Sometimes, while perusing the blogs of others I come across something that either really inspires me to be better, or makes me incredibly angry… Thanks to my good friend Arkenaten over at “A Tale Unfolds” I’ve ran into one of the latter type on a blog called “Citizen Tom” and I had to respond to the high level of ridiculousness contained within it.
“If we were created to glorify God, what makes us think God would create a universe where He is irrelevant?”
We weren’t “created” to glorify god, we exist because of evolution. Whatever purpose we glean from the world is the result of our own choice.
“Because we choose to ignore what our nation’s founders thought self-evident, secularists seem to be winning the argument.”
Secularists aren’t winning the argument because we’re ignoring what America’s founders thought. We are winning the argument because even if people still profess to believe in a god, they are realizing that religion is not necessary for a civilized society. They realize that by working together in spite of our differences, instead of turning against each other, our chances of survival and a happier existence are exponentially increased.
“When we begin a proof in mathematics, don’t we start from an axiom or two?”
While that may be technically true, the point you’re trying to make with that statement is most definitely not. The concepts of mathematics didn’t just drop out of the air. Humans developed them and they were studied and researched in order to explain the world around us. We may take things for granted, but that doesn’t mean that the things we take for granted are just “self-evident.” What it means is that someone else did the work ages ago and it has already been proven. It’s unnecessary to prove 1+1 = 2 every time we do an equation because that’s already been proven by others before us. Math, much like religion, is something that was invented by human beings to explain the world. One is still useful with new evidence that proves it’s accuracy nearly every day, while one is quickly becoming irrelevant as it is shown over and over again to have made completely inaccurate claims about the world we live in (oceans in the sky (Genesis)? Four legged insects (Leviticus 11: 20-23)? The moon as a source of light (Genesis)? Unicorns (Job 39:9-12)?)
“When Americans still considered the fact of their rights were God-given self-evident, government existed primarily to protect their rights. Was America then a land of fairy tales? Did everyone live happily ever after?”
The Term “God Given” and “Self-Evident” are just a way the founding fathers described rights they felt all humans deserved, based on their own experiences with the government they fled. God didn’t come down and tell them “Hey guys! Humans should have these rights!” They realized this because of the way they were treated by those with different belief systems in the country they fled from (let’s just pretend for a moment that they didn’t slaughter nearly an entire race of people in the process). There are plenty of nations that exist now with a secular government, no god involved. Are they just fairy tales? Do they live in absolute chaos because they have a secular government? The answer is no. Some of them are better off than we are!
“No. As people are wont to do, Americans still debated, argued and fought. That included fighting over the definition of rights. To free the black race — allow blacks the ability to exercise their God-given rights — required a bloody civil war.”
But you just stated that rights are “God given” and “self-evident.” Why would it require debate and war if rights are “self-evident” to all human beings? Doesn’t “self evident” automatically imply that those rules are already known?
“However, it seems we have forgotten — or chosen to ignore — the alternative, of not believing God gives us our rights.”
No, we’ve just realized that “god” didn’t actually give us those rights. We made them up ourselves because it benefits us as a species to work together instead of killing each other off.
“If we do not consider our rights God-given, what are the consequences?”
Here are just a couple of consequences:
We stop allowing religious differences to divide us and realize that when we work together as a species for the greater good we’re much better off.
We make scientific discoveries that are proven by evidence, like vaccinations and cures for diseases, without having religious nuts fighting them tooth and nail because “god said so.”
Those don’t seem like bad things to me…
“Most people farmed and produced their own food, and nature cooperated poorly.”
And it still does occasionally. But there were other times when it cooperated perfectly and crops were plentiful.
“Sometimes people starved.”
And they still do and always have, even in so called “Christian” nations. There were also plenty of times when people lived in comfort.
“Occasional droughts alternated with occasional floods.”
Again… They still do… But sometimes and in different places the weather provided perfect living conditions.
“Mysterious plant diseases and insects reduced every harvest. People died young, sometimes for no apparent reason.”
Again… None of these things prove that we have “God-given rights.” These things can and do still happen today. The difference is that we, as a species, have discovered ways to overcome those things, or at the very least, survive them until they pass. God had nothing to do with it. It was human ingenuity and nothing more that helped us to survive as a species.
“WHY? Desperate for answers, people worshiped idols, hoping that because of their worship their god would give them some control over their lives. Their harvests would not fail, their children would not die, their enemies would die at their hands in combat…..”
This statement is absurd. People have worshiped a variety of different gods for thousands of years. When they didn’t have an explanation for something then it automatically became “god did it!” Just because that was the answer they came up with, doesn’t mean it was the right one. Thanks to science we now know that thunder isn’t god clapping his hands and that rain isn’t god’s tears. This is the thing about religion, you could be saying “Wow, we have worked together as a species pretty darned well and have survived some pretty spectacular odds!” But instead you give credit to some being who you’ve never actually seen, heard, or spoken to instead of realizing that we’ve done it all ourselves and will continue to do it ourselves until we’re destroyed by each other because of some ridiculous differences, or by some massive asteroid, the imploding sun, or the collapse of the universe itself.
“The strong and clever determine the “rights” of the weak. That is, might makes right. We obtain our “rights,” our “right” to do what we wish, because we have the power to make it so.”
This HAS happened all throughout our history (and in many cases is still happening!) As soon as man was able they discovered that the strong could easily overcome the weak and rule over them. But you know what else we discovered over time? There is strength in numbers. The weak got tired of being trampled on by the strong so they banded together and overthrew the strong, or at the very least kept them at bay. We discovered that it was better if we all lived and worked together to build something greater, rather than just serving the whims and desires of one strong person. That is how our species has survived and how government and civilization was formed, and it all happened before the idea of your god ever came into existence.
“So what would ameliorate our behavior? Why are most men usually willing to respect the rights of others? Is it the fact most people believe in God, or is each one of us the embodiment of reason? Have we logically deduced the problem that arises when we harm the interests of our neighbor? If we don’t respect our neighbors rights, no one will respect our own? Or is it the moral law, that sense of right and wrong that each of us carries in his heart? Do we recognize in each other a being akin to our self? Don’t we know how we would feel if someone abused us?”
You answered your own question, yet you still chose to give “god” the credit. It’s called “trial and error” or “action and reaction” if you will. Much like we quickly realize that if we stick our finger in a flame we will get burned, we realized that if we go around robbing, raping, and murdering people eventually the people we’ve been robbing, raping, and murdering will get sick of it and will probably kill us or throw us in jail. It’s that simple. No other explanation needed.
Humans didn’t wake up and realize it was wrong to harm other people, it took a lot of trial and error. Our history is littered with the mistakes of our ancestors and we can all see the mistakes that we continue to make. If humans innately knew right from wrong, they wouldn’t do wrong! The fact is, we have to learn how to co-exist with each other. You see it with children every day! They do what they think looks fun or interesting. Sometimes they get hurt, sometimes they hurt others, sometimes they’re punished by the adults that care for them. But you know what?They almost always learn and many times they grow up to be amazing adults who go on to do amazing things. They don’t automatically know what’s right and wrong anymore than they know what’s safe and what is dangerous. It’s a learning experience. We, as a species, learned together what worked and what didn’t and we adapted.
“Without sin, we have no need for rights, and without God sin has no meaning.”
Sin is just a word created by the religious to condemn things they didn’t like others to do, which is why the concept of what “sin” is has varied so widely since it’s creation (by man.) When the Pentateuch was written (by men) “sin” included things like not eating shellfish, not wearing clothing made of mixed fabrics, and not touching a woman who was menstruating. Later, those things were thrown out and it became “sin” for women to talk in church and for men to have long hair. It was considered a “sin” to not help the poor and needy. Now, for many religious people none of those things matter. It was also a way for a small group of “Priests” to control the greater numbers by saying “if you break these rules, you’re sinning! Follow my… I mean GOD’S rules!” By worshiping “God” the people were inevitably worshiping the priesthood. They’d give the best part of their flocks and harvests to the priesthood for “god” (but it was actually eaten by the priesthood…), they gave them money, clothing, the most honored houses. Heck, in the Israelite culture the priesthood even got to determine who was king! But of course that was “god” also, wasn’t it? As I stated before, sin is nothing more than a manmade creation used to allow a small group of people or a single person to control the greater society. It was enforced by making up a “god” that would bring down destruction if this group or person were to be disobeyed.
“As odd as it may seem, Jesus defined the sinner, the one who would deprive another of their rights, as a slave.”
This isn’t true even in the Biblical concept, so now you’re just making stuff up (instead of just believing things other people made up.) Jesus condoned slavery (Luke 7:2), as did his apostles (including Paul), and they frequently treated the gentiles like garbage. Jesus didn’t even want to heal a gentile woman and only did so after she begged him, compared herself to a dog, and literally would not leave him alone. The only reason why Paul turned to the gentiles to preach his heretical vision of Christianity was because the Jewish Christians wouldn’t have it. So let’s not try and pretend that the Apostles or Paul had any concern for the “inalienable rights of all mankind”, because they most certainly didn’t. The only one in that scenario that may have cared is Jesus and we aren’t even certain that most of the things the Bible claims about him were true (I’m guessing they got part of the name right and maybe the location, but that’s about it).
“When we hate God or our neighbor, we are enslaved to sin.”
This is most definitely not true. Atheists simply DON’T BELIEVE there is a god. There is no hate involved and most atheists get along just fine with their neighbors. Frequently they are active members of society, they donate to charities, they help the homeless, and adopt needy children, all without the concept of god ever entering into the equation. You seem to be arguing that without the idea of god, or religion, that man would just run amok and we would all be killing each other, but evidence doesn’t support that. If anything religion only makes that worse (the Salem Witch Trials, the Crusades, and 9/11? Anyone?) The atheist is the perfect piece of evidence that can be used to disprove the “god makes morality” nonsense because they have perfectly fine morals WITHOUT god. If American society is any indication, then atheists care more about basic human rights than almost any religious sect. The Conservatives in this country claim to have a direct line to Jesus and the only rights they seem to care about are their own. The best anyone else can hope to get from them is a one way ticket to hell.
To wrap this up I have to say, the idea that human beings would be like bloodthirsty animals if we didn’t have this idea of “sin” and “god” is truly frightening to me. It makes me think that if you suddenly realize god wasn’t real then you’d grab a knife and go on a killing spree. The image this brings to mind is a giant, rabid dog, held by a tenuous chain, that could break out at any moment to wreak havoc through the neighborhood. Can you see how that might be a little disturbing for the rest of us?
James Garcia: (9/8/15)