Kevin Andrews suddenly learns that everyone else knows Catch The Fire are batshit #auspol

Minister for Putting Single Mums in Their Bloody Place Kevin Andrews, among other Team Australians, has recently learned that the people of Australia don’t particularly like that the “World Congress of Families” is run by well-known slavering extremist anti-choice homophobic bigots Catch The Fire Ministries and has decided not to open their adorable little Hatesturbate For Jesus for them after all.

Catch The Fire Ministries, whose head douche Danny Nalliah infamously linked Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires to that state’s abortion laws (and will now have to find other high-profile fundamentalist scenery-chewers to mix the green cordial [red is SINFUL!] and run the games of “pin Satan’s pitchfork on the eternally burning lesbortionist,”) have since thrown K-Drews under the bus for being a sad wuss. Because how dare any public official in a secular democracy respond to public outcry over lending explicit government support to a pack of fringe-dwelling cultists whose lunacy is only exceeded by their self-importance.

I suspect that, much like a pair of cling-wrap Y-fronts, this is a transparent arse-covering on the part of Kev and his fellow Tory wingnuts, Eric “I Am The Politican Every Sketch Show Bases Their Politicians On” Abetz and Cory “Looky, I Wrote A Book Just Like God Did” Bernardi, who would surely have gone along had the public not had something of a issue with members of our government explicitly validating the dark-ages lunacy of extremist evangelist hooligans.

Not Catch The Fire but close efuckingnough, amirite?

Re-post Theatre

I present to you a *rofl* classic from July 2008 – all about Satan! Click this: [linkage] or read the below the fold.

Can you be a Christian without believing in Satan?

I begin with a basic overview of Christianity:

God’s first humans, Adam & Eve, are tricked into obtaining forbidden knowledge by a talking snake. God punishes them by kicking them out of Eden to a now-mortal life of back-breaking toil. This “Original Sin” of Adam & Eve is deemed sufficient cause for God to doom all of their descendants – all of humanity, all of us – to eternity in Hell, which is a place of eternal torment & agony, ruled by Satan, a former angel who rebelled against God (whether God created Hell for Satan or Satan created it himself aren’t clear. What’s also unclear is whether the snake was Satan in disguise and whether God kicked Satan out of Heaven before he tricked Adam & Eve or after). After a few thousand years and a few prophets, God sends his son, Jesus (who is also God) to be tortured & murdered by Romans and resurrected three days later. This bloody sacrifice & re-animation is intended to cleanse us of our inherited guilt and allow our souls entry to Heaven after we die. As long as we believe Jesus/God died/had himself killed to cleanse us of the guilt of a millennia-old sin we had no part in committing, we shall indeed see Heaven. If we do not accept that Jesus is our saviour, we shall join Satan in Hell and be tormented by him forever. For eternity. Until the end of time. During our lives on Earth, Satan – as you’d expect from the Prince of Darkness and Lord of Evil – will constantly be tempting us to follow him in the ways of evil. Why? Because he wants our souls to torment them forever! The only way to negate Satan’s machinations and avoid an eternity of Guantanamo-style hospitality is to accept Jesus as our saviour and allow him custody of our souls.

Bear in mind that I said “basic” and not “brief”. When the hell am I ever brief?

So, anyway, I wonder about Christians who believe the Jesus & Heaven part, but not the Satan & Hell part. Because of that, I wonder if Christianity even has a point without the existence of Satan & Hell. I wonder this because a lot of Christians I’ve spoken to and read the words of have insisted that Satan as the Lord of Hell, the demon who wants to devour your soul, is a fable – a boogeyman from a bygone era, a medieval creation – and Hell isn’t a literal place. They say “Satan is a metaphor for the evil within us all” and “Hell is spiritual separation from God” (which remains undefined anyway). Even some Catholics say this, yet the Vatican still maintains that demonic possession (and subsequent necessary exorcisms) is real and not a giant bushel of rotting cheesy smegma. But I’m not addressing the New Testament literalists who believe Satan’s a real guy who lives in a real place called Hell. I’m addressing the nice, modern, moderate, once-a-week Christians who insist on the “Satan lives in us all as our impure thoughts and Hell is life without God” metaphor and probably only go to church and tick “Christian” on census forms out of habit (we’re over 25% Catholic here with 5.1 million, but there were 3.7 million “no religion” ticks in 2006 which is 18.7% of the population! Nice.).

So Satan is our un-Jesus-y impules. Really, you wishy-washy demi-Christians? No Hell or Satan or soul-hungry demons? But, if it’s all just metaphorical, why must we pledge literal spiritual allegiance to the divine good guys of this story when there aren’t any freaking demonic bad guys? If there’s no eternal torment of Hell and no Satan to poke us in the butt with a sharp stick for a billion years, why did Jesus/God make himself suffer so terribly? To make a macabre plea for attention? Why not, as an omnipotent uber-being should be able to do, just reveal himself to all people simultaneously and proclaim “I am your Creatoooooor, give me your loooooooove” instead of putting himself through such an elaborate ritual execution? I can understand martyring yourself to save countless souls from eternal torture (even though you had personally set that Hell shit up to begin with and then condemned all of us to it because of something our great^100 grandfather did without our knowledge or participation), but why would you allow yourself to be whipped and scourged and stabbed and nailed to a cross to die a slow agonising death just to get people to love you? What a bizarre cry for attention! This makes Jesus sound like the ultimate emo kid.

This modern, moderate metaphorical version of Christianity makes even less sense than the old-school “good guys v. bad guys” version. At least in the traditional Catholic school version you’ve got the classic literary good/bad scenario: good guys trying to get your soul to eternal hookers & blackjack, while bad guys want to roast your soul in a confit of your own faeces or something equally nasty. Never mind the fact that the good guys created Hell and the bad guys that populate it and never mind you’re condemned to it from birth through no action of your own – that’s an impolite question to raise so shut your mouth and put your hand down, little Timmy. But at least it sort of makes sense, from an anthropological “isn’t this primitive mythology simply fascinating?” point of view. It’s got balance – Yin and Yang, black & white, good & evil, dark & light, pleasure & pain, all on an infinite scale. The new “Satan isn’t a dude, he’s our sinful impulses” bollocks renders the Christian story of martyrdom and sacrifice completely pointless. If there’s no actual Satan and no real Hell, what exactly are we being saved from and why was the price Jesus paid so disproportionately high (and who the heck was Jesus tempted by in the desert)? It just smacks of a theological interpretation of scripture to make it seem less ridiculous – and more difficult to criticise. Aah, yes! Theologians are always doing that (find an Alister McGrath debate, if you can stomach his infuriating “I feel“, “it’s true for me” smugness, condescension and gaseous half-answers to questions requiring solid responses) – redefining God & religion in evermore infuriating, goalpost-shifting ways to make critics of religion appear pitifully ill-informed about what the “real religion” is and who the “real God” is. Never mind that your average Christian’s version of the faith isn’t anything approaching the shape-shifting versions that theologians constantly throw out in their debates with heathens, as badass ninjas whip smoke-bombs.

I really think I prefer the actual Christians who actually think Hell exists and contains malevolent spirits who wish us harm; that there one day will be a physical battle at Armageddon between the forces of good and evil (I imagine it’ll look like Peter Jackson’s battle of Mordor in LOTR: ROTK, but bigger – how aaawesome) and that Judgement Day will see people lifted bodily to Heaven while the rest of us duke it out down here for the remaining refineries and breweries and strip clubs and Aston Martin dealerships. Sure, it’s a lot more wacky and dangerous and it’s utterly evil to teach that shit to children, but I tell ya – in terms of an argument it’s a lot easier to draw a bead on a giant, red-hot barrel of bullshit than on a wispy, vaporous, barely-defined half-religion.

Ah, the heady days of 2008. Enjoy!

Proper new post scheduled for tomorrow.

>M<

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Christians on youtube = good times!

Over recent months I’ve taken (for some reason) to commenting in youtube threads and getting myself into arguments. I present, for your entertainment, selected comment exchanges following this video about the origins of the character of Satan. It was an interesting video, if lacking a little depth, but the comments – as is often the case on youtube – were the best part.

fyuuryjury:
demons are attracted to rotting death, like their name in the bible say, beelzebub (or lord of the flies) that’s why there are so many haunting in places like cemeteries, they are a being without form only mind and power(also from the bible) they can create powerful illussion of sight, sound, feel, smell and taste such as ghost, troll, goblin ect.. its all just illussion of their dark, filthy, twisted and evil minds, that’s why there are no hard proof or evidence of them.

mandrellian:
You said “that’s why there are no hard proof or evidence of them”. So how do you KNOW they haunt cemeteries and create illusions and have dark twisted minds, or even exist at all? Without evidence or proof, you can’t know anything. All you can do is take someone’s word for it or believe a bunch of old fables & superstitions. Or make it up yourself.

Fyuuryjury seems to be confusing the bible with Hallowe’en.

Then came this inspired comment…

blessedjohn:
Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

… which received this response from me:
Thanks for your input there blessedjohn. Feel free to get back to us when you have a thought of your own that doesn’t originate in someone else’s book.Anyone who still believes this Satan character (your basic boogeyman/scare-you-straight villain, cobbled together from various ancient mythologies – like most other characters in the Christian fiction) is real and wants to torment your soul needs to do some serious growing up. And if you also teach this shit to your kids as true, shame on you.

…which in turn inspired this work of typically well-proofread genius and subsequent free exchange of ideas and respectful discourse (why do the most angry ones never check what they write?):

02joseph02:
fuck you ASS HOLe if u dont bvelive in god then go fuck your self

I wiped my screen – having spat out my drink laughing my arse off at this concentration of pure, raging STIPUD, and replied…

mandrellian:
Another great piece of loving, compassionate Xtian input.Seriously, can you guys do anything besides (a) quote scripture or (b) hurl badly-typed abuse at people? One only DEMON-strates (ooh booga booga) your willing enslavement to mythology, the other only shows that you don’t, can’t or won’t proofread your comments before you post.But I believe I will go fuck myself, thank you. I haven’t spilled any daemon-seed today and I’m feeling a bit pent-up.

02joseph02:
if your an athist and if you dont belive in god the you should just kill your self beacuse if there is nothing out there then you wont have to wory i mean if you die you wouldent regret killing your self youd be dead you wont feel anything so what if people belive in god at least it gives them hope that there is a god on like u fucking pesemist

mandrellian:
I was a lot more pessimistic when I was a Xtian – and I was a lot more fucking polite to people who weren’t Xtian!The fact that I don’t count on an afterlife means that I make _this_ life count. Life’s too short go around telling people I don’t know to fucking commit suicide because we believe different things. Although I’m tempted to, because if you survive to breed you’re no doubt going to pass your halfwitted, illiterate, hate-filled fundamentalist bigotry on to your kids.

02joseph02 seemingly thought I was no longer worth his precious time – after all, there may be heathens down at the mega-mall to convert! Entertaining though that was, I’m actually glad it was brief.

Next came this chap…

acenaspheru:
hate goes both ways. you complaining about people bashing you is hypocritical when you bash others. the fact remains that no one alive can know for sure who is right or wrong and to assume that you do is arrogant and just as half witted as those who you say are halfwits. believing or not believing in something has nothing to do with intelegance.

mandrellian:
Belief has *everything* to do with intelligence (as does spelling and grammar). A belief is a choice we make through our experience of the world and our understanding of it. The better your understanding, the more informed your beliefs will be. If you choose to believe superstition and teach it as truth without thinking, your understanding of the world is shallow and inadequate.Read my last paragraph again. I bash *ideas*, not people. A stupid idea should be called stupid, simple as that.

acenaspheru:
okay. 🙂 try science and history. The account where the sun stood still, was not just in the bible but is also reported by cultures around the world, proving that it actually happened. The Native Americans have a story about a time when the sun didn’t rise.

There is evidence of a large disasterous flood. Science has proven how the ten plagues came about. And also how the reed sea was parted. *not red sea as was incorrectly translated* There are countless things you can look up that happened.

mandrellian:
The Native Americans also have a story about the Thunderbird. Believe that too? The Aborigines have one about the Rainbow Serpent carving out riverbeds. The Greeks had a flying horse too! What other mythologies are you gonna cherry-pick to confirm your own?

I always chuckle when theists use the word “science” when they think it confirms their fables, but will dismiss it out of hand when it tells of evolution or the 4 billion year old Earth or anything else that contradicts their dogma.

That was actually the end of the public version of our exchange. Acenaspheru contacted me personally later to send me this message (comment length limit restricted the exchange, so I have to give the guy respect for following up his arguments). I’d paste the whole exchange but it was a private conversation and, to be honest, it was just a longer version of the exchange in the comments and wouldn’t bring anything new – though I did some research and found out exactly what disastrous consequences would eventuate if the Earth suddenly stopped rotating (which would produce the illusion of the sun standing still):

“Get this: our planet rotates at about 1100 miles (1770 km) per hour. If it were to stop suddenly, because of inertia our atmosphere would still be spinning at that speed! Imagine a global windstorm of over Mach 1.5 – it would scrub the Earth clean! Every ounce of topsoil, every plant, every animal and anything not anchored to the bedrock would be swept up into the atmosphere, turning into a massive cloud of deadly airborne debris. We’re talking a disaster a billion times worse than that tornado in The Wizard Of Oz.

That’s not even considering the gigantic quantities of water that will now be sloshing around as massive, continent-sized tsunamis, washing away what ever the wind doesn’t blow away. Think about how hard it is to drive or sit in a moving car and try to keep a bucket from spilling (or even just half a cup of water) and think about what happens when you stop suddenly. Multiply it by several trillion.”

In short: it would be very, very, very BAD.

After a little break, the thread got interesting again!

conradpilapil:
They found skeletons.. wow..

Well. One can’t let crap like that slide, can one?

mandrellian:
Is that what constitutes a rebuttal to two centuries of paleontology, geology and of scientific progress in general?

Seriously, if all you’re going to do is act like a sarcastic teenager, this thread’s better off without you.

Conrad later contacted me privately as well, but all he could muster was a sentence and a half of incoherent fundie-babble which, I now regret, I marked as spam, deleted, at which point I blocked him. I don’t use youtube messaging at all unless someone messages me first, but I still don’t want it filled with crap. At least acenaspheru had some idea of how to communicate with other humans; this guy could barely tell me what he believed, let alone why what I believed was bollocks.

This commenter, however, was pure gold! He’s still going in that thread too, ever-ready to fight the good fight with his Flaming Sword of Flaming (+50 ignorance but easily deflected if opponent has the intelligence of a cave troll or higher).

pzloz:
You consider Christianity to be a fable. Is it me or in the last 20 years have people decided that mocking religion is the hip and cool thing to do. I understand evolution, and the age of the planet, and so on. It must be very difficult to mock something you never understood in the beginning. I think atheists are the biggest assholes on the planet, the biggest egos, arrogant, condescending and such. Based on what I read from you. You sound like an asshole set forth I will refer to you as one.

Straight off he drops the a-bomb! Bam! I had up to that point tried and be, if not flat-out nice, at least more civil than people had been with me.

mandrellian:
LOL pzloz. Nice flaming, you keyboard warrior. This isn’t some fad. People have been denying religion since before yours was even founded. All myth treated as fact should be mocked, as should people who think insults qualify as some sort of superior argument.

FYI I was raised Christian. I read the bible. I understand it very well – that’s the precise reason I’m an atheist. Perhaps if you actually understood your own mythology … well, clearly that’s too much to expect. Flame on, third-grader.

pzloz:
Oh okay mandrellian. Myths? Think what you want. Perhaps you don’t understand the bible that well to be an atheist. Atheists consider themselves intellectually superior to everyone who has faith. Being atheists does not constitute for squat. It is just a fad everybody thinks is cool because you find holes in religion. Holes are everywhere. There are people who have faith and understand science and the world. I always knew there are weak people in the world and atheists prove that to me always.

mandrellian:
That you think atheism is some fad speaks more to your *own* massive ignorance of what’s right in front of you. We don’t think we’re superior – we just have better standards of evidence and a more sensitive lie detector.

Scream all you want, you little emo for Jesus – we’re not going anywhere, unlike every “god” that’s ever “existed”. Think about every extinct religion (mythology) and about all the current ones you don’t believe in – then you’ll get why atheists don’t believe in any of it.

pzloz:
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all united faiths in the same God. We are together in that belief. They just don’t hold up Christ the way we do. Mythology is like referenced earlier to. Hydras, Giant World Trees, a giant wolf, centaurs, etc. Standards of evidence??? What the fuck is that??? Oh I forgot, atheists have it all figured, right? They’re pseudo-scientists and actual scientiests. I have more respect them as intellectually enlightened people, then disrespecting atheists like you.

mandrellian:
I KNOW I don’t have it all figured out – but I’m okay with that. Sure as hell beats crediting a god every time I don’t have an answer.

Hydras, world trees – how the hell are they any less believable than walking on water, the virgin conception, the loaves and fishes, the resurrection, the water to wine, Lazarus etc? Oh, I know: because they’re all myths and your stories are The Truth. Get yourself some perspective, keyboard warrior.

Heard nothing back from wee prince valiant on that score – I guess he’s just “pulled a fundie” and decided I’m bound for hell, so why waste with me anymore. As he proves in a later exchange with “pressgangers“, he seems quite happy to gloat over someone he thinks is hellbound.

There was another quick exchange after that, which was great fun.

barallor:
Very interesting and yes satan existsfor example look at israel the jews were the poeple that god chose and so satan tries to destroy them in every possible way more than any other population in the world.

02joseph02:
that is so tru i never realy thought of it that way i mean the greeks the percians the egyptianss the russians the nazis the muslims(not all muslims) the list gose on

mandrellian:
Hilarious, barallor. Since the time of Jesus, the Christians have done more to attempt extermination of Jews than any goat-legged boogeyman.

acenaspheru:
this depiction of satan actually originates in donte’s inferno and other popular fictional stories. in most of the bible he’s described looking more human. however you are partly correct. it’s not just christans though, it’s islamics too.

while i do believe that satan exists, i do not believe he can be blamed for all the evil and hatred in the world. as humans we want a scape goat, to pass blame to someone else for our deeds. satan is that scape goat. yes he can be blamed for a lot of things, but i don’t believe things like wars and tragedies like 911 were due to him. there are very evil people in the world.

mandrellian:
If Satan isn’t responsible for all the evil in the world he may as well not exist at all. If he’s not behind 9/11 or the Holocaust, because humans are perfectly capable of evil acts on their own, what’s the point of his existence? To just piss God off? He sounds less evil than the Hamburglar.

If Satan exists at all it’s because God allows him to. If that’s the case, who’s the more evil? The prince of darkness? Or the guy with the power to defeat him but chooses not to?

Oddly enough, noone wanted to have a go at that one – well, only in a textbook passive aggressive way by clicking “thumbs down” on my comment. Well, baw! I wanted a goddam answer to that one too! Why does God allow Satan to exist and plague mankind? God created everything: heaven, hell, Satan, angels – can’t he just undo his mistakes rather than let humanity suffer for thousands of years? For that matter, why does Ronald McDonald continue to tolerate Hamburglar’s constant attempts to make off with his product? Ron’s the boss for god’s sake – it’s called McDonaldland isn’t it?

Finally, one last oddity…

peejaydub:
well mandrellian, if u are a athist then why did u bother to look up this video? then on top of that u tried to change what people should think aobut their own religion, something tells me that the devil speaks through people like u. but u people are to blind sited to see what is truely going on.

i will pray for you

Joy! My favourite kind of comment from a religionist – PITY! Sweet, glorious pity 😀

mandrellian:
Please don’t pray for me. I’ll be fine. As a wise man once said: “two hands put to work will accomplish more than a thousand clasped in prayer.”

I looked up this video to discover the origins of the MYTH of Satan because I am interested in what primitive people believed (and what some modern people still believe) and why. Is it necessary to believe in fictional characters in order to find them interesting? Only, it seems, if you’re religious …

No response – perhaps he’s still busy praying…

So, there you have it. A weekend video search for interesting documentaries (I *love* this century: sick days/weekend TV on rainy days can suck balls, but if you have broadband you have doco heaven – the time I’ve killed watching docs on Romans, Mongols, Nazis, Commies and other failed empires has been well spent and very entertaining), a comment from a religionist I can’t resist responding to and bam! A very entertaining exchange with a variety of theists. Some respectful, some downright rude, some ignorant, some pitiful & retarded. I don’t get angry with the more idiotic ones; they just baffle me. Are their identities so wrapped up in their religion – and their religion in turn so fragile that it can’t withstand any kind of questioning – that any critique of that religion is automatically assumed to be a personal attack? It would appear so, considering the personal attacks I copped in return from a couple of those goons. “Go fuck yourself”, “kill yourself”, “your [sic] an asshole”? I mean, come on. Defend your faith & your beliefs because that’s what’s under attack, not you! I don’t know you people from a bar of yellow soap, but if you make it personal, in my eyes you’ve already lost. Grow the fuck up! Hell, if their identity & self-worth are that brittle – being propped up by an equally brittle belief system – maybe I should pray for pity them…

But hey, if you think some of that’s bad – check out Pat Condell’s comment threads 😀 Fark!! That guy can attract malice like no other – I imagine it’s the kind of bloodshot-eyed, Rage-virus-from-28 Days Later kind of hatred PZ Myers would attract if he had a youtube account 🙂

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Can you be a Christian without believing in Satan?

I begin with a basic overview of Christianity:

God’s first humans, Adam & Eve, are tricked into obtaining forbidden knowledge by a talking snake. God punishes them by kicking them out of Eden to a now-mortal life of back-breaking toil. This “Original Sin” of Adam & Eve is deemed sufficient cause for God to doom all of their descendants – all of humanity, all of us – to eternity in Hell, which is a place of eternal torment & agony, ruled by Satan, a former angel who rebelled against God (whether God created Hell for Satan or Satan created it himself aren’t clear. What’s also unclear is whether the snake was Satan in disguise and whether God kicked Satan out of Heaven before he tricked Adam & Eve or after). After a few thousand years and a few prophets, God sends his son, Jesus (who is also God) to be tortured & murdered by Romans and resurrected three days later. This bloody sacrifice & re-animation is intended to cleanse us of our inherited guilt and allow our souls entry to Heaven after we die. As long as we believe Jesus/God died/had himself killed to cleanse us of the guilt of a millennia-old sin we had no part in committing, we shall indeed see Heaven. If we do not accept that Jesus is our saviour, we shall join Satan in Hell and be tormented by him forever. For eternity. Until the end of time. During our lives on Earth, Satan – as you’d expect from the Prince of Darkness and Lord of Evil – will constantly be tempting us to follow him in the ways of evil. Why? Because he wants our souls to torment them forever! The only way to negate Satan’s machinations and avoid an eternity of Guantanamo-style hospitality is to accept Jesus as our saviour and allow him custody of our souls.

Bear in mind that I said “basic” and not “brief”. When the hell am I ever brief?

So, anyway, I wonder about Christians who believe the Jesus & Heaven part, but not the Satan & Hell part. Because of that, I wonder if Christianity even has a point without the existence of Satan & Hell. I wonder this because a lot of Christians I’ve spoken to and read the words of have insisted that Satan as the Lord of Hell, the demon who wants to devour your soul, is a fable – a boogeyman from a bygone era, a medieval creation – and Hell isn’t a literal place. They say “Satan is a metaphor for the evil within us all” and “Hell is spiritual separation from God” (which remains undefined anyway). Even some Catholics say this, yet the Vatican still maintains that demonic possession (and subsequent necessary exorcisms) is real and not a giant bushel of rotting cheesy smegma. But I’m not addressing the New Testament literalists who believe Satan’s a real guy who lives in a real place called Hell. I’m addressing the nice, modern, moderate, once-a-week Christians who insist on the “Satan lives in us all as our impure thoughts and Hell is life without God” metaphor and probably only go to church and tick “Christian” on census forms out of habit (we’re over 25% Catholic here with 5.1 million, but there were 3.7 million “no religion” ticks in 2006 which is 18.7% of the population! Nice.).

So Satan is our un-Jesus-y impules. Really, you wishy-washy demi-Christians? No Hell or Satan or soul-hungry demons? But, if it’s all just metaphorical, why must we pledge literal spiritual allegiance to the divine good guys of this story when there aren’t any freaking demonic bad guys? If there’s no eternal torment of Hell and no Satan to poke us in the butt with a sharp stick for a billion years, why did Jesus/God make himself suffer so terribly? To make a macabre plea for attention? Why not, as an omnipotent uber-being should be able to do, just reveal himself to all people simultaneously and proclaim “I am your Creatoooooor, give me your loooooooove” instead of putting himself through such an elaborate ritual execution? I can understand martyring yourself to save countless souls from eternal torture (even though you had personally set that Hell shit up to begin with and then condemned all of us to it because of something our great^100 grandfather did without our knowledge or participation), but why would you allow yourself to be whipped and scourged and stabbed and nailed to a cross to die a slow agonising death just to get people to love you? What a bizarre cry for attention! This makes Jesus sound like the ultimate emo kid.

This modern, moderate metaphorical version of Christianity makes even less sense than the old-school “good guys v. bad guys” version. At least in the traditional Catholic school version you’ve got the classic literary good/bad scenario: good guys trying to get your soul to eternal hookers & blackjack, while bad guys want to roast your soul in a confit of your own faeces or something equally nasty. Never mind the fact that the good guys created Hell and the bad guys that populate it and never mind you’re condemned to it from birth through no action of your own – that’s an impolite question to raise so shut your mouth and put your hand down, little Timmy. But at least it sort of makes sense, from an anthropological “isn’t this primitive mythology simply fascinating?” point of view. It’s got balance – Yin and Yang, black & white, good & evil, dark & light, pleasure & pain, all on an infinite scale. The new “Satan isn’t a dude, he’s our sinful impulses” bollocks renders the Christian story of martyrdom and sacrifice completely pointless. If there’s no actual Satan and no real Hell, what exactly are we being saved from and why was the price Jesus paid so disproportionately high (and who the heck was Jesus tempted by in the desert)? It just smacks of a theological interpretation of scripture to make it seem less ridiculous – and more difficult to criticise. Aah, yes! Theologians are always doing that (find an Alister McGrath debate, if you can stomach his infuriating “I feel“, “it’s true for me” smugness, condescension and gaseous half-answers to questions requiring solid responses) – redefining God & religion in evermore infuriating, goalpost-shifting ways to make critics of religion appear pitifully ill-informed about what the “real religion” is and who the “real God” is. Never mind that your average Christian’s version of the faith isn’t anything approaching the shape-shifting versions that theologians constantly throw out in their debates with heathens, as badass ninjas whip smoke-bombs.

I really think I prefer the actual Christians who actually think Hell exists and contains malevolent spirits who wish us harm; that there one day will be a physical battle at Armageddon between the forces of good and evil (I imagine it’ll look like Peter Jackson’s battle of Mordor in LOTR: ROTK, but bigger – how aaawesome) and that Judgement Day will see people lifted bodily to Heaven while the rest of us duke it out down here for the remaining refineries and breweries and strip clubs and Aston Martin dealerships. Sure, it’s a lot more wacky and dangerous and it’s utterly evil to teach that shit to children, but I tell ya – in terms of an argument it’s a lot easier to draw a bead on a giant, red-hot barrel of bullshit than on a wispy, vaporous, barely-defined half-religion.

Maybe I did think of something to bitch about after all…

Religious people – some of them, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are religious…hell, I used to be! Grew out of it though. Just a phase. Anyway…

I read a comment attached to this thread over at Alonzo Fyfe’s place, which I found via this post in the latest Carnival Of The Godless. The comment, posted anonymously as seems usual with religious commenters on heathen blogs, was this:

So if atheists can be moral, how do you concur with
other people on right and wrong? Most atheists I have talked to say that they
decide right and wrong for themselves… what happens if two of you
disagree?


The ol‘ chestnut known as The Argument From Morality once again rears its head (to be honest, it never really seems to dip below the surface very deeply or for very long).

Yes, it still seems (in some corners of the globe anyway, mostly in America) that if you don’t believe in gods or the that the bible is true you’re automatically an immoral, covetous, thieving, whoring bastard who decides, all on his own, what’s good and what’s not (as if that’s any more arbitrary than “thou shalt wear THIS amusing hat and thou shalt not eat THIS animal and thou shalt not work on THIS day and thou shalt complain to the high heavens and every tabloid current affairs show & half-baked “family” group about any TV show that rankles you, rather than just changing the fucking channel or, Me forbid, turning the thing off and reading something that doesn’t contain the word “shalt””). Seemingly without the guiding hand of a god we’d all just be raping each other in the streets – if we’d actually stopped the raping for long enough to invent streets in the first place.

The very idea that group cooperation and acceptable standards of behaviour amongst social animals is as natural and vital for survival as breathing and eating is something that doesn’t seem to occur to many religious people. The idea that our apparently unique human morality is not something bestowed upon us from above, like a layman receiving superpowers in a bizarre but fortuitous accident in a Marvel comic, also seems to receive little consideration. Equally unlikely: the idea that someone not raised within the confines of a particular parochial religion could ever develop decent moral standards through normal everyday interactions with parents, siblings, teachers, co-workers, friends, extended family and any other influence you’d care to name!

So how am I not a rapist or baby-eater? You might say “look at your first paragraph, you were religious once!” I was indeed a bible-carrying Christian, for a short time in my teens. I was looking for something, I tried to find it in the New Testament, whatever it was was not there & I continue looking to this day. I’m not even sure what I’m after but I certainly know where it isn’t. But that’s beside the point! The point is my parents, whose religious views I’m not entirely certain of anyway, to be honest (though I suspect dad’s a total heathen and mum’s at least agnostic or maybe just a soft deist), did not raise me or my older brothers as Christian kids. They’ve also always had a healthy disrespect for the tactics of evangelists, JW’s, Mormons and other fundamentalists. The one time they exposed us to any religious teaching on purpose was a brief stint at our local uniting church (soft Protestant, FYI) Sunday School. They say they wanted us to receive some moral guidance (apart from theirs), presumably from the fables of the Old Testament (hope they weren’t thinking of the Midianite massacre!) or the words of Jesus; I actually believe they wanted some quality time together on Sundays. Either way, our enrolment was cut off sharply the instant my parents learned that we were being taught about the awful doctrine of Hell and the evil personage of the devil. I must agree with my ma: Hell and its boss, the ultimate bogeyman, are awful things to teach young kids (false & really scary. Can’t get much worse) – I was five or six at the time if memory serves (it frequently doesn’t). I only learned this last year at the usual Christmas family gathering. I’d always assumed that it was because my brothers or myself kicked up a fuss because we wanted to watch cartoons in the morning (Space Ghost rules!) and not cop bible stories. Incidentally, that’s an interesting example of the kind of causality that religious people sometimes fall into: incident A happened, then incident B happened…therefore A caused B! Hallelujah! But that’s a topic for another time. The point is, my one experience with religious morality (before school forced it on us later) ended before it began due to my parents’ objections to us being taught the doctrine of eternal punishment. I started thinking about the fairness of Hell later on: how bad do you have to be to earn eternal roasting? Was Hitler even that evil? I lean toward “yes”, but if he was clinically bugshit insane (as he appeared to be) he might’ve been able to work out a lesser sentence. Again, I lean toward “I hope not”. Again, another time.

The point, which I should’ve assured you earlier was coming, dear reader, (and I’m sorry), is that noone’s morality needs to come from scripture and if it does, they’re probably the victims of child abuse. Yes, child abuse. If you teach a five-year old kid, as absolute truth, that he will burn forever in everlasting torment for transgressing the laws of god at the hands of an immortal despot with horns on his head and a fork in his paw, you are scarring that kid for life. The reason I’m not a serial brain-devourer or sex-slave trader is because my parents are decent upstanding people who have great care & concern for their fellow humans. Simple as that. They loathe violence, suffering, injustice & greed, they admire & respect (and display) generosity, love, fairness & honesty. They wanted to impart those values to my brothers and I and I think they did a fantastic job, all without a bible in sight.

The other part of the question from anonymous religious commenter #400 billion asked what happens if two atheists disagree on a point of morality. Well, we know what happens when religious people have disagreements: holy wars, Crusades & sectarian violence along the lines of the infamous Sunni/Shia or Catholic/Protestant schisms, for a start (but you probably saw that smart-arse response coming a mile off & I apologise). Still, back up when atheists disagree: there’s likely to be a discussion! Watch ’em, when they get in the ring and start discussing their differences like grownups, atheists are liable to do anything.

I’m not sure what kind of moral disagreement ‘anonymous’ (why don’t these cats ever use their names?) is expecting to be honest. Perhaps a couple of guys sitting around throwing back a few cold ones discussing their weekends: “Mate, totally raped this chick last night. She wasn’t into it but BAM! Knocked her cold with her baby’s rattle. Then I ate the baby. Spewing you missed it.”
“Wait up mate, isn’t that wrong? Sounds a bit over the top if you ask me.”
“Shit no, nothing’s “wrong”. Do whatever you want, there’s no god watching over us.”
Yeah. Bloody ridiculous isn’t it?

Atheists’ moral standards are the same as anyone else’s: be honest, don’t hurt people. The two commandments (think about it, you really only need two). Common sense mixed with empathy. If you’d hate it, don’t do it to someone else. Hell, even chimps do this! Basically, regardless of the religion of your parents, if you weren’t raised by sociopaths or psychopaths you’ll have these values. They’re universal. Human. Faith aside, people who don’t abide by them are viewed as criminals, or at least utter bastards.

But now I have a question for religious people: if it’s true that atheists have no source for their morals and just make it up as they go along (as religions never do … much), what would happen to your moral compass if your religion was suddenly proven to your satisfaction as complete fiction – an utterly false collection of fables with no basis in truth whatsoever? What would happen to you when confronted with the undeniable knowledge that your entire upbringing and culture was a lie? Without the heinous blackmail of Hell or the bribe of Heaven (and of course the watchful eyes of their respective CEOs) to keep you on the straight and narrow, would you then just degenerate into a whirlwind of debauchery and brutality? Or would you continue as you (presumably) had been, being a decent, law-abiding person who cared for the welfare of others? My guess is the latter, and if that was your answer, you’ll understand why some non-religious people get so exasperated by this fallacious assertion that religion is the sole source of morality in the world.

A few other things occur to me whenever this topic is raised as well: as the human race has evolved and society has matured over the years, we’ve stopped doing a lot of things that the bible told us we must do in honour of god. Just as a few examples, the bible lays down rules & guidelines for executing people talk back to their parents or work on the sabbath and it endorses slavery and gives rules about who you can enslave and who you can’t. We don’t allow those things anymore (not in polite, civilised countries anyway) and the usual reasons given for that are along the lines of “Well, it was a different time two or three millenia ago in ancient Palestine and humanity has thankfully moved on since those days. We prefer to focus on the positive and empowering things Jesus said…” So…in other words, you’re using your evolved, modern moral code to weave in and out of the more disagreeable parts of the bible and apply to your life the parts you agree with. So, in more other words, the god-given morality you’ve been raised with is actually superior to the morality on display in the very book you’re betting your very soul on. Because of your modern, non-bronze-age morality, you feel comfortable enough to leave aside anything in that all-important handbook for life (and afterlife) that makes you uncomfortable.

So in the end, don’t ask what atheists do when they have a disagreement on morals. Ask yourself what you’d do if the bible and the religion it supports was shown, indisputably, to be a 100% fabrication from go to whoa. From where would your morals come? Would you muddle along and use your common sense or would you look elsewhere in other sacred texts for guidance? What if it was conclusively proven that all religions are false and we are indeed alone on this rock with no heavenly father of any kind watching over us? Like it or not, you’d be an atheist and you’d have to figure it out.