Slavery is wrong. Rape is wrong. Homophobia is wrong... The list goes on - and there aren't too many around in 'enlightened' society who'd disagree, because, generally speaking, people are better than their holy books (and their Gods).

This is obviously a very good thing. If it weren't the case, civilisation (if we could call it that) would be an immensely violent, fearful, unjust place. Your daughter gets raped? Marry her to the rapist. Someone steals a loaf of bread to feed their starving family? Chop off their hands.

If you're a believer entirely loyal and honest with your sacred texts, this may not seem so bad. If it's the word of God, then everything in it must be good, no? Fine. You're immoral to the core*, but at least you're honest - taking the good and the supposedly 'bad' in equally. 'Moderates' do not share this luxury. Their world is full of grey areas, of 'wishy-washy' metaphors and allegory and intellectual acrobatics.

Don't get me wrong, I have thousands of times more respect for these people - it's just that, in an open conversation on religion, I expect they'd be umm-ing and ahh-ing a tad more frequently. They're nicer folks, but the 'you have to put those bits into the context of their time' argument, especially when simultaneously professing an 'absolute truth' of the holy books, just doesn't hold up.

'Absolute truth' requires context? Objectivity is relative?
Paradox. Contradiction.

Now, before it's pointed out, I don't think fundamentalists necessarily 'have it easy' at all cerebrally-speaking. Forget having to bend the meaning of verses so they fit together, fundies have to warp reality. A good example of this:

Every young-Earther with a driver's licence is a hypocrite. Why? Because the very science of the fossil fuels powering their vehicle tells us that that the world is greater than 10,000 years old.

Simple. (That's not mine by the way. What I've written is highly paraphrased, and I forget its origin.)

Ever had a browse of Ken Ham's 'Answers in Genesis' website? It's a gold mine of glitter-covered shit. Take, for instance, the actual reality of the existence of dinosaurs millions of years ago and the 'biblical reality' (read 'biblical baseless assertion') of the Earth being, again, only about a few thousand years young. How are these two things squared off? Simple:

AiG: "As God’s written Word to us, we can trust [the Bible] to tell the truth about the past... Thus, dinosaurs lived within the past few thousand years."

Amazing! Which of course means 'dinosaurs were represented on the Ark' too... (And I thought it couldn't get any more cramped.)

But, hats off to these brainwashed loonies - at least they stick to their guns. For them, it's either 'all-in' or 'all-out', and I *admire* their conviction when it comes to defending the former.

However, I don't mean to push the wishy-washy moderates to one side or the other, as they're wholly entitled to their beliefs (or lack of them). They're the people - better than their Gods - that make democracy possible. I really do admire that... It's just that I see no problem, in perhaps an honest, open, friendly conversation, to point out to them that when they claim to credit the Bible or Qur'an (etc) for their own innate/learned 'goodness' they are in fact simply using very specific, chosen parts of the books to reinforce just that.

What's more, If we allow for the flawed 'context' argument to override this fact there's literally no reason to oppose any immoral practices with a cultural or religious background happening at present. Then it really gets 'wishy-washy', and people suffer because of it.

The decent believer shouldn't just ignore unsavoury scriptural passages and write them off as 'acceptable for their time' or 'metaphor', they should criticise them. If slavery, in your mind, is wrong now then it was wrong at the time of writing. It's really that simple.

Perhaps past slave owners, like some early American presidents, weren't necessarily immoral themselves - but the act of slave owning then and now certainly was and is. We only really move forward if we look at it like this... And it's not like we haven't got further to go (with, I'd argue, a lot of religion - even the more 'moderate' kind - getting in the way).

Carnun :P


* 'immoral to the core' if you genuinely live by and celebrate all scripture has to offer knowingly, like making sure not to beat your slaves that little bit too much or burning an unfortunate old lady alive for sorcery.

Not if you're just a child who's been lied to by their fundamentalist parents about gay people. That child is not immoral - the ideology in which they are raised is.
(Reposted from 'The Ramblings of a Young Atheist' by the Author.)

Views: 202

Tags: Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Morality, Religion

Comment by Strega on July 27, 2013 at 12:03pm

I love your posts Carnun.  Did you see Archbishop Tutu said he won't worship a homophobic god?  I thought that was pretty cool of him.

Comment by Diane on July 27, 2013 at 7:31pm

Where did they put the apatosauruses?  Which unfortunate member of Noah's family got to muck out the Stegosauruses stall?  And, for Pete's sake, weren't the velociraptors a nuisance?  they probably wiped out hundreds of species of rodents alone.  Meh... rodent schmodent.  

Speaking of rodents, what was God smoking when he came up with this?  

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on July 28, 2013 at 5:49am

Carnun, you must stop hanging around with moderates.

Find a few extremists. For instance, progressive folk are way out to the left of moderates and liberals.

Comment by Unseen on July 28, 2013 at 12:16pm

I can't think of too many absolute truths that aren't mathematical or tautological. Ethical matters are contingently true, based on commonly-held attitudes which are true only because we won't allow them to be false. They define our culture.

Comment by matt.clerke on July 28, 2013 at 7:22pm

I find it hard to respect the belief of a moderate christian... If it's the divinely inspired word of God and objectively true, shouldn't you take every word as gospel and live by the word of the bible?

Comment by _Robert_ on July 28, 2013 at 7:23pm

 ..generally speaking, people are better than their holy books (and their Gods).

It's the moral dichotomies and contrasts that get me. For example you can have slaves.....however...

"When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it"

Deuteronomy > Chapter 22 > Verse 8


  If you do lynch a slave or pirate, better cut him down right away

“If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,23his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

 Deuteronomy > Chapter 21 > Verse 22

So hanging pirates over the Thames river as they rot for years...not cool with god.

We need a "love" this post button, my friends !!

Comment by Strega on July 28, 2013 at 7:31pm


Comment by _Robert_ on July 28, 2013 at 7:41pm

That'll work nicely Strega, Thank You!!

Comment by Carnun Marcus-Page on July 29, 2013 at 10:46am

Wow, alright... I've got a lot to reply to! :P

Strega: I saw, yes. Hats off to him - deluded or not, he's doing a nice thing... A good example of being better than the God who delights in sending his creations into the eternal furnace.

Diane: Ha, yeah... But forget even that - first of all, where did they find room for all of the hundreds of thousands of beetle species?

And what was he smoking? Apparently all of the 3rd-creation-day weed stock, by the looks of it... :P

Tom: Huh? (Am I just being an idiot? I thought I knew humour, if that's what this is...)

Unseen: True... But is it not possible to use some sort of measure (like, say, proportional rape statistics) to decide somewhat objectively whether or not some cultures/widespread attitudes are, in a purely ethical sense, better than others?

It's certainly misleading to talk of ethical truth though. There are many different ways to be 'better', it's not a game of absolutes.

Matt: I agree. I don't respect their beliefs, but, in perhaps the case of religious friends, I find other things to respect to pass the time and build a relationship (between rather frank discussions on religion).

Robert: What - contradiction in the Bible? Never... ;)

Strega (2): Cheers, ha... And well done. :P

Comment by Unseen on July 29, 2013 at 10:48am

Unseen: True... But is it not possible to use some sort of measure (like, say, proportional rape statistics) to decide somewhat objectively whether or not some cultures/widespread attitudes are, in a purely ethical sense, better than others?

It's certainly misleading to talk of ethical truth though. There are many different ways to be 'better', it's not a game of absolutes.

We can do what we do: act based on our inclinations, impulses, and attitudes, recognizing that there's no way to prove we are absolutely right.


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