Why Do I Bother?

There are many people who think the debate over religion is irrelevant. They think it’s just another age-old tit-for-tat argument between intellectuals, scientists, or people with too much time on their hands. Some even call it boring, unimportant. They think we (atheists, or for that matter people who spend any time discussing it) should mind our own businesses and get on with life.

The polemic river of scepticism and inquiry (in which my blog is but a humble drop) is compared to a mediocre debate between two rival rock bands, two rival TV shows, or even two competing politicians, as it seeks to pick up speed and viscosity in hopes of quenching the bushfires of religiosity.

Well, if you’re one of those people who think the arguments over religion are boring, or think that us non-believers should just let religion be and get on with our lives, let me tell you something: you’re stupid, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.

It is ironic that the most farcical anthology of myth, rumour, lie, superstition, and fairy tale should become the most important subject on earth today, but it is. I personally wish I’d never heard of religion. I personally wish all religious people (in all fairness many of them do) would just get on with their lives and leave the rest of us alone, but oh no, that can’t happen. Rest assured that although Christians and Muslims will bleat and moan and cry injustice the moment one of their myriad undeserved privileges has been rolled back to an even footing, or somebody somewhere has the temerity to question belief or not take them seriously, the moment a non-believer raises an objection to having someone else’s mental disorders rammed down their throats, not only do the Faithful act like the long-suffering victim, other non-believers actually side with the Believers, jumping on the politically-correct bandwagon, wanting to play it safe for, heaven-forbid (pun intended) they offend the religious.

I can think of no better paradigm of this than 2005’s travesty of Muslims taking offence of Danish caricatures in a Copenhagen newspaper of the prophet Mohammed. In this day and age, in a supposedly civilised, “Western”, democratic age where free speech exists, even tabloid newspapers were afraid to reprint the offending images or denounce the fanatics who hurt and killed in their zealous frenzy. In a splendid act of cowardice, the Pope elucidated the real meaning behind the expression “the enemy of my enemy…” by condemning the caricaturists! It seems that offending faith is the ultimate sin to the religious, even if it’s not even theirs!

The “religion debate” is the most important one on the planet, and here’s why: your life probably depends on it. Sticking your head in the sand is an appropriate metaphor in this case, because if religious dogma doesn’t suffocate you, your surroundings will be very much like a desert – literally. I’m talking about nuclear war style wastelands. The most powerful country on earth has bigoted bible-drunk fundamentalists in places of power; its leader is a self-confessed born again Christian who believes that god talks to him. On the other side, fundamentalist Muslims blow themselves and countless innocents up in colossal terror attacks or daily suicide bombings: a bus, a church, a high-street, it makes no difference: the more innocent people the better!

If you are one of those people who think that people like me should mind my own business, I wonder if you would feel that way after 7th July 2005 in London, when 52 people were killed and 700 were injured. Would the issue of religion and belief have seemed “boring” to you that day?

What if you were one of the 90,000 Christians slaughtered by Persians in 614 AD? How does the Qurayza massacre of 900 Jews at the hands of Muslims back in 627 sound? What about the 4,500 non-Christians killed by Charlemagne in 782? Still bored? Ok: the first crusade in Germany where 10,000 Jews were killed? The 20,000 Muslims butchered in 1098 at the Siege of Antioch by the Christian Crusaders? The 70,000 Muslims slaughtered a year later in Jerusalem (guess by whom?) The 2750 Jewish and Muslim prisoners murdered by Christian King Richard in 1191? The 40,000 Christians killed by Sultan Baibar in 1268? The 10,000 Christians in Tripoli exterminated in 1289 by Muslims? How “boring” was being a Huguenot I wonder when Catholic mobs wiped out 70,000 of them in 1572? Ulster, Ireland, and the year 1641: 12,000 Protestants are murdered by Irish Catholics? Skip forward to 1933, in Simele, where 3000 Christians are targeted by Iraqis.

1947, India: about one million are killed in religious warfare between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims.

Rwanda, 1994: the religion-inspired conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis reaches a zenith when 937,000 Tutsis are extirpated by Hutus.

2005, Turbi in Kenya: sixty people are shot dead (twenty-two were children) near a primary school.[1]

If you think this isn’t important, it’s only because you haven’t been directly affected. Yet. If you think it’s none of your business, then you are sadly ignorant of the state of the world. We have a situation where, as Sam Harris puts it, 14th century minds have 21st century weapons, and if you think “minding your own business” or just being a civilian will save you, you are gravely mistaken. Religion has the death of billions on its hands through the ages. Even today, thousands die daily just because of religious hatred. Even in wars where religion didn’t directly kill like the Second World War, churches on both sides blessed the war effort and arms of their respective countries and refused to denounce the violence. (The Vatican’s collaboration and alliance with Hitler’s Third Reich is sickening and despicable, but is too in-depth to expound here.)

There are fanatics out there who have no fear of death, and no deference to human life. They believe they have god’s blessing in whatever they do. The threat of retaliation or mutually-assured destruction means nothing to them. And fundamentalists, whatever their holy book, all ambitiously seek the end of the world! Can you think of a more terrifying combination? The day when a religious fanatic acquires a nuclear bomb will make 9/11 or the Rwandan genocide look like a catfight. And should that day ever come, I seriously doubt it will end with just one thermonuclear device going off.

Let me say explicitly that by no means am I declaring all religious people deplorable. Just as many free-thinkers and non-believers throughout time have shown great courage and honour against great evil in the face of death, so too have many believers. But, one can show courage, honour, strength, loyalty, love, compassion, humanity, and justice, without religion. We don’t need religion for anything! It has no virtues, and all too many vices. It is a cancer. A virus. It kills millions, and keeps many more in ignorance and oppression. If we do not fight this monster with intelligence and freedom, it may very well end up killing us all.

This isn’t hyperbole, and nor do I wish to exacerbate the situation and cause unrest and ill-feeling: I’m just saying what needs to be said. If you think “playing nice” will make religion go away, you are fatally mistaken. Give religion an inch and it’ll take a mosque.

We must all respect peoples’ right to have an opinion or belief. But respecting that right is not synonymous with respecting the belief itself. But who cares, as long as no one gets hurt? You’re free to believe that the moon is made of cheese if you want! I might not take you seriously, but as long as you don’t hurt anyone then it’s your business. But keep it your business.

Unfortunately, religion will not respect our business or opinion, which is why it’s outstayed its welcome on this beautiful planet of ours. Life is too short and too precious to ruin it with the delusions and myths of yesteryear. As Christopher Hitchens says: religion poisons everything. It does affect you, because it affects everyone! The future of mankind is genuinely in the balance and I truly believe our species will survive or wipe itself out based on our response to religion.

 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres

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53 Responses to “Why Do I Bother?”

  1. Rob Clack Says:

    Hear hear! This really needs to be said. Wish I had the nerve to be as forthright as you! I am working on it, though.

  2. Darren Says:

    Well said. Not are the religious “14th Century minds with 21st Century weapons”, I think they are also the mind of a child in the body of an adult. As long as the churches continue to indoctrinate vulnerable children, we will always have the problem of religion. Unfortunately, the majority of adults infected by religion are lost to us. I am of the opinion that religion should not be taught to people until they are capable of rational thought: 13 years old or so. Religion only persists because it takes advantage of the young child’s tendency to believe what it is told unquestioningly, and most minds cannot, or will not, break out of that mental trap.

    The message of atheism and rational thought, therefore, should be targeted at the young as soon as possible. Children easily discard the notion of Santa Claus, so should it be with gods.

  3. Darren Says:

    You know, sometimes I feel motivated to write an article, but I don’t have the time to maintain a blog of my own. Do you blogger-types allow guest writers?

  4. tobe38 Says:

    @ Darren

    I would certainly be open to the idea of allowing guest writers. If you wanted to write something I’d be happy to have a look.

    Having said that, I have to tell you that I never thought I’d have time to maintain a blog until I tried it, and found that I actually did. I wrote this guide to starting a blog, which you may find useful.

  5. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    You neglected to list those slaughtered to form an atheistic society just in the 20th century (no need to go back 800 years.
    1.) Pol Pot (Cambodia)- 3 million of his own citizens to cleanse them of religion.
    2.) Mao (China) 10 million of his own citizens to cleanse them of their religious beliefs.
    3.) Stalin (Russia) 30 million (10 million alone in the Ukraine) to cleanse his nation of “organized religion.”

    Perhaps you and Sam Harris need to look within to find out why atheists kill so many before looking elsewhere.

    Just my thoughts.

  6. evanescent Says:

    Hi Geno,

    I believe your history is flawed.

    1. Pol Pot’s motives were political and ideological. To claim that a lack of belief in god was the basis for his wickedness is just a joke. And a bad one.

    2. Mao was a marxist and happened to be an atheist. None of his actions were atheistically or religious motivated. Here’s a little exercise, go to Wikipedia to the article on Mao. Go to Find and type in “religion” and see if the word appears ONCE in the article? Nope? Not at all? Thought so.

    3. You’ve tried to play the “Stalin card” at people in the past, not the least of which was Tobe, who has pointed you many times, time and again, at the article on Ebon Musings about Stalin and Communism. Here is the link one more time:

    http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/communism.html

    The next time you mention Stalin or Communism as though you’ve not read the article, I’ll just ignore the comment.

    Have people who disbelieved in God killed? Yes. Have people who believed in God killed? Yes.

    Has lack of belief ever been the motive? No. Has belief ever been the motive? Yes!

    Besides, even if your accusations of atheistic evil were founded (which they’re grossly not), do you REALLY want to do a death comparison, body for body, on how many lives atheism cost vs religion??

    So what are you saying Geno? Is the best you can do point the finger at atheists and say “well you’ve killed too!” If you have no defence for the crimes of religion, one wonders why a right-minded self-respecting man of the 21st century would want to be associated with it.

  7. Geno Says:

    Hello Evanescent,
    I am sorry but your facts and logic are both flawed. If all of my people listed above were just wayward political trappings, can you explain why in all cases the churches (Christian in particular) but all religions either disappeared or had to go underground. Wasn’t the whole premise of these Marxist and Communist regimes that religion was like an opiate to people and had to be eradicated? Who better to eliminate those who believe than those who (in your words) have a lack of belief?
    Are you saying that it was just another political happening like the Democrats or the Torries taking power?

    As to religious killings in the past (and I can only speak for the Christian faith) – those killings may have had a religious basis but not a biblical basis. (It’s like when you guys were going through the battles in Northern Ireland – were the Catholics and the Protestants fighting over Bible verses or over you admired Crown?)

    As to Ebon I find his writings to be very interesting opinions on his part. If he is not revising history on his own, then he is plagiarizing those who have done it before him. (but I am saddened to see that you and Tobe take him to be the final word – very biblical like – let’s turn to 1st Ebon 1:25)

    So, I do not defend any of the times that the church has committed evil, not at all. It is like you said in a previous post. Most people who claim to be believers do not live lives that testify to their faith. You are 100% correct, if people followed the teachings of Jesus, they would not commit such acts of evil. So, contrary to what most people would say, I have no problem condemning the evil of the church – but that in no way makes the teachings of Christ false. Doctor’s and teachers commit all kinds of evil, but you still go to your doctor and send your kids to school don’t you?

    The original point of my post was to point to the fact that you (and Sam Harris) in laying out your listings of evil that man commits against man was one sided – you left out your side.

  8. Darren Says:

    Geno, you said:

    “those killings may have had a religious basis but not a biblical basis”

    Could you explain the difference for me please?

  9. Geno Says:

    Hi Darren,
    I sure can explain it. People do a lot of things in the “name” of their religion that they cannot back up from the scriptures.

    As an example, Jesus says to love your neighbors and he also says to love you enemies. So from those 2 statements, you cannot get to massacre people and cause havoc across the world.

    You can make a case for self defense – the “love your neighbor” part, but I don’t think you can get to an offensive war because of the “love your enemy.”

    So, if something comes down to the priests say or the religious leaders say that is having a religious basis, but what to do when the Bible says otherwise?

  10. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:

    I am sorry but your facts and logic are both flawed.

    Care to explain how and why?

    If all of my people listed above were just wayward political trappings, can you explain why in all cases the churches (Christian in particular) but all religions either disappeared or had to go underground. Wasn’t the whole premise of these Marxist and Communist regimes that religion was like an opiate to people and had to be eradicated? Who better to eliminate those who believe than those who (in your words) have a lack of belief?

    It would be argued that a totalitarian regime is a form of theocracy; its leaders taking on the role of gods and acting like gods, whether they believe in gods themselves or not.

    As Chris Hitchens says, communist absolutists didn’t so much seek to negate religion, but to REPLACE IT. This says nothing about atheism.

    Let me ask you: were Stalin’s actions lack-of-belief driven, or Communist driven?? Are you telling me that if Stalin would have been a communist but NOT an atheist he wouldn’t have committed any atrocities? Obviously you can’t think that.

    If we imagine two scenarios, fixed in every way, but alter only one variable, and the result is different, then the cause is one of those variables. How could lack of belief in god be a motive for anything?

    Like I say, your understanding of history is flawed.

    Are you saying that it was just another political happening like the Democrats or the Torries taking power?

    Yes.

    As to religious killings in the past (and I can only speak for the Christian faith) – those killings may have had a religious basis but not a biblical basis.

    This means nothing. You’re speaking as if the bible isn’t just another “holy” book like the koran. It’s a product of old human minds, and there is nothing special about it.

    Besides, as we already know, the bible contains plenty of passages to endorse slavery, violence, murder, genocide, and maltreatment of other humans. So you could easily argue (as the Church of the Crusades did) that the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity WERE justified and sanctioned by the bible.

    Or you could ignore the nasty bits of the bible and only look at the good parts, which is what you do.

    As to Ebon I find his writings to be very interesting opinions on his part. If he is not revising history on his own, then he is plagiarizing those who have done it before him. (but I am saddened to see that you and Tobe take him to be the final word – very biblical like – let’s turn to 1st Ebon 1:25)

    In other words, you can’t be bothered reading the article, because if you actually did, it would mean that you wouldn’t be able to play this false trump card whenever anyone points the finger at religion.

    You’ve not even attempted to read the article and debunk it, so I will assume that you concede the point that Stalin and Communism have nothing to do with the morality of atheism (which they don’t).

    So, I do not defend any of the times that the church has committed evil, not at all. It is like you said in a previous post. Most people who claim to be believers do not live lives that testify to their faith.

    No-true-Scotsman fallacy.

    You are 100% correct, if people followed the teachings of Jesus, they would not commit such acts of evil.

    Did Jesus ever denounce slavery? What about eternal torture and punishment for finite crimes? That doesn’t sound very like good teachings.

    So, contrary to what most people would say, I have no problem condemning the evil of the church – but that in no way makes the teachings of Christ false.

    If you cherry-pick the parts of the bible you like, you might be able to come up with a moral way of living, but then you’re just making your own religion up. Why not just be nice to people without any of the religious junk that goes with it?

    You’re committing the No-True-Scotsman fallacy again. Why are YOU right and ALL the other Christians wrong?

    Doctor’s and teachers commit all kinds of evil, but you still go to your doctor and send your kids to school don’t you?

    What evil do doctors and teachers commit??

    If my kids were safe, I’d send them to get an education, because unlike religious people, doctors and teachers actually know what they’re talking about and have something worth listening to.

    The original point of my post was to point to the fact that you (and Sam Harris) in laying out your listings of evil that man commits against man was one sided – you left out your side.

    And I say again: lack of belief in god has never been the cause of any atrocity in human history.

    You can talk about interpretations of religion all you like, but the facts are that sheer BELIEF in god alone is the common theme all religions have, and ALL religions have a history of bloodshed, cruelty, and oppression. How you cannot see this for yourself escapes me.

    My original article says it all: religion poisons everything. It always kills. It always causes repressing and retardation. It always produces ignorance and superstition. It always tries to control every aspect of human life.

    But it has no absolutely no virtues that cannot be achieved honestly elsewhere.

    Clinging to religion and trying to make apologies for it is like waiting in the cold and the dark at a station, long long after the train has gone.

  11. Darren Says:

    Geno,

    Ok, I think I understand your position. You seem to be referring to commandments (small ‘c’) in the bible. When people commit atrocities in the name of their religion, isn’t it true that they point to an apparent precedent in the bible? For example, the jealous god in the Old Testament instructs Moses to slaughter entire populations of innocent bystanders because of one transgression or another, or kills homosexuals, or advocates capital punishment for minor crimes or “thought crimes”. In those cases, do these atrocities have a biblical basis because of the analogous precedent, or not, because it is later countermanded in the New Testament?

  12. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    You continually poison the conversation;
    “You’ve not even attempted to read the article and debunk it, so I will assume that you concede the point that Stalin and Communism have nothing to do with the morality of atheism (which they don’t).”

    Where have you picked up the notion that I have not read his materials? Care to point it out? I said that he has opinions and he expresses them well in his writings. As to refuting them, not everything in print is worth refuting.

    I like the way you frame an argument – you write a piece and I agree with it and then you accuse me of the “No-true-Scotsman fallacy.” I said exactly what you said in your previous piece. Your whole theme was that most believers don’t live what they believe and if they did they world and themselves would be much different. (I said I agree with you 100%)
    Now my question – since I agreed with you and you are now disagreeing with me, does that mean that you disagree with yourself?

    Perhaps not in the UK, but here in the states everyday you can read about a teacher being picked up for molesting a student and doctors who illegally over prescribe pills, perform illegal surgeries, molest patients, defraud insurance companies etc. Now, based on those evils, why do you still go to the doctor or send your kids to school?

    Also, I noticed that you skipped over this comment.
    “Wasn’t the whole premise of these Marxist and Communist regimes that religion was like an opiate to people and had to be eradicated? Who better to eliminate those who believe than those who (in your words) have a lack of belief?”

  13. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    No, those commands were given to one particular group of people at one particular time. (The Jewish nation).
    But I have a question – how do you know that anyone was “an innocent bystander”

  14. evanescent Says:

    What’s that Geno, I skipped over one of your questions without answering it?? That must be really annoying when people do that!

    Wasn’t the whole premise of these Marxist and Communist regimes that religion was like an opiate to people and had to be eradicated? Who better to eliminate those who believe than those who (in your words) have a lack of belief?

    I have already answered this:
    was the motive lack of belief, or was it Marxism/Communism?

    Are you saying that you HAVE read the Ebon Musings article then??

    Marxists might have been atheists, but that was not the motive for their actions. Their actions were motivated by political and social ideology. Any fundamentalist ideology that is totalitarian is like a religion anyway.

    It’s obvious that I addressed this point in my last reply when I asked the question: are you saying that if Stalin was NOT a communist but WAS an atheist he would have committed the same acts?? Of course not! Therefore lack of belief was not his motive.

    QED

    But, you miss the point: EVEN IF atheism was responsible for cruelty and death (which it isn’t), which way do the scales lean between non-belief and belief??

    Humans are born atheists! Atheism is just lack-of-belief. One person may have a variety of political or metaphysical beliefs, and may or may not believe in god. But the sheer fact of religion or belief always produces the same symptoms in a group of people. Always. Religion poisons everything.

    You might say that “true” Christians wouldn’t be evil, but who’s to say what’s true or not? My point is that atrocity and oppression have always been committed IN THE NAME of religion, and there is no way to decide which of you is right. But you could all BE WRONG.

    As for everything else, the main article covers it.

  15. Darren Says:

    Geno,

    All of the stories within the bible were given to one particular group of people at one particular time. By your reasoning, the entire thing should be disregarded. We seem to agree! 🙂

    To answer your question, a good example of innocent bystander would be the women and children slaughtered en masse for the “crime” of sodomy by the adult males in the population. Guilt by association is a poor judgement indeed.

  16. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    How do you KNOW that they were not guilty of the same? If not the crime itself, how about approving of it or helping to cover it up.

    I just what to know what special powers you have to KNOW such matters. Perhaps god did know – that’s my point.

  17. evanescent Says:

    So the ENTIRE population of a city, including children and babies, were guilty?

    You are revising the bible Geno. It was written by people with a superstition regard for blood, and a primitive notion of justice and bloodguilt. Today, we have outgrown such notions, and bloodguilt for someone else’s crimes is considered ludicrous and unfair.

    The bible writers thought it was justice however! We are looking at primitive human morality through modern day eyes. By trying to excuse the biblical god Geno, you’re just re-writing your own holy book, and you know what the penalty for that is don’t you?

    If anything, it just further reinforces the fact that religion is man-made.

    But even if all the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah deserved to die, what about the Midianites??

    (This is off-track anyway so if the conversation continues in this vein we might have to cut it short or save it for another post).

  18. Geno Says:

    evanscent,
    Yes I read most of the Ebon writings that you link. If for no other reason than to find out how and why he has you guys so mesmerized.
    Again, the writings are his opinions and although I respect his right to express his opinion, his differs from mine and in a free world, that is OK.

    If you want to see motive with communists / Marxists just look at some of the early writings of Mark & Lenin and their hate and disgust for religion and their calls for the elimination of religion in society. So yes, I think that you cannot separate the two. Anyone who has been enamored by Marx and Lenin’s writings are accepting their premise. The first step to a “new society” is to eliminate religion at all costs. And if you look at it in real life, that is what all communist countries did – rejected God and did away with everyone who held on to a belief in God. Why can’t you just accept the fact that man is wicked towards each other.
    Stalin became a communist because of his lack of belief in anything supernatural and took the “natural” path to solving his problems – eliminate them.

  19. Geno Says:

    evanscent,
    it wasn’t me who went in that direction, so address your comments to Darren. My point was when someone makes a statement is to ask how they know – not what they know.

  20. Darren Says:

    I think I will coin a new phrase for you, Geno: argumentum ad goddidit. Your use of the word “perhaps” suggests you don’t know either. You’re making it up.

    I don’t profess to have special powers, and I’m not even acknowledging that the stories in the bible are true. I am merely pointing out that there is a biblical precedent, if not an outright instruction, for hideously unjustified punishments and violence. It is these biblical precedents and instructions that form the basis of all the evils that religion and it’s morally questionable adherents continues to commit to this day.

  21. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    Then you will have to defend why today’s most prominent atheist states in his book that it is better to molest a child than it is to take him to Sunday School.
    This is where atheism in the 21st century leads us. And I will also make the statement that no one has taken him to task for such a statement.

  22. Darren Says:

    Geno, I do not have to defend another atheist’s opinions at all, and your assertion is simply not true. I am an atheist, and I have received no instruction, guidance nor have any desire to molest children. Your argument is very weak indeed, and I suspect you are taking a comment (made to illustrate a point) too literally, a common mistake among the religious.

  23. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    Check it out – today’s atheist Guru Richard Dawkins.

    Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion – Page 317
    “Once, in the question time after a lecture in Dublin, I was asked what I thought about the widely publicized cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland. I replied that, horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing up a child Catholic in the first place.”
    He also likened child abuse to just being “an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience…” page 316

    I find this man to be disgusting example of one with “lack of belief views.” And it is all derived from his hatred of religion which he does express openly and violently.

  24. evanescent Says:

    You’ve said all this before Geno on my blog and other people’s.

    I would bother to “defend” Dawkins against your misunderstandings but you’d only repeat this stuff next time as though nothing ever happened.

    My humble non-offensive opinion is this is symptoms of a mind in denial, struggling to make sense of a 2000 year old fairy tale that just doesn’t sound right.

    I think it’s best that further comments on this article actually relate to the article itself.

  25. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:

    Then you will have to defend why today’s most prominent atheist states in his book that it is better to molest a child than it is to take him to Sunday School.
    This is where atheism in the 21st century leads us. And I will also make the statement that no one has taken him to task for such a statement.

    I won’t take him to task. I agree with him!

    Physical abuse lasts a short time, and a children most of the time recovers from the mental scars.

    Religion pollutes the mind of the young and teaches them intolerance from a young age. It fills their head with lies and superstitions, and colours their entire view of the world with stupid ideas and notions. It causes hatred and war. It controls life. It is infinitely more of a threat than molestation. It is more insipid, more pervasive, and all in the guise of being “good” and “moral”.

  26. Geno Says:

    evanscent,
    It is not I who took the conversation in this direction. Once Darren started, the two of you kept peppering me with these questions. I am just answering.

    But before I go, I must say I admire the one who can at least stand up and admit with Dawkins that it is better to molest children than take them to Sunday School. But anyone who thinks that a child recovers from the scars of sexual abuse in a short period of time is quite naive. I guess we just have a differing standard of evil.

    Back on topic, just remember to include your own when running through the list of evil acts in this world. That was my point at the beginning – but again I guess our views of evil differ – as you say atheism can do no evil.

  27. evanescent Says:

    Numbers 31:14:

    And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

    31:15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

    31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

    31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

    31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    Murder. Infanticide. Genocide. Adultery. Rape. Paedophilia. Slavery.

    Yes Geno, it seems our views of evil do indeed differ…

  28. Geno Says:

    Sounds the same as Dawkins to me – everything is better than taking a child to Sunday school.

    I just find it amazing that you will condemn a 2,000 year old book that says that but will not even say a bad word against a 21st century writer (Dawkins) who is advocating the same thing.
    AMAZING

  29. evanescent Says:

    I said:

    “Religion pollutes the mind of the young and teaches them intolerance from a young age. It fills their head with lies and superstitions, and colours their entire view of the world with stupid ideas and notions. It causes hatred and war. It controls life. It is infinitely more of a threat than molestation. It is more insipid, more pervasive, and all in the guise of being “good” and “moral”.

    Is Dawkins saying molesting a child is good?? No! He is saying that religion is more of a threat. I agree with him, and history would tend to prove him right.

    As despicable as child abuse is (of which indoctrination is a form), it’s not likely to result in people flying planes into buildings or starting a nuclear war.

    How can you not see this?

    Nice defence of your holy book though. I must have missed your excuse for “god’s” actions against the Midianites.

  30. Geno Says:

    Why is it I need to defend God’s actions? If as you say it’s a fairy tale – who cares – no harm, no foul, just a made up story.
    However, if God be true, He does not need my defense.
    But I will give you one piece of information that anyone who has read the Bible would know. (but I guess if Ebon has not commented on it I can’t expect you to know.) The Midianites were the enemy and not innocent by standers. Because they sided with Balak in attacking Israel and they used their women to seduce the Israelis sexually God said
    “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor and their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of Peor.” (Numbers 25:16-18)
    Hey, war is ugly.

  31. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:

    Why is it I need to defend God’s actions? If as you say it’s a fairy tale – who cares – no harm, no foul, just a made up story.

    That’s the spirit!

    However, if God be true, He does not need my defense.

    So you’ve solved the Euthyphro dilemma have you?

    But I will give you one piece of information that anyone who has read the Bible would know.

    I have read the bible. Many times. I was raised to read it.

    The Midianites were the enemy and not innocent by standers. Because they sided with Balak in attacking Israel and they used their women to seduce the Israelis sexually.

    The theme of wicked women seducing men is recurrent in the bible; apparently man had no self control back then, and all it took was a pretty girl coming onto them to make them forget their god and go worshipping false ones. And of course, the men weren’t punished for turning their backs, it was the woman’s fault for seducing the men!

    God said
    “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor and their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of Peor.” (Numbers 25:16-18)
    Hey, war is ugly.

    So, every single Midianite was guilty? Every child was guilty? Every single man and woman? Every baby?

    Why were the little boys killed, but not the little girls? Yup, that’s right, you guessed it.

    These were orders from “god”. You’re right, war is ugly. War is the invention of man. Just like religion. And the bible.

    Fortunately, I’m an atheist, which means these horrid stories are just made-up contrivances of a sick primitive mind, so I don’t have to rationalise them to myself… how do you do it Geno?

  32. Geno Says:

    you are right when you said;
    “The theme of wicked women seducing men is recurrent in the bible; apparently man had no self control back then, and all it took was a pretty girl coming onto them to make them forget their god and go worshipping false ones.”

    Just about every person that I know who has left the faith to be an atheist left for this very reason; to justify a more free and abundant sex life. (now no one admits it but we know it’s true) It was true back then just as it is today. I agree with you again, that it is sad that people leave their faith so easily for a pretty face.

    It’s probably late where you are – no need to reply.

  33. evanescent Says:

    Oh Geno, where to begin…

    First of all, if anyone leaves religion for a better sex life, good on them!

    Two, I take it when god comes to kill us all he won’t actually kill the men, but the women who “seduced” us.

    Three, most people I know that call themselves atheists do so because they see religion as a silly crock of shit, full of lies and myths, and the harm it causes.

    Four, even if someone wanted to have a more free and abundant sex life, so what? Religion has ALWAYS tried to control every natural human desire, from food, drink, hobbies, love, drugs, and sexuality. Why? CONTROL.

    If a man and woman wanna have sex out of wedlock all the live-long day, who cares? If two men want to, so what? If two women want to (mmm oh yeah) then go for it. (I especially encourage the latter). As long as no one gets hurt, there is no problem.

    It is getting late here so I’ll go shortly.

    You didn’t explain how you rationalise the horrific stories in the bible like the one above? But we’ll leave that for another day!

    Have a nice evening! Speak to you tomorrow. 😉

  34. Geno Says:

    evanscent,
    I don’t think we disagree too much on any of these and although “religion” may try to control, the Bible doesn’t. Let’s see the biblical position.
    1.) Food – no restrictions – just don’t be a glutton.
    2.) Drink – drink what you want – just don’t get drunk.
    3.) Hobbies – I haven’t seen my church try to restrict hobbies – I have several. (perhaps you include idol worship as a hobby)
    4.) Love – we are commanded to love each other, our neighbors and our enemies.
    5.) Drugs – my doctor gives them to me all the time – my secular government forbids me from getting some. My church has no written policy as long as I obey the law. Coffee actually is my drug of choice.
    6.) Sexuality – I am all for it – been getting it on with the same woman for almost 40 years. So what’s your hang up? You want it with someone other than your wife? (put your wife on the line, I want to have a talk with her.)

    If you look at the sex restrictions in the Bible, which do you disagree with. Do you want to have sex with;
    your mother?
    your sister?
    your aunt?
    your grandmother?
    your brother’s wife?
    your daughter?
    If you answer no to any of these then you agree with the Bible.

    As to your other examples, men with men or women with women or men with their sheep – I really don’t care about it either. What gets me going is when these people try to rationalize their actions by denying what the Bible says. Why don’t they just belly up to the bar and say – “I know what the bible says and I don’t care, me and my brother love each other and the world can go to hell!” But no! they say “the bible doesn’t teach that” Pussies!

    But I would like to hear from an atheist point of view is a case against incest. Can I have sex with my daughter? If not, why not?

    I will look forward to your replies tomorrow. You are a good sport – 🙂

  35. Darren Says:

    The case against incest is an easy one, for two reasons: it’s been observed that inbreeding decreases genetic diversity and defects appear in inbred offspring, so it’s against your own genetic interests (which led you to have a daughter) to risk impregnating her. There’s a certain biological imperative not to have sex with your daughter. That’s evolution at work.

    Second, your daughter trusts you to protect her, not use her for your own gratification. You’re presumably emotionally invested in her, so why abuse that trust and waste that investment?

  36. Darren Says:

    Geno said:
    “Just about every person that I know who has left the faith to be an atheist left for this very reason; to justify a more free and abundant sex life. (now no one admits it but we know it’s true) It was true back then just as it is today. I agree with you again, that it is sad that people leave their faith so easily for a pretty face.”

    Turn the question around: why does the faith restrict a freer sex life? Why the need to tell people what to do in their personal life?

  37. Darren Says:

    Geno, regarding your Sunday school argument: Dawkins is not advocating child abuse. He is comparing religious indoctrication to it and denouncing both.

  38. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    My daughter is an adult and I have had a vasectomy. We just want to be married and have fun monkey sex. Any objections from the atheists to have this relationship sanctified by the state?

  39. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    I never said that religion restricted sex. Look at my list above. Who on that list do you want to have sex with that you think religion is restricting you from.

    Beside that point, people leave because they THINK that they can be free. Someone who is cheating on their wife, will not admit to it being morally wrong and will therefore leave the church and reject God so that they can justify it by saying, “no god, no rules.”
    Are you saying that atheists endorse cheating on their wives?

    So in the end, they are no more free – but that is why they leave.

  40. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    Sorry, you can’t help Dawkin’s here. He made a clear statement in print in his book. If you are choosing between the two, he thinks that taking kids to Sunday School is a bigger evil that molesting them.

    Watch this Dawkins interview. Somewhere around midway he is asked if being brought up in the church is so damaging, how he was able to come out of his Anglican upbringing and being in an Anglican school. He says, with his great arrogance, of course he was able to come out of it. But when the interviewer brought up his parents, Dawkins gets a bit miffed – why? because, in that passage I quoted from the book, he had likened even his own parents to being worse than child molesters since they made him be brought up in the church. This is a man who is more dogmatic than any Ayatollah that the world has seen and has great hatred issues.

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,1454,Richard-Dawkins-on-Hardtalk,BBC-Richard-Dawkins

  41. Darren Says:

    Geno,

    Why get married if you just want fun monkey sex? It’s just a contract to further the goal of child-rearing. Why do you want it sanctified by the state? Still need that authority figure in your life?

    If sex is what you both want to do, and you think it’s ok, and it’s not hurting anyone, it doesn’t bother me. Whatever floats your boat. That doesn’t mean I will endorse it or practice it myself.

    Atheists as a group don’t really endorse anything, including infidelity. It’s not a replacement for religion. There is no dogma to be handed down. We say that morality come from humankind’s own innate perceptions of right and wrong and that it’s not handed down from a character in a book.

    So, an adulterer is no less wrong when he leaves the church, he is just rationalising it to himself because he believes that morals come from without rather than within. In this case, he’s wrong because his actions will eventually hurt someone else. He should leave his wife if his relationship is so poor that he needs to cheat, or make the effort to fix the underlying problem.

    Furthermore, there’s a difference between leaving the social circle of the church (there is a case to be made that many church-goers attend for the social gathering rather than a true belief in a god) and becoming an atheist. It’s more likely that they didn’t really believe it in the first place and became uncomfortable with it’s rigid moral teachings.

    Lastly, humans are not a naturally monogamous species, so I can understand why a man or woman cheats on the spouse (a whole other topic), but that doesn’t mean I endorse it or agree with it.

    Anyway, we’re digressing again, so I’ll stop now.

  42. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    “Lastly, humans are not a naturally monogamous species, so I can understand why a man or woman cheats on the spouse (a whole other topic), but that doesn’t mean I endorse it or agree with it.”

    Why wouldn’t you agree with or endorse something that is natural. That’s a pretty strange statement.

    Your comment “Why get married if you just want fun monkey sex? It’s just a contract to further the goal of child-rearing. Why do you want it sanctified by the state? Still need that authority figure in your life?”

    That’s the same question I ask gays. Why cause all this trouble, just retreat to your bedroom!
    But you have to admit, if we can make way for gay marriage, why not father/daughter marriage. Come on, let’s be fair!

  43. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:

    Why wouldn’t you agree with or endorse something that is natural. That’s a pretty strange statement.

    Argument from Nature – fallacious. Just because something is natural doesn’t make it right or wrong. Marriage and clothing are unnatural. Urination and sexual gratification wherever and whenever you feel like it are natural. Farming is unnatural. Rape is natural.

    Nature is not a guide to morality, it’s simply the ways things are.

    But you have to admit, if we can make way for gay marriage, why not father/daughter marriage. Come on, let’s be fair!

    If incest didn’t HARM anyone at all, then I would not object to it. My own personal misgivings aside, if two consenting adult want to have sex and no one gets hurt, that’s up to them.

    Now, not all atheists might agree with me on this (after all, why would they?), but that’s my personal opinion.

    However, incest does cause harm, which is why it’s “wrong”.

    Gay people get married because they want to express their love to their relative, friends, and the world, and want to live together in that union. Isn’t that what marriage is about? Gay people get married for the same reasons that straight people do! It’s a personal choice.

    But gay sex is between two consenting adults and it harms no one, so there is no problem. So why do all religions condemn it??

  44. Geno Says:

    evanscent,
    So, you would endorse allowing me and my daughter to marry? What harm could there possibly be?

    “However, incest does cause harm, which is why it’s “wrong”. Can you back this up? Consenting adults (brother and sister) – “which is why it’s “wrong”. You don’t really mean “wrong” here do you. Shouldn’t a good atheist just say that it is “unfashionable”? Quit being so “unreligiously” dogmatic.

    Religion rejects gay sex for the same reason it rejects incest. If no children are involved why would anyone care? Just give me and my grandmother the marriage license and mind your own business. 😉

    “sexual gratification wherever and whenever you feel like” are you a prude? Why do you care when and where someone gets it on?

    But to more serious issues 9th post up (my last one to you – was I on point?

  45. Geno Says:

    I find this part of the conversation to be very telling.
    You are at the point that you now need to explain to me why “nature”, “evolution” our “selfish genes” – whatever, has gone through millions of years and millions of mutations to develop man to do naturally “immoral” acts. What you guys are saying is that our physical bodies have evolved one way (to be immoral) but our minds developed in a different direction (to be moral) – wow great stuff here.

    Isn’t it time to just admit that man is bent to do evil and that you steal your good morals from religion, because you don’t want people crapping on your front lawn?

  46. evanescent Says:

    No. Go and learn about evolution. Despite it being explained to you time and again it doesn’t seem to sink in, so perhaps if you do your own research you’ll be more inclined to remember.

    I’m not going over this ground again because it’ll go over your head and next time you’ll say all this again as if we’ve never talked about it.

  47. Geno Says:

    A bigger fairy tale than you think the Bible is. There is absolutely no evidence (and I mean none) that morals evolve. Can you even point to a time when the morals were different? Was there a time when rape and child abuse was acceptable and now 10 million years later we have changed.
    Are you going to show me a brain fossil that shows this evolutionary process. Even the best that Dawkins and Harris can do is to say “well, it must have happened that way.” But they have no evidence.

    Don’t you know that you can’t go from a “what is” to an “ought”. (someone needs to take a philosophy course.) Look at it this way, we are shamed by society into not having public sex – it isn’t something that is good for the species therefore we evolved the morals to go into our bedroom.

  48. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:

    A bigger fairy tale than you think the Bible is. There is absolutely no evidence (and I mean none) that morals evolve.

    Read the Selfish Gene.

    Can you even point to a time when the morals were different? Was there a time when rape and child abuse was acceptable and now 10 million years later we have changed.

    Rape and child abuse are always wrong. Only when humans achieved sapience did we have responsibility for our action. This sets us apart from animals who have no guilt.

    If you’d listened to what atheists said, you know that many of them believe there are constant objective moral facts, so you shouldn’t have even asked that question.

    Are you going to show me a brain fossil that shows this evolutionary process. Even the best that Dawkins and Harris can do is to say “well, it must have happened that way.” But they have no evidence.

    If you understood fossil evidence and how evolution works you wouldn’t have said that.

    Don’t you know that you can’t go from a “what is” to an “ought”. (someone needs to take a philosophy course.)

    Are you taking the piss? The fact that you can’t go from “is” to “ought” was precisely the point I was making about nature not being a guide to morals.

    Speaking of philosophy Geno, ever heard of Occam’s razor? Slice. Bye bye “god”.

    Look at it this way, we are shamed by society into not having public sex – it isn’t something that is good for the species therefore we evolved the morals to go into our bedroom.

    But the shame that comes from not wanted to have sex in public, just like urinate or defecate, is a product of evolution. There are people who have no shame in this regard (how does your fairy tale explain them?), but in order to adapt better to a social environment, evolution selected humans with better etiquette.

    See, once again evolution explains all, and your “god clicked his fingers, *snap*, there’s a universe!” theory is made to look like the ancient myth it is.

    Speaking of evidence, got any for creationism??

    We have gone completely off track now, and the conversation has meandered so many times.

    A strong suggestion: http://www.iidb.org. Sign up to the discussion board and then you can post your own threads and discuss with hundreds of people your views, and there’ll always be someone to debate with. I’ll see you there.

  49. Geno Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t realize that your blog was for evolution cheerleaders only. My mistake!

    (but as usual, you still have not explained why physical nature evolved one way and our morals another. Why didn’t they both evolve the same way? Why haven’t we evolved physically to be monogamous so that we are not at odds with our “moral genes”?)

    Since I know that there is no answer, you don’t need to respond. I will just go with Dawkin’s answer “It must have just happened that way!”
    See ya!

  50. evanescent Says:

    As usual, you have forgotten something that has been explained to you time and again.

    I am simply refusing to waste my time explaining something to you when WE BOTH KNOW you will pretend I never explained it and raise the same illogical arguments with the next person you argue with.

    But then, you have shown yourself to have no interest in having a fair and honest discussion. Every atheist I know admits that they’re prepared to be wrong, if only the evidence and logic can prove it. You have no interest in honesty or the truth. You believe in god, and nothing will ever change your mind. You will never admit that you might be wrong. You have no interest in understanding science or evolution. You are trapped and deluded by ancient mythology, and rather than try and find evidence to support your belief, you simply “know” you’re right and refuse to consider alternatives.

    Therefore, there is no point in debating.

    I seriously encourage you to join http://www.iidb.org where you can get all the debating you want, until people there also get fed up of your short-memory and lack of logic. And I mean no offence by that.

    See ya!

  51. breakerslion Says:

    I just linked to this post and quoted you. Hope you don’t mind.

  52. An Inner Light of my Own Says:

    Simply brilliant and perfectly worded—religion=virus. I couldn’t have said it better myself.


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