God and morality

sent in by Alex

I came to my sister's house for dinner and she insisted that I post here. She did a couple of weeks ago and it was fascinating to read the discussion her testimony provoked.

I was raised as a devout Catholic. I seriously considered joining the priesthood. My leaving Christianity was the result of a series of fortunate events.

A new employee Simon joined my department at work. He was an evangelical. I live in the LA area. You don't have a whole lot of evangelicals here. Anyway, we really hit it off. We loved discussing religion. I knew he believed I was headed for Hell but I didn't care because I knew that Catholicism was the one true faith and all the rest were apostates. Simon volunteered at a youth camp every Summer. He taught the kids at the camp the importance of abstinence before marriage and gave lectures on the subject in Sunday school classes. I thought this was great even though I hadn't exactly followed the abstinence thing myself.

One day we got into a discussion about atheists. We both agreed that atheists can't be truly moral because you can't have morality without God. Anyone who doesn't believe in God must establish their own idea of right and wrong. Therefore, right and wrong is whatever they determine it to be. I believed that Christianity was the foundation of western law, conveniently ignoring the fact that most of the things the 10 commandments says we shouldn't do are legal.

I had another coworker Jess who came in at 7am every Tuesday and Thursday and left at 2:30pm. During the summer she came in at 9am. I jokingly mentioned to another coworker that Jess finally got sense and stopped coming to work so early. My coworker told me it was because school was out. Jess helps disadvantaged kids with their homework at an afterschool program. She had done this since she was in college. I was really blown away by this. Jess came from a very secular family. She had an openly hostile attitude toward religion, which is why I had never bothered to have a conversation with her. Yet, she went out of her way to help people in need. Despite my strong faith, I did charitable work only a few times a year. The same was true for Simon.

A few days later, I told Simon that it was my birthday but I didn't have any plans to celebrate. I had broken up with my girlfriend a month before and my parents were out of town. Simon said he would take me out. Simon picked me up around 7pm. I assumed that he would take me to dinner but he actually took me to a nightclub. I was surprised because I thought evangelicals would think nightclubs are sinful. I was even more surprised when Simon approached me a few hours later with a hot girl by his side and asked if I could find my own way home. He was going to take the girl home. I was outraged, especially after I paid the $45 taxi fare. It turned out that Simon was quite a womanizer.

Afterwards, I asked him how he could preach abstinence to teenagers, when he obviously wasn't himself. He told me God wants us to aim for perfection but he knows we can never achieve perfection. This is why Jesus' sacrifice was necessary. I realised something I had never realised before. Religious people also establish their own morality. They pick and choose which parts of the Bible they will and won't follow. I could no longer accept the idea that religion was a necessary precursor to morality. I realised that laws and morals are based on the need for survival, on instinct, not on the whims of an invisible creator. We could not survive as a species without laws and rules.

About a month later I read an article about the hisorical evidence for Jesus. The article mentioned that the Jewish historian Josephus had written about Jesus. I did some research and was surprised to find out that Josephus was born around the time Jesus died. I had assumed when reading the article that Josephus was one of Jesus' contemporaries. I asked myself is this really the only external "proof" for Jesus. When you read the gospels it really seems as if Jesus is a major figure of his time. He attracts large crowds, the sick come to him from miles around to be healed. Crowds attended his trial and demanded his execution. Crowds lined the streets while he made the trek to his execution site. Yet no Roman or Jewish historian bothered to mention him. I couldn't help but conclude that the gospels were exaggerating.

I mentioned this to an ex-believing friend. He told me that the virgin birth and the Christmas story did not appear in the earlier gospels. This was all made up later on. This was very painful for me to admit but I knew there was no way the early gospel writers would carelessly omit such important facts. It was obvious that none of it happened. My friend also said there was no Roman census anytime close to when Jesus was born. Even if there had been Jesus' family would not have been required to go to the town of their birth. I realised that much of the Jesus story was fabricated. At first it was hard to accept that what I had truly believed for years had no factual basis. I also felt like an idiot for being suckered into believing it to begin with.

For a while after rejecting his divinity I believed that Jesus was a prophet or moral philosopher. I then rejected this belief after I concluded that I had no way of knowing what he really said or what words were attributed to him after the fact. Also, I was troubled by some things. The cursing of the fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season. The initial refusal to cure a woman's daughter because she wasn't Jewish and essentially calling them both dogs. The whole thing about not coming to bring peace but a sword and turning family members against each other. He definitely has done that. So much for Christianity promoting family values.

I married Jess, who is nicer and kinder than any Christian girl (of any sect) I've ever known. I also feel that I have become a better person. People have told me I used to be so uptight, preachy and judgmental that they didn't feel comfortable being around me. It's true that I no longer condemn people for being human. I no longer look at the specks in other people's eyes, while ignoring the mote in my own (something Jesus supposedly said). So, I can say without a doubt that you can be moral without belief.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great testimony! I especially love when people refer to the historical errors and irregularities in the Jesus story. That sort of evidence always seems to bear the most weight to me. Growing up in Christian schools I can always remember them telling me "you have to back up what you say". During one semester we even studied the "proof" in Evidence That Demands a Verdict-a book which is almost completely either flawed or simply false "proof". Guess it turns out that they could not back up what THEY were saying!
You are also 100% correct in saying that Christians, even among denominations, still make up their own rules-just like the "unsaved" do. Not only that, but they decide individually how the Bible should be interpreted. If such an intelligent, all-knowing god can't even speak plainly enough that everyone will understand, he isn't worth anyone's following-especially since no one knows what rules to follow. They say it is so simple that even a child can understand, but when the child becomes old enough to think on a more in-depth and analytical level, it's really not so obvious after all. (Did you know that there are two sets of 10 commandments?)
Anyway, great testimony.

Frank said...

In my opinion, none of us have a right to harm another person in any way, if we abide by this, we all have morals set by our free right to exist in harmony. When people chose a title for themselves like Jew, Christian, Muslim, Palestinian, Hebrew, Hindu, Priest, Munk, Nun, Pastor, etc. they separate themselves into an elite group which represents a stand-off approach to make them look like they are the better for having elected themselves a title, like you are of a lower class because you do not profess an imaginary self glorifying title.

The whole world would be a better place if people did not need a title to validate themselves. It's all learned behavior from chilhood carried over to adulthood. When we were in school, we had King and Queen of the class. We now have Miss America, Miss Universe, President, Senator, Admiral, Governer, Entertainer, Doctor, Lawyer, Actor, etc. Every person seems to want to boast a title to make them look better than the next person or to make them look like they are gifted above other members of society, this is the effect of brainwashing started in the elementary years. Every person living has been brainwashed to some level of ego boosting self glorifying nonsense. This is from my perspective anyway. Best Wishes. Frank

Jim Lee said...

Glad to see you have woken up to the fact that the New Testament Jesus is a myth. It took me some time to come to grips with this fact when I was researching Christian roots. But fact it is. Read "My Testimony" on my web site by clicking on my name. Christianity is one hell of a fraudulent con job on the masses.

Jim Lee said...

Some of you readers of these comments may find this essay of mine of interest.
CONCEPTION OF JESUS.
Do you think that Mary and Joseph should have remembered the miraculous events surrounding the birth of Jesus? You would naturally think that when a woman goes through a unique conception, that she would remember it, and that the man who’s wife became pregnant while they were engaged, without any effort on his part, that he would remember it also. It is not something he would easily forget. Yet the gospel writers seem to have strange memory lapses.

According to Luke 2: 42-50, Mary finds Jesus in the temple, she chastises him for causing so much trouble, whereby he replied "Why is it that you are looking for me? Did you not know that I must be concerned with the affairs of my father". Luke’s gospel adds, "and they (Mary and Joseph) did not understand the saying that he (Jesus) spoke to them." Mary does not understand, Joseph does not understand, If Mary and Joseph were both visited by angels before the birth of Jesus, how is it that they don’t understand, some twelve years later. Has Mary forgotten that Jesus was supernaturally conceived in such a way as was never experienced by any other person? Is it unlikely that Mary would forget Elizabeth saying to her? "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb." "And why is this (granted) to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me." Luke 1:42-43, and especially Mary’s own words. "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my saviour. For he has looked upon the humble state of his slave girl, for, behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the mighty one has done great things to me, and holy is his name." Luke 1:46-49,

After all of this Mary does not know what Jesus meant when he said that he must be concerned about the affairs of his father. How could Mary and Joseph forget that the wise men Magi worshipped Jesus as a baby and presented him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Matthew 2:11, They also seemed to forget how an angel appeared to Joseph telling him to go to Egypt with Mary and Jesus. Matthew 2: 13, and that Herod slew all of the children two years of age or under in Bethlehem. Matthew 2: 16. How could they forget that, (apart from the fact that it fulfilled scripture,

Hosea 11:1) Why did they have to flee to Egypt ? Did they go to Egypt? According to Luke 2: 39, they went to Nazareth and were not in the dangerous area of Bethlehem, where it is alleged that Herod had the children slain. This creates another problem Herod died four years prior to when the church originally stated that Jesus was born.

Perhaps Matthew’s placing them in Egypt to fulfill scripture was too quick for Joseph and Mary to remember, for Luke 2: 22, has them in Jerusalem for forty days after the birth to fulfill Leviticus 12:1-8, and then in Luke 2:39, they return to Nazareth. They also seemed to forget how the shepherds, made known the saying which had been told to them about this child, Luke 2: 17. Mary and Joseph even forgot, how they marveled ten months after the angelic visitations, that is, one month after the event surrounding Jesus birth.

At that time they were already surprised when Simeon and Anna, the daughter of Phanvel, spoke of Jesus future while he was yet still an infant. Luke 2:25-38.

If these events are historical, why is it that later, during Jesus active period, no one, not even his family, seem to know of his marvelous origins, Matt.13: 54-55, If a conception took place would not Mary have some idea just as to who Jesus was? Would not she reveal this information to her family? Yet we find that Jesus relatives, who came to seize him, Mark 3:21,31, are not told by Mary his mother, who comes and joins them, that contrary to what they think, Jesus is not crazy.

The gospel of John states "For neither did his brothers believe in him" John 7: 5, Did Mary not inform the rest of her children of Jesus divine origins. It is hard to understand that Mary would not inform them that Jesus was the "messiah" so that they might believe in him and thereby enjoy salvation, and what of Mary’s own reaction towards Jesus. In the few appearances that Mary herself makes in the gospels, during the lifetime of Jesus, there is no indication that she showed any understanding that her son Jesus, was the "son of God." by means of a unique conception. Mark 3:31-35, John 2:3-4. She, Mary revealed no such understanding to his followers.

Jesus earlier followers said that Jesus became the "Son of God" through the resurrection and they never mentioned a unique conception. Paul declared Jesus to be "Son of God" with power, by the resurrection from the dead. Romans 1: 4, see also Acts 13: 33, Where Psalm 2: 7 is applied to the resurrection.

The doctrine of a unique conception seems to have no effect upon Christian teaching prior to its mention in the last part of the first century.

On the basis of New Testament records it is doubtful that Jesus family, or the early believers, and most of all, even Mary herself did not know about the unique conception she is alleged to have undergone." Did you not know that I must be concerned with the affairs of my Father?" Strange as it may seem, Mary and Joseph did not know it. They did not know it because they had never heard of their son’s "miraculous conception". It appears that the unique miraculous conception came into circulation long after the deaths of the people in this story.





Jim. Lee. 9/99.

MadBuni said...

Alex, what a good testimony.

You pointed out all the aspects of why religion and christianity are so bogus, did so with such clarity.

Welcome.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story, Alex. After all your Catholic teaching are you now saying it's only a matter of being nice-nice... or more nice than the Christians you encounter? Pardon me... but that sounds like a lot of work... that sounds Catholic. If none of the gospels are true, including the parts about a life after death, Why go to the bother of being hyper-nice. If it's ashes to ashes, as they say, What's the point?

That's what gets me about people who say they don't believe: They still behave as if there is one, and that there's some review of life after theirs has ended. I guess it's because they're truly good and everyone since the dawn of time is evil. Could that be it?

Lorena said...

Alex,

Thank you so much for writing your story.

It is my hope that one day I, too, will be able to describe myself like you describe yourself now:

"I also feel that I have become a better person. People have told me I used to be so uptight, preachy and judgmental that they didn't feel comfortable being around me. It's true that I no longer condemn people for being human."

Thanks Alex,

Lorena

Anonymous said...

When the issue of God being the author of morality comes up with my believing friends, I love to pull out the following Bible verses. I asked them if they would stone someone in these circumstances because God commands it. Do they agree with the death penalty for the following offenses? I always get a no.

Leviticus 20:27
A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.

Numbers 15:
32 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Deuteronomy 21
20 They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

Deuteronomy 22
20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.

(proof of virginity would be an intact hymen. You would think God would know that the hymen can be broken easily without having sex and that many virgins actually don't have intact hymen's.)

Deuteronomy 22
23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man's wife.

(you would think God would know that many rape victims are threatened with violence, so out of fear for their lives they don't scream for help.)

Now, a few times I have been told that Jesus fulfilled the OT law, so therefore these rules no longer apply. So God changes his mind? Being all knowing you would think he could come up with a set of laws and morals that would apply for all times.

Anonymous said...

"After all your Catholic teaching are you now saying it's only a matter of being nice-nice."

It's good to be nice. If more people were nice we would have a lot less problems in the world.

benji said...

Kudos on a well-written testimony, Alex. Damn straight! The idea of a Roman census requiring everyone to report to their place of origin is appallingly impractical and not served well by the evidence. The Empire, in its great efficiency, deserves more credit.

On the subject of Christian fabrication, right now I'm reading a book called "Who Killed Jesus" by Crossan, the famous NT scholar. In it he defends Jews against their depiction in the gospels. In my opinion, there isn't much about the Jesus story that is likely to have happened, except maybe that this guy died justly according to Roman law--and not at the hands of the Jews, who had no method of carrying out capital punishment regardless of their animosity toward him as depicted in the gospels.

Welcome to your freedom.

Anonymous said...

"Why go to the bother of being hyper-nice. If it's ashes to ashes, as they say, What's the point?"

Did you bother to read the testimony?

"I realised that laws and morals are based on the need for survival, on instinct, not on the whims of an invisible creator. We could not survive as a species without laws and rules."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alex and make sure you thank your sister for us. Yours is a great testimony. You are obviously well educated and have a brilliant mind.

Again, thank you.

Onanite

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Wrote:

" (great biblical reference) ... (proof of virginity would be an intact hymen. You would think God would know that the hymen can be broken easily without having sex and that many virgins actually don't have intact hymen's.)... "

Hmmm, could it be that those dirty old men just wanted a quick peek? Can't you just see Jimmy Swaggert saying, "I will find out the truth!"
(snicker)

Onanite

freedy said...

Great post! You brought up Josephus.I read recently that he was afraid to write anything to debunbk the jesus story because the Romans were using christianity to control the masses,thus need ing the myth to continue .He might have been put to death after Rome adopted christianity as their state religion. The bible is far from being a great example of morality, especially the o.t.Being nice Is just a all around good policy,even when dealing with mean old fundamentalist "know it all literalist christians".peace freedy

Anonymous said...

I have a 2 year old. I have watched her play with other children. When one gets hurt and cries, she becomes concerned and tries to make them feel better. She is not doing it to get to heaven or avoid hell or because god said so. She has no concept of these things. She does it because she has empathy for another person.

Babies that are neglected and abused do not develop this natural empathy. When babies are nurtured and loved their brains become wired for empathy. Just like exposure to language wires the brain to learn language, exposure to love and affection wires the brain for empathy.

We could not survive as a species without this. We are communal and we have to have concern for each other to prevent chaos. So be good to your kids.

lilantwan said...

nice and thanx for your conversion story

Dave8 said...

Anonymous 1/08/2006 5:44 PM, I agree that a child will definitely be effected by their environmental influences. Another interesting factor is that children are predisposed genetically to have similar IQ scores, and personality traits before they are even born according to neurologists...

**********************************************************************

Source: University Of California - Los Angeles

Date: 2001-11-05

UCLA brain mapping researchers have created the first images to show how an individual’s genes influence their brain structure and intelligence.

The findings, published in the Nov. 5 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, offer exciting new insight about how parents pass on personality traits and cognitive abilities, and how brain diseases run in families.

The team found that the amount of gray matter in the frontal parts of the brain is determined by the genetic make-up of an individual’s parents, and strongly correlates with that individual’s cognitive ability, as measured by intelligence test scores.

More importantly, these are the first images to uncover how normal genetic differences influence brain structure and intelligence.

Brain regions controlling language and reading skills were virtually identical in identical twins, who share exactly the same genes, while siblings showed only 60 percent of the normal brain differences.

This tight structural similarity in the brains of family members helps explain why brain diseases, including schizophrenia and some types of dementia, run in families.

We were stunned to see that the amount of gray matter in frontal brain regions was strongly inherited, and also predicted an individual’s IQ score,” said Paul Thompson, the study’s chief investigator and an assistant professor of neurology at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011105073104.htm

**********************************************************************

"Psychological perspectives:

Some experts (psychologists, psychiatrists, and other scientists) believe that not all humans have an ability to feel empathy or perceive the emotions of others. For instance, Autism and related conditions such as Asperger's syndrome are often (but not always) characterized by an apparent reduced ability to empathize with others. The interaction between empathy and autism spectrum disorders is a complex and ongoing field of research, and is discussed in detail below.

According to one hypothesis, this absence might be related to an absence of theory of mind (i.e., the ability to model another's world view using either a theory-like analogy between oneself and others, or the ability to simulate pretend mental states and then apply the consequences of these simulations to others).

In contrast, psychopaths are seemingly able to demonstrate the appearance of sensing the emotions of others with such a theory of mind, often demonstrating care and friendship in a convincing manner, and can use this ability to charm or manipulate, but they crucially lack the sympathy or compassion that empathy often leads to. Empathy certainly does not guarantee benevolence. The same ability may underlie schadenfreude (sadism), the malicious enjoyment of another's pain.

Moreover, some research suggests that people are more able and willing to empathize with those most similar to themselves. In particular, empathy increases with similarities in culture and living conditions. We are also more likely to empathize with those we interact more frequently (See Levenson and Reuf 1997 and Hoffman 2000: 62).

Even more, people can empathize with animals. As such, empathy is thought to be a driving psychological force behind the animal rights movement (an example of sympathy), whether or not using empathy is justified by any real similarity between the emotional experiences of animals and humans."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy

**********************************************************************

People are limited by genetic dispostition... some are born with Autism, Asperger's syndrome, etc., and don't have the capacity for Empathy before they take their first breath of fresh air.

There is also research that sorts personality out in 34 cognitive strength areas, where the top five strengths show how a person perceives their environment... I an not naturally inclined to the personality strength of empathy, however, I have a strong personality trait of strategist, therefore, I naturally analyze another persons' non-verbals to the point, that I can develop and model their behaviors and derive information...

As the article describes, the natural extension of Empahty would be sympathy and compassion as a result of understanding... I don't exhibit automatically and naturally sympathy and compassion... I actually, analyze whether of not compassion or sympathy is warranted, based on the situation... I am not an impulsive compassion and sympathy provider, my bedside manner is not that soft...

Example; If I were protecting a group of people from being shot, and a person charged me with a weapon, and I was forced to employ deadly force and kill the aggressor... I may understand the persons' state of mind (empathy) via analysis, however, compassion and sympathy would not auto-engage to prevent me from using my weapon... Someone with a true, empathetic demeanor would find it hard to pull the trigger, even if it meant their own life and the lives of those they were protecting... Such is genetics and cognitive mapping...

Just to close a loop, those of my personality type, differ from one who is a psychopath, as I truly do have the ability to put myself in another persons' shoes... I'm just not as cavalier as one who is truly empathetic... Psychopaths, give the appearance to those they want to manipulate or control, but aren't capable of real empathy, even when they make the attempt... Hence, psychopaths typically are lacking some cognitive trait, expected to exist in what is determined as "normal", by society and psychologists...

Also, Empathy can be repressed based on ones' environmental factors... So, if a child does exhibit the natural personality trait of empathy, then they still can repress those traits... and in that manner, I agree with you, that supporting the child and keeping them tuned into their personality strengths will allow the child to live a much more natural and fulfilling life...

Well, aside from the fact that an economy, can be detrimental to a childs' personality stregths... For instance, a child who must work in a job, where their personality trait of empathy is a detractor, will over time and based on the pressure... start repressing their natural personality trait...

**********************************************************************

"Empathy declines during postgraduate training
Empathy is regarded as an essential characteristic in good doctors, but postgraduate training could be doing more to stifle it than to foster it. In a three year cohort study of 61 internal medicine residents in a US medical school, a decline in residents' empathy during the intern year persisted throughout the residency programme. Junior doctors completed the interpersonal reactivity index (IRI) on six occasions in three years, with the first data collected during their internship. Anxiety and depression decreased throughout the course of the study to the point where graduating residents were better off in terms of mood than population norms—but their empathy never recovered from the effects of the internship year.

Academic Medicine 2005;80: 164-7 [PubMed]."

**********************************************************************

So, I agree that a child should be nurtured according to their personality traits, but... one must understand that not all children exhibit the same personality traits genetically...

Also, it would be most efficient to place people in jobs that align with their perosnalities, but... the reality, is that many people work in jobs that they are not "naturally" aligned cognitively towards... as a matter of fact, many people are driven to work in jobs, that do "not" maximize a persons' personality strengths... Take care...

Anonymous said...

Dave8,

Animals are also capable of empathy and can show compassion or something like it. Stories about dogs saving people's lives are common.

So why do dogs show empathy and concern for a suffering human?
a. It's instinct or part of their nature
b. Lassie and Fido have read the Bible and know this would be a good way to get to heaven

Obviously, a. is the common sense answer. If animals are capable of goodness without belief in a higher power we can conclude that human beings are also capable of goodness without belief in a higher power.

Dave8 said...

Hey Alex, thanks for the testimony. I agree, that religion doesn't hold the golden key to morality... People are all unique and different, and therefore, come to values in their own time... Religions, have a cookie-cutter list of values, but they are so far off the mark to natural law, its one of the reasons I don't agree with religion...

For instance, morals rely on values... Religions require an initial set of values... first, a person must accept themselves as "sinful, depraved, naturally defective, etc." Once, the person accepts this Primary Value, they have lowered their Self below the church and the needs of the religious movement... This lowering of Self, allows people to become abused, exploited, manipulated, etc., as they have accepted themselves as "deserving" of some type of punishment...

This lowering of the Self is required, as without "sin", there is no need for a Jesus or church to facilitate "salvation"... Some of the modern churches appear to attempt to cover their primary purpose of "salvation", and "depravation" of the Self, by attempting to market social benefits, and positive community support... However, we all know, if a religion is solely committed to public support, then they are nothing more than a secular business... right along side The Salvation Army...

Another Value I have problems with, is 'death' seems to be more 'beneficial' than 'life' in many religions... Jesus "died", so that we may live... he's the role model martyr for christendom... God sent his son to "die", so that we may be able to reap the benefit of heaven... Most churches I have attended, state when a person dies... "they are much better off, they are truly at peace"... Right, their non-existence in this reality, somehow, is a "good" thing...

I value Life (to include me), Self, and Freedom to live according to my values... these are not the only values I hold, but they are at the top of the list, and these are the same values stripped via religion...

You mentioned that some people claim that this country was founded on religious morality... Here is a link which confronts such claims...

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

Further, our laws as portrayed on the U.S. Supreme Court North and South Wall Friezes... begin with...

Menes (c. 3200 B.C.) First King of the first dynasty of ancient Egypt. He unified Upper and Lower Egypt under his rule and is one of hte earliest recorded lawgivers. Menes is shown in the frieze holding the ankh, an Egyptian symbol of life.

Hammurabi (c. 1700s B.C.) King of Babylon credited with founding the Babylonian Empire. He is known for the Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest known legal codes. The first stone of the Code depicts him receiving the law from the Babylonian sun god

Moses (c. 1300s B.C.) Prophet, lawgiver, and judge of the Israelites. Mosaic Law is based on the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Moses is depicted in the frieze holding two overlapping tablets, written in Hebrew. Commandments six through ten are partially visible.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

The ten commandments draw directly from the Code of Hammurabi, and christianity likely drew the "son of god", directly from Hammurabbi's "Sun god"... if not another "sun" god of Egypt - Ra...

Well, hope to see you around the boards, take care...

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what your testimony had to do with God and morality. I believe you have mixed some categories here. When someone claims that in order to have morality there must exist a God, they are not claiming that one must believe in God to have said morality. This statement is rather trying to demonstrate that morality is evidence for the existence of a God. In other words, the fact that you knew that your friend, Jess I believe, was doing something good or moral and your other friend, who was supposedly a Christian, was doing something bad or immoral does not depend on your belief in God. Likewise, their moral and immoral actions were not based on belief or non-belief in God. Rather, the argument for God and morality is stating that the only objective standard for right and wrong, which must exist, is God. Therefore if there is no God, there is no objective right or wrong and no morality. I want to make it clear, that I am not attempting to persuade anyone back to the Christian faith, but rather trying to clarify what is meant when the argument for God and reality is used.

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous said Rather, the argument for God and morality is stating that the only objective standard for right and wrong, which must exist, is God.

Yes, that is definitely an argument that many Christians make. But, like all philosophical issues, that is not the only form the so-called argument takes. Many do in fact claim that it is their *belief* that impels them to do right, and that non-believers therefore lack a moral compass. Surely you've heard the disparaging remarks of this form that are hurled at non-believers; well, it's the belief-lead-to-morals that is back of it (if, indeed, the person actually has a conscious rationale for their accusation).

Anonymous: Therefore if there is no God, there is no objective right or wrong and no morality.

So goes one of the common arguments. Actually, calling it an argument is being a bit generous, as it is actually nothing more than a dogmatic assertion. There is much that militates against this dogma. First, there are scientific grounds for believing that morality, as we know it, is product of evolution, just as our physiology. Second, supposedly divinely-inspired documents, such as the Christian Bible, are actually very poor moral guides for more reasons than I care to summarize here (the grisly violence condoned and perpetrated by god is only one aspect). Third, there is no direct evidence supporting the assertion that our innate sense of morality owes anything to the existence of a supernatural being; at least none that I have ever encountered. It seems to turn on nothing more than ignorance and dogma--i.e. the seeming lack of an alternative explanation coupled with just-so story in an ancient anonymous book.

So, regardless of the interpretation that you give to the "argument from morality"--whether the moral sense issues from a belief in god, or is instilled by god--I see no reason to believe it true.

Dave8 said...

Anonymous 1/08/2006 7:55 PM: "Dave8, Animals are also capable of empathy and can show compassion or something like it. Stories about dogs saving people's lives are common."

Empathy is a personality trait, per most psychologists and behaviorists... derivitive of cognitive development...

Personality: "The complex of all the attributes--behavioral, temperamental, emotional and mental--that characterize a unique individual;"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

I have reservations on the "mental" aspect, regarding animals with "full" personality configurations...

"Empathy is the recognition and understanding of the states of mind, including beliefs, desires and particularly emotions of others. This concept is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes". However, this metaphor is ambiguous concerning whether one imagines actually "being" the other person, with all their beliefs and character traits, or simply being in their situation (such as being the prime minister)."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy

There is research that suggests animals have personalities, however, the research shows temperament and behavior, which can be "shaped" via conditioning...

Shaping: "Formative: forming or capable of forming or molding or fashioning;"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Animals based on their physiological limitations, can be shaped with the use of positive reinforcement. Using this reinforcement method, one can establish successive approximations and operant extinction for other previously undesired behaviors, and thus, new learning can begin on a blank slate... tabula rosa...

I mention this only to say, that animals can be shaped, and derive a semi-personality (minus the mental), but that empathy is beyond their ability... how does a rat or dog who has never been a human, place themselves in the shoes of a human... they can't... I'd go one step further, and state that the human can't place themselves in the shoes of a pet... Sure, humans seem to have this arrogance, and anthropomorphically plaster their mental image of themselves on everything, to include; cars, pets, gods, etc., to give the objects personalities, but... these objects don't have personalities... these objects have been painted with one persons' mental imaging, based on desire and expectation...

Animals have memory, and even dream... which gives them the ability to learn, based on conditioning, it helps with their survival...
http://www.yesmag.bc.ca/Questions/dream_animals.html

Animals can relive their experiences in their dreams, but... on an instinctual level, they apply "trial" and "error" tactics to elicit a positive response to get their needs met... some may say, that pets can train their owners, and there is some truth to the statement...

However, pets, don't have the mental capacity to cognitively extract and combine events in their mind in order to "create" the "best" method of obtaining a desired result... In short, pets don't have "imagination" and "creativity", which is what seems to create our "I"... they don't have concepts of individuality, they have "awareness", only...

Without that concept of "I", in my humble opinion, they don't have the trigger necessary to "project" their "I", onto other objects... there relationship with humans, is quite simple, and based on keeping their basic needs met and in harmony with their owners via expectations being met...

Now, can pets exhibit lonliness, PTS, and mourning... yes... Because they can recall, even in dream states objects, and actions... which bring them peace, excitement, and more importantly "structured" expectation, they like "predictability" and "stability"... how many animals are running around "changing" the environment...

"The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a Companion Animal Mourning Project in 1996. The study found that 36 percent of dogs ate less than usual after the death of another canine companion. About 11 percent actually stopped eating completely. About 63 percent of dogs vocalized more than normal or became more quiet."

http://www.petplace.com/article.aspx?id=3715

Anonymous: "So why do dogs show empathy and concern for a suffering human?
a. It's instinct or part of their nature
b. Lassie and Fido have read the Bible and know this would be a good way to get to heaven"

Its (a), as animals tend to bond... for those they "bond" with, they feel loss for... and through bonding, animals take care of eachother... bonding is a different issue, but, yes... (a)... according to their "nature"... not empathy, or some deeply held conviction stirring in the mental recesses of their minds...

Anonymous: "Obviously, a. is the common sense answer. If animals are capable of goodness without belief in a higher power we can conclude that human beings are also capable of goodness without belief in a higher power."

I'd like to add, however, that humans "create" what "goodnes" is, and we ascribe it onto objects... what one culture may see as "good", another considers "horrid"... In India not so long ago, widows, were burnt on pyres with their dead husbands... while awake... Some cultures would consider that "bad", and yet, others would consider it "glorious"...

I made a comment a while back, regarding "thought"... animals, don't overthink anything, they live according to their natures, and basic needs... the neural mechanisms that seem to have allowed humans to create intrinsic consciousness via curiosity inspired imagination, seem to be the same mechanisms that cause humanity to "experiment" with what "morality" is, and isn't... and like children, many times, you can tell them, don't drink alcohol... they drink, because they need to "experience" drinking to establish their independence...

Morality, is based on values, and values are learned by physiological limitations, and environmental factors... we are not "born" with a cognitive values "index", and typically, we lose the ability to "sense" Nature and Natural values, as we are bombarded with a painted reality given to us, by those who came before...

Dave8 said...

Anonymous 1/08/2006 10:04 PM: "Rather, the argument for God and morality is stating that the only objective standard for right and wrong, which must exist, is God."

Obviously, you seem to have pondered long and hard on this subject... So, while you are here, let us know the "functional" use of a "metaphysical objective reality", that resides in 'each' persons' mind uniquely and independently..., expecially, since a "metaphysically objective reality" object, call it morality, when pulled into this "natural" universe, loses its "objectiveness", and relinquishes to the "subjective" interpretations of each unique person, based on their unique cognitive filters, i.e., natures and nurtures... Even, if you want to believe that a metaphysical objective reality exists in your own independent mind, you can't possible transfer your "totally objective" thoughts, in a perfect state between you and anyone else, as you have to put it into this Natural realities' context...

There are many people, who want to there to be something to shoot for, Natual Law establishes decent morality and is more inclined towards...

"Utilitarianism (from the Latin utilis, useful) is a theory of ethics based on quantitative maximisation of happiness for society or humanity. It is a form of consequentialism. Utilitarianism is sometimes summarized as "The greatest happiness for the greatest number."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism

Consequentialism: "The view that the value of an action is determined by the value of its consequences rather than by the principle on which the action is performed or the virtue it expresses. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory, where the relevant value is individual happiness or well-being."
www.filosofia.net/materiales/rec/glosaen.htm

It doesn't take rocket science, to see if there is a benefit in actions to people... we have plenty of history, and thanks to religion, can see what "doesn't" work in bringing people to "happiness" and "well-being"... No, "metaphysical objective reality", need exist to establish a codex of "Perfect" Morals... Our own Natures tell us, by sense perception, what is "good" and "beneficial" as opposed to the alternatives...

Your belief;

Metaphysical Objectivism: "Metaphysical objectivism is the theory that there is an underlying reality that exists independent of our perception and consciousness. This is in contrast to metaphysical subjectivism."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_objectivism

Metaphysical Subjectivism: "In philosophy, a subject is a being which has subjective experiences or a relationship with another entity (or "object"). A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_subjectivism

It appears, one who is actually living in this Natural reality, who can't find totally objective "perfection", due to "change", may resolve to "subjectivism"... Perhaps, you are more of an 'idealist'...

Idealism:
-(philosophy) The philosophical theory that ideas are the only reality.
-Impracticality by virtue of thinking of things in their ideal form rather than as they really are.
-High-mindedness: elevated ideals or conduct; the quality of believing that ideals should be pursued.
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Nothing wrong wanting to be a perfectionist, and attain perfection in a subjective reality... good strong courage... but, logically... not attainable... hence, the frustration felt by all of those religionists who want to "rise" to the "occassion", to a state of purity... They attempt to become the "unknowable", "idealistic", Moral person, based on "morals", in a Metaphysically Objective Reality, that can never be known or validated between any two people the same... I suppose, one could paint the world with their "idealistic" views, but... that doesn't seem very "realistic"...

Realism:
-The attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth.
-(philosophy) The philosophical doctrine that physical objects continue to exist when not perceived.
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Anonymous, number one million and something without an identity... perhaps you need to do a little research in life, as it appears you are lost in this reality... There is what one would want... kinda' like Paul... and then... there is reality, rearing its ever so constant and changing head... Morality, is manmade... we can choose to live in reality, and do good by our fellow companions in life... or... we can choose to be Moral Idealists, and crucify everyone that doesn't live up to the standards held by a few people... Not that I believe the bible to be written by a god, nor, even inspired by a god being, but... didn't Jesus get crucified, because of the "Idealistic" requirements of the Orthodox Jews... And, here today, around the world, each little church wants to teach their "Idealistic" visions, as Universal Absolute Truths...

I hope there is much more to your philosohpy in life than trying to be, what you can 'never' logically become... what kind of life is living in shoes you will never be able to fill... or perhaps, you would prefer to continue to think of yourself and humanity, as beyond morality because of our sinful natures... and thus... why even need to seek morality... as its unobtainable due to our defective natures... Quite a logical enigma...

Anonymous said...

"It's good to be nice. If more people were nice we would have a lot less problems in the world."

Yes... it is good to be nice, but where does niceness come from, is it a gift, say, as blue eyes and a nice smile are a gift. Or is it a by product of a good home life and a pleasing environment. Wherever it comes from, I don't see the point of comparing the niceness of unbelievers with the absence of niceness in believers... since neither group has anything to do with their niceness. It's inherent, isn't it. Or is their a special pill or course one can take to become nicer... if there is, I'm all for it. We can all afford to be nicer. But even your inherent niceness will diminish someday... wait till you have to start wearing Depends around during the day, then tell me how 'nice' you're all feeling.

Scottnogod said...

The whole moral arguement for God just does not work.
First of all it's not an arguement but a dogmatic statement.

Secondly. Is something good because god says so, or does God say something is moral because it is of itself. If the first then morality is nothing more than what God dictates, and comes down to "I'm God so my Authority is final", and nothing more.
If Something is moral - therefore God says so, then God is redundant. So Bringing God into the arguement has solved nothing.

Anonymous said...

God being the source of morality is problematic.

God says in the 10 commandments don't kill.
Then God orders wars, mass killings, and executions often for minor offenses such as disobeying parents.

Using the Bible, how are we to know whether killing is moral or immoral? I could use the Bible to make both arguments.

Let's say I'm a Christian. I have Hindu neighbors who have a nice house. I could use the Bible to justify going into their home, killing men, women and children because God allowed the mass murder of men, women and children in the OT because they were unbelievers and the Jews as believers had more right to the land. Of course, I could also spare the Hindu family's virgin daughters and keep them as my wives because God also allowed that in the OT.

God says killing the Hindu family is fine because they are idolators. Society says it is wrong to kill and steal because it would create chaos and disorder if we could all kill and steal at will. Most would also sympathize with the Hindu family. We would imagine the terror they went through in their last moments and think what if that was us. Out of both sympathy and self interest we have a need and desire to create laws and basic standards of good behavior.

Angie said...

"the argument for God and morality is stating that the only objective standard for right and wrong, which must exist, is God."

The vast majority of Americans would agree that it is immoral for a 40 year old man to marry a 13 year old girl. Yet this moral view has no Biblical basis. On the contrary, child marriage was the norm in Bible times. Much of what Americans think is moral or immoral has no Biblical origin.

We think domestic violence and child abuse are wrong. Yet the Bible does not say they are wrong. We believe that it is right that governments provide free public education. Yet, the Bible never says "thou shalt provide free public education to all children."

The fact is societies are perfectly capable of developing rules and codes of behavior that govern everything from business contracts to rules of the road to dinner party etiquette.

We all inherently know what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to interacting with other humans. For example, if I am disrepectful and arrogant at work, I know there is a good chance I will get fired. Negative outcomes help promote "good" behavior and keep "bad" behavior in check.

"wait till you have to start wearing Depends around during the day, then tell me how 'nice' you're all feeling."

I have a friend who has been an agnostic since she was a teenager. She has been getting frequent and severe migraines most of her life. Yet, she is a happy and positive person. She is a devoted wife and mother, a member of the PTA, the sole caregiver for her elderly mother, and a part time employee.

She spends time with her mother everyday. She does all her cooking, cleaning and shopping. She pays her mother's property taxes. Her Methodist brother visits his mother once and month and gives her $50. My friend jokingly calls this Heaven insurance.

A while back I asked my friend how she can do so much and have such a positive attitude, while frequently getting debilitating migraines. She told me that if God doesn't exist, then this is the only life she's getting. She intends to make the most of it. That's a "nice" outlook on life.

Luci said...

Though some of you may be interested in a book which supports alot of what Alex was saying. It called 'The Myth of Christianity' by Alexander James. Its a real eye-opener.
Luci

Emerson said...

Well it sounds like your story has a happy ending. You freed yourself,
and married someone who isn't crazy. So many people, so many of them are married to people that are so fundamental and they stay because its the right thing according to them.

You're right, people can be moral without actually being part of a religion. We know right and wrong, and we know compassion and kindness. The best to you, it sounds though as if you're headed in the right direction in life. Keep at it.

Archived Testimonial Pageviews this week: