Saturday, July 04, 2009

What About Leviticus?

A. From Last Chance To See:

"I really get [annoyed] at people who quote scripture at me, because most of these "discussions" follow the following scheme:

Random person: "--A-- is true because of --random passage from the bible X--."
Me: "But --random passage from the bible Y-- completely contradicts that."
Random person: "Atheists don't understand --passage Y--/the bible/christianity."

So, my question to you would be this:
What about all the wrong, barbaric, immoral, nonsensical, contradictory stuff in the bible? You know what I'm talking about.
Leviticus especially is very explicit, literal and full of such things. How exactly can I interpret that any other than barbaric/immoral/etc.?

And why is it somehow a valid argument to quote the nice things from the bible in support of somethings, but not the bad stuff to disprove that claim?

Mind you, I think all this mindless quoting, whether by me or them, doesn't constitute any kind of valid argument at all, I just get peeved at their constant insistence that I am somehow misrepresenting what the bible says."

B. Scary Fundamentalist Weighs In:

"To respond to your question in a few sentences, the Old Testament needs to be read in light of the fulfillment of the Law in New Testament. The kingdom of God was transformed from a physical nation of Israel (perishable) into a spiritual nation of believers (imperishable) Food laws, for example, are translated into a spiritual context in Mark 7:14-23.

C. Ball Bounces.

The behaviour you complain of is known as "proof-texting", and the subject, I believe, would be, ahem, "Bible Difficulties". A few general observations:

1. The Bible is viewed as a progressive revelation. What is tolerated or even commissioned may be abrogated down the road.

2. In the light of this, as SF points out, the Old Testament (OT) is interpreted in the light of the New Testament (NT).

3. Christ specifically said that the OT was about him. Christians therefore view Christ as the interpretative key to the entire Bible. Christ raised the standard for expected human conduct to a higher level. He showed less tolerance than Moses for, e.g., divorce. Even being angry at someone constitutes you a murderer in Christ's eyes, and motives of the heart count as much if not more than actions.

4. The OT covenant was a theocracy -- a nation of believers. So, the laws covered everything from religious worship to how to treat your mule to how to resolve property disputes. They were offered in a cultural context, and one interpretive key is to consider what the laws of surrounding nations looked like.

As a theocracy, it was a place where Yahweh, the Holy One, sought to dwell. Much of the OT is about the magnitude of the difficulty of a holy deity dwelling among sinful human beings. Much of the laws, severe as they sound to us, are saying as much about God's holiness and what his holiness demands as they are about the sinfulness of certain behaviours. In fact, from Genesis 3 to the end of Revelation, the book is all about effect reconciliation between a holy God who cannot compromise his holiness and sinful man who cannot possibly live up to God's holy standards. But, as you might like to say, goddidit!

5. God, as the author, giver, and sustainer of life, has, unlike his creatures, the reserved right to take life away. He may commission instruments both natural (the flood) and human, (Israel or other nations) to effect this. God, has the moral right and indeed obligation to act as the Judge of the universe. This may entail dreadful and fearful punishments.

God has a moral obligation to act as the world's Judge, but has no corresponding obligation to act as its Saviour. It is indeed good news that God freely loved this rebellious world and offered his Son as a way of making peace, while continuing to honor man's free will to either accept or reject his offer.

6. We stand today on 2,000 years of Christian history, and 4,000 or 5,000 years of Judeo-Christian revelation. What may appear wrong, or distasteful, or even monstrous to us today may appear so precisely because of the positive leavening effect of Christian revelation -- that people have value, have rights, deserve to be treated a certain way, etc. It is not at all certain that, had there been no Christianity, that people would have this understanding or behave as decently as they generally do today.

Having said that, there are certainly troublesome aspects of Leviticus, and if you want to provide specific examples, I will do my best to comment on them.

40 comments:

Frances said...

Rick - with the priests as the only 'educated' class in the Old Testament, they were also the doctors, public health authorities, etc. A lot of the laws relate to hygiene, quarrantine, and similar issues, all of which would be important to minimize the spread of disease. Even the prohibitions on certain types of food (pork is a good example) would often be as much public health measures as religious ones. But because they were, as you said, a theocracy, it all got mixed up in one code.

RkBall said...

Thank you, Frances for your observation. If you go to Africa today, you will find that spiritual leaders are expected to express an opinion on all sorts of matters great and small.

Jesus really was remarkable in keeping control of his agenda. Remember when someone came to him asking him to make his brother share his inheritance with him? Jesus refused to get involved -- exactly the kind of thing Moses would have been expected to do. Jesus refused to be defined by his followers' expectations -- just one of the things that makes him such a remarkable man.

Anonymous said...

When you go back to Bible it contains all kinds of rules set out for God's flock to follow and obey. When you ignore Divine aspect of these rules they were very practical in their nature. Food that Israelites were to consume had to be prepared in certain way in order to be defined as "Kosher" food. Animals had to be killed certain way in presence of Rabi who would inspect dead animal for signs of disease that dead animal might have suffered from that could be spread to people eating it. Certain types of animals like pigs whose skin and intestines could not be properly cleaned (in their times and arid conditions) and bore all kinds of germs and viruses were considered unfit for human consumption due to risk of contracting communicable diseases that pigs carried in their population.

Prohibition of homosexual relationships contained in a Bible falls into same category. I am quite sure that many Israelite men had vaginal sex with their animals if left without their women for a long time and such practice was much more readily tolerated than sodomy.

Explanation of why it was such way lays in fact that homosexuals on receiving end of sodomistic sex suffer from internal infections (tears in bowel walls caused spilling of feces and bacteria and viruses present in digestive tract into abdominal cavity) an as such presented extreme danger to whole Israeli population acting as vectors spreading all kinds of diseases. Homosexuals who develop fully blown AIDS symptoms of immunodeficiency (low white blood cell count) are much more prone to succumb to any common infections and their bodies become incubators for bacteria and viruses. These human born bacteria and viruses are passed on to other members of community in very concentrated form. Stoning homosexuals to death was an extreme but necessary measure to protect whole community from possible disaster of epidemic of deadly diseases that people who engaged in sodomy could have unleashed on that population.

Take e-coli bacteria as a simple example; it is present in digestive tract of all humans and it almost never causes much harm as it is present in minute quantity. When same bacteria gets into drinking water and multiplies and than that water is than drank by people in community you get an epidemic like Walkerton, people get really sick and die.You would never drink water when you saw human or animal faces floating in it.

Israelis lived in arid land where water was at a premium. When killing an animal for human consumption great care was taken in preventing fecal matter from spilling onto meat as there was no way to wash it clean (water was often contaminated and/or there was a real risk of contaminating water source).
One of simple ways to determine if an animal was sick/contaminated was to smell his intestines after killing it. Abdominal fluids smell different when infected with bacteria and/or contaminated with fecal matter.

Israelis were predominantly herders of flocks of animals and they were keen observers of their animals. Epidemics spread thru infected and sick animals were common and killing off of sick animals to prevent spread of diseases in a herd was a common practice at the time. It is not that big a stretch of imagination that same skill was used and same observation was made when "brave homosexual warriors" were killed in battlefields and Israelis tried to enbalm them. This observation of fecal contamination could easily be traced to sexual practices that "brave homosexual warriors" engaged in prior their death. Considering scarcity of water and keen sense of smell they must have been able to sniff out who had sex with whom at night every morning while on a military trail.
In this sense Bible text relating to homosexuality was just a common knowledge of the times that was extended from domesticated animals to human population.

It is surprising to me that nobody in Christian community tries to explain passages of the Bible relating to homosexuality in rational terms.

lastchancetosee said...

RkBall, thank you for this post.

One quick note beforehand:
As Anonymous already mentioned, some of the rules that seem strange to us today made perfect sense at the time, e.g. food rules. Others might seem cruel, but are actually an advancement over the way things got handled before, e.g. 'an eye for an eye' (which replaced 'You kill my child, I kill you, your family, your animals and the guy you had a beer with last sunday.')
When I talk of "cruel/etc. stuff" I mean, of course, neither.


1.: I think we have to seperate the historical view of the bible from the spritual one. Historically speaking it is all very simple - you basically say that in 4): The OT is the holy book of a small, tribal people amongst other small, tribal people of 3000 years ago. The rules, views and ethical standards reflect that. The NT is from a different time and therefore reflects different views.
You say it does so because it describes the difficulties arising from a god dwelling amongst humans (OT) and the new order Jesus decreed (NT), I say it is just a natural mirror of the society at that time, plus quite a bit of Jesus being far ahead of his time, morally speaking in the case of the NT, but content-wise that doesn't really matter.

From the religious/spiritual point of view this is more difficult, because the bible is the unerring word of god and while we may know from context how the weird stuff in the OT came to be and even if we view it as progressive revelation, we still have to decide how to apply all of it to our lifes today.

Now, in creating the christian faith from the jewish one Jesus certainly introduced a very different view of the world. But there can also be no doubt that he didn't seek to invalidate the OT (he even states explicitly that except from some changes nothing that is written in what is now the OT was to be disregarded).
So the NT doesn't give me carte blanche to ignore everything in the OT that I don't like.

So how do you reconcile the two?
However much I view one in light of the other or use Jesus as the interpretative key (two things where I honestly don't know what you mean by them, so please elucidate), much of the OT doesn't really lent itself to interpretation. Rules, punishments and direct orders from god. Either they are still valid or not, there really is no middle ground.

2.: You say that God has the obligation to be judge of the universe and that that, unfortunately, will entail dreadful punishment. I say that is evil, but we can discuss this at some other point.
Even accepting for the moment that bringing plagues on people as punishment for whatever is OK for the judge of the universe, another problem remains: What god orders his people to do is no less evil. Much of the OT is just one huge, ruthless, mercyless, cruel war fought by "god's chosen people" against everyone else. Are we to pretend that that was OK, because everything changed with the NT? Or because it was god's will?
You see the problem. So maybe since Jesus was here God isn't really into all that 'fighting, smiting, avenging and stoning people to death'-thing anymore, but that doesn't make any of the stuff that happened before disappear.

lastchancetosee said...

(Post split due to size limitations)

3.: Maybe it is too difficult to discuss the reconsiliation of the OT and the NT in such general terms, so let's turn to some examples of passages that I find difficult to reconcile with any modern morality.

Stories:
a) Numbers 12, has god spoken only through Moses?
Aaron and Miriam complain to Moses that he has married an Ethiopian woman although it is forbidden. God steps in and tells them in no uncertain terms that Moses is one of his favourites and it is therefore OK. In addition to that he gives Miriam leprosy.
Why is it OK for Moses to break the law, just because god likes him? Why is it OK to punish someone who questions this? Why is it that of the two people questioning Moses only the woman is punished? And what sort of light sheds the NT on this story?

b) Numbers 31:6-18, insufficient cruelty.
Moses, commanded by god, sends his people out to slay the Midanites so they killed all the men, burned the cities, stole the cattle etc. and took the women and children, presumably as slaves.
Moses doesn't like that. Not one bit. So he sends them to kill all the rest of the people excluding, as usual, virgins.
And of course god wants in on the action, so orders Moses to give him 32 of the 32000 virgins captured (Numbers 31:40).
In what sort of light is this anything but a cruel, evil story?

Rules:
Leviticus 27, how precious are my people?
God determines the exact monetary value of human life. Guess what, women are worth far less than men.
Also, there seems to be some difference between pledged and devoted people, the former being eligible for redemption through payment of money, the latter unfortunates having to be killed (see also Judges 11:29-40).
Well, my personal estimation of the worth of human life is rather higher than that, and I get accused of disregarding it because I am pro-choice.

(If any of these paraphrases strike you as disrespectful of the original text, that was done on purpose)

Anonymous said...

You know.... the whole thing (the bible and christianity itself) makes TOTAL sense when you realize that it's a MYTH!!

Contradictory? Of course!! It was cobbled together over hundreds of years by uneducated people!

I can't for the life of me understand how any ~educated~ person doesn't see this....

joe agnost

RkBall said...

LC2C#1

LC2C So the NT doesn't give me carte blanche to ignore everything in the OT that I don't like.

*+* True.

LC2C So how do you reconcile the two?
However much I view one in light of the other or use Jesus as the interpretative key (two things where I honestly don't know what you mean by them, so please elucidate), much of the OT doesn't really lent itself to interpretation. Rules, punishments and direct orders from god. Either they are still valid or not, there really is no middle ground.

*+* The NT makes it clear that the net effect of the OT laws was to show us to be sinners -- we all fall well short of the demands of the law, so it is not ultimately going to narrow the gap between God and man, it is going to show it for what it really is -- a great gulf.

The NT also makes clear that keeping all the rules and regs of the OT is over with, finished, done. A new order of the Spirit has been inaugurated, an order not of licentiousness or lawlessness, but keeping the spirit and essence of the law through being given a new nature, a new heart, and the strength to do what the law demands, without being a law-keeper, per se. Christians have specifically understood the NT to be an abrogation of the ceremonial aspects of the law -- ritual uncleanness, etc., while continuing to uphold the moral and ethical dimensions.


LC2C 2.: Much of the OT is just one huge, ruthless, mercyless, cruel war fought by "god's chosen people" against everyone else. Are we to pretend that that was OK, because everything changed with the NT? Or because it was god's will?
You see the problem.

*+* Yes, I see the problem. But God sees everything. He let the Israelites suffer in Egypt for extra decades if not hundreds of years, until the sin of the people living in the land of Canaan reached a point where they were fully deserving judgement. Only then did he free the Israelites and tell them to take the land. We see the apparent cruelty of what today would be called a "genocide", but God saw the consequences of not wiping out these people, e.g., its effect on the people he had chosen, and said, "wipe them out". Harsh, yes.


LC2C So maybe since Jesus was here God isn't really into all that 'fighting, smiting, avenging and stoning people to death'-thing anymore, but that doesn't make any of the stuff that happened before disappear.

Nor does it disappear in the future. Jesus predicts the dreadful consequences of continued rebellion against God. It was Jesus who initiated and promoted the doctrine of hell as we now understand it.

And in the final book of the NT, the book of Revelation, there's another bloodbath of judgment. So, Jesus' salvation is really an oasis in the midst of awful judgements.

What Jesus did do was reposition his kingdom as a heavenly/spiritual kingdom, and his followers' hope as a heavenly/spiritual hope and to create a dichotomy between earthly and heavenly reigns. He made it clear his followers are not to physically fight for the kingdom of God (a message the Muslims didn't get).

RkBall said...

2LC2C:

LC2C 3.:
Stories:
a) Numbers 12, has god spoken only through Moses?
Aaron and Miriam complain to Moses that he has married an Ethiopian woman although it is forbidden. *+* <--- Are you sure about this?

God steps in and tells them in no uncertain terms that Moses is one of his favourites and it is therefore OK. *+* <-- is that what he says?

In addition to that he gives Miriam leprosy.
Why is it OK for Moses to break the law, just because god likes him? Why is it OK to punish someone who questions this? Why is it that of the two people questioning Moses only the woman is punished? *+* <-- she's mentioned first; looks like she was the instigator.

see http://bible.cc/numbers/12-1.htm
for some commentary

LCTC And what sort of light sheds the NT on this story?

*+* None that I know of

b) Numbers 31:6-18, insufficient cruelty.
Moses, commanded by god, sends his people out to slay the Midanites so they killed all the men, burned the cities, stole the cattle etc. and took the women and children, presumably as slaves.
Moses doesn't like that. Not one bit. So he sends them to kill all the rest of the people excluding, as usual, virgins.
And of course god wants in on the action, so orders Moses to give him 32 of the 32000 virgins captured (Numbers 31:40). *+*<--- you mean they are allotted to the Levites, who were not warriors, right?

"This, in fact, was a religious war, undertaken by the express command of God against idolaters, who had seduced the Israelites to practise their abominations." and

"Unless it can be proved that the wicked Canaanites did not deserve their doom, objectors only prove their dislike to God, and their love to his enemies."

See https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=20385137&postID=5844179729209097945&page=1

In what sort of light is this anything but a cruel, evil story?

In the light of God's divine judgements, which are just and deserved; in the light of his foreknowledge of what further harm these people would have done to God's chosen people; in the light of the Author of life to have the authority to both give and take life.

RkBall said...

2LC2C:

Rules:
Leviticus 27, how precious are my people?
God determines the exact monetary value of human life. Guess what, women are worth far less than men. *+* and older persons worth less than younger? Probably just an economic accounting. Or, looking at it another way, Moses is making it easier for a woman to be redeemed from dedicated service than a man;

Also, there to be some difference between pledged and devoted people, the former being eligible for redemption through payment of money, the latter unfortunates having to be killed (see also Judges 11:29-40).

*+* This is a difficult verse; difficult to translate, difficult to comprehend; it's beyond my ability to comment on it intelligently.

See http://bible.cc/leviticus/27-29.htm

LC2C seems Well, my personal estimation of the worth of human life is rather higher than that, and I get accused of disregarding it because I am pro-choice.

*+* Remember, this was the price to buy someone out of dedicated service to God -- the lower the price, the better.

(story of Jephthah's daughter - what we need to make clear about this tragic story is that God never asked or demanded that Jephthah offer up his daughter -- this is something he took upon himself. In fact, such behavior is expressly prohibited as odious to God in the OT)

(If any of these paraphrases strike you as disrespectful of the original text, that was done on purpose)

*+* Maybe you have a future as a Bible paraphraser.

RkBall said...

LC2C -- I'm curious about one thing. The Bible difficulties you cited -- did you come up with these yourself through reading of the Bible, or did you get them from a website? If a website, I would be interested in knowing your source.

Thank you.

Scary Fundamentalist said...

So much to talk about, so little time. Great post, Rick, and equally good questions, LC2S

Now, in creating the christian faith from the jewish one Jesus certainly introduced a very different view of the world.

Not quite so. The Jews of Jesus' day had devolved the revelations to Moses and the Prophets into a legalistic morass devoid of spiritual faith. They even specified how far one could carry one's cloak on the Sabbath. Jesus restored the underpinnings of the OT through his ministry, such as when he expounded on the "do not kill" commandment. The passage that I quoted in a previous comment (Mark 7) is especially relevant to the entire topic, for example: (v9 Jesus says) "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions".

The abolishment of the OT ceremonial law is so aptly symbolized by the tearing of the Temple curtain upon Jesus' death. (the curtain divided the people from the Holy of Holies where God dwelt) No longer will their be elaborate physical rituals to symbolize the separation between God and His people; from then on He dwells directly in their hearts.

lastchancetosee said...

I'll respond in greater detail tomorrow (it is kind of late here in Germany and I have to get up early), but to get the technical stuff out of the way:

"I'm curious about one thing. The Bible difficulties you cited -- did you come up with these yourself through reading of the Bible, or did you get them from a website? If a website, I would be interested in knowing your source."

Partly. I read most of the bible some years ago. I usually know where to (broadly) look to find something, but if it is just about fighting fire with fire (i.e. responding to mindless quoting) I usually pick up my cues from The Skeptic's Annotated Bible (http://skepticsannotatedbible.com). It is a commented, categorized, cross-referenced version of the entire KJV and therefore comes in very handy if what you need is nasty passages (Although they do have a category "good stuff" as well).
Numbers 31 and Leviticus 27 I stumbled upon while reading Moses' books some time ago, Numbers 12 I picked from the SAP as an example of double standards/unfairness.

RkBall said...

Lc2C -- No rush on replying -- we've got all summer.

Germany, huh? I'm off to the Channel Islands later this month and then over to Oxford for a week.

Joe said...

The lesson here is, "Who are you to judge God". Shall the created say to the Creator "Why have you made me thus"? Is it not up to the potter to make from the same lump of clay some vessel meant for noble purposes and the next for ignoble?

So often we try to judge God by the merits of our human understanding and apply our human morality. The fact is we have a snippet of history and from that we serve our purpose in confirming our lack of faith. What was God's purpose and God's plan? If we are honest we admit we don't know. There are many purposes I can speculate on but no facts to confirm of deny any of them.

BitterChill said...

Thanks for the clarification. A smarter man than I once described the God of the Old Testament as "...arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Now I realize he was lacking historical context, and God got much better later! Kind of like saying Hitler started off pretty bad, what with the killing and the racism, but he had a tough youth, and towards the end he was really kind to his dogs ...

Ugh.

RkBall said...

BC - thanks for weighing in.

The good news is one day you will be able to express your disgust with the God you delight in mischaracterizing face-to-face.

Just want to give you something to look forward to.

lastchancetosee said...

@RkBall,
1.: your first comment

I'll have to restrain myself from quoting scritpure at you at this point. I don't think that you'll find anything in the NT specifically supporting your claims, but I'm not really in a position to argue the point. Since there is such a stark contrast between the OT and the NT our interpretation, even if not supported by scripture, seems reasonable. Noone is stupid enough to many some of the rules in the OT as law, anyway (or have you stoned someone to death for working on the sabbath lately ;-) ? Or killed your child for talking back?).

So, if I understand you correctly, the NT takes the OT, strips out the ceremonial stuff, and keeps the rest in place not as a list of specific laws but a certain picture of morality and ethics emerging from those laws? Is that a fair summary?
I'll come back tp this in a moment.

Most of your argument about the apparant immorality of various parts of the bible seems to be that I can't judge god's morality by my standards. Because by my standards "but God saw the consequences of not wiping out these people, e.g., its effect on the people he had chosen, and said, "wipe them out"." is still immoral, as is this: "He let the Israelites suffer in Egypt for extra [...] years, until the sin of the people [...] reached a point where they were fully deserving judgement.", and this: "This, in fact, was a religious war, undertaken by the express command of God against idolaters [...].".
What am I to take learn this?
→ genocide is OK if god orders it.
→ crusades are OK.
→ letting people suffer is OK if it suits your purpose.

"In the light of God's divine judgements, which are just and deserved; in the light of his foreknowledge of what further harm these people would have done to God's chosen people; in the light of the Author of life to have the authority to both give and take life."

I agree with the last part of the above quote, and with what Joe said. But being able to do something or having the authority doesn't make that right. Committing evil acts on the scale of the OT isn't right even if it prevents further harm.

This all leads us back to my first part (and goes @Joe's comment as well).
This then is the morality and ethics the NT wants to draw from the OT. That god if judged by human eyes is evil, every bit as bad as the OT paints him. That that doesn't matter, because "In the light of God's divine judgements" everything is "just and deserved"

That in itself is immoral.
The only morality that applies to us, can ever apply to us, is human morality. We can always incorporate new ideas from different cultures (or beings in this case) into our own, but we can't accept "Because I say so." as a basis for moral arguments. Because that's what it amounts to: We can't understand divine morality, but the divine being assures us it is moral, because, well, because it says so.
That would be immoral.
Give me one reason why I should choose to follow the law of a god that is, by our standards, evil.


Re: Numbers 12, your questions, in order: Yes I am sure, yes, he says that (12:8, 12:9) and no, that is a totally unwarranted assumption, plus would still constitute completely unfair and disproportionate punishment even if it were true.

RkBall said...

LC2C (or have you stoned someone to death for working on the sabbath lately ;-) ? Or killed your child for talking back?).

*+* This is a mischaracterization of Lev. 20:9, which speaks of cursing one's parents -- which is viewed as much more serious than merely talking back. And it nowhere states that the parents are to execute the sentence. Nor do I recall any point where this sentence was actually carried out.

Exodus 31:14 - this refers to desecrating or profaning the Sabbath Day, not merely working on it. Again, I don't recall this sentence actually being carried out.

I would cite both as examples of the principle I alluded to before -- of the extreme difficulty of a holy God living in the midst of fallen humanity.

God is most assuredly not "safe"; nor does he become safe just because of the mercies unveiled with the establishing of the New Testament.


LC2C So, if I understand you correctly, the NT takes the OT, strips out the ceremonial stuff, and keeps the rest in place not as a list of specific laws but a certain picture of morality and ethics emerging from those laws? Is that a fair summary?

*+* pretty good.

LC2C → letting people suffer is OK if it suits your purpose.

*+* well, there can be no doubt that, since the fall, people suffer -- and God allows this. But the NT makes clear that suffering is temporal while the rewards for the faithful are eternal and overwhelm all suffering.

LC2C "Committing evil acts on the scale of the OT isn't right even if it prevents further harm."

*+* Executing God's judgments is not an evil act. If you read the book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, you will see that the angels in heaven cheer when God finally judges the wickedness of the earth and ends the age-old rebellion against his holy, righteous and just rule.

LC2C Give me one reason why I should choose to follow the law of a god that is, by our standards, evil.

*+* Why would you want to follow OT law when it was provisional and has been abrogated by the NT? Christians follow the law of Christ -- which is love. And where do we get our present standards from -- arguably, largely from NT revelation. Christ invites you to participate in unlimited self-sacrifice and self-giving love -- should keep you as busy as you want to be living ethically, morally, and righteously.


LC2C Re: Numbers 12, your questions, in order: Yes I am sure, yes, he says that (12:8, 12:9) and no, that is a totally unwarranted assumption, plus would still constitute completely unfair and disproportionate punishment even if it were true.

*+* The commentators I referenced in my previous post would disagree with you. Was it unlawful to marry a proselyte to the Jewish faith?

God's punishments are never disproportionate. His punishments are deserved; his mercies undeserved, yet available to all who call upon him.

Of this I am quite certain.

Indeed, God is the foundation of all morality and goodness. The atheist's dilemma is this: without God, there is no basis for believing in any kind of objective morality, objective right-and-wrong, or in the objective existence of good and evil. If we were not created by God, if life has no ultimate purpose or meaning or value, then smashing someone's head in is no different than smashing a pumpkin or a rock -- it's nothing more, in Dawkinian terms, than the re-arranging of molecules in a cold, unthinking, unfeeling, indifferent universe.

And morality becomes either merely personal preference or merely social convention. One society believes in loving one's neighbor; another believes in eating one's neighbor. There is no arbitrator because there is creator who created with intent, purpose, and design.

The fear of the Lord, i.e., the acknowledgement that he exists, is the beginning of all wisdom.

Bitter Chill said...

Rkb:

Hmmm…that is an interesting threat to use on an atheist… judgement. You imagine that my agreement with Dawkins’ fair assessment of your deity’s previous behaviors as those of a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak and a megalomaniacal, malevolent bully will result in him punishing me to eternal damnation? How would you characterize the personality of someone who acts that way?

Ah, the ol’ foundation of all morality and goodness argument. I have to admit, I’m not keeping track of British newspapers, but last I heard, Dawkins hadn’t smashed any heads into rocks… nor have I. I have smashed a head into a wall repeatedly, but only my own, and only after reading remarkably infantile drivel like “The fear of the Lord, i.e., the acknowledgement that he exists, is the beginning of all wisdom.”

But let’s get back to foundations. Are you suggesting anyone who has not “heard the word” by your interpretation cannot know “good”? The bushmen of the Kalahari, the Innu, the pre-contact Polynesians, the Sumerians, The Maya, The Greeks, the Egyptians… none of them had any basis for not smashing each other against rocks? How about other primates? To orangutans smash each other against rocks all the time? Surely they have the motor skills…and surely they cannot have a moral code brought to them by your deity.

RkBall said...

BC says... that is an interesting threat to use on an atheist… judgement.

*+* Whether you receive judgment and condemnation or welcoming grace is up to you.


BC says... You imagine that my agreement with Dawkins’ fair assessment of your deity’s previous behaviors as those of a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak and a megalomaniacal, malevolent bully will result in him punishing me to eternal damnation? How would you characterize the personality of someone who acts that way?

*+* Righteous.

BC says... Are you suggesting anyone who has not “heard the word” by your interpretation cannot know “good”?

*+* Never suggested that. And, for the life of me, I can't fathom why atheists so often and so readily misinterpret this point.

What I am stating is that, the fact that good exists, and the fact that you know good and evil is evidence that there is a God and you are created in his image. This is true of the atheist as much as the believer, and is true whether a person believes in God or not.

For evil to exist, good must exist. For good to exist, God must exist. Otherwise, the universe is just mindless, amoral, molecules colliding.

The corollary is if there is no God, and the universe is dead, insentient, without purpose, will, direction, value, etc., then there is no logical or philosophical or existential basis for humans to believe in the objective existence of good and evil.

The underpinnings of moral reality are theistic. And atheists, when they rail for moral reasons against this Dawkinian caricature of God, this idol that they first invented, then smash, are arguing on theistic grounds.

Without God, atheists don't have a (moral) leg to stand on.

That's what I'm arguing.

bitter chill said...

OK, no Good before God. Even if one were to accept that drivel, you make another dubious leap. Without god we would be bashing each other's heads into rocks.

Wait, amongst all the known species.. no, wait, lets even make this easier and limit it to the species with higher brain functions and complex cerebial structures and say amongst the world Mammal species...are you suggesting God's "invention" of "good" is the only thing keeping orangutans from bashing each others' heads into rocks? Hoary Marmots? Hippopotmi? It seems to me that without God's intervention, it would be easy for right wales to go around drowning smaller right whales.

What, exactly, makes our interest in preserving our own species any different than theirs?

Anonymous said...

I love it!!! This is basically how part of this comment thread went (paraphrased):

bitter chill: 'your god is cruel, petty and vindictive'.

RK_Ball: 'no he is not! You'll pay dearly for that remark from god himself one day.'

bitter chill: 'that means nothing to me as I don't believe in god.'

RK_Ball: 'it doesn't matter what you believe... god is going to punish you for saying he's cruel, you know, because he's all loving and stuff.'

******

It all comes down to this - if your (petty little) god is worried that I don't believe in him, or that I bad mouth him, then I'm afraid that's the very definition of petty - and if he punishes me for such a trivial act then he's vindictive and cruel too!!!

I have no room in my life for such cruelty and ridiculousness....

joe agnost

RkBall said...

@Bitter Chill -- "Without god we would be bashing each other's heads into rocks."

I did not say this; what I said was, without God there is no philosophical basis for believing that bashing heads on rocks is objectively wrong or objectively different from bashing a pumpkin on a rock -- both humans and pumpkins are the product of impersonal, amoral processes. The very idea that right and wrong objectively could objectively exist in a material universe devoid of purpose or meaning is an absurdity.

"...are you suggesting God's "invention" of "good" is the only thing keeping orangutans from bashing each others' heads into rocks? Hoary Marmots? Hippopotmi?"

No. Good and evil do not even come into play when it comes to the behaviors of animals, as they are instinctual, rather than moral beings. Some animals eat their young -- would you say that what they did was "wrong"? I doubt it.

"What, exactly, makes our interest in preserving our own species any different than theirs?"

First, of all, other species have no "interest in preserving their own species", as if they were making intelligent choices. And, you can't attribute this interesting in preserving species to darwinian evolution, because it is purposeless and directionless.

Species (apart from humans) are driven by instincts, not by some intelligent "interest in preserving their species". According to an atheistic worldview, these instincts are there, but there is no purpose or intent behind them; nature doesn't care whether species survive, thrive, or die out -- it is a matter of utter indifference.

Since species were never intended to exist (according to atheistic philosophical necessity), the termination of a species is, objectively, neither a bad thing or a good thing -- it is a matter of utter and complete indifference and bad and good become meaningless categories of thought.

Some atheists have had the strength of their convictions to realize such matters -- Sartre, Camus, come to mind. Most just can't go where their atheistic beliefs logically should take them. Most atheists like to cling to the ideas that there is meaning in life, purpose, that human life (their life) has meaning, purpose and value. All must be denied when you deny God.

Atheists think they are killing God; they are really killing themselves.

A theist worldview is the only worldview that makes sense of the totality of human experience -- including the moral view of reality.

And that's good.

RkBall said...

"I have no room in my life for such cruelty and ridiculousness...."

Nor does the Christian believer. And that is why we like to form our minds with correct views of God, rather than caricatures.

When God judges a man and condemns him to punishment, I can assure you it is not because of a defect in God; it is because God sees the true state of the man's heart and the true character of the man's deeds. Christ sees into a man's heart with a laser-like intensity.

Those who dislike and refuse to retain the knowledge of God are, regrettably, given over to idolatrous and destructive mischaracterizations.

Anonymous said...

Ball: "without God there is no philosophical basis for believing that bashing heads on rocks is objectively wrong or objectively different from bashing a pumpkin on a rock"

Wrong. Totally wrong! There is absolutely NO NEED for god to exist for me to understand that hurting another person, or animal, is wrong. It's a natural emotion built into us through millions of years of evolution! Hell - animals help each other out all the time and they're atheists! ;)

"both humans and pumpkins are the product of impersonal, amoral processes."

This is true... but so what?

"First, of all, other species have no 'interest in preserving their own species', as if they were making intelligent choices."

Again - you're wrong here. Other animals DO show interest in preserving their own species. I've even seen animals help OTHER species (like the dog that raised two tiger cubs as her own).
It's natural - no god needed. And evolution explains this well (unlike the religious BS).

"you can't attribute this interesting in preserving species to darwinian evolution, because it is purposeless and directionless."

Of course there are darwinian explanations for caring about others within the species... it's been studied extensively. That darwinian evolution relies on random mutations of the genome does NOT make the whole process random/purposeless/directionless. That's a classic misunderstanding about evolution. There is in fact a very important purpose - propagating one's genes.

It seems that you don't understand evolution very well - it (evolution) explains why we help our neighbours, why we don't kill, why we don't rape... religion really is unnecessary, science is the source of truth.

"Species (apart from humans) are driven by instincts,"

Humans are driven by instincts too.

"According to an atheistic worldview, these instincts are there, but there is no purpose or intent behind them"

Why do you keep trying to put words in "atheists" mouths? The only thing an atheist is sure to believe is that there is NO GOD - that's it I'm afraid!
As a scientifically literate adult I happen to know that there ~is~ purpose and intent behind these instincts. An honest study of evolution would help you understand this... but you're likely not interested.

"nature doesn't care whether species survive, thrive, or die out -- it is a matter of utter indifference."

Right - "nature" doesn't care. But the individuals of the species DO care - a lot!

"Since species were never intended to exist (according to atheistic philosophical necessity), the termination of a species is, objectively, neither a bad thing or a good thing -- it is a matter of utter and complete indifference..."

So far so good... You're right so far but I'm waiting for you to blow it... And here we go:

"...and bad and good become meaningless categories of thought."

How you jump to this INSANE conclusion is beyond me... faulty logic I suppose.

"Most atheists like to cling to the ideas that there is meaning in life, purpose, that human life (their life) has meaning, purpose and value."

And why not? It's not some sort of cosmic value - but value to ME and MY FAMILY. I don't think "life" has value outside of the individuals living the lives that they do. The only "meaning of life" is to propagate your genes.

"All must be denied when you deny God."

Whatever.... you lost me. I don't even think that there is any reason to "deny god" - it's like saying you deny santa claus or the easter bunny, with zero evidence for any of 'em denial is just a waste of time - there's nothing to deny!

"Atheists think they are killing God; they are really killing themselves."

And you end with an example of your ignorance of atheists. We're not "killing god" - we don't even believe in it! Why is that so hard for you to understand?

joe agnost

RkBall said...

JA There is absolutely NO NEED for god to exist for me to understand that hurting another person, or animal, is wrong.

*+* It may be "unhelpful", but what makes it objectively "wrong"? And what if someone disagrees with you and says that hurting another person is the right thing to do -- on what grounds do you object -- personal preference?

JA It's a natural emotion built into us through millions of years of evolution!

*+* So is the urge to kill someone. What makes one right and the other wrong if both come from evolution? Is right and wrong something that is overlaid on top of evolutionary forces?

Humans are driven by all kinds of passions -- to kill, to steal, to cheat, to lie -- are these "right" behaviours because they are the products of evolutionary forces?

JA There is in fact a very important purpose - propagating one's genes.

*+* Propagating one's genes may be an outcome of darwinian evolution, but it is not a purpose -- natural processes have no purpose; like atoms and molecules, they just "are".

"According to an atheistic worldview, these instincts are there, but there is no purpose or intent behind them"

JA Why do you keep trying to put words in "atheists" mouths?

*+* How about this atheist's mouth:

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."

Read that slowly, Joe. A leading atheist's assertion: No good or evil -- the point I have been making. No purpose -- the point I have been making.


JA As a scientifically literate adult I happen to know that there ~is~ purpose and intent behind these instincts.

*+* It is very difficult for an atheist to be consistent to his atheism and not betray philosophically theistic underpinnings. And you have just done this. There is no purpose and intent behind instincts in an atheistic world; there cannot be, because there is no being to provide purpose and intent. It just happens.

"nature doesn't care whether species survive, thrive, or die out -- it is a matter of utter indifference."

JA Right - "nature" doesn't care. But the individuals of the species DO care - a lot!

*+* The only species that has a consciousness of existence as a species, with the intent to preserve the species, is man. And that is because we are created in the image of God.

"Most atheists like to cling to the ideas that there is meaning in life, purpose, that human life (their life) has meaning, purpose and value."

JA The only "meaning of life" is to propagate your genes.

*+* What a stunted, diminished view of humanity! By your definition, people who remain single lead meaningless lives. Striving, achievement, accomplishment, valor, heroism, personal sacrifice for a higher goal, quest for justice -- all meaningless.

When you realize that since life is unintended life is ultimately meaningless, you will have reached enlightenment as an atheist. You're not quite there yet.

Anonymous said...

Ball: "It may be 'unhelpful', but what makes it objectively 'wrong'?"

I'm not sure it ~is~ objectively wrong. Objectively being the key - it's wrong however since as a society we've decided it's wrong.

Ball: "So is the urge to kill someone."

Yikes!!! Really? You have urges to kill people? That might be a sign you could use some professional help...

Ball: "What makes one right and the other wrong if both come from evolution?"

Because as a society we have created rules for the betterment of the society. Killing another person has been ruled "wrong" by society - not god.

Ball: "Humans are driven by all kinds of passions -- to kill, to steal, to cheat, to lie -- are these 'right' behaviours because they are the products of evolutionary forces?"

Nope. They're "wrong" because as a society we've decided they're wrong. What god has to do with any of that is beyond me.

Ball: "Read that slowly, Joe. A leading atheist's assertion"

Two things here. The first is that just because an atheist says something doesn't make it some atheist creed. Something many theists seem to forget is that there is only ONE requirement to being an atheist: Not believing in god(s). That's it I'm afraid, you can't pin anything more on atheism - you just can't.

Secondly - I agree with the quote! Perhaps I misinterpreted your "According to an atheistic worldview, these instincts are there, but there is no purpose or intent behind them" statement. Ignoring the fact that there is no requirement for atheists to feel this way - if you're saying that there is no ~universal~ purpose or intent behind these evolved traits then I agree... but there ~is~ a local purpose: propagating one's genes. The universe doesn't care though - it just is. And on a personal level enjoying life is a purpose for me!

Ball: "No good or evil -- the point I have been making. No purpose -- the point I have been making."

You're missing the point! There is no ~universal~ good/evil. Nothing handed down to us from some sky fairy. No test for whether something is definitively "good" or "evil". There ~IS~ however good and evil as defined by ~us~. As society changes so do the definitions of what good and evil are - take a look at homosexuality... it used to be considered fine WAY back in roman times, then it was evil, but now it's back to being deemed OK by the majority of society. And nowhere does god enter into it.

Ball: "The only species that has a consciousness of existence as a species, with the intent to preserve the species, is man."

You don't know that, and I don't believe it. This assertion fails.

Ball: "And that is because we are created in the image of God."

Hogwash.

Ball: "By your definition, people who remain single lead meaningless lives."

No - that's not what I said. I said that evolutionarily (is that a word?) speaking they lead meaningless lives... but I've been saying all along that the meaning of life is what ~we~ make of it. Love, happiness, food, drink, family, etc. are all meanings for ~my~ life. It is what YOU make of it.

Ball: "Striving, achievement, accomplishment, valor, heroism, personal sacrifice for a higher goal, quest for justice -- all meaningless."

Yup - they're all meaningless in the GRAND scheme of things. But that doesn't matter... life means so much more than what the universe wants, or biology wants.

Ball: "When you realize that since life is unintended life is ultimately meaningless"

Why is the idea that there is no 'bigger/higher meaning' to life so bad? How does that stop you enjoying a full and happy life? Why does your life have to have more meaning than just 'enjoy it while you have it?' I just don't get it...

joe agnost

Bitter Chill said...

What I have learned from RKBall:

People are not animals. (does that make them vegetable or mineral?).

You can not attribute the species-survival instincts of animals to Darwinian Evolution (although that is one of the main tenants of Darwinian Evolution).

Darwinain Evolution is purposeless and directionless. (Well, you are right that it is generally directionless).

You can't attribute this interesting (sic) in preserving species to darwinian evolution, (so what do you attribute it? .

The termination of a species is, objectively, neither a bad thing or a good thing (unless you understand that each species exists within a complex ecosystem, the preservation of which may be rather important to OUR species)

Most atheists like to cling to the ideas that there is meaning in life, (not many that I know, we’re just trying to enjoy it, and to leave the world a better place for our neighbours and kids. Because we love our neighbours and kids. No God Required)

Atheists think they are killing God. (Atheists do not believe one can kill what does not exists. I am no more trying to kill God than the fairies in my garden or Santa Claus)

Thus ends today’s lesson in “thinking with your balls”.

Anonymous said...

In classic RK_Ball style he abandons a comment thread - leaving it for dead.

Just when it seems to be getting somewhere - or he's painted into a corner - you can bet Ball let's the discussion die... it's pretty useless discussing things with RK Ball as he never finishes what he starts.

joe agnost

RkBall said...

At BC: "What I have learned from RKBall:

* People are not animals. (does that make them vegetable or mineral?).

The distinction between man and animals is one that has been made for thousands of years. Either you are deeply ignorant of the history of and legacy of western thought, or you are just trying to score a cheap debating point.

*You can not attribute the species-survival instincts of animals to Darwinian Evolution (although that is one of the main tenants of Darwinian Evolution).

Response: You said "What, makes our interest in preserving our own species any different than theirs?"

My point is this: It is highly unlikely that animals, are even consciously aware that they are part of a species, let alone capable of forming the conscious intent of preserving a species. They are driven by instincts, not conscious intent.

"You can't attribute this interesting (sic) in preserving species to darwinian evolution, (so what do you attribute it?."

Response: Thanks for the soft lob. I attribute it to characteristics, built-in by animals' creators. The book of Job covers this well. You can attribute intent and interest to a conscious, wilful being, but not to an amoral, unconscious, mindless process. For example, you can't say that the sea had the intent and interest in cleaning up the beach when the tide swept in and out -- that may have happened, but there was no intent or purpose or interest involved. It just happened -- and that's the most you can say about darwinian evolution.

To infuse darwinian evolution with terms like purpose, goal, intent, interest, etc. is to either anthropomorphize or deify nature - take your pick. Your playing on theists' turf when you do so. Strip your language of purpose, intent, interest and at least your darwinian speech will have some philosophical integrity.

"The termination of a species is, objectively, neither a bad thing or a good thing (unless you understand that each species exists within a complex ecosystem, the preservation of which may be rather important to OUR species)"

Wrong. Since life was unintended and has no purpose, then the termination of all life, including human life would be neither good nor bad -- it would just "be". If goodness and evil was "born" at some point after humankind evolved, then reversing back to the point where there are no humans or life forms at all could not possibly constitute "bad".


"we’re just trying to enjoy it, and to leave the world a better place for our neighbours and kids. Because we love our neighbours and kids. No God Required).

Great. That's a good thing -- and I can say this as a theist and have a strong philosophical foundation for believing that there are things that are good and things that are evil -- you cannot.

"Atheists think they are killing God. (Atheists do not believe one can kill what does not exists. I am no more trying to kill God than the fairies in my garden or Santa Claus)"

Response: I also said that instead, they kill themselves. I meant neither literally. It was a figurative expression.

You certainly seem to be spending more emotional energy (and I would not characterize it as love-for-neighbor) in trying to "kill God" than you are in trying to refute the existence of Santa Claus or fairies.

Perhaps because there is more at stake.

RkBall said...

We've created rules for the betterment of the society. Killing another person has been ruled "wrong" by society - not god.

Response -- not all societies.

"Something many theists seem to forget is that there is only ONE requirement to being an atheist: Not believing in god(s). That's it I'm afraid, you can't pin anything more on atheism - you just can't."

Wrong. Atheism by definition has worldview and philosophy of life implications. If you say you are an atheist, but believe that human life possesses inherent worth; I'll say you are inconsistent. If you say you are an atheist and yet maintain that life has meaning and purpose; I'll say you are inconsistent.

" there ~is~ a local purpose: propagating one's genes.

You may have this purpose, but darwinism doesn't -- it is undirected, and without purpose; it just is -- just like the rain that falls does not have a purpose of nourishing plants -- it just happens.

The universe doesn't care though - it just is. And on a personal level enjoying life is a purpose for me!

Great, as long as you see the absurdity of carving out a little subjective purpose for yourself in a cosmos utterly without purpose.

And as long as you are comfortable with the absurdity of a mindless evolutionary process enduing humans with a sense of purpose and meaning and a longing for significance -- all the higher values that logically get "killed" when you reject the knowledge of God and turn to atheism as a refuge.

"There is no ~universal~ good/evil. Nothing handed down to us from some sky fairy. No test for whether something is definitively "good" or "evil".

Glad you agree with me.

There ~IS~ however good and evil as defined by ~us~. As society changes so do the definitions of what good and evil are.

Then raping a child might be wrong in our society, but OK in another society? Or is there something intrinsically wrong and evil about this act?

Is me ignoring your posts an OK thing -- you seem, of all posters, most easily offended -- where does this sense of offense come from -- from society -- or do you have an imbedded sense of justice, of right/wrong.

Do you think it is a good thing when you continually insult me with your posts? Are you doing good, or is this neutral, or is it evil?

"Love, happiness, food, drink, family, etc. are all meanings for ~my~ life. It is what YOU make of it."

Sure, as long as you appreciate the absurdity of carving out local meaning when, in fact, there is, in absolute, real terms, none.

"life means so much more than what the universe wants, or biology wants.

Well it better, because the universe and biology want nothing. The idea that you think there's more to it means you are not quite ready to live with the logical outcome of real atheism.

And I hope you realize the absurdity of even using the term meaning, when, logically there is none in an atheistic universe.

No intent, no design, no purpose, no meaning, no valid longings, just accidental existence, for no purpose and with no ultimate meaning whatsoever.

Embrace the void. Be a good atheist.

And stop insulting me.

Joe_Agnost said...

Ball: "If you say you are an atheist and yet maintain that life has meaning and purpose; I'll say you are inconsistent."

You say a lot of nonsensical things... this is one of 'em. Life has meaning and purpose to ME - but that's it! There is no universal meaning/purpose to it, only what we make of our own lives.

You have made no connection between god and my thinking that the meaning of my life is to enjoy it while I have it.

"You may have this purpose, but darwinism doesn't"

It becomes more and more obvious with each comment that you don't have the slightest clue about evolution.

That evolution is driven by random mutations does NOT make evolution random. You seem stuck on this point.

"Great, as long as you see the absurdity of carving out a little subjective purpose for yourself in a cosmos utterly without purpose."

What is "absurd" about it? Why does the universe have to have purpose for me to find purpose in MY life?

"And as long as you are comfortable with the absurdity of a mindless evolutionary process enduing humans with a sense of purpose and meaning and a longing for significance -- all the higher values that logically get 'killed' when you reject the knowledge of God and turn to atheism as a refuge."

Boy - you sure use that god crutch a lot don't you! Why you need a god to find significance in life is beyond me - and quite sad.

Oh - and I didn't turn to atheism as a "refuge". I was born atheist and was lucky enough to resist any attempt at indoctrination. Religion NEVER came up at my house and the few times I was in contact with it I wasn't impressed.

"Then raping a child might be wrong in our society, but OK in another society?"

I hope not - but that's the idea, yes. Society used to deem many abhorrent things "good" - look what the greeks did to birth defected new borns - (left them to
die alone).

"Is me ignoring your posts an OK thing"

Yup - it's YOUR call what YOU do.

"you seem, of all posters, most easily offended"

That's strange because I'm really hard to offend. You have NEVER offended me. I find your ideas ridiculous, archaic, uneducated - lots of things - but I'm never
offended by them.

"where does this sense of offense come from -- from society -- or do you have an imbedded sense of justice, of right/wrong."

If there is an imbedded sense of justice or right/wrong then I assure you it's evolution that explains it - not your god, not any god.

"Do you think it is a good thing when you continually insult me with your posts?"

I haven't tried to insult you - only your ideas. So NO, it's not a good thing that you are insulted by my posts.

"Are you doing good, or is this neutral, or is it evil?"

I'm doing neutral - that you're insulted is bad but unintended. These are society rules though - not god's.

cont'd below...

Joe_Agnost said...

"Sure, as long as you appreciate the absurdity of carving out local meaning when, in fact, there is, in absolute, real terms, none."

I find your reasoning here to be absurd. That you require meaning and purpose from the universe to find these things in your life is truly sad.
What is wrong with "local meaning"?

"The idea that you think there's more to it means you are not quite ready to live with the logical outcome of real atheism."

And this statement means that you don't have a clue what atheism is. I'm certainly not going to take advice on "real atheism" from someone who has taken their religion to the fanatical extreme!!

You think "more to it" means god (I presume). That's simply YOUR view. I'm perfectly fine living my life to the fullest knowing that (A) the universe doesn't care at all, and (B) Once I'm dead I will no longer exist, it's all worm food after that!

"No intent, no design, no purpose, no meaning, no valid longings, just accidental existence, for no purpose and with no ultimate meaning whatsoever."

Yup - sounds like heaven to me (except for "valid longings" - this makes no sense. I'm longing for a beer after work - you're telling me that's not "valid"??).

The rest is A-OK with me! Who needs "ultimate meaning"?

"And stop insulting me."

Geez! And you accuse me of being easily offended!

RkBall said...

"I haven't tried to insult you - only your ideas"

Try this --

"In classic RK_Ball style he abandons a comment thread - leaving it for dead.

and this --

"you can bet Ball let's the discussion die... it's pretty useless discussing things with RK Ball as he never finishes what he starts.

And this --

"You're as ignorant as RK_Ball I see"

And this --

"I've had this argument with RK_Ball many times already. He has NO IDEA that "climate" and "weather" are different things. He's confuses the local weather and climate all the time."

The fact that you cannot recognize satirical speech is not my problem. You only make yourself look ridiculous when you make comments like this.

And this --

"He won't learn either - I think he's infected with 'religion'... the old 'believe, don't learn' syndrome."

And this --

"He doesn't even know WHAT science is - never mind how it works."

And this --

"He seems to be much happier wallowing in his ignorance... that's what religion does to a person."

And this --

"We get it RK_Ball, we get it! You have no interest in learning - fine. Keep up the god lord's work - ignorance is the gift that keeps on giving...."

And this last comment was when you had completely failed to understand the point of the post in question. I had to spell it out for you.

If you feel compelled to continue using mindless ad hominems instead of argument, at least try to do so with some originality and wit, so that your comments are at least entertaining to others.

Otherwise, you run the risk of your comments being dismissed by readers as those of a sophomoric teen-ager -- and we wouldn't want that.

Joe_Agnost said...

I started reading your examples of insults and had to laugh. Saying you've abandoned a thread to die is not an insult - it is the truth to boot (you've done this to me several times).

If this stuff is insulting to you I don't know how you managed to maintain open comments this long - your skin seems a little on the thin side.

Some of the later examples were insulting - I agree. My bad and I apologize, I'll try harder to aviod that in the future.

"The fact that you cannot recognize satirical speech is not my problem."

I'm not buyting this one at all! You still confuse "climate" with "weather" - and pretending you're posting facetiously might fool some of your readers (fans) but not the educated ones! It's ignorant - by definition - when you do this.

"If you feel compelled to continue using mindless ad hominems"

I have not done this. There is nothing "mindless" about my insults - in fact, they are always thought out and also quite accurate!

Now - is that your only comment about my previous comment? You have nothing about the substance of the comment?

RkBall said...

"Now - is that your only comment about my previous comment? You have nothing about the substance of the comment?"

No, apart from disagreeing with me, there is little of substance to respond to. You posit the sufficiency of uncreated, undirected darwinian mechanisms to account for life as we see it. I reject this hypothesis.

As I've already said,

Evolution as conceived by darwinists is a mindless, directionless, purposeless process imposed by a mindless, directionless, purposeless universe (according to your philosophy of life). The fact that you don't see the incongruity of this mindless process creating purposeful human beings endued with a built-in sense of wonder about the meaning of life, purpose of existence, and built-in longings for meaning, worth, and significance, indicates to me that you have no appreciation whatsoever for the argument being made.

You are, intellectually, sticking to the confines of your comfortable little darwinian sand-box of a purely mechanistic, utterly non-transcendent universe. I find the diminished stature of man that inevitably follows logically from this to be repugnant and, more importantly, utterly inconsistent with the evidence at hand -- of built-in human longings and aspirations -- which your philosophy of life cannot adequately account for and certainly cannot validate.

My arguments obviously haven't dented your anti-philosophical armor -- either my arguments have not been sufficiently well crafted or you lack the suppleness of mind to grasp them. Either way I doubt any further discussion would be fruitful.

So let's call it a day, wish each other well, and move on.

Note: should future comments by you include gratuitous insults, don't expect a response unless you have at least offered some wit. I've got better things to do, and kinder people to spend time with.

RkBall said...

"What is wrong with "local meaning"?"

I think if you think hard enough about this, you'll be able to figure this out for yourself.

Here's a hint: the very search for meaning, the sense that life ought to have meaning, or surely has meaning, is itself an absurdity in an unintended, undesigned universe. The failure of atheists to even comprehend this, let alone agree with this, baffles me.

I can only assume there's a deep unwillingness to accept the logical outcomes of atheistic belief even in the heart of an atheist -- because it is so utterly inhuman at its core to deny that there is any meaning to life -- when every natural human heart, unless seared and scarred by atheistic thought, seeks meaning and purpose in life.

2. The idea that "there is no ultimate or real meaning but we can make up our own (local) meaning" irreparably devalues and diminishes the idea of meaning, and can amount to nothing more than an anthropocentric conceit.

Joe_Agnost said...

Ball: "Evolution as conceived by darwinists is a mindless, directionless, purposeless process..."

It isn't "purposeless" - it has a very strong purpose: SURVIVAL (and, of course, propagating one's genes). How do you keep forgetting this?!

"imposed by a mindless, directionless, purposeless universe (according to your philosophy of life)."

Right - although I would replace the phrase "your philosophy of life" with "reality".

"The fact that you don't see the incongruity of this mindless process creating purposeful human beings..."

But "human beings" don't have a purpose from the universe's point of view... we find purpose in our individual lives - but nature doesn't care, the universe is utterly indifferent.

"I find the diminished stature of man that inevitably follows logically from this to be repugnant and, more importantly, utterly inconsistent with the evidence at hand..."

But atheism doesn't "diminish" man - quite the opposite! It holds man at the top of it's own destiny. Accountable only to nature and the human race itself.

Religion wants to make man a slave to some "god" - a lesser form than this god, sinful and bad without god.

And the whole 'live life ~this~ way now so that the REAL life can be attained through death' is both ridiculous and leads to a diminished life. I can't imagine a better formed scam than 'do this now and we promise: as soon as you die you'll have your reward.'
How can the reward ever be tested? You're dead by then!!

"built-in human longings and aspirations -- which your philosophy of life cannot adequately account for and certainly cannot validate."

This is not true - my "philosophy of life" can certainly adequately account for these things. They are products of evolution - and many of these have been investigated and shown as such.

"either my arguments have not been sufficiently well crafted or you lack the suppleness of mind to grasp them."

Um - you missed the third (and correct) option... that you're just wrong. And BTW - your "lack of the suppleness of mind" comment does NOT offend me. You'd hang me for less though (saying you abandon a thread for instance)... double standard much?

"should future comments by you include gratuitous insults"

Oh dog... still? I apologized already - and wouldn't admit that they were "gratuitous" anyway...

Joe_Agnost said...

Ball: "the sense that life ought to have meaning, or surely has meaning, is itself an absurdity in an unintended, undesigned universe."

You're (kinda) right here if I'm understanding you correctly. There is no "meaning" to life - no universal reason we're here, or purpose to our existence. Meaning comes from within, and is personal (not universal) - if you're looking elsewhere for meaning then you're going to be looking forever I'm afraid!

"it is so utterly inhuman at its core to deny that there is any meaning to life"

Maybe this is why we have such different views - because I completely disagree with this statement. Completely.

"every natural human heart, unless seared and scarred by atheistic thought, seeks meaning and purpose in life."

Ignoring your "scarred by atheistic thought" stupidity, I think you're right and wrong here. We look for meaning - like raising healthy kids for instance - but not some universal purpose or meaning... that's illogical. I think you're overestimating how many humans truly think this way.

RkBall said...

Joe A. -- tomorrow I will answer one of your questions, to the best of my humble ability, in a fresh post (D.V.)

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"