Boston mourns as religious groups offer healing
Nurse practitioner Maureen Quaranto treated bombing victims. She attended Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross Sunday.
April 21st, 2013
01:43 PM ET

Boston mourns as religious groups offer healing

By David Ariosto and Moni Basu, CNN

Boston (CNN) - On this brisk April morning in Boston's South End, worshipers filled New England's largest Roman Catholic church. It was a time to pray - and reflect on the torrent of violence this city has seen.

Last Sunday, a special blessing was said here for the runners in the Boston Marathon. Now, there were people sitting on the wooden pews who might have witnessed the tragedy. They were all scarred inside.

Almost a week has passed since bombs made from pressure cookers blew up near the finish line of the race. Three people died, and more than 170 were wounded. Many remain in hospitals.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Massachusetts • Terrorism • Violence

soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Dusica

    My mothers neighbor is working part time and averaging $9000 a month. I'm a single mum and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can't believe it. I tried it out cause I got really desperate and now I couldn't be happier. Here’s what I do, wow55.com_

    April 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  2. Stephen Hawking is an Idiot


    April 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Science

      Stephen Hawking is NOT .................but you need to.............. come out of the sand box ? or go pound sand !

      Surprising New Function for Small RNAs in Evolution.........time to pound sand maybe ?

      Apr. 19, 2013 — An international research team in including Christian Schlötterer and Alistair McGregor of the Vetmeduni Vienna has discovered a completely new mechanism by which evolution can change the appearance of an organism. The researchers found that the number of hairs on flies' legs varies according to the level of activity of a so-called microRNA.


      April 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  3. Trance


    April 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  4. Stephen Hawking is an Idiot


    April 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  5. Scarn

    What is so pathetic to me is how many atheists are on a "Belief" blog just waiting to ridicule other people's religious views. Do any of you work? It must be nice to have so much free time to waste reading and commenting about things you care nothing about.

    April 23, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Science

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.


      April 23, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Scarn

      What is that? Do you really think I'm going to click on that article? Why don't you say something instead of just posting some article that no one's going to read?

      April 23, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • History Channel's "The Bible" Parts 3 & 4 - In Under 11 Minutes!


      April 23, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Saraswati

      Most people commenting care deeply about these issues or they wouldn't bother to comment. Just because a person doesn't hold a belief in gods doesn't mean they have no beliefs or that they aren't serious about the betterment of human lives.

      April 23, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • The real Tom

      If you check some of the posts by those who profess a belief, Scarn, you'll find they are intent on denying others the rights they enjoy, telling others their beliefs are blasphemy and that they'll go to hell, and insisting that only those who believe can be moral and compassionate.

      I don't have anything against belief. But when someone attempts to dictate how I live my life according to his belief system, I'm not going to simply ignore it.

      April 23, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      When your beliefs are willfully delusional then they are easy to ridicule.

      April 23, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Science

      And this is good for kiddies Scarn/scam

      Unusual Anal Fin Offers New Insight Into Evolution

      Apr. 10, 2013 — An unusual fossil fish that has fins behind its anus


      April 23, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Science

      Scam some backfill for you !

      It would be NICE......... but
      Maybe they should not have created the wedge !!!
      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic


      April 23, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  6. Douglas

    Seek the real truth at http://www.gaychristian101.com
    Then to find your life partner seek them here at gaychristianmingle.com


    April 23, 2013 at 8:50 am |
  7. gun safes Houston

    Actually, I'm glad that religious groups are offering healing. I just hope that people who need to hear their message, hear it.

    April 22, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  8. Bob1god

    The kids are out of school & in their fav. Chat room!

    April 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Science

      Bob1god .....................let them chat about this ! Maybe they will lean something ?

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN


      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”


      Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
      Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


      April 7th, 2012

      08:32 PM ET

      The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth


      Make sure to read comments

      April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |

      Breaking News

      NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.


      April 23, 2013 at 5:55 am |
  9. His panic

    I don't know and there is no way to be absolutely sure and certain, but she looks like she is in a state of Panic. I understand it is a very difficult situation to be in, but those who trust in God and in Jesus Christ will not Panic. After all that guy in Iran... what is his name? Yes, that Mammon Ahmanidejab, I'm his Panic. Now, religious groups are doing what they can do, but in reality only God can bring complete healing.

    April 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      If God actually ever brought about complete healing, then it might in consequence leave evidence of itself. That would never do. The one rule that God never seems to break is to never leave incontrovertible evidence of it's existence.

      April 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • His panic

      Creation is the Evidence of His being.

      Your problem is that you want a god according to your fancies and imaginations. Such a god, like in the case of Idolaters will owe you his existence. God the one and only does a whole more than just merely existing, He is God all the time. He is who He is by and in Himself. He does not owes you or me anything. Whether you believe or not does nothing to His always being God.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      So he exists merely because you say so. He has the properties that you say he does (like being a he) merely because you say?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Akira

      Are you related to EX Catholic? He loves the word "idolators" also.
      I have never met one idolator, let alone many of them...

      April 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • fintastic

      @panic....... "He is who He is by and in Himself"

      wow, thanks for clearing that up...

      April 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • His panic

      @ Sharkira,

      Yes we are somehow related if you will, and you: who are you related to?

      April 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • EX catholic


      So Shark-ira has never met any Idolaters! Well, that may be due to an ABJECT and COMPLETE Ignorance of the subject. It would be funny if it wasn't such a Phony!

      April 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  10. Rachel

    May the God of all comfort grant strength to all those that are hurting today. We remember you in our prayers.

    April 22, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      One set of hands at work is more productive than a thousand clasped in prayer.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Jim

      “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
      ― Karl Barth

      April 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • His panic

      When there is enough Faith in God and in Jesus Christ one minute in Prayer can do more than a year without it.

      April 22, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      So your god will let people suffer unless enough people believe strongly enough? Your god is a real asshole.

      April 22, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      His panic

      When there is enough Faith in God and in Jesus Christ one minute in Prayer can do more than a year without it.

      Prove it

      April 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Ted Jones

      Rachel his will was done and the right people are now suffering.

      April 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • fintastic

      @His panic............... "When there is enough Faith in God and in Jesus Christ one minute in Prayer can do more than a year without it."

      Another "liars for jeebus" club member.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  11. clarity

    Why did the atheist cross the road?
    He thought there might be another side, but he wouldn't believe it until he tested his hypothesis.

    April 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Akira

      Why did the Christian steal someone else's handle? Because s/he is a dishonest asshole.

      April 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Joanne

      Why do you assume that person is a Christian Akira? We have no idea what religion that poster is.

      April 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • fintastic

      A real knee slapper..

      April 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  12. Honey Badger Don't Care!

    They don’t offer healing; they offer a placebo effect and nothing more. At best it is a sympathetic ear.

    There is NOTHING don’t in the name of religion that can’t be done by purely secular means, and usually better and without begging for cash.

    April 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Honey Badger: so what comfort do you have to offer the parents of a dead 8 year old – aside from ridiculing religion?

      April 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • OhPlease

      Oh give us a break Russ a person can have empathy and compassion without having to be religious. You're ridiculing honey badger is the icing on the cake. Look in the mirror that log in your eye is huge!

      April 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      As OP said, you don’t have to be religious to be empathetic. Why give religion a pass?

      Empathy and altruism are inherited trait that we all evolved to have. They are not given to us by a magic sky daddy.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Ted

      Russ is just very stupid. He can't help it.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Please:
      1) I don't bring up atheism when I offer comfort to others

      2) you're equivocating. you mean something radically different by 'compassion' here.

      a) you may mock religion as 'fairy tales', but logically you still must admit that IF TRUE, the compassion offered there is radically different than what you are talking about. and IF UNTRUE, it's not real compassion at all but rather lies. either way, we're not talking about the same thing.

      b) what comfort do you give as a result? what hope? at best, you hope to help such parents "get over it." even if the terrorists both die, you still don't get your child back. how can that be called justice? it's what Simone Weil called "affliction": the inexplicable suffering that forces one to consider... if there is such a thing as justice, there MUST be an afterlife where such inequities are corrected. otherwise, there is no such thing as justice.

      do you have an answer to Simone Weil? what justice can you speak of? is there such a thing as justice... or was this simply yet another way in which the "Grand Design" (as Hawking puts it) was at work... optimizing the gene pool for our DNA's best chance of propagation? if so, who calls that "compassion"? "yep, your kid died, but one day our species might evolve into something that survives a while, maybe even reaching other planets before the eventual heat death of our universe. in the mean time, i feel your pain."

      let's have the honesty to admit we're not talking about the same thing.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Do you have a point, besides trying to avoid actually saying that in your mind atheists can't offer comfort to anyone and therefore shouldn't?

      April 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      OK, I'll play your game.

      You're version of compassion is only for those that believe in the fairy tales that you do. All others will burn in heII for ever. Yea, sounds fair to me.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Honey Badger: if empathy & altruism are merely evolutionary developments (i.e., designed for us to survive), they certainly are not REAL, in any scientific sense of what is perceived reality. in such a case, much like romance, compassion is merely a foil for survival (via gene pool optimization)...

      moreover, if you can't trust your belief-forming faculties to tell you the truth, why trust them at all? note well how even the New Republic (& other such SECULAR publications) have panned your argument... (especially beginning around the 2:15 mark)

      April 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: my point is that we are not talking about the same thing, even though we're using the same term.

      HB here is claiming religion is merely a placebo effect. i was attempting to help him (& any others) see where such logic goes. while the most ardent adherents to nihilism might embrace the full ramifications of such belief, most folks aren't willing to follow it to its logical end: compassion is just a 'feeling' but it's not real / people live & die / there is no such thing as good & evil / etc. MOST people see what happened in Boston & cannot go there.

      again, can you literally "suffer with" (compassion) others? of course... but what you mean by that is something radically different – IF you are consistent with what you are claiming is the ACTUAL nature of existence.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "let's have the honesty to admit we're not talking about the same thing."

      Actually you're wrong Russ, but all you've done is make excuses in your head so your ego can get a boost about you wanting to believe in your religion. They did an experiment on compassion and the results suggest is that the compassion we feel for others is not solely a function of what befalls them: if our minds draw an association between a victim and ourselves — even a relatively trivial one — the compassion we feel for his or her suffering is amplified greatly.

      What does this mean for cultivating compassion in society? It means that effortful adherence to religious or philosophical dictums (often requiring meditation, prayer or moral education), though clearly valuable and capable of producing results, is not the only way to go. There is nothing special about tapping in synchrony; any such commonality will do. Increased compassion for one’s neighbor, for instance, can come from something as easy as encouraging yourself to think of him as (say) a fan of the same local restaurant instead of as a member of a different ethnicity.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Russ, to me you are describing empathy. Where, i can identify anther's pain and even experience a portion of it myself. But comfort, no. You are correct. in a materialistic world view there is no comfort, only data.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Russ

      @ HB: no, you're not even accurately portraying Christianity. what makes Jesus so unique is that God doesn't just fry his enemies. he came down to die for his own enemies in order to make them his family.

      it's repeated over & over in the Bible: we were once his enemies, and now we are his family (Eph.2; Rom.5 & 8; etc.). it's the clear meaning of the cross: i am every bit as deserving of Hell as anyone else.

      you can mock Christianity – but I'd prefer to be mocked for what I actually believe.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      Dont get into that "You cant know anything for certain without god" argument. That is totally ignorant.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Please: your objection shows you're not hearing the substance of my argument. you're appealing to scientific findings as a basis for compassion... and yet science cannot even define LIFE... much less compassion.

      you're not seeing the forest for the trees here. we're not arguing about neural patterns or synapses firing – that's compassion in YOUR worldview ('methodological naturalism?'). but what you are PRESUPPOSING is actually what we are arguing about. what defines compassion? that was Simone Weil's point about justice.

      for example, would you equally argue that justice is the result of community, and shifting morals can allow for differing constructs for justice? in other words, if you were in Nazi Germany, it was ok to do such things? that's what the society told you, after all.

      no! everything in us says: some things are ALWAYS wrong... racism, pedophilia, child abuse, etc. but that's not what your view of existence says. so why the cognitive dissonance?

      April 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Honey Badger: take it up with Nietzsche, Camus & Sartre. they say the same thing.
      your argument is not with me... but with fellow atheists.

      for example... Nietzsche's "Parable of a Madman"... [90 seconds of reading]

      April 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Russ

      @ HB: and BTW, "w/o God you can't know anything" is NOT the argument being made in the video.

      rather, your fellow atheists are pointing out, if you try to explain away religion by saying "evolution just programmed you to believe that", the same critique can be equally invalidate your belief in evolution itself. it's a bad argument. that was the point.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • The Demon Deacon

      Bill Deacon
      Is irrelevant. Billy is an obsequious papal apologist troll...and
      Stated...A criminal might subvert this sacrament but that would make him a criminal, not a priest and would result in immediate and automatic ex-communication.
      Bill's wisdom.....The truth is the truth whether everyone believes it or no one believes it.
      Billy you are an embarra-ssment to your faith, do you clear the crap you post with the hierarchy?

      April 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • The Demon Deacon

      Bill Deacon
      Is irrelevant. Billy is an obsequious papal apologist troll...and
      Stated...A criminal might subvert this sacrament but that would make him a criminal, not a priest and would result in immediate and automatic ex-communication.
      Bill's wisdom.....The truth is the truth whether everyone believes it or no one believes it. Really?
      Billy you are an embar-ra-ssment to your faith, do you clear the crap you post with the hierarchy?

      April 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      I still don't get your point. You're saying a lot, but none of it is really in any way relevant. HB says that these prayers are placebos, and I agree. And your answer is "well what about you?"?

      April 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: while i'm perfectly content to talk to you about the effectual nature of prayer, i was attempting to meet you on your own ground. i know you don't believe what i believe, so i was pointing out the logical inconsistency WITHIN your view of existence & such an articulation of compassion.

      i'd be glad to talk to you about Christianity, but I also know all you hear is readily dismissed "fairy tales" until you see your own perceived foundation is much more ethereal than you're admitting.

      Yes. I believe God came down. I believe he SUFFERED... and not only suffered, but did so IN MY PLACE. And yes, I think that if the only truly Objective basis of reality did such a thing... YES, compassion is not defined merely as affinity for another or neural patterns – in which case, both of which only really serve the ultimate purpose of our survival.

      again, we are talking about foundationally different things.

      April 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      And what is logically inconsistent about compassion?

      April 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • .

      "you're not seeing the forest for the trees here. we're not arguing about neural patterns or synapses firing – that's compassion in YOUR worldview ('methodological naturalism?'). but what you are PRESUPPOSING is actually what we are arguing about. what defines compassion?"

      The one presupposing is you idiot, not me, that's the problem with your whole pathetic argument. What you can't handle is our definitions of compassion are the same, there is no god needed for it.

      April 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Huh?

      "let's have the honesty to admit we're not talking about the same thing."

      Atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, a new study finds.

      That doesn't mean highly religious people don't give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people's charitable feelings less than other groups.

      "Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not," study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. "The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns."

      ""Overall, this research suggests that although less religious people tend to be less trusted in the U.S., when feeling compassionate, they may actually be more inclined to help their fellow citizens than more religious people"

      April 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Science

      And we have billie and russ no chadie .................interesting

      April 23, 2013 at 5:57 am |
    • The real Tom

      Russ says:@ Honey Badger: so what comfort do you have to offer the parents of a dead 8 year old – aside from ridiculing religion?

      If someone like you offered me your pap about heaven and a better place and seeing my loved one again, Russ, I'd slap you so hard you'd walk funny for days. That's not a comfort to everyone. That you think it's the best way to offer comfort and show compassion just reveals what a blind ass you are.

      April 23, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      compassion is not logically inconsistent in & of itself.
      what is logically inconsistent is holding a nihilistic view of existence yet claiming compassion is a real thing.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Russ

      EVERYONE has presuppositions. to deny that is to lack self-awareness.
      if you have no answer to "what are your presuppositions?" then you have no basis for anything else you'd do or claim... including supposed definitions of compassion or 'compassionate' actions.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Russ where is the truth in what the pope said in 2010 ?

      Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
      Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \


      April 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Camel Toad

      " holding a nihilistic view of existence yet claiming compassion is a real thing."

      When a tree fall's in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Of course it does and is just about the most dramatic event in the lives of the ant colony it fell on they will ever experience...

      compassion is in the eye of the beholder, as an ant the story of the tree fall was tragic, as a human I didn't even notice...

      April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ huh?
      1) that's a denial of historical reality. what groups started hospitals? the religious. why do so many hospitals bear religious names? again, the religious founded them. who started public education in America? the religious.

      a few years ago, the New York Times did a piece on remote Africa, where people are dying of curable diseases in nations & regions of unrest. who were the only groups of people they found willing to go in to such regions to 'serve'? Doctors without Borders & missionaries. In other words, crazy doctors & crazy religious folks.

      your claims are preposterous in the face of historical facts. to be clear, I'm not saying the religious have an exclusive claim here, but it is pervasive (if not a majority). you seem completely oblivious to that *historical* fact.

      2) again you are defining compassion based on sociological norms – which ignores the entire above conversation. even the sociology is admitting (at the outset) it can only describe *symptoms* of compassion... and does not define compassion itself. lots of seemingly 'nice' things can be done in really manipulative, selfish ways.

      if you're view of existence is "i do nice things to help me survive," how can that be called compassion? if identifying with others' suffering is only worthwhile as long as it serves the gene pool, is that really compassion? no. it's a foil.

      nihilism: compassion doesn't really exist
      evolutionary naturalism: compassion is a foil for survival goals
      religion: compassion serves a transcendent reality (in so far as it reflects that reality)
      Christianity (in particular): compassion is the most powerful force in history, and reveals God's eternal heart

      your biggest problem: you're talking about compassion without even defining it or its origin. what you are presupposing about compassion is the entire debate here.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Science:
      1) I'm not a catholic.

      2) Faith & science are no more opposed than faith & reason. your criticisms fail to understand my position.

      3) you appear to be confusing science (a discipline of human observation... and therefore – philosophically speaking – a subjective enterprise) with scientism (putting metaphysical faith in that human observation – an objective enterprise).

      science presupposes metaphysics – and therefore cannot criticize or replace it.
      scientism IS metaphysics – so it competes with and/or attempts to replace religion.
      but science IS NOT scientism. you are conflating the two.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Camel toad: you are assuming your question derives its answer solely from a subjective agent (either an ant or human). that misses the entire discussion.

      is there an objective perspective? if so, then compassion is derived solely from there.
      if not, then compassion IS relative. or the inverse corollary, you are embracing the notion that evil is relative also – it's merely in the eye of the beholder. so... is there nothing that is always evil? racism, pedophilia, child abuse, etc.? do you realize that's what you're arguing? most people aren't willing to go there – especially in the face of an 8 year old kid's murder.

      but that demonstrates my point: either what these terrorists did is objectively wrong, or you must embrace it could be right in certain circu.mstances. if it's the latter, how can you call it compassion that you are extending to this dead boy's parents when you must affirm it could have been the right thing?

      it's logically inconsistent, if not outright self-refuting.

      April 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      I have yet to see someone on this thread say they hold a nihilist view. Are you just committing an equivocation fallacy that atheism and nihilism are the same thing, and therefore atheists can't be compassionate and logically consistent?

      April 24, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: no, i was not equating nihilism with atheism... as hopefully my separate qualification with naturalism above (in my response to huh) shows.

      nonetheless, such atheism – for lack of an objective moral anchor – still suffers from a similar cognitive dissonance. if there is no underlying basis for what is good or evil, compassion has little to no basis in actuality. after all, how can you say that the Boston bombings might have been 'good' (something which MUST be allowed without an objective anchor for morality) & simultaneously extend 'compassion' to those who suffered from a supposedly 'good' action? without a basis to rightly label evil as such, why would you need 'compassion' if the action was supposedly or potentially justified?

      again, even if we are using the same word, we mean drastically different things by it.

      April 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Yes we are, because you feel for it to be worth anything at all you must have an "objective" standard, which even you don't have if you believe that your morality comes from a god.
      I completely reject that you must have an "objective" basis, and I think I could make a case for objective morality anyway.
      Here's your problem, you are tying all actions into your supernatural beliefs, and so of course you wouldn't think that people who reject your belief would be justified in feeling anything at all.

      April 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:

      1) on what basis do you claim that an appeal to the metaphysical/transcendent/divine is not objective? philosophically speaking, that is the very definition of objective. granted, in naturalism (which denies any such transcendence), the objective is nature itself. but that invites my line of questioning above.

      2) if you contend there is no objective, an appeal to the objective for morality is self-contradictory. that's what i meant above by cognitive dissonance.

      why feel the need to argue for an objective morality if you don't believe in the objective in the first place? either something is wrong with you (as an agent in your system of belief) or something is inherently wrong with the system itself.

      3) on the contrary, i readily admit that *within their own system*, others who appeal to the transcendent (though i might adamantly disagree with their particular contentions) have an objective basis for their beliefs and/or ethics. what i am pressing against is a view of existence which at the outset denies the reality or knowability of the objective and yet is appealing (knowing or unknowingly) to that very objective in its self-defense.

      why talk about compassion if you don't believe its real or consistent (because it's subjective) in the first place? have the boldness to fully embrace the consequences of your underlying view of existence. that's why – though I radically disagree with their views – I have more respect for Sartre, Camus & Nietzsche as atheists: they had the courage to do just that.

      April 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      “Faith & science are no more opposed than faith & reason.”

      Faith and reason are diametrically opposed. The belief in something for which there is no evidence is not only illogical but delusional if taken to the extent that most xtians do.

      April 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!


      ” why talk about compassion if you don't believe its real or consistent (because it's subjective) in the first place? “

      Compassion (altruism) is NOT subjective. It is demonstrable and repeatable in many different species to include humans. It is an evolutionary trait that developed to ensure that not only ones genes but those of the in-group are passed on to the next generation.

      I’m sorry that you don’t understand how science works but that doesn’t mean that you have to be afraid of it.

      April 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Honey Badger:

      1) because you assume that faith & reason are "diametrically opposed", you can't see otherwise... most notably, that you yourself have faith.

      as Nietzsche himself said: "it is STILL a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science." (my emphasis)

      2) because you don't recognize the difference between scientific observations & scientific presuppositions, you are not hearing what I'm saying. science *presupposes* "methodological naturalism"... it's a philosophical approach to metaphysics. a *faith*. your entire system of reasoning is based on that *faith.*

      moreover, being demonstrable & repeatable does not make something objective – not just in philosophy, but even in the social sciences. it has been *demonstrated* to the contrary in *your own view* of existence.

      you have stated you believe morality evolved. inherent in the word evolution is CHANGE. that's not objective, but subjective morality. and most germane to this conversation: such a belief REQUIRES that you be open to the possibility (if not likelihood) that what is found reprehensible today we might evolve to find absolutely essential.

      for example, the stuff of science fiction yesterday (Brave New World, 1984, even the movie Gattaca) is becoming a reality. Eugenics, euthanasia, etc. The things Hitler's scientists were trying to do before we had the ability – but now some scientists are beginning to wonder if we shouldn't do the very sorts of things that Hitler's scientists were trying to do & found morally reprehensible for doing. if a superior genetic human being (or race?) could be made...

      therein lies your problem. once you concede that racism or any other major immorality could be deemed acceptable in the future, you are not talking about an objective basis for morality – because it changes. again, it's self-contradictory. by the same token, you must concede that a day might come when we "evolve" to believe the Boston bombings were 'inherently' good (not just secondarily, but in & of itself) for our species.

      so, to be pointed: do you believe that there are certain acts that are ALWAYS wrong? if so, on what basis? and if not, do you understand how speaking of "compassion" to the parents of this 8 yr old victim and admitting you think there might come a day when these acts would be deemed morally good (not just acceptable) is anything but compassionate?

      April 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      What kind of fvcked up game is it to ask somebody why parents of victims should be comforted if perhaps one day in the future the events will be judged differently because they are viewed through a different situational lens?

      It's also pretty stupid, Russ, and it's certainly beneath you.

      Morality depends on context, and everything is subject to context. If we're talking about a different context, then we're not talking about the same event that is "wrong" or "right." The current context is relevant, not some bvll sh!t made up one for some silly rhetorical dip sh!ttery.

      April 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Camel Toad

      "is there an objective perspective?" No

      "if so, then compassion is derived solely from there." It's not.

      "if not, then compassion IS relative. or the inverse corollary, you are embracing the notion that evil is relative also" Yes

      "it's merely in the eye of the beholder. so... is there nothing that is always evil?" No, there is nothing that is always evil.

      "racism, pedophilia, child abuse, etc.? do you realize that's what you're arguing?" Yes, I realize what I am arguing. To an alien life form living on another planet billions of light years from us the death of an 8 year old human, while tragic to us, might be linked by what Einstein called "s p o o k y action at a distance" to an alien birth making it one of their most joyous occasions. We just don't know, so yes, all evil is relative.

      "most people aren't willing to go there – especially in the face of an 8 year old kid's murder." Well that's because they are close minded self absorbed fear mongers who think their imaginary souls might melt if they contemplate the universe without thinking ourselves the most important thing in it.

      " do you understand how speaking of "compassion" to the parents of this 8 yr old victim and admitting you think there might come a day when these acts would be deemed morally good (not just acceptable) is anything but compassionate?" I do not ever think this will be "morally acceptable" to us as long as we are humans and can relate to that parent or child, understanding that we are just like they are and through empathy and a chemical in our bodies called oxytocin we can walk a mile in their shoes and decide whether that promotes human growth (moral) or stunts it (immoral).

      April 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • The Year 2062

      "The war has raged for 9 years now, who could have ever known that we here in America had someone so full of hate that could rise to such power, get elected and then eliminate term limits claiming a lifetime presidency and proclaiming war on all religion, sending out his elite drone force to wipe out any rebels who are still trying to hide their bibles and faith from the eye of the almighty Cyborg ruler President Martin Richard...who could have known the young 8 year old who survived the tragic Boston bombing half a century ago would turn out to be our worst nightmare..."

      Evil is always relative...

      April 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Moby Schtick: read what Camel Toad wrote after you last did. Like Camus, Sartre & Nietzsche, he's being more honest than you are about the implications of this view of existence.

      @ Camel Toad: while you are being much more honest than most, your last paragraph strikes a dissonant note. you seem to be comforting yourself with "I don't think this will ever be morally acceptable..." while your other views necessitate the opposite conclusion. why do you feel the need to assert that? it's directly contrary to everything else you are saying.

      and secondly, why (if we are evolving to ever greater levels) do so many people have (as you put it) this "closed minded, self-absorbed, fear mongering" concern?

      April 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Year 2062: if evil is "always relative" for you, then is compassion also illusory? why offer it?

      April 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Camel Toad

      I said I do not believe it will ever be morally acceptable to us because I do not forsee a time when we will no longer be human, thus we will always consider things that damage or hurt us or the human family in general as evil. It is truly "relative" in that we do not "relate" to those we don't see as relations. We do not care about the ant colony that get's wiped out only becasue we are unable to see how that colony fit's into our own survival as a species, and if we could we would be far more compassionate to the ants and bee's and every other lifeform on the planet.

      Most would deem a screaming man run up and cut off your arm with a machette as evil, until you realize that he just saved your life as you see the black mamba still clinging to the outstretched fingers of your severed arm. When we can see the correlation to our survival we are far more empathetic and can reason instead of just immediately coming to the wrong conclusion and shooting the guy who just saved your life.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Camel Toad

      Is compassion illusory? Of course not. Just because evil is always relative does not mean we as humans can not see ourselves in others and share that with them, letting them know we can relate, that we feel the relative evil as well and attempt to support those in harms way by saying "I am you too, i'm on your side." That makes our species feel better about ourselves, and we hope that when we are the ones going through the tragedy that our fellow humans will do the same for us.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Russ, it was fvcking stupid of you to pose such a disph!t question and now you're lecturing me about my "honesty?" Grow a fvcking brain, moron. We're dealing with our society in these times and this situation. We do what seems logically right for the situation we are in.

      Go ahead and lecture me more about my honesty, you stupid fvcking sh!t. And be sure to keep up the purely idiotic games of semantics while you're at it.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Basically, what Russ is doing is the equivalent of asking why anyone should eat and drink since we know we will die one day. About as stupid an "argument" as I've ever witnessed on this blog.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Camel Toad

      Proof evil is relative:

      Back of my shampoo bottle reads "No Animal Testing Used".

      Funny how it doesn't say "No human child testing used." I wonder why? Could it have to do with cosmetics and chemicals being tested on monkeys, rats, mice and many other animal test subjects for decades while not since Joseph Mengele have there been humans spraying unknown chemicals in tied down childrens eyes?

      Evil is relative, we are often fine with it as long as it's not happening to a relative...only since humans started treating pet's like humans did they start worrying about how we were treating them...

      April 24, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Dodo Bird

      It's a shame that only now do you find out that our egg shells contained a chemical compound that could have cured cancer. Too bad we are now extinct and we are unable to help save hundreds of thousands of human lives each year...but we sure tatsed good while we lasted!!

      April 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Moby Schtick: pejorative labels don't substi.tute for a substantive argument.

      @ Camel Toad:
      1) you say evil is relative and give examples of situational ethics, but you still appear to be appealing to some over-arching notion of good & evil by which such situations are judged. is there an objective basis for good & evil or not? if not, if it is relative, then why do you feel the need to defend varied situations?

      2) if evil is relative, then compassion must be also. which goes back to my earlier point: we are talking about two radically different things despite using the same word.

      when you say "I too, am on your side" – what you mean is: "well, that's bad now... but it's not really always bad. maybe, with a little different perspective and/or time, that could be called good." that's very different than someone who says: "no, racism / child abuse / pedophilia is *always* evil. it's inherently evil. what happened to your loved one is & always will be a travesty."

      the compassion offered by the latter group is intrinsically different than the former. the former group, to the degree that they identify instances where such "current evils" might later be somehow deemed 'good', is actively not 'suffering alongside' or with the victim at hand. so, in the literal sense of the word, they are being less (if not quanti.tatively, if not qualitatively) compassionate.

      again, you can't have it both ways. if evil is relative, so is the compassion you offer – in stark contrast to those who appeal to an objective morality.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Camel Toad

      " why (if we are evolving to ever greater levels) do so many people have (as you put it) this "closed minded, self-absorbed, fear mongering" concern?"

      The answer is that it's self perpetuating in large generational cycles and there are some people who have found a niche as instigators and make their living off selling fear and hate to others. Will we eventually evolve beyond them? I hope so, but there are no guarantees in this universe. If we do finally get rid of them it will likely be out of nessesity with the fear mongers being just to large a risk to bring with us as we move out into the galaxy as we continue to explore the universe.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Russ, the stupidest argument I've ever seen is the stupidest argument I've ever seen. I pointed it out to you. You called into question my honesty with no provocation. Typical Christian.

      This is how stupid your argument is:
      "Hey, you guys who believe you will die one day, why do you ever eat or drink anything? And if you don't think my question is smart, you're a hypocrite and a liar."

      April 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Holy crap, Russ. Are you serious? Compassion is relative in exactly the same way morality is relative. It depends on the situation; it's relative. What sense would compassion make without the particular cause of it? We are the ones who define what "compassion" is and when it should be given and offered and when we recognize it in evidence. It's not some magical force field that actually exists somewhere.

      How stupid are you?

      April 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Saraswati


      In my moral system an act that decreases overall happiness and conscious wellbeing is always wrong. Much like killing may occasionally be right to most Christians, it might occasionally be right in my moral system. The details of what increases suffering at a particular may change, but something that increases suffering will always be wrong. If something was wrong to do today, that event will always be wrong even if a seemingly similar event is right in the future. It will not be the same event because it will only be right under substantially different conditions.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Camel Toad

      "again, you can't have it both ways. if evil is relative, so is the compassion you offer – in stark contrast to those who appeal to an objective morality."

      I don't think you are understanding what I wrote. Evil is relative. Compassion is relative. I am relative. I believe the bombing to be evil because it is relative and I am related to the victims, not in a direct family way but in a larger human family way. So any human can say the bombing is evil and can then be compassionate to the victims. A Yeti could not. A martian could not. A Unicorn could not. None of them can relate to humans so none would be able to either judge the evil or feel the compassion for the victims.

      I don't ever think I would feel differently because I do not forsee me no longer being human thus will remain "related" to the victims till the day I die. I can condemn the actions as evil because they attacked and hurt my human family, my relatives.

      What is so hard to understand about that? If we are human then we can relate to other humans and thus what happens to one can be imagined and felt in any other human.

      Religion however has tried to supersede our humanity and tell us it's okay to kill those other humans because they aren't like you, they don't worship the same God as you, they don't have the same hope for an afterlife, they aren't special and "chosen" by God like you... that is the true face of evil on the planet, the one that tries to make you forget your humanity with bribes and extortion.

      April 24, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      You know, you're starting to remind me of Chad. You seem to be thinking that you have some kind of right to tell others what they believe, and to what extent. Did I ever say that I don't think morality is objective? Did I ever agree that emotions are not physical, or in the realm of scientific inquiry?
      Did I at any point say that compassion in a naturalistic world is pointless? No I did not. In fact, you said those things about others, merely based on the fact that they don't believe in your god. You're on a high horse Russ, and it's time to get off it.

      April 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Science

      And laws of association makes it part of the devil cults too ...........does it not ?

      April 25, 2013 at 6:29 am |
    • Russ

      @ Camel: you said...
      "Religion however has tried to supersede our humanity and tell us it's okay to kill those other humans because they aren't like you, they don't worship the same God as you, they don't have the same hope for an afterlife, they aren't special and "chosen" by God like you... that is the true face of evil on the planet, the one that tries to make you forget your humanity with bribes and extortion."

      1) Ironically, my faith teaches exactly the opposite. The image of God is given to every human being – so ALL must be respected in that capacity. The cross makes it clear that I am *no better* than anyone else, and equally deserve hell, while simultaneously demonstrating God's benevolence to save *his enemies* and make them family.

      While many Christians in the past have acted directly contrary to those very clear biblical teachings (i.e., the Crusades, etc.), others have actually appealed to those very teachings in fighting the tide of a culture that would demean humanity (i.e., MLK, William Wilberforce, the Confessing Church's stand against the Nazis, etc.). Regardless, the clear *teaching* stands over and against your contention that religion (and Christianity in particular) says it's "ok to kill" just because you disagree. It actually tells me that no one on this blog deserves death anymore than I do... and yet God is gracious even toward a punk like me.

      2) You are not being consistent on your "evil is relative" comment. If evil is relative, it's not simply relative OUTSIDE of humanity, but also within (across races, gender, ages, etc.). are you prepared to make similar statements – not just about unicorns – but about your race, gender, age, socio-economic status, se.xuality, etc.? it's laughable when talking about aliens, but not if you replace that term with race or something of the like.

      again, if "evil is relative", so is compassion. if you are going to be consistent, then you MUST necessarily allow that racism could be ok (i.e., Nazis, White Supremacists, Hutus & Tutsies, Bosnia, etc.). by extension, evil is relative in genocide, infanticide, killing/oppressing the poor, etc.

      that's where you're being inconsistent. if not, you are hoist by your own petard. the very family you claim makes you compassionate would then be equally subjected to division by those same categories (race, gender, socio-economic status, etc.).

      as I said before, you can't have it both ways. those appealing to Objective morality have the problem of having a standard imposed on them, but those without such a basis cannot appeal to such a standard/justice & thereby have no compassion. Subjective morality is radically individualistic, thereby making compassion completely relative... and by comparison to an objective morality, useless.

      April 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Moby Schtick: you didn't read what Camel Toad wrote, did you?
      if – as you claim – "everything is subject to context", then even your own statements and views are, also.

      is it ok if purposefully interpret you as exactly opposite what you intend? no, obviously not. you are currently ticked because you think that's what I'm doing. it's not what i'm doing – but you are failing to see the implications of your own claims. if it is all "context" and can be so subjectively read, there is either NO authorial intent (and therefore no permanent meaning) or you are assuming a larger foundation of truth to read along with the text (but that invites all the criticism you are levying against the religious).

      so which is it? if morality truly "depends on context," you should not be upset with anything anyone does... much less my comments against yours. if not, then what is the basis for your frustrations? from what epistemic foundation are you criticizing my contrary ideas? because your criticisms certainly seem to carry the very air you are criticizing (exclusivity and an appeal to an underlying, foundational truth). how is my 'context' any less important than 'yours', by your own system of belief? are you not doing the very thing you are mocking... proselytizing?

      April 25, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Russ

      @ saraswati: i appreciate the honesty. to what objective basis are you appealing? how are they "always" right or wrong in your system of thought?

      April 25, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:

      1) no, *I* didn't say those things about atheism... as if I was the originator. Sartre, Camus, & Nietzsche brought that to bear. they were simply being CONSISTENT within that framework.

      now, if you have a major objection, it's not a matter of somehow maligning me. how do you deal with the criticisms from *within* your own camp? you don't have to believe in my god to understand that. some of the most intelligent people in history to espouse that view of existence brought that criticism to bear. so... since it's not simply a matter of dismissing me... what do you do with that critique?

      for example... Nietzsche's Parable of the Madman...

      2) you said "You seem to be thinking that you have some kind of right to tell others what they believe, and to what extent." ironically, your disdain for my line of thought does the exact same thing that you are complaining about. it's self-refuting, if not outright hypocritical.

      April 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      1) Just because some philosophers said stuff, doesn't mean I am bound to believe that thing. That's just silly.
      2) Please point to where I tell someone what they believe and to what extent. If you want to claim I'm being a hypocrite, then provide the direct quote.
      3) I find it interesting that you did not mention any of those philosophers until it was pointed out that you are essentially telling atheists what they believe.

      4) This is a quote from you in this very thread.

      @ hawaiiguest:
      compassion is not logically inconsistent in & of itself.
      what is logically inconsistent is holding a nihilistic view of existence yet claiming compassion is a real thing."

      So yes, you were telling me what I believe, which is what I called you on.

      April 25, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      1) to not consider the writings of scholars & historical giants within your own field as important is what is silly. to not even be willing to hear the self-criticisms that such minds have form *within* your own framework is purposefully putting your head in the sand.

      consider the opposite (as most scholars do): intentionally reading not only those with whom you agree, but familiarizing yourself with your opponents' best arguments.

      2) i quoted you before. don't you understand the implications of your own statements? as i said before, your disdain for my position betrays the *exact sentiment* that you are criticizing – namely: you are thinking that my position is wrong & needs to change. or did i misunderstand you – and what you really meant to say "your opinion is a-ok, Russ"?

      3) it's not a new idea. i was actually surprised no one else who reads the blog said "Russ, you always bring that up." go check my old entries. it's there... often.

      4) the logic of that statement is entirely true. at no point did i equate the entirety of atheism with nihilism. go back & re-read the thread. before you make that objection, i had already given multiple categories in response to "huh?". BUT also note: you were coming into a conversation i was having with 'honey badger' who made NO such objection in regard to his comments.

      April 25, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Saraswati


      "i appreciate the honesty. to what objective basis are you appealing? how are they "always" right or wrong in your system of thought?"

      There is no appeal. This is an end of the line definition of what it is to be right or wrong (and one that is generally consistent with a fair percentage of the sentiments of people from cultures around the world). I, and most others with the same general ethic, are simply drawing a line just as you do when you accept induction or the existence of other conscious beings as a premise. This is the end of the road....or the foundation of ethics depending on how you want to look at it.

      When you talk about a particular action like "murder" or "theft" you are always talking about a concept around which you had to draw a box. There's no such thing as a free standing act and each act is in fact unique, with it's own conditions, place and time that don't match any other act. We generalize and then we tweak and make exceptions (self defense etc.).

      The roughly rule utilitarian ethics I live by just defines not only basic rules to live by on a daily basis, but more general acts of "good" and "evil" behaviors. Good behaviors are done to increase happiness and evil to increase misery. An "evil person" is one who desires to increase misery and decrease conscious happiness and acts on that. A "bad action" is one which does these things. If an act decreased happiness the act was bad and no future change that makes similar acts good in the future is going to change that reality from the past. If a person wanted others to be unhappy at any point in time (without a reason of a greater good) that person was, and ever will be, evil.

      April 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      1) What do you even mean "my own field"? Are you attributing something to me again that I never said? Or are you equating all atheists to also be existentialists and all that encompasses that particular philosophy?
      Seriously, why should I care what Sartre or Nietzsche said? I don't identify as an existentialist or a nihilist, and I don't agree with many of what those philosophies entail.

      2) No where did you quote me as saying that I was a nihilist, yet you attributed that to me in the very quote I provided earlier.

      3) Got links?

      4) Why do you keep switching the scope of what I am saying? I posted a direct quote in which you attributed a position to me that I have never said I believe, and you are therefore telling me what I believe. If you were merely talking about someone elses point of view, then you should have said "as ____ has said". And looking back on this thread, no where did Honey Badger say he was a nihilist either. You merely brought up nihilism on your own as if that's just the natural opposite to religion based "comfort".

      April 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Saraswati


      I think you're misunderstanding the way in which most people using the term "relative". When people use the term to talk about actions in ethics they mean one of the following two things (there are more variants but this is a simplification:

      1. There is no right and wrong in the world because everything is just relative to people's own perspective. (Note: very few people actually mean this...even those who sound as though they do at first)
      2. There are no specific acts that we can call right and wrong but it is the absolute ends that matter. (Most people mean something essentially the same as this)

      When you look at the two, we're really just looking at the difference between deontologists and teleologists. But people get messed up in the terminology because the word "relative" means two different things. Teleologists are not relativists, they simply believe it is the end that is absolute (love, freedom, happiness...whatever).

      A further glitch, though, is when "relative" is taken (correctly or not) to refer not to actions but to the end goals. As in what is "good" or "bad" is relative to the culture.

      But the issue here is that this is just a basic fact of language. What one culture assigns labels that we translate as "good" and "bad" is pretty obviously something assigned by the culture so we aren't saying anything anyone disagrees with. However, when we are talking in our own language the words mean exactly what they mean in our language. There's nothing magical going on here.

      If I say a particular stool is a "chair" in my version of English and someone argues it's all relative and I can't say it's really a chair because some part of China doesn't assign the word yizi to that thing that's pretty silly, right? It's still a chair. Even if someone speaking Jamaican or Indian English says the same thing, sorry, still a chair in my dialect. There's nothing "relative" about it. No reality changes.

      April 25, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Saraswati:

      1) i hear you stating your point of departure / "end of the line" / etc. & admitting – for you – that this is a somewhat arbitrary thing... or, at the very least, requires "faith"... for lack of a less-loaded term. again, i appreciate the honesty & find most unwilling to go there. of course, it draws out similar sets of questions...

      why is your teleological/utilitarian ethic "better" than another? what is that conclusion based upon? your preference, experience, etc.? what is the grounding of that "faith"/system of thought for you personally?

      2) you are admitting an underlying basis which DOES move the discussion to an absolute. again, i think that's more honest than most here, and leads to a new set of questions... but that's my point. i don't see such honesty/precision from others on this blog.

      in this thread so far, there has been no appeal to ultimate duty or end goals. there has only been an objection to (any & all?) classically formulated religion as an imposition on thought/science/etc. because it is openly metaphysically based. such objections to religion – in & of themselves – do not admit an absolute (because it makes their criticisms self-refuting).

      in that vein, IF the majority of folks on this thread have been using your second definition of 'relative', they lack self-awareness. their criticisms are self-refuting – because they themselves have such faith. i DO think that's a major part of the problem – a lack of awareness of the implications of their own position. (for example, thinking science replaces metaphysics when it necessarily *presupposes* it, and thereby undercutting their own position.) so, i press the former definition of 'relative' because it gives the benefit of the doubt – though normally drawing out the same basic issue.

      but that's the problem here: among the other commenters here, there is not an admission of deontological or teleological gearing. to do either is to appeal to some sort of 'objective' anchor – and to draw out into the open that we are BOTH basing our positions upon metaphysics (thereby losing a false 'high ground').

      that's one of the big ruses on this blog: acting as if only religion does that, so then one can readily dismiss it – not realizing that argument is self-defeating.

      April 25, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      1) no, field was probably a poor choice of word, but i was searching for an alternative way to say philosophy/system of thought/ etc., without being redundant. point being, the challenge Camus, Sartre & Nietzsche pose to most other self-proclaimed atheists is their clear precision on the consequences of the line of thought. you don't have to agree with everything they say, but they certainly make it hard to avoid the consequences of that line of thought.

      and the *reason* they argue within existentialism or nihilism is because – according to their own logical articulations – anything less is not actually logically consistent. once you get on that train, it takes you to certain destinations. to claim you can hop off while in transit is to fail to understand the primary contention. Nietzsche, for example, rather brazenly makes that point in mocking so-called atheists for 'killing God' and not realizing the consequences of that claim (what worlds did we unchain? which way are we moving now? etc.). it's why he says "i've come to early!", in the Parable of the Madman.

      again, why wouldn't you read the greatest minds who share your same basic contention regarding existence?

      2) I didn't quote you as being a nihilist. I quoted this: "You seem to be thinking that you have some kind of right to tell others what they believe, and to what extent." then i pointed out that your basic statement is self-refuting – in that it does the very thing you are complaining about.

      i pointed out that much of the above discussion includes nihilism – again, which Nietzsche & co. point out is one of the only logical conclusions of atheism. and now – for the THIRD time – I point out to you that I gave multiple categories for atheistic belief (which I NEVER claimed were exhaustive, but you are rightly deducing that I am pressing out many other forms of atheism as illogical or a form of cognitive dissonance). you keep asserting I *assumed* things about you or others. i did *assume* you were attempting to be logical – but i pointed out how illogical your deductions were if you were attempting to hold opinions directly contradictory to your foundational assumption – namely: that there is no God/Objective Reality/etc.

      3) links? really? i comment on here a good bit. i don't keep links to all my comments. i just know i use these same arguments A LOT – because a lot of atheists don't seem to want to read other atheists... which makes me wonder if they really know what they believe.

      4) you never said you were an atheist either, and yet you didn't mind arguing the point as one (whether devil's advocate or not) until i pointed out that you had not read others who shared that same basic presupposition. why are you so selectively adamant here? you embraced the devil's advocate role... why did it suddenly become personal if *actually* you don't really hold those views?

      which drives back to my point. Nietzsche is calling you out. but you don't care to read very intelligent people who apparently *share your most basic conviction.* why not?

      April 26, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • hawaiiguest


      Are you even aware that Nietzsche was a notorious anti-nihilist? The ONLY thing you've been talking about here is nihilism, so I'm not even sure why you're bringing him up. Also, you have only said that compassion is not logically consistent within atheism/nihilism as if they are the same thing. You have not justified that equivocation, and continue to merely assert that it is the "logical conclusion of atheism".
      This is just getting really boring now. You're just reasserting over and over that to be logically consistent I must be a nihilist without actually justifying that statement.

      April 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      1) you are oversimplifying Nietzsche's position.

      From Walter Kaufmann...
      "Nietzsche himself has characterized the situation in which his philosophic thinking started by giving it the name of nihilism. This feature of his age struck him as a challenge he meant to meet, and we must not ignore the historical juncture at which he enters the philosophic stage... Nietzsche, however, stigmatized this age as nihilistic..."

      He then cites the Parable of the Madman (which I have repeatedly offered to you) & comments:
      "Nietzsche prophetically envisages himself as a madman: to have lost God means madness; and when mankind will discover that it has lost God, universal madness will break out. This apocalyptic sense of dreadful things to come hangs over Nietzsche's thinking like a thundercloud.
      We have destroyed our own faith in God. There only remains a void. We are falling. Our dignity is gone. Our values are lost. Who is to say what's up and what is down?"
      (Kaufmann, "Nietzsche: philosopher, psychologist, anti-Christ", p.96-97)

      and then later...
      "in other words, Nietzsche believed that, to overcome nihilism, we must first of all recognize it." (p.109-110)
      and that's the very problem you are having – not recognizing the implications of your own belief. Yes, he criticized it... and that's why I'm pointing you to his Parable.

      "beyond question, the major premise of Nietzsche's philosophy is atheism." (p.99)
      "Nietzsche's atheism is thus a corollary of his basic commitment to question all premises and to reject them unless they are for some reason inescapable... To escape nihilism – which seems involved both in asserting the existence of God and thus robbing this world of ultimate significance, and also in denying God and thus robbing everything of meaning and value – that is Nietzsche's greatest and most persistent problem." (p.101)

      but again, I thought you refused to read these guys? you said you didn't care what they say. did you have a change of heart?

      2) you continue to ignore what I said above, so i'll copy & paste it here. again, BEFORE you claimed i was equating nihilism with atheism, i gave the below categories to 'huh?'...

      "nihilism: compassion doesn't really exist
      evolutionary naturalism: compassion is a foil for survival goals
      religion: compassion serves a transcendent reality (in so far as it reflects that reality)
      Christianity (in particular): compassion is the most powerful force in history, and reveals God's eternal heart"

      do you not think evolutionary naturalism can be atheistic?

      3) no, i did not say to be logically consistent you *have* to be a nihilist. I said that nihilism is logically inconsistent with compassion. I also stated the evolutionary naturalism is logically inconsistent with compassion (as anything other than a foil for survival).

      what amazes me is how long you continue to want to avoid the forest for the trees. BOTH criticisms call you out. Heck, even Kaufmann is nailing you to a wall with his commentary on Nietzsche's critique – BOTH as a product of nihilism AND a critic of nihilism. as he said (basically): 'denying God robs everything of meaning & value.' how can you talk about compassion if there is no reason to assign value or meaning to anything?

      here's why you are bored: you want so badly to catch me in some semantic stumble that you are avoiding the main contention of the discussion. once you lose an objective anchor for morality, it's logically inconsistent to live as if there was one – as any substantive claim to compassion requires.

      April 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Are you seriously saying that not believing in god means that you cannot show compassion?
      You keep saying you're not equating atheism and nihilism, but then you post some guy commenting on another guy and assuming he can determine what Nietzsche meant in his writings, when that subject is still hotly contested all over!
      I don't understand you Russ, I'm trying to understand exactly what you're saying, but you continue to say that you aren't saying certain things when your quotes completely contradict that!

      April 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: really? you want me to cliff notes our entire discussion...

      1) calling you out... [quoting what i wrote above, from Kaufmann on Nietzsche]
      'denying God robs everything of meaning & value.' how can you talk about compassion if there is no reason to assign value or meaning to anything?

      2) my contention: because we have UTTERLY different presuppositions, you mean something radically different by 'compassion' than I do. yours is relative & shifting. i believe compassion is only real in relation to the Objective (which you don't believe exists), and therefore its definition is UNCHANGING.

      3) I'm not equating atheism & nihilism. i already quoted myself above. i'm not going to do it again. can you not see that there are different strands of atheism in nihilism & naturalism? i gave BOTH as examples. or are you claiming that nihilism & naturalism are the same thing?

      4) "some guy quoting another guy"... please. really?
      Nietzsche is probably the most famous atheist in history. and Kaufmann is his most widely respected commentator.

      you keep bouncing back & forth between appealing to scholarship & mocking it. choose one.

      5) it does not seem that you are actually trying to understand what i am saying. i've said it numerous different ways. i've written tons. i've been succinct at times, and long-winded at others. are you really claiming you are missing the central thrust of everything I've said? here, i'll remove the entire hiatus on nihilism vs. naturalism as forms of atheism and give it to you as succinctly as I can...

      SUM: a subjective compassion is NOT THE SAME THING as an Objective compassion.

      EXAMPLE: innocent 8 year old kids dies in terrorist bombing.
      Objective compassion: I identify with your suffering... what these terrorists did was wrong. it ALWAYS will be.
      Subjective compassion: I identify with your suffering... (but, since morality shifts, could be that the bombers were right.)

      NOTE: if what the bombers did was right, the child's death would not be suffering, but justice.
      THUS: no suffering, no compassion (by definition: to "suffer with").

      April 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      And what do you even mean by "objective compassion", that is literally a meaningless concept to me. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Compassion is compassion. Not linked to anything "supernatural" or objective, and is not dependent on who you show it to.

      "I gave BOTH as examples. or are you claiming that nihilism & naturalism are the same thing?"
      That's what you've been doing this entire fucking time, yet every time it's pointed out, you claim you're not, then do it again! You have made no differentiation, you have equivocated over and over and over, and I'm fucking done with it.
      You are not being honest about what you're saying, and you just don't care.
      I'm done with you, I have no time or respect for people who cannot be honest about what they're saying.

      April 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:

      you ask questions. i attempt to answer yours.
      i ask you questions. you by & large don't answer them.

      i state that nihilism defines compassion one way, naturalism a different way. you ignore that i differentiated.
      i cite my OWN quote. you ignore that quote. you don't even interact with it.

      you claim i equated AFTER you objected. i point out my comments PRIOR to your objection. no response.
      i repeatedly point to the differentiation. you keep saying equivocation.

      i flip the question back on you (because your logic is self-defeating). instead of answering it, you claim that's what I'm doing... ignoring PAGES of lengthy comments directly to the contrary.

      i point out that MOST of your objections are peripheral – if not a purposeful distraction. i push back to the central debate. you say "that makes no sense" & go back to your complaints about the periphery.

      yes, honesty is an issue here. either that or reading comprehension.

      April 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  13. HeavenSent


    FYI with love. God Bless.


    April 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Posting news articles from Faux "news" is the same as posting articles from The Onion.

      April 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • fintastic

      I smell heaven stench.........

      April 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  14. clarity

    God is real. Jesus is the answer. Atheism is a delusional form of stupidity and stubbornness.

    April 22, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • wayne

      Not accepting magical stories in a book is stupid? Can you please explain?

      April 22, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Doobs

      Fake clarity, isn't stealing and lying a sin for christians? Better get on your knees and beg Jeebus for forgiveness.

      April 22, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Hans

      "Atheism is a delusional form of stupidity and stubbornness"

      You are not a Christian and you bring shame to Christ.

      James 4:11-12
      Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

      James 1:26
      If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.

      Ephesians 4:31-32
      Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

      April 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • .


      They also stole another users handle.

      April 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  15. 2 Corinthians 1

    3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

    April 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Ben

      And the one who helped us kill all the Canaanite old folks, women, and children. Hallelujah!

      April 22, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Ted Jones

      God's will was done, the right people are dead or suffering.

      April 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  16. Ghostriver Studios

    Reblogged this on Ghost River Studios Blog.

    April 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  17. HeavenSent

    Matthew 5:3-10


    April 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Ben

      Do you honestly believe that Christians should be "meek"? Most Conservative Christians I know are the opposite of submissive.

      April 22, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Doobs

      Wow, a bible quote. How brilliant.

      April 22, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  18. lionlylamb

    Such is the news of the moments. Makes for small talk at least. Where's the beef? Still on the hoof?

    April 21, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  19. Church Lady

    Well, isn't that special?

    April 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

    There is no one to turn to in time of mayhem, but HIM, truth absolute GOD, foundation of american consti tution, after having denied HIM, truth absolute GOD by hindu secular ism, criminal secular ism in following of hindu Lucifer, criminal self centered of all, god of hindu secular s, criminal self centered by human. Seek just not SKINAH peace of heart, Islam, Shalom for your heart, but also for the one who followed hindu Lucifer, criminal secular as their god and created mayhem among humanity.

    April 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Answer

      A nuke for Islam, today.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

      A hindu secular, criminal self centered always wishes nothing else, but elimination of modulates of civility, and your post defines your faith in hindu Lucifer ism, filthy secular ism, denial of truth, very well.

      April 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
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About this blog

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.