25th February 2008

“How can we trust a religion that has advocated slavery and the subjugation of women throughout history?”

Perry Marshall

23 Responses to “25th February 2008”

  1. Critic Says:

    Uh, well, I think the answer is that, “One can’t.”

  2. Christhinker Says:

    It was not atheists who freed slaves and ended slavery in the west. It was Christians. And when slavery of all kinds finally ends worldwide, it will be Christians, together with other kinds of believers, that end it. Nobody believes in the God that atheists don’t believe in except atheists.

  3. Christhinker Says:

    Not to mention that Perry Marshall is an advocate of one form of Intelligent Design. ID is neither good theology nor good philosophy. And it sure as hell ain’t good atheism! Who comes up with these quotes?

  4. Renshia Says:

    “It was not atheists who freed slaves and ended slavery in the west. It was Christians. ”

    What a crock, it was people that decided they did not have a right to enslave others, yeah there might have been some Christians that were involved, but it sure the hell wasn’t a Christian movement that brought freedom. It was black people that refused to continue to be slaves. bible thumpers..or not.
    In fact wasn’t it those GOOD CHRISTIAN KKK members burning crosses on peoples lawn to prove their love…
    you Christians are such hypocrites… you always say one thing but your actions prove your words lies.

  5. Christhinker Says:

    You’re right! It was blacks sayin’ they wouldn’t be slaves . . . and women saying that they would no longer be second class citizens . . . and all these blacks and women were Christians and not a one of them was an atheist. And yes, many, many Christians past and present were and are hypocrites . . . but then so is everyone at one time or another. That still doesn’t change the historical fact that every single significant movement towards freedom has been based upon Christian theologies, run by Christians (even against other Christians, yes!) and other “believers,” and ultimately made into law by Christians. There are, of course, plenty of good, compassionate atheists out there, but the fact is that atheism has never started or sustained any social movement of consequence – ever! – except the atheist movement itself – leaving atheism as a mere reaction against a vision of God that only atheists “believe” in, with no discernable substantive meaning of it’s own, and reduced to name calling. Hypocrites indeed!

  6. Hypatia Says:

    “It was not atheists who freed slaves and ended slavery in the west. It was Christians.”

    It’s very arrogant to claim credit for the combined efforts of individuals of many different creeds – where’s that Christian humility we keep hearing about?

    The Christian churches controlled Western society for over a thousand years before supporting the abolition of slavery – what took you guys so long!

  7. Christhinker Says:

    Christian churches did not merely “support” the abolition of slavery, as if the idea came from elsewhere and Christians just happened to jump on the bandwagon. Read and study your history. Christians who supported the evil institution of slavery did so out of sheer ignorance and or straight up evil, sinful inclination along with interpretations of the Bible that were even then self-serving power plays. The vast majority of Christians through out history did not support and never have supported slavery. The source of slavery’s demise was, is, and will be the Judeo-Christian, Biblical idea that all human beings are equal in the eyes and heart of God. This idea is found nowhere else in all the founding documents of all the world’s religions. Not Islam, not Buddaism, not Hinduism, not what-have-you-got. And certainly not atheism. This is not the height of hubris to say this; it is simply a cold, hard fact. Just because some Christians did support slavery it does not diminish in any way the efforts of most Christians to end it. One thing is for certain – atheism and atheists had nothing to do with it, and this fact does not diminish the absolutely brilliant contributions of todays atheists to science and philosophy (Einstien, Hawking, Dawkins, etc…). It is far more arrogant of atheists to claim that religion in general and Christianity in particular is the source of all evil in the world. Evil was around long before Christianity came along. Yet despite it’s many faults and failures, it has been far more effective than atheism by far in defining, confronting, and ultimately erradicating evil. Read your – our – history. The truth is that religion in general and Christianity in particular has produced far more . . . everything . . . than atheism ever has. As I said earlier, the problem with atheists is that the God they don’t believe in is a God that nobody believes in . . . except atheists. Atheists would do better to figure out what they do believe in instead pretending to believe in nothing, denying historical reality, and complaining about what the rest of the world does believe in.

  8. Hypatia Says:

    “One thing is for certain – atheism and atheists had nothing to do with it”

    How do you know? In the eighteenth century a public admission of atheism was a capital offence in most countries. In the century that followed you were either imprisoned or made a social pariah! Most atheists kept quiet out of necessity. So how can you talk about historical reality?

  9. Hypatia Says:

    “Just because some Christians did support slavery”

    Huge under exaggeration! Christian societies supported the slave trade for over 1500 years!

    What took you guys so long?

  10. Nefari Says:

    Wow, Christhinker, a lot of character assassination and absolute claims (never, every, all) in one morning. I’ll let those stand and discredit themselves.

    Besides, the original quote stated that religion has supported slavery. Even if it were true that religion got rid of it, it’s merely correcting its prior mistake.

    Something to chew on here: One of the earliest abolitionists in America was Thomas Paine who was a Deist, not a Christian. The first article published in America advocating the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery was written by him, titled “African Slavery in America”. It appeared on March 8, 1775 in the Postscript to the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser.

  11. Nefari Says:

    “Read and study your history. Christians who supported the evil institution of slavery did so out of sheer ignorance and or straight up evil, sinful inclination along with interpretations of the Bible that were even then self-serving power plays.”

    I can’t recall from my American History classes which group the historians say had the correct interpretation of the Bible. Was that determined by popular vote or seer stones with appropriate peer review? I’m sure it was part of the lectures, but I must have missed that class.

    All sarcasm aside, I think the true benefit to be gained from studying history is realizing that Christianity is nothing but ignorance and misinterpretation of the Bible.

  12. Terence Meaden Says:

    Here is a quote from the Bible that modern Christians would like to hide:

    “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from the nations that are round about you.
    You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.
    You may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession forever; you may make slaves of them, but over your brethren the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness.”
    – Leviticus 25.44

    Jesus never issued any word against slavery–so much for his supposed view of justice.

    What is more, the Ten Commandments give no mention either, and that is because they were concocted by a desert people around the 13th century BC according to their limited view of the world. The Ten Commandments were in no way the words of anybody’s god. Instead of leading liberation against slavery, most Christians just carried on regardless. As always, the church followed in the rearguard of progress; never was it in the vanguard.

  13. Renshia Says:

    “and not a one of them was an atheist.”
    How the hell would you know… were there… did you talk to each and everyone of them personally… This is a problem with you bible thumpers…. no concept of reality at all your delusions make you blind to any thing that requires reasonable thought.

    and now that I read the rest…
    blah blah.. your delusional.

    “many, many Christians past and present were and are hypocrites”
    your ALL hypocrites and liars… you talk like you know something, but they are only empty words based in delusion…
    you are sick and need help…

  14. Critic Says:

    christhinker.

    An oxymoron if ever I heard one.

  15. Christhinker Says:

    Nefari (lovely name!):
    You’re right about the Deist Thomas Paine. If I’m not mistaken, Patrick Henry was an atheist, and though I do not know if he specifically argued against slavery, I’m pretty sure his writings imply that he would have been against it. I stand corrected in my use of so many “absolute claims . . . in one morning”! As far as what the “correct interpretation” of the Bible might be, well, all written documments require interpretation, secular and religious alike. My interpretation is as open to criticism as any other, including yours, including the ancients. And isn’t “Christianity is nothing but ignorance and misinterpretation of the Bible” itself an absolute claim?
    I did not in any way, shape, or form intend to engage in any sort of “character assasination.” I absolutely do not believe that being Christian (in the sense of believing in a set of creeds or “18 impossible thigs before breakfast”!) necessarily makes one better that any one else, nor are atheists necessarily any less moral than anyone else (Disbelief or un-belief does not equal immoral or amoral or bad/evil).
    To my knowledge, “American History classes” rarely and only in the most superficial way ever deal with the religious foundations of American history. Secular authorities (and atheists?) seem embarrased that so many of the Founding Fathers (and Mothers?) based their political convictions on religious (especially Deist and Christian) ideas, while Christian authorities (especially the evangelical right) are definitely embarrased by the fact that so many of the Founding Fathers were not evangelical Christians. (Biographical note: I am not an “evangelical.” One would probably describe me as “mainline protestant.” I am a firm believer in the seperation of church and state, but a believer in one’s faith (whether religious or atheistic) informing one’s politics.)

    Renisha (again, lovely name!):
    See my comment concerning Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry above. Otherwise, you seem more interested in name-calling than in debating what I’ve actually written. Do you really think Christians are “ALL hypocrites and liars” and “delusional”?
    Concerning “blah, blah…” Please fell free not to read anything I write if you find it boring or indigestible. The coversation between belief and non-belief seems important and interesting to me, and well worth the effort to read through opinions one doesn’t agree with or facts (even about oneself!)that make one uncomfortable. Or is it that your only interested in hearing your own opinion right back (seems a strange way to learn anything). I also write at length because (1) atheists make me think, and (2) I am relatively new to the web and do not have 24 hour access. My apologies if this makes you angry and disagreeable.

    Hypatia (and again, lovely name!):
    Concerning “Christian societies supported slavery…” The truth is that most (if not all?) societies have supported slavery throughout recorded history, and some continue to do so today. So, what took everyone so long? There is nothing about Christianity that inevitabley leads to slavery. In fact quite the opposite: Basic Christian theology and doctrine affirms the inherint freedom and free will of every individual. Some Christians do indeed see this as a problem (thus, highly controversial, even among Christians, doctrines/dogmas such as “original sin” or “papal infallibility” or “biblical inerrancy). Most celebrate it. I am simply suggesting that Christians played a large, decisive, and leadership role in the abolition of slavery (as well as many other social evils). This is simply, as I’ve said, an historical fact, not evidence for any sort of superiority, moral or otherwise.

    Terence Meaden:
    Biblical quotes on any number of subjects, pro or con, are easy to make. Same goes for your comment on the Ten Commandments (“concocted” is hardly a fair assessment of the origins of the Ten Commandments, whether or not one believes). This is why interpretation is essential for all historical documents. Context (historical, literary, social, political, etc…) is often ignored by the religious and secular alike. Even so I would have to agree that at least some Christians would like to “hide” this passage and many others, especially those from Leviticus! In my experience, however, most Christians do deal with passages like this. Those Christians who treat the Bible in it’s entirerty as if it fell out of Heaven fully formed and ready to “rule” . . .quite simply have failed to read it let alone study and interpret. It is ironic that most atheist commentators (such as Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion . . . a great book by the way!) treat the Bible almost the same way the “fightin’ fundies” do. I should change my earlier comment about the God atheists don’t believe in (2/25 at 11:12) to “Nobody believes in the God atheists don’t believe in . . . except atheists and fundamentalists.”
    You are correct that Jesus offered no specific teaching on slavery, at least according to the records we have. However, he does seem to have lived a life and offered parabolic “teaching” that at the very least implies and might very well demand opposition to slavery as well as other social evils. He is even said to have commanded his followers to love one another as well as others. How does one love and still maintain slavery? Is it any wonder that the superpower of the day (Rome, for those keeping score), very much dependent on various forms of slavery to maintain their lavish, elitest lifestyles, condemned and executed him? It is not neccessary to “believe” in Jesus to at least acknowledge this aspect of his life. But his followers, I admit, have often left much to be desired, despite my insistence that Christians were indeed “in the vanguard” of abolition.

    Critic:
    You seem to be a critic without a context, capable of little more than name-calling and, well, criticism. Perhaps you are unable to think?

    To All:
    1. Sorry for the lengthy text. If anyone cares to answer it, I promise I will respond in a couple of days. For those of you who wish I’d shut up, hell, I know at least a couple of people who would probably agree with you!
    2. I still maintain that atheists have had little to do with the great social movements of the last, say, 500 years. This is not a judgement; it is merely an historical fact.
    3. I think this will have to change once atheists stop complaining about religion in general and Christianity in particular and begin to think about, document, and act upon what they do believe in (This is already happening and to me, welcome. Witness the recent bestselling books by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc… All very good books despite their limited scope (see above).
    4. You should know that I have no interest in “converting” any of you. That, even I can admit is an exercise in futility not to mention almost certainly not what Jesus had in mind (Of course, many Christians will disagree with me on this!) He was, after all, a Jew, as were all his early followers.
    5. Have a nice day!

  16. Renshia Says:

    “Do you really think Christians are “ALL hypocrites and liars” and “delusional”?”

    Christhinker…
    I believe that there is no basis to a belief in God. I believe that any belief that is derived from that core belief is based in delusional thinking.. Therefore, yes, I believe that all religious people are delusional.

    I have a number of years of my life vested into Christianity.. starting as an alter boy in the catholic faith went on to preaching to large groups about the saving power of jesus in crusades. I have heard of miracles.. seen people claim they were healed.. and even touched those that were thrown into convulsions as the holy spirit flew through them… An thats just a scraping… I will tell you from my experience it is all a lie.. and yes hypocrites in the extreme. I lost my delusion because there was no true happiness in it.. it was all a lie…. then it comes back to the question, how is it possible there could be a god, when it is all a lie.

    So, this is why I find your arguments…empty, because I have said them all and I know that the core of them is only an empty hope, based on NO evidence. I also know that because of that delusion I carried I missed out on living the true purpose of life, time I can never recover. The only saving grace of it all is that I learned.

    If you really look at the fruits that are bared by what you are associated with, not just each individual cell, but the whole of it as well, you will not be able do anything but ask, How is it possible there could be a god, when it is all a lie?

    so the answer to is is not that I think they are, but I know they are.

    To entertain you in critical discussion.. debating your belief is complete folly. I will discuss personal experience with anyone, I will share what has helped me see a better perspective, because that is all that really counts. Theological debate of any kind is a waste, some of it might be a pretty waste, but it is a complete waste of energy none the less.

  17. Renshia Says:

    “My apologies if this makes you angry and disagreeable.”

    Please do not think that I am ever angry..if my responses seem that way, I apologize. I am not angry, just intolerant, and yes I know less than I should be.
    I just can’t believe that people waste all this time being something for something else, when they could just do it for themselves, and not waste all this time and energy on constructing some mythological construct as an excuse to live as a person should.
    To waste all this time and energy on living up to and explaining some mythical standard, when really if we would just live like we should, then this standard would mean nothing anyway.

    Really, what possible difference in your world, would god make if you just lived your life as best you could, if you just accepted full responsibility for your actions and lived as you felt you should.
    If you have done this, then really it should make no difference whether or not there is a god, because you have done your best.
    Except instead we waste a lot of energy on this useless inventory, instead of vesting it in ourselves to become all that we can be. religion is reductive to the self.

  18. Christhinker Says:

    Renshia:
    (1) I just realized I spelled your name wrong previously. Still, a great name . . .
    (2) “I believe that there is no basis to a belief in God.”
    That seems in the objective sense true enough. By the same token, there really is no objective basis for the belief in no-God. Quantum physics has shown that there is no “objective” point-of-view from which to observe anything. There is always an element of uncertainty in all our theories about physical reality. No less an authority on the material world that the brilliant Stephen Hawking has stated the he knows as much as anyone about the when and the how of the creation of the universe, but he still doesn’t know why. He is, of course, an atheist, but he still uses the word “God” for that why (a sort of god-of-the-gap for atheists?). I believe that God is found in that why. A “subjective” assessment.
    (3)” . . . all religious people are delusional.”
    If there is no objective basis for “belief,” whether religious or atheistic, then we are all delusional.
    (4) I too have many years invested in Christianity (45 and counting). It has not always been pretty. I have heard of miracles. Some are true, I think, but I must admit that most seem little more than scams of one kind or another. I watched a good friend die, eaten alive by cancer, while his family (very fundamentalist) promised him that God would cure him if he would pray ferverently for healing. His doctor told him and his family to prepare, but they did not. He died. I wonder to this day if he died thinking that he did not pray enough, or correctly, or if he wondered if some member of his family didn’t pray or believe the right way. They live quiet, joyless little lives now, proclaiming an ever certain faith in God while walking aimlessly through each day and acting like God (or perhaps their dead) betrayed them. I hope and pray that he died in peace. Another aquaintence from my church recently punctured his eardrum after falling in a mountain climbing “accident.” His doctors told him he would not hear out of that ear again. Two weeks later, the doctors said it was completely healed with no sign that it was never injured. They have no explanation, but the family believes was a miracle. Me? I doubt it. Some other explanation seems more reasonable.
    I too have been to the rallys, seen the “crusades” (horrible choice of word). I think I agree with much of your assessment of those kinds of events. I would suggest, however that you’re painting an entire history (past, present,and future) of people and faith with a single negative stroke based only on your own personal experience of a very limited and specific type of religious belief and practice. The “why” (subjective/theology/belief) needs tempering with the “when and the how” (objective/practice/person). I don’t know your story, but it sounds like these people hurt you quite a bit. Blame the person, not the belief.
    (5) “. . . debating your belief is complete folly.”
    I think I agree with you here. Endless debate about whether or not there is a God (and then whether or not he’s a “he” or a “she” or an “it” or something else entire) is a waste of time and effort (My girlfriend is a Neo-Pagan of the Wiccan variety. We often discuss our respective faiths with one another, and occasionally points of contention are breached, but for the most part we stay away from any debate about the “absolutes” of either belief. But, trust me; we have our differences!) Experience changes people, not theological/philosophical discussions (although discussions can be an experience!). Your written words came across “angry” at first; now they seem . . . well, . . . sad. Certainly they don’t come across very happy. Your newfound(?) atheism seems more a reaction against a particular experience of a particular “brand(s?)” of Christianity than a dearly held belief in and of itself. Perhaps one day you’ll have an experience that leads you to embrace . . . something else? Of course, I don’t know you, so perhaps I am at the moment “full of sh-t” as they say! If so, apologies.
    (6) You write that we “waste all this time and energy constructing some mythological construct as an excuse to live as a person should.”
    I LOVE that statement. Bingo! Right on the money! Mind if I use that some time? I will be sure to give you credit! 🙂 I’m not sure I have an arguement against that! I think that a lot of people seem to do that very thing, religious and atheist alike. All I can say right now is that all “belief” is probably “mythological construct,” but I do not think that that means that all “mythological construct” is a lie. I can definitely see that at least some of the content of my faith is mythologically constructed, but I find that necessary, meaningful and “true.” [Even my experience is constructed (memory is never the actual event, but the event interpreted, with further experience leading to re-interpretation over and over again). But it doesn’t “feel” like a lie or an excuse. Sorry, must have been thinking “out loud” as it were.] I would say that those times when I believe I have done my best were a direct result of believing in my God. Not as excuse, but motivation. Anyway . . .
    (7) Having said all that I still maintain that, historically speaking, Christians, motivated by basic Christian theology, doctrine, and belief were indeed at the forefront of the abolition movement . . . and atheism and atheists . . . weren’t. I am not asking you or anyone else to take this as proof of God’s existence or even Christianity’s supposed superiority to other faiths, including the atheist faith. It is simply a well documented historical fact that cannot be dismissed by claiming that “ALL Christians are hypocrites and liars” (not true OR applicable to all people everywhere), or that Christians are “delusional” (not true OR applicable to all people everywhere), or that Christianity, all by itself, “supported slavery” (true, but true of most if not all societies worldwide throughout history).
    (8) Thanks for replying, thanks for reading, good night (or morning, as the case may be), and,
    (9) Have a nice day!

  19. Hypatia Says:

    By the same token, there really is no objective basis for the belief in no-God.

    Actually there are two that I’m familiar with:

    1) it is ridiculous to believe in something for which there is absolutely no evidence.

    2) the concept of god is faulty since it cannot explain how god came into existence.

  20. Renshia Says:

    “there really is no objective basis for the belief in no-God
    ……if there is no objective basis for “belief,” whether religious or atheistic, then we are all delusional.”
    One thing I do not understand is why, the quest for proof of god is always converted into some kind of competition of, you prove, i prove, (I hope you get what I mean).
    As a person who holds to some atheistic beliefs,
    I do not believe “THERE IS NO GOD”, (emphasis only)
    What I believe is that we live in a magnificent universe, that has shown itself to posses and energy force capable of producing life.
    I believe I am a manifestation of that force.
    I believe the form in which I exists only lasts for a short while, and I damn well better make the best of it.
    I believe that if there is a reason for our existence it is to learn.
    I believe that to live my life to the fullest I need only one law, and that is to do what is best for me and best for all concerned.
    I believe that to fulfill the goal of “living life to the fullest” all I have to do is my impeccable best.
    and lastly, I believe that the only responsibility I have is to myself, and that I am 100% responsible for my life and my actions.

    So with this as my basis for belief, understand it is not a belief in no god, but no room for the concept of a god at all, to acknowledge a “belief in no god” is irrelevant, because the concept one way or another is irrelevant.

    All the concept of god does is shift our focus away from ourselves, to provide excuses for the failure of not doing our impeccable best.

    “I would suggest, however that you’re painting an entire history (past, present,and future) of people and faith with a single negative stroke based only on your own personal experience of a very limited and specific type of religious belief and practice. The “why” (subjective/theology/belief) needs tempering with the “when and the how” (objective/practice/person). I don’t know your story, but it sounds like these people hurt you quite a bit. Blame the person, not the belief.”

    It does not surprise me that you would contribute my feelings toward religion as a striking back at a personal wrong done to me by people involved by the church. Lack of detail in all of the contributing factors could lead to that being the most obvious conclusions.
    But for the record, it wasn’t. No one did me any grevious harm, I do not hold any resentments to any of my past associations. It was no specific event, I was never molested by the Catholic priest, in fact he was like my second dad. He was a shelter in my life that provided a place to escape the terror that most of what my life was surrounded by. He was without question one of the greatest people I have ever met. I spent a number of years in the study of many different types of religions and although I associated myself in mainly Christian circles. I studied everything I could get my hands on to understand more. So, by belief is stemmed from years learning and observing the ebb and flow of life. It comes from seeing how what appears on the surface to be just innocent harmless belief system, is really one of the most destructive forces created by mankind. They say beautiful things, but there actions turn their words into lies.

    You mention that after rereading instead of angry you think I am sad and hurt. With this you are partly right. I do have a great sadness in me, but it is not a sadness from once hoping, believing and thinking that God, Jesus, Christianity, Religion, held some key to happiness and fulfillment in life, and then to come to the understanding that it is wrong.. all just a lie.
    For me I feel that all in all it was a great learning experience, my sadness is because so many people will invest there lives in this concept and never even realize they are really wasting the precious gift of their life, instead of being all they could be.
    As far as my life is concerned, I LOVE my life, it wondrous and full. I get more joy and happiness in 10 minutes of my life now than I did in any year as a Christian. but most of all, I have great peace.

    “Mind if I use that some time?”

    not at all. Heck, you can even take credit for it if you like… there only words after all.

  21. Critic Says:

    One thing I do not understand is why, the quest for proof of god is always converted into some kind of competition of, you prove, i prove, (I hope you get what I mean).

    I will hazard an unsolicited guess: The only proof that the religious mind can offer to support their untenable position is that, “There is no proof that god does NOT exist.” Folks like good old Xthinker attempt to stymie the argument by demanding that atheists prove that god does not exist. As has been stated by others much more eloquently, it is not our (atheists’) job to prove anything. It is totally on the shoulders of the mind-numbingly delusional religious mind to prove that there is a god.

    So, as I’ve said before to others in this forum: Christhinker, prove that god exists or kindly stop your silly yammering in support of god and religion. Thank you for your consideration.

    …my sadness is because so many people will invest there lives in this concept and never even realize they are really wasting the precious gift of their life…

    Renshia, you have hit upon the reason for my sadness too. The waste of humanity in the name of religion is appalling.

  22. Renshia Says:

    “I would say that those times when I believe I have done my best were a direct result of believing in my God. Not as excuse, but motivation. Anyway .”

    But why, Do you think you were given some supernatural strength, resilience, or endurance, were you any stronger, faster, smarter? What part of it did God play?
    Most importantly, Why should you not think that in those times that you felt you did your best was because YOU did ? why can you not give credit to your self. What is wrong with saying, wow I did great… me.. all me. and what is wrong with believing you did it, not some far out GOD thing? and what gain is there to the waste of energy in giving the credit to someone else?

  23. Renshia Says:

    Continued….

    and also why not take the credit for your accomplishments and feed on that energy, invest it’s power in yourself. Feel proud of what you did. Would it not give you even more power and energy for next time, you require your impeccable best.

    Seems silly to me to always give the credit for what we do to something else. seems…. self reductive….