Tuesday, March 6, 2012

FacePlant of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Does Morality Come From God?

Today John Loftus posted an article by J.M. Green that attempts to destroy the idea of Biblical morality as an objective standard. for human morality. As one who knows anything about this, he fails, but it's worth some time to carefully work through the arguments he raises for giggles.

Written by J. M. Green for DC:
Since becoming an atheist, one of things that I hear over and over from Christians is that I now have no basis for morality because morality only comes from their god and their Bible. They claim ownership of true, unchanging morality and yet the Bible they revere sends conflicting messages.
Let's take a look at this his examples and see if he can substantiate  the charge of Biblical contradiction.
Consider these examples:
Murder is wrong… if God orders it however, then murder is right, and failing to murder is a sin.

Exodus 20:13 versus 1 Samuel 15:1, 7-11
 13 “You shall not murder.- Exodus 20:!3

 7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
 10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.- 1 Samuel 15:7-11

Here is the question you have to ask yourself was Samuel commanded to murder anyone? Does a soldier in an army commit murder in Acts of  war? If you think that the passage from 1 Samuel 15 is recording murders, then you must think that war is equivalent to murder. I hope no one is that silly. Failure number 1.
Lying is wrong... but, if God orders or sanctions it, then it is right.

Numbers 23:19 versus Ezekiel 14:9
19 God is not human, that he should lie,
   not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
   Does he promise and not fulfill? - Numbers 23:19

6 “Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!
 7 “‘When any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing in Israel separate themselves from me and set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet to inquire of me, I the LORD will answer them myself. 8 I will set my face against them and make them an example and a byword. I will remove them from my people. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
 9 “‘And if the prophet is enticed to utter a prophecy, I the LORD have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel. 10 They will bear their guilt—the prophet will be as guilty as the one who consults him. 11 Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”- Ezekiel 14:6-11

Reading is Fundamental 101: If there seems to be a contradictions, find the context. Yes, the Bible  does teach that lying is a sin. God does not lie. Ezekiel 14:9 does not tell us that God lies. It says that God will allow the prophet to think that they are giving a good prophet and it would cause that false prophet to be cut off because being a false prophet would a capital offense in Ancient Israel because it amounted to lying on God. God is promising to expose liars not condoning lying. Fail number 2.
Proverbs 12:22 versus Genesis 12:10-20
 22 The LORD detests lying lips,
   but he delights in people who are trustworthy.  - Proverbs 12:22

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
 14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
 17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.- Genesis 12:10-20

Okay. So because Abram lied about his wife being his sister,  Green thinks that the Bible contradicts itself about lying being bad. No where is Abram's actions in this condones or prescribed as what God desires from us to do. Get real. That passage reports what Abram did and why, showing us that Abram is just as fallible as the rest of us - not that it's okay to lie. Failure number 3.
Children must honor their mother and father… but not according to Jesus.

Exodus 20:12 versus Matthew 10:34-36; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 14:26, John 2:1-5
Link to the scriptures

Seriously? None of these scriptures say Do not honor mother and father. Let's look at the one of them cited that might be mistaken by Green.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

Do you think that God expects you to hate your life? No. So why think that Jesus is saying to hate your spouse, siblings, children, or parents? Nope that's stupid. Jesus is talking about making following him our highest priority and not use your responsibilities as an excuse for not obeying Him. I'll be generous and count this as one fail and not 4 because he misrepresented 4 scriptures.
Human sacrifice is wrong… however, if God orders or sanctions it, it is right.

Leviticus 18:21 versus Genesis 22:1-15; Judges 11:29-38; 2 Samuel 21:1-14; Numbers 25:3-4
There is no contradiction.  Genesis 22 is not about Abraham sacrificing his Son to appease an idol It was symbolic of how God would really go through sacrificing His son. Abraham didn't need to go through with it.  As for Jephthah in Judges11, God didn't tell him to make a human sacrifice. Now is there any condoning of his rash vow. He stands as an example that no one should make rash vows. As for 2nd Samuel 21 and Numbers 25, neither of these cases involved sacrificing people to some deity. They are both examples of  a public execution to expatiate crimes. Failure number 5
Stealing other people’s property is wrong… unless if God orders it.

Exodus 20:15 versus Exodus 3:22

So according to Green, asking someone for valuable things and they give them to you is the same as stealing. It's not. Failure number 6
Breaking the Sabbath is a sin punishable by death… but, if Jesus or his disciples decide to break the Sabbath, then it is OK.

Exodus 31:13-15 versus Matthew 12:1-8

I find it amazing that Green makes the same mistake as the Jews had accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath.I think Jesus answered this charge best. He said:

7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” - Matthew 12:7
Hmmmm. No where did he say to Jews  "Go ahead and break the Sabbath". Failure number 7

Killing an unborn child or a baby is wrong… unless God orders it.

Hosea 13:16; Isaiah 15:9,16-18; Ezekiel 9:6; Deuteronomy 2:33-34; 1 Samuel 15:3

None of these passages are commands to kill unborn children or babies - for the reasons that people abort children today. In these cases, entire cities were destroyed in Acts of war and in judgment for sin. There was no pronouncement that it was okay to murder babies and children. That's what clinical abortion is for if you want that. Failure number 8.
Taking another man’s wife is wrong… unless God decrees it.

Exodus 20:17 versus Isaiah 13:16;  2 Samuel 12:7,11

Green makes another mistake.  No where do these verses say that Adultery is good. The Bible reports and condemns David's adultery. No where does the Bible condone  rapes but it does tells us that it's consequence of sin. We are never told, that it's pleasing and honorable to God. No contradiction. Failure number 9.
Making a graven image is wrong… unless God orders it.

Deuteronomy 4:15-18; Exodus 20:4 versus Numbers 21:6-9; Exodus 25:18; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 6:27-28

Is all images that people make "graven"?  No. A graven image is something made by people specifically for the purpose of  worshiping it. None of the things commanded to be made in  Numbers 21:6-9; Exodus 25:18; 1 Kings 7:29; and 1 Kings 6:27-28 had anything to do with worshiping them. Failure number 10.

Cannibalism is wrong… unless God decides to inflict it on people.

Deuteronomy 28:53; Jeremiah 19:9; Ezekiel 5:8-10

Judgment is usually not pretty.  God does not enjoy punishing us. However when we suffer for our sins, it's not that God causes the suffering. Instead he just doesn't prevent the harm that is coming. Israel is a good example. They were always on the edge of being conquered. Just like today, the only way they stayed a recognizable nation is because of God. protecting them. Failure number 11.
Punishing an innocent party for the sins of another is wrong… unless God decrees it.

2 Kings 14:6 versus Exodus 20:5; 2 Samuel 12:7-15; Genesis 12 (Abram lies, but Pharaoh is punished)

No one is good and innocent to the point that they deserve no punishment. These scriptures that are raised to provoke thoughts of a contradiction is truly sad. For example: Do you really think that the Pharaoh in Genesis 12 had never taken another man's wife and killed him? I mean do you really think that Abram's fear of being killed and his wife taken was for no reason? I doubt it was the first time. Pharaoah deserved the punishment. Failure number 12
Rape is wrong… unless God commands it.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 versus Numbers 31:15-18; Isaiah 13:16; Zechariah 14:2

No. God does not command or condone rape. It's a lie.  It's not in the Bible. Read the passages for yourself. It's not okay to rape.  I've posted on Rape in the Bible before. Rather than rehash it, here is a linke for more  on rape: here

Clearly, the Bible does not show objective morality. ‘Biblical morality’ is situational, based on the arbitrary whims of Yahweh. According to the stories found in the Bible, God may command us to do things we would consider morally wrong. If he commands such things, then the fact that he commands them makes them right (according to the Christian belief system). If we fail to carry out his commands, then we are sinning and rebelling against God.

Here is where we find out where Green really goes off the rails. YHWH's commands are far from arbitrary or whimsical and he fails to demonstrate that it is.  What Green further fails to understand is that God will not just command anything.He does not command people to sin.

Ultimately, determining what God wants is based on the subjective thoughts, and emotions of fallible human beings. If someone thinks that God is telling her/him to do something and there are biblical examples of God ordering people to do similar actions, then what Christian can tell them they are wrong? The Bible shows us that at any moment, for some mysterious hidden purpose, God may overturn our instinctive moral knowledge, and even contradict things that he has previously said.

This is not even true. Green failed to show that God contradicts himself in the Bible. You can know if you are really hearing from God or not by just comparing what you think you are hearing with the Bible. If there is a conflict than you know it's not God. This means you have to  know the Bible. Green demonstrates that he does not.

‘Objective’ biblical morality is nothing more than each believer determining what they think God wants in a given situation, based on their own thoughts, and their understanding of the Bible and how God may be ‘leading’ them, through signs, inner impressions, and voices.

There is only one God. God won't tell me something and then tell someone else the exact opposite. If you think you cannot find out God's will for your life then you might as well throw the whole thing out...like Green does.  People like to pretend that the Bible is unreliable or not understandable to a strong enough degree to know anything about God but that's not true.

In light of the biblical story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac in response to God’s horrific command, no Christian can ever be certain that God would not require them to take a course of action which to them seems immoral, in order to demonstrate their faith.

Was Abraham required to go through with it? No. Is there a single case in the Bible of anyone having to do that because God told them to do that? No. Therefore we know that God would never tell someone do that. On top of that, Abraham's experience was not so that God could know if Abraham would obey, but that Isaac symbolized Christ.

For example, if a pregnant woman is suddenly under the strong impression that God wants her to get an abortion, the only way she can demonstrate her faith and trust in God is by proceeding to have an abortion. There is no arguing with the ‘inner leading’ or ‘voice’. Whatever Yahweh wants must be obeyed, even when it flies in the face of reason and morality. Unfortunately, people have acted upon such ‘divine guidance’ impulses, with horrific and deadly results.

There is no reason to think that God would ever ask a woman to get an abortion. If someone told me that God told them to have an abortion, I would ask them how can they support that in the Bible and because they can't the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they are either mistaken or lying on God. 

Consider the following chilling examples:

Yeah, lets:

Mom: God Told Me To Kill My Baby
August 17, 2001|By Gabriel Margasak
PALM CITY — "Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones ...

Those were the words of a 21-year-old mother charged with murdering her 8-month-old son.

Jennifer Cisowski's statements, along with prosecutors' statements and court documents released this week, tell the story of a morning fraught with biblical references, feared demonic possession and pleas for exorcism that ended in death…

In the days before the baby's death... Jennifer and Christopher were "completely normal and doting parents" to their only child.

But something happened at 2 a.m. Tuesday: Awake in the deepest of night, Jennifer and Christopher began a conversation about faith and how she believed God spoke to her.

"Essentially at some point in time, she becomes convinced that he [the father] is possessed by some demonic spirit and wants Tabitha to exorcise the demons," prosecutor Tom Bakkedahl said. "She believed only her sister could exorcise the demons from him."
In the Bible, a believer cannot be possessed by a demon. Demons can be exorcised by prayer and fasting. The Bible does not teach that only certain people can cast out a demon. The power is God's and not the exorcist.
Jennifer told investigators a "spirit" voice told her to harm the baby as a test of faith, according to court documents. "She said she knew that it was wrong to harm the baby, but that the `spirit' voice assured her that the baby would be returned from the dead," the documents state. "Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones by the pool," she told investigators.

 So....the Bible says that there are other spirits and when you hear one of them, test it by the word of God. Jesus was tempted by satan and satan tried to use scripture by twisting it and taking it out of context. It's the same thing that this woman experienced, however she listened instead of resisting the devil. God would not ask someone to do that today. We ain't Abram.

"She is told allegedly by these voices to throw her baby down on the ground and he will be healed," Bakkedahl said. "She was of the opinion it was God speaking to her."

Agreed that just because you think God is talking to you, doesn't mean He is. However God knows that we can be lead astray by ourselves. That is what Church is for. Church keeps you accountable and allows you to talk to other Christians to see if you are making sense. They should not  be getting contradictory. You can check yourself especailly if you are getting terrible thoughts that you think are wrong.

"At first the child cried, but then became silent," Jennifer told detectives…
We have no excuse. 

Obeying The Law of God
On July 1, 1999, brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams murdered a gay couple, Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder, in their home near Sacramento, California.

“In his account of the murders, Tyler Williams said that his brother did not consider the killing of Matson and Mowder to be murder, but a "judgement" instead.[15]

In November 1999 Matthew Williams began giving interviews to various media outlets. In an interview with The Sacramento Bee, he admitted to the murders and said that when he killed Matson and Mowder he was "obeying the law of God." Williams said that he committed the murders because he believed their homosexuality violated God's laws, and he hoped his actions would incite more killings. [16]

Williams insisted that his actions did not constitute murder. Because the Bible holds that homosexuality is a sin that must be punished by death, he claimed, the responsibility lies with the victims. Williams expressed regret that more "people who claim to be Christians" didn't "have the guts" to act as he had. Facing the possibility of execution, he said he hoped to become a "Christian martyr" whose death would inspire others to lash out against Jews, homosexuals, and other minorities.
Dumb. Dumb. Know how we can tell Williams was lying on God? He wants to inspire violence against Jews. The Jews are God's chosen people. Why would God want us to hate Jews or anyone? Simple: He doesn't. 

God Told Me To Kill Boys, Says Mother
By David Usborne
Saturday, 3 April 2004
A Texas woman who stoned two of her children to death and seriously injured a third on Mother's Day last year told psychiatrists she was driven to kill by a message from God and that she was sure they would rise again from the dead.

Jurors in the trial of 39-year-old Deanna Laney watched a gruelling video-tape made just days after the murders in which she told a prison psychologist, Phillip Resnick, that she felt she had no choice but to bludgeon her children.

"I felt like I obeyed God and I believe there will be good out of this," she explained in the interview, looking wide-eyed and sometimes smiling. "I feel like he will reveal his power and they will be raised up. They will become alive again."
In this last example, Deanna Laney’s lawyer makes some insightful observations which have bearing on the whole question of ‘biblical morality’.

"The dilemma she faced is a terrible one for a mother," Files said. "Does she follow what she believes to be God's will, or does she turn her back on God?"

Files said he would present witnesses who would corroborate Laney's love of her children as well as her belief "that the word of God was infallible."

"It destroyed her ability to discern the wrongness of her act," he said.

When you serve a god who must be obeyed unquestioningly, and follow a morality which is based on the momentary whims of this god, then you must prove your faith and loyalty by acting on your subjective impressions of what your god wants. There is a diagnosis for this condition. We call it mental illness. In the case of religion, it is an artificially-induced mental illness.

The Bible does not destroy our ability to discern the wrongness or rightness of an action.  It's basically wrong to kill your children. We all agree with that and the Bible teaches that. You don't need "subjective impressions"  to figure out what God wants. The Bible is clear enough without looking for things no one else believes.  I find that most cults and heresies start with people having subjective and private revelations that contradict the Bible. All three examples Green raises demonstrate this. God would not a person to kill their children and make them go through with it. There is no example in the Bible nothing one can appeal to.

By J. M. Green

Mr Green is definitely on my prayer list. Either he doesn't understand what the Bible says or he resorted that often used tactic of raising false facts about what the Bible says and listing a bunch of scriptures that say the exact opposite of what you say they mean. I sure would like to see an opponent of Christ actually try something  based in truth. OF course if they did, they might be truly converted.

Debunking Christianity: Does Morality Come From God?
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Answering Muslims: U.S. Department of Defense Unveils New Quran Sensitivity Training Program

David Wood has posted the slides the Department of Defense may be using new Quran Sensitivity training. David observes:

Hmmm. "We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others." And here I thought the First Amendment guaranteed our right to freedom of religion. Now we find out that we MUST hold Islamic beliefs "sacred." Sharia is sacred to Muslims. The belief that Muhammad is a prophet is sacred to Muslims. The superiority of Islam is sacred to Muslims. It seems that if Muslims hold slaughtering unbelievers, killing apostates, beating wives, raping women, and sex with prepubescent girls "sacred," we must do the same.

I see his point. there is indeed a inconsistency. 

Follow the link to see the rest of the slides.

 Answering Muslims: U.S. Department of Defense Unveils New Quran Sensitivity Training Program

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The Daily WTF: Academic Papers Accept Twitter Citations Now

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
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Here is a shock! Tweets can be used for citations in some academic papers! I mean...wow. Just wow.

They’re good about adapting to the times. A few days ago, The Atlantic posted a fascinating tidbit informing us that the MLA had drawn up rules for citing tweets. That’s right, they actually approved the use of Twitter in academic papers. And it’s pretty simple:

The Daily WTF: Academic Papers Accept Twitter Citations Now
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DARPA's Cheetah Robot Breaks Speed Record - G4tv.com

English: This was the most up-to-date DARPA lo...
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Boston Dynamics's "Cheetah" robot can run up to 18 mph.

DARPA's Cheetah Robot Breaks Speed Record - G4tv.com
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Susan Cain: The power of introverts - YouTube

Susan Cain: The power of introverts - YouTube