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Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’
The rapid rise of the "spiritual but not religious" crowd may not be such a bad thing.
February 22nd, 2014
09:06 PM ET

Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’

Opinion by Linda Mercadante, special to CNN

(CNN) -
Despite the ongoing decline in American religious institutions, the meteoric rise in people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious” should be seen positively - especially by religious people.

To accept this as good news, however, we need to listen to what they are saying, rather than ridicule them as “salad bar spiritualists” or eclectic dabblers.

After spending more than five years speaking with hundreds of “spiritual but not religious” folk across North America, I’ve come to see a certain set of core ideas among them. Because of their common themes, I think it’s fair to refer to them by the acronym: SBNR.

But before we explore what the SBNRs believe, we first need to learn what they protest.

First, they protest “scientism.” 

They’ve become wary about reducing everything that has value to what can only be discovered in the tangible world, restricting our intellectual confidence to that which can be observed and studied.

Their turn towards alternative health practices is just one sign of this. Of course, most do avail themselves of science’s benefits, and they often use scientific-sounding arguments (talking about “energy” or “quantum physics”) to justify their spiritual views.

But, in general, they don’t think all truth and value can be confined to our material reality.

Second, SBNRs protest “secularism.” 

They are tired of being confined by systems and structures. They are tired of having their unique identities reduced to bureaucratic codes. They are tired of having their spiritual natures squelched or denied.

They play by society’s rules: hold down jobs, take care of friends and family and try to do some good in the world. But they implicitly protest being rendered invisible and unheard.

Third, yes, they protest religion – at least, two types of it.

But the SBNR rejection of religion is sometimes more about style than substance.

On one hand, they protest “rigid religion,” objecting to a certain brand of conservatism that insists there is only one way to express spirituality, faith, and the search for transcendence.

But they also protest what I call “comatose religion.”

After the shocks of the previous decades, and the declines in religious structures and funding, many religious people are dazed and confused.

They are puzzled and hurt that so many – including their own children - are deserting what was once a vibrant, engaging, and thriving part of American society.

So why, then, is it “good news” that there is a huge rise in the “spiritual but not religious”? Because their protests are the very same things that deeply concern – or should concern – all of us.

The rise in SBNRs is the archetypal “wake up call,” and I sense that, at last, religious leaders are beginning to hear it.

The history of religion in Western society shows that, sooner or later, people grasp the situation and find new ways of expressing their faith that speak to their contemporaries.

In the meantime, there are plenty of vital congregations in our society. In the vast mall of American religious options, it is misguided to dismiss all of our spiritual choices as moribund, corrupt, or old-fashioned – even though so many do.

What has prompted SBNRs, and others, to make this dismissal?

For one thing, many religious groups are not reaching out to the SBNRs. They need to understand them and speak their language, rather than being fearful or dismissive.

Second, the media often highlights the extremes and bad behavior of a few religious people and groups.  But we don’t automatically give up on other collections of fallible human beings, like our jobs, our families, or our own selves.  Some attitude adjustment is needed by both religious people and SBNRs.

Finally, SBNRs need to give up the easy ideology that says religion is unnecessary, all the same, or outmoded. And all of us should discard the unworkable idea that you must find a spiritual or religious group with which you totally agree.  Even if such a group could be found, chances are it would soon become quite boring.

There’s no getting around this fact: It is hard work to nurture the life of faith. The road is narrow and sometimes bumpy. It is essential to have others along with us on the journey.

All of us, not just religious people, are in danger of becoming rigid or comatose, inflexible or numb.  All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about.

Linda Mercadante, is professor of theology at The Methodist Theological School and the founder of Healthy Beliefs – Healthy Spirit.  She is the author of “Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.

The views expressed in this column belong to Mercadante.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Lost faith • Nones • Opinion • Spirituality • Trends

soundoff (1,265 Responses)
  1. mannyf11

    How can people be so full of these fake spiritualities with no truth behind them.. How do you become spiritual but not religious.. The devil is really due like the movie that came out.. See god step n with son of man.. The TRUTH.. God will not be overshadowed.. He's already been disrespected forever.. And still gives people a chance to get real salvation for free.. These false spirits floating around of sin doing things for the money.. Everyone struggling.. Thank our Allah loving no sweeter sound then the Muslim prayer president.. No people really have a reason to blaim the black man.. I'm glad I know god.. So I wouldn't be blind by theses false acquisitions..

    March 6, 2014 at 7:43 am |
    • dandintac

      "How can people be so full of these fake spiritualities with no truth behind them.. "

      Yes indeed, and this is what I say about religion also–especially Islam and Christianity. At least those who are "Spiritual But Not Religious" (SBNR) are far less dogmatic than the followers of traditional religion, and from what I've seen, they do not force-feed their religion to their children like Christians and Muslims do, or other adults if they have the opportunity to do so. Followers of religions tend to adhere to those of their community and culture? Why? Because of childhood indoctrination mostly.

      The religious take innocent children, whose minds are like wet clay, and beat the dogmatic religion home:
      BELIEVE BELIEVE BELIEVE!
      BAM! BAM! BAM!

      March 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm |
  2. derado8

    For a moment God is the sun on my face
    God is the wind in the trees
    God is the smell of burning leaves and the feel of cold autumn
    I say good morning, God
    You tell me there is no God
    I say, ok, fine if you wish it there is no God
    What's changed?

    March 5, 2014 at 8:01 am |
  3. joeyy1

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_F9nIps46w&w=640&h=390]
    `

    February 28, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
  4. Doris

    Why is it that many Christians ignore science?

    Why do they travel to other places and incite violence against other people?

    Why do they promote the jailing of people or remain complacent about their fellow Christians who do the same?

    Why does the Anglican Communion demote the one person who tried to quell the violence against people in Uganda?

    Why are they not listening to people from the National Institutes of Health?

    =================================================

    Biology

    The following is from the article:

    Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find (12/11/2012 – LiveScience)

    [ The search for a "gay gene" may be off-target, new research finds. Another process called epigenetics that switches genes on and off may explain why homosexuality runs in families.

    Epigenetics are heritable changes caused by factors other than DNA. Instead of traits getting passed down through the genes, epigenetic change happens because of the way genes are regulated, or turned on and off.

    These genetic regulators may be the reason homosexuality persists in nature despite the fact that gay people are less likely to reproduce, suggests the new study published in the [Dec, 2012] journal The Quarterly Review of Biology.

    "These things have evolved because they're good for the parents, but they sometimes, not [with] high frequency, but sometimes carry over" into offspring, study researcher William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told LiveScience. In a male fetus, Rice and his colleagues write, an epigenetic change that benefited the mother may lead to "feminization" of sexual preference — homo- or bisexuality. The same may be true for epigenetic changes passed down by dad to a female fetus. (The terms feminization and masculinization of sexual preference refer to sexual orientation only — not to physical or personality traits of the offspring.)

    The findings add to past research suggesting gay men haven't died out, because female relatives of gay men tend to have more children on average than other females. The study researchers specifically found that two genes passed on through the maternal line could produce this effect.

    Hormones, epigenetics and orientation

    Rice and his colleagues focused on epi-marks, which are molecular changes that act like temporary "switches" to turn genes on and off. If a gene is a blueprint, the epi-mark is the construction foreman who makes sure the product gets built. An epi-mark also determines when, where and how much a gene is expressed, according to the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

    These molecular switches are usually erased very early in the developmental process, but they can be passed down from generation to generation, too, Rice said.

    Some epi-marks are particularly important during fetal development, when they promote normal physical development in the sexes despite natural variations in testosterone during pregnancy. Researchers know that fetal exposure to too much testosterone can masculinize the genitals, brain or behavior of a genetically female fetus. Likewise, too little testosterone can make a genetically male fetus more feminized.

    But here's the catch: There's lots of overlap between the levels of testosterone male and female fetuses get exposed to. That means there must be another side to the story, Rice and his colleagues wrote.

    That side appears to be epigenetics, Rice said.

    "Early in development, we think these epi-marks are laid down so that girl fetuses will be relatively insensitive to testosterone and male fetuses will be relatively sensitive to testosterone," Rice said.

    Biological behavior

    Thus, if an epi-mark that kept a mother from getting exposed to high testosterone in development gets passed on to her son — the opposite sex — it could desensitize him to testosterone, contributing to his sexual preference for men. Similarly, if a male-specific epi-mark from dad gets passed to a daughter, it could "masculinize" her sexual preference, making her more interested in women.

    These findings could explain why twin studies show that homosexuality runs in families, but no "gay gene" can be found, Rice said. In identical twins, there's about a 20 percent chance that if one twin is gay, the other will be too. If genetic change were responsible for homosexuality, you'd expect a much higher match, Rice said. Epigenetics, however, can explain the heritability without the need for a specific genetic change.

    The hypothesis could be tested by examining epigenetic marks in parents of kids with gay versus straight offspring, Rice said. There are, of course, concerns that this knowledge could be used by parents who want to avoid gay offspring, Rice said, but that concern already exists around certain hormonal conditions in utero, which are known to contribute to an increased chance of offspring being lesbians.

    "That cat's already out of the bag," Rice said. He added that an understanding of the biological underpinnings of homosexuality could help emphasize that same-sex behavior is not "unnatural."

    "In fact, it's a major part of the natural world," Rice said. Fourteen percent of Western gulls raise chicks in female-female pairs, he pointed out. And 8 percent of male sheep show zero interest in fertile ewes, but get sexually excited by other rams. ]

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Psychology

    The American Psychological Association states "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people", and says most people's sexual orientation is determined at an early age. Research into how sexual orientation in males may be determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises concerns about genetic profiling and prenatal testing."

    Professor Michael King states: "The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice."

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007:

    "Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice.

    ======================

    "Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science."

    –Thomas Jefferson

    February 28, 2014 at 10:34 am |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Doris,

      I dont think Christians ignore science but believe that all are created by God. Science is good.

      Christians travel the world to spread the word of God. The violence are acts of humans. Using Gods name in vain.

      Jailing, again, are human acts. Not Gods.

      Uganda, human acts.

      National inst:tute of Health are established and run by humans.

      Biology, Psychology, are done by humans.

      Hom0s3xuallity, did you consider that gays was brought by parents or influences to a child at an early age? Example, i have a friend and all his siblings are boys. Their mom wanted a girl so bad that she influenced the eldest so much the kid grew up a gay. Same thing with an only daugther of a family, the dad want to have a son so bad to continue his legacy he influenced the daugther so much she grew up a lesbian. We as parents dont want to admit it and try to blame God or have science prove that it is not the parents fault but others. Why? Because it is convinient to blame others. Specially those who cant defend themselves.

      Thomas Jefferson, humans.

      Humans are imperfect beings. We make mistakes. All theses ills you mentioned are created by humans. That is why it is needed to aspire for perfection. A. Perfect being. A God. My main qualification of this God is rigtheousness, morality.

      Peace

      February 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
      • Doris

        "did you consider that gays was brought by parents or influences to a child at an early age? "

        That was considered a long time ago. And discounted. Get the Bible out of your azz.

        March 1, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doris,

          Discounted by science, to ease the blame of the parents or guardian. I am not referencing the bible but based on my experiences, what i saw growing up. I have gay friends.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 10:48 am |
        • Doris

          "Discounted by science, to ease the blame of the parents or guardian."

          Rubbish.

          March 3, 2014 at 10:59 am |
        • tallulah131

          Science is not on your side, Peace. You are simply ignoring the facts that don't confirm what you want to believe. It's that sort of fundamental dishonesty that keeps this world violent. As long as people persist in inventing differences, there will be excuses for discrimination and violence. You are not an advocate for peace. You are just another liar for Jesus.

          March 3, 2014 at 11:16 am |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doris,

          You could present a better arguement other than rubbish.

          Although at times I have those tendencies too. I could have responded inappropriately like, same to you or gasundheit but that is not Gods teaching.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Tallu,

          Science is not on my side. Some things does not require science but experiences in life.

          Heres another example, when you teach a child to survive without morality, the child will grow up as such unless the parent or the guardian is remove from its duties. You teach a child to hate, it will hate. You teach a child to kill, it will kill. You teach a child to love, it will love.

          What out children future are in the hands of humans like you and me if they cant seem to find the moral guidance. Moral guidance from God.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Doris

          But you have not demonstrated a moral truth from God; you've made claims upon it, but you haven't given anyone reason to hold a belief that the god of Abraham exists; that morals "truths" directly from him exist. Work on proving the basis for your non-scientific suspicions, and then get back to us on why they deserve consideration.

          March 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
        • Doris

          (in reply to Peaceadvocate2014)

          March 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
      • Doris

        "Christians travel the world to spread the word of God. The violence are acts of humans."

        No, Christians travel the world to this day to push their agenda and commit violence if necessary.

        March 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doris,

          Like i said these are sins of humans. Not Gods teachings. Gods teaching is to spread the word not force it or kill who does not believe. Humans are using Gods name in vain to promote their agenda. Dont get me wrong not all humans are like this. I hope.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 10:53 am |
        • Doris

          Demonstrate to me objectively that sin is not a man-made concept.

          March 3, 2014 at 10:58 am |
        • igaftr

          "Humans are using Gods name in vain to promote their agenda."

          That is the whole reason men created religions and gods.
          As long as people keep up with the baseless beliefs, you are not advocating peace. The history of the worlds religions is proof of that. The only way to actual peace, is by dropping the baseless religions.

          March 3, 2014 at 10:59 am |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doris,

          What is sin? Something immoral. Evil. Wrong.

          How do humans determine objectively what is a sin, immoral, evil or wrong? By human courts, like the OJ or Judy Arias trials where they were proven not guilty because of the reasonable doubt that they are innocent.

          Your assertion that you need definitive proof to accuse or acquit somebody in our courts is what we humans could do at best. We cant judge a person if the person is lying or not. In the court of God, you cant lie. I would think God has a better survellience than we humans try to aspire.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Iga,

          The proliferation of religion or religious denomination is brought about the discontent on all religion or religious denimination because it is being run by humans capable of sins. Like if i spread Gods teachings, there will be opposition and discredit my character, thus, discrediting my message. I admit I am not perfect. But like I also said, separate the sins of humans from the message.

          If the message is bad. Oppose it.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Doris

          PA – again, you have not demonstrated the existence of "sin" outside of our minds. Therefor the rest of your points are moot.

          March 3, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Look at the history of Hawaii and how it became a US state – it started with christians going to "save the heathens".

        March 3, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Santa,

          This is humans message not God.

          Just like the medieval crusaders, spanish conquestadors, and other similar events in our history to use Gods name in vain. Humans use it to gain support for their self serving cause.

          God teachings is to spread the word and not to force it or kill who oppose it. Gods teachings is to love not hate. Peace not War.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        My partner's Aunt is as gay as the day is long.
        She comes from an old world, Portuguese Catholic family. None of her siblings are gay and her family is (unsurprisingly) largely ho/mophobic. Her older sister (my kid's grandma) has said that for as long as anyone can remember, she has exhibited masculine traits. When she finally came out of the closet to her family (while in her thirties), most of her siblings, nieces and nephews all went "we know. Glad you're coming out".
        Her parents were frightened and disgusted and one of her brothers refuses to speak with her because of her "unnatural" predilection.
        If being gay were the result of environmental factors, why are none of her older or younger siblings (of which she has 5) also gay?

        March 3, 2014 at 11:56 am |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doc,

          I understand my post is not popular, especially to people who are gays. But like i said i based it in my experiences, no bible.

          I also do not want to sound like an expert in human behavior but could you ask your partners aunt who or what influenced her the most at an early age? Now, we wont know the truth because of this objectivity we have in our courts.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Auntie and I get along just fine – my family goes over to her place in the summer to use her and her wife's heated salt water pool. She taught my kid how to swim underwater.
          I think she liked me from the get go because my partner and I first met through a lesbian couple. I was friends with one half of the couple and she was friends with the other. They were my neighbours back when I lived in my city's Gay Village.
          I've known a lot of ho/mose/xual people in my life – not just Auntie.
          Even my father, who missed becoming a Catholic priest by a hair and spent 35 years as an infantry medic, is good friends with a tr.ansg.ender couple – one of whom was an urban police officer for 25 years and the other a soldier for 20.
          Both of them spent most of their adult lives in very manly, rough and tumble, ho/mopho.bic environments and both pursued gender reas.signment once they took off their uniforms (actually, the soldier started transitioning before retiring from active duty).
          Human se/xuality is a comp.lex spectrum to be sure, but don't put too much stock in the Fre.udian "blame the parents" approach. Neurologists, sociologists, evolutionary biologists and psychiatrists certainly haven't for a long, long time.

          People don't choose their orientations, nor is it determined by parenting styles or bonding more with mommy than daddy or whatnot. Human se/xuality is not a bin.ary, linear thing.

          March 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doc,

          Thanks for sharing your views.

          I agree some may be born differently but a feminine boy does not have to azzume a role of a girl just because the boy have feminine qualities. What is feminine qualities? Is it the attraction to the same s3x? Or is it being soft spoken, non violent? A whole new debate. Of course we as humans in order to win a debate we will justify anything to be right.

          Some view our differences as inequalities. But Gods message is to be tolerant in all aspect of our inequalities.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
      • sealchan

        What would you do if you discovered that straight couples have gay children and gay couples had straight children? Who would you believe: the Bible or God's creation?

        March 4, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
  5. Hover

    Godly love:
    1 John 4:8 God is Love

    1. "Agapao" This word is a verb used to describe God's divine love. The noun is "apape." Example is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) This is the action of totally being committed to the well being of others without regard for their worthiness even unto death. That love was demonstrated by Jesus when He suffered and died for our sins. We, as Christians, are show that unselfish love to others.

    2. "Phileo" This word translated "love" refers to fervent love for another person. Jesus when challenging Peter in John 21:15-17 asked do you agape me more than the other disciples. Peter replied, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee" This was his response four times to Jesus' questions. Peter never used the word "agapeo" in response to Jesus' questions.

    3. "Eros" This is a noun and refers to se.xual love.

    February 28, 2014 at 10:15 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      God is not love unless of course you consider condoning slavery; child abuse; rape; murder; oppression of women and LGBT love.
      What an immoral god you believe in and how sad that you would use the only book written about it to say it proves it is love. Show us evidence that your imaginary friend exists, otherwise that horror story book you quote is no different than quoting Harry Potter...just one more story written by man and in this case used to promote hate, bigotry and oppression...used to fool the gullible!

      February 28, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • observernow

      Why do so many Christians oppose two people who love each other?

      February 28, 2014 at 10:21 am |
    • Hover

      Matthew 12:36

      February 28, 2014 at 10:25 am |
  6. truthfollower01

    Sungrazer,

    1. Kant's categorical imperative: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." I can't see how this makes what Hitler did objectively morally wrong. Please let me know how you arrive at this conclusion based on your quote.

    2. "Your entire argument is that objective morality is evidence of god. Not that the biblical god provides an objective system, or that it is the best objective system, but that somehow objective morality in an of itself is evidence for god's existence."

    My argument is that without a Moral Law Giver, objective morality doesn't exist.

    3. Is that how you explain the genocide in Numbers 31, verses 7-19?"

    Midian was responsible for corrupting the people at Peor. Please read Numbers 25:1-18.

    By the way, thanks for continuing this conversation. I have been enjoying it and hope you have as well.

    February 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      1. It is objectively immoral because one would not wish it to become a universal law. Note that I'm not arguing for the categorical imperative; that is just what it would say.

      3. Babies were killed. The lesson I take from this is that killing babies is objectively moral. It is never immoral to kill babies.

      February 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
      • bigsammyboy

        On what basis of knowledge does this come from?

        February 26, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Which? #2? God commanded Moses to commit genocide on the Midianites. After all the Midianite males were killed, the male babies and the women who were not virgins were likewise killed. The 32,000 women who were virgins were given to the army officers, of which 32 were God's own tribute. God is perfection. Ergo, these were moral acts.

          [This was a conversation continued from another page. I do not believe such things. But truthfollower01 does.]

          February 26, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
        • Reality

          But Moses was a myth making the story fiction. Ditto for Abraham and all the fictional stories surrounding him.

          February 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Reality,

          Yes. This, for me, is a theoretical/hypothetical exercise. Numbers 31 did not actually happen.

          February 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer, I will respond, I just wanted to finish up my response to Redzoa. I will try to finish a response by tonight. Again sorry for the delay.

          March 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        Sungrazer,

        "1. It is objectively immoral because one would not wish it to become a universal law. Note that I’m not arguing for the categorical imperative; that is just what it would say."

        What if Hitler wished this to become a universal law? Do you see the problem with this?

        On a much broader scale, why is Kant's view or anyone else's view for that matter anymore binding than the next persons? Why does Kant get to objectively determine where morality comes from? If Kant says a certain thing determines what is morally good or evil and someone else says something completely different determines what is morally good or evil, why is Kant right and this other person wrong? We are back to the game of "Says who?" This is certainly not objective morality. Why do you think that Richard Dawkins says that there is no good or evil? He recognizes the true atheistic worldview. Why do you think atheist Sam Harris chooses to go an alternate route to try and establish objective morality by redefining what the word good means (though this certainly fails as shown in his debate with William Lane Craig at the University of Notre Dame)? Dr. Harris realizes the existence of objective morality but by rejecting God, he has no foundation to ground it in. There is no objective morality apart from a Moral Law Giver.

        "3. Babies were killed. The lesson I take from this is that killing babies is objectively moral. It is never immoral to kill babies."

        I would certainly reject your conclusion that "It is never immoral to kill babies." Not sure where you get this from. I do however want to make a few comments concerning the killing of children.

        Why think God is restricted from taking life? Can not the One who gives life take it as He pleases? God not only creates life, but God is always enabling life (giving the next heart beat and next breath that you and I take). Our every second of existence is dependent upon God giving us that. I don't see God as owing me anything, including another breath. If He chooses not to give me this, God has done me no wrong. In fact it would be a greater blessing from the Christian perspective because I would then get to inherit eternal life and be with my Savior, whom I long to see. To the Christian, death is a blessing. It is when we get to leave this life to inherit something far greater.

        There is another aspect that I want to touch on that is very important to this subject. On the age of accountability view, the children and infants who die at a young age, before the age of accountability (which varies by each child) actually inherit eternal life, for God's grace is imparted to them. It is important to remember that God works with eternity in view. God doesn't wrong these children's lives by removing them from the world. They actually inherit the great blessing of being with God where believers, including myself long to be! Even Paul himself said that he desired to depart to be with Christ, which is better by far (Philippians 1:21). Notice that last part, "better by far"

        February 26, 2014 at 11:50 pm |
        • redzoa

          @tf01 – Perhaps you already addressed these responses in another thread and so I apologize if I missed them. Nonetheless:

          1) "Why think God is restricted from taking life? Can not the One who gives life take it as He pleases?"

          The ability to create/take life is simply not synonymous with the morality of taking life once it's created. Others have pointed to this argument as a "might makes right" argument and I've noted the old axiom that "just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do something."

          2) Regarding the "removal of children"; first, you seem to disregard the nature by which children and infants are "removed." Whether by drowning or being slaughtered by the sword, these methods are cruel and would invariably be regarded as inhumane. Again, even pet owners choose painless methods to euthanize their animals. This cruelty is compounded in light of the responsible deity having infinite alternatives which would not have involved inflicting severe terror, suffering and pain upon children and infants. Second, these children and infants were expressly judged and executed for the acts of their parents in direct contradiction of the basic Christian tenet of divine judgment based on an exercise of free will to choose evil or reject god. Regardless, you are effectively arguing that genocide (or as you've stated before the torture and killing of children) is objectively wrong, except when the biblical directly or indirectly is the perpetrator.

          You are again squarely arguing the prong of Euthryphro's dilemma which claims "it is good because god says so." This makes morality subjective/relative to the position of actor and thereby, what is "objectively" moral is the whim of the deity. When you argue that it is god's immutable nature to be good, you are then shifting to the other prong of Euthyphro's dilemma, "god says so because it is good." In addition to this being a case of special pleading via definitional fiat, the immutable good nature of god argument places the "objective/absolute" standard beyond the control of the god in that god has no choice but to obey this good nature (which also confounds the notion of omnipotence in that god is restricted to only a limited set of possible behaviors).

          Lastly, I would again offer that these forms of apologetic responses to the depictions of genocide in the bible are little more than a Nuremberg Defense, i.e. the abdication of personal moral responsibility to evaluate a particular command in obedient deference to perceived authority. Perhaps you can understand why many find the apologetic form of the Nuremberg Defense no less palatable than when it was offered by the Nazi officers disclaiming any culpability. I would further add that, similar to the self-preservation concerns of the dutiful Nazi executioners, the apologetics defending such atrocities is subject to a similar coercive context in that the choice of obedience or empathy is flanked by promises of reward and threats of punishment. The morally repugnant command of 1 Sam 15:3 is made only worse by the condemnation of Saul in 1 Sam 15:7-23.

          February 27, 2014 at 12:26 am |
        • Sungrazer

          "What if Hitler wished this to become a universal law? Do you see the problem with this?"

          I knew you would say this. What if I said I thought God was acting immorally in Numbers 25? You would say my opinion doesn't matter; opinions don't count in objective morality. So perhaps Kant would say Hitler's opinion or wish doesn't matter – the Holocaust was still objectively immoral; Hitler wishing the Holocaust to become a universal law has nothing to do with the morality of it.

          I could come up with my own objective system. Say, a mathematical formula. Any act that scores over 10 is immoral. Killing a single innocent baby would score more than that. Ergo, God's acts were immoral. You disagree, but your opinion doesn't matter; these acts are immoral regardless of what you or anyone else thinks.

          We will never agree. You are on record saying it was moral of God to command the genocide of the Midianite male adults, that it was moral to kill the Midianite male babies, that it was moral to kill the Midianite non virgin females, that it was moral to consign 32,000 Midianite virgin females to se.xual slavery, that it was moral for God to take 32 Midianite virgin females as his own tribute (sacrifices?; his own se.xual desires?). These acts and your beliefs are beyond reprehensible.

          According to you the Holocaust is objectively immoral but the Midianite genocide was not. Can you not see, then, that objective morality is dependent on whim? It is completely arbitrary. God could declare any act whatsoever moral, no matter how detestable it might seem to humans, and you would have to accept that it was moral for no reason at all other than it was declared so by fiat.

          February 27, 2014 at 12:37 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa,

          1. "The ability to create/take life is simply not synonymous with the morality of taking life once it's created."

          You seem to portray the view that God creates life, then sits back until it's time for Him to step back into the picture to take the life He has created. The correct view is that God is always enabling and sustaining your life every second you live. Every breath you take is dependent upon God giving it to you. Why think that God owes this to you or I? He doesn't.

          2) I can't see how God does the children wrong by ushering them into His kingdom for all eternity. Death is a blessing to the Christian. God doesn’t wrong these children’s lives by removing them from the world. They actually inherit the great blessing of being with God where believers, including myself long to be. Even Paul himself said that he desired to depart to be with Christ, which is better by far (Philippians 1:21). Notice that last part, “better by far”.
          Is your objection with how God took them out of the world or just that He took them out?

          3. "Regardless, you are effectively arguing that genocide (or as you've stated before the torture and killing of children) is objectively wrong, except when the biblical directly or indirectly is the perpetrator."

          If I took the life of an innocent person it would be murder. Therefore, I do not have the right to take an innocent life. But why think God is restricted from taking life?
          God is in a distinct position apart from man. God not only creates life, but God is always enabling life (giving the next heart beat and next breath that you and I take). Our every second of existence is dependent upon God giving us that. We as men do not have this responsibility. I don't see God as owing me anything, including another breath. If He chooses not to give me this, God has done me no wrong.

          4. Concerning the Eutheyphro's dilemma argument you are attempting to use, as I have said in the past, I don't support either option as normally presented in the prongs. I believe that morality is a reflection of God's nature. God's nature is unchanging. We certainly have good grounds for objective morality in this manner. This is a pretty straightforward argument.

          "In addition to this being a case of special pleading via definitional fiat,"

          You have made this claim against me on more than one occasion but the truth of the matter is that we are talking about two totally different concepts. I wouldn't agree to the two prongs of Euthyphro's dilemma because I don't believe they support a biblical view. God doesn't change (Hebrews 13:8),which as a Christian I believe is a wonderful thing! He can always be trusted and is always faithful to His promises.

          I will conclude by saying that on the atheistic there is no objective morality anyways so I don't believe that the atheist has any grounds for accusing God or anyone else for that matter if doing anything evil or wrong. Who says it's wrong or evil?

          Also, one final question. What is your stance on abortion?

          February 27, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          "I can't see how God does the children wrong by ushering them into His kingdom for all eternity. Death is a blessing to the Christian."

          If God actually cared that much about children, then you have made an extremely strong case in support of abortion. What a great way to guarantee our children get to heaven. Great shortcut. No trials and tribulations. What greater gift could we give our children? Heaven is every Christian's goal and a "BLESSING". Well done.

          February 27, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer,

          1. "So perhaps Kant would say Hitler's opinion or wish doesn't matter – the Holocaust was still objectively immoral;"

          Kant may say this but again, on atheism, his opinion on morality holds as much weight as Hitler's. Remember, Objective morals are valid and binding independent of personal opinion.

          2. "I could come up with my own objective system."

          The fact that you start this way already shows it not to be objective since it is based on your personal opinion. I think it is safe to say that on atheism, there is no objective morality. It's just a game of "Says who?"

          3. "We will never agree. You are on record saying it was moral of God to command the genocide of the Midianite male adults, that it was moral to kill the Midianite male babies, that it was moral to kill the Midianite non virgin females, that it was moral to consign 32,000 Midianite virgin females to se.xual slavery, that it was moral for God to take 32 Midianite virgin females as his own tribute (sacrifices?; his own se.xual desires?). These acts and your beliefs are beyond reprehensible."

          I certainly am not on record agreeing to all that you have stated above (where do you get the bit about the 32 Midianite virgins for God's se.xual desires?) but I do certainly believe that God's actions were morally right in Carrying out Noah's flood and in dealing with the Midianites. However, on the atheistic view there is no objective morality anyways so I don't believe that the atheist has any grounds for accusing God or anyone else for that matter of doing anything evil or wrong. Who says it's wrong or evil?

          4. "According to you the Holocaust is objectively immoral but the Midianite genocide was not."

          I answered the objection to the Midianites in our previous post.
          Midian was responsible for corrupting the people at Peor. Please read Numbers 25:1-18.

          "Can you not see, then, that objective morality is dependent on whim? It is completely arbitrary. God could declare any act whatsoever moral"

          God only acts in accordance with His nature and God is unchanging.

          February 28, 2014 at 12:06 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Observernow, we as human beings do not have the right to take the life of an innocent human being. This is called murder, which is what abortion is. What is your stance on the issue of abortion?

          February 28, 2014 at 12:10 am |
        • redzoa

          @tf01

          1) "You seem to portray the view that God creates life . . ."

          With respect, this depiction is irrelevant to the question of whether it's moral to needlessly exterminate life. If I have an endless supply of water, but I refuse to allow a person dying from dehydration to drink, I believe we would both consider that immoral.

          2) "I can't see how God does the children wrong by ushering them into His kingdom for all eternity . . ."

          Again, you are ignoring the manner in which the children are ushered (i.e. cruelly drowning or hacking to death with a sword) and the availability of options which don't cause unnecessary suffering and pain. My objection is to both the manner and the alleged need to take them out. I notice you didn't respond to the conflict with judgment according to free will, i.e. these children were judged for the acts of their parents. The received arbitrary and capricious judgments effected in a harsh and cruel manner.

          3) " . . . God is in a distinct position apart from man . . ."

          Here, you are making an argument for relative/subjective morality based on the unique position of god.

          4) "I believe that morality is a reflection of God's nature. God's nature is unchanging. We certainly have good grounds for objective morality in this manner. This is a pretty straightforward argument."

          In fact, you are attempting to simultaneously embrace both prongs of Euthyphro's dilemma. You are stating that it is good because god says so AND that god says so because it is good. But ultimately, you are embracing the latter because you are arguing an objective/absolute morality in god's immutable good nature which is a source of morality beyond god's actual control. I understand the argument is straightforward, but it is: 1) based in definitional fiat (there is equally valid evidence to suggest that god is malevolent or simply apathetic); 2) actually embraces the god says so because it is good prong of the dilemma; and 3) attempts to constrain god by limiting god's possible range of choice.

          Regarding special pleading via definitional fiat, you have been making claims about objective/absolute morality. After stating it is objectively wrong to kill/torture children, you add whatever characteristics you feel necessary (definitional fiat) to excuse your preferred actor from the objective/absolute standard (special pleading). Again, you are actually agreeing to the prong of Euthyphro's dilemma which says god has no choice but follow what is good (i.e. is immutable good nature).

          I've already pointed to the golden rule as a functional moral framework which does not require a true objective/absolute standard. I can point to this as grounds for accusing the biblical deity of immoral behavior, e.g. I would not unnecessarily harm another person's other wise innocent children because I would not want anyone (mortal or deity) to unnecessarily harm my own children.

          My stance on abortion is based on the competing interests of personal bodily autonomy and a deference to preserving otherwise innocent life. I don't believe one person is morally obligated to directly contribute their body to sustain the life of another against their will. I believe once a fetus is capable of living without the direct need of another person's body, then that fetus is ent-itled to be protected. But for the same reasons we both likely reject government-mandated organ donations, I reject legal prohibitions against the right of a mother to choose to terminate a pregnancy prior to external viability (i.e. ~22-24 wks). Furthermore, I don't believe an acorn is an oak tree. Suffice it to say that I believe the morality of a given abortion decision is subject to the competing interests present in that particular situation (e.g. life of the mother, incest, ra-pe, severe defects, severe economic hardship to already existing siblings, etc, v. abortion as birth control, pure personal convenience, etc).

          Quid pro quo . . . Do you believe owning another human being as personal property, i.e. chattel slavery, as described in Lev 25:44-46, is immoral? If you believe this form of slavery is a moral practice, then do you extend this favorable morality position to the directly analogous antebellum southern plantation owners who owned Africans as personal property?

          February 28, 2014 at 12:15 am |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          NO ONE likes abortion. It still should be up to the mother to make the decision based on her unique situation. We should not have the right to FORCE her to much endanger her physical and mental health for the sake of an embryo.

          Abortion is NOT murder, which is illegal. The Bible NEVER even mentions abortion and actually offers more to argue in favor of it, than in opposition. Read it.

          February 28, 2014 at 12:19 am |
        • Sungrazer

          My objective system is not dependent on my personal opinions. It is fed with real world data. Acts are quantified as to the happiness or suffering they bring. I am discovering objective morality, not making it. To quote Sam Harris: "If religion really provided the only conceivable objective basis for morality, it should be impossible to posit a nontheistic objective basis for morality. But it is not impossible; it is rather easy. ... [E]verything about human experience suggests that love is better than hate for the purposes of living happily in this world. This is an objective claim about the human mind, the dynamics of social relations, and the moral order of our world. While we do not have anything like a final, scientific approach to maximizing human happiness, it seems safe to say that rap.ing and killing children will not be one of its primary consti.tuents.

          "

          "God only acts in accordance with His nature and God is unchanging."

          I am not claiming here that god is unchanging. I am claiming that if it were in god's nature to deem using a computer the most immoral act imaginable, then that is completely arbitrary. Absent clear communication, perhaps you should quit, to be on the safe side.

          "where do you get the bit about the 32 Midianite virgins for God's se.xual desires?)"

          I am taking a not unreasonable guess about what god did with his tribute of 32 female virgins. I also suggested they might have been sacrifices. There are other possibilities. I doubt any of them maximmized the happiness of the virgins.

          February 28, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Observernow,

          1. "It still should be up to the mother to make the decision based on her unique situation. We should not have the right to FORCE her to much endanger her physical and mental health for the sake of an embryo."

          Do you support the mother's right to have an abortion for any reason or do you have restrictions? I noticed you prefer to call the baby an "embryo". At what point do you believe it becomes a baby and why?

          2. "Abortion is NOT murder, which is illegal."

          Legality does not always determine what is morally right. The Holocaust was done legally.

          3. "The Bible NEVER even mentions abortion and actually offers more to argue in favor of it, than in opposition. Read it."

          The Bible indicates that God is at work in the womb, forming the child. Jeremiah 1:5 ""Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...". An abortion murders the life God is creating in the womb. Also, see Psalm 139:13. Also see Exodus 21:22,23 "(New American Standard)
          22 “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.
          23 “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,"
          The Bible is clear that the baby in the womb is just that, a baby. See Luke 1:41 "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit."

          What Biblical arguments do you provide for abortion?

          March 1, 2014 at 10:45 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer,

          1. "Acts are quantified as to the happiness or suffering they bring."

          Who says that this is the basis for what is morally good or evil? On atheism, what is wrong with causing suffering? Also, causing suffering brings happiness to some.

          2. "I am discovering objective morality, not making it."

          On atheism, there is no objective morality. If you want murder to be morally good, then for you it's morally good. If you want the golden rule to provide a moral framework, then for you it does. On atheism, no one is more morally right or wrong than the next person. There is no good or evil. It's all personal opinion.

          3. To quote Sam Harris: "If religion really provided the only conceivable objective basis for morality, it should be impossible to posit a nontheistic objective basis for morality."

          It is impossible. I have heard all kinds of grounds for morality from atheists, agnostics or skeptics but none of them hold up.

          Also, I alluded to Sam Harris' view in a previous post. It certainly does not provide grounds for objective morality as he redefines what the word "good" means according to what he thinks good is. It's his opinion. You can watch the debate between William Lane Craig and Sam Harris on YouTube concerning this if you are interested.

          4. "God only acts in accordance with His nature and God is unchanging."

          If morality is founded in God's nature and God is unchanging, we have the strongest foundation needed for objective morality.

          On a personal note, I believe that you know that the Holocaust is objectively morally evil. Even if the Nazis had taken over the world and brainwashed everyone into believing that the Holocaust was morally good, it would still be morally evil. I ask you to really consider this. On atheism, the Holocaust isn't really morally wrong. On atheism, there is no real good or evil as Richard Dawkins indicated. But surely you agree with me, that the Holocaust was morally wrong independent of anyone's opinion for against it. Objective morality requires a Moral Law Giver.

          March 1, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          Although simple-minded people claim abortion is a black-and-white issue, it actually falls on a spectrum like so many other issues in life.. If things get horribly bad enough, it's likely that nearly EVERYONE supports abortion. There are many reasons for abortion involving the mother's physical health, mental health, economic conditions, views on family planning, and their own religious beliefs. Neither you nor I can KNOW all of the reasons for one woman getting one. ONLY SHE knows. ONLY she has her body to manage. My own view on the spectrum is that she should be free to decide for whatever reason, although I would oppose most late-term abortions like most pro-choice supporters.

          In humans, the term embryo usually applies to the first 2 months of development. After that they are fetuses, before they are finally BORN as babies. Why do you think we say "she is GOING TO HAVE a baby" rather than she has a baby before delivering?

          (Exodus 21:22-25) [Contemporary English Version; Revised Standard Version; New Revised Standard Version] say the woman suffers a MISCARRIAGE and the penalty is a FINE paid to the father. For a PERSON injured, it's an eye for an eye.

          The Bible NEVER mentions abortion, but apparently gives instructions on how to cause one: (Numbers 5:26-27) “The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.”

          God had no problems killing children. Just one example:

          Ezekiel 9:3-6) “The Lord said to the man in the linen robe, "Walk through the city of Jerusalem and mark the forehead of anyone who is truly upset and sad about the disgusting things that are being done here." He turned to the other six men and said, "Follow him and put to death everyone who doesn't have a mark on their forehead. Show no mercy or pity! Kill men and women, parents and CHILDREN. Begin here at my temple and be sure not to harm those who are marked."

          March 1, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          "If morality is founded in God's nature and God is unchanging, we have the strongest foundation needed for objective morality"

          It's all NONSENSE since God supports slavery, discriminations, killing children, forced marriages, beating children, etc. Fortunately virtually NO ONE follows all of God's "morals". There's little chance you're an exception, but you are TOO AFRAID to answer questions..

          .

          March 1, 2014 at 11:49 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa, I have been trying to post my response to your message but am having a problem getting the site to accept it. Hopefully, I will have it up soon. Sorry for the delay.

          March 1, 2014 at 11:55 pm |
        • redzoa

          @tf01 – No worries. Let me know if you need the banned words list again . . .

          March 2, 2014 at 12:03 am |
        • Doris

          tf: "I believe that you know that the Holocaust is objectively morally evil."

          Nonsense. You and I agree it's wrong. Our subjective opinions on probably every aspect of it makes us agree. Getting people to agree on things is consensus, not "objective" good/bad. I don't see any evidence that conceptual value judgments exist on their own in the world without people to have them in their minds.

          March 2, 2014 at 12:17 am |
        • Sungrazer

          TL;DR warning. Just make sure to at least read the last paragraph.

          First, let me state that my arguments do not reflect whether or not I personally subscribe to any kind of objective morality. With that said, based on comments such as “Who says that this is the basis for what is morally good or evil?”, what you are really objecting to is that it is PROPER for humans to derive their own objective system, not that it is IMPOSSIBLE to do so.

          Incidentally, if god is perfect (and unchanging) and morality is objective, it escapes me why it would EVER be immoral for us to follow biblical examples – committing genocide, enslaving other people, subjugating women, slaughtering children, stoning adulterers, executing those who gather sticks on the Sabbath..

          “Who says that this is the basis for what is morally good or evil?” (happiness and suffering)

          Certainly not god. Eliminating human suffering is obviously not priority #1 or there would be none (odd, for an omnibenevolent being). For starters, he seems to be more concerned about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes. Everyday morality is not difficult. Be kind and avoid doing harm. Reasonable people can get together and agree on these things without the need for a god. It is incredible that you apparently would respond to a system designed to maximize happiness and minimize suffering with “oh no, that won’t do at all; we need a system where god can kill babies according to his nature but where women can’t have an abortion if they’ve been rap.ed”.

          “If morality is founded in God's nature and God is unchanging, we have the strongest foundation needed for objective morality.”

          Actually, it is meaningless (let’s ignore that biblical morality is quite possibly the worst foundation, with competi.tion only from the Koran). It is meaningless because it is arbitrary. This is Dan Barker speaking from god’s point of view: “Whatever I choose to be right or wrong will be in accordance with my nature. And since I am perfect, then my choices will be perfect. … But what does “perfect” mean? If my nature is perfect, then I am living up to a standard. If I am living up to a standard, then I am not God. If perfection means something all by itself, apart from me, then I am constrained to follow its path. If, on the other hand, perfection is defined simply as conformity to my nature, then it doesn’t mean anything. My nature can be what it wants, and perfection will be defined accordingly.” For you, there is nothing that god nor the bible could say that would be immoral, no matter how ruinous it would be for human civilization. That pretty much is the definition of arbitrary.

          Since computer use doesn’t seem to excite you (or you had no good answer), let’s return to your favorite example. You claim the Holocaust is objectively immoral. Exactly how do you know this, given that God has commanded multiple other genocides? Perhaps god commanded the Holocaust too, or encouraged it, or was simply just pleased by it. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that if god communicated that the Holocaust pleased him, then you would be forced to admit that it was MORAL. For the time being, you are concluding that it is immoral because your own intuition tells you that atrocities of this kind are not conducive to happiness and societal welfare. But if tomorrow god declared it to be good, then you would have no recourse but to declare it good yourself and defend it as justified. In this sort of theistic view, you don’t KNOW if ANYTHING is moral or immoral unless you have been TOLD so. Yet you somehow think that this is preferable to humans coming together and working out the best we can how we can all live with each other.

          Let’s make it personal so it will sink in: If god commanded you to rap.e someone, would you do it? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m asking you to answer it. Anything other than “yes” or “no” is a dodge. “God would never command me to do that” is a dodge – you have admitted that there are certain acts (genocide) that you would normally consider immoral (Holocaust) except that they were commanded by god (Midianite slaughter). The rap.e would be a moral act and you have been directly commanded. Would you do it?

          March 2, 2014 at 5:19 am |
        • Sungrazer

          It seems that there is one more thing I must do, which is dispose of your comments regarding the Dawkins "no evil and no good" quote. He is speaking of COSMIC good and evil. The context is "a universe of blind physical forces" (read the full quote). There are no laws of physics that take notice of suffering and alleviate it (good). There are no laws of physics that take notice of happiness and destroy it (evil).

          In "The God Delusion", he wrote a chapter on morality that he introduced with the words: "This chapter is about evil, and its opposite, good; about morality: where it comes from, why we should embrace it, and whether we need religion to do so." He talks about the "goodness as we possess" (such as altruistic acts) and says that even if religion did no other harm, its carefully nurtured divisiveness is enough to make it "a significant force for evil in the world." He embraces the view that "we do not need God in order to be good— or evil."

          I could go on but it would be tedious.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:21 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa,

          1) "If I have an endless supply of water, but I refuse to allow a person dying from dehydration to drink, I believe we would both consider that immoral."

          If God knew that not prolonging the life of the person would result in that person inheriting an exceedingly greater life for eternity, God would be doing this person a favor by not prolonging his/her life!

          2) "Again, you are ignoring the manner in which the children are ushered (i.e. cruelly drowning or hacking to death with a sword) and the availability of options which don't cause unnecessary suffering and pain. My objection is to both the manner and the alleged need to take them out. I notice you didn't respond to the conflict with judgment according to free will, i.e. these children were judged for the acts of their parents. The received arbitrary and capricious judgments effected in a harsh and cruel manner."

          Again, I certainly don't see how God wrongs any of the children if they are ushered into Heaven for eternity at any time. If God chooses not to give each of is our next breath, He is certainly enti.tled to do so. He doesn't owe us this. Please keep eternity in view, not this temporal life. If they hadn't felt any pain and were killed via some painless met.hod would you be okay with this? What if God masked the children's pain to where they didn't feel it? Would you be okay with this then? Perhaps we can disc.uss the viable reasons as to why God would include the children in death in a later conversation but there are possible viable reasons, regardless, I don't see how God wrongs anybody by taking them from this world at anytime He chooses.

          3) " . . . God is in a distinct position apart from man . . ."

          "Here, you are making an argument for relative/subjective morality based on the unique position of god."

          It's safe to say that we are not in the same position of God and I can't see any reason given as to God acting immorally in the present case.

          4) I think we'll have to put the whole Euthyphro's dilemma to rest as we are talking about two different concepts. You continue to try to tie my concept to one of the prongs but the prongs don't represent what I have been claiming.

          "Regarding special pleading via definitional fiat, you have been making claims about objective/absolute morality. After stating it is objectively wrong to kill/torture children, you add whatever characteristics you feel necessary (definitional fiat) to excuse your preferred actor from the objective/absolute standard (special pleading)."

          If I took the life of an innocent person it would be murder. Therefore, I do not have the right to take the life of an innocent life. But why think God is restricted from taking life? Can not the One who gives and sustains life take it as He pleases? I agree with William Lane Craig when he said that “God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second. If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative. What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit. How long they live and when they die is up to Him.” In what way is God acting immorally?

          5. "I've already pointed to the golden rule as a functional moral framework which does not require a true objective/absolute standard."

          Here's the big issue. On atheism, there is no objective morality. If you want murder to be morally good, then for you it's morally good. If you want the golden rule to provide a moral framework, then for you it does. On atheism, no one is more morally right or wrong than the next person. There is no good or evil. It's all personal opinion. If morality is subjective, it doesn't truly exist.

          "I can point to this as grounds for accusing the biblical deity of immoral behavior,"

          But on atheism, it's just your opinion, which is equally as valid as someone who says that God is acting morally. Why is Richard Dawkins wrong when he says, "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

          7. "Quid pro quo . . . Do you believe owning another human being as personal property, i.e. chattel slavery, as described in Lev 25:44-46, is immoral? If you believe this form of slavery is a moral practice, then do you extend this favorable morality position to the directly analogous antebellum southern plantation owners who owned Africans as personal property?"

          I think it's important to consider a few things considering Lev. 25. I first want to say that these foreigners were no where near those of the chattel slaves of the antebellum South. The foreigners consisted of those whom Israel was either to drive out of the land or destroy (slavery was a humane option) and those who came to Israel in the exodus from Egypt. In addition, in Lev. 19:33-34, the Israelites were given the command to love the stranger in the land. "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God." I know this just scratches the surface of the topic but if you're truly interested in this, there is a much larger section on slavery in Paul Copan's book "God is not a Moral Monster" that you might find interesting.

          March 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          Your PRETENSION that a slave in the Bible wasn't comparable to that of a slave in the south is delusional.

          Let's see how much you know about slavery and the Bible.

          According to God, what would be the punishment if a slave owner took a rod and broke the arms or legs of an ELDERLY FEMALE SLAVE and they didn't die in a day or so?

          Answer please. Don't run away like you often do.

          March 2, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          6. "My stance on abortion is based on the competing interests of personal bodily autonomy and a deference to preserving otherwise innocent life. I don't believe one person is morally obligated to directly contribute their body to sustain the life of another against their will."

          So if the child in the womb is a nuisance to the mother, you would support her right to murder it?

          "I believe once a fetus is capable of living without the direct need of another person's body, then that fetus is ent-itled to be protected."

          Do you support the right to kill the child even at 1 or 2 years old, outside of the wom.b since the child is still completely dependent upon the adult for surv.ival? The child certainly needs another person to care for it.

          "But for the same reasons we both likely reject government-mandated organ donations,"

          This is not even close to the same thing. We are dealing with a life in one case.

          March 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          If your wife/daughter/sister/mother required an abortion to save their life, would you just tell them "tough luck" or do you SUPPORT abortion?

          March 2, 2014 at 10:37 pm |
        • hotairace

          Only a fucking mentally ill delusional believer azzhole would stretch "another person's body" to suggest it applies to 1 or 2 year old children.

          March 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Observernow,

          "If your wife/daughter/sister/mother required an abortion to save their life, would you just tell them "tough luck" or do you SUPPORT abortion?"

          I haven't expressed my views on abortion until now. The only viable exception that I can see to abortion is in a case where it is required to save the mother's life. This is a far cry from murdering the child for any reason under the sun.

          March 2, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          At least we are both pro-choice although at different points on the spectrum.

          March 2, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
        • hotairace

          truthfollower01, abortion is a legal medical procedure in most civilized countries. It is not murder. Don't you know that lying makes your alleged but never proven imaginary buddy jesus cry? If you don't like abortion, don't have one. If you feel the need to impose your beliefs on someone else, control your own cult members. When your cult's abortion, premarital s3x and criminal behavior rates are zero, come talk to us. Until then, fuck off.

          Why can't you understand the above? Because your are a fuing mentally ill delusional believer azzhole.

          March 2, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Hotairace,

          "abortion is a legal medical procedure in most civilized countries. It is not murder."

          Do you have an issue with the Holocaust? It was done legally. Just because it's legal doesn't necessarily mean it's right.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Observernow, I am certainly pro-life. In the one case I mentioned, one life would hopefully be saved at the cost of the other.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01

          "Just because it's legal doesn't necessarily mean it's right"

          Valid point. Just like slavery and discriminations in the Bible were once legal in our nation, fortunately we KNOW BETTER and changed the law.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          EVERYONE is pro-life. It just depends if the most important one is the mother or the embryo/fetus.

          The "sides" are PRO-CHOICE and ANTI-CHOICE and you've shown where you stand, fortunately.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
        • hotairace

          The Holocaust was an abhorrent aberration that was corrected within 5-6 years. It would have been corrected much faster if local christians and churches had taken concerted action, or if the RCC had stepped in to control its cult members, Hitler and others. Abortion has been the law of the land for decades now, and challenged several times all the way up to the US Supreme Court, which is 100% filled bu god fearing belivers.

          Only azzhole mentally ill delusional believers get worked up about it, conveniently ignoring the fact that 75+% of all abortions in the USA are had by believers. Believers singlehandedly can reduce the number of abortions in the USA by 700,000 each year, if they only followed their own cult's rules, no changes in any law required.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          I am certainly prolife. Prochoice advocates for a woman's right to have an abortion for whatever reason she wants. In the hypothetical situation we discussed, death is inevitable, whether it be the mother or the child she is carrying.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          Do the anti-choice (so-called "pro-life') people support ABORTION in any case? Yes or no?

          March 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          tf, Pro-life is a misnomer. The only activism is anti-abortion, none for drug safety, road safety, gun safety, food security, water security, curable disease, capital punishment, etc.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          observernow,

          "Do the anti-choice (so-called "pro-life') people support ABORTION in any case? Yes or no?"

          I can't speak for anyone other than myself. I am only expressing my view on the matter. In the hypothetical case we discussed, i do choose life.

          March 2, 2014 at 11:55 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01

          "i do choose life."

          Of course you support life. Pro-choice and anti-choice people both support life. In this case you also support ABORTION. That is the whole point. You feel that the mother CAN have a choice in that case.

          March 3, 2014 at 12:09 am |
        • Sungrazer

          questiondodger01,

          You have responded to everyone but me. This hurts my feelings. But I am not yet persuaded to give up. Let me distill my last post into two pointed questions. They are not rhetorical. I am asking you to answer them. They are yes or no questions.

          1. If god revealed that he commanded the Holocaust, would you still believe the Holocaust was objectively evil/immoral?

          2. If god commanded you to rap.e someone, would you do it?

          March 3, 2014 at 9:41 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Observernow,

          "Of course you support life. Pro-choice and anti-choice people both support life. In this case you also support ABORTION. That is the whole point. You feel that the mother CAN have a choice in that case."

          I think you are misunderstanding what I'm saying. In the hypothetical situation that either the mother or child will die, a decision has to be made as to which life will be saved. One will die regardless in the hypothetical situation. According to your view and the prochoice view, you are choosing to murder the child when there is no need to do so, when both lives are good to live. In your view, death is a choice. In the hypothetical situation, death is inevitable. In your view, you're murdering a life. In the hypothetical view, a life is being saved (either the mother or child).

          March 3, 2014 at 9:50 am |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          You can spin it that you are saving a life, but you are still taking a life as well. On this very page, you said "I do not have the right to take an innocent life." Do you wish to revise this statement?

          Why are you not answering my own questions?

          March 3, 2014 at 10:46 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer,

          "You can spin it that you are saving a life, but you are still taking a life as well. On this very page, you said “I do not have the right to take an innocent life.” Do you wish to revise this statement?"

          In the hypothetical situation, death IS UNAVOIDABLE. Murdering a child because it might cramp one's style is certainly avoidable. Surely you see the difference between the two.

          "Why are you not answering my own questions?"

          I'm going to respond to your ra-pe scenario shortly. I apologize for the delay on this

          March 3, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          I am not the badgering type so I will not ask my questions again. I will just leave you with some final comments before I withdraw from the conversation.

          You asked me to really consider whether the Holocaust was objectively evil. My present inclination is not to subscribe to objective morality. My understanding is that Sam Harris has made the case for it in "The Moral Landscape". It has been sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time, unread. I will read it and consider the arguments. However, what I believe you are really hoping for is that I not only acknowledge objective morality but attribute it to god, and this is very unlikely. I am just being frank. I attended fundamentalist Southern Baptist chuches through my mid 20s, so I know that side. It stopped making sense to me.

          What I would ask is for you to consider the following. The Christian god does exist, but not quite the one you worship. He is loving – maybe not perfectly so – but he's got a great big heart and he is genuinely interested in human welfare. He wants to see us live moral lives and use the reason we have been given. He meets with everyone upon their death. Some conversations go like this: "I appreciate your lifelong devotion and your desire to bring people to know me. But I am hurt and saddened that you could believe such things that are written about me in the Old Testament. I am a loving god and I could never condone the terrible acts that have been attributed to me. Were these beliefs really necessary for you to have a personal relationship with me? I feel personally let down and even humiliated by how you have portrayed me. I don't punish anyone except for the truly evil. But I also cannot award everlasting paradise to anyone whose beliefs actively held back moral progress. I hope otherwise you made the one life you had count. Goodbye."

          March 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa,

          "Furthermore, I don't believe an acorn is an oak tree. Suffice it to say that I believe the morality of a given abortion decision is subject to the competing interests present in that particular situation (e.g. life of the mother, incest, ra-pe, severe defects, severe economic hardship to already existing siblings, etc, v. abortion as birth control, pure personal convenience, etc)."

          Why would the child get punished (murdered) for the crime of the father in the case of ra-pe? Do you support or are you okay with an abortion in the case of a man ra-ping a woman? If so, this sounds similar to your accusation that God has somehow acted immorally in killing the children for the crimes of the parents only in the ra-pe case, the man gets to walk away while the child is killed.

          March 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer,

          1. "Let’s make it personal so it will sink in: If god commanded you to rap.e someone, would you do it? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m asking you to answer it."

          I want to start out by saying that the question is preloaded with an incorrect understanding of how God acts. The true question is CAN God command this? First, there are things that God cannot do (i.e. God cannot lie – Hebrews 6:18) as limited by His nature. Since the senseless ra-pe of an innocent bystander is objectively morally wrong and objective morality is grounded in the nature of God, then God cannot command this for it is acting contrary to His nature and His nature doesn't change. You seem to almost present God in a fickle kind of way where He commands ra-pe one day as being morally good and condemns it the next day. God cannot act contrary to His nature as I have indicated above. It is His unchanging nature from which we can ground objective morality in.

          2. "you have admitted that there are certain acts (genocide) that you would normally consider immoral (Holocaust) except that they were commanded by god (Midianite slaughter).

          I would consider the Holocaust objectively morally evil. We as human beings do not have the right to murder at our discretion. However, I would consider the Midianite slaughter a moral judgement by God. I believe that there are valid reasons that can be given to show the Midianite slaughter as being morally justifiable. I believe the main objection to the Midianite slaughter is the killing of the children which I have addressed in previous posts.

          3. I highly recommend watching the debate on morality between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig on YouTube.

          4. "I am a loving god and I could never condone the terrible acts that have been attributed to me."
          "I don’t punish anyone except for the truly evil."

          Sungrazer, I don't believe you see how serious your sins are before God. When we compare ourselves to others around we may not look so bad. Most of us can find someone worst than us (if we can't maybe we're the worst!) But listen, God doesn't compare us to others and whoever is evil goes to Hell and whoever is "good" by comparison goes to Heaven. The truth is no one is good other than Jesus. Answer a few questions for me if you would.
          1. How many lies would you say you’ve told in your life?
          2. Have you ever stolen anything regardless of its value?
          3. Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word? (called blasphemy)
          4.have you ever looked at a woman/man lustfully?(if so, Jesus said you have committed adultery with that person in your heart.)
          If you’re like me, you are a self professed lying, stealing, blaspheming adulterer at heart or some form thereof. A holy God must punish wickedness, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. Given your confession, will you be guilty or innocent? If you’re like me and everyone else on this board, you are guilty. However, God provided a way for salvation through the blood of His innocent Son who took the punishment on the cross, that we might be declared innocent. Think of it like this. You’re in a court room. you’re guilty as you’ve professed. Someone walks in and pays your fine for you. Now the judge can legally dismiss your case and let you go. This is the gospel message. What you must do is repent (turn from your sins) and follow Jesus as Lord. This following is enabled by God when He gives you new desires and a heart that wants to please God instead of the flesh.

          Please think about this.

          March 3, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
        • observernow

          truthfollower01,

          One of your other "sins" might be that you don't support God's "morals" when it comes to slavery, discriminations, etc. Let's hope so.

          March 3, 2014 at 11:55 pm |
        • redzoa

          1) “If God knew that not prolonging the life of the person would result in that person inheriting an exceedingly greater life for eternity, God would be doing this person a favor by not prolonging his/her life!’

          We can take this logic to absurdum then and say that the most moral thing god can do is kill everyone now and give them eternal life; that abortion is god’s plan to bring children to eternal life; etc. This also precludes free will in that you are again suggesting that a person’s exercise of free will is irrelevant given god’s knowledge of what’s best for them. This is, however, distinct from your initial claim that god as creator is implicitly morally authorized to exterminate. You are still adding supplemental characteristics in order to escape your initial premise, “i.e. if God knew . . .” and are again engaging in special pleading.

          2) “Again, I certainly don't see how God wrongs any of the children if they are ushered into Heaven for eternity at any time. . .”

          You are still arguing “might makes right” not “doing the right thing is right.”

          “What if God masked the children's pain to where they didn't feel it?”

          Special pleading via adding additional features to escape the underlying premise. There is no suggestion this was the case. The plain meaning of the texts indicates the children/infants were cruelly drowned and were brutally slaughtered, i.e. they were forced to unnecessarily suffer. Again, the children are judged not on their own exercise of free will, but are indiscriminately included in the judgment of their parents. I notice you failed to address the free will issue here again.

          3) “It's safe to say that we are not in the same position of God and I can't see any reason given as to God acting immorally in the present case.”

          As in the earlier statement, here again you hinge your argument on the relative position of god with respect to man. This is relative/subjective morality, not objective/absolute morality.

          4) “I think we'll have to put the whole Euthyphro's dilemma to rest as we are talking about two different concepts. You continue to try to tie my concept to one of the prongs but the prongs don't represent what I have been claiming.”

          With respect, you believe you have escaped Euthyphro’s dilemma by referencing god’s immutable good nature, but this is squarely within that prong of the dilemma which poses god says it because it is good. You have yet to directly respond to the specific points I’ve made at least three times now, i.e.: 1) the immutable good nature argument is simply unsupported definitional fiat (god can be equally described as malevolent or apathetic with equal support); 2) the immutable good nature argument presents a source of morality beyond god’s direct control placing the argument in the god says so because it is good prong of the dilemma; and 3) the argument suggests god is not omnipotent because god is constrained to only a limited set of potential behaviors.

          5) “If I took the life of an innocent person it would be murder. Therefore, I do not have the right to take the life of an innocent life. But why think God is restricted from taking life? . . . that’s His prerogative.”

          You are simply restating the “might makes right” argument and you aren’t addressing the issue of “just because one can do something, doesn’t mean they should do something.” Plainly stated, just because god can kill someone, doesn’t make that action moral in and of itself. This line of argument is actually a reversion back to the other prong of Euthyphro’s dilemma arguing that whatever god does is good, i.e. good is at the whim of god. (Yes, I understand you counter with the immutable good nature argument, but that just swings you to other prong). W.L. Craig’s position does not address the morality of unnecessarily taking life and as you’ve shown above, you must add additional arguments qualifying this position to escape the morality of unnecessarily taking life, i.e. What if god knows “X”? What about eternal life? Etc. Special pleading and again evades the question of free will. I would add that even if I conceded that god had the “right” to take lives (I don’t), this alone does not confer positive morality to the exercise of that right. You have the right not to give your kidney to a child dying from kidney failure; this right does not speak to the morality of the decision to retain or donate the kidney.

          “In what way is God acting immorally?”

          By unnecessarily and cruelly inflicting suffering and death upon children/infants as the collateral damage of god’s decision to exterminate their parents when these children/infants were incapable of a free will choice to engage evil or reject god.

          6) “ . . . there is no objective morality . . . On atheism, no one is more morally right or wrong than the next person. There is no good or evil. It's all personal opinion. If morality is subjective, it doesn't truly exist.”

          First, I’m surprised you would so lightly dismiss the moral framework of the second greatest commandment. Second, you are correct, “there is no objective[absolute] morality” because for every alleged example you can conceive of, I can offer a hypothetical which will force you to subjugate the objective/absolute to a relative position, i.e. a subjective call of what is better than/worse than. For example, murder is objectively morally wrong, except when in self-defense, except when in defense of another, except when to alleviate suffering, except when etc, etc.

          Morality is ultimately opinion, whether it’s my opinion regarding reciprocal empathy or your opinion regarding the immutable good nature of god. Like love or beauty, it is invariably in the eye of the beholder. But just because we must resort to a hierarchical ranking of better than/worse than, this does not mean that love or beauty or morality does not exist. You are conflating your need for an absolute with the non-existence of a subjective/relative alternative. What is good? Can something be better? What is evil? Can something be worse? These are relative assignments. Do you honestly believe there is an absolute standard for what is beautiful or what is love?

          “But on atheism, it's just your opinion, which is equally as valid as someone who says that God is acting morally.”

          Yes, they are both subjective/relative opinions (which is exactly the point). But we know that all opinions are not created equal. Some are better supported empirically or logically. Some, like your opinion regarding the morality of killing children and infants, bend over backwards to add qualifying supplemental characteristics to the actor to excuse said actor from the premise (which in itself betrays the relative/subjective nature of the argument). I can show you empirical evidence of the value of the golden rule, not only in our species, but in many others. With all due respect, you can provide no empirical evidence for the "immutable good nature of god" because, after all, this is an opinion based upon presuppositionalist religious faith (i.e. the cart is way out in front of the horse).

          “Why is Richard Dawkins wrong when he says . . .”

          He’s not wrong. As I believe was pointed out to you, this quote is in response to a teleological argument which is simply not supported by what we see in nature. That said, we can look to our own species and others for examples of altruism and its social benefits. We can further look to our own suffering to understand that certain behaviors inflict unnecessary suffering upon others. We can then reach a subjective and relative judgment of how behaviors increase or mitigate suffering. This is morality and it operates within a fuzzy framework of better than/worse than, not a mathematical formula of objective absolutes. That folks need to invoke subjective notion of their preferred deity's nature only underscores that the alleged absolute is an absolutely contrived post hoc argument.

          7) “I first want to say that these foreigners were no where near those of the chattel slaves of the antebellum South.”

          Perhaps you’re unaware, but “chattel” means a “personal possession,” i.e. property. Lev 25:44-46 expressly declares that foreign born slaves are property, i.e. chattel. This is further confirmed in that as chattel, they can be bequeathed to descendants like a goat or a piece of jewelry or any other piece of personal property. In both Lev 25:44-46 and antebellum chattel slavery, the principle immorality is the reduction of a human being to mere property and the corresponding deprivation of liberty. With respect, you did not directly respond to the morality of the chattel slavery expressly condoned by the biblical deity in Lev 25:44-46.

          8) “So if the child in the womb is a nuisance to the mother, you would support her right to murder it?”

          I support the mother’s right to control her own body against government-mandated incubation of non-externally viable embryos and fetuses. I would again draw the distinction between a legal right and the morality of exercising that right. As I noted before, the morality of a decision to terminate a pregnancy, IMHO, turns on a host of legitimate competing interests (e.g. life of the mother, ra-pe, incest, deprivations to already existing siblings v. abortion as birth control, pure convenience, etc). Suppose a mother is carrying a 14 wk fetus with severe developmental defects. The mother can: A) terminate the fetus prior to its capacity to experience pain and suffering; or B) can carry the fetus to term, give birth, and then listen to the infant howl in excruciating misery for 6 hours before it dies. Which choice is better?

          “Do you support the right to kill the child even at 1 or 2 years old, outside of the wom.b since the child is still completely dependent upon the adult for surv.ival? The child certainly needs another person to care for it.”

          The distinction is between whether the child requires the direct use of the mother’s body to survive, i.e. her kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, etc. An infant/toddler does not require the direct (i.e. biologically tethered) use of another person’s body.

          “This is not even close to the same thing. We are dealing with a life in one case.”

          I beg to differ. In both cases an otherwise innocent person will invariably die absent the donation of someone’s organs. If you believe the government can force a woman to donate the use of her internal organs to sustain the life of a fetus, then why can’t the government force anyone to donate the use their internal organs to sustain the life of someone requiring a transplant? If you are willing to allow a government the power to mandate carrying a conception to term, why shouldn’t this power be used to restrict some from conceiving and carrying to term? My issue is not with the morality of abortion, rather my issue is with the proper scope of government authority over the integrity and application of our bodies. Nonetheless, I’ll ask again. We know people are dying every day because they need organ transplants. We further know that donors exist. Should the government be allowed to force donations against the will of the donor in order to save an innocent life?

          9) “Why would the child get punished (murdered) for the crime of the father in the case of ra-pe? Do you support or are you okay with an abortion in the case of a man ra-ping a woman? If so, this sounds similar to your accusation that God has somehow acted immorally in killing the children for the crimes of the parents only in the ra-pe case, the man gets to walk away while the child is killed.”

          First, the fetus you refer to as a“child” is non-sentient and my presumption is that the abortion takes place well before the 24th wk. If the mother chooses to carry a fetus conceived by ra-pe beyond the 24th week, then this fact changes my analysis because now the fetus is (theoretically) externally viable and as I noted before, IMHO, the fetus deserves protection. The distinction is in the ability to experience suffering. Despite the pro-life movement’s best efforts, the evidence does not indicate this capacity for fetuses prior to ~22-24 wks, and there is no argument that an embryo is incapable of experience suffering as we understand it. The "punishment" you refer to is akin to feeling sorry for the infinite number of people who were and will be deprived of life because they were/are never conceived in the first place. But here, we are talking about non-sentient v. sentient beings, where only the latter has the capacity to suffer.

          With respect, that you see removing a non-sentient embryo/fetus as comparable to the drowning/hacking to death of sentient children/infants suggests a lack of reasonable empathy (perhaps you don’t have children and have never felt the helplessness in watching them suffer through pain?). I could turn this around and ask why you defend child/infant slaughter while protesting embryo/fetal abortion, but it’s clear your response would again be deference to perceived (i.e. subjective opinion) divine authority. I’ve mentioned it a few times and haven’t seen your response to my allegation that this is an apologist’s Nuremberg Defense. As with the Nazi officers’ proffered defense to their atrocities, your rejection of empathy for obedience is at odds with the second greatest commandment and suggests an abdication of personal moral responsibility. Furthermore, it’s hard to believe such obedience is anything but the product of coercion given it is flanked on one side by a promise of reward and on the other by a threat of punishment. What value is a morality which requires a gun to your back and a pot of gold in your face? I would point you to Oliner and Oliner's "Altruistic Personality" as evidence indicating morality is best derived from an internal calculus than from a deference to external "objective" rules. The Oliners' work shows that the golden rule is far better than obedience to edicts in producing positive, life-affirming outcomes.

          As always, it’s not my intent to attack you personally and I appreciate this cordial exchange. I hope my posts convey my respect for you as a person and I particularly value your willingness to expose your beliefs, ideas and, dare I say “mere opinions” to criticism 🙂

          March 4, 2014 at 1:45 am |
        • redzoa

          @tf01 – I'm amazed that went through on the first click. Apologies for the length, but then these are weighty topics. I'll check back in a day or so. I appreciate we both might feel we're moving in circles, but whatcha gonna do.

          I'd like to add one more topic to this discussion. I concede I could be wrong and that you could be 100% correct. The biblical deity might actually exist, it might be the one actual true god, it might actually be the absolute/objective moral standard, etc. I must concede this because regardless of my confidence in my reasoning, I cannot know for certain and in order to maintain some smidgen of humility and intellectual integrity, I have to acknowledge the possibility of gross error on my part. My question to you is this: Are you also willing to make this concession? Are you willing to concede that you might be wrong, i.e. that the biblical deity doesn't exist, etc?

          March 4, 2014 at 1:52 am |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          I previously stated that I was leaving the conversation. This was when I didn’t think I was going to get an answer from you. So, I will reply to your last couple of posts and then I will leave. I will read your reply if you have one but I will have no more responses on this topic.

          [For the life of me, I can't figure out where I'm getting stuck with the word filter, so I will be doing this in pieces, to narrow it down.]

          March 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          “In the hypothetical situation, death IS UNAVOIDABLE. Murdering a child because it might cramp one's style is certainly avoidable. Surely you see the difference between the two.”

          I certainly do. The hypothetical situation was not about someone’s style being cramped; that is a red herring. It was when the life of the mother is in danger. We both agree that abortion is acceptable, if regrettable, in this case. My point was that blanket statements like “I do not have the right to take an innocent life” don’t work. Morality needs context.

          March 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          “God cannot command this for it is acting contrary to His nature and His nature doesn't change.”
          “I would consider the Holocaust objectively morally evil. ... However, I would consider the Midianite slaughter a moral judgement by God.”

          March 4, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          These two statements are incompatible. R.a.p.e and genocide both happened in Numbers 31. You have acknowledged the genocide. Not to acknowledge the r.a.p.e would be naive; “you may keep them for yourselves” is not a happily ever after story. You may say “men did this, not god”, but men also committed the slaughter. If you still object, consider that I intended that the r.a.p.e in my scenario IS justified. What then? God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Christians explain it away as a test of faith. Perhaps you are being tested. Or perhaps he has some other reason, and he won’t intervene at all, just like when he didn’t intervene when Jephthah was forced to sacrifice his daughter. To repeat, there have been acts that one would normally consider immoral except that they were commanded by god, which justifies them. So there are no grounds to say it is impossible for god to command r.a.p.e. I consider the question dodged.

          More blatantly, you dodged the Holocaust question by not even responding, presumably because you couldn’t use the “it is impossible for god to command it” excuse. There’s no getting around the fact that if god commanded the Holocaust, you would have to consider it moral and justified. That this is contrary to your current belief that it was objectively immoral should tell you something.

          March 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          “I don't believe you see how serious your sins are before God.”

          I have said and done things that were wrong to say or do. But I have never once sinned in my life. If you want to see yourself as a lowly sinner constantly being pushed down by your beliefs, that is your business. I have more self worth than that.

          “A holy God must punish wickedness, otherwise He wouldn’t be just.”

          I have heard that he is both infinitely just and infinitely merciful. It is a logical impossibility to be both. If he is infinitely just, then he is never merciful. If he is infinitely merciful, then no one goes to hell.

          “Someone walks in and pays your fine for you.”

          I take responsibility for any wrong I do. I don’t need to be let off the hook by someone else.

          “Please think about this.”

          I indicated that I was a Christian until my mid 20s. Then I thought about it and it did not make sense. My life is better now.

          March 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          FYI, I could only get it to go through as r.a.p.e. Not with just a single period between the 'a' and 'p' or between the 'p' and 'e'. That is different..

          March 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
        • believerfred

          rape raped ............You cannot get rape by simply adding R to the DNA of an ape, they are different letters thus forming a different kind of word.

          March 4, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          redzoa,

          I would like to contact you privately. Obviously, you would first have to be willing. Even then, I'm not sure how to go about it without exposing your contact information. Perhaps I could give you a secondary e-mail address and then through that give you my primary one. It is tspcs2000@gmail.com. If you don't contact me, I will not be offended.

          March 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer,

          I was just beginning to read some posts and noticed that you were having issues posting. I had a major problem with this a few days ago. I was putting a period in between the word ra-pe and for some reason it wasn't going through. When I took out the period and entered the word as ra-pe it worked.

          Give me some time to read your and redzoa's post and digest the info.

          March 4, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          Strange. Not sure how fred did his thing either.

          I stopped by to say I'm leaving the conversation for a reason that concerns me, not anything or anyone else. I didn't want to leave the wrong impression. I know that's not very clear, but, well.. Like I said, I will read whatever reply you have, because it is not fair to "have the last word" and abruptly leave.

          Goodnight.

          March 4, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          "My point was that blanket statements like “I do not have the right to take an innocent life” don’t work. "

          The question I ask myself when thinking about the situation is, "Given the hypothetical scenario, do I now have the right to have the child killed?" I don't believe that I do. The fact that I don't have the right to take an innocent life doesn't change. In the given scenario, if the child's life is taken, it still isn't good.

          March 5, 2014 at 11:38 am |
        • truthfollower01

          “God cannot command this for it is acting contrary to His nature and His nature doesn’t change.”
          “I would consider the Holocaust objectively morally evil. … However, I would consider the Midianite slaughter a moral judgement by God.”

          Not sure what the exact objection is here. Are you saying that the Holocaust and Midianite slaughter are the same scenarios? I have spoken on the Midianite judgement in the past unless you are referring specifically to the command to kill the children, of which I have also addressed in a previous post.

          March 5, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • Sungrazer

          truthfollower01,

          I was breaking my long post into pieces to determine where the word filter was tripping me up. The post below those two quotes contained my objection.

          March 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
        • believerfred

          Sungrazer
          I use HTML code that hides offensive words from the robot moderator. The moderator only thinks rape is offensive if he can see it.

          March 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer,

          1. "You have acknowledged the genocide. Not to acknowledge the r.a.p.e would be naive; “you may keep them for yourselves” is not a happily ever after story."

          I can't see how "you may keep them for yourselves" is a command to ra-pe. I think this is a misunderstanding on your part.

          2. "If you still object, consider that I intended that the r.a.p.e in my scenario IS justified. What then?"

          How is it justified? You mean it's good in the scenario you gave? Why is it good? I've already stated that "Since the senseless ra-pe of an innocent bystander is objectively morally wrong and objective morality is grounded in the nature of God, then God cannot command this for it is acting contrary to His nature and His nature doesn't change."

          3. "just like when he didn’t intervene when Jephthah was forced to sacrifice his daughter."

          I don't believe Jephthah was forced to sacrifice his daughter. I believe that Jephthah made a foolish vow and then, instead of repenting, he carried it out his foolish vow.

          "To repeat, there have been acts that one would normally consider immoral except that they were commanded by god, which justifies them."

          Acts such as Noah's flood and the Midianite slaughter have been discussed and I believe there are valid reasons concerning these that show that God has not acted immorally.

          "So there are no grounds to say it is impossible for god to command r.a.p.e."

          This has already been addressed.

          "More blatantly, you dodged the Holocaust question by not even responding, presumably because you couldn’t use the “it is impossible for god to command it” excuse."
          There’s no getting around the fact that if god commanded the Holocaust, you would have to consider it moral and justified. That this is contrary to your current belief that it was objectively immoral should tell you something."

          After thinking about this, here is the conclusion that I have come to. You could postulate a million plus similar scenarios: "if God commanded the Holocaust," "If God commanded a cult leader to murder his followers," "If God commanded a serial killer to go on a rampage," etc. but the issue with each of these scenarios, is that they present a false god who is not the Christian God. I don't see any reason on commenting on the actions of a false god. The Christian can affirm that the Holocaust is objectively morally evil. By rejecting God, the atheist is unable to do so.

          I have appreciated our thought provoking conversation and do want to recommend a book by Paul Copan called "God is not a Moral Monster" if you are interested in reading in-depth about some of the actions of God in the Old Testament which atheists seem to take exception to.

          March 8, 2014 at 11:05 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Redzoa,

          I have not forgotten about your post. I do apologize for the delay.

          March 8, 2014 at 11:12 am |
    • Reality

      Was Hammurabi a moral law giver or a rational thinker? Ditto for the Egyptians? There codes and rules predate the OT.

      February 27, 2014 at 7:04 am |
      • Sungrazer

        Exactly. It is true that objective morality comes from a moral law giver. But there are multiple law givers. He is just choosing one amongst them to follow.

        February 27, 2014 at 9:30 am |
        • Reality

          Moral law giver? No, simply someone who wrote down the mores of the time period and geographical area.

          February 28, 2014 at 7:06 am |
        • Sungrazer

          I see what you mean.

          February 28, 2014 at 10:08 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Sungrazer,

          1. "Acts are quantified as to the happiness or suffering they bring."

          Who says that this is the basis for what is morally good or evil? On atheism, what is wrong with causing suffering? Also, causing suffering brings happiness to some.

          2. "I am discovering objective morality, not making it."

          On atheism, there is no objective morality. If you want murder to be morally good, then for you it's morally good. If you want the golden rule to provide a moral framework, then for you it does. On atheism, no one is more morally right or wrong than the next person. There is no good or evil. It's all personal opinion.

          3. To quote Sam Harris: "If religion really provided the only conceivable objective basis for morality, it should be impossible to posit a nontheistic objective basis for morality."

          It is impossible. I have heard all kinds of grounds for morality from atheists, agnostics or skeptics but none of them hold up.

          Also, I alluded to Sam Harris' view in a previous post. It certainly does not provide grounds for objective morality as he redefines what the word "good" means according to what he thinks good is. It's his opinion. You can watch the debate between William Lane Craig and Sam Harris on YouTube concerning this if you are interested.

          4. "God only acts in accordance with His nature and God is unchanging."

          If morality is founded in God's nature and God is unchanging, we have the strongest foundation needed for objective morality.

          On a personal note, I believe that you know that the Holocaust is objectively morally evil. Even if the Nazis had taken over the world and brainwashed everyone into believing that the Holocaust was morally good, it would still be morally evil. I ask you to really consider this. On atheism, the Holocaust isn't really morally wrong. On atheism, there is no real good or evil as Richard Dawkins indicated. But surely you agree with me, that the Holocaust was morally wrong independent of anyone's opinion for against it. Objective morality requires a Moral Law Giver.

          March 1, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          TL;DR warning. Just make sure to at least read the last paragraph.

          First, let me state that my arguments do not reflect whether or not I personally subscribe to any kind of objective morality. With that said, based on comments such as “Who says that this is the basis for what is morally good or evil?”, what you are really objecting to is that it is PROPER for humans to derive their own objective system, not that it is IMPOSSIBLE to do so.

          Incidentally, if god is perfect (and unchanging) and morality is objective, it escapes me why it would EVER be immoral for us to follow biblical examples – committing genocide, enslaving other people, subjugating women, slaughtering children, stoning adulterers, executing those who gather sticks on the Sabbath..

          “Who says that this is the basis for what is morally good or evil?” (happiness and suffering)

          Certainly not god. Eliminating human suffering is obviously not priority #1 or there would be none (odd, for an omnibenevolent being). For starters, he seems to be more concerned about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes. Everyday morality is not difficult. Be kind and avoid doing harm. Reasonable people can get together and agree on these things without the need for a god. It is incredible that you apparently would respond to a system designed to maximize happiness and minimize suffering with “oh no, that won’t do at all; we need a system where god can kill babies according to his nature but where women can’t have an abortion if they’ve been rap.ed”.

          “If morality is founded in God's nature and God is unchanging, we have the strongest foundation needed for objective morality.”

          Actually, it is meaningless (let’s ignore that biblical morality is quite possibly the worst foundation, with competi.tion only from the Koran). It is meaningless because it is arbitrary. This is Dan Barker speaking from god’s point of view: “Whatever I choose to be right or wrong will be in accordance with my nature. And since I am perfect, then my choices will be perfect. … But what does “perfect” mean? If my nature is perfect, then I am living up to a standard. If I am living up to a standard, then I am not God. If perfection means something all by itself, apart from me, then I am constrained to follow its path. If, on the other hand, perfection is defined simply as conformity to my nature, then it doesn’t mean anything. My nature can be what it wants, and perfection will be defined accordingly.” For you, there is nothing that god nor the bible could say that would be immoral, no matter how ruinous it would be for human civilization. That pretty much is the definition of arbitrary.

          Since computer use doesn’t seem to excite you (or you had no good answer), let’s return to your favorite example. You claim the Holocaust is objectively immoral. Exactly how do you know this, given that God has commanded multiple other genocides? Perhaps god commanded the Holocaust too, or encouraged it, or was simply just pleased by it. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that if god communicated that the Holocaust pleased him, then you would be forced to admit that it was MORAL. For the time being, you are concluding that it is immoral because your own intuition tells you that atrocities of this kind are not conducive to happiness and societal welfare. But if tomorrow god declared it to be good, then you would have no recourse but to declare it good yourself and defend it as justified. In this sort of theistic view, you don’t KNOW if ANYTHING is moral or immoral unless you have been TOLD so. Yet you somehow think that this is preferable to humans coming together and working out the best we can how we can all live with each other.

          Let’s make it personal so it will sink in: If god commanded you to rap.e someone, would you do it? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m asking you to answer it. Anything other than “yes” or “no” is a dodge. “God would never command me to do that” is a dodge – you have admitted that there are certain acts (genocide) that you would normally consider immoral (Holocaust) except that they were commanded by god (Midianite slaughter). The rap.e would be a moral act and you have been directly commanded. Would you do it?

          March 2, 2014 at 5:17 am |
  7. sealchan

    How can anyone criticize someone for thinking for themselves and choosing a path that seems right within? Whether that means not participating in an organized religion but still studying its teachings, proposing a new mathematical theory to explain the origin of the universe that can't easily be tested experimentally, taking the notion of a personal God and trying to have an actual personal, and not a corporate, herd-instinct, everyone-else-is-doing-it, relationship? What sense does that make? My own investigations, both faith based and science based, suggest that rationality is never exclusively involved in any kind of epistemology. If you think that your life is exclusively founded on rational grounds then you have, at the very least, failed to study those sciences that would suggest otherwise. And if you think that based on the model of physics and the other "hard sciences" that you can deduce the logic consequences of your personal choices in such a way as to live with meaning and by rationality alone, then you are telling yourself quite the fairy tale.

    February 26, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • eudaimonia2013

      Science requires rigorous experiments, trial and challenges to theory that hold up over time. We have not created a comfortable peaceful world on adhering to mystical, unproven notions as if they are the "truth"... While rationality/logic in the way we understand it colloquially is never successful alone.. There is emotional logic and maturity that tends not to toss it to the side and puts it in its rightful place as guide.. and caution.. But we are not dealing with anything new hear.. Religions have had the same basic positions for aeons and such mystical notions do not seem to have advanced society in any way.. anyone headed down that path seems to just be holding on to what they are not emotionally ready to face..

      I don't think many people have a problem with an individual's inward investigations.. Indeed no one can even know what another person's inward investigations are until that person shares with others, asks for input on their thoughts.. or shares with others in dialog-thus opening their thoughts to scrutiny and thus they can be ana.lyzed and its value weighed ... Typically, people in this position simply re-state their position as if their experience alone is "true." As if their conclusions alone are "true." To the person who has no emotional or egoistic need for it to be true, it comes across as someone simply unable to reasonably and objectively assess their own experiences.

      Humans are built in way that, we may or may not want to admit, requires support. Many, if their worldview doesn't hold up under scrutiny and they feel the lack of support for something that is sacred to them, simply resort to repet.itious circular statements, name calling, diversion, red-herrings and such in order to justify it to themselves. To the person who witnesses this.. it is quite difficult to watch and some will try to use more reason or repet.ition.. or leave..

      February 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
      • eudaimonia2013

        "here" not "hear" ugh.

        February 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
      • sealchan

        Science works best when you have the most control over the environment. Science also, practically, requires a culture with a written language for the easy recording and sharing of large amounts of precise data. The further science develops the less accessible its conclusions are to the practical concerns of your average person. The more science moves towards the realities of language, culture, psychology and other sociological concerns, the more that scientific method struggles to find a foothold.

        February 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
      • sealchan

        People live in a complex world full of complex others interacting in what some would say are a multi-tude of self-organizing systems which are not rationally reducible to the science of that system's parts. We as human beings driven by instinctual needs with belief systems we must negotiate even if we don't fully subscribe to them are constantly working in an environment of unknowns. As a matter of course we act before we rationally can ferret out each potentially
        relevant consideration.

        If science able to offer any truths that would help humans solve the kinds of real psychological, social, political problems that they constantly face, then I'm sure that as a species we would be rational enough to use those truths. But the fact of the matter is that as powerful as science is, it has a long way to go before it can offer anything nearly as complete and practical and useful to the subjective lives of human beings as the teachings of the various world religions.

        At the heart of each of the world's religions there is a method that can be applied for one's personal meaning. These religious truths teach us how to understand our world, endure suffering, make hard choices that will lead to better futures and otherwise allow us to become who we are meant to be with some grati-tude for the experience overall. Just as with science, these tools can be turned to do each other harm. We don't have to mention to what length two nations went who were not primarily divided by religious differences but rather more rational economic and ideological differences, to turn this entire planet into a smoldering ruin glowing with radiation at the press of the "easy" button.

        February 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
  8. hatrhurter

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71zLqonpROY&w=560&h=315]

    February 26, 2014 at 10:25 am |
  9. eudaimonia2013

    I have a theory that SBNRs are so because one or more or a combination of the following: (1) they can't justify their spiritual texts- and so they try to remove themselves from gory genocidal tales, misogyny and anecdotal professions of a man/god, (2)can't defend and are turned off by organized religious history (which encompasses the overwhelming majority of spiritual experiences)- which is simply rife with cruelty, criminal behavior and even modern day cruel-ignorant ostracization, (3) are unable to separate ethics from their respective religious moral code- they, like many theists on this board, wouldn't know how to think ethically because they think the genesis of morality resides in their respective spiritual guides/traditions and (4) are unable to separate from the communal (social) benefits of their respective religion (many atheists aren't either). Community, tradition, connect to family and neighbors as well as a sense of national community in many societies (although many atheist societies are evidence that the spiritual component is not needed) are wrapped up in a religious ident.ity.

    February 26, 2014 at 5:46 am |
    • Austin

      You arent responsible for the world. But if there is God you should personally seek Him on his terms if He has interveined.

      The new covenant is a promise of liberty and forgiveness and not condemnation .

      You have been set free and justified. What evil man can undo what God has done for you?

      February 26, 2014 at 9:23 am |
  10. joeyy1

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_F9nIps46w&w=640&h=390]
    "

    February 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Joey,

      I must say you really like techo music. I do too coz of its message. One love. One world.

      Peace

      February 26, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      CNN, please do something to prevent joey from posting this.

      February 26, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Lol

        February 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Peace: Why laugh? This idiot posts this same video on every article and the video has nothing to do with the article. CNN will eventually block the fools IP and stop it.

          February 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          View it as a break from blogging. Guy probably work for CNN. Compassion my friend compassion.

          February 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
  11. Austin

    Josephs bones were toted around for forty years before he was buried in egypt by the brothers who sold him into slavery when he was 17.

    He told his brothers 97 years later that they would receive the promise to abraham. Abraham did not see the promise. Isaac did did not see the promise. Jacob or israel did not see the promise. Joseph knew God and knew that God would honor the promise. And thereafter moses was born from the house of levi. And Gods promise was seen by his brother the priest and moses son.
    Joseph was a type of christ. Sold into slavery falsely accused. Becoming a king. Being brought up out of egypt. Just like moses and the nation.
    This is divine and prophetic beauty. Why? Because it is true.

    He will deliver his promise. I know God is who He says He is.

    February 25, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
    • Austin

      Joseph was not buried in egypt. He was embalmed and toted up and buried in israel.

      February 25, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
  12. katemoffett

    I think it is okay to be spiritual but not religious, and that people shouldn't have a problem with people who are like this. You don't need to believe in a certain God and follow all the rituals and rules to still want to be a part of some kind of community that shares your morals and values. Even if you don't specifically believe in God or go to church every sunday, there is nothing wrong in believing in some kind of "greater being" that you can rely on and that will guide you down the right path.

    February 25, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
    • tkreck

      How do you know the path you're being led down is the right one? Because it's the one you want to go down? Do you choose a particular "higher power" because it fits with your beliefs? Isn't that essentially just creating your own god?

      February 25, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
      • bigsammyboy

        Deep. But like Jesus says in the Bible, "Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches." Give this some deep thought, friend.

        February 26, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Kate,

      Good point. We do not to believe in a God as long as we are moral, good values, repent for sins. It is what God wishes for us to do, think for ourselves, determine what is right, what is moral. What is God. Our basis.

      Peace

      February 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
      • igaftr

        " It is what God wishes for us to do"

        God wishes you to sacrifice a virgin to the volcaon.
        God wishes you to sacrife a lamb.
        God wishes you to fight and die gloriously in battle
        God wishes you to adhere to the ten commandments.
        God wishes you to cut the still beating heart of a subject to show your obedience.
        God wishes you would kill all infidels and un-believers.

        Basically, god wishes whatever men think god wishes him to do. God is driven by mens imaginations.

        February 26, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Iga,

          My good buddy Iga, as i said before, what you mentioned are what humans want not what God wishes.
          Except for the "commandments" which I see as a guidance.

          Peace

          February 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
  13. slandaslanda

    I think that it is good that people are starting to see that you can be spiritual, but not religious. I think just being spiritual has been somewhat frowned upon simply because of misunderstandings. Many religious people will dismiss the spiritual people and vice versa because it is hard to accept other peoples views and ideas when it comes to religion, such a controversial and powerful topic. I think any sort of community that supports morals and good values should be acknowledged.

    February 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Slan,

      I agree. For those people who supports morality and good values.

      Skepticism is created by humans.

      Peace

      February 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
  14. bigsammyboy

    I believe that it is possible to be spiritual but not religious. Take a concept such as Confucianism for example. It is not a religion but it's followers are a very spiritual group of people. Keep in mind that Confucianists are not following a religion, they are following a philosophical system. Therefore they are not a religious people. However, they are a very spiritual people in the way that they adhere to a set of moral values, virtues, and teachings. This set of values makes them more spiritual. So basically, it is possible to be spiritual and not religious.

    February 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Big,

      Confucianism is similar to ethics and both philosophical systems are established based in our experiences in life. What good is it if it does not provide the purpose, just the need.

      Peace

      February 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
      • bigsammyboy

        That was not my point. I'm simply saying that it is possible to be spiritual but not religious, not arguing about purpose or need.

        Peace

        February 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Big,

          No purpose ok. Why do we need to be spiritual then? No make no sense. Pls educate me.

          Peace

          February 26, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
      • bigsammyboy

        First, please tell me what you believe is the purpose of a concept such as Confucianism.

        February 26, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Big,

          I googled confucianism and i think it is similar to the teachings of God. More power. Chinese moral development is more advanced. As you can see in their history.

          Peace

          February 26, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Big,

          When i say it, it means purpose.

          February 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Big,

          Heres the problem with confucianism. It gives good advise but it does not consider morality in all its advise. Example, when you fall get back up. Its a good advise, like saying be persistent but why are you getting back up? What if you fell because you did something immoral? Would you try getting back until you do something immoral?

          No purpose but to advance one self. Selfish i would say.

          Peace

          February 27, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
  15. Peaceadvocate2014

    Spiritual. Hmmmmm. I can go with that. As long as that spiritual being being followed is rigtheous, moral, God.

    Peace

    February 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Your way or the highway, eh? That's clearly a good way to pick what to believe for everyone else.

      Which god are you meaning? You used the word "moral" so you clearly can't mean the god of the Bible or the Koran.

      February 25, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        My,

        What im saying is if i am going to believe in something spiritual, it has to be moral. Right? Unless you are too concern in your freedom you overlook morality.

        Peace

        February 25, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          Define morality. The big stuff is easy. Don't kill for no reason, don't hurt people. Go past all of that. What is moral? Feed the homeless? Don't feed the homeless? Let children go hungry? Blame the children because their parents are junkies? Support equality?

          The questions keep coming and the answers aren't always black and white. Maybe that's why so many are choosing to forgo hard rules and dogma and embrace a spiritual nature that allows them to examine the questions and adjust their beliefs as they work out the answers that work for them.

          February 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          My,

          It is black and white. Right or wrong. Good or evil. It is suppose to be easy. Humans just have a way of justifiyimg anything to be right.

          This is our evolution. To determine what is right. What is moral. What is God.

          Peace

          February 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • eudaimonia2013

          "peaceadvocate"

          Hmmm.. R.ape, Murder of innocents, Insanity, Pedophilia, theft, war, euthanasia, etc.. all require proof, evidence, ana.lysis, consult, experts etc.. Religious texts are hardly black and white on these issues.. and if we followed their 'guidance'- e.g., slavery, wanton r.ape and misogyny would be justified. (kinda like human history under these doctrines).

          The issues that need to be weighed in areas of ethics are not a black and white matter. For you to think this I can only think you are either extremely naive or cruel..

          Because there is no deity that comes down to clear things up.. There are only humans arguing with each other over who has the more authentic personal supernatural experience which condemns others.. That's why a justice system was created that does not consult scripture to mete out justice or to be guided through ethical matters. When the people's welfare and peace are at stake, at least humanity realized that scripture could not be depended upon.

          February 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Euda,

          Ills we see in our world today such as what you described, r.ape, slavery, war, famine, adultery are all created by humans, not by a God or any teachings of the God i believe in. Religious text are written by humans. Like i said, humans have a way of justifying anything to be right or not. Because of our own self interest.

          Ethics, how do you develop ethics? Morality.

          I could no more prove objectively the existence of God but faith. Proof of God is inadmissible in our courts because it is subjective.

          Peace.

          February 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
        • eudaimonia2013

          You are inserting a non defined, non proven ent.ity into the discussion and claiming you know what "it" wants. Even, for discussion sake we go along with this- there is no evidence this ent.ity has successfully intervened in human affairs with enough knowledge and wisdom to aid human interaction with another.. in fact, every "theophany' seems to drive human beings further apart.. creating war.. destruction, ignorance and self righteousness along the way.. It seems that human beings do best when we objectively study our environment, ourselves and create systems that foster stability but also allow for the flexibility of complete change if and when it seems to aid our peaceful co-existence..

          Supernatural personal experiences with an invisible elusive ent.ity that hasn't been able to, or doesn't want to assist with the human condition in a way that actually works is a non-issue and has no relevance in a discussion on truth and definitely non on peace. This being can't even be consulted to clarify without discord because all of its adherents can only claim highly subjective, flawed personal experiences that mimic the insanity of other citizenry. Mmmmmk. I'm done.

          February 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • AtheistSteve

          Peaceadvocate2014

          Is stabbing someone right or wrong, good or evil? It's wrong right? But what if it's done to administer medicine? Is it still wrong? No...it's now good. This is what we mean by morals not being black or white...they can't be because every situation is unique. The stabbing process still causes pain but the bad in that action is outweighed by the good benefits of the medicine. The morality of any action is always a measure of harm versus benefit.

          February 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
        • sealchan

          Actually spiritual beliefs do not have to conform to any specific moral code. Typically they should help the individual to live at peace with themselves and with their society, but looking across time and cultures there are many spiritual belief systems that would justify what most of us now would consider immoral acts. Literal human sacrifice comes to mind as one such spiritual practice.

          For this reason I believe that any religious group that has supported what are now immoral acts MUST admit to any immoral acts in its past and it must work to correct its capacity to commit those same acts and other similar acts from occurring in the future. It must offer this up as testimony or be seen for what it is, a cult that hides from the truth of the heart. Such organizations sow the seeds of their own destruction.

          I am a Christian and part of my work outside of the church is to explore the church's history focusing as much on its acts of evil as on its acts of good. This is the only way one can be saved.

          February 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Euda,

          I am a believer in a perfect being, a God. Something or somebody to aspire for, as we see in our daily lives. It is my choice. The main qualification of that God is rigtheousness, morality. Not power as other people may think.

          Religion or religious denimination created by humans are both divisive snd destructive.

          We are so protective of our freedom that we overlook morality.

          Let us say I am wrong. It is ok because of the message of my belief in the teachings of a perfect being. Perfect moralility.

          Peace is a message worth advocating for like my belief in the teachings of God.

          Peace

          February 25, 2014 at 9:19 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Athe,

          Is stabbing wrong, evil, immoral? Depends, what is the intent? To heal then i dont see why it is immoral. Now, to stab with the intent to harm is immoral. Lets go further, is killing immoral? Yes. Even if the intent is to save lives? Yes. How could you defend killing is moral? You are taking a life, of course it is immoral. No matter what kind of cost benefit determination you come up with it is still immoral. How could you put a price on life? You cant.

          Peace

          February 25, 2014 at 9:31 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Seal,

          That is why in my post i said, as long as the spiritual being is rigtheous or moral.

          It not, there goes morality. A very bleak future. As we can see in our history.

          I understand the skepticism. We want our freedom but a little guidance or advise should be welcomed. Moral guidance. Guidance from the God i choose to believe.

          Peace

          February 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
        • AtheistSteve

          " Lets go further, is killing immoral?"
          That depends. The justice system has many classifications for killing. Murder(in various degrees), manslaughter, self defense, accidental and even capital punishment. Ending a life is generally a bad thing but there can be circumstances, justifications or unavoidable realities that make it acceptable. Euthanasia for instance can be viewed as merciful. So again I've demonstrated that even killing isn't a black or white moral decision.

          February 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Athe,

          Valid point. Killing catrgorized as accidental, self defense, capital punishment, is it moral or immoral.

          Again, what is intent?
          Accidental is alway a good excuse in our courts but not in the court of God. It may be truely an accident we dont know. It is immoral if you do not try to prevent the accident from occuring again.

          Self-defense, Gods teaching is to offer the other cheek. Self-defense is to protect oneself from death not to kill. Some would argue that this is an imminent threat to justify killing. Justifying anything to be rigth.

          Capital punishment is a law created by humans. I disagree with this law. We are not God to take ones life.

          Gods teachings are guidance. It is up to us to follow or not. We determine what is rigth or not. What is moral. And in the end, if there is a God, we will be judged. At this time, we should only offer guidance.

          Peace

          February 26, 2014 at 10:36 am |
  16. Austin

    God who prepares the heart to finally receive Him knows how to personally minister to each as an individual as your personal savior.

    That is the work of the Spirit. On the other hand we have the foundation laid through Christs complete work on the coss , and the full revealing of His word.

    The promise of the holy spirit is for all . He who has began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

    HE is faithful.

    February 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
    • Award Notification Dept

      Congrats again, Austin! You've won!

      (We're just amazed here at the Award Notification Dept. Sometimes Austin can clench a Fundy Method of Inquiry & Verification award with just a one-liner. )

      For those not familiar with the Fundy Method of Inquiry & Verification, it works like this:

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FoT_18fJ2k&w=640&h=390]

      February 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
  17. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    The rise of "SBNR" is directly correlated to the decline in affilliation to "organized" religion. This is the primary reason that there is an increase in the "nones", not atheism.

    Yet most of the comments here by the believers are directed at atheists and certainly in recent posts, there is nothing on the topic of SBNR.

    I find that curious.

    February 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
    • hotairace

      Believers probably continue to include SBNRs in their flock, without fully understanding that they are on the way to becoming atheists. Or maybe they do understand that at some level but in true delusional believer behavior they are in denial, whistling past their graveyard. In either case, atheism is their target, no some bland form of god worship.

      February 25, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
      • sealchan

        It is easier to attack an external enemy than to face the darkness within.

        February 25, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
    • alwaysamuzed

      Why do you fear atheists so much? You are even attempting to deny they are growing in numbers and in percentage of population! If your so-called "faith" is so strong and "protects" you from all of your perceived "dangers of evil", then WHY are you so afraid of people who have simply decided to live a life guided by REASON instead of a life guided by contrived dogma and ancient mythology?

      February 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      As someone who falls in the category of "theist" that isn't Christian, I see this a lot. There's a kind of blinder that some Christians seem to don, where everything is us or them and everyone who isn't "us" by default becomes "them". They find it difficult to comprehend that "them" isn't a cohesive group that all believe and behave the same way.

      February 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Yes I see that too.

        The desire for orthodoxy is strong in believers in the US. They seem to automatically extrapolate the notion of orthodoxy to non-believers. We see it evidenced in the oft reiterated nonsense here that atheism is a religion.

        I think the real issue is that believers fear atheists, but not the SBNR. The SNBR might get a little scorn every now and again but not the same level of invective reserved for the reprobate atheists.

        February 25, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          The only group I've seen get the same level of invective leveled at atheists online are witches and other Pagans, but that seems to only happen when there aren't any atheists milling about and the Pagans have repeatedly proven to a) know Christian theology and scripture better and b) remain calm, rational and compassionate yet resolute in their rejection of that theology.

          February 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
  18. Doris

    Quoting another poster: "If anyone doubts that religion is the bane of man's existence, look no further than Uganda. This is Christian evangelism run amok."

    "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth." –Thomas Jefferson

    Over 40,000 sects of insanity. Disgusting.

    Islam is no better.

    February 25, 2014 at 10:46 am |
    • Austin

      ApostTes are there to pervert Gods word just to deceive you creating a demonic deception. Forget about other people. You know evil. But this evil is not the expression of the new testament. Peace and liberty in Christ.

      You are not expected to worship an apostate chuch you have the prophetic word admonishing you to resist such sects.

      Look at Christ and not to the left or right. The world will get worse!

      February 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
      • Doris

        Although I don't believe in objective truths including the notion that evil exists on its own, I would respond to your:

        "But this evil is not the expression of the new testament."

        by saying you are proof enough for me that the expression of the new testament can be extremely nasty and unethical. –based on your interpretation of it, of course, which is the human method when reading a book.

        February 25, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
  19. Austin

    The Word Of God has the authority and power to free us from the demonic footholds placed in our minds.

    The Word of God is the one true freedom.

    The way to experience glory is through the Holy Spirit.

    Suffering and tests are a part of the journey.

    The first test is trusting Him this very moment and trusting that he is there.

    February 25, 2014 at 10:37 am |
    • eudaimonia2013

      Can you give an example of an experience where you had no reason to trust a deity (that is not the Christian god) or even believe in its existence but you decided to trust this deity because someone else said they tried it?

      If so, can you tell us why you changed your mind? What evidence was presented before you that made you change your mind?

      February 25, 2014 at 10:42 am |
      • Austin

        Eudomonia. I was simply awakened to christ by the will of God. I believe that is exactly what you need as well. Your own judgment and mental hobby , OR external evidence is not the same as the birth of the holy spirit into truth.

        Salvation is Gods authentic spiritual gift.

        I agree with your zeal for non religius truth. I support your ques to not be blinded by fervent error or fanatical concoctions of tall tales.

        You should be able to expect God to be real outside of a book.

        February 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
        • Akira

          I wish you would simply answer a question without turning it back on the asker, Austin conversation might be that much easier.

          February 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
        • sealchan

          You are preaching without understanding. You are speaking and responding, but not listening. I do not think this is what God intended.

          February 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
  20. Reality

    Summarizing:

    Religions are being replaced with a few rules like "Do No Harm". Soon all houses of "worthless worship" will be converted to recreation facilities and parks.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    February 24, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
    • alwaysamuzed

      I certainly hope so!...

      February 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.