Matthew 10:32-36 and how religion poisons loving families.

Matthew 10
32 'So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven.
33 But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.
34 'Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set son against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law;
36 a person's enemies will be the members of his own household.

The above verse was pasted on facebook today by my mother, she's taking our debate very personally, even though I stopped it before things went too far. I thought anyways. She called me today to ask a favor of me and about three minutes in she was in tears. It makes me sad.

I love my mom. When I was religious she was an inspiration to me, she guided me down her path of faith with what I am sure was sincere belief that it was the right path. I don't blame her for my religious indoctrination, she was raised with the stuff by my grandmother, a strong and amazing woman who was also raised with religion as a part of life. It is just how it goes. Being Catholic was almost as matter of fact as being Hispanic.

But I do not have that faith anymore, and I respect my family too much to lie to them about it. I didn't leave my faith out of petty vengeance, I left because I do not believe. I left because I cannot maintain that faith, and I find no comfort in it. With no peace and no faith, what reason is left to adhere to religion? Tradition? 

Unfortunately once the blinders were removed I could not unsee the atrocities religion has gotten away with. This sanctimonious bullshit shoved down our throats has the potential to make us do horrible, unforgivable things, like disowning your children or stoning them to death, or... come on, you know the stories.


I hear, even on this site, that I haven't given religion a fair shake. Oh, I'm shaking it alright, and all the fruit that falls from that tree is rotten.

Charity done in the name of ministry work, a X-tian group may build a school in the middle of Africa, but they'll make sure to spoon feed them this religious garbage. Hell they do it here in America, good colleges with religious institutions woven in so tightly that Nietzsche cannot realistically be discussed in philosophy without turning him into some easily thwarted cartoonish villain.

What other good is there? Peace? What is inner peace when it comes at the expense of the emotional distress of others? It certainly will never bring world peace as long as the three major Abrahamic traditions are all competing for the grandest asshole trophy. Bloodshed across the globe can trace its path back to those religions time and time again.

Does it create answers? No, it creates a false question of "What happens after life?" With religion you spend so much time concerned with your life of eternity that you don't realize your adherence to this bullshit is precisely why death seems like a better choice than the life you are currently living. Everyone is suspect, everyone is a sinner, EVERYONE IS HELLBOUND.

Well I've had enough. I am not going to pander to the religious and act as though religion offers some unique good to the world. Let me leave you with this little nugget about the good religion does in the world.

My grandfather fondled me, my cousin and several of our friends when we were young and blossoming girls. When I told my mother, and when others came forward my grandfather went to see a priest, who forgave him. He has never once apologized or spoke of it again to any of us. We were all very young then. I was urged to forgive him. I was told not to tell my brothers because it would only upset them.

So I did.

I forgave him.

And the day of my beautiful grandmother's funeral he did it again.

Good thing the confessional was open that weekend.

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Comment by Heather Spoonheim on January 26, 2012 at 1:48am

If I understand correctly, Albert, you are essentially saying there is no objective morality, and anything with which we come up can only be a compromise.  From my perspective, recognizing that compromise is integral to all systems (dependent on culture and context), evolving rationalizations are the best we can do, and theistic systems fail because they cannot adapt without admitting the authority never existed in the first place.

Comment by IEatDinosaurMeat on January 26, 2012 at 6:03am

Does the word "beneficial" fall under the naturalistic fallacy? Is it not the case that beneficial things tend to aid in survival thus would be selected? And also that detrimental things cause a negative impact on survival and thus would not be selected? So "morality" is not a code of right and wrong, but more a weighing of cost, benefit, reward and risk.

The way I understand utilitarianism is that it falls under the same rules as natural selection at two different levels. The one mentioned before, where the choice that is most beneficial to an organism or organisms at the individual and communal level aids in the survival of the organisms that show the tendency to make the 'right' (beneficial) decision. The next level is basically the meme idea. Where the fittest of moral decisions is the one that survives and exists on to the next decision.

The overarching universal goal is not simply survival, and in fact the goal isn't even intentionally a goal as it is not the individual who decides they want to survive, nor is it the gene's decision (genes don't make decisions). Ethics, to me, is as tautological as natural selection itself.

Comment by Citizen Atheist on January 26, 2012 at 6:22am

Well done.  Religion really does need to be squashed - and this is a prime example.

Comment by Albert Bakker on January 26, 2012 at 12:45pm

I think so too Heather.  Even though there is no objective morality (moral realism) if you must philosophize about it, you can still pretend as if there are moral truths and be consistent at the same time. This meta-ethical position is called quasi realism. (Simon Blackburn.) It is also flawed, but is much closer to real human morality practice, than either realism or relativism.

@IEatDinosaurMeat. That's an interesting example. Of course 'beneficial' isn't a goal, it's a consequence, which you can only evaluate after the fact (and all the results are in.) Or in the case of natural selection what (type of behavior) is beneficial or detrimental may ultimately be decided over many generations. [You are making a naturalistic fallacy in short if you reason that if it is usually so (in nature) then it ought to be so.]

I do think morality plays a role in this, as the way we evaluate moral codes determines behavior toward each other, horizontally (in-group out-group and so forth) as well as vertically (social hierarchy) and in so doing I think perhaps shapes and is shaped by social stability, as a consequence of individuals trying to establish an optimal 'balance' between things like individual freedom and social mobility on the one hand and things like security and predictability/ stability on the other.

Utilitarianism is a consequentialist system in it that it holds that the morality or moral value of an act is decided by the consequence, namely if and to what extent it contributes to the goal of bringing the greatest amount of happiness to the largest number of people.

'The greatest amount of happiness' is not identical with 'the most beneficial.' It doesn't take too much imagination to come up with a case where that is not true. (When you declare that because most people seem to seek happiness what is good ought to be increasing happiness, you are committing a naturalistic fallacy.)

Comment by John Kelly on January 26, 2012 at 3:17pm

And now we come back to my point.  Religion provides a stronger illusion to prop up a veneration of moral action.  It provides justification. Such an illusion clearly provided the glue to help society move from tribalism to modernity.  The divine sanction of kings inspired armies. It moved us from warring tribes to city states to nations.  The enlightenment which was largely deistic, provided unique forms of morality that are venerated in the west, but ill-accepted by the east.

As for the notion "that is what X argues, but we are Y and don't believe that, only X does, is a terrible counter for an argument.

What if X is wrong?  What if X is overtaken by groupthink and wishful thinking, as I originally claimed...  What if X doesn't want to invalidate the bulk of their arguments against Y by actually fairly considering the argument...  I contend the latter, in fact that was my accusation.

You say religion is ill adaptive.  Nonsense.  People aren't practicing the same religions they practiced 2000 years ago.  They may adopt names and texts and claim they are following the same tradition, but no, they are different religions that adapted.  Most of the new major religions that formed rejected a lot of the sectarian views of the previous.  From Hinduism came Jainism and Buddhism, from Islam came Bahai, and from Islam and Hinduism came Sikh.  From Christianity came Progressive Revelation Theology.

You said that morality is innnate and that the innate nature of morality is sufficient.  I pointed out from history that morality fails against philosophical challenge to readily to be relied upon solely from innate drives.  Then you ask for evidence?  I just gave it to you. 

Once again, religion is based in philosophy about the supernatural.  There are countless historical evidences of philosophy leading people to counter this innate drive that supposedly causes all humans to want to live in harmony.  That is the evidence.  Like I said before, if the power of morality was an innate product of human evolution, philosophy would not essentially make morality its bitch all the time.  And that is the way philosophy has it's way with morality. 

I gave you moral atrocities over the time of history, and I gave you the very point that your objection with religion is that it kicks morality's ass too much, which indicates the weakness of morality against philosophy.

Whether you like it or not, religion provided the nations of the earth a notion that there was a greater justification for morality.  That morality had a benefit beyond that which it provided you and those close to you.  And people are more motivated under a greater purpose in general.  It was an archetype of ultimate goodness to adhere to.

Morality, evolved under religion to obtain greater value.  Explosive value.  Antitheism actually thinks that reverting to an earlier less efficient system which was in place when humanity consisted of warring tribes, like the Massai of Africa who don't have anything to do with fellow Massai tribes... is going to lead to a better tomorrow.  Nonsense, It can.  Perhaps it will.  Perhaps it will lead to the destruction of humanity as well...  Most likely it will lead to nothing better.

Again I said, it is all a big unknown what tomorrow will bring.  And then there is the issue of what people in power will do under such a system where morality is a mere illusion.  The more powerful one gets the less they tend to care about social contribution anyway.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The populace, however, can be lead to believe all sorts of nonsense.  Genocide can be justified, anything can be just as justified and sustained under a non-religious system as a religious one.  In fact, any system based on atheistic thought has failed dismally in terms of morality.  But then again, this is ignored, brushed aside, instead of looking at the reasons why that happened.


Comment by John Kelly on January 26, 2012 at 3:20pm

We are left with this. A system in which morals have no basis other than popular opinion. Sure there is that sliver of innate morality, but the mind is more powerful than it. Now this would be great, if people had have evolved a lot further than they have. People still engage in tribalist thinking. They still tend to form groups that they fiercely defend. If people had have evolved to broad social thinking, and were more harmonious by nature, a system in which everyone agrees what is moral, just like the system that agrees what ought to be the legal age of consent, it would work. But people are polemic. Planetwide, non-religious ideologies create hatred.

Religious people see this problem most clearly because they know they are adhering to an archetype and that is the basis for why something is justified. Non-religious simply adopt the values given by the society, which creates the problem of questioning society.

I am not concerned that morality will disappear. I am pointing out that Antitheism puts the world in no better state. It is not the elite utopia of the future, and for antitheists to uphold it as such is just nonsensical. Uphold it on its actual merits.

The point is that to uphold that things will get better with the elimination of religion, is a baseless position. Things may. They may not. And there is a definite possibility they will get worse.

As for religon, on the other hand, it continues to evolve toward universal acceptance of humanity. Catholicism has already gone that way since Vatican II, Eastern Orthodoxy is 50% that way, and universalist protestant Christianity is gaining as well. Episcopalians have already gone that way, as has most of the DOC.

If you can't see the evolution of religion you are either impatient, or blind. Evolution is not a quick thing. Now my position is that morality enjoys its functionality from principles tied to the order of the universe. That order can be established as valid, because it's opposite cannot participate in being assigned validity due to having no measurable substance. I even consulted a physicist on that one.

But the point is that the notion that religion makes the world worse than it would be without it is a very presumptuous one. And the largest reason why, is that philosophy is both the enemy and the savior of humanity, and it will continue long past the elimination of religion. And philosophy is unpredictable.

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 26, 2012 at 9:39pm

My position is that Jesus provides an excellent illustration of the natural universal morality which has always existed in the human species.  It's there, so it must have a simple biological basis.  

John, you've opened my eyes somewhat.  You're right, there are at least two parts to the problem of getting a strong atheist morality to be accepted by the world.  

1.  Providing a robust moral standard.  

2.  Getting people to follow it.  

When Christians ask "why should atheists be moral?", that is a misleading question.  We should really ask, why ARE atheists moral?  Because we are probably every bit as moral as Christians.  As for people who are neither atheist nor Christian, that's a separate issue.  I think the reason why atheists are moral is because we want to be and because we study the subject hard.  That leaves the question, why do we WANT to be moral?  We don't need theories on the subject - we just need to observe what is already happening.  In other words, ask people.  To some people morality is vitally important.  Usually those who have been f***ed over and wish not to repeat the process.  

I agree that Christianity can provide a decent objective morality - at least, to my knowledge, by following Jesus.  That's because he's an external, unchanging authority who carries the approval of the entire human race.  Objectivity.  There are other equally valid methods of achieving objectivity.  

Does religion do a good job of keeping people in line morally?  Reasonable.  That's a lot better than nothing.  We should learn from their experience, even though we want to try something different.  

I think that if we want Christians to change their sometimes bad behaviour, we need to approach them like human beings and friends.  Otherwise we will always fail.  We can't influence people by abusing and insulting them.  They would have to admit, "yes, we are stupid and evil, how can we be more like you?"  It's never going to work.  We should appeal to their better natures - say, "what would Jesus think of what you did?"  That is something we could both agree on. 

Comment by John Kelly on January 26, 2012 at 10:27pm

Oh morality does have a biological basis.  But our brains have outgrown it operating on that basis.  It is definitely there.  I also think that approaching christians from their frame of mind is the way to help them see a better way.

This passage even, was being misused by Carol's mother.  It is about Christians being alienated from their families.  The chapter is about persecution the apostles will experience as they are sent out on a short trip to a number of villages.  It is telling them to be strong, but really is written for the people who are being persecuted and alienated from family on account. of being Christian.  Someone needs to point these things out to them, since they are too lazy to read their bibles...

Anyway I ended up finalizing my morality argument that I was showing you a few months ago.   Superiority was not the right basis.  It was close to the right one, but was one degree of separation away.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on January 26, 2012 at 11:01pm


Religions provides no justification whatsoever - in point of fact, it bypasses justification by replacing it with false authority; a leader who says that an invisible man told him that gays are despicable and should not be allowed to marry.  It is not at all flexible - the authority figure simply changes and the new leader simply brings along his own bigotry, without justification, and then declares that the invisible boogie man says it is so.

Religion may have contributed to the development of society, although that is not the same as proving it was the only mechanism that could have accomplished those advancements.  Either way, it is an irrational anachronism in need of being purged lest it keep us mired in the Bronze Age superstition from whence it supposedly delivered us.

Get specific about your X/Y analogy for I have no idea what you are on about with it.  When did I say 'morality is innate'?  Is this just another strawman?  Or are you confusing my analogy to the selfish gene?  You say you've given evidence but, as yet, all I see is argument -> argument riddled with logical fallacy.

Religion isn't based on philosophy about the supernatural, it is based on belief in a specifically conjectured supernatural.  I have yet to hear of a religion that postulates, "What would a super-being want from us if one exists?"  Religion is about telling you what the boogieman wants, as declared by the shaman of old.

Don't start moving your position over to being one that argues some rational basis for morality based on philosophical evaluation -> religion offers no room for that.  The priests dictate what is right and declare that the boogieman said it so there can be no questioning.

What moral atrocities did you offer?  You mentioned that the people of Iran (Muslim) don't care about the plight of the Palestinians (being persecuted by Jews).  Religion is specifically responsible for the entire political environment of all parties involved there.  You've given evidence that religious morality is horrible.

Religion never offered a justification of morality -> it simply said 'do these things' and "don't do these things" or you'll burn in an imaginary fire.  How is that justification?  There isn't even a notion of empathy in that system.

Antitheism does not take a position of wanting to revert to a time when facts meant nothing and superstition meant everything -> that is called religious fundamentalism.  The populace can be lead to believe anything?  I think you are talking about the religious populace.  Hell, they believe in an invisible boogieman in the sky, why not believe that that boogieman said to commit genocide -> it's in the cult scriptures, isn't it?  What is the rational justification of genocide?

Again, if you can see no basis for morality outside of believing in an invisible boogieman, and you no longer believe in an invisible boogieman, does that mean you've become an immoral person since losing your faith?  If so, then your words here mean nothing because you are a terrible person.  If not, then you've proven yourself wrong.

You said, "Planetwide, non-religious ideologies create hatred."  Care to offer an example?

You've yet to respond to the problem of religion declaring it moral to enforce inequality.  You've also ignored all the progress that has had to be made AGAINST religion in moving forward from the dark ages.  Religion was used to rally against women's rights, equality of blacks, and is still used to rally against equality of gays.

It's not just about eliminating religion -> it's about getting people to evaluate their positions based on facts rather than fairy tales.  Elimination of religion is just a prerequisite for that.

You said, "As for religon, on the other hand, it continues to evolve toward universal acceptance of humanity."  Really?  You weren't laughing when you said that?  Do you seriously th

Comment by John Kelly on January 26, 2012 at 11:31pm

I said illusion of justification countless times.  The problem that keeps you from understanding this is that you are just making way too many assumptions.  If you aren't responding to the specifics of what I write it makes for unproductive conversation.  There is really no excuse to think at this point in the conversation that I am saying morality is justified.  

And religion does continue to evolve. 

And Religion is based on philosophy.  Philosophy includes anything from the meanings of life, the way things work, and what is moral action.  Your example fails to encompass that, and in turn fails to refute the claim.

And the belief that only religious people get lead to believe anything... lol.   Have you even watched people during political seasons?

We can hold on there until those points are sufficiently clear.  After that, I can address your other points more clearly, but those are some of the more important ones.


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