talk about Christians alienating other people through public policy. NO it just more and more today everything is right but what’s right. More and more christian people are silenced and allow themselves to be silenced. Many of the older generation in America can’t believe what this world has come to. More and more God and Jesus has been taken out of the public policy. If you think that’s helped America it hasn’t. We can’t pray in schools, don’t post the 10 commandments at the court house, watch what you say at your job, you wouldn’t want to push your beliefs on anybody, etc etc.

    Everything is excepted and revered but the truth. If I wanted to say a Muslim prayer or some type of Wicca chant that would be okay because let’s have religious tolerance. In fact my mother just went to an educational conference that all the speaker did was talk about her Buddhist. experience with the supernatural. But as soon as I start saying anything about Jesus let’s shut the christian girl up.

  44. oh and by the way..Who came before Jim?

  45. Here is the headline of the first link Heather posted: “The gravitational waves may provide
    a wealth of information about the Kingdom of God. ”

    And here is the second: “Physicists have discovered the mechanism that prevents us from seeing the Kingdom of God by electromagnetic waves.”

    I don’t feel it necessary to comment on those links. Heather, you’ve created a protective defensive bubble around your crazy beliefs, and I will never be able to penetrate it.

  46. Jim,

    I’m on board with your thinking and understand your mission although it is opposed to mine. In my thinking you are just as religious as I am. The difference is that your religion is based in natural law and science at it’s core. My religion is based in the supernatural at it’s core. We both have things that we don’t understand but assume that they will be answered eventually.

    You believe that your answers will come from man and experimentation and technology and science. You realize that you may never know all of your answers (and probably won’t) before you die, but you are confident that what you already know is enough to satisfy your brain/heart/soul and you are prepared to live your life accordingly.

    I believe that my answers will also come but not necessarily from man, but from God. I think that my questions will be answered after I die, but I also think that science, technology, and the natural world are tools that can point to the supernatural, and that don’t contradict my beliefs to the point of me changing my beliefs.

    You have a mission to spread the word and to *persuade* others to your beliefs and knowledge.
    My mission is not necessarily to persuade others to my thinking (although that may be a fault of mine) but to just gain a tolerance for those who are religious from an increasingly intolerant secular society.

    You have the right to *vote* in the court of public opinion as much as I do. Your message of public policy has been your most persuasive to me personally.


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