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HolyGround >> Christian dogma


1/26/12 11:00 PM
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Granpa
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I know some of you will have the gut reaction to just flame me and tell me to get out of here like the dirty little atheist that I am. That said, I would like to start a serious discussion about what Christians believe and I hope some intelligent, rational, Christians would be able to answer me on how they can reconcile believing what they believe after watching this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=AcO4TnrskE0

How would you respond to that intelligently?
1/27/12 12:19 AM
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TheStewedOwl
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Edited: 01/27/12 12:31 AM
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oops...see below.
1/27/12 12:31 AM
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TheStewedOwl
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ll, it's an 11:16 minute long video captioned "Sam Harris Simply Destroys Catholicism." The last time I checked, the Catholic Church is still alive and well and open for business, so I presume the title is hyperbole.

It's the Sam Harris portion of a debate with Professor William Lane Craig, who is not a Catholic and is an Evangelical. As the poster does not include Prof. Craig's statements, and as Harris appears to be responding to them, I would presume the arguments are not Catholic, although the debate is being held at Notre Dame University. Does the person who posted this know the difference between the two faiths?

Harris begins with a standard atheist trope by describing the children who presumably are dying in agony, and stating that a God who would allow such things to happen and not answer their parents' prayers either cannot help them, or is evil, and that based on Dr. Craig's view, most will be going to Hell because they don't worship the correct God. This is not a Catholic teaching, so it's hard to respond intelligently to an argument that is flawed in its premises.

If Harris is correct in his belief that there is no God, he does not offer an especially valuable counter to the Christian belief in eternal life - basically, Harris's alternative is that life is a bitch and then you die. Nevertheless, Harris says that to have faith that souls have an eternal life (a belief about which science has little to say) is somehow "obscene" and claims that to think this way is, somehow, to care insufficiently about the suffering of others. Given the demonstrably greater commitment to the reduction of suffering in this world by Christian institutions and charities than by atheist institutions, it would appear that Harris is making a leap of logic that is unsupported by either doctrine or economic evidence.

Harris appears to be angry at the actions of a God (whose existence he denies), and the denial of a salvation (he believes does not exist) to the immortal souls (which he believes does not exist) of deceased children. This is apparently an important issue enough for Harris to write books on the subject and to be paid to speak in public about it, yet he does not feel a corresponding need to speak out about the very real children who are killed each year in abortions, or the destruction of (presumably viable lives) of old people through euthanasia.

Harris goes on to claim that a serial killer could simply go to Heaven by a death-bed conversion, which again is not a Catholic teaching.

Harris further claims that God authorizes the genocide of children, presumably the Canaanites, an incident which Harris does not believe happened, and which was directed by a God does not believe happened, yet Harris is solidly in favor of the abortion of viable late-term infants, and the euthanasia of adults, even in the absence of a DNR request.

At about 08:45, Harris finaly takes a jab at Catholicism and mocks the Transfiguration, simply averring that to believe in it is to be psychotic. Presumably, that would include Frank Capra, G.K. Chesterton, Copernicus, Rene Descartes, Roger Bacon, Enrico Fermi, Alec Guinness, Louis Pasteur, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, Georges Lemaitre, Gregor Mendel, Mozart, Mike Mignola, Bob Newhart, Jack Nicholson, Jean Renoir, Nicholas Steno, Beethoven, Albertus Magnus, and millions of other Catholic scientists, authors, musicians, philosophers, and simply, men of good will and common sense, all of whom must be psychotics, in the opinion of a member of an atheist subculture to which a tiny minority of the world belongs, and all of whom make Sam Harris's intellect, talents, and personal gifts look pretty shabby by comparison. But no, they must be the ones who are wrong and even, um, psychotic, not Sam Harris.

Harris, apparently feeling that he has thus disposed of the whole of 2000 years of Catholic tradition, turns the keen scalpel of his intellect back to Christianity as a whole.

Harris claims that Christianity is a cult of human sacrifice, apparently overlooking the fact that the sacrifice celebrated - and entered into willingly - was that of not only a man, but a God. He also claims that "the sort of people who wrote the Bible" are the same types of people who used to bury children inside the cornerstones of buildings.

I'm not kidding, he actually claims that near the end of the clip. Skip ahead to the end if you don't believe me.

Harris, like many atheists (and I'm aware that he doesn't like the term, feeling instead that lack of belief should be considered a default description for an "intelligent" person) would prefer to lump all theistic beliefs together in such a fashion, as it is easier (albeit intellectually lazy, of course) to argue that all religions are pretty much the same.

Of course, if he chooses to insist that I as a Christian must defend the beliefs of all theists, he must also defend the atheism of a Pol Pot, of an Enver Hoxha, of an Adolf Hitler, of a Vladimir Lenin, of a Marquis de Sade, or a Friederich Nietzsche - unfortunately while operating without the equivalent intelligence, education, or insight of Nietzsche.

Harris is easily the least intellectually honest of the "New Atheists". He makes blanket assertions that are demonstrably false, such as his claim that the majority of suicide bombers are theists (a claim the athiest Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, who are the world record holders for suicide bombers, would be surprised to hear), among a long list of similar logical and factual absurdities he offers in his books.

It's hard to respond intelligently to an argument that is not intelligent, granpa.

By the way, you owe me for 11:16 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. That's the second time I've watched one of Sam Harris's dull, vapid, self-indulgent YouTube lectures at the request of an atheist on this forum with a request for a comment. That one was even worse than the first.
1/27/12 9:47 AM
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Granpa
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TheStewedOwl - ll, it's an 11:16 minute long video captioned "Sam Harris Simply Destroys Catholicism." The last time I checked, the Catholic Church is still alive and well and open for business, so I presume the title is hyperbole.

It's the Sam Harris portion of a debate with Professor William Lane Craig, who is not a Catholic and is an Evangelical. As the poster does not include Prof. Craig's statements, and as Harris appears to be responding to them, I would presume the arguments are not Catholic, although the debate is being held at Notre Dame University. Does the person who posted this know the difference between the two faiths?


If you read my original post title, it clearly states Christian dogma, not Catholicism. I am clear on the difference between the two (though in reality, they are not very different at all).

Harris begins with a standard atheist trope by describing the children who presumably are dying in agony, and stating that a God who would allow such things to happen and not answer their parents' prayers either cannot help them, or is evil, and that based on Dr. Craig's view, most will be going to Hell because they don't worship the correct God. This is not a Catholic teaching, so it's hard to respond intelligently to an argument that is flawed in its premises.


As someone who grew up Catholic, I can assure you that it is in fact a Catholic teaching, it is in fact, a basis for all Christian teachings that for salvation, one must accept Jesus as the savior. What you describe as a "trope" is in fact a terrible reality that the religious like to overlook when it's convenient for them to do so. As Sam mentions, they always resort to the tired old "god works in mysterious ways" or "we can't pretend to know the mind of god" rhetoric.

If Harris is correct in his belief that there is no God, he does not offer an especially valuable counter to the Christian belief in eternal life - basically, Harris's alternative is that life is a bitch and then you die.


Sam Harris' only belief is that we must go where the evidence takes us, and so far, the evidence for God has not been forthcoming. As Lawrence Krauss wrote "the universe is the way it is whether we like it or not". Just because something doesn't strike us as being pretty, doesn't make it not true.

Nevertheless, Harris says that to have faith that souls have an eternal life (a belief about which science has little to say) is somehow "obscene" and claims that to think this way is, somehow, to care insufficiently about the suffering of others.


You misunderstood what Sam Harris is arguing. He is arguing that the belief that god intervenes to help Tim Tebow win a football game (as an example), or to help an individual save his house from foreclosure, while allowing countless innocent children to suffer is an obscene, egotistical thought, and it is. And it's clear that many if not most Christians believe this when something good happens to them and they "thank god". This is CLEARLY a narcissistic view of life.

Given the demonstrably greater commitment to the reduction of suffering in this world by Christian institutions and charities than by atheist institutions, it would appear that Harris is making a leap of logic that is unsupported by either doctrine or economic evidence.


I could easily turn that statement around and have it be just as valid. "Given the demonstrably greater commitment to the suffering in this world by Christians than by atheist...". Tell me, how many atheists in this world are campaigning against the use of contraceptives in aids-infected Africa?

Harris appears to be angry at the actions of a God (whose existence he denies)


Again you twist Harris' words around. Harris does not in fact believe in god, and his disapproval is not against some imaginary being, but against those who claim such an imaginary being exists without a shred of evidence.
1/27/12 10:12 AM
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Granpa
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, and the denial of a salvation (he believes does not exist) to the immortal souls (which he believes does not exist) of deceased children. This is apparently an important issue enough for Harris to write books on the subject and to be paid to speak in public about it, yet he does not feel a corresponding need to speak out about the very real children who are killed each year in abortions, or the destruction of (presumably viable lives) of old people through euthanasia.


If you had actually read any of Sam's books, you would know he does in fact address abortion and euthanasia.

Harris goes on to claim that a serial killer could simply go to Heaven by a death-bed conversion, which again is not a Catholic teaching.


Actually it is. Though there are nuances, essentially, if a serial killer were to repent on his death bed and accept Jesus as his savior, he would in fact go to heaven according to Catholic beliefs. Now obviously, according to Catholic beliefs, the sincerity of his repentance would come into play, but in essence, Sam Harris is 100% correct.

Harris further claims that God authorizes the genocide of children, presumably the Canaanites, an incident which Harris does not believe happened, and which was directed by a God does not believe happened, yet Harris is solidly in favor of the abortion of viable late-term infants, and the euthanasia of adults, even in the absence of a DNR request.


Again, you can focus on what Sam Harris believes or doesn't believe if you want to take the conversation in another direction, but I thought we were discussing Christian beliefs here. If you believe that the bible is an accurate account of history, and that the god of the bible exists, then you MUST also believe that the genocide of the Canaanites, and the people of Jericho, etc. was real and not only justified by god but demanded by god.

But I can clearly see you have no interest in addressing any of this, but instead rather change the subject at any opportunity you get.

At about 08:45, Harris finaly takes a jab at Catholicism and mocks the Transfiguration, simply averring that to believe in it is to be psychotic. Presumably, that would include Frank Capra, G.K. Chesterton, Copernicus, Rene Descartes, Roger Bacon, Enrico Fermi, Alec Guinness, Louis Pasteur, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, Georges Lemaitre, Gregor Mendel, Mozart, Mike Mignola, Bob Newhart, Jack Nicholson, Jean Renoir, Nicholas Steno, Beethoven, Albertus Magnus, and millions of other Catholic scientists, authors, musicians, philosophers, and simply, men of good will and common sense, all of whom must be psychotics, in the opinion of a member of an atheist subculture to which a tiny minority of the world belongs, and all of whom make Sam Harris's intellect, talents, and personal gifts look pretty shabby by comparison. But no, they must be the ones who are wrong and even, um, psychotic, not Sam Harris.


So you are arguing that a cracker turning in the body of a deity is completely rational because a few famous people believe it to be true? Fascinating. I am really starting to believe you really are William Lane Craig

Harris, apparently feeling that he has thus disposed of the whole of 2000 years of Catholic tradition, turns the keen scalpel of his intellect back to Christianity as a whole.

Harris claims that Christianity is a cult of human sacrifice, apparently overlooking the fact that the sacrifice celebrated - and entered into willingly - was that of not only a man, but a God. He also claims that "the sort of people who wrote the Bible" are the same types of people who used to bury children inside the cornerstones of buildings.

I'm not kidding, he actually claims that near the end of the clip. Skip ahead to the end if you don't believe me.


And again, nothing Harris said is untrue. Human sacrifice is not only permitted by god, as is the case with Jephthah's daughter (Judges 11:29-40), but also sometimes demanded (and later recanted) by God, as with the case of Abraham (Genesis 22:1-18). Then of course there is what Christians consider the ultimate human sacrifice, that of Jesus of Nazareth.

Harris, like many atheists (and I'm aware that he doesn't like the term, feeling instead that lack of belief should be considered a default description for an "intelligent" person) would prefer to lump all theistic beliefs together in such a fashion, as it is easier (albeit intellectually lazy, of course) to argue that all religions are pretty much the same.

Of course, if he chooses to insist that I as a Christian must defend the beliefs of all theists, he must also defend the atheism of a Pol Pot, of an Enver Hoxha, of an Adolf Hitler, of a Vladimir Lenin, of a Marquis de Sade, or a Friederich Nietzsche - unfortunately while operating without the equivalent intelligence, education, or insight of Nietzsche.

Harris is easily the least intellectually honest of the "New Atheists". He makes blanket assertions that are demonstrably false, such as his claim that the majority of suicide bombers are theists (a claim the athiest Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, who are the world record holders for suicide bombers, would be surprised to hear), among a long list of similar logical and factual absurdities he offers in his books.

It's hard to respond intelligently to an argument that is not intelligent, granpa.

By the way, you owe me for 11:16 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. That's the second time I've watched one of Sam Harris's dull, vapid, self-indulgent YouTube lectures at the request of an atheist on this forum with a request for a comment. That one was even worse than the first.


Ah here it is again, the tired old arguments from the theist that what drove Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. to commit the atrocities they did was that they didn't believe in god. When in fact, in the case of Hitler, he did in fact believe in god and in the divine origin of the Aryan race, or Pol Pot who though himself a god. This is just an empty-baseless cop-out. The Tamil Tigers may not believe in a particular religion, but they do believe in the superiority of their ethnicity. That is not atheism, that is a particular kind of theism that is not grounded in rational ideas or facts.

As you mentioned, this is why Sam Harris doesn't like using the word atheist, because as he describes it, it's a non-word. It's like saying someone is a non-Bigfoot-ist.

I'm still waiting for that intelligent reply, because you failed to address any of the points Sam brought up, and instead tried your best at a smear campaign against Sam, which I suppose was the best you could come up with.
1/27/12 11:23 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Granpa: If you read my original post title, it clearly states Christian dogma, not Catholicism. I am clear on the difference between the two (though in reality, they are not very different at all).


Yes and no, granpa. I was referring to the title of the YouTube video you asked me to review, not your thread title, and I asked rhetorically whether the poster of the YouTube video knew the difference. He described the video clip as absolutely destroying Catholicism, when it clearly does not. It attacks Professor Craig’s arguments, which derive from an Evangelical doctrine, and simply includes a short swipe at a particular Catholic practice, I guess because Harris had been invited by a Catholic (well, nominally Catholic) institution and felt obligated to be rude to his host, while taking similarly misinformed swipes at Evangelical beliefs.

?
[Referring to Harris’s purported view that “most [children] will be going to Hell because they don’t worship the correct God]: As someone who grew up Catholic, I can assure you that it is in fact a Catholic teaching, it is in fact, a basis for all Christian teachings that for salvation, one must accept Jesus as the savior.


As someone who also grew up Catholic, and still is one despite some unfortunate sojourning as an agnostic, I can assure you that you were poorly catechized, or at least have a poor recollection of what you were taught. As a case in point, you claim that the basis for salvation for “all Christian teachings” (by which I presume you mean all Christian denominations) is that one must accept Jesus as the savior.

There is a fundamental disconnect between acknowledging Jesus as Savior and asserting that children go to Hell for believing in the wrong God. We trust in Jesus’ mercy, as the Catechism teaches:

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.

1283 With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.

The Catechism also teaches official Catholic doctrine for those who are members of other denominations and faiths. Were you sick on the day they covered this in the Baltimore Catechism?

"Outside the Church there is no salvation"

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

(This would include children, who have not reached the age of reason, as well as the concept of Baptism of Desire - TSO)
1/27/12 11:24 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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What you describe as a "trope" is in fact a terrible reality that the religious like to overlook when it's convenient for them to do so. As Sam mentions, they always resort to the tired old "god works in mysterious ways" or "we can't pretend to know the mind of god" rhetoric.


Are you sure you’re not really Sam Harris? Because he is similarly misinformed, and avoids addressing the enormous body of theology and scholarship in the field in just the same way you just did.

Your statement has no grounding in reality, Granpa. The moral problem of evil and suffering is among the most debated and discussed issue in the Christian and Jewish communities, and is the subject of countless theological books, conferences, debates, and academic papers. The greatest theologians in history have looked at it from every conceivable angle, but Harris, as his critics have noted, appears to believe he is the discoverer of this supposed dilemma, or at least that no one else has adequately addressed it. Not Harris, not Plantinga, not Lewis, not Chesterton, not Aquinas, not Calvin, not Wesley. None of whose Harris acknowledges, or with whose works he is apparently even familiar. Harris prides himself that he has brought up an “insurmountable” objection. It is quite surmountable.

?
Sam Harris' only belief is that we must go where the evidence takes us, and so far, the evidence for God has not been forthcoming. As Lawrence Krauss wrote "the universe is the way it is whether we like it or not". Just because something doesn't strike us as being pretty, doesn't make it not true.


The evidence for God is quite good, thank you, whether you or Larry Krauss like it or not. Just because the evidence is not congenial to the views of an atheist subculture, doesn’t mean the evidence is not true. Or “doesn’t make it not true,” i.e., it doesn’t make it false..?
1/27/12 11:26 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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You misunderstood what Sam Harris is arguing. He is arguing that the belief that god intervenes to help Tim Tebow win a football game (as an example), or to help an individual save his house from foreclosure, while allowing countless innocent children to suffer is an obscene, egotistical thought, and it is. And it's clear that many if not most Christians believe this when something good happens to them and they "thank god". This is CLEARLY a narcissistic view of life
.

You may have been watching a different video than I, as I doubt Harris knew who Tim Tebow was at the time of that debate.

It’s interesting that you feel this is a problem of narcissism, as the atheist world view itself is, on the evidence extremely narcissistic. It questions whether a God which atheists do not believe in could not do things better, or in a way that an atheist would consider both possible and desirable. To demand that a being you consider imaginary should comport himself in a manner you find appropriate is more than a little narcissistic. To insist that others do not hold such beliefs in such a being as well, and to deny the right of religion to exist, as Harris has, is the ne plus ultra of narcissism. (“If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.” - Sam Harris)

As the joke goes, the difference between God and an atheist is that God doesn’t think He’s an atheist...

Sam Harris’s view of the problem of suffering isn’t just badly stated, it’s also irrelevant if one believes in a God who is both good and just. Harris can stamp his foot and argue that it’s not fair that God would act that way, or that someone should even be able to say that God acts that way, or to insist that Christians should NOT believe the things that Sam Harris thinks they shouldn’t...well, look deep into that reflecting pool, Narcissus. Or Harris.

Harris, who jumps back and forth on what an atheist is, wrote in “Letter to a Christian Nation” that “[A]n atheist is simply a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87% of the population) claiming to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence - and indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of human beings we witness in the world each day. An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl - even once in a million years - casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.”

And so, apparently, according to Harris an atheist must also be a fascist in addition to a narcissist. Harris doesn’t explain exactly how the 87% of the U.S. population would be able to demonstrate such evidence to the satisfaction of the 13% of atheists, what manner of court in which such a court could be held, or why in our democracy, the 87% majority should be so compelled to do anything by a surly, socially marginalized 13%. Especially as that 87% apparently trust atheists about as much as they do rapists (according to a study conducted by an atheist), a group that Harris would preserve while abolishing all believers.

You and Harris may think I'm crazy for believing in the Eucharist, but when Harris writes stuff like that, I honestly suspect he’s not wrapped too tight.
1/27/12 11:27 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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I could easily turn that statement around and have it be just as valid. "Given the demonstrably greater commitment to the suffering in this world by Christians than by atheist...". Tell me, how many atheists in this world are campaigning against the use of contraceptives in aids-infected Africa?


Or, you could simply try to respond to the issue that was raised.

Namely, because Harris feels that he must - must! - have the moral high ground (while being a little shaky on the origins of that promontory), he denigrated Christians as showing a lack of concern for the sufferings of others. Why then, are charitable organizations and workers overwhelmingly Christian and Jewish? As Malcolm Muggeridge pointed out when discussing his conversion from atheism, atheists don’t build leprosariums. Or staff them.

One might also question why an atheist would seem surprised that a church that freely provides humanitarian services to those who need it the most, would refuse to compromise its principles to suit the demands and needs of a secular society that denies its essential precepts. The current administration has fought long and hard to require that abortion services be provided to every culture that receives U.S. aid. I’m sure if an African man or woman wants to get a condom and can’t afford it, he can probably get a pack from an American government aid worker. If atheists feel it is so important to provide condoms to the African people, you can create your own charities, and send your own volunteers to war-torn and dangerous countries, instead of standing safely on the side-lines and demanding that a church you mock and don’t support must cut it’s moral cloth to fit your own standards.

?
Again you twist Harris' words around. Harris does not in fact believe in god, and his disapproval is not against some imaginary being, but against those who claim such an imaginary being exists without a shred of evidence.


Harris does a pretty fair job of twisting his own words around without my help.

But this does lead us to examine a central issue: Why the hell should Harris (or you) care WHAT I or another Christian believes? It neither picks your pocket or twists your arm. I may find your taste in ties atrocious, I may find your choice of bed-partners disgusting or unaesthetic, I may dislike your bad comb-over - but I wouldn’t be rude enough to provide my opinion to you on these topics unless you ask me.

What prompts the evangelical obsession of atheists to post whatever drivel they saw on a YouTube video to denigrate a religion on a forum devoted to believers? If there was a GodlessGround, I wouldn’t waste time posting arrogant and socially autistic threads attacking your beliefs.
1/27/12 11:29 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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If you had actually read any of Sam's books, you would know he does in fact address abortion and euthanasia.


You misunderstand me. I am well aware of his views, which are morally repugnant and have real-world consequences in the deaths of children.

?
(Claiming that the deathbed conversion of a serial killer sends him straight to Heaven, do not pass Go, do not collect 20 indulgences) Actually it is. Though there are nuances, essentially, if a serial killer were to repent on his death bed and accept Jesus as his savior, he would in fact go to heaven according to Catholic beliefs. Now obviously, according to Catholic beliefs, the sincerity of his repentance would come into play, but in essence, Sam Harris is 100% correct.


No. Jesus may forgive your sins through Extreme Unction, if the confession included sincere repentance, which would be VERY UNLIKELY in a sociopath, a group that is, I think we can all agree, very well represented in the serial killer community. Anger or worry over punishment does not constitute sincere repentance, BTW.

?
Again, you can focus on what Sam Harris believes or doesn't believe if you want to take the conversation in another direction, but I thought we were discussing Christian beliefs here. If you believe that the bible is an accurate account of history, and that the god of the bible exists, then you MUST also believe that the genocide of the Canaanites, and the people of Jericho, etc. was real and not only justified by god but demanded by god. ??But I can clearly see you have no interest in addressing any of this, but instead rather change the subject at any opportunity you get.


As you have also done, supra. When examining the moral and ethical stands that are espoused by an individual, it is valid to consider whether they are hypocritical, as Harris’s views are.

A common method of argumentation for atheists is to make a claim of moral superiority, then to react with great feigned moral outrage if the moral views of atheism are compared and contrasted (“I thought we were discussing Christian beliefs here.”) In this particular instance, I was responding to one of Harris’s comments in the video (the video that _you asked me to watch and comment upon_), which clearly referred to the Canaanite issue. As I said, it is disingenuous for Harris to claim that he occupies a superior moral position compared to a Christian (a claim which he is clearly making) when his own stated beliefs support the views of “bio-ethicist” Peter Singer, who can give any feeling person substantial reasons to want to resign from the human race.

I’m sorry if it concerns you that this thread, which contains the comments that _you invited_, are not going down a path that you find congenial to your atheism. That’s the nature of the OG, granpa. As Machiavelli said, battles may begin where you start them but may not end where you want.

The issue of the Canaanites has been discussed at length here in the past (as has the problem of suffering), but if you want to break it off into a separate thread, be my guest and we’ll discuss it there as it’s theologically deep enough to deserve its own discussion.
1/27/12 11:32 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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So you are arguing that a cracker turning in the body of a deity is completely rational because a few famous people believe it to be true? Fascinating. I am really starting to believe you really are William Lane Craig


That would be surprising, indeed, as Professor Craig also denies the Transfiguration – again, you do know he is an Evangelical, not a Catholic, right? He’s a very intelligent man and a gifted debater, but I would not agree with him on every theological issue.

“Few” is defined as three in most dictionaries. MILLIONS of people (maybe billions - I’m not sure how many Catholics have lived since 33 A.D.) believe and have believed in the Transfiguration. Far many more believe than concur with Sam Harris, who belongs to a subculture that comprises at most about 10 – 15% of the population. It’s hard to argue that such a belief is somehow beyond the pale when some of the greatest thinkers in history are on my side.

Sam Harris also likes to refer to the Eucharist as a “cracker.” Gosh, he’s such a cutting-edge, hip and trendy atheist.

??
And again, nothing Harris said is untrue. Human sacrifice is not only permitted by god, as is the case with Jephthah's daughter (Judges 11:29-40), but also sometimes demanded (and later recanted) by God, as with the case of Abraham (Genesis 22:1-18). Then of course there is what Christians consider the ultimate human sacrifice, that of Jesus of Nazareth.


What is your problem with the concept of God offering himself as a sacrifice? I think self-sacrifice is generally considered good and honorable, still, in our society, right?

Abraham didn’t actually kill his son, did he?

God didn’t order Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter, did he? He came up with that whole okey-doke on his own. Shows the errors of someone coming up with their own interpretation of what God wants, maybe
1/27/12 11:34 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Edited: 01/27/12 11:35 PM
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Ah here it is again, the tired old arguments from the theist that what drove Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. to commit the atrocities they did was that they didn't believe in god. When in fact, in the case of Hitler, he did in fact believe in god and in the divine origin of the Aryan race, or Pol Pot who though himself a god. This is just an empty-baseless cop-out. The Tamil Tigers may not believe in a particular religion, but they do believe in the superiority of their ethnicity. That is not atheism, that is a particular kind of theism that is not grounded in rational ideas or facts.


Your post can be used as an object lesson in the dishonesty of some of the standard New Atheist debating strategies, in this case: “Moving the Goal Posts,” a strategem for which Harris is also particularly known (perhaps it should be called “The Harris Shuffle”). If trapped by a particular historical fact, the atheist can simply attempt to re-define the inhuman acts of particular atheists and, hey-presto, that inconvenient atheist becomes a theist!

Thus, the atheists of the Soviet Union become a peculiar type of theist to Christopher Hitchens, because those old Commie God-Haters also venerated their dead leaders and believe in things they couldn’t see (like the Labor Theory of Value), despite the historical fact that they created and supported state-sponsored atheist organizations with melodramatic and comic-bookish names like “The League of the Militant Godless,” seized and destroyed churches, temples, and synagogues, sponsored worldwide atheist conventions at great expense, spent an enormous amount of state funds printing atheist books, pamphlets, and posters which mocked theism and discouraged the young from church attendance, provided state medals to young people who best advicated atheism, and imprisoned and tortured believers and denied them employment. Nooooo, they weren’t really atheists. You see, they were actually THEISTS, and so you can’t blame atheists for their crimes.

Granpa, Granpa, Granpa. Pol Pot did NOT in fact literally think of himself as a god. Pol Pot was a hard-line Marxist atheist who did not believe in God.

Hitler was a psychopathic politician who would say different things at different times to different audiences, depending on what would benefit him. (He coddled the neo-Pagan fancies of some his top staff members, like Himmler, but he was fanatically anti-Christian and anti-Theist, and was not himself a neo-pagan, despite what you may have learned from watching Indiana Jones movies: “But there will never be any possibility of National Socialism's setting out to ape religion by establishing a form of worship. Its one ambition must be scientifically to construct a doctrine that is nothing more than a homage to reason...Of course, open opposition to Christianity would have to await the end of the war.”)

The overwhelming evidence, based on what Hitler said to those who followed him when in private and once he had secured power, was that his atheist views were well in line with what most of the “New Atheists” have written (this is not to say that New Atheists are genocidal fascists.) (At least, not until they gain political power...) (j/k) (no, not really) (okay, maybe)

Consider the following quotes. Which were written by Hitler, which were written by Sam Harris, and which were written by Christopher Hitchens?

A. “Religion has run out of justifications. Thanks to the telescope and the microscope, it no longer offers an explanation of anything important.”

B. “The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advance of science. Religion will have to make more and more concessions. Gradually the myths crumble.”

C. “Every scientific domain -- from cosmology to psychology to economics -- has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture.”

D. “One cannot succeed in conceiving how much cruelty, ignominy and falsehood the intrusion of Christianity has spelt for this world of ours.”

E. “What could be more fanatical, more exclusive and more intolerant than this religion which bases everything on the love of the one and only God whom it reveals?"

(Answers: A - Hitchens; B - Hitler; C - Harris; D - Hitler; E - Hitler)

You can Google if you want, but be honest and ask yourself: would I have been able to answer without doing so or checking the answers?
1/27/12 11:37 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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As you mentioned, this is why Sam Harris doesn't like using the word atheist, because as he describes it, it's a non-word. It's like saying someone is a non-Bigfoot-ist.



Here we can see yet another dishonest atheist arguing trope: One can define a non-believer as an atheist when it is convenient, then redefine all atheists out of existence as simple non-believers when THAT is convenient. It’s just another variation of The Harris Shuffle.

So if one wants to show that the Legions of the Militant Godless are triumphantly increasing, an atheist can claim that everyone who identified themselves as “no religion” on a survey is an atheist, even if that includes those who are agnostic, deist, non-denominational, left the space blank, or didn’t want to provide that information to the surveyor.

If an atheist wants to avoid responsibility for the sanguinary actions of his fellow atheists, those pesky genocidal atheist madmen thus become theists.
?
I'm still waiting for that intelligent reply, because you failed to address any of the points Sam brought up, and instead tried your best at a smear campaign against Sam, which I suppose was the best you could come up with.


Granpa, c’mon. You’re a Sam Harris fanboy. You’re not going to change your beliefs. You weren’t really interested in an exchange of ideas or an honest critique of Sam Harris’s hopelessly sophomoric and naive ideas. You wanted to come by and do a drive-by atheist posting, in the hopes that all the simple and gentle lambs who are followers of the Risen Christ on this forum would slap their heads at your intellectual superiority and you could move on, reaffirmed in the superiority of your belief system. The rude high-handedness of your original post clearly shows this as your intention:

I hope some intelligent, rational, Christians would be able to answer me on how they can reconcile believing what they believe after watching this...
How would you respond to that intelligently?



Be honest: If you met someone at a bar (particularly a much bigger and more dangerous person) who you knew was a Christian, would you speak to them face-to-face in such a rude, presumptuous, high-handed fashion, or do you feel the anonymity of the Internet gives you license to act that way?


I’ll leave it to others to decide if I addressed any of the issues Harris raised.
1/28/12 12:57 AM
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Ali
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TheStewedOwl - ....
I'll leave it to others to decide if I addressed any of the issues Harris raised.


Starting...?.... NOW ?
1/28/12 11:59 AM
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 When you say you were raised Catholic but you get your facts wrong you lose all credibility on the spot plain and simple.  I am constantly amazed by how many ex-Catholics rejected Catholicism before learning what it was in the first place.  
1/28/12 12:18 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 01/28/12 12:27 PM
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Ridgeback -  When you say you were raised Catholic but you get your facts wrong you lose all credibility on the spot plain and simple.... 


You mean like not knowing the difference between the transfiguration and transubstantiation? I'm sure he was just typing too fast, give him a break.
1/28/12 12:39 PM
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Ali - 
Ridgeback -  When you say you were raised Catholic but you get your facts wrong you lose all credibility on the spot plain and simple.... 


You mean like not knowing the difference between the transfiguration and transubstantiation? I'm sure he was just typing too fast, give him a break.

 No, that is not what I mean.  
1/28/12 12:40 PM
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Ali
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But *like* that?
1/28/12 3:45 PM
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Ali - 
Ridgeback -  When you say you were raised Catholic but you get your facts wrong you lose all credibility on the spot plain and simple.... 


You mean like not knowing the difference between the transfiguration and transubstantiation? I'm sure he was just typing too fast, give him a break.


My bad, my bad, my most maximum bad.
1/28/12 5:29 PM
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Ali - But *like* that?

 Nope. 
1/28/12 6:53 PM
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 For the record, I was referring to this particular passage.  It betrays a lack of familiarity with Catholic thinking and Christian thinking in general with the possibly exception of some strident fundamentalists.  And it is exactly the kind of villanizing and construction of straw men that leads to the rejection not of the thing itself, but a constructed caricature of the thing.  When people start having to remake something to attack it I think they lose their credibility:


As someone who grew up Catholic, I can assure you that it is in fact a Catholic teaching, it is in fact, a basis for all Christian teachings that for salvation, one must accept Jesus as the savior. What you describe as a "trope" is in fact a terrible reality that the religious like to overlook when it's convenient for them to do so. As Sam mentions, they always resort to the tired old "god works in mysterious ways" or "we can't pretend to know the mind of god" rhetoric. 
1/30/12 10:39 AM
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Granpa
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What you describe as a "trope" is in fact a terrible reality that the religious like to overlook when it's convenient for them to do so. As Sam mentions, they always resort to the tired old "god works in mysterious ways" or "we can't pretend to know the mind of god" rhetoric.


Are you sure you’re not really Sam Harris? Because he is similarly misinformed, and avoids addressing the enormous body of theology and scholarship in the field in just the same way you just did.

Your statement has no grounding in reality, Granpa. The moral problem of evil and suffering is among the most debated and discussed issue in the Christian and Jewish communities, and is the subject of countless theological books, conferences, debates, and academic papers. The greatest theologians in history have looked at it from every conceivable angle, but Harris, as his critics have noted, appears to believe he is the discoverer of this supposed dilemma, or at least that no one else has adequately addressed it. Not Harris, not Plantinga, not Lewis, not Chesterton, not Aquinas, not Calvin, not Wesley. None of whose Harris acknowledges, or with whose works he is apparently even familiar. Harris prides himself that he has brought up an “insurmountable” objection. It is quite surmountable.


The problem that Harris points out, is that the religious have yet to address the problem of the morality of "god" with any honesty.

Take the death of Jesus as an example. If Jesus died for our sins, or was brought to earth as the sacrificial lamb, as is stated numerous times in the bible, why would that be necessary? Why does it take that kind of sadism to "square things with god"?

Is god himself prisoner to some galactic moral precept? If so, then he is not god. If god created this galactic moral law, then he is perverse.


Sam Harris' only belief is that we must go where the evidence takes us, and so far, the evidence for God has not been forthcoming. As Lawrence Krauss wrote "the universe is the way it is whether we like it or not". Just because something doesn't strike us as being pretty, doesn't make it not true.


The evidence for God is quite good, thank you, whether you or Larry Krauss like it or not. Just because the evidence is not congenial to the views of an atheist subculture, doesn’t mean the evidence is not true. Or “doesn’t make it not true,” i.e., it doesn’t make it false..?


What is the evidence for god? Please do tell. And which god?
1/30/12 10:54 AM
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Granpa
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You misunderstood what Sam Harris is arguing. He is arguing that the belief that god intervenes to help Tim Tebow win a football game (as an example), or to help an individual save his house from foreclosure, while allowing countless innocent children to suffer is an obscene, egotistical thought, and it is. And it's clear that many if not most Christians believe this when something good happens to them and they "thank god". This is CLEARLY a narcissistic view of life
.

You may have been watching a different video than I, as I doubt Harris knew who Tim Tebow was at the time of that debate.

It’s interesting that you feel this is a problem of narcissism, as the atheist world view itself is, on the evidence extremely narcissistic. It questions whether a God which atheists do not believe in could not do things better, or in a way that an atheist would consider both possible and desirable. To demand that a being you consider imaginary should comport himself in a manner you find appropriate is more than a little narcissistic. To insist that others do not hold such beliefs in such a being as well, and to deny the right of religion to exist, as Harris has, is the ne plus ultra of narcissism. (“If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.” - Sam Harris)


Once again you're jumping the gun. You're making assertions for something you cannot even prove exists. The religious demand that people believe just because they say so. That's really what it comes down to. THAT is true narcissism. Every religious denomination not only asserts that god exists, but that they know which god (by name), and what he wants. And further more, throughout history they have killed, tortured, and persecuted anyone who doesn't agree with them.

If the religious didn't try to stick their noses in everything, nobody would have a problem with the religious. Knock yourself out with your delusions, as long as you keep them to yourselves.

As the joke goes, the difference between God and an atheist is that God doesn’t think He’s an atheist...

Sam Harris’s view of the problem of suffering isn’t just badly stated, it’s also irrelevant if one believes in a God who is both good and just. Harris can stamp his foot and argue that it’s not fair that God would act that way, or that someone should even be able to say that God acts that way, or to insist that Christians should NOT believe the things that Sam Harris thinks they shouldn’t...well, look deep into that reflecting pool, Narcissus. Or Harris.

Harris, who jumps back and forth on what an atheist is, wrote in “Letter to a Christian Nation” that “[A]n atheist is simply a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87% of the population) claiming to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence - and indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of human beings we witness in the world each day. An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl - even once in a million years - casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.”

And so, apparently, according to Harris an atheist must also be a fascist in addition to a narcissist. Harris doesn’t explain exactly how the 87% of the U.S. population would be able to demonstrate such evidence to the satisfaction of the 13% of atheists, what manner of court in which such a court could be held, or why in our democracy, the 87% majority should be so compelled to do anything by a surly, socially marginalized 13%. Especially as that 87% apparently trust atheists about as much as they do rapists (according to a study conducted by an atheist), a group that Harris would preserve while abolishing all believers.


Of course he does explain it, and has time and time again. It's the same kind of evidence we demand for any extraordinary claim. As Sagan stated "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence". We understand this plainly when we hear of a witch doctor in Peru that cures cancer with a touch and a prayer. We understand that given what we know of medicine and cancer, this man must provide substantial evidence to the effectiveness of his miracle before we start booking trips to Peru in droves.

However, the religious want you to believe that when it comes to the birth of the cosmos, the very purpose of all existence, we need no evidence, we only need to believe what is written in some very old books, and a great big heaping of faith. How absurd!


You and Harris may think I'm crazy for believing in the Eucharist, but when Harris writes stuff like that, I honestly suspect he’s not wrapped too tight.


Believing in things without evidence is not a healthy way to live. It's generally referred to as dementia, except when it's in the guise of religion.
1/30/12 11:02 AM
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Granpa
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I could easily turn that statement around and have it be just as valid. "Given the demonstrably greater commitment to the suffering in this world by Christians than by atheist...". Tell me, how many atheists in this world are campaigning against the use of contraceptives in aids-infected Africa?


Or, you could simply try to respond to the issue that was raised.


Seriously? You haven't responded to a single issue raised in the video. All you've done is tried (and failed miserably) to try and discredit Sam Harris.

Namely, because Harris feels that he must - must! - have the moral high ground (while being a little shaky on the origins of that promontory), he denigrated Christians as showing a lack of concern for the sufferings of others. Why then, are charitable organizations and workers overwhelmingly Christian and Jewish? As Malcolm Muggeridge pointed out when discussing his conversion from atheism, atheists don’t build leprosariums. Or staff them.


Yes one could definitely say that the majority of charitable organizations are religious in nature, that said, there are also numerous secular charities as well. Considering that most of the population of the world is religious, this should not be a surprise. Obviously there will be more religious charities than non-religious ones, simply because there are far, far, more religious people than atheists.

That answer your question enough?

One might also question why an atheist would seem surprised that a church that freely provides humanitarian services to those who need it the most, would refuse to compromise its principles to suit the demands and needs of a secular society that denies its essential precepts. The current administration has fought long and hard to require that abortion services be provided to every culture that receives U.S. aid. I’m sure if an African man or woman wants to get a condom and can’t afford it, he can probably get a pack from an American government aid worker. If atheists feel it is so important to provide condoms to the African people, you can create your own charities, and send your own volunteers to war-torn and dangerous countries, instead of standing safely on the side-lines and demanding that a church you mock and don’t support must cut it’s moral cloth to fit your own standards.


Again, your ignorance on the matter is not surprising. To this all I can say is google is your friend. There are numerous secular charities that are balls deep in the worst parts of Africa providing help to the needy without requiring them to convert to anything.

?
Again you twist Harris' words around. Harris does not in fact believe in god, and his disapproval is not against some imaginary being, but against those who claim such an imaginary being exists without a shred of evidence.


Harris does a pretty fair job of twisting his own words around without my help.

But this does lead us to examine a central issue: Why the hell should Harris (or you) care WHAT I or another Christian believes? It neither picks your pocket or twists your arm. I may find your taste in ties atrocious, I may find your choice of bed-partners disgusting or unaesthetic, I may dislike your bad comb-over - but I wouldn’t be rude enough to provide my opinion to you on these topics unless you ask me.


As I said before, we wouldn't care if you kept your beliefs to yourself. But when you do things like persecute people because of their sexual preference, and help the spread of aids in Africa by spreading lies about condom use, then yes, at that point, it does become everyone's problem.

What prompts the evangelical obsession of atheists to post whatever drivel they saw on a YouTube video to denigrate a religion on a forum devoted to believers? If there was a GodlessGround, I wouldn’t waste time posting arrogant and socially autistic threads attacking your beliefs.


The obsession brought on by years of having to put up with religious drivel.
1/30/12 11:14 AM
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Granpa
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So you are arguing that a cracker turning in the body of a deity is completely rational because a few famous people believe it to be true? Fascinating. I am really starting to believe you really are William Lane Craig


That would be surprising, indeed, as Professor Craig also denies the Transfiguration – again, you do know he is an Evangelical, not a Catholic, right? He’s a very intelligent man and a gifted debater, but I would not agree with him on every theological issue.

“Few” is defined as three in most dictionaries. MILLIONS of people (maybe billions - I’m not sure how many Catholics have lived since 33 A.D.) believe and have believed in the Transfiguration. Far many more believe than concur with Sam Harris, who belongs to a subculture that comprises at most about 10 – 15% of the population. It’s hard to argue that such a belief is somehow beyond the pale when some of the greatest thinkers in history are on my side.


You do realize that most people at one time believed the earth was the center of the universe (or at the very least our solar system). But we know better now don't we? (no thanks to religion I may add). In short what I'm saying is that because a lot of people believe in something, does not make it true.

Sam Harris also likes to refer to the Eucharist as a “cracker.” Gosh, he’s such a cutting-edge, hip and trendy atheist.

??
And again, nothing Harris said is untrue. Human sacrifice is not only permitted by god, as is the case with Jephthah's daughter (Judges 11:29-40), but also sometimes demanded (and later recanted) by God, as with the case of Abraham (Genesis 22:1-18). Then of course there is what Christians consider the ultimate human sacrifice, that of Jesus of Nazareth.




What is your problem with the concept of God offering himself as a sacrifice? I think self-sacrifice is generally considered good and honorable, still, in our society, right?

Abraham didn’t actually kill his son, did he?

God didn’t order Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter, did he? He came up with that whole okey-doke on his own. Shows the errors of someone coming up with their own interpretation of what God wants, maybe


It's quite sadistic. That's the problem. Why is any bloodshed, suffering, sacrifice required in the first place? Who's moral precept is god trying to satisfy? His own? Is this not the omnipotent god that can read the hearts and minds of all?

I'm amazed that you can't really see how sick the whole ordeal is. A god who supposedly created all the rules demands blood and sacrifice to satiate forgiveness.

You must be honest. What is more likely, that the creator of all the cosmos would create such an obviously flawed system, and then demand sacrifice to make it all right. Or that these teachings are nothing more than the reflections of primitive, illiterate people who knew nothing about the world and were simply trying to fit things into their barbaric, sacrifice-laden traditions?

I think the answer is pretty simple.

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