Category Archives: Jewish

Even Stevens Mock Abrahamic Religions

This hilarious video, featuring Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart as, respectively, a Muslim, a Christian and a Jew, really hones in on the ridiculous dogmas and apologia of the Abrahamic religions.

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell

 

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Slam Dunking God

The naturalist understanding of morality asserts that we have evolved empathy as an impetus to cooperation. Combined with personal experience, empathy leads most of us to a “Golden Rule” sense of morality. From experience, I know what hurts me: with empathy, I know the same things likely hurt you too. Experience and empathy is all we need to decide most moral matters. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you . . . because we need each other to survive and prosper.” We are complex social animals, so this rule of thumb isn’t sufficient for every moral decision but it is fundamental to most. Without this impulse for cooperation to counter our impulse for violence, we would probably squander the intellectual prowess responsible for our survival advantage.

It’s a fallacy (with obvious religious motivations) that “we can not be moral without God”. Our morality is part of the human condition and existed long before Moses. Morality is not a dispensation from God: it is subjective and personal and, because it is informed by experience and empathy, develops as we mature. As a matter of fact, we ALL use our personal morality to overrule Biblical morality. And by ALL, I really do mean ALL: believers and nonbelievers alike. This fact is amply demonstrated by our universal rejection of slavery and the subjugation of women (well, maybe not the Muslims so much). Even though God/Jesus condoned the subjugation of our fellow humans in both the Old and New Testaments, we ALL overrule God’s morality with our own and reject such human subjugation. Not only is God NOT the source of morality but he stands corrected by us all. WE decided what is moral. WE decide what is religiously worthy. NOT God.

You need to ask yourself: “If we overrule God, why do we need him at all?”

This subjugation of our fellow humans is a failing of Biblical morality that can’t be reasonably addressed by apologetics. This is critical for all believers to understand. THEY CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. Either God is perfect or he’s not. Either the Bible is divinely inspired or it’s not. Either God is the source of morality or he isn’t. Even a believer, if he’s honest with himself, must admit that if God’s morality grows outdated, it was never perfect and timeless to begin with. The alternative is to claim that God is right and that the subjugation of our fellow humans is NOT at all immoral – that it is, in fact, desirable. But we ALL know that’s an untenable position. We all know that is WRONG. We will not reverse our hard-earned moral progress to align it with God’s morality. This is why the issue is out of reach of apologetics.

The truth is that the Old Testament, New Testament and Quran reflect the morality and level of ignorance that existed in their respective eras and areas . . . precisely as they MUST if they’re written without the benefit of God’s input. These ancient tomes are NOT divinely inspired. God is NOT perfect. The issue of human subjugation proves that the personal, revealed, theist, God of the Abrahamic religions is irrefutably false. This doesn’t completely close the door on God, however: there’s still supernatural hope for the impersonal, cosmic, God of deists and pantheists.

Empathy is a human trait that spawns a number of other human traits just as naturally as it spawns morality. Empathy also spawns human dignity and worth, cooperation and compassion. We can live moral lives without God but not without empathy.

Choosing faith means rejecting truth. Which do you really want?


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com


Brave Saudi Explains Arab Backwardness

An Open-Minded Arab Explains Why Arab Society is Backwards

This excerpt, from an interview on Al-Arabiya TV, is really great. The gentleman is Ibrahim Al-Buleihi, a former Saudi Shura Council Member.  He speaks with the authority of somebody who is well educated and experienced with both Arab and Western civilizations.  A transcript of this interview follows below the video.


This interview was originally broadcast in Dubai and Saudi Arabia on February 26, 2010.

TV = Al-Arabiya TV interviewer
IB = Ibrahim Al-Buleihi

IB
When we want to study a religious issue, we go back to our heritage. But when we want to study an earthly matter, such as why we are backward, while others are prosperous. We must search for the answer elsewhere, not in our heritage.
TV
Where is “elsewhere”?
IB
In the West, without a doubt.
TV
In the West, not the East?
IB
The East only emulates the West. Take Japan, for example. If not for its openness to Western culture, it too would have remained backward. The individualism of the Arab has been erased in this society . . .
TV
What do you mean by erased individualism?
IB
He [Arabs] is incapable of independent thinking and therefore, he always rejects what is rejected by society and accepts what is accepted by society.
TV
So “team spirit” prevails?
IB
It is the spirit of a herd, not a team. It is the spirit of the herd that cannot free itself from the captivity of the prevailing culture. Whatever society considers to be good, the individual considers to be good. He is incapable of independent thinking and of benefiting from the cultures of others. He is incapable of stepping out of the mold imposed on him since childhood.
TV
Should the Arab individual be rebellious, for example?
IB
Not rebellious, but he should seek the truth. He must not efface his self and dissolve into the herd.
TV
You criticize the Arabs and praise Israel. Do you think that the Arabs should follow the Israeli model?
IB
No. Israel did not create itself: it is an offshoot of the West. They are an offshoot of Western culture. That is why I compared Israel to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I want to make a very important point . . .
TV
Excuse me but I have a question. Do you consider the fact that some countries are offshoots of Western culture to be a good or a bad thing?
IB
It’s a positive thing.
TV
So we should be offshoots of the West as well?
IB
No, but we should benefit from this rich experience. It is the West that produced all this prosperity. To this day, we are a burden on the West. Even Japan admits that without benefiting from the West, it would not have developed.
TV
Prosperity in what?
IB
In everything. In the value, liberties and dignity of human beings, as well as in the development of science, technology and life. Do you believe that life today is the same as it was ten centuries ago? This tremendous change was produced by the West. Who else produced it?
TV
But shouldn’t the notions of the West – such as human rights – be viewed as an accumulated achievement in which all societies played a role?
IB
It is not an accumulated achievement.
TV
It was achieved solely by the West?
IB
Undoubtedly. Tyranny is a tremendous obstacle which makes any progress impossible.
TV
Do you believe that this theory applies to Iraq? After the fall of Saddam Hussein, whom you describe as . . .
IB
Iraq has not been permitted to achieve stability. The whole world has intervened in its affairs, as we have seen.
TV
The West, which you praise so highly, intervenes in Iraq.
IB
No, the West intervened in Japan’s affairs as well, and managed to save Japan from tyranny. Today, Japan is considered a model of democracy, of liberties, and of all the advantages that the West has produced.
TV
You have said that during their conquests, at the advent of Islam, the Arabs emerged from the deserts in order to conquer, not to learn. What do you mean by that?
IB
In my view, over the centuries, the Arabs believed – and continue to believe – that they have sufficient knowledge and wisdom and that they do not need to learn anything from others because they appeared on the stage of history in order to conquer, not to learn; to teach, not to study . . .
TV
As guiders, not people seeking the guidance of others.
IB
That’s right. This delusion of the Arabs persists to this day, even though the entire world has changed. The world has changed but they still believe that it is their duty to teach others, and it is the duty of others to heed them. The truth is that the Arabs have nothing to offer others, yet they continue this horrible delusion: this belief in one’s own perfection. The belief that others must learn from them makes it impossible for them to benefit from modern culture.

Global Maps: Contrasting Beliefs

The following maps were originally published by the London Times Faith Central blog. It’s an interesting contrast between religion and science. (Just click the map to enlarge to full size).

As much as we hear about U.S. Christians pushing I.D. in public schools and building multi-million dollar creation-themed parks, it’s good to be reminded that people know which side their toast is buttered on.

Free Will in the Bible

The free will debate has raged, unabated, for millennia: still nobody can prove whether or not it really exists.  This post is not about the free will debate.  It’s about the inconsistent use of free will in the Bible.

Clearly, an interceding God presents problems for free will. However, a cosmic God – a Creator who does not intervene in human affairs – might be compatible with free will if he keeps his omniscience and omnipotence to himself. By the way, I personally believe that causality actually creates free will. Read my blog post, “Expressions of Causality” to find out how.

Despite the fact that most Christian denominations teach free will, the Bible itself is rife with determinism and predestination. Because we all live as if we have free will, we affirm it in the things we say and do. When we take credit for our actions or blame others for theirs, we’re paying lip service to free will. Thus, the Bible has many verses consistent with free will but is, nonetheless, a largely deterministic tome. Here are just a few examples (for brevity, just the verses are listed) that clearly state that God determines who is going to heaven or hell and that there’s nothing you can do about it:

Acts 13:48
Romans 8:29-30
2 Timothy 1:9
Ephesians 1:4-5
2 Thessalonians 2:11-13
Jude 4
Romans 9:11-22

Even the Lord’s Prayer contains 2 instances of determinism:

1.) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
2.) And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

In an effort to understand why the Bible is so inconsistent on this issue, I tried many Google searches, using many keywords. I couldn’t find dates for the concept of free will but I did find references to those who developed the concept. It appears that the concept of free will stems from the concept of freedom and that it grew very slowly, taking centuries to mature into a formal doctrine.

From the 4th century to the 2nd century B.C., the seeds of free will were being planted. Plato had a concept of rational governance which flirted with but skirted the concept of free will. Aristotle added an element of voluntary action but still skirted free will. The first, primitive, form of free will appears to arise with Epicurus, around 300 B.C. Determinism did not mesh with his observations. He diverged from the strictly deterministic Atomists of his day by claiming that atoms do not move in a pre-determined way. Making the motion of atoms random allowed him to break the perpetual causal chain of events kick-started by the Prime Mover. This opened the door for his assertion that man has free will. At around 50 A.D., Lucretius wrote his epic (6-book) philosophical poem, “De Rerum Natura”, explaining Epicurean physics. In it, he explained how atomic collisions can occur in the first place and why it is necessary to postulate randomness in the motions of atoms (“an unpredictable ‘swerve’ at no fixed place or time“), to account for the evident fact of free will. Otherwise we would all be automata, our motions determined by infinitely extended and unbreakable causal chains. This uncanny resemblance to the randomness postulated by modern quantum physics has helped make this passage a favorite in the free will debate. But it is, in fact, Epicurus, not Lucretius, who originated the idea of indeterminacy in the motion of atoms.

It’s hard to understand how the ramifications of free will would take centuries to fully reveal themselves to our ancient philosophers. With the introduction of Christianity and its morality, particularly after it became the state religion (Roman Catholic Church) of the Roman Empire in 326 A.D., the development of free will was given a boost. Free will matured into doctrine, thanks largely to St. Augustine. He began advocating free will, around 400 A.D, to promote good works and responsibility for our own actions.

That’s 700 to 800 years of free will as a neglected, fuzzy, immature concept! It’s hard to imagine when most of us are now familiar with the concept(s) of free will.

The Old Testament was sealed about 200 B.C. (others claim it was sealed between 500 and 100 B.C.) and the New Testament was written between 45 A.D. and 140 A.D. This means that the concept (much less doctrine!) of free will didn’t even exist in the region while the Old Testament was written and was, at best, a primitive and fuzzy concept when the New Testament was written. Free will still hadn’t been fleshed out when the Roman Catholic Church was created in 326 A.D.

So it appears that the Bible is so inconsistent with the application of free will because a formal concept of free will wasn’t available to the Bible authors. The authors believed in a deterministic world, so that’s (mostly) the way they wrote.


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