Now deceased Madalyn Murray O’Hair (1919-1995), once known as the most hated woman in America and a title she apparently took great pleasure in (1), fought a war against school prayer and won. It was further ruled in her favor that official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963 and onward would cease.
Madalyn had a son, William, who too was a convinced atheist who supported his mother’s stance. While still a school pupil William would state: “I am an atheist, and I wish to be an atheist, and I don’t feel it would be appropriate for me to stand up and say the Lord’s Prayer”.
William’s mother founded the American Atheists, a group that is today dedicated to defending the civil liberties of atheists and advocating complete separation of church and state, and sued the city of Baltimore demanding that the state collected taxes from the tax-exempt Catholic church. She sued NASA arguing that public prayer ought to be banned by government employees in outer space. Madalyn also challenged the words under God in the pledge of allegiance as well as the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the currency. But things took a tragic turn when in 1995 Madalyn, her son Jon, and granddaughter Robin were kidnapped and murdered by former American Atheist employee David Waters (1947-2003).
In hindsight, William is willing to look back on these events and describe them in more detail. William distanced himself ideologically from his mother since he denounced atheism and became a Christian, which he speaks about in his book My Life Without God (1982). He is also the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, a group that supports Christian ideals and sheds light on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa.
William explains the dynamics of his family during his childhood,
“My family was definitely different. My mother tried to defect to the Soviet Union, she was a Marxist leader in the community, our neighbourhood was for the most part immigrants from many of those communist countries like Poland, from Hungary, from East Germany. And to have somebody in their neighbourhood who wanted to make this country like that one [resulted] in pretty much a lot of animosity towards the family and toward me.”
William grew up an atheist and Marxist, and was part of his mother’s plan to get schools to give up prayer.
“They think it is about separation of church and state and it was not about separation of church and state. There were many other issues particularly from my mother who filed the lawsuit the issue was a hatred for God and a hatred for capitalism. She was a utopianist, she was involved in magic thought when it came to economic matters and religious matters. She thought that a human condition could be created on a utopian condition where the most intelligent, namely her and her friends, could devise a system that would equal God’s system in heaven. And that there was no need for God, no need for capital, there was no need for any kind of competition [and] that all the needs could be supplied. Her actual, original reason for bringing this lawsuit was to get God out of the picture because she thought that the church was one of the three legged pillars that supported capitalism. And by eliminating prayer out of schools, getting God out of the public, that that would eliminate the capitalist system… she was basically an avowed Marxist, utopianist, and this is why I understand that issue so well having been brought up in that type of environment.”
But he changed his mind,
“I was raised in that atheist and marxist existence primarily because our family was so dysfunctional nobody could hold down a job. [However], I didn’t end up having that problem and I wound up being very successful in business [but] unfortunately although I got rid of the Marxism the atheism stayed with me, and instead of being an atheist Marxist I became a libertarian atheist and lived that libertarian lifestyle of thinking the only thing that is important is me and that everybody that can’t make it should just starve to death. The problem with that is that that lifestyle is destructive and nearly destroyed me, and when you get down to the point of destruction there is that one who is willing to lift you up out of your much and that one is Jesus Christ.”
“Going back to that horrible lifestyle of thinking that you’re the centre of the universe and that the only thing important to you is booze, food and sex, that led to near self-destruction. Finally I turned to a 12 step programme in order to get out of it and I was getting out of it, and there was this mysterious God getting me out of it, and I wanted to know who that God was. I went on a search for him but there is that eternal resistance [saying] that it cannot be that God my mother hated so badly, but the reality was that that is who that God was, and that is who that God is. It was he who was willing to reach down and grasp me up.”
William’s 1980 conversion to Christianity happened while his mother was still alive. It did not go down well. Speaking of William, Madalyn would state: “One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother, I guess; I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times… he is beyond human forgiveness”.
These are undoubtedly harsh words from a mother, so how did William take them?
“Oddly it didn’t hurt that much because of how dysfunctional the home was that I was raised in. The number of times in which I had done something that was perhaps wrong in her eyes as a child and [after which] she looked at me and said “I wish abortion had been legal when I was carrying you”… she told me that to my face when I was younger. So this [statement] was nothing more than a continuation of that. But that is the type of home where the only thing that is important is are those material things, those material philosophies, or government or statism. When only those things are important to you the feelings of people, of individuals aren’t that important to you.”
1. Rappoport, J. 1998. Madalyn Murray O’Hair: Most Hated Woman in America.
1) Murray is older, but whether he is also wiser, is highly debatable.
2) To put these sorts of stories in perspective, please also start sharing stories of the countless Christians who have “deconverted” to atheism, including numerous priests, ministers (and their children).
If said people became atheists, then they were never Christians in the first place….
Yeah, I’ve heard that nonsense before. But if it’s true, then there isn’t a person on earth who who knows if they are a Christian, except for those who are breathing their last breaths. I can assure you that I was once every bit as certain of my faith as you, and every other “Christian”. So you can spend the rest of your days, wondering if you really are a Christian, or if (like me and countless others) you may one day renounce that faith.
We won’t renounce the faith we can vigorously defend or the Savior who died for us.
Atheism leads to despair and ruin. I pray you find your way back home again.
Yeah, well – I vigorously defended him once as well, until I realized it was all a fairy tale – an appealing one, but a fairy tale nonetheless.
As for your comments about where atheism leads, you’re quite mistaken about that. Many millions of atheists around the world (myself included) live fulfilled lives, free of despair (or ruin).
You were never a true believer or you are still a believer but just angry on God for some reason. I have been to both, lived in faith, then lost faith because I lost somethings and then back in faith again because my anger which is a gift of devil could not prevail over the grand love of Christ. You will also know that someday. Blessings.
Nice try at the armchair psychoanalysis, but you’re wrong. I’ve never been angry at god. I can’t be angry at something I don’t believe in. Moreover, my disbelief was a rational, not an emotional one. Simply put, there’s no evidence for god (any god). And there is considerable evidence against the notion of a kind, loving, merciful, and just god, who takes a personal interest in the affairs of his “children” (as claimed by Christianity). The fact that his “children” suffer and die (by the millions) of all manner of horrible diseases, in spite of any amount of prayer to their “loving and merciful father”, is ample evidence that either god doesn’t exist, or he is incapable of helping, or he is indifferent to their suffering.
Your finishing comment just proved it IS emotional and NOT rational.
Your response is a logical fallacy (Attacking the Motive). Do you have an actual logical rebuttal to the argument?
If you are up for it could you answer a few questions and would you be okay with debating your points against God? If you are not up for debating I am still interested in your answers, feel free to ask me questions in turn.
Have you taken time to research arguments for evidence in favor of God’s existence? What were some of the better ones you found and why do you consider them insufficient? Do you consider yourself an atheist or an agnostic, and why one instead of the other? Thank you in advance.
I’m happy to debate with someone who does so in a respectful manner.
I’m not sure that I’d use the word “research” to refer to my efforts regarding arguments in favor of God’s existence. I was once a Christian though (for most of my life). I heard a great many arguments then, and repeated many of those. I’ve since found those arguments to be lacking. And I’ve also since been presented with a variety of other arguments, but have found all of them to be logically flawed. I’ve offered rebuttals to some of those in other posts by James Bishop.
Since I find all of the arguments to be lacking, I’d be hard pressed to pick the best ones. Though there are certainly some that I’d rank among the worst (such as Pascal’s Wager).
I consider myself to be an agnostic atheist (I don’t claim to “know” that there’s no god, but I don’t believe in one). In the words of Carl Sagan, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. I see no objective evidence for the existence of any god (let alone extraordinary evidence), so I choose not to believe in them. It’s really no different from my choice not to believe in Santa Claus or leprechauns. I can’t prove that they don’t exist, but I choose to disbelieve in them just the same.
Thanks for responding. Concerning there being a lack of evidence for God, although you consider a lot of the arguments to be poor they still do present evidence, it would seem more accurate to me from your perspective to say no “good” evidence for God rather than no evidence. To use an example, I recall scientist being excited about a very old isolated rock that had evidence of bacteria having gone through it, suggesting evidence for bacteria at a earlier time period, however they could not be sure of when the bacteria actually passed through, so it was not good evidence for bacteria being around at the period but if no such rock existed that had bacteria pass through it there would be no evidence at all.
Although a conclusion can be made either against or for God rationally I would argue that it is impossible to do so without emotion in some capacity, did you feel as though there was no Godly presence? This not something I am saying to debate you; mostly curiosity and to understand you better.
I wouldn’t consider pascal’s wager to be an argument to believe in God but rather an argument as to why someone should consider God. If someone were trying to use it to prove God I would view it as a bad argument as well.
Concerning the just God argument, do you consider your argument to be based a objective or subjective morality?
This is my argument concerning why a good God would allow bad things to happen and why in many ways it is necessary for him to allow at least some things;
God is not a person and plays a very different role, trying to compare him with the actions of a person for that reason I would not regard as being accurate.
Starting off with free will, a God who gives no free will would essentially be creating nothing but robots, by giving free will he creates beings capable of loving of their own accord and making their own decisions. He could be regarded as being a tyrant for being too controlling or uncaring for being too uninvolved. Sliding too far in either direction might make him seem evil to many, many people have very different ideas as to which way if right, yours being a more controlling God who leaves less choice to his creation. That could be seen as its own evil in some ways. Of course, could there be purpose then in his allowing of bad things?
I am only capable of speculating on much of this, so I am not speaking with authority on the topic. Starting off with minor bad things, I think you are probably familiar with the concept of letting someone struggle with something (perhaps building something or learning new material), but trying to avoid helping them if you can avoid it. You would avoid helping them because you know they would come to understand it so much better on their own and they would feel so much more rewarded by it, and can better appreciate what they are capable of. This could be partly why some bad things may be allowed to happen, and play a part in why some of the worse one may be allowed to happen as well.
True is best appreciated when you have seen its opposite, seeing the worst things helps us to appreciate the good things. Allowing the bad things also helps us be truly diverse; if we all had the exact same nice things we would not be able to be as diverse. The diversity helps us to better appreciate each other as well as ourselves. Someone who suffers more in some ways may have different ways they can help others through their own pains that they not of been able otherwise and has a different way of appreciating the beauty in things, even seeing the beauty in things others may not recognize. The reason many become more religious after going through a tribulation is not desperation but because they can better see that beauty and even recognize how God played a role in helping them there. Partly why we can enjoy and appreciate those stories in which someone goes through harsher tribulations is because we understand what it can be like and it helps us see the beauty in when they get through them and see a light on the other side. It is one of the reasons why we can appreciate life so much.
Many do experience much harsher pain than others do, should there no be a cut off point for pain? Perhaps there is perhaps there is greater pain than what we can imagine that we are shielded from. Even harsher pain may have benefits, both for those individuals and how they can impact others, if you are too believe the Christian even those who experience less joy can experience something greater after death, something so much greater than their pains that the pains seem like nothing in comparison.
Are there other arguments you have for why you believe God is unlikely to exist and against the Christian God in particular? Sorry for taking a while and looking forward to hearing your response, hope mine was not too long a read.
Yeah, truth, and specifically biblical truth does sounds nonsense to the unconverted. The truth is that, Christian faith is a work of God and what He begins He brings to an end (Phil 1:6). So to turn one’s back to the Christian faith and never return is a sure sign a work of God never took place. What rather occured was a false conversion hence the denouncing. Also, a Christian can definitely be aassured of their salvation. This is also a work of God. We are justified by faith, passed from condemnation and have peace with God (Rom 5:1, 8:1).
Heather Johnson is right. Anyone who denounces the Christian faith was never a Christian to begin with.It is biblical (of course you don’t believe the Bible.
So as I said, that means you can’t really know whether you are a Christian either, since nobody can know (until their dying breath) whether they might one day recant their faith. It happened to me (though I was previously UTTERLY CONVINCED of my faith). It happens to countless others on a daily basis. It could happen to you as well.
You can indeed know whether you are a Christian. The Bible defines certain facts to be believed and lived out upon which a person can be certain they are saved or not. The just shall live by faith. So long as a person continues to believe the things necessary to be believed and lived as a Christian, one can be certain they are saved. Christians are not called to grapple in the dark about their salvation. Assurance of salvation is a necessary part of the Christian faith and God grants it to believers through the Holy Spirit who bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16)
Y’all need to get your stories straight. I knew I was a Christian, but now I’m not. So you’re saying I was, in fact, a Christian. Others have said I couldn’t have been.
You were not a Christian. If you were, you would still be believing. That’s the point we are pointing out. You thought you were. But your unbelief now has proven you were not. Christ said not all who say Lord Lord will inherit the Kingdom. You need to seek Christ. You are lost
Now you need to get your own story straight. Which is it? Can one know they are a Christian or not?
I think I have sufficiently answered that question. Yes, a person can be sure they are a Christian
OK. I was absolutely sure I was a Christian. So was I a Christian or not?
Your personal experiences doesn’t validate or negate the truth. You could have had false assurances of being a Christian when infact you were not. Don’t forget one can believe wrong doctrines and yet consider themselves a Christian. A truly saved Christian can and must know they are saved. Paul calls for self-examination in this respect so that one can be certain they are in the faith: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2Corinthians 13:5).
More doublespeak. You can’t claim in one breath that one can KNOW he is a Christian (which clearly implies that the “knowledge” is factually correct), and then in the next breath claim that the “knowledge” may be erroneous.
No. Not double talk. You can be a Christian and know of a certainty that you are. You can also not be a Christian and deceive yourself that they are by believing wrong doctrine.
So since the person is convinced in either case, that they are a Christian, certainty that one is a Christian means nothing. The person who is convinced of their Christianity may or may not actually be a Christian.
1. A person can be a Christian, be certain about it and truly be a Christian.
2. A person can be convinced they are a Christian and actually not be.
Both arguments are true and it doesn’t mean because of the second argument, the first cannot be true. Both are true on their merit. You are using your experience as the yardstick and ignoring what the Bible say.
The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom 8:16). This is my last point and if you do reply, I will read yours as the last. Thanks for your time.
I didn’t say they can’t both be true. The point is, that by your own arguments being convinced you are a Christian does not mean you are a Christian. Therefore, you personally can’t be sure you are a Christian either.
It is sufficient to say the person can’t be 100 percent certain, if that person is not a Christian. That’s where faith comes into play.
As the old saying goes, action speaks louder than words.Therefore, it can be called into question, if you were truly a Christian or not.
As this quote would say “A life not examined is a life not worth living. A faith not examined is blind. Examine what you believe”.
This also follows on my last comment: As A.W Tozer says: It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is
sacred or secular, but why he does it.
Therefore, any person with common sense, should be open to earnestly seek truth and understanding on their position that
will help them from continuing to question themselves.
I failed to respond to your comments about truth and biblical truth.
Declaring something to be true is easy, but in reality, any declaration of truth must be supported by objective evidence. In the absence of such evidence, your “truth” is really just your strongly held opinions. Adherents of other religions believe just as strongly in their “truths”. They are no more correct in that regard than you are.
You will agree truth is not subjective. And all religions cannot be true at the same time. I asked someone in a conversation akin to what we having that, “how do they verify the truth of the existence of Socrates” since he didn’t meet him in real life. The answer was through their works reported to us by others through historical documents. My point is, the Christian faith is based on objective truth from historical records. Jesus is a historical figure who lived, died, resurrected and ascended to heaven to return again. Either Jesus lived and spoke the truth or He didn’t. John 14:6 is is either true or not: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”
Socrates’ life is reported by reputable, unbiased contemporaneous sources. Jesus’ life is not. That said, he probably existed. That doesn’t mean that he actually said everything he is reported to have said, or did everything he is reported to have done. The gospels are NOT an objective historical record. They don’t even agree with each other in some cases (e.g. What were Jesus’ last words?).
Re Richard Prendergast’s assertion that Socrates’ life was corroborated by unbiased people, I can only say that Plato, his pupil, was scarcely unbiased.
It is clear from portions of the Talmud, such as Tractate Sanhedrin, that the rabbis, while fiercely opposed to Jesus, nonetheless accepted him as historical.
And, Richard, please tell me what you make of Socrates’ reply to Callicles in _Gorgias_ (in which the nature of justice is argued)? Callicles holds that the tyrant is the happiest of men (perhaps a position that the erstwhile Orthodox seminarian Iosip Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili came to accept), in that he is answerable to no “justice” save his own will. To this, Socrates can only answer that we face a judgment after death.
Did you miss the part where I said Jesus probably existed? Or are you really wanting to go down a different path, and suggest that maybe Socrates didn’t (and by extension, Jesus) really didn’t exist?
The fact that another ancient man (Socrates) believed in judgement (and/or reward) after death should not be a surprise. That concept is common to many religions/philosophies. But such widespread beliefs don’t mean that the concept is valid. At one time, virtually everyone believed that the earth was flat. It turns out they were wrong.
Well said Enoch Anti!
You Calvinists and your TULIP. You fell off of the catholic horse, in your rejection of Rome. Get back on and study The Lutheran Confessions. Once saved, always saved is a damnable heresy.
You call the eternal security of the believer heresy? You are calling the very word of God into question. Jesus says “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish…”(John 10:28). Do you think Jesus lied?
Now, the challenge with opponents of the eternal security of believers is that, they usually hear something the Calvinist is not saying, i.e., live your live anyhow, it doesn’t matter, you are saved. This is the error many suppose eternal security means hence their opposition
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” – 1 John 2:19 NIV
That said, I’m 100% certain of my faith.
I was 100% certain of my faith at one time as well. But a current certainty is no guarantee that one won’t change his mind later.
While what you say is true, after all the crap I’ve been through in my lifetime and all the things I’ve seen and heard I’m pretty much already beyond the point of “no guarantees”. I’ve already determined that I’m never going to change, at least not where my faith is concerned, of that I am over 9000% certain.
On the “9000%” – well of course that’s just hyperbole.
All you can be (100%) convinced of is that, as of today, you don’t want to ever change your opinion. You can’t know what will happen in the future.
I can’t know, for example, that I won’t one day change my mind, and become a Christian again (or a Buddhist, or some other religion). But as of today, I’d say that I don’t want to ever change my beliefs.
Anyway I’m just gonna start here as I already know this discussion isn’t gonna go anywhere. I learned that the hard away a year or two ago when I debated with atheists.
Plus I have said things during those conversations that I regret, still, to this very day.
That said, I’m still very much in spiritual infancy and not yet equipped with the knowledge to make a good argument/debate/point/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.
The “9000%” is an inside joke of mine based on a popular meme.
Again (and I insist) that my mind regarding where I stand on my faith will not change.
Once you have experienced the Holy Spirit in your heart. You will never go back.
Richard.. are you a Roman Catholic before? Because this is what Catholics believe in.. that we need to die in sanctifying grace to go to heaven. Is that what you mean? And is the story of the “good thief” what you mean by Christian to the last breath? I do understsnd your argument since we are given the free will then at the end.. we might end up in despair and lose the faith that is why everyday is a constant battle of will since God works with us so it means we must keep the faith to the end.. and remain a true Christian. As we must work with God’s grace. I do have certain questions like what you are arguing before but I am happy being a Christian and though I may not be a well knowledgeable Christian I choose to stay in Gods grace and be with God. I have the free will and God will never impose His will on us. God wanted us to love Him by choice. So I choose to love him.. the will I choose with God’s grace. I do understand your argument though because there are some Christians who were persecuted before and some renounce their faith because they cannot tolerate the torture.. they have fallen.. As the parable of the lost sheep.. One has fallen and the other one remain.. So there are those who are with God from the start.. and there are those who have fallen and come back.. and God rejoices to those who comes back.
I was raised a Roman Catholic, but left the Catholic Church for a Protestant denomination when I was 16.
As for the rest of your post, I’m quite familiar with all those teachings. The point of the lengthy discussion with others in this forum was just that I took issue with the silly assertion that if one gives up their Christian faith, then they were never a Christian to begin with. The point about the deathbed is just that IF that assertion were true, then one could never know until their dying breath, whether they were truly a Christian or not, since they can’t (until that moment) never know for sure whether they might later renounce their faith.
That discussion went nowhere, however, as the counterclaims were self-contradictory – in one breath making the aforementioned silly assertion, in the next breath stating that some people are convinced they are Christians, and are correct, while others are equally convinced they are Christians, but are deceived, and finally stating that he KNEW he was a Christian (and that he wasn’t one of the deceived).
I for one believe that a person may be saved, but also that one may lose their salvation if they turn. Another question may be put and that is whether you fulfilled the conditional promises regarding salvation. As you would know, just because someone believes God exists, it doesn’t make them a Christian, nor a saved one at that. If so, the devil would be a Christian because he has no doubt about the existence of God, nor of who Christ is. There are issues of repentance and baptism to take into account. However, there is no question in my mind that if you had fulfilled the salvation criteria, you can still walk away thus forfeiting that salvation from God. Otherwise, why would 2 Pet. 2:20-22 be written? I think most of the comments you disagreed with were those from a strong reformed background. The “once saved always saved” position. In this sense, one cannot lose their salvation. For those who walked away, the logic in this position is that you never had it in the first place. I think there is ample evidence that this position is incorrect.
Ample evidence? Well of course that’s based on the unproven assumption that being “saved” has any basis in reality.
But I wasn’t debating the reality of salvation. I was only debating the question about whether one can truly “KNOW” that they are a Christian, given the claim that one can’t have been a Christian if they later renounce their faith.
Richard, you can’t debate only on your terms. My comments went to the heart of the issue. If you refuse to engage simply because you don’t like the implications of where it leads, then, I again come back to my original assertion: What are you doing here? A grudge and bitterness against God. You can deny it all you like, but it comes through loud and clear. I’m done trying to explain what you refuse to hear.
Of course I can’t just debate on my terms. But by the same token, if you’re going to attempt to debate, you can’t just ignore my points.
You’re engaging in a substantial amount of armchair psychoanalysis – first claiming that I don’t like the implications of where the discussion is leading, and then claiming that I harbor a grudge and bitterness against God. Both of your assertions are false.
I can play the same game. You’re obviously trying too hard to defend your faith – apparently you’re trying to convince yourself.
You need to prove that both of my assertions are false. Nothing armchair about seeing an atheist on a Christian site speaking pointless nonsense trying to convince Christian that God doesn’t exist. Nothing armchair about that – you’re here, don’t you get that!
I actually don’t even remember anymore what two assertions you’re referring to. But why do I need to disprove your assertions, when you consistently ignore my points? Are you demanding that we debate solely on YOUR terms?
Yes – it IS armchair psychoanalysis. I’m here because Christians posted this nonsense on facebook. It’s not that complicated.
But since the mere act of debating causes you to infer questionable motivation, my own psychoanalysis of you must have hit too close to home. Who are you really trying to convince of your faith – me or you? Or are you really just begging me to drive two more nails in the coffin of your faith. Yeah – that must be it. Deep down inside, you don’t really believe, and you’re looking for help to disprove things that you know can’t be true.
Like I said, why are you here Richard? Who got under your skin? I’m here because I’m a Christian. The only objective evidence for motivation is in the fact that you are here, full stop! You can talk until the cows come home, but you are here! Again, I come back to my point: why do you care what Christian’s say? Why are you here? A fulfilled Atheist does not need to be on a Christian website about Christian theology! I agreed with your assertion regarding the contradictory claims that you pointed out. I gave you theological reasons for why some Christians said that you couldn’t have been a believer in the first place, and said there was “ample evidence” from the Bible that they are wrong. You chose to ignore my points, altogether. Even worse, you chose to score points from it. You didn’t want to discuss “theology” (this is a Christian site isn’t it?) Instead, all you were interested in doing was trying to berate those Christians with whom you saw contradiction. Why are you here Richard? Don’t you believe in objectivity? Go to your atheist sites and be fulfilled to your heart’s content. Heart motivation is hidden from everyone’s sight. The objective evidence is that you are here, Richard, and you refuse to see that. This site states: “A Journey into the heart of Christian Theism”. I’m here because I’m a Christian wanting to talk theology. Quite in line with this site’s purpose. What are you here for?
HOW MANY TIMES DO I NEED TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION???? I’m here because the article was posted on Facebook. That took it out of the sole realm of a Christian website.
When Christians stop posting their nonsense to general (secular) social media sites, and when they stop posting billboards with their nonsense, and when they stop pushing prayer (to their god, of course) in our public schools, and when they stop trying to install their religious icons in our public places, we atheists will stop responding to their nonsense.
As for ignoring of points made – you’ve done that in spades, so spare us the whining.
The article itself was taken out from most of these comments being made here.
As I said before:
The remark about Christians speaking nonsense, is just an assertion on your part. That’s like me providing a blanket statement, that Atheist are simply ignorant or can’t have no sense of good moral values.
Our public schools ? Our public places? You saying it belongs to the non-believers?
Yes, the remark about Christians speaking their nonsense is just an assertion. But I’ve presented numerous rebuttals to various bits of Christian nonsense within this thread, and in response to other posts by James Bishop.
No, I’m not saying our public schools and public places belong to non-believers. They belong to all. And I’d happily allow Christians to place their icons in our public places, if they would allow others to do the same. But time after time, when they are sued over such displays, they are given the option to either open the forum up for all (e.g. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Satanists, atheists, etc.), they invariably decide to remove their own icons. They’re all in favor of religious freedom, as long as it only extends to Christians.
The comments you and others made to each here, is really of no concern of mine, since it doesn’t have nothing to do with the article itself. As long everyone speaks to each other respectfully, I have no issue who comes to these forums. It should be expected that an article or a topic that is presented, may bring all types of people that may agree or disagree. Personally, I have no issue with you or anybody here. My issue, is most of these comments have nothing to do with the article itself, which occasionally happens, when these particular topics are brought up.
Richard, Atheism is a religion and has been defined as such by the supreme court of the US and here in Australia! Check it out for yourself. I’m tired of secular atheist’s thinking that they, by default, deserve the high ground. Who said that they are “your” public places? You call what I say nonsense, I call what you say nonsense. That’s getting us nowhere. But you have revealed your hand. You push your views as much as anybody else! If anything, the constitution of the US (assuming your location) has a theocentric flavour (in God we trust). Likewise, check out the preamble in Australia’s constitution. The whole “stop prayer in public schools” mantra comes from an unhistorical reading and interpretation of the separation of church and state. The same is true in Australia. It is a manipulated reading of history! Such clauses were never designed to keep prayer out of public schools. In a decidedly Christian ethos, the constitutions were designed to stop the likes of what was happening in England: one religion claiming to be a “state” church giving them greater privileges. Atheist’s are not neutral. Public schools cannot be neutral. They are either dominated by secular humanists or other types of religious ethos. There is no such thing as neutrality. Our public schools are not, by default, the domain of the atheist religion!
1) Please provide your source for your claim that the Supreme Court has declared atheism to be a religion.
2) You (once again) take issue with my use of terms such as “our public places”, apparently having chosen to either not read, or to ignore my response to your prior post. I’ll repeat that response here (perhaps you’ll read it this time): “No, I’m not saying our public schools and public places belong to non-believers. They belong to all. And I’d happily allow Christians to place their icons in our public places, if they would allow others to do the same. But time after time, when they are sued over such displays, they are given the option to either open the forum up for all (e.g. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Satanists, atheists, etc.), they invariably decide to remove their own icons. They’re all in favor of religious freedom, as long as it only extends to Christians.”
But it’s clear from your declaration that “There is no such thing as neutrality”, you place yourself into the same camp as those who wish to reserve special rights for Christians.
3) You advance the false notion that the Constitution has a theocentric flavor. “God”, “Jesus”, and “Christianity” are mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. The framers went to great pains to assure that (there were some who argued for a theocentric flavor, but they were overruled.
4) What atheist icons have been placed in our public places? What atheist prayers are we forcing on young minds?
1. For example and consequence of court rulings: http://www.wnd.com/2005/08/31895/ Australia recently conducted it’s census. On the form, a person needed to choose from a number of positions. There was a “no religion” check box and amongst the different religions, was a “secular humanism” check box. Also, definition of https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/secular%20humanism
As an aside, I noticed that some humanists argue for the end of Capitalism and the establishment of Socialism. Is this your position too?
2. I have responded to your post in the way that I have because this is what you said: “…when they stop pushing prayer (to their god, of course) in our public schools, and when they stop trying to install their religious icons in our public places, we atheists will stop…”. Is this the post I was not reading? If they belong to all, then Atheists should not be bringing law-suits against the likes of prayer in schools. To force the exclusion of prayer answers your pt.4. This is the atheist icon: force all religion out! I don’t have a problem with sharing the public arena. It would be selfish not to, so we agree here. Except, I would take issue with the likes of any religion or ideology that has, at it’s heart, the physical harm of people if they don’t agree with them. I don’t believe these have a place in our society. So did you make this quote just to vex me, or did you mean it? You wrote it and in your latest post, you seem to have renounced it. I would certainly like your evidence, however, for “they invariably decide to remove their own icons”.
I believe I have answered your previous points but we will not get anywhere here because many of my answers and many of your answers are not satisfying to either of us.
3. My point to the theocentric flavour was to dismiss the “our public places” mantra that I hear so often branded about by atheists. You must be well aware of the debate over separation of church and state and how that statement is being used to keep Christmas, for example, out of schools. To stop children singing Christmas carols and the like. My contention is that no such understanding existed in the constitution of either nations. The theocentric flavour comes from the fact that the framers were Christian or, at least, from a Christian worldview. As such, they could not have intended to make this “separation” a tool to keep Christianity out of the public square. But this is precisely what humanists are trying to do. You advanced a concept that some of the framers of the constitution of the United States wanted a more Christian constitution from what was established. Can you give me any evidence on this?
4. Here is why I mentioned no neutrality. It is my contention that atheists are forcing their ethos and thought forms on society. Atheists are trying to keep God out of the public square so that it will be free of God. That is “forcing” on young minds one’s own ideology and the “absence of icons” is actually not absence at all, as you consider how this dictates the ethos to a people. I’m not one for physical icons at all, but when you tell Christians that they cannot even hold a prayer meeting during school lunch times (as has been the case in my own state), that itself is an icon, an icon of oppression. You don’t need physical icons to do that.
1) You had claimed that the Supreme Court had declared that atheism was a religion, but your reference was to a Federal Court ruling (not the Supreme Court. It mentioned also that the SCOTUS has previously (correctly) said that a religion need not be based on belief in the existence of a supreme being, but that’s not the same as saying that atheism is a religion. Buddhism, for example, does not involve a belief in god(s).
You are confusing secular humanism with atheism. They are not the same. Atheism simply defines what one does NOT believe in. Many atheists (myself included) do choose to adopt a secular humanist philosophy. I don’t personally view that as a religion, but then we get into semantics of what actually is meant by the word “religion”. But certainly from a legal perspective, I believe I should have the same rights to follow my beliefs as anyone else should have (no more, and no less).
No, I do not argue for the end of capitalism or the establishment of socialism. I do, however argue against the dangers/evils of unrestricted capitalism, but am equally opposed to unrestricted socialism.
BTW – I won’t debate the situation in Australia. I know too little about it.
2) Atheists bring these lawsuits because the cases in point are ALWAYS when Christians impose their own prayers (exclusively) in our schools, or install their own icons (exclusively) in our public places, and in both cases, refuse to allow others the same rights.
You made a point about taking issue with the likes of any religion or ideology that has, at it’s heart, the physical harm of people if they don’t agree with them. Are there specific relevant groups that you have in mind here?
3) Many of the founding fathers were Christians. Many others were Deists. Some were atheists. I didn’t say that the founders wanted to keep Christianity out of the public square. But they did want to keep the government out of religion, and by extension – to keep religion out of the government.
One reference on the range of early beliefs leading to the drafting of the US Constitution is at: http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/02/living/america-christian-nation/
Apologies, but I was unable to quickly find a more specific reference to the arguments regarding the inclusion of God in the Constitution. It was something I had read long ago, but I couldn’t quickly find now. My more specific recollection was not about arguments among those who were drafting the Constitution, as with others (Protestant ministers as I recall) who weren’t directly involved in drafting the Constitution, but who lobbied for Christian content.
The Treaty of Tripoli, which was unanimously ratified by the US Senate in 1797, stated unequivocally that “the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”.
Thomas Jefferson, in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists said, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
4) Most atheists have no desire to stop school prayer, and the law allows it, as long as there is no coercive nature to it (including peer pressure). I don’t know what state you’re in, but if they have laws that absolutely forbid it, they’ve probably gone too far.
But I take issue with your assertion that even if they DO forbid organized prayer (for example), that this somehow pushes an ethos on the children. Nobody is being told (to my knowledge) that they shouldn’t believe in their god(s). They’re simply being told that the public schools cannot be a platform for organized religion. And nobody is shutting down churches, or preventing people from organizing prayer groups in their homes, etc. In short, nobody is dictating an ethos to anyone.
Please let’s be careful about use of terminology. Your extension of the term “icon” to nonphysical conditions dilutes the term unnecessarily. We can have a debate about religious freedom without watering down the language.
I do share similar beliefs with you about everyone having a share in public life and advocacy. But I do think you underestimate how some secular humanists behave. Christianity is not just being asked to share, they are being asked to die. Some secular humanists want to exclude Christians, altogether. See for, example, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2016/12/christianophobia-eastern-melbourne/
Just one point here: How on earth is allowing a group of students praying together at lunchtime endorsing organised religion? Why not allow them to pray? This is typical of my complaint against humanists. You are not prepared to allow for anything religious, period. To say that you are not forcing your ethos onto anyone seems to me a bit naive. I continually asked you the question: “why are you here Richard”. You said, in short, in a roundabout way, that you wanted to counter the nonsense of Christians. In other words, you wanted to be an influence. Are you telling me that your views that are allowed free range in public places are not being an influence? To say that we should not have prayer, Christmas carols etc. in public schools is the advocating of the secular humanism’s position. Again, I say, why should you by default claim the high ground in thinking that only your philosophy should have preeminence? If we were arguing about two different perspectives on road safety and you won out, which perspective would be adopted by the children? The absence of prayer is the imposition of an ethos. Surely, you should understand that.
I have found our “conversations” stimulating and helpful and I thank you for the challenges you gave and your time in writing. I must admit that all this toing and froing is taking up too much of my time, although, it’s been good. I hope that you will take on board some of my comments as much I will take on board yours. All the best.
1 John 2:19
19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
You’re just repeating previous posts that others have made, and that have already been answered.
Ugh. I hate to speak ill of the dismembered, but I’d forgotten what a vile woman O’Hair actually was.
The word you are looking for is Deceased not dismembered. 🙂
O’Hair was dismembered by her murderers. I was making a bad pun.
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Reblogged this on Cyber Penance.
Reblogged this on BELLATOR CHRISTI and commented:
Incredible story about William Murray’s conversion to Christianity. Check it out!
[…] In seinem Buch My Life Without God beschreibt er den aggressiven Kampf seiner Mutter gegen christliche Einflüsse an den öffentlichen Schulen. Er beschreibt auch, wie Gott ihn gefunden hat (siehe dazu auch hier). […]
Reblogged this on Is Christianity True? and commented:
Over at James Bishop’s blog a recounting of William Murray’s conversion to Christianity. William Murray is the son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the famed founder of American Atheists, who is known for the lawsuit that banned prayer and bible reading in school on behalf of her son.
Reblogged this on nanaokyere mindpalace.
More nonsense. Lots of folks who believed they experienced the Holy Spirit in their hearts (including me) have since become atheists. You may do it one day as well. Any claims that you are certain that you won’t are nothing more than empty posturing.
Hi Richard so where did humans come from?
Please study some science.
What are you here for Richard? Why do you care about what anyone says on this site. If you are a happy, fulfilled Atheist as you say, then be happy and leave well alone. The problem here is that your attitude betrays your words. Claiming to be so fulfilled, all that comes across is this bitterness toward God and a smugness towards those who wish to encourage you back to the faith. Otherwise, why would you care to be here in this forum? Why make a fuss. Why not leave everyone in peace and enjoy your life without God. No one is forcing you to stay on this forum.
I could ask you the same question? Why do you care what I say? Why do Christians routinely adopt the conceit that their opinions should have free expression, but argue that anyone who chooses to express contrary opinions MUST be bitter, etc.
But the simple answer is that these sorts of blogs get shared in general secular social media forums. So if Christians are going to promote their nonsense, the rest of us have a right to challenge that nonsense. Would Christians stand by silently if those same social media forums were bombarded with Islamic propaganda?
Moreover, many Christians continue to attempt to set public policy based on their ancient mythologies. They wish to teach their creationist nonsense in our public schools, avoid any and all attempts to address climate change, deny women the right to make their own reproductive decisions, etc. So as long as that’s happening the rest of us have the right (and the duty) to publicly question the beliefs that motivate those behaviors.
You miss my point by a wide margin. You say that you are a fulfilled atheist. No doubt, you are also an evolutionist. You must also, therefore, believe that when you die you go to nothingness. Life for you will never ever return. If this is the case, then personal fulfilment is all relative. What motivation is there when nothing you do has any meaning? Sure, it will have meaning in this life, but what is the point? How long on the scale of eternity is your existence in this life? Death is the absolute end for you Richard, under your current thinking. Now I have no problem with interacting with you and arguing for the best public policy possible. Good! That is how it should be. But this is a Christian site talking Christian theology. What is your motivation to be here? You are a fulfilled atheist. My point again, why do you care? Why be so beefed up and active in this forum, when you have nothing to gain. Ok, I get that you want to convince Christians that they are in a fairy tale. So what? Do you also go around trying to convince kids that Santa doesn’t exist. I bet you don’t care. My point is that if people are happy with their Christianity, why do you care? Public policy is not formed on this forum and your motivation to be here seems ironic at best. You have adopted the Judeo-Christian worldview on good and evil, because you, no doubt, see the difference. But good & evil is all relative to a committed evolutionist. Christians have their basis for public policy on the teaching of Scripture which holds to the inherit worth & dignity of the human being. Human beings are just animals, albeit, more advanced, but animals all the same. So who says a woman has rights to kill her baby in the womb? What objective standard do we adopt for “rights”. Without someone to bestow rights, it’s left up to the whim of human beings (tribes/nations) to bestow them on themselves. But then, should we consider the rights of the human being in the womb? Why should someone with temporal priority trump the one without? Yet, under the Christian system, we see the worth of each individual and that none have the right to take the life of another. I hope that clarifies where I’m coming from in my original post.
Your introductory remarks are arguing for a nihilist philosophy, which most atheists do not subscribe to. I personally am a secular humanist, a philosophy which is NOT devoid of meaning.
Why do I care – I’ve already answered that elsewhere – because Christians are endlessly proselytizing of their ancient mythology, and when they do so in public forums, such efforts deserve to be countered. (This may be a Christian forum, but it is shared now and then in secular social media)
You employ a common Christian conceit when you state that I have adopted the Judeo-Christian worldview on good and evil. Much of the world (Judeo-Christian and otherwise) shares a great deal in common on views of good and evil. And there are unquestionably aspects of Judeo-Christian moral foundations that I and others do not subscribe to (e.g. biblical support for slavery, genocide, rape, and subjugation of women)
You err also in painting evolutionism as a philosophy of life. It is not. It simply describes how the complexity and diversity of life came to be. As I noted above, I am a secular humanist, and as such hold dear the concept of dignity of human life, etc.
And your plea for an objective standard for morality also fails (at least if you’re using the Bible as that standard). It’s far too vague, has numerous internal contradictions, and as I noted above, it condones all sorts of behaviors that most modern people find to be repugnant. Christians can’t even agree on how it should be interpreted.
If you’re going to use the Bible as an argument against abortion, you really ought to read it more carefully. The Bible makes it unambiguously clear that the unborn are not viewed as living persons. So if Christians actually followed the Bible, they’d be pro-choice (but as is routinely the case in the Bible, they’d only allow the man to make the choice).
Ok Richard. Let’s see then what you know of the Bible. Give me the exegetical reasons for the Bible considering a baby in the womb as non-life & pro-choice for a woman. Also, show me a culture in Biblical times that did not accept slavery. You argue from this day and age. You must examine the situation from the time in which it was written. Tell me, what was the ancient Greco-Roman view of the woman? You are typically Richard Dawkins here, sitting in judgement of those who went before you almost as if you are oblivious to the hardships and reality of those days. Did you not read where Jesus said to the Pharisees that divorce was granted by God in the Old Testament because of the hardness of men’s hearts. Divorce was not God’s will, but because of the imperfections of men, he tolerated it and manged the situation to protect the woman. Man would not listen to Him much the same as you will not listen to Him.
The liberation of women was furthered by the apostle Paul’s teaching. Where the husband had the power of life or death of his family in Roman culture (patria potestas) the apostle tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and to not exasperate his children. Such things were radically different in pagan culture. His teaching began to liberate women and put the brakes on the hard treatment of children. Not to mention that slavery in that time was also a social safety net which saved many people from poverty. Paul also taught that a slave was to stay a slave and show the good order and practise of being a Christian in that culture. However, he also taught that they should gain their freedom if they could and specifically counselled a slave owner to liberate his slave. Social context in the 1st century demands that we do not read into it 19th century slavery. A slave in the 1st century context could not only buy his way out of his slavery, but he could obtain a position in society higher than his master. Context is important and the Scriptures must be interpreted according to the day in which they were given.
Furthermore, what religion was Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot? For the wars, both religious and non-religious, the 20th century’s greatest atrocities (numerically) were carried out by atheists who also persecuted the church.
I seriously cannot understand your claim that their is no philosophy behind evolutionary thinking. What drove Hitler to his eugenics program? No system of belief is devoid of bias, either the Christian system or the atheist system. I find it too great a stretch to believe that you have no philosophy arising from the acceptance of evolutionary thinking. Everyone else in history have been influenced by the acceptance of what motivates them. I fail to see how this does not apply to your acceptance of unproven evolutionary theory.
1) Biblical view on the unborn – for starters:
“When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, …” (Exodus 21: 22-24 NRSV)
So this clearly shows that the Bible views the killing of an unborn child as a minor matter – punishable by paying a fine to the father (the Bible, of course gave no say to the mother, as is commonly the case). If the same fight causes the mother to to be seriously injured or killed, however, then “an eye-for-an-eye” kicks in. The mother is viewed as a person. The unborn child is not.
2) Yes, slavery was widely accepted in Biblical times. But that argument (cultural relativism) is only relevant if you recant your position that the Bible is the source for absolute morality. You can’t have it both ways. Either slavery is wrong in an absolute sense, or it’s not. Your defense of the Biblical teachings on slavery are naive at best. Frankly, you remind me of folks who have made the ridiculous claim that slaves in the American south had it pretty good.
Yes, sometimes it was more akin to indentured servitude. But often it was not. The OT expressly promoted slavery (e.g. of their captive enemies), and the NT condoned it. In the 10 commandments, and all of the OT, and all of the NT, there are countless proscriptions against all sorts of things. NOWHERE does the Word of God see fit to just say “Slavery is wrong – Don’t do it”
3) The same is true for your defense of the treatment of women in the Bible (including in the NT). And while your quotes are valid, they don’t tell the whole story. A few other quotes:
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God…. any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head …For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair …For a man ought not to cover his head; since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.)” 1 Corinthians 11:2-10
“Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:21-24
“…the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15
“….and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited…. Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect…” Titus 2:4-9
4) I have no idea what the relevance is to your bringing up Hitler, etc. To argue that their atrocities were driven by their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) is just plain silly. Their actions were driven by their lust for power. But in any case, Hitler was raised as a Christian, and there is still debate over his beliefs in his later years. The vast majority of Nazis who carried out the extermination of Jews were Christians. What drove Hitler to his eugenics program? Various races have considered themselves to be superior to other races since long before evolution was postulated. An acceptance of evolution was in no way required for Hitler to draw the same conclusions.
Benito Mussolini was Catholic. A more recent examples of genocide includes Rwanda (predominantly a Christian population).
There IS NO “atheist system of belief”. Atheism merely defines one thing that we do NOT believe. It does not define what we DO believe. In that regard, there is great diversity among atheists. And as I noted previously, your assumptions about the implications of acceptance of evolution are also patently false. You ought to know that a great many Christians accept evolution, for example.
5) I see how you slipped in the word “unproven”. But you’re wrong on that. If you’ve made any attempt to objectively study the science, you’d know (and agree) that evolution has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
Thanks Richard for the indepth post. You are indeed well read and thoughtful and I appreciate that though our discussion is sharp, it is cordial. Let me respond to your points.
1. Exod. 21:22-24 is a highly debated text as to whether Lex Talionis applies to the woman only or woman and child. Even if I grant your assumption that Lex Talionis applies only to the woman, then are you saying that this passage teaches that a child that is lost accidently = a child that is lost deliberately, purposefully? Isn’t the man who inficted the injury/death fined as the husband demands? Does that not say that the life of the child is valuable? This law is of the causuistic kind (if this, then that). You err in thinking that accidental and deliberate action against someone give indications of their worth. A man who is accidentally killed is judged differently from one who murders (Deut. 19:5; Num. 35:14-18). So since the judgement here is different, are you saying that the one who is murdered has more worth than the one who is manslaughtered? Furthermore, since having children was so important to a man (Ps. 127:3-5), the uninitentional loss of a child is distinctly different from the loss of a wife/mother who can bear him more children (cf. Deut. 22:6-7 regarding an ongoing food source). It is eisegesis, not exegesis to use that passage in the way you have done.
2. Slavery: Let’s say that Paul demanded the abolition of slavery and that he counselled every Christian to defy the authorities on this issue. Remembering too that it was a social safety net. Some Christians were dependant upon the provision of their masters. How are they going to stay alive if Paul called for rebellion? This is not cultural relativism, but reality. Why could Paul not plant the seeds of the demise of slavery? Is that not satisfying enough to you Richard? Other issues were more important in the cause of the Gospel. The issues of importance was the spread of the Gospel. Christ died and rose again, witnessed by those who gave their lives for what they claimed they witnessed. The point is that if they threw culture into chaos, the message they brought would have been thrown into disrepute.
Let me challenge you on the point you make about the OT promoting/condoning slavery. In my previous post I mentioned that Jesus said that God permitted divorce even though it was not His will. Men started slavery. Other cultures practised it as they did sacred prostitution and polygamy. Nowhere are these things proscribed. We speak to kids and work with kids on their level, otherwise, you have no chance of moving them forward. Imagine bringing a child into a university level science class. My point being that you work with what you have got. But that is not all you have in the Bible. Others understood that.
Who spoke against slavery and worked to have it abolished? Was it not Christians? Wilberforce, Lincoln? You, of all people, should appreciate the fact that not everyone lives up to their beliefs. Christians don’t necessarily live by their “creed” and neither do atheists. You don’t judge Jesus by the actions of his followers. You err again by judging history from your own vantage point here in the 21st century. You admit slavery was widespread and you should admit that cultural habits and patterns can take centuries to overcome and change. There are teachings in the Scriptures that brought on the demise of slavery.
3. Women: Again, you judge from your irovy tower of the 21st century. Did you not understand a woman’s position in the 1st century? What is this deep issue you have with submission? Is it such a bad thing? Authority structures operate everyday in our world. You have a boss at work. You have armed forces and chain of command. We need these things for order to exist. Were not Christians told to obey the governing authorities even those who deserved rebellion? The proper treatment of women is what Paul mandated and in that day, as I said, he liberated women. His point is to make the Gospel attractive because the Gospel is what saves and what ultimately liberates mankind from his enslavement to his own passions. In this way, the work of God was received by the culture but it shaped the culture towards God’s will.
4. Atrocities: You must think people act in a vaccum. People act from their beliefs. They are motivated by those beliefs. You can try and decontruct what happened in the 20th century, but those atrocities were carried out by atheists. Your ignorance on what happens in the heart is astonishing. What governs a person is their belief’s or non-belief’s as you put it. Christians who commit atrocities act contrary to the teaching of Christ. Atheists who commit atrocities have no authority other than themselves – no absolute arbiter of good and evil – therefore, they act consistently with their belief’s/non-belief’s. I’m not saying all atheists act like this (some I know are wonderful caring people). My point is that, philosophically, Stalin for example, acted out from that non-belief system.
5. Evolution: Beyond reasonable doubt. Are you serious? You should check out the number of theories coming out now against evolution. The complexity of the cell and DNA information is leading people away from evolutionary theory. It is a long way from being proven beyond reasonable doubt.
1) The critical distinction between the consequences for the woman’s injury/death and that of the unborn child, is that the former merits an eye-for-an-eye, just as it would for any injury to any other living person. If the unborn were considered to be people, then the appropriate punishment for causing its death would also be an eye-for-an-eye (death, in this case, to the perpetrator). Instead, the fetus is treated as a simple piece of the father’s property, with the punishment being a mere civil fine (much like if someone had killed his donkey).
2) Paul didn’t have to call for a rebellion. He simply could have told slave owners that slavery is wrong,and they should stop it.
The Bible (OT and NT) spent considerable energy on declaring all sorts of things to be evil. The 10 commandments used 1 commandment on “Coveting”, multiple commandments on “worship me”, one for honoring your father and mother, etc., So apparently God believed all those things to be more important than saying slavery is wrong. Mosaic Law has hundreds of rules, a number of which describe how to be a proper slave owner. So again, God apparently didn’t see fit to EVER tell his people (OT or NT) that slavery was wrong.
I personally believe that the Bible was very much a product of its times (which you have also argued more than once). But that view conflicts with your original assertion that we can go to the Bible to find absolute morality.
I understand your analogy about working with kids. There’s no question that cultures don’t change overnight. But this is God we’re talking about, and he had thousands of years to effect the change. But he was silent on the whole topic, beyond condoning the practice (albeit with some guidance on how to be a proper slaver and slave).
You misinterpret my arguments. I’m not criticizing Christians or Christianity over slavery. I’m simply pointing out the glaring problem with the Biblical teachings on slavery, as evidence that it is NOT a good source for guidance on absolute morality.
3) Most of the same arguments apply to the topic of women. I’m not sure, however, if I fully understand your points about chain-of-command. It almost sounds like you’re arguing in favor of women being submissive to men.
4) And likewise on atrocities. I’m not condemning Christians (or ancient Jews) for them. It’s just another example of why the Bible is not a good source for guidance on absolute morality.
5) I’m absolutely serious about evolution. If you have reputable sources that contradict it, please provide them.
1. Richard, your exegesis of Exod. 21 is missing historical context. If you can’t read the Scripture according to the historical situation, then we will get nowhere. This is casuistic law (if this, then) and different from what is called apodictic (do this). It is not arguing worth, any more than with the illustration I gave of manslaughter/murder. Judgement on the murderer was absolute. Manslaughter different. Why can you not apply the same logic to this? Why consider the text is speaking to the modern construct of “equality”?
2. Slavery: Have you not read Philemon??? You still have to ask yourself why Wilberforce and Lincoln stopped the slave trade. Did they go outside the Bible for the motivation to stop it? Come on, surely you can’t ignore that! Why can I see that, when properly interpreted, the Bible gives guidance on morality? And there is nothing wrong with that statement. All things must be interpreted. All history & science included!
3. Women: My point about women is in arguing for what is of greater importance. Like you said, cultures don’t change overnight. If Paul says to women, “ignore your husbands, rebel against them”, what do you think would have happened? The Christian message would not have been received at all. The west would hardly have embraced Christ if it had not worked within the culture. It is hard to argue against the fact that the western world has been formed by Judeo-Christian values. Yet, western women are the most liberated in the world (Don’t Muslims complain about their dress code?). Why do you think this is? What! That the Christian system had nothing to do with this?
However, like I said, submission is a minor thing and should be embraced by all Christians. I don’t think either men or women should make such a big issue of submission. Again, not only is a lack of appreciation for Biblical, historical context missing, but a lack of appreciation of the influence of modern philosophical trends. Christians submit to Christ, to government, to their elders, wives to husbands (not women to men), children to parents. Conversely, secular humanism in it’s overly sensitive individualism is failing to help improve things in the field of marriage. Divorce has greatly increased since Christianity has waned in the west (not to mention a greater percentage of de facto relationships). To me, it is no argument to talk about absolute freedoms when their is so much disarray in the family. Actually, there is no such thing as absolute freedoms. Everyone is conditioned some way or another. Where we are raised, who taught us, our economic position, kind of parental example etc. etc.. Christians are not perfect, but I firmly believe that God’s way is best!
4. Atrocities: I still fail to see why you say that the Bible is not a guide on absolute morality. If interpreted correctly, if brings liberty, forgiveness, justice. Those who do evil, will not get away with their evil. Judgement day is proclaimed. For the Secular humanist, Hitler got away with it. Popped himself off & no accountability! Please don’t let your desire to find holes in the Bible, blind you to all the good the Bible promotes. Love God, love your neighbour as yourself. Jesus came to give His life for the sin of the world – self- sacrifice. For example, the teaching on the good Samaritan has been an inspiration for many charities and rights groups. Furthermore, Christians are actively involved with charity and causes against those under oppression. Now you can dismiss this all you like, but this is the Christian system and the overwhelming number of charities in the west are Christian! Where does this come from and why?
5. Evolution: There are many areas here and many rabbit warrens we can go down and I’m not sure it will be a fruitful adventure, but I’m happy to point out one source for your consideration, but no doubt, you are aware of this: http://www.discovery.org/id/
Thank you Richard for the discussion. I hope it has been as helpful to you as it has been to me. By all means, respond, but it may take a while for me to get back to you. Have a good Christmas!
I’m not sure why, but we seem to have trouble communicating.
Your assertion that the Bible is a source for absolute morality is at the heart of our disagreement. I still don’t see how you can reconcile that with all the points you’ve made (that I agree with) that so many of the Biblical moral teachings were shaped by, and/or constrained by, the culture of the time.
From my perspective, given that ANY of the moral teachings are so shaped/constrained, there is simply no basis to assume that they all weren’t.
The best Person to learn from is Jesus. On the issue of marriage, He takes us back to the beginning and God’s original intent for marriage – one male, one female for life. As far as Jesus is concerned that is an absolute moral teaching. What God did with those who were at one point too hard-hearted to accept the truth was to limit the damage done by such people. Jesus put it like this: “…Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning, it has not been this way” (Matt. 19:3-9).
Living in ideals is nice, but that is not what we have in history. However, we have much to go on in the Scriptures and sufficient guidance for absolute morals, although, there may be some which are not in a position to claim absolutes on. Even so, these are the exception not the rule. The Bible, like all verbal or written material, must be interpreted correctly. If some fail to interpret it correctly, it does not mean the problem is with God.
But we are left with an even greater dilemma for the unbeliever. What morals, if any, are valid at all? If there is no source of absolute authority on morality, then anarchy and immorality or whatever has been traditionally so defined are just entries in a dictionary.. What do you tell your kids as they grow up? What can you validly teach them regarding morality? If there are no moral absolutes, then a parent can only tell them that some people don’t like this or that & it might change down the path so, in essence, you let them find their own way. If a parent tries to enforce ANY particular morality on the child, then that would be considered wrong! Something amiss here isn’t there?
We are told that we can’t apply our morality to others, yet what are these people doing? Obviously, applying their morality/non-morality – however one wants to put it – they are applying their “absolutes” on to others. Even sociology is a construct for whichever position you wish to assume. Whatever scientific claim of statistic is put forward, it can be overridden by others who don’t like the implication and they can find plenty of other statisticians to make their case.
Again, we don’t seem to be communicating well. You really haven’t answered my question, but rather have advanced a different argument altogether. I don’t see any point in continuing this discussion.
Best wishes to you.
Well that’s a shame Richard. Every man must make his own bed. I wish you well.
Richard, you tell us you have one life but this is how you spend it? Writing endlessly on a blog that isn’t even yours? And on the Holidays? Yes, these arguments are terrible, I agree, but there are over fifty comments on this thing now and they’re in relatively quick succession to one another. Do you care that much about what some Christians say on the net? Geez, I couldn’t care less. I want to spend the Holidays with family and friends, not arguing with people I don’t even know.
Unless the person intention was to create a reaction to see how they will respond for their own amusement,then of course they don’t care. I don’t think speaking on a issue during the holidays, is going to take away from spending time with family or friends, unless you have no friends or family to spend around with. Of course, if you have the habit to constantly be so focus on something, that results towards forgetting about your family or friends, then that can be a problem.
Chris: I agree with you. I don’t refrain from debate during the holidays (I admit my comment came across as dismissing all debate during the holidays, in which case I was wrong and didn’t think my comment completely through) but I like to limit myself. Replying to over fifty comments is personally a little obsessive to me, though.
Richard: Allow me to give a comedic example of the exact same reaction.
“Hey, it’s Christmas, who needs healthy food, am I right?!”
Richard: “Are you seriously dismissing the need for healthy food!!!???”
Hey, I’ll admit straight up my comment came out the wrong way. I can even point out where. But you know we’ve had our debates, so do you really think I meant what your first sentence implied? I’m surprised you haven’t been called “Richard, the BLG (Big Leaping Giant).”
Ah, that’s my laugh for the day. See ya 🙂
Are you seriously claiming that the debate over religion is not a worthwhile endeavor? And based on your comments, why did you even bother to read my post, let alone respond?
1.What is missing in most of these comments, is about the article itself.
The article is speaking on a particular person. So why not speak on the topic itself?
2.As far as, you never know if someone may change their views, holds no weight on either side. The question, is why would
they change their views or beliefs? As A.W Tozer says “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is
sacred or secular, but why he does it.”
3.The remark about Christians speaking nonsense, is just an assertion on your part. That’s like me providing a blanket
statement, that Atheist are simply ignorant or can’t have no sense of good moral values.
[…] FORMER ATHEIST WILLIAM MURRAY, SON OF THE FOUNDER OF AMERICAN ATHEISTS, CONVERTS TO CHRISTIANITY: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/former-atheist-william-murray-son-of-the-founder-of… […]
[…] https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/former-atheist-william-murray-son-of-the-founder-of… […]
This was a chilling but refreshing read about the true power of the Lord. I would like for us to connect? Visit my blog at http://www.healthyliving894.com
Reblogged this on Acts of the New Commonwealth.
Everybody finds their place. May it me atheism, Christianity or any other religion. Who cares? I don’t.
And yes, his mother said things a kid should never hear, a mother or father shouldn’t even THINK of saying. But she was human. And humans make mistakes. She fought for what she believed in. People are glad that Christianity isn’t as much of a centre anymore as it used to be. Which is great. You can believe in whatever you want, just don’t smash it in other peoples faces. Accept that there are many ways to live. May it be religious or not. That’s the message I personally get from all that.
He’s christian, so what? Good for him that he found something to be comfortable with!
Hi, great story, which is very similar to my own. Please take a look at my book ‘Lost For Words, faith and the 12 step program’. I too write about Marxism and other grand narratives that existed in my head only and failed to reach my heart. All that intellect nearly killed me too. My book is on Amazon so please have a ‘Look inside’, thanks, I will be reading your book God bless