Questionable Motives

November 13, 2009

Anti-evolution Creationism: not just a Western movement of ignorance

Islam and evolutionBut there is another creationist movement whose influence is growing, and which is fueling challenges to science in countries where Christianity has little sway: Islamic creationism. Campaigners in countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Indonesia have fought the teaching of evolution in schools there, sometimes with great success. Creationist conferences have been held in Pakistan, and moderate Islamic clerics are on record publicly condemning Darwin’s ideas. A recent study of Muslim university students in the Netherlands showed that most rejected evolution. And driven in part by a mysterious Turkish publishing organization, Islamic creationism books are hot sellers at bookstores throughout the Muslim world. From the article here.

Dawkins’ newest book The Greatest Show on Earth presents anti-evolution supporters as the equivalent of holocaust deniers, or people who refuse to admit that the Roman Empire ever existed. Supporting anti-evolution is not protecting religious belief; supporting anti-evolution creationism or its cousin Intelligent Design is a movement to promote ignorance and scientific illiteracy.



  1. … supporting atheistic-evolutionism is a movement to promote ignorance and religious illiteracy … True?

    Comment by creationbydesign — November 13, 2009 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  2. Of course not. Even some of the most renowned atheists support the teaching of comparative religions so that students have an educational basis to better understand its importance informing various cultural practices, arts, music, histories and literature. Religious literacy is important. Religious belief…? Not in the public schools.

    But when religious interference occurs outside of its theocratic domain, its proponents need to be smacked. For religious organizations to fund various means to interference with students learning basic biology and the theories that inform it is a travesty based on fear and ignorance. Just because people’s religious beliefs are threatened by scientific knowledge does not mean that the knowledge has to be suppressed. Rather, the religious beliefs need to be modified to fit what’s probably true, probably accurate, probably correct. Germ theory. Atomic theory. Theory of gravity. And now evolutionary theory. Get over it.

    Christianity did not fall by altering the common geocentric model into accepting the heliocentric model. Christianity and Islam will not fall by altering special creationism into accepting the validity of evolution. But religious belief as a whole will suffer the slings and arrows of informed knowledge and lose face if it continues its vainglorious insistence to support without any valid evidence special creationism for the critters of the Earth, including people.

    Comment by tildeb — November 13, 2009 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

  3. Even some of the most renowned ID theorists are themselves scientists and therefore support scientific literacy. But additionally, religion does serve as a check on science in terms of moral norms. This is done through public consensus – if a scientific project is viewed as something immoral, then the public might not support it and it will be made illegal.
    So, it’s good to see you making some room for religion, but I just hope you won’t conclude that science must always trump religious views. Science has to operate within the consensus of the community values also – it cannot be self-policing and free to undertake any possible project. Why should science give that authority to itself and then validate its own authority? That’s where checks and balances have to play a part.

    Comment by creationbydesign — November 13, 2009 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

    • Not so fast, CBD.

      There may be renowned scientists and there may be ID theorists but there is no scientist renowned for being an Intelligent Design believer. The very idea of combining the two is an oxymoron.

      Morality precedes religion. Religion has no right whatsoever to be considered the moral adjudicator of anything. As for the morality of some science being determined by popularity, think again. There are many disciplines and professions with self-determining ethics committees and governing bodies, most notably the case of medical research, called bio-ethics. The general population holds no moral high ground compared to the recommendations put forth by these ethic groups and deservedly hold no influence over any such disciplines or avenues of research, although the politics of public funding certainly accounts for a great deal of unwanted and unwarranted interference within various disciplines in the name of some perceived popular morality.

      Comment by tildeb — November 13, 2009 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  4. In the atheist model, nobody holds a moral high ground. Ideas can be enforced by power or consensus or political will, etc.

    In our culture, science is funded by the general public for the most part. That’s where the moral high ground comes in. When science accepts public funds, then it is subservient to the public will. Science can be repressed for whatever reason — it’s not sacrosanct. The public can make certain scientific research illegal — and has done so in the past. So, even atheistic scientists answer to a higher authority — in the case, the Giver-of-their-Paychecks. Some scientists will even manipulate results to appease big businesses and thus get bigger paychecks. In the atheist worldview, why not? They’ll claim it’s a matter of interpretation of the data. Some data is “not compelling” and other data is.
    The general public can interfere whether scientists think it is warranted or not. People can turn against the scientific enterprise and cut its funding and cut its freedoms. All it takes is a majority in support and the right politicians in place. Again, science is not something sacred that has its own ethics and morality — it’s a product of the culture. It’s like academia itself. If it doesn’t provide a useful or wanted product, then it will lose support. It might be interesting to see how many academic programs have been abolished over the past decades for whatever reason. How about something like Marxist-historians. There were a bunch of them at one time. It’s much harder to find them now.

    Comment by creationbydesign — November 13, 2009 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

    • Why do you continue to assert that religion holds any kind of moral authority? If morality precedes religion, as can be shown by child developmental psychology studies about this very issue, and people can be shown to rely on their prior moral code to cherry-pick the bits and pieces of their religious texts they use to then inform their religious beliefs, then how can you continue to hold to this notion that morality derives through religion? It doesn’t.

      To add insult to intellectual injury, you then assume that atheism – meaning non belief in some supernatural entity – somehow negates a moral code of conduct. This is bigotry, plain and simple, based on a circular reasoning pattern that simply is not informed by evidence. The evidence is quite clear: non religious people tend to be responsible, compassionate, and caring citizens. Their moral code of conduct as a group is at least equal, and many would argue vastly superior, to the moral code of conduct of religious adherents… a very puzzling fact if your assumption about morality derived through religion was accurate.

      Of course the pursuit of science isn’t sacrosanct. This pursuit is often subservient to many masters. But your assertion that all the various scientific pursuits are subject to some moral litmus test by the public assumes that the public is made aware of what these pursuits are. Probably (I’m just guessing here) 90+% of scientific pursuits never enter the public domain for any kind of morality test whatsoever. Like most people in the general public, you probably know almost nothing about what scientific research is currently going in all the various faculties at the nearest university. Usually, the only time the public is aware of a particular line of research is when it yields results, goes to court, or infringes on somebody’s religious beliefs. You make it sound like the public is constantly weighing the moral benefits and costs of scientific research, which I think is plainly wrong. Nevertheless, when scientific research and religious belief collide, it’s only polite for religion to turn the other cheek and get out of the way. Whatever expertise the religious think they may have because of their religious beliefs, they are mistaken. Unless you can provide compelling evidence to the contrary…?

      And as for the ‘higher’ morality idea against which we should measure anything, don’t you think that that morality should be based on something common to all people rather than a particular branch of a particular theology? After all, religions make contrasting and competing truth claims, meaning that they can’t all be right for sure and quite possibly none are right at all, so perhaps the moral philosophers can start earning their pay by coming up with one standard for all. Oh, that’s right… they are. Shh. Don’t tell the priests and imams.

      As for me, I’m quite happy to let bio-ethicists wrestle with the tough medical questions and come up with guidelines suited for the practice of medicine. I am not happy to have a group of clergy with no expertise about anything having any say whatsoever in matters outside of their particular set of superstitious beliefs, and even less happy that any citizen of any country pay these parasites of superstitious beliefs the compliment of granting their words any weight in any manner about any subject because of their religious beliefs any more than the opinion of any other citizen. I would be much happier to grant people of subject expertise a place at the discussion table and it is from these subject-informed people that I will draw my own conclusions.

      Comment by tildeb — November 14, 2009 @ 12:26 am | Reply

  5. Nevertheless, when scientific research and religious belief collide, it’s only polite for religion to turn the other cheek and get out of the way.

    Or it could happen the other way – science could be polite and cease the research. Again, it depends on the consensus of the community. Scientific research has been halted in some cases, as it should be.

    And as for the ‘higher’ morality idea against which we should measure anything, don’t you think that that morality should be based on something common to all people rather than a particular branch of a particular theology?

    Well, I don’t think that morality should be based on a majority vote. A majority voted for the Nazi party. In that case, the morals of the religious minority were correct because it was based on the higher morality — a fixed standard. As for different theologies — first of all, it’s interesting to see the common morality within even different theologies. So, that’s a starting point. After that, there is a competition for ideas — and certain religious views do gain the greater part of the committment from humanity than others do. In any case, its a moral standard that can be referred to — versus the idea that morality is whatever a person wants to create for himself at the moment. That kind of morality is fluctuating — it can accept anything (you could look at P.Z. Myers defending mass murder for the sake of self-interest — I can post the link if you’re interested). That’s not surprising. If there is no goal or purpose, there is no reason for a moral code. This is not hostility or bigotry, it’s just logic. Some more honest atheists admit this. Atheism is the embrace of nothingness as the ultimate cause and destination. Morality is pointless in that worldview. Sure, individual atheists comply with social norms, but they didn’t build those norms. There would be nothing to work with – no way to gain consensus.

    Don’t tell the priests and imams.

    The imams seem to be doing quite well without the help of philosophers to give them a moral code. Actually, how will philosophers build support for their ideas? Who is going to listen to them and why would they? I can agree that philosophy provides some help in building moral norms, but philosophy is not going to compete with religion for mind-share, as I see it.

    I am not happy to have a group of clergy with no expertise about anything having any say whatsoever in matters outside of their particular set of superstitious beliefs,

    Well, that’s a pretty negative assessment, but you’re entitled to your opinion. I can’t see that you’d win many people to your view with that attitude though.

    and even less happy that any citizen of any country pay these parasites of superstitious beliefs the compliment of granting their words any weight in any manner about any subject because of their religious beliefs any more than the opinion of any other citizen.

    Well, atheism does not hold anything sacred – so what you say is understandable. Given the evolutionary mindset, there is nothing much special about human life, except that it is a modified version of some chimp-like ancestor. It is distinguished from animals by some biological features alone. So, there is nothing to honor in other human beings, really. Certainly, no reason to see the spiritual growth and insight of another person has having great value. Atheism cannot recognize the spiritual desires of humanity — or the work that many exert to fulfill those desires (through prayer, good works, charity towards others, humility, etc.) This is all just a dead-end for atheism. But what kind of comment about humanity is that? It’s basically that human beings do not have any reasons or purposes — and they are meaningless in the grand scope of things.
    Again, that message has been explained many times by atheists through the centuries — it’s a feature of atheism. Some find it a benefit. Life is just some days running out to the end, nothing more. For the religious believer, this is a destruction of life itself. That’s an important distinction at the heart of this issue.

    Comment by creationbydesign — November 14, 2009 @ 2:36 am | Reply

    • I notice you don’t like answering any my questions. Hmm.

      Why should science get out of the way of superstition? Superstition has yet to yield any benefit to the advancement of knowledge so it has no basis to claim the right. Science has proven its worth many times over. So, no, when religion and science collide, then it is right and proper for religion to yield.

      What “fixed standard” of morality are you referring to?

      Why do you equate the absence of religious belief with a) immorality, and b) purposelessness? Do you honestly think that there must be a supernatural being to create a special being known as humanity for anyone to derive purpose and/or meaning from his or her life? On what are you basing such an incredibly arrogant position? And then for you to build to the next absurdity – that without purpose and/or meaning only derived by special creation by a sky father – you leap to the conclusion that this automatically explains why not believing in this special creation sky father equals no morality. This is a very weak argument. And I’m being incredibly generous with that observation. It’s very weak because there is loads of evidence that meaning and/or purpose ascribed by many individuals about their own lives is NOT dependent on their believing in a sky father. Nor is there a shred of evidence that lack of belief in a sky father precludes moral and ethical standards. There is lots of evidence that belief in a sky father does not preclude individuals from behaving in the most abominable ways. In other words, your argument here is very weak at best.

      Are you actually suggesting that we should only ‘honour’ – and I assume you mean respect – other people only because we hold the necessary religious beliefs? If you can honour another person only by believing that a sky father created that other person, and you respect the sky father so you must therefore respect the sky father’s creation, then you are not moral. You are merely borrowing your morality; you don’t own it. You don’t own it because you are offering respect not to that other person as athe person actually is but to the sky father’s proxy. That’s dishonest. That’s an immoral code, an unethical standard. Why should changing your personal beliefs change the other person’s right to be respected as a human being alone and not as some proxy of your imagination’s superstitious beliefs? If anyone is immoral comparing the religious to the non religious, you provide evidence that your own morality is suspect.

      Your notion of what atheism is is wrong. Your attributions of what you think atheism means in action is wrong. Your assumptions of what atheism equals in morality is wrong. Your assertion of what the purpose of atheism is is wrong. Your understanding of atheism needs an education. Assume that whatever you think atheism is all about and what effects you think this atheism means is wrong. Put it aside and learn.

      Comment by tildeb — November 15, 2009 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

      • I can learn by reading your post here. I see what an atheist says and how he says it. You adopt a reactionary approach – very defensive. But it’s important for me to recognize what you will or won’t accept, or what harmonizes with your interest and temperment. You offer rhetorical questions for which you’ve already given yourself ready-made answers. I’ll just conclude by pointing out that moral condemnations from an atheistic perspective are illogical and contradictory. Again, you could look at P.Z. Myers’ recent arguments about how there is no moral law. In the atheistic worldview, there is no moral law. The expression of moral outrage is simply an attitude borrowed from non-atheistic sources. It’s a direct contradiction. If you could accept the implications of your own atheistic belief, you’d have no problem with this. You’d have no reason for moral outrage and you’d strive to tolerate anything at all. But instead, you claim that something is “immoral” and try to prove that to me. Atheism destroys the common-ground that even makes a discussion like this possible. With that, we have to go our own separate ways.

        Comment by creationbydesign — November 16, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  6. moral condemnations from an atheistic perspective are illogical and contradictory.

    They are only illogical if you assume (incorrectly) that morality comes from god through religious belief. But you refuse to look at that assumption and justify it. You maintain it without justification, and that comes at the expense of other people, namely atheists. Because by definition atheists do not believe in unjustified assertions like ‘god’, you assume this non belief negates access to morality. That is bigotry. You then make another huge assumption that there IS a single moral law or code or standard because you BELIEVE this assertion. Belief does not make it so. There may be fundamental moral codes and common standards, but unless and until you can show evidence to the contrary, morality has everything to do with people and nothing whatsoever to do with belief in a supernatural law-giver. You have failed to make your case that your starting assumption is correct – that morality derives from religious belief – and thus you remain a bigot because you deny atheists can even possess morality. You shall continue to promote bigotry under the banner of piousness.

    Why not spread your intellectual wings a little and spend an hour here:

    Comment by tildeb — November 16, 2009 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

  7. You’re claiming that I’m a bigot for merely re-affirming what P.Z. Myers states — that in the atheistic worldview, there is no moral law. He points out that self-interest alone is the driver of human action.

    So if you’re proposing that there is a moral law, or common moral standards not arising from self-interest alone (which justifies any human behavior, if it needed to justified) but with your fellow atheists — and very prominent and outspoken atheists at that.

    Is Myers’ view logical and consistent with atheistic thought? I think so. But again, you’re arguing against him first, not me. His view is the most common atheistic idea that one can find. It’s been around for centuries.

    First, there is no moral law: the universe is a nasty, heartless place where most things wouldn’t mind killing you if you let them. No one is compelled to be nice; you or anyone could go on a murder spree, and all that is stopping you is your self-interest

    Comment by creationbydesign — November 16, 2009 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

  8. You are not “merely re-affirming what PZ Myers states.” Myers writes There is nothing ‘out there’ that imposes morality on you, other than local, temporary conditions, a lot of social enculturation, and probably a bit of genetic hardwiring that you’ve inherited from ancestors who lived under similar conditions.

    You do far more than disagree with this view. And let’s be clear what your job is: Show evidence that there is something “out there.” Reveal with more than assertion, assumption, and belief that there is something beyond local, temporary conditions, a lot of social enculturation, and probably a bit of genetic hardwiring that “imposes” morality. By all means undertake this task and prove him wrong.

    Understandably, your task is not easy. But look at what conclusions you draw from this: that because there is no moral law “out there,” no evidence that some supernatural critter imposes a moral law, those who point this out must be immoral! And you think this position is on firm intellectual ground. Well, it isn’t.

    The argument put forth by me is that morality comes from within. Every human being has a moral basis, although not every human being gives it as much weight or consideration as another. Personal morality is influenced, as PZ points out quite succinctly, by our environment and biology. There is lots of evidence for this. But look what you do with this proposition. You take that to mean that morality does not exist except through a moral law from god. You are wrong. Morality precedes any religious understanding, so your conclusion about the necessary absence of morality in atheists is also wrong. You just don’t see it that way.

    If what you think about morality is true, then it doesn’t fit the facts. And the facts are that very young children exhibit moral behaviour, make moral choices, act on their sense of morality long before they can understand, incorporate, and appreciate any so-called moral law derived from religious beliefs. They do so not out of some fear of divine punishment but because they already feel compassion and empathy from a very early age and act on these feelings. This behaviour is cross cultural, which means the basis of our morality also precedes enculturation. But morality develops over time, too. Our sense of morality undergoes refined changes as we live. The trolley studies show some fascinating commonalities and cultural differences. You blithely ignore all this information and hold fast to some notion that there is one set and one set of laws only derived from god that describes morality. Mind you, you have yet to describe or define what this set of laws is. You avoid doing so by blaming me for asking the question to which I supposedly already have the answer. That’s just another evasion by you, distancing yourself from what you think – not what god thinks – is true.

    The bigotry occurs when you classify atheists – without any good reasons for doing so other than your assertion, assumption and religious belief – as necessarily amoral or immoral. You have chosen immoral. What a surprise. You distance yourself again from this belief by then claiming that this conclusion is only logical! It’s not. It is blind. It is ignorant. It is immoral.

    You ignore the facts. You ignore evidence contrary to your assumption. For example, I’ve asked you already to explain to me how atheists tend to be very moral people. You just ignore the question. But how can this exhibited moral behaviour be possible if as a group these folk do not prescribe to, and must by definition be immune from, your divine “moral law”?

    How does believing in a supernatural critter counter the overwhelming evidence that the cosmos in general and Nature here on Earth in particular is oblivious and indifferent to killing humans? Explain why a god so concerned about human morality continues to produce some very nasty and brutish critters that kill indiscriminately? Does our world really need more deadly viruses? How is that moral? Do thousand of animals this very moment need to be doing so much suffering while being eaten alive if a god concerned with morality was truly at the helm? And human suffering? How to account for so much of it? So many pathogens? Natural disasters? These are all necessary? How does all of this square with a god you think is the source of morality? Yet you are willing to deny atheists as fellow creatures any morality without this god-sanction set of laws that hypothetically describes how to be moral from a critter that seems unwilling to put it into practice by divine intervention. Bully for you. Bully for your beliefs. Just like the suicide bomber who is convinced that killing others is what his god wants, so too are you convinced that denying morality to atheists is what your god wants. I see this entrenched assumption you have as far more immoral and far more dangerous than is the honest opinion provided by PZ. The Chrsitmas tsunami of Indonesia killed about 300,000 people. Men. Women. Children. Animals. Believers. Non believers. I call that indiscriminate killing, but I don’t assign supernatural agency to the event. Shit happens. Nature simply doesn’t care.

    The fact that you cannot see your opinion about the morality of atheists as at least equal to any god-sanctioned morality is a huge problem, but that’s the nature of bigotry in action: it is based on not knowing but covering up that ignorance with a false certainty. It’s too dangerous to go unchallenged.

    Comment by tildeb — November 16, 2009 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  9. If morality comes from within, then you’re free to obey or disobey – create or change it depending on how you view it. Most importantly, it would not serve as a reference point for moral authority. I cannot consult your “within” to determine what morality is. As all of the world’s religions attest, morality is an obligation that we have to the law giver — the creator. Matter and physical laws alone cannot command or forbid any human action. In the atheistic worldview, moral norms would be imposed from the authority of other human beings alone. There could be no appeal to a higher authority (as there is in a God-oriented view). If the consensus (majority view) rightly imposed moral laws, there would be no justification for opposition to unjust laws (as in a Nazi society, for example). If morality comes from the individual, there would be no reference point, as I stated. When morality is rightly seen as the expression of God’s law, then one can reference that as a standard. This is the common human experience — it’s the default position. Moral laws are built on responsibility and obligation, and other human beings do not ultimately have the right to impose such things on others by themselves. In the U.S., human rights, for example are considered to be provided in by the Creator, and that is self-evident. Only in a tyranny would humans demand certain moral laws entirely divorced from divine commands.
    The great evolutionist, Jacques Monod’s classic dictum says is succinctly: One cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”.
    “I would say that all traditional philosophies up to and including Marxism have tried to derive the ‘ought’ from the ‘is.’ My point of view is that this is impossible, this is a farce.”
    Nature and its laws are the “is” — it does not command moral obligations (which require a law giver and arbiter and an ultimate system of justice).
    There are no sins in the atheistic worldview — violations of a self-created moral law are not punished by oneself. Certainly, there is no final accounting after death, so even when someone fabricates some kind of “morality” is has no binding power and carries no ultimate consequences or rewards. Religion has always given society that moral structure – it’s an external source that humanity has recognized since the beginning of human history. Religious revelations through history have provided this information — as has human intuition regarding the life of the soul and recompense after death.
    Remove those things and there is no logical foundation for a personal or social morality.

    Comment by creationbydesign — November 17, 2009 @ 12:52 am | Reply

    • How can you determine if the suicide bomber’s intent is moral or not? According to your argument, that morality requires divine authority, then this bomber appears to me to be very according to your definition because he has submitted to this supposed divine authority you tout. Is he wrong? I know he is wrong because he is willing to impose his beliefs by a destructive act and bring harm to the rights and dignity of others to dignify his own religious beliefs. That’s immoral. I recognize those beliefs to be twisted. Nothing you have provided me helps me to make that determination. So how can I possibly reach the conclusion I do if I do not share your version of a moral reference point through religious belief? Hmm. Strange, that. But he doesn’t know his religious certainty is immoral because he is following your advice and relies on his religious reference point from his divine law-giver. So again, how can you tell if his intent to harm others is moral or not? Not by relying on this moral reference point, that’s for sure. It’s untrustworthy.

      What exactly is this moral reference point you keep mentioning? Can you describe it? If you determine that the suicide bomber is willing to do an immoral act, and his religious reference point is different from yours, then how can you tell which divine authority is ‘right’? How do we determine if contrasting commands are ‘rightly seen’? What is the measurement or tool to determine which command is ‘right’ and which one is not ‘right’? All of them? Some of them? A few of them? Is it divine commands through texts? Which ones? Divine commands through revelation? Which revelation is divine and which is a mental illness? How do we know the difference? Which divine revelations take precedence over other competing divine revelations? All of them? Some of them? One of them? How do we know? How do we know? Explain to me how do we know?

      On what evidence are you claiming that religion (all? some? one?) is from an ‘external’ source? Which religion truly represents the ‘right’ law giver, the ‘right’ arbiter, the ‘right’ system of justice? With more than 2000 known religions recorded in just our short human history, please choose wisely. Surely one must be better than the rest. Again, though, how do we know?

      You make sweeping generalizations and assertions, like we can draw on the history of mankind to come to know these religious reference points and find moral answers to the questions I’ve asked. But the truth of the matter is that we are no closer now to finding these answers through religious belief than we were a hundred, a thousand years ago. And look at your sources you assure us are reliable: revelation and intuition… presumably guided by god. That works for our suicide bomber. Yet you make the bizarre claim that on the one hand moral laws are built on responsibility and obligation but on the other hand that other human beings do not ultimately have the right to impose such things on others by themselves. If not imposed by other human beings, then by whom? God? Ha! The answer is obvious: by other human beings. Some of those people claim to be acting on behalf of this divine law-giver… just like this nutbar suicide bomber who makes a claim identical in supposed divine authority! Again, how do we know which claim is actually divine when we only have human words from human sources to determine the difference?

      If you cannot grasp just how absurd and weak your supposedly moral position is, then take my word for it: you are in no position to judge the morality of others… especially those who eschew this religious arrogance that their personal opinions, serpentine interpretations, and moral preferences are backed by god. At least atheists have the ethical honesty to own their morality and take responsibility for their own opinions and personal actions. That ownership ought to count for something.

      Comment by tildeb — November 17, 2009 @ 4:30 am | Reply

  10. You seem quite hostile, for whatever reason. I can’t answer 30 rhetorical questions that you already provided your own answers for. I appreciate your views — I’ll just suggest that you reflect more calmly about things. In this warfare against religion that it seems you’re waging, victory is not gained by wiping people out but by winning them over. With that in mind, I’ll offer just one last comment here — realizing that you made a lot of points, some good some not as good.

    Again, how do we know which claim is actually divine when we only have human words from human sources to determine the difference?

    There’s a major point of difference here — something for your to consider. You assert that we only have human words from human sources. You’ve excluded the possibility that God communicates with people — both to prophets and to believers. But that’s an assumption — a bias, if you will. You set up the argument with the idea that God does not exist and that God does not communicate moral laws. Then you argue against the existence of God and that God has communicated moral teachings to mankind. But why should I accept your assumptions on this matter? I pray, as billions of people do, and I’ve found that God does communicate with those who pray, as he has for me. So, it’s not just human words. We have what is known as spiritual discernment. God communicates with people, through prayer. Does God give contradictory messages? No. But people have more or less ability to discern correctly. If you research this topic, seek out exemplars of whatever faith tradition you’re looking for. Look for Hindus who are admired for their spiritual progress, or for Buddhists who have attained wisdom, or perhaps Benedictine monks and Catholic saints who have spent years in growth in knowledge about God. There is a path to finding spiritual truths and when you advance on that path towards God, you’ll discover that moral norms become more and more common among religious believers (those who are the most spiritually advanced). To then compare them with spiritually-malformed Muslim suicide bombers is to make a parallel designed to ridicule religion and not designed to seek the truth about matters. Again, it appears that you are on a crusade against God and faith. You have your weapons and you’re attacking in hopes that you will destroy religious belief somehow. There’s a reason for that hostility — known to you alone. But I’d suggest that you not build a worldview on exaggerations or extreme arguments about religious faith, but rather, find some way to understand God from the believer’s point of view. Otherwise, atheism will continue to be exactly what it is characterized as — a reactionary and entirely negative and inhuman worldview. It proposes nothingness as the origin and end of life. It destroys purpose, meaning and human spirituality itself.
    Just a suggestion, that’s all it is.
    Thanks for the conversation.

    Comment by creationbydesign — November 17, 2009 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your suggestion; I tend to get a bit irate when religious proponents assume that unjustified beliefs allow for the moral high ground.

      I and you don’t believe in many things because we have no reason to believe them. You make many claims but provide no reason for me to believe them. You substitute proclamations, assertions, assumptions, and think these are reasons enough to make further claims based on them with real world effects, such as who can and cannot be moral, who does and does not have purpose in life, whose lives can and can not have meaning. That arrogant position you assume angers me because you have no good reasons to inform your opinion. Quite the contrary. Hence, the conversation.

      I have provided evidence that religious belief is not a source for moral behaviour. But you don’t care what I provide to inform my reasons because my reasons don’t matter if you don’t clear them first through your religious filter. What a surprise: none of my reasons clear the filter because you attribute their source to someone who must be immoral, so the reasons must be garbage.

      As if that method of informing beliefs wasn’t bad enough, you then make further claims based on your assertions that morality only comes from god and is available only to those who believe in god. These further claims reduce me in your attitudes, and you cause effect in the real world with those attitudes. Your religious views are not held in the private domain where they properly belong but are extended into the public to my detriment by your actions and stated opinions. In other words, my anger is justified because I have good reasons to be angry; your assertions are not justified because you do not have good reasons to be so antagonistic towards those who disagree with your religious claims and the conclusions you draw from them. That is why you practice bigotry but think you are practicing god-sanctioned piousness for doing so. That makes you dangerous because of your religious beliefs. Your beliefs shape your thinking. And that makes you culpable for promoting exactly the same kind of thinking that empowers this suicide bomber.

      That assertion should shock you, but you’ve already dismissed it out of hand.

      If god tells you to do something, you had better do it or suffer the consequences, right?. This thinking is wrong. It is horribly wrong. It is not pious: it is immoral. Your assertion that god does in fact communicate with people agrees entirely with this suicide bomber who states as much, but who is also willing to commit mass murder because he believes god has so commanded him. What frustrates me is that you seem incapable of recognizing why this belief about god’s personal communication is so open to abuse with terrible and tragic and needless suffering for innocents. To compound the problem of this allowance for divine communication to be acted upon in this world, you assure me that morality still comes from god in spite of glaring evidence to the contrary. This belief you have is so very dangerous not just to me but to you and your community. You just refuse to see it.

      I know this warning is simply water off your back because you will never, ever, allow any reasoning or informed opinion to turn on your critical faculties long enough to see what your beliefs really represent to others: a bigoted arrogance that allows for needless suffering in the name of god. You will always turn your eyes from what is right in front of them – what causes this suicide bomber to be willing to commit mass murder in the name of god – if it threatens the exalted position you have equally awarded to god. In your world, god is always perfect and never takes the blame for anything. You will not allow for the possibility to exist. You will reduce me in his name, you will make unjustified assumptions to reduce my humanity in his name, which makes you only one small step removed from this suicide bomber who is willing to also reduce me in god’s name, assume things about me that makes me easier to kill without remorse. And sadly, you will think yourself moral in your intent to honour god with your beliefs that reduces other human beings who disagree with you… just like the suicide bomber does.

      How are you and your beliefs any different to this guy in quality of what morally informs them? From where I am sitting, they are not different in kind, just in details. That is why religious moderates are always one act away from becoming religious extremists.

      I’m glad you’re okay with that price for your convictions. I’m not.

      Comment by tildeb — November 18, 2009 @ 2:34 am | Reply

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