A letter to the editor appeared in my local newspaper written by Ken Blinco, whoever he is. Since he expressed what a lot of Christians think I responded:
Ken Blinco recently opined, using sexist language, that “Man has always made gods to suit himself.”"Sexist Language"? Is Loftus seriously suggesting that women are excluded in Blinco's statement? Let that sink in for a minute.
Of course, he doesn’t think this applies to his own view of God or morality, since along with Ocie Spriggs he knows the truth and claims others don’t. But a recent study by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago says otherwise, and I quote from Discover Magazine’s “Creating God in One’s Own Image” (Nov. 30, 2009):So is Loftus claiming that he doesn't know the Bible is wrong? Christians are often accused of arrogance, but someone like John Loftus shows the same arrogance they say theists have. They believe they are right and all Christians, whom have ever lived are wrong. I don't see what makes the Atheists any more humble or kinder than the one who stands on the street corner condemning all to hell.
I've posted on the when Loftus pointed this on his blog earlier this month. I still think the study is flawed because it's asking the wrong questions. A better test is to ask about those issues and problems in the participants lives that they have to struggle with or gave up because of what they believe God commands. I don't think aligning your political and social beliefs that don't necessarily have anything to do with being a Christian as being all that difficult.Epley asked different groups of volunteers to rate their own beliefs about important issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action, the death penalty, the Iraq War, and the legalization of marijuana. The volunteers also had to speculate about God’s take on these issues, as well as the stances of an “average American”, Bill Gates (a celebrity with relatively unknown beliefs) and George Bush (a celebrity whose positions are well-known).
Here is the FacePalm. "Loving your enemies" is what Jesus does, the rest of us have to work at it. It doesn't stop there. The Bible tells us that God expects us to "Esteem others higher than ourselves." (Philippians 2:3-5) In our culture today, default is to respect others as long as they respect you. It doesn't seem that the study looked at issues like this.For many religious people, the popular question “What would Jesus do?” is essentially the same as “What would I do?” Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.
Peoples thoughts and ideas are never going to completely align with God. We are constantly trying to align ourselves with God. It's not a given. It's not always easy. It's something we have to work towards constantly.
Epley surveyed commuters at a Boston train station, university undergraduates, and 1,000 adults from a nationally representative database. In every case, he found that people’s own attitudes and beliefs matched those they suggested for God more precisely than those they suggested for the other humans.
Now this study doesn’t show that Blinco and Spriggs’s views are wrong, but it should make them less certain of what they pontificate about. People who are certain they are right and who claim divine knowledge do cause the rest of us harm. Just think 9/11, or Manifest Destiny, the Crusades, the Thirty Years War, or even the modern witch hunts and the killing of homosexuals taking place by evangelicals in Africa right now. For some reason it escapes them that the Bible did not fall from the sky into their laps. It has a history. It was written by human beings in the language of its day. It has a context. And the art of interpretation is complex given the number of different views of the Bible by different Christianities, who all claim the other Christianities are not true ones.
to speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner: Did he pontificate about the responsibilities of a good citizen?
So what is it when Loftus writes Of course, he doesn’t think this applies to his own view of God or morality, since along with Ocie Spriggs he knows the truth and claims others don’t.although he says the study does not invalidate the views of Christians. Of course the whole paragraph above actually is a great example of pontification. Manifest Destiny, 9/11, the Crusades, and every other example Loftus gave us are example of people disobeying the Bible and commands that have been given to Christians. The perpetrators ignore its history and the context just as Loftus does to condemn Christianity.
There was a day when the sin of heresy was considered the worst crime of them all, because heretics could lead others astray into hell. So the church didn’t think twice about having heretics killed over things most Christians think are mere trifles. Then too, there was a day when American Slavery was easily justifiable by texts like Leviticus 24:44-45.See? You can't justify American Slavery using the Bible. More pontification.. The church is responsible for a lot of sins, but that's not God's fault and the Bible is not the problem. People are the problem. Here is a list of resources on the blog regarding slavery.
This is why in a political democracy we must insist that public policy is to be based not on historically conditioned Biblical interpretations of authoritarian texts, but on sound secular reasoning using such tools as the harm principle, first articulated by John Stuart Mill, where he argued that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."
The "harm principle"? Funny. The fact that we have people who need to have there behaviors restrained by society because they don't care about harming others tells me that we need something more than just a "harm" principle because we can't trust ourselves or each others to "to think higher of others than ourselves.". If we could follow the Bible, then we wouldn't need an external law.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.- Romans 2:12-16
Debunking Christianity: My Brief Response to "God's Word Never Changes"