No unity, no divinity

I just heard an apologist on STR claim that the degree of unity we see among believers is the degree to which we can conclude that Jesus was divine.

He cited John 17:21-23.
…(21) that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (22) I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one — (23) I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me.…

I completely agree. Kudos to this apologist for putting a popperian proposition out there.

The non-trivial disunity among believers is, in fact, substantial evidence against the divinity of Jesus, based on its own standards of evidence.

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A personal Jesus

“I have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

Many Christians frequently make this claim, apparently without any shame, even as they remain ignorant of anything about Jesus not found in the Bible.

I don’t have a personal relationship with Abraham Lincoln, in spite of being able to quote him and feeling his influence in my life.

To claim I did would be a shameful diminishing of the actual personal relationships I have with my friends and family.

But this claim appears quite foundational to the religious perspective of many, and is indicative of the degree of self-deception at play.

“What is wrong with lying if it is not morally wrong?”

I have yet to encounter a coherent argument for a foundation for obligatory morality.

At the same time, I have accused people of intentionally lying or misrepresenting my position.

Amazingly, many of the people I accuse of mendacity will counter by saying their lies should mean nothing to me since I do not believe in obligatory morality.

It is a shame I would have to address this, but this sort of nonsensical defense of lying has seemed to be increasing recently, and most incredibly, primarily among the very theists who claim a single lie is worthy of eternal damnation.

Lying is not “morally” wrong since there is no domain of “morality” in which something can be “morally” wrong. But emotions do exist. Here are a couple of the emotional and practical consequences of lying, both of which are a sufficient reason to limit lying to those cases in which it would preserve the greater good.

1. If you care for others you’ll do your utmost to make sure they have as much access to the truth as possible since goals are best accomplished through rational decisions based on accurate information. Happiness is accomplished through wise decisions enabled by accurate information. If you care for others, you won’t make it a practice to lie. This appeal to your humanity does not require an obligatory morality.

2. If you care about yourself, you’ll build a reputation for truth-telling. People do not like liars. This quite universal distaste for liars does not require that we have some type of obligatory moral standard saying lying is morally wrong. lies cause emotional and sometimes physical injury. This is very commonsensical. Others will distrust you when you lie, and your social options will decrease. If you care about yourself, you’ll not lie.

So, while you can not say “Lying is morally wrong”, you can most certainly say “Lying is wrong if you don’t want to hurt yourself and others.” There is no obligation in this; only unhappiness for yourself and others if you choose to make lying a habit. And I’m most certainly not “borrowing” from your unsubstantiated obligatory morality in my emotional distaste for lying due to the pain it causes.

As simple as all this is, I have actually heard at least 5 times within the last year the statement that, because I find no justification for obligatory morality, I can take no offense to lying. It is almost as if they claim we must give up our emotions (which clearly do exist) if we deny them their obligatory morality (which clearly does not exist).

Those theists who make this claim after lying do so in violation of a) the standards of their god, b) rationality, and c) the emotional distaste for lying found the world over.

Makes one wonder whether they are intentionally attempting to undermine their position.

Reason is a Whore

whoreMartin Luther, the father of the Reformation said,

Reason is a whore of the devil.1

Luther then demonstrates his commitment to this claim by employing a Christian version of reason and arguing,

Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children.2

The “broad hips” of women were reasoned evidence to Luther that women should “sit still” at home. Perhaps if Luther had learned what reason was and how to properly engage her, she would not have seemed like a cheap whore. Instead, Luther’s commitment to the deceitful whore called “Faith” led him to abuse reason.

A few hundred years and the internet later, we have a Christian named Ray Comfort similarly arguing from bananas to Jehovah’s purpose in the following video.

Just think of all the things that are hand-shaped and mouth-shaped that we could, with Christian logic, argue were made to go into hands and mouths. If you treat reason like a whore, don’t complain when you discover you’ve been arguing with a diseased mind. However, treating reason with respect, and making a commitment to her alone while refusing the whore in the shadows called “Faith” will yield far more rational conclusions to inform our lives.

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True Altruism

martyrsQuestion. Is it more altruistic to sacrifice your life for others or a belief while believing it is your only life to give, or to sacrifice your life with the understanding that you’re headed to an afterlife in which you’ll live forever with pleasures of all sorts as reward for your earthly sacrifices?

Isn’t it time to revisit history and modify our list of true “martyrs”?

Biblical Promises

fluffMany of us were told when we were kids that God has promised to do many things on behalf of those who believe in him. After years of studying the bible and Christians, I now strongly believe that all biblical promises to supernaturally alter the lives of Christians have conclusively been broken. There is no effect of a promise made by the bible that falls outside a placebo effect. And this is not a trivial claim. Most Christians will tell you that God, through the bible, has made many promises that should alter their behaviors and physical worlds. I tend to agree. There are many biblical verses that appear to be clear promises of spiritual causes for real world effects. Here are a few such promises to consider.

  • Prayer will result in miracles.
  • The gift of the Holy Ghost will give you power over sin.
  • The gift of the Holy Ghost will allow you to correctly prophesy.
  • Christians are are far less apt to be deceived due to the Holy Ghost.
  • Christians are happier than other people.
  • Christians make wiser decisions than do other people.

How many of these candidate promises do you think are clearly stated in the bible?
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