Obedience: Not a Virtue.

When I run into theists on the internet, one thing that quite frequently comes up, are atrocities commited by God in the Bible. And it never ceases to amaze me, what a total detachment from human well being some people have. You often hear things like: “God is completely justified to judge over us!” or “Who are you as a fallible human, to question the morality of God?” . Why do these people think like that? The answer is simple: Obedience to their God.

Now, obviously there are Christians out there, who don’t defend slavery, who acknowledge, that some concepts in the Bible such as Hell are profoundly immoral. But my question to the fundamentalists is: Why is Obedience to God good? Because I don’t really think it is good. I don’t think Obedience is a virtue. And here’s why:

As I’ve said it’s a total detachment from human well being. At that point you’re basically saying, that God can do as he pleases. But why can God do as he pleases? Because he is the one in power? I’m sorry but so was Ludwig XVI. during the French Revolution and they dethroned this tyrrant and killed him (I’m not in favor of killing anybody but I am in favor of dethroning Leaders who abuse their powers). Wouldn’t it therefore, for the ones who believe in God, make sense to oppose God’s actions, oppose God himself and show some loyalty to your fellow humans. He can’t throw 100% of all human beings into hell, right?

Another problem of these sick beliefs, is that God should somehow be excempt from being judged for atrocities. The problem that arises is the following: It denegrades the worth of human beings and all creatures on this Earth in general.

Do we not hear it said by believers, that we all deserve eternal punishment? Do they not reference to us and themselves as sinners? What is this? It’s an insult to us. It’s like saying we’re all worthless compared to our Creator. Everyone of us is sick and evil. These people show their submission to a God they deem perfect, for no other reason, than that this God has the power to throw them into hell if they don’t. It’s the behavior of somebody who wishes to be sheep. Somebody who wants to be a slave.

At that point you give up everything that makes us special as human beings: Our ability for love for our fellow human beings and the animal Kingdom. Our compassion, our empathy, our ability to think for ourselves. We as humans do in general have an innate sense of compassion and empathy. When we see people suffer, we can’t help but feel sorry for them and we feel compelled to stop it.

And when it comes to God some people (again not all believers but some) are willing to trade all that in, for obedience to a tyrant, for being a sheep, for being a blind zombie.

I’m sorry but I can’t and won’t do that and I feel sorry for everybody who thinks that way.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Answering Christian Comments

Astonishingly my blog about Atheism, religion and sometimes science seems to have attracted some Christian readers. Those who follow my blog of course know that I am an Atheist. Yesterday I got 3 comments to which I want to reply in this post. I do wanna say first, that I am not going to have a blog vs comment discussion here. I’m a content Creator and I see it as my duty to keep it interesting for my readers. I have to move on to other topics.

The first comment is from Kaylin under my post The Justification of skepticism :

“The thing is, though, we do have sufficient evidence to believe one way or another, so your argument doesn’t apply.”

Me: In my article I proposed a thought experiment. I’m more than aware, that we have enough data to conclude that the population of the Earth is 7.5 billion people. I showed on this example how we should go about the situation if we had no data whatsoever. In that hypothetical event I showed that skepticism is the route to take.

Your second comment was from What would convince me and you said the following:

” Concerning the 10 plagues: Kaylin’s source on the plagues of Egypt
Concerning the effectivity of prayer:
Kaylin’s source on prayer

Me: If you don’t mind I respond to prayer first. I do concede the article as a whole. Yes praying has a positive health effect for you. It wasn’t my contention that the practice of prayer doesn’t have benefits. That can be attributed to things like the Placebo effect. Prayer also keeps you calm and relaxes you, just like meditation or Yoga does. What I am contesting is the idea that others praying for you, shows positive health effects. Of course knowing yourself, that 1000s pray for you could again be the Placebo effect. If you can show me an unambigious study under controlled conditions, where people pray for a person without that person’s knowledge (again possible Placebo) and we could verify positive results repeatedly now then we’d truly have something worth investigating.

Before you accuse me of goalpost shifting, notice that I explicitly mentioned “Psychological effects” and that we could show that ” not merely the practice itself is useful”.

to your second contention:

You did provide me with another source concerning the Exodus. My reply it simply: not good enough for me as a skeptic. I can understand, why you find it convincing, since you have an a priori commitment to your faith, that the Bible is the inerrant word of God (maybe even the literal word of God). I have no such commitment.

I do wanna go a different route here. I have no illusions, that I won’t convince you, that the Bible is wrong. I want show you, why I as a skeptic don’t accept that your evidence is sufficient.

There are 2 examples of religious claims we both agree are bogus.

The first example is Mor(m)onism. We have a wealth of eyewitness testimony, for the golden tablets of Joseph Smith. These include for example, Oliver Crowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer among others. While all eyewtinesses were close to Smith they all kept their testimony intact even after leaving the church. Here’s a great video where it compares the golden tablets to the resurrection 

the second example is Satya Sai Baba, I often use this meme in debates on Twitter:

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Don’t take my word for it though. A quick Google search will reveal my point.

From a logical perspective, if you accept the claims of the Bible, with so little evidence, then you should also accept my 2 examples. Of course I know why you won’t do that, since you have faith, that the Bible is God’s word. But that’s you, not me. From my perspective I reject all those claims, including yours, because the evidence establishing them is insufficient.

One outside source, decades later is not sufficient evidence for the plagues for anybody, who isn’t already a believer.

the third comment is my favorite one because strangely I agree with most of what he says:

It is from Supernatural Causation: Why every argument for God fails.

the commenter writes:

“You do have valid points. You are right about faith, without faith in Christ, we can not know him and we don’t belong to him. Which means we can’t hear his voice when he speaks. One can go to great efforts trying to disprove God but it doesn’t make his existence less true. No believer can bring that reality to you, it is something you need to find for yourself. I can tell you about divine intervention in my life and the moments I commune with God and how he touches me so but most atheist aren’t concerned by another’s experiences and if they say they are, it is only so they can turn and attack you. This is why I take this subject of speaking with atheist lightly. I don’t have to “prove” Christ to anyone. It’s up to the individual to come to the knowledge of the Christian God through the help of Christ alone., besides I respect your choice.”

Of course I don’t agree, that God exists. I’m an Atheist… duh. It is true that arguments (Kalam etc.) probably won’t convince me. What would convince me is some sort of revelation etc. ultimately all I can do is go my way and I’m open to the possibility to change my mind and if God/exists he knows best what will be sufficient.

Thanks to you both for your comments and I hope you and other readers can understand my perspective better now.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Letting the Bible interpret itself

How often have you heard the following sentence from the faithful:

“That’s not what it says. You’re taking it out of context!”

I personally am the last guy, who would ever try to intentionally misrepresent my interlocutors position and I always try to give Christians the benefit of the doubt but as I found out, they more often than not, try to use the word context as their own personal “Get Out of Jail Free card” .

Just yesterday I had a talk with a Christian, where I brought up 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12 where God intentionally sends people a delusion, which seems to be in contrast with Hebrews 6: 18, where it says that God cannot lie. The excuse for this was, that God sends this delusion not directly but indirectly, as God did the same with the Pharao in Exodus where he hardened the Pharao’s heart. As he claimed, God did not directly harden his heart but the Pharao resisted the truth so the holy spirit was withdrawn by his won choice and so in essence the Pharao brought this upon himself.

As I read through Exodus I must admit that I did find passages where the Pharao did harden his heart himself (Exodus 8:15) but yet in other’s God hardened it (Exodus 9:12).To me it seemed like both God and the Pharao played a role in the Pharao’s refusal to free Yahweh’s chosen people. I found however no passage, which indicated, that a holy spirit was withdrawn from the Pharao and in 2 Thessalonians 2 it is not about hardened hearts at all, it is about a delusion sent from God with no indication that he did it indirectly through withdrawing any holy spirit.

When I brought this up my interlocutor he just said that  “You must let the Bible interpret itself!” in other words: I should always give the Bible the benefit of the doubt, even in the event of the most obvious contradiction, I must infer what is not indicated anywhere in the Bible in order to save it from inconsistencies (if you find a passage that talks about God withdrawing the holy spirit in order to harden hearts and even better in order to send delusions please let me know; I will then correct or even retract my post) .

In general the mental gymnastics that Christians pull off are amazing. They come up with any excuse possible just so they don’t have to admit, that their God isn’t perfect.

Too often have I heard it said that “That’s the old testament! It doesn’t apply anymore.” They rarely answer my follow up question, whether they think the laws of the old testament are good or bad and when they do they either ask “Who are you to judge God?” completely ignoring that they judged him to be good or they say “It was a different time with a different culture” thereby conceding that morality isn’t universal and absolute.

The bottom line is this: They cannot critically evaluate the Bible and just read what it says, they have to add words to scripture and make stuff up that isn’t indicated anywhere, completely withdraw any moral judgement concerning scripture and ignore inconvenient passages altogether just to keep believing. There are no lengths that believers won’t go to even if it means defending rape, slavery and Genocide or rationalizing the words of the Bible with any excuses possible regardless of the fact, that they’re not indicated anywhere.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

The self refuting Bible

This moring I found myself in yet another debate with a Christian. As I stumbled upon the timeline of one of my friends I saw her arguing with a special type of apologist: A Presuppositionalist. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term here’s a brief explanation: A Presuppositionalist already presupposes that the Christian God Yahweh exists, that everybody already knows that God exists or in other words words there aren’t any atheists (they justify this with Romans 1: 19-20) and that the Bible is the infallible word of God. Then they proceed to argue that logic,knowledge, reason, evidence and morality all presuppose God’s existence. Their tactic is to corner Unbelievers by asking them for absolute knowledge. While there are certain axioms that we can know for absolutely certain the honest person will, without better knowledge, say that he/she doesn’t know anything for certain. Then they’ll argue that the Nonbeliever can’t know anything and has no basis for claiming anything and can’t object to the Presupps dishonest tactics.

As I was getting ready to argue, a pretty evil thought popped into my mind:

What if I were to give him a taste of his own medicine? What if I were to argue exactly what he argues, that he can’t know anything if the Christian God does exist?

It is my belief that when you believe that every sentence in the Bible is true, your position is intrinsically self defeating. Here are the 2 scripture based arguments I used:

  • My first argument was that the Bible explicitly states that the Christian cannot lean on his own understanding. This however creates a major problem because without using your understanding you have no way to assess whether what you read in scripture is actually true, whether you interpret it correctly, whether what you’re reading in the Bible is actually what it says in the Bible etc. by accepting this verse you have no way to understand whether what you think scripture tells you is either true or false. I also illustrated my point here (If you’re interested in it, you can contact me and I’ll send it to you):891
  • my second argument was based on 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12 and on Exodus 7: 3-4 :  In these 2 verses God directly deceives people in order to make them do what he wants. Aside from the fact, that these actions don’t fit in the picture of a good God, it also shows that God has a tendency to manipulate and deceive people into doing and believing things that aren’t actually true. If God is at the very least willing to do that to certain people, then the Christian can’t know whether he isn’t one of the deceived ones and only thinks he has certain knowledge when in actuality he is one of God’s puppets. He can’t even rule out the possibility of being a brain in a vat (if he is honest that is, which of course the Presuppositionalist isn’t).

One last example that I didn’t bring up was the fact that the Christian necessarily believes in miracles which completely flies in the face of the uniformity in nature. For all the Christian knows God could be suspending the laws of nature right now in order to make a miracle happen. Therefore he has no basis for assuming it.

Now I don’t recommend trying to convince a Presuppositionalist for the simple reason that they can’t be but if you ever come across a Presuppositionalist and you wanna have some fun I find this to be a good way of trolling them. And what’s even better is that I find these points to be actually sound!

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation