Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Conversations with Jim, Part 1. Why Christianity Promotes Moral Laxity; Why Their God is not Worthy of Worship, and Why Pride and Hate Can Be Virtues

I am beginning a series of posts here in reference to comments made on another one of my blogs titled, "A is for Atheist" by a commenter named Jim (aka anonymous)  I have chosen not to post them there, but here instead, as they are in the format of a conversation, and therefore, would be easier to follow along with as I answer each comment one at a time.  Enjoy.

This is one of Jim's replies to my post titled " On The Question Of Yahweh And The Slaughter of The Canaanite Unborn Fetuses: Dear Anonymous - Part One. My Response to a Recent Commenter on This Blog"

I am held accountable for my actions. My failings are held against me. My imperfections count. That’s why it’s said that Jesus came, to fill the gap between the standard God has set and how close or far away I am from it. Jesus is not a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, as some have used it. That only works if God isn’t all-knowing and seeing and it isn’t true to the Christian message. God claims to know the actual hearts and minds of his creation. Nothing, no cover-up, no ingenuine repentance is fooling God. The temporal consequences of sin do not go away either, just because we are forgiven. Sin costs us here. Some people, Christian, atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Muslim, Mormon, etc., may “get away” with sin on earth, like I “got away” with my shoplifting. God saw it and will deal with me justly for anything I do. You can’t honestly suggest that Christianity promotes moral laxity even if some Christians are morally lax. That’s just not so. Ideologies that ignore or reject the existence of God are responsible for more deaths than all the religions of the world combined. You can just check an older copy of the Guinness Book of World Records (Judicial section under Mass Killings) to find that out. Social Darwinism fueled the Holocaust. Communism was responsible for 66 million deaths under Stalin, Lenin and Khrushchev. Dennis Prager writes “more innocent people have been murdered, tortured and enslaved by secular ideologies – Nazism and communism – than by all religions in history.” Genocides in Africa, communism in China, ad nauseum. No, God is not the root of evil, it is His hand that stays evil’s full force.

Look, you claim that your "job" is to educate, but you are presupposing the answer and backfilling the argument with things you don't like and then twisting some of it from its original meaning, (or possibly you just don’t know you’re doing it) when I would put it to you that you don't fully comprehend what you're doing. "Most people who have rejected God have rejected a really bad interpretation (and I would add, presentation) of him." I think that's pretty apparent in general, but maybe more so with you. Have you ever spent time with something like "Evidence That Demands a Verdict"? Have you ever tried to consider that when Jesus says that his disciples need to be willing to leave families, etc., that maybe he means something different than how you're choosing to take it? There ARE other parts of speech that Jesus employed at various times in his teaching, opening the doorway to more than one possible reading of some of the passages you object most to. I obviously don’t want you to read it to be more “effective” at what you do, but maybe if you better understood what we believe, you’d be fairer and less angry about it. I don’t know.

You also said that hatred and pride were virtues, but the way you described it sounded more like defense mechanisms to me. I’ll have another look just the same. By and large though, most psychotherapists will tell you that hate is really just the eventual result of deep-seeded (or is it seated? I think both actually work here) fear, as is pride. If you want to know what I think on that topic, I might go into it more, but my diatribe is long enough this time. Thanks for posting my responses and for taking the time to read them. I'd appreciate if you wouldn't insult me by calling them fodder. That's just disrespectful and patronizing.


My response:

Dear Jim,

You tell me that as a Christian your "failings" are held against you, and your imperfections count, and God will, as you say, "deal with me (you) justly for anything I (you) do." I am interesting in knowing just how you think your god will "deal with you"-- unless of course you believe your god will be sending you to hell for your failings. Repenting is not a just way of "dealing with your failings"--but that is all Christians claim they must do to be "saved" and go to heaven. If there was real justice within the Christian matrix, you would not be able to get away with merely "repenting" of your sins--so please, tell me how your god deals with you "justly". To say "sorry to Jesus" and then being allowed to walk away scott free is not a just and fair method of "dealing with you." (Your sins, i.e. your offenses against your fellow man/woman). As I said before, repenting does nothing for the victims of the "sins" Christians commit. The only real justice for victims and society comes from secular laws--not your god. The Christian matrix is a system that leads to moral laxity, as there are not consequences for believers in this life for the transgressions they commit. Yes, in this life, Christians believe they have a "get out of jail free" card--as long as they do not get caught. If they get caught, it is only secular laws that mete out justice--not their god. According to the Christian belief system, their god does not care if the little children that are atheists are raped and murdered--they will go to hell--but if the priest who committed those crimes repents, well, he will find paradise in heaven, while the children he raped and murdered burn in hell! It is difficult to fathom anything more unjust than that.

I am not the first that came to the conclusion that this version of Christianity is unjust and leads to "moral laxity." Pelagius pointed this out long ago--we see the results of this version of Christianity via the actions of Christian society as a whole--so his analysis was quite correct. The other version of Christianity believes humans are judged solely by their works, and everything they have done is written in the Book of Life, and this is what they are judge by--as the Bible says. Furthermore, according to Hebrews 10:26-27, there is no repentance for your sins, as once you have been "saved" and have the laws written on your heart, and you willfully sin--you go to the pit of fire--NO REPENTANCE.

You also claim that atheist ideologies are responsible for more deaths than all of the religions combined--which is not the case at all. Let me give you a short history lesson to illustrate why.

The anti-Semitism and atrocities committed by Hitler's Nazi's, was influence heavily by the works of Martin Luther, including his "On the Jews and Their Lies" in which Luther called for all Jewish rights, including rights to their own religious writings be eliminated; their properties razed; their monies confiscated; and to use Jews as forced agricultural labour. The Jews were scapegoated, and also blamed for the death of Jesus, so it was easy to incite hatred against them and blame them for the economic hardships they faced--not because the Jews were the money changers--but because of the economic sanctions placed on them after the Treaty of Versailles, where they were made to pay restitution for starting WWI. The reasons for the atrocities committed in Germany have a very, very heavy Christian influence. On an even deeper level, it makes one wonder how Christians can trust their own bible (half of which consists of the Jewish Tanakh) when as Luther claimed, the Jews are "untrustworthy"-- this is a non-sequitur of epic proportions.

The tyrannical governments of many of the so-called "atheist regimes,"and their totalitarianism could be attributed to other factors, and were not created to impose atheism on others. For instance, in Russia before the Russian Revolution (1917), the Russian Orthodox Church and the czarist autocracy controlled the country and the wealth, while peasants and the working class suffered in poverty. Nothing could be done to influence the Czar to change his policies, which then resulted in worker strikes, culminating in actual revolution. Their revolutions were anti-Imperialistic, and directed towards removing Imperialism (which works hand in hand with the church) in order to establish socialism and a more even distribution of wealth within the country. As church and state worked hand in hand in oppressing their nation, it would therefore be a natural progression for the socialists to eliminate religion along with the Czarist government.

Just as was in the case of Russia, China too, was a feudal society where the few elite controlled the wealth and power, while the majority barely survived, resulting in many peasant uprisings. Their revolution and the communism that followed was an effort to elevate the living conditions of the poor and oppressed workers. In the case of China, Christianity had been in practice since the 7th century, and although it waned between the 10th and 14th centuries, it reestablished itself the 18th and 19th centuries. This "western influence" then led to the Taiping Rebellion from 1850-1864--a civil war launched by a heterodox Christian who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. This rebellion is considered one of the deadliest in history, and resulted in the deaths of approximately 20 to 47 million people.(Revolutionary armies in the modern era: a revisionist approach By S. P. Mackenzie p. 78) We can see then, that just as it was in the case with Russia, when the Communist Party of China came to power in 1949, China viewed Western religions such as Christianity as the tool of Western colonialism. Therefore, In an effort to separate themselves from Western Colonial influence, Mao, in a similar move to Jefferson's, aimed for the separation of church and state. This move had nothing to do with forcing atheism onto the people, and everything to do with removing Imperialistic regimes. So you see, many of the so-called "atheist regimes" were heavily influence by Christianity. Even if they were atheists, and had committed the above atrocities, that would not make Christianity or their god, if he existed, anymore worthy of worship, as two wrongs do not make a right.

As a final note, you claim my view of hate and pride is a defense mechanism. Well, if you consider that hating someone that hurts me--which saves me from further hurt, then yes, you are right. I am defending myself against further hurt by hating those that hurt me. Also, hate can be a great motivator. There are many instances where hate has motivated either a person or a whole group of people to great accomplishments, such as when the Haitians rose up against their French oppressors.

If my pride saves me from being meek and humble and willing to follow anyone's "advice," then yes, my pride is a defense mechanism against those who would use and abuse me to their own end. Defense mechanisms can come in handy in life. The Army, the Navy, and the United States in general employ many defense mechanisms in order to defend themselves. However, defending something that is indefensible does not help society progress--and Christianity, in the face of logic and reason--has proven itself to be quite indefensible. On the other hand, pride as I said before, is merely the proper amount of self respect and is a virtue. If you have self respect, then you are morel likely to hold up all the rest of the virtues--which for me, makes pride perhaps the primary virtue.


  1. Cathy
    Would you please post the rest of what I sent you? Thanks.


  2. Jim,

    As I mentioned before, I will post them one at a time on this blog, so that the conversation is easy to follow for anyone else that happens to read them. I am doing it this way, as without going through the dialectical process, it becomes a meaningless diatribe. I will be posting all 7 of your comments, with my response. You, and anyone else that happens to read them, can then reply directly to those response. The next posting will come this weekend.

  3. Cathy,
    As I said before, anything that is done that is immoral or against God’s law, even if it is done in “Christ’s name” and regardless of the justification for it, is not Christianity. The Koukl quote I mentioned before covers this. Plenty of people have done things in Christ’s name that are wrong. They’re called false prophets and heretics and make life difficult for people who sincerely love God. No Christian, regardless of status, doing an un-Christian act, can make it okay morally by claiming to do it in the name of God or Jesus. The guy who walked around with a sandwich board and megaphone condemning us all to hell at my undergrad school was wrong, though he would claim to be a Christian doing Christian things for Christ. What he was doing didn’t line up with scripture. If it doesn’t match what Jesus taught, it doesn’t matter what someone calls themselves or what he or she does. If what they are doing is immoral and anti-Christian, it’s wrong. It wouldn’t matter if it is one of the original apostles was saying this. You can’t do something that is counter to God’s teaching and by virtue of your “rank” or standing in Christianity, call it good. It isn’t and God isn’t fooled or blind to it. I’ll talk about that in exactly 6 paragraphs from here.

    Luther was wrong about the Jews, despite his contributions in other areas of scholarship. Look at some of the brands of Christianity that have spawned from him. There are synods who believe that if you’re not a member of theirs, you are going to hell regardless of your otherwise doctrinal belief in Jesus Christ. In the end, I know Luther contributed, but his contribution in that vain was not true to Jesus’ teachings about the Jews. Jesus’ teaching was a completion of what God revealed to the Jews first. Jesus himself was a Jew and never condemned their Jewish-ness. He only got mad at Jews who were distorting God’s word and taking advantage of it for their own benefit. Sound familiar? Not to mention, the Jews were God’s chosen people.

    In addition, Hitler was heavily influenced by pagan religions, believing that German soil and blood were somehow sacred, amongst other issues that he had. Hitler may have used Luther’s writings to justify aspects of his ideology, but if truth and accuracy are of any importance to us, Hitler was far more heavily influenced by social Darwinism than by Luther’s writings. It’s easy to see this even in the manner in which he spoke. The language he used was not that of Christianity at all. All of what he spoke was anti-semitic, to be sure, but that is surely not all drawn from Luther’s mistaken viewpoint.

  4. Take the media for example. Whenever they get a hold of a story that they think will upset “the church” or Christians in general, they go grab the most right-wing (or just off the wing altogether) “Christian” pastor and they let him speak for Christianity to get the “Christian” take on the issue. To which I end up yelling at the TV screen “That’s NOT what we believe!!!” in abject horror because it’s almost always a distinct deviation from the truth.

    There’s a little bit of truth in even the darkest of lies. It’s that shred of truth that makes a lie believable, but don’t be fooled, this was not a Christian doctrine driving the Holocaust. Social Darwinism drove the Holocaust, along with the warping of other belief systems and ideologies.

    We need to separate the issues here. One is whether or not Christians “get away” with anything and the other is the punishment that God metes out. The simple truth is that if there is a God who exists in the manner in which he describes himself throughout scripture, then God knows everything that goes on in our hearts, knows all our motives for doing anything. If that is the case, then no act of evil goes unnoticed. Even when God is talking about the motivation of the good we do, he does it by suggesting that we are to do it so naturally that our left hand would not know what our right hand was doing. Your reference to Hebrews 10: 26-27 is exactly what I am talking about. One who goes into a situation knowing ahead of time that it is sin and thinking that they can just ask forgiveness for it and share in grace retroactively is not “covered” by the blood of Jesus. If any of the faithful try to abuse forgiveness, God knows. Since he, if he really is God, knows the hearts and motives of his creation, no one truly gets away with anything.

    Not to mention, there is a verse in the New Testament (Matthew 7: 21-23) where it describes people coming to Jesus and telling of their many acts in Jesus’ name and in this instance, Jesus condemns them because their hearts were not in it. He tells them that he “never knew” them. Seriously? That’s pretty telling, isn’t it? You can even do Jesus-like things, heal people, prophesy, etc., and it isn’t good enough because your heart isn’t in the right condition? Many feel as though that is unfair in the other direction, but fair or not, this is not a God letting anything by him.

    There is a natural trickle-down effect of every sin, even if the punishment for it on earth isn’t in kind or the way we think it should be. Seem unsatisfying? It has and does to me sometimes too, but if the God I know, have read about and have experienced is who I have seen him to be elsewhere in life, then I gravitate toward giving the benefit of the doubt. I realize that as someone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife, it would be hard to grasp the idea of things working out justly on the “other side”, but that’s what a Christian believes. In the end, letting go of the perceived “right” to make things as we think they should be here is hard, but do you really think you can correctly assess and judge every act as right or wrong? Do you honestly believe you’ve got right and wrong nailed and can dole out the appropriate punishment?

  5. Maybe not all the judgment meted out on earth is payment in kind, and I can see how many people feel as though “an eye for an eye” should still apply now. I’ve felt it, wanting people to pay for things they have done to me, from small things I feel like giving a verbal lashing for, to horrific things where I think someone should have to pay the same kind of physical price they inflict on another.

    Why does anyone feel the need for revenge or for penance, judgment or forgiveness? Isn’t that a little odd to be proceeding out of a mindless, intention-less, amoral system? Do you think Jesus was wrong then when he said to forgive others for their sins, lest you not be forgiven for yours? I know you said it was stupid to love those who will never love you back, so maybe forgiveness is out of the question too. At the end of the day though, saying that Christianity is morally lax is a gross misunderstanding (or a gross misrepresentation) of it. It’d be like someone who doesn’t like to run telling a marathoner that they were lazy. Just because you think it’s stupid, doesn’t mean it’s lax to require followers of Jesus to love their enemies and forgive those who persecute them any more than it is lazy to run 26 miles because you think it’s stupid. You may have no desire to do either, but lax and lazy they are not. Loving your enemies is a much higher standard than any person would willingly set for themselves, which is why Jesus’ words were so groundbreaking and offensive to many.

    If you are right, then your longing, your hope is in vain because there’s really nothing out there. It’s just us. Get what you can, dole out whatever measure of justice you deem necessary and hold onto every day with a death-grip because once it’s over man, it’s over. There is no fair or right, except where it pertains to fitting into the world around you. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it, only what we have decided works for us. There’s no one to blame except other people (and how should we decide who is to blame) for things that go wrong and no one to place any hope in except ourselves and the people who think like we do. If you could just get rid of all those pesky people who don’t think like you, or change their thinking to match yours, would everything be “better” in your mind?

    Having no God is a little like getting robbed at gunpoint in South America. There is a very good chance that no one is going to help an American from the US. You can go to the police, but they often won’t care or try to seek out the culprits. They are very often corrupt and if the police don’t see any self-benefitting reason to help out a gringo, they won’t. You can’t appeal to anything but an unhelpful “authority” and if he/she says no, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t appeal to “rightness” or what “should” or “ought” to be, because no one who could change or make the situation right, cares. What if the human in front of you says “no” even in the face of absolutely airtight arguments? What if you are completely in the right, but still the answer is no? What then? And to be clear, we are not talking at all about people who misuse their authority.

  6. At the end of the day, the Christian standard of morality is far higher than any secular belief, any other religion for that matter. It is literally an impossibly high standard, in actual fact. No one by themselves can live up to it, which implies the need for help (Jesus) and which is why God has allowed us to go our own ways for so long, so we’d know our need for a relationship with him. Think of how prone to wander away from God the Jews were throughout the OT. Every time, their wandering brought them suffering, which made them recognize their disloyalty, which brought them back to God.

    Cathy, if you were to imagine an existent God, what would that God be like? If there were such a being, what do you think God should be like? Do you think that God should think just like you, a human? Would you want the entity that rules the entire universe and your eternal destiny to be just a more powerful, little wiser version of a human being? Would you want to be able to know everything that this God thinks because God thinks just like you do, or do you want the one who rules it all to know more than you could possibly know, to see infinitely more than you are capable of? Would you be able to trust something that was just barely above your human counterparts with your entire existence or would you want them to be a different sort of being altogether? I know I’d expect this God to be completely “other”. I’d actually really hope that God would be beyond my comprehension. I’d hope he could see things I couldn’t so that when crap happened, there was real hope that it didn’t miss his eye, didn’t catch him by surprise and wasn’t unredeemable. Somehow, when tragedy befell humanity, it had the hope of being redeemable instead of random and meaningless. If you had to come up with a God who was acceptable for you, what would God be like?

  7. And finally, I need to say that for any of the history issues that you have raised above, the same rule applies. If it's not something that Jesus or the Bible actually taught, (and this opens up a large can of interpretations that have been misused too) it doesn't matter who is propagating it or who followed it or in what name it was pushed forward. If it's not right, it's not right. The Bible mentions on multiple occasions about how false prophets will come and do and say things in Jesus' name. This should not be a surprise to anyone that if there really is any sort of eternal battle on a supernatural plain, that lies would come from the opposite camp from the truth. I mean, if it's real, we ARE talking about eternity and things that matter deeply to our existence. If not, then not one word of this really has any meaning at all.


  8. I just posted part 2, which is a comment to the above comment made by anonymous (Jim).

  9. It says you posted on December 11, but I don't see your response here. Anywhere else I should look? -J

  10. Cathy,
    I am wondering why you haven't responded at all in the past month. I've kindly asked for the remaining parts of my post and responses to what I have said, but you have failed to do so. I inquired as to where you posted your further comments on December 11th and still no response. I'd like to know if you intend on engaging anything I have to say further. I have a few possibilities in mind as to why you haven't responded. It's likely that a) you haven't had time recently as you are a professor of sorts and are possibly grading things from the end of a term, b) you don't care about my arguments and have moved on to other things you deem as being of more worth, c) you don't think you're going to get anywhere with me, or d) some of what I have said in the paragraphs you haven't posted are giving you trouble. Perhaps there is an option e), but regardless, I'd like to know so I don't waste time, effort or heart in communicating with you. Thank you,