Opposing Views is a website that generally presents different opinions on various topics and allows its users to debate then freely. So it was a surprise to see the Creationist propaganda mill known as Answers in Genesis publish this rank nonsense for all to see on that site:
Religions as tools for social cohesion are indeed valid reasons for having them, since people are by nature social beings. However, using any religion that has demonstratively false dogmas as that tool is by nature unethical because you are encouraging people to lie to others about reality. It is even worse when you have a government take that religion and use force to make everyone follow it. All this does is make many people into hypocrites who act a certain way in public while privately doubting or denying the religion. This results in greater corruption. It is no coincidence that the ones who often come across as the most moral and are also deeply religious also turn out to be the most hypocritical. I think the reason for this is because their moral values are simply not based on anything real and things that are not based on reality are themselves not real. If you need to believe in the Bible, the Quran, or some other scripture to believe in God, to be moral or function in a social order, then you are actually a dangerous person because you will resort to all sorts of dishonest arguments, claims and assertions to keep your faith. Likewise, getting a government to enforce your religion on everyone merely makes the government dishonest. We shouldn’t tolerate this any more than we should tolerate mob bosses taking over a government.
Thus, Islamic states like those of Saudi Arabia and Iran are contemptible and should be condemned and opposed at every turn, and the concept of Sharia (Islamic law) should be completely thrown out in all societies. They are simply phony by nature!
Universalism is the other half of the religious tradition known as Unitarian Universalism. I already dealt with the first half by denying the Trinity as a self-contradicting assertion:
It is understandable that some people want to feel like they are better than others or more loved by God than others, but that is an appeal to the human ego that is destructive to human spirituality. There is nothing more vile than the idea that God would condemn anyone to eternal damnation in hell for believing in the “wrong” dogmas. Such extreme punishment could only be justified if there was some empirical way to discover the truth in religion, thus making it beyond dispute. But if that was the case, it wouldn’t even be religion at all; it would be SCIENCE.
In the late 1980s, I was a Christian and I was perfectly sincere about it. Then at the turn of this Century, I was a Baha’i and just as zealous about that. And in both cases, I have turned away from those religions because I found them to be flawed and unworthy of my allegiance, perhaps even completely false, as many do believe. But if I had died at either time, would it have been fair for God to condemn me for following a false religion?
Even if Christianity was the only true religion, the fact that it has been divided into thousands of competing sects, despite the fact that Christians are supposed to believe in one God and one savior, is enough to show that there are no “true” Christians. No matter what position you take, you are part of a minority in the world; Christians only make up about 1/4 of the population of the world. Is it logical to assume that God would condemn the vast majority of the world for not being Christian, especially when there is so much evidence that it is defended by outright fraud?
1900 years ago, Christians and Jews were a tiny minority in the world. In places like India, China, Japan, and the American continents, there was virtually no chance for people living there to hear and accept the teaching of either Bible based religion, while there were religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or the various Pagan religions. Who could blame the people in those lands for following what they knew? It is easy to assume you have the only true faith when you have only that one faith in your community and do not know followers of other religions except through crude stereotypes. Once you get to know those followers as people, those stereotypes tend to break down. Exposure to those people breeds tolerance quite naturally.
Since there is no way to know what truth in religion is, there is no justification for the dogma that God damns anyone for what they believe or disbelieve. That claim is bigotry and thus is evil.
I am neither a Jew nor a Christian, but I find it ironic that many Christians insist that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, considering that Jesus did not teach that and indeed seemed to indicate that fallible MEN made some parts of it.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
This passage strikes at the very heart of fundamentalist dogma, that the entire Bible from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, was revealed by God and has absolute authority over men. Of course, if you are an Orthodox Jew, you would naturally take offense at anyone overturning a law of the Torah. But often Christian sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses also fall prey to excessive legalism, which Jesus denied! If certain laws in the Torah were made by Moses, not God, why not allow for the possibility that other passages, even in the New Testament, were also made by men for a specific time and people, not by God for all peoples and all times? How can we tell?
We can’t, which is why Biblical authority is a concept we need to discard.
I recently had a long argument with an atheist who not only openly disagreed with all religions, but insisted that all religious people were delusional, stupid, even insane, while totally denying that he was himself promoting an unproven belief of his own.
What is atheism? There appear to be two kinds:
2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
By the first definition, I am indeed an atheist, but I reject that term for myself because I know that people assume that atheism is about outright denial of God’s existence (the second definition) and nothing else. By contrast, I question God’s existence and do not deny it at all. My position is a neutral one regarding that specific issue.
And that is why Thomas Huxley in the 19th Century coined the term agnostic to describe himself and his beliefs, or lack thereof.
This is an open letter to all those who profess the Islamic religion, including some that may be friends of mine.
Do you REALLY beleive in Allah, who is described throughout the Quran as ”the Merciful” as well as “Forgiving”? It seems that many of your comrades in faith do not and merely use His name to destroy people’s lives and freedom!
I have not forgotten how some of you threatened the life of Salman Rushdie in 1989 for writing his novel The Satanic Verses. Did it ever occur to you that if Allah really found what he did to be that offensive, he would have struck down Rushdie Himself? The fact that He never did is evidence to me that either Allah could not do it (why worship such a weak god?) , or that he didn’t see fit to (why do yourselves what He would not?). In short, Allah willed the act of “blasphemy”. So why not condemn Him too? Why is your faith in Allah so weak, that you deem yourselves to be more of a judge of what is worthy of death than Allah Himself? Note that the one who passed the death sentence on Rushdie with a fatwa, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, died soon afterwards, while Rushdie still lives today! It seems clear that it was Khomeini who was the blasphemer, not Rushdie!
Do not be so foolish as to make anyone or anything, including the religion of Islam and the deeds and words of the Prophet Muhammad, above criticism! Remember that Muhammad himself strongly criticised the Jewish and Christian religions, even while stating that their followers were “People of the Book”. Likewise, allowing criticism of Islam in public is in keeping with the verse in the Quran that declares: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Sura 2:256). How can there be no compulsion in religion if you threaten critics of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad with death, you hypocrites!?
Islam is not superior to any other religion. If you think otherwise, then why would Allah will the existence of other faiths? Why is Christianity still the most popular religion at nearly two billion followers? Is it not possible that Muhammad intended Islam for Arabs only rather than for all the peoples of the world? Why insist on one truth for the whole world when science cannot even find the existence of Allah anywhere, let alone the dogmas of Islam?
The Quran is but a book, revealed by Muhammad. To say that it is equal to Allah himself is blasphemy, yet I always get the impression that you seem to think every word of the Quran should be beleived in and obeyed absolutely. NO! Don’t you know that the Quran was not even completely assembled until several years after the death of Muhammad? How can we be sure all of it is accurately transcribed and really from the Prophet?
I am disgusted by the practice of older Muslim men marrying girls as young as 12 and making them fall pregnant. What a violation of the girls’ dignity! Yes, I know Muhammad married a nine-year old girl. I also know that he and Aisha never had children, so it is possible that the marriage was never consummated. I’d rather beleive that than assume that he was a pedophile, as some have alledged! In any case, are you forgetting that the Prophet was a man and not to be seen as equal with Allah himself? Why assume that if Muhammad did something 1400 years ago, it must be right to do even today? Have you no minds of your own? If you are given brains by Allah and do not use them to determine truth from falsehood and morality from what is immoral, those brains are wasted and thus Allah is dishonored. If your only sources of truth and morality is Islam and the actions of Prophet Muhammad, what will you do if it is revealed to you on the Day of Judgement that Muhammad was not a Prophet at all? Honorable Skeptics like myself don’t worry about that, because we have morals that do not depend on any faith.
It is said among Muslims, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.” But an atheist would say, “There is no god and Muhmmad was no prophet.” If a Muslim denies Hinduism, the Baha’i Faith and atheism, why can’t the atheist and the Hindu deny Islam (the Baha’i would not; all Baha’is see Muhammad as a Prophet)?
How dare you claim Islam is Allah’s final religion! Why put any limits on the Word of Allah? Why tell him to be silent and speak no more? Isn’t that also blasphemy? I think so!
Remember what the Quran also says, in Sura 109: “Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” Follow THAT, and you will follow the example of Allah, who is Merciful.
The simple fact that Jesus prayed to God (the Father) in many passages shows that they are two separate entities. The Christians of Gentile background were so immersed in Paganism that they understood Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” as also being God, so they invented the Trinity. Note that the Jews did not consider Moses to be equal to God, even though he spoke with as much divine authority as Jesus would 1500 years later. If the early Christians had been content with Jesus as a new version of Moses, then they would not have had to come up with the absurdity of the Trinity to account for what Jesus was like. But they had to make Jesus look even greater than Moses to make their own religion look greater than Judaism. Good for public relations, bad for intellectual honesty.
No doubt, ”orthodox” Christians will point to passages where Jesus appeared to do things only God could do (forgive sins, accept worship) and insist that the Holy Spirit was also a person within the Godhead, but that only illustrates how unreliable the scriptures (and those who interpret them) are. God may be unknowable, but he does not suffer from a multiple personality disorder. The Jews said their god was ONE God. Either that is true or it isn’t. There is NO Trinity.
A direct Bible reference in which Jesus denies being God or equal with God is:
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.
So here we see Jesus specifically denying that he was God by correcting someone who addressed him as “good”, stating that only God was good. If Jesus had been God, he would not have responded that way.
I googled the phrase “independent investigation of truth” after remembering that it was supposed to be a basic teaching of the Baha’i Faith. Among the references I found on the internet, was this:
Campus Crusade for Christ made a pamplet decades ago titled “The Four Spiritual Laws” to teach people their particular brand of Christianity. Here’s one version, in the form of a YouTube video:
This blog is a direct sequel to these earlier ones:
Religious fundamentalism is blasphemy!
The chain of Abrahamic religions is too rusty and weak
One of the great tragedies of the Protestant Reformation, in addition to destroying forever the unity of the Christians in western Europe, was that it enshrined the Bible as the sole source of dogma among Protestants. Now, I will grant that the incredible corruption and tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages made the Reformation both necessary and inevitable, but the way it was done by most Protestants made spiritual tyranny inevitable among them as well. This was because they simply replaced the Catholic papacy and church councils with the Bible itself, or rather, how Protestant leaders read the Bible. Calling the Word of God what is actually your INTERPRETATION of words of men writing in the name of God is stretching things beyond any bounds of logic you can imagine, which is why Christians constantly emphasize faith as their standard.
See for yourself here:
Since when it is anti-American to have political, social, religious, and cultural diversity in your friendships or associations? How is associating with people who are not actually criminals, even if they have done or said questionable things in the past, anti-American? We have had Liberal Presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter and no one questioned their love for America!
This is the sort of innuendo and slander that supporters of Sen. John McCain have resorted to. Let’s send them a message: YOU DO NOT BELONG IN OUR GOVERNMENT ANY MORE!
It’s time to tell the truth about Liberals and about their Conservative opponents. Conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and now Rep. Michele Bachmann have been allowed to get away with slander, libel and hyperaggressive tactics for too long. Enough already! Liberals made America a free and independent nation, not Conservatives. Liberals fought to end slavery, not Conservatives! Liberals fought for women’s right to vote,, not Conservatives! Liberals, not Conservatives, led us Americans through two World Wars and even through much of the Cold War, before Conservatives Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. came along and just happened to reap the political benefits of presiding over the downfall of the Soviet Union. What have Conservatives done to make America great? Nothing, instead they only hold us back from being a more enlightened society, preferring one run largely by religious loons who happen to call themselves Christian!
Let George W. Bush be the last “Conservative” Republican President America ever has! I’be absolutely had enough of the hypocrisy of Conservatives and their outdated and increasingly useless dogmas. End their reign of terror, NOW!
There are four religions in the world that are classed as “Abrahamic”, being descended from the original work of Abraham. Abraham himself left no writings of his own and he may have been only legendary, as much as Greek myths are thought to be. He founded no religion that survives today.
Judaism: Considered to have been founded by Moses. He was credited with writing the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), but this is incorrect; He may have written the laws detailed in the Torah, but not the Torah itself, since his death is recorded at the end of it and it is implied that it was made several centuries after Moses’ time. So the foundation of this religion is uncertain.
Christianity: Considered to have been founded by Jesus, but he himself wrote nothing that we have and the stories and quotations of him are entirely second-hand. In addition, most Christian doctrine was formulated by Paul, who was not even an original desciple of Jesus, but joined the Christians later after being their enemy. Thus the foundation of this religion is highly uncertain.
Islam: Founded by the Prophet Muhammad. He was said to be illiterate, and dictated most of the Quran to various scribes rather than write it directly. It wasn’t until after his death that the Quran was assembled in its final form, and it was not assembled in chronological order.
The Baha’i Faith: Baha’u'llah, the founder of this religion, is said to have written his own books. But he too relied on personal secretaries to do most of this, including Mirza Aqa Jan, who later would be condemned as a “Covenant-breaker” for opposing Abdu’l-Baha, the son and immediate successor of Baha’u'llah.
The credibilility of the Baha’i Faith is dependent on Islam, the credibility of Islam is dependent on Christianity, and the credibility of Christianity is dependent on Judaism. Yet all these religions also claim that the earlier ones were corrupted over time, making the new ones necessary. Does this make sense? What if all four religions were flawed from the beginning, because their means of recording their teachings were flawed? Their founders could have written and edited their writings all by themselves and not allowed others to make unauthorized editions after their time. Thus any possible errors or contradictions in those teachings would have been prevented. Outsiders could have been prevented from polluting the original faith with foreign concepts. Disputes between followers could have been settled without assuming blindly that the leadership was never to be questioned and that others could “agree to disagree” without being treated as traitors.
None of these were done, except by the most liberal branches of these faiths, and thus they have been sources of tyranny and ignorance rather than liberty and enlightenment. And as this essay shows, there is really no reason for ANYONE to be certain that any of them are absolutely true, especially since modern science has completely debunked the creation myth that was said to be the very root of all of them.
For starters, I wish to state that in an issue like politics, extremism among some individuals is inevitable. There are two reasons for this. First, many people mistakenly apply religious impulses to politics and thus attempt to be consistent with a certain political viewpoint, even at the expense of ignoring or denying clear empirical evidence that is against it. Quite simply, it is easier (if you are intellectually lazy) to just blindly follow a dogma of some kind that happens to appeal to your ego than to dig for the truth, apply consistent logic to all issues, and thus have a perspective that is subject to change and moderation over time. Second, extremists on any issue tend to work the hardest for their chosen causes and thus tend to rise to leadership positions within political organizations as well as single-issue pressure groups, by virtue of their extensive track record of having done so much for their causes as well as appearing to be experts on the issues they represent. This explains why so many otherwise worthy causes, such as animal rights, get so absurdly corrupted by groups that claim to represent them, such as PETA or ALF, and people who might be motivated by natural compassion to support animal rights are repelled by seeing extremist groups like the aforementioned ones claiming to be the best examples of those causes’ representatives. Let me assure you, they are not and I would be quite happy to see them destroyed without thinking for one second that this would be damaging at all to the cause of animal rights. If you, by your words or actions, make a cause look loony, that’s the best way to ruin it, and you might as well just oppose the cause altogether.
This is the direct sequel to my first blog entry on the Baha’i faith:
The basic problem of authority in the Baha’i Faith, with its false claim that those authorities are infallible, really becomes obvious when you consider the issue of the Guardianship, which Shoghi Effendi held from 1921 until his death in 1957. He was appointed to that position by his grandfather, Abdu’l-Baha.
For any conspiracy to succeed, there are several conditions that may be required:
- The participants must be as few as possible.
- The conspiracy must be of as short a duration as possible.
- The conspiracy must be extremely secretive.
Condition 3 relies on the first two, as indicated in the proverb, “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”
Thus, the commonly held 9-11 conspiracy theory that many government officials under the Bush Administration were directly involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is far less credible than the idea that a few dozen operatives of Al-Qaeda were responsible. Likewise, it is far more credible that Exxon and its operatives have been planting misleading claims about global warming in the popular press and various blogs over the past couple of decades than that thousands of scientists have been misleading people about global warming since 1896, when Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first identified the heat retaining properties of carbon dioxide (called “carbonic acid” in Arrhenius’ paper referred to below).
People make up conspiracy theories to explain what could be responsible for something they happen to dislike. The “theory” could be more properly considered a hypothesis in science. The problem comes when these people do not take the next step in the scientific method, which is to test the idea via observation or experiment. Instead, they proclaim the conspiracy theory as DOGMA and proceed to interpret all evidence according to that dogma, despite never finding any direct evidence to confirm the theory. Then they abandon all willingness to allow the claim to be disproven.
You can’t do science that way! Just because a theory claims to explain something doesn’t mean it is true. You must ultimately rule out all other possibilities before stating something questionable to be FACT.
I’ve never seen such a blatant attempt at denial of academic freedom! Now, if the people being attacked were committing libel, this lawsuit would make sense. This is a clear example of hypocrisy!
A skeptic is defined as someone who reserves judgement on an issue until enough evidence is found to support a claim beyond a reasonable doubt and also clearly defines what would make him disbelieve a claim. This is scientific thinking.
By contrast, a denialist has no such defined limits, either of belief or disbelief. The denialist starts from a position of dogma, asserting opposition to an idea by presenting a contrary idea as absolute truth and interpreting all evidence according to that unalterable dogma, rather than draw conclusions based only on the evidence. This is the opposite of scientific thinking, although denialists often use scientific terminology to make their positions seem legitimate to fool the ignorant.
Denialism vs geuine skepticism is found in debates over evolution vs. Creationism, global warming, religion, and politics. If there were no denialists, most of those debates would have either ended long ago, or would be a lot more cordial than they tend to be.
The crazy thing about debating with Creationist hypocrites is that they have ZERO facts that actually support their case, but plenty of rhetorical tricks. I was reminded of that by a “Sirius Knott” who plastered some lame comments on one of my blogs. Here’s the confrontation between him (SK) and me (DH), for those who care to follow it:
I got into a debate over religion in a Care2 group that is specialized for such things. Based on some of my writings here, its easy for one to conclude that I despise all Christians and regard them as idiots. But in fact I never paint any group of people with the same brush. What’s my REAL problem with some religious people?
A decade ago, I was a member of a religion known as the Baha’i Faith. This religion teaches that God is called by various names but is still the same all over the world, that all religions teach the same basic message, and that humanity is one and is destined to unite under the banner of the Baha’i Faith in a new age of peace and unity.
I am always sickened by those who claim that the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is God’s Word and that it has no errors and does not contradict itself. Well, maybe if you exclude one of these two verses from it, that may be somewhat true. Otherwise, the Christian fundamentalists should SHUT UP!
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. - Deuteronomy 24:16
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
Conclusion: PAUL WAS A TRAITOR TO THE TORAH! And NO Christian can claim to be a true spiritual descendant of the ancient Hebrews!
And it gets even worse! See this:
2000 years ago, Jesus warned his early followers: “Not everyone who calls to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do my Father’s will may enter. On the Judgement Day many will say to me, ‘Lord, didn’t we prophesy, cast out demons, and do many miracles in your name?’ But I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you that do evil!’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)
I would suggest that the thing which will condemn someone to hell, even though they profess to believe in Jesus, will be the person’s placing the Bible above God Himself. Fundamentalists have claimed for over a century that the Bible is the Word of God and is therefore infallible. This claim has no support whatsoever. Attempts to support it by references to the Bible are circular reasoning. Only God Himself should ever be seen as infallible, and since we have no direct contact with Him, we have nothing that may be considered infallible. The Bible, the Quran, and other religious books may be inspired by faith in God, but they are still human products, and are thus prone to error like all other human products. The Quran itself condemns the tendency of man to make partners with Allah, so should it be acceptable for any Muslim to make the Quran a partner with Allah?
In this physical world, there is NOTHING and NO ONE that may rightfully be called infallible!
The problem with many people (deniers) who have arguments on any issue is that they are not looking for facts to establish their own viewpoints. This becomes obvious when they, not content to say, “I strongly disagree with [idea] and believe [counter-idea],” but bluntly say, “[counter-idea]” and then proceed with that premise regardless of what anyone else says. Once that happens, those who reject the counter-idea find themselves becoming dogmatic in return to avoid appearing weak, thus degrading the general content of the discussion. The deniers rely on ingrained prejudices they know exist in many other people in order to build a following.
The opposition to evolution is entirely based on religious prejudices supported by semantic ploys, and nothing else. A lot of the “evidences” used to attack evolution are things that are exceptional in nature and when the Creationists see them, they say, “We do not know how these things could have happen, so we may safely assume that God did it.” That attitude totally denies scientific thinking. Evolution is scientific precisely because it is consistent with physical and chemical laws that were previously established via the scientific method. That Creationists do not note this obvious fact discredits them from the start.
As for the global warming issue, people have a natural tendency to deny facts that make them uncomfortable, because they know that then they will have to make great sacrifices to undo the damage that is being done and prevent more damage. The corporations and the politicians who support them play on this laziness to give excuses for not doing anything to change things. For example, the statement that increased solar output is a factor behind global warming only adds to the urgency that we keep the emissions of greenhouse gases at a low levels in the future; it does not negate our responsiblity to deal with the problem. That a few areas in the world are colder than normal is a result of warmer atmospheric conditions causing greater evaporation of water, resulting in greater cloud coverage and precipitation in areas that are prone to them, and of course this causes temperatures in those areas to fall. But the deniers forget one thing: The DESERT regions, which make nearly a third of the land area of Earth, are NOT affected by this trend and the temperatures there will remain high, resulting in great instabilities in the atmosphere, producing a greater frequency of storms.
Natural reality is complex, and science is supposed to measure that reality in all its forms. Those who attempt to reduce it to a simple formula via “logical” arguments are in fact the worst enemies of science.
Global warming deniers’ claims about a conspiracy driving the concern about global warming are a classic attempt to “turn reality upside down”. In fact, the real conspiracy is between the rich executives of the fossil fuel corporations and the conservative politicians whose servicies are paid for by the executives. Some scientists also side with the deniers, but that only indicates the extent of corruption that may exist in any profession, as well as the tendency of even people who should know better to decieve themselves.