I read posts here that call different things, "harmful to humanity."  Others call something, "good" or "bad" or "evil."

A very simple question, who gets to decide the definition of  "harmful to humanity" and what is there critieria? The same for "good," "bad," and "evil?" These are not material terms. If everything is material isn't there just "is" and not these moral declarations if one is being thoroughly atheist?

Help me understand your position so I am fair and honest about the views. Thanks.

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@Wretched Saint,

From your comments, it's clear that you believe in the Bible and its God. When you originally asked:

"A very simple question, who gets to decide the definition of  "harmful to humanity" and what is there critieria? The same for "good," "bad," and "evil?" These are not material terms. If everything is material isn't there just "is" and not these moral declarations if one is being thoroughly atheist?"

It's plain to see you're pursuing the false claim that, because human morality is relative and subjective, it is like a candle in the wind; changing direction with the wind. The unspoken point is that morality is actually absolute, objective, and unchanging.

And that can only be true if it's perfect . . . which means, from God Himself.

Dress it up any way you like but that's the Christian line you're toeing.

And you know what? You're right to think that an absolute, objective and unchanging morality can only come from a perfect God. That fact is the reason for one of the best arguments against God -- his morality is not only far from perfect: it's abhorrent.

There's so much Biblical confirmation of this fact that I would rather pursue another line of reasoning and leave it up to you to read the Bible with an open mind.

The most devastating reason (in my opinion) against God and the Bible is Christians themselves. ALL Christians are selective Christians. They cherry-pick what they do or don't favor: what they're willing to observe and practice. For instance, Christians are united with atheists against slavery despite the fact that it's wholeheartedly endorsed by God himself -- and NOT just in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well. Here's a list of citations in case you'd like to see for yourself:

  • Genesis chapter 17, verse 12:
  • Exodus chapter 12 verse 43:
  • Exodus Chapter 21, verse 1:
  • Exodus Chapter 21, verse 20:
  • Exodus Chapter 21, verse 32:
  • Leviticus Chapter 22, verse 10:
  • Leviticus Chapter 25, verse 44:
  • Luke, Chapter 7, verse 2:
  • Colossians, chapter 3, verse 22:

You can't have it both ways. Either Jesus is God or he isn't. Either God is perfect or he isn't. Either God is The Law-giver or he isn't.

Yet EVERYBODY knows slavery is immoral. Nobody but a sicko would want to be a slave. Nobody but a callous, heartless, person would own one.

Pay attention here, Wretched Saint . . . Christians are no different from atheists when it comes to obeying God. We do what is good because it is good. We avoid what is bad because it is bad. WE USE OUR OWN, PERSONAL, HUMAN, MORALITY TO OVERRULE THE MORALITY OF GOD. It's a fact. WE decide what is moral. WE decide what is religiously worthy. WE overrule God. SO WHY DO WE NEED HIM AT ALL?

If you REALLY believed God is perfect and the giver of the law, you would follow him. It's not just the negative stuff, like slavery, either. It's also the spiritually uplifting stuff like Jesus' message from the Sermon on the Mount. Do Christians give up their worldly goods and trust God to provide for them as He does for the birds of the sky? Do they really forgive 7 times 70 times? Do they really turn the other cheek?

In actual practice in the real world. God is MOST refuted by Christians themselves.

But don't worry, if the Biblical God really does exist, he's harmless and powerless. It seems he's not perfect after all.

Exile - RE: "WE overrule God."

And the reason we're free to do that with impunity, is because Man created god, in his own image.

pax vobiscum,

Amen, archaeopteryx!

Speaking of "amen" . . . if it were the other way around -- that God created man -- wouldn't we be saying "agod" instead of "amen"?


How about "aperson"?:)) laughing

Gender neutral? No way. We all know what God is like. He's definitely a testosterone-based deity.

Sounds like you're trying to say he's a really nice guy --:P tongue

I would heartily agree that many Christians, including myself, fail at following the Law. I readily admit that. I do not always turn the other cheek, at times I care about my stuff more than my neighbor, and on my best day, some self-centeredness steers me from loving my enemies. From a grace/Gospel centered perspective of Christianity--one I am saddened it seems many folks here have not encountered, but rather a moralistic therapuetic version which teaches "be good like us" ugh--, the Law is not attainable but rather a diagnostic tool, or tutor, to lead us to what is proclaimed in the Gospels.

I am asking a philosophical question here that I am seeking an answer from my atheist fellows about (regardless of it they are able to fully carry out that stated morality). Would it be fair for me to judge the value of atheist philosophical consistency by say the actions of Stalin or Mao? I would think we both want the conversation to remain philosophical about ideals, axioms and values.

This is ridiculous, Wretch!

You're fielding replies from everybody and just replying to those points you feel you can defend . . . while ignoring the difficult points.

Like I said: "You can't have it both ways."

Do you believe slavery is okay? Would you own or be a slave? Is slavery immoral or not?

If you try to dodge that one, I will consider it to be what it appears to be: DENIAL. You can't hide forever.

I think it would be useful to explain to Wretched why you think slavery is prima facie wrong from an ethical viewpoint.

From an ethical viewpoint? Really?


From experience, I know what hurts me. With empathy, I know the same things likely hurt you too.

I would feel God-awful if my birthright were denied and I were treated as undeserving of the same respect as others. I would resent being told what to do, when to do it, and how high to jump. I would boil inside if mistreated and risked death if I rebelled, fought back or ran away.

I'm pretty sure you or any other healthy-minded person would too.

Please note that this is not "presentism": a cultural reality different than in the days of Jesus. This is just being human. The same goes for Muhammad and his child-bride Aisha. Forget "different cultures". At some point, it's just a lecherous old man face to face with a 9-year-old virgin girl. Human to human. And so is the case with master and slave. At some point they are face to face subjugator and subjugatee.

These things are wrong because they require denying empathy.

The mention of presentism addresses only the question of HUMAN morality. Presentism is not a moral consideration for a perfect and timeless God.

@Wretched - You pretty much just answered your own question.  You admit that you don't follow "the Law".  But more to the point, you don't even believe in "the Law".  You believe in parts of the Law and only those parts which you deem as worthy.  You use Stalin and Mao as examples of people who perform horrific acts.  You might as well add Hitler to that list, despite the fact that he was a devout xian and all of his actions were justified by how he interpreted the bible.

Once again, you are asking an invalid question.  Atheists don't have a "central moral doctrine" any more than all stamp collectors do.  Or theists for that matter.  (And theists most certainly do not).  We all decided what is "good" and "evil" in our minds.  We also determine what is "harmful to humanity" based on how we are defining "humanity" at the time.  Are you talking about your family, your tribe (friends and family), your town, your state, your nation, your race, the world?  Are you talking about your economy, ecology, judicial system, society? 

There is no answer to the question as you pose it.  First, it leaves too many things open-ended and second, it MUST be misinterpreted because your question makes to sense as it stands.

Keith - you have to understand his strategy - the answer to any of your questions is irrelevant, as the purpose is to question whatever answer you give, then question that answer, and the next, to the point where you have no more answers. Then he wins, he has rendered the atheist speechless.

pax vobiscum,



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