Sunday, October 17, 2010

9-Page Reply #7

I have a couple more posts to do on my 9-page reply, this being one of them. My credo still is up, buried deep in the past of my blog now, but you can easily access it through the fun words to skip around with bar on the right. Demosthenes is a good friend of mine, very moderate I would say in his views on religion, and a very smart guy. This is continuing my reply to an email he sent some time ago. It is kind of an introspective process, looking through the things I've said, and adjusting my views when I feel I have come across a better opinion or new information to consider.

So here goes:

I have no use for a god who says sex before marriage is near unto murder in seriousness.
This one runs into the issue that Mormonism doesn’t really teach this as if God said it or as if the scriptures say it. I haven’t done my research into proving this, but I’ll take Demosthenes for his word on it. Most likely this is more of a ‘man’ issue, leaders teaching things similar to this and members believe them, goes on for a while, becomes doctrine, etc…. Many people do believe this sort of thing, and not just in Mormonism, but I think this is more to blame on ‘religion’ than a god.

I have no use for a god who says stealing a pack of gum and killing children are they same before him because they are both sins.

This is mainly an evangelical Christian stance. They take the scriptures that say all sins are the same before God … literally. Though many religions don’t believe this I have met many people who do, so I’m betting a lot of the millions of creationists probably are the ones who think this too, I don’t retract this statement.

I have no use for a god who only speaks to men in the middle of the fuc*** desert.

This is more of a statement on the many laughable quotes by people such as Hitchens or Maher that God chose out of all the people to talk to the ones off on their own in the dessert, like Moses or the Jews as a whole. This statement could be moronic but I find the statement that God works in mysterious ways to be far more moronic.

I have no use for a god who wants us to know 'him' but then plays hide and seek.

The alternative? We actually get to know him! Her! Or it! There is proof in something more than just this world or life. It communicates with us like we communicate with someone else. An Abrahamic god could play hide and seek, but that whole theology is so narrow in its scope. A deistic god could likewise play hide and seek, but then what’s the point of that? In most senses, what is the point of a deistic god except to exist for people? And not ‘for’ them really, cause a deistic god doesn’t seem to care or do much to begin with.

I have no use for a god who professes love but then teaches an everlasting hell.
This idea may be more akin to ‘religion’ than a god, but it still holds.

I have no use for a god who is okay with slavery but not homosexuality.

Slavery has changed over history and Biblical slavery, especially in Roman civilization was different from the more modern American version, but both were upheld by people to be ‘okay’ by God’s standards. Perhaps this is a problem with human nature first, but religion helped the evils to grow. And of course despising homosexuality or homosexual love is a gross error on religions part.

I have no use for a god who teaches to love him and hate your family if a choice must be made.
No major dispute here with Demosthenes, though I am slightly torn by this statement. On one level many religions do try to have everybody love each other, but then they also say to avoid sin and heathens an such, so some people have already stepped away from me as a friend. Other religions teach to hate even your own child if necessary, while others really do say to love everyone. However, many people are hurt by a belief like this.

I have no use for a god who can’t make the human body correctly in the first place.

This statement had come after the ‘mutilating children’s genitals’ line originally. An error in revising the credo on my part. If women need to be ‘fixed’ then I have little respect for a god as a designer who can’t make the body correctly. Let’s throw in vestigial organs and evolutionary defects and I think I make my case.

I have no use for a god who tells his chosen people to not steal or murder, but then says to wipe out a whole civilization except for virgin women and to take all their possessions.
The common Hitchens line following his treatment of the 10 commandments. At once it is correct and wrong. The 10 commandments are laid out and then the Israelites go on a conquest of plundering, murder, and rape. This may be exaggerating the massacres some though, but it shows the wonderful attitude God takes towards his own laws and what his chosen people can do. However, the cities and peoples being wiped out were child sacrificing pagans and deserved to be eradicated. Second, this whole story, in my mind, is a fabrication and there is no evidence that the Jews came out of Egypt and wiped out these civilizations, but most likely the Jews were remnants of these civilizations and the Torah is how they wish their history would have been. That’s my two cents.

I have no use for a god who professes to control the weather when so many needless deaths of innocents are caused by natural disasters.
Demosthenes states that if there were no natural disasters people would find other things to blame God for, and this is probably true. This is a problem of pain, or fact of pain, and I have avoided the topic generally in the past, for good reason. However, it still gives us an odd case for a benevolent god, and makes the deistic god even more cold and distant.

I will be making one more post on the credo, and I think that may put me at 8 official replies, so I may just have to do a conclusive reply at the end to make it a true 9-page reply. I like symmetry.


  1. Alma 39:1-6 says that having sex is second only to shedding innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost. (

    I think this makes it worse. It actually puts apostasy on par with murder. Yikes. No thank you, Mormon god.

  2. Eh, got me there, or rather, got the Mormons. A scripture like that probably sounded good at the time to Joseph Smith ... at least till Fanny and her fanny.

  3. Finally, we actually get to discuss a text. I'd like to do this more often, Joey. You say that the Bible is disgusting but don't give any examples. Throw out the scriptural passages that you find disturbing and let's evaluate them. This is a good start.

    Let me just say for your readers that I left the Mormon church some years ago, so please do not understand me as defending LDS culture or religion for any reason other than pure honesty.

    While modern LDS culture understands this passage of scripture exactly as you cite it, the text itself does not support such a reading. These verses are best understood as a corollary to the third commandment.

    The KJV translation has led many people to understand God as saying in the third commandment that we shouldn't say his name in a non-religious context. The Hebrew verb that the KJV renders as 'take' is better translated with the English 'bear' or 'carry'. A proper reading indicates not that we shouldn't say "oh my God", but rather that we are not to do evil in God's name. The OT text treats this as the most important of the ten commandments, and it would be pretty stupid indeed if "don't say 'good Lord'" were the most important commandment. Rather, acting immorally and claiming that God told you to leads people to conclude that God is non-existent at best, or immoral at worst.

    In the BOM passage we're discussing here, Corianton was an ordained minister that used his ecclesiastical position to propagate an immoral lifestyle. He did evil while claiming to be sanctioned by God. This is what the BOM is condemning, not premarital sex. I'll grant that the common understanding is as you cite, but it's wrong. And I am saying this as someone who does not believe the BOM to be divine. I'm more than happy to join you in condemning LDS culture for this nonsense, but the BOM is innocent on this one.

  4. Right away I'll venture the statement that since it is hard to understand specific contexts that a lot scriptures can be seen as not meaning what general populations think they mean. I will also say that my next reply post will be more on texts again, but I already know of a couple disagreements I have with it, lol.

    Upon reading the verses a couple times I am slightly unsure what it means. The summary says sexual sin, meaning the 'church' teaches this generally. When reading it sounds like his combination of sexual sins, forsaking the ministry, and being a bad example to the Zoramites, all added up to it being such an abomination. However, it is a lot simpler for the common Mormon to just say it was sexual sin like the summary says.

    My issue with holy texts is that they can say something seemingly small but mean-spirited and then millions and billions will take it to mean they need to act a certain way. Homosexuality scriptures in the NT seem pretty self-explanatory. Thankfully a lot of people are changing their views on scriptures like these.

  5. Joey, any complex text can be made to say pretty much anything you want. This is not a problem with religious texts but with language generally. I've heard it said that everything and it's opposite can be found in the LDS standard works. I agree, and I find this to be one of its greatest strengths. The value of religion is not that it doles out easy answers, but that it forces people to wrestle with moral issues when they otherwise wouldn't. Religions that dole out easy answers tend to do a lot of damage, as is the case with Mormonism and this particular text. The proper response is not to throw out religion and abandon the discussion, but to engage the discussion fully.

  6. I don't want to derail the discussion about Alma and sex, but a response to your post as a whole is necessary. Feel free to ignore this until the other discussion is played out.

    Stealing gum = infanticide. Show me chapter and verse. God doesn't say this, idiot people say this.

    God plays hide and seek. Seriously Joey, there is absolutely nothing that God could potentially do to prove his existence beyond your ability to explain it away. After all, you no longer even believe in your own consciousness.

    Everlasting hell. Again, chapter and verse. Read Psalms.

    Slavery yes, homosexuality no. The notion that the Bible is against homosexual partnerships is hotly debated. The very idea of sexual orientation is a modern one that did not exist in Biblical times, so the Bible obviously does not discuss the topic. Regarding slavery, have you read Leviticus? It essentially says that slavery is ok so long as you give your slave a day off every week, don't overwork them, treat them kindly, don't abuse or beat them, treat them in every way like a member of your family, and let them go in a few years with pay for their service. It is doubtful that the people of the time would have accepted an outright ban on slavery, so the Bible says they can do it so long as they do it in a way that is entirely unprofitable. It killed every incentive to keep slaves and so abolished slavery without banning it outright. The Old Testament is the most moral treatment of the topic for thousands of years, and it is no coincidence that the abolition movements in the western world were led by devout Christians. So, on both slavery and homosexuality, if there is condemnation to be passed around, it needs to be directed at certain religions and not at the god described in the Bible.

    Love God, hate family. I think you'd be hard pressed to find in the Bible serious justification for hatred of decent people no matter what their religious persuasion. There might be a verse or two that you can pull out of context to indicate this, but as an Anglican priest once told me, text without context is pretext. The Bible does say, after all, "Thou shalt... commit adultery".

    Can't make the human body correctly. You're still stuck on the notion that evolution has anything to say about God's existence? This is not a serious argument.

    Steal, murder, etc. If you believe the story to be a fabrication (as I do), then you can't blame God for it. You cannot have it both ways. That said, the historicity is secondary if the Bible is read as a moral guide, since it was put there on purpose to teach a specific lesson. And the lesson of that particular story is that civilizations that engage in rampant infanticide and human sacrifice do not deserve to exist. Your read and Hitchens' is a proctologists's view of the Biblical text.

    Natural disasters. Where does God profess to control the weather? This item is intended to get at questions of theodicy, and quips about magic and weather control only deflect the conversation from the real issue at hand.

  7. "However, the cities and peoples being wiped out were child sacrificing pagans and deserved to be eradicated."

    Anyone who understands the concept of natural (or artificial) selection would understand this. Indeed, anyone who's raised animals for show would understand--you don't keep animals around with not-selected-for genetics if you want to breed for a certain trait. Here, God is wanting to breed for a certain trait (faithfulness, I guess) and so he gets rid of the other people.

    Not that this makes it any better. In many ways, it makes things much worse. But it does explain it.

  8. "Where does God profess to control the weather?"

    Try the story of Jonah, for a start. Or any story where God sends famines.

  9. Demosthenes - nah, the alma and sex convo is basically done, i think each side has served.

    stealing gum - i mentioned that i think it's mainly evangelical Christians who came up with this when God says all sins are the same before him.

    hide and seek - fair, but i don't think people would doubt Christ if he was here for a millennium.

    hell - i may need to do a research post on that.

    homosexual actions seem to be very openly condemned in the new testament, mainly by paul. i can't say the same for conversations on orientation and 'true' love.

    jesus saying to love him and hate your family if they get in the way of your love for him. similar scriptures in the epistles, but i think this is only NT.

    evolution has something to say on creationism. and i can't see a 'powerful' god using evolution since it is such a backwards and wasteful process, not leading anywhere but following the path of survival. maybe intelligent aliens making a 'zoo', but not a god. if god had a hand in evolution then show me where.

    haha, i had to double check proctologist. yeah, my readdress to that is much more neutral cause i don't think a society like that should exist and i said so.

    weather has been answered by Goldarn.

  10. for consciousness you'd have to tell me what it is first. and not only cause dif. ppl have dif. definitions, but because the idea of consciousness is kind of vague. i am hardly ever conscious of my actions, i dont recall memories i reconstruct them, as far as i can tell my actions are only reactions to stimulus and memories, and when i am on a different level of consciousness my mind acts differently, this meaning how tired i am, like now. i WILL do a post on consciousness, but i need more time to think about it and maybe look up more views on it.

  11. Goldarn, that's a fantastic Order of the Stick pic, well chosen. I suppose I ought to clarify my point about weather. I didn't ask if God was capable of controlling the weather, I asked where it's claimed that he actively does it all of the time such that every hurricane is a direct result of divine fiat. God being capable of stopping natural disasters and refusing to do so is classic theodicy and should be treated as such, as I noted.

    Most of the rest of those points will require a textual discussion. The Bible does not say that all sin is the same, it says that all sin is sin. Much like murder and jaywalking are equally illegal, but nobody would claim that the police or society look on them both the same way. The context of those other verses needs looking at. For the record, I think that the New Testament is less moral than the Old, and I readily acknowledge that certain passages are throwbacks to a time and culture that was less morally sophisticated that modern western society. Particularly Paul, whom I've never cared much for.

    Regarding evolution, your comment about wastefulness is a bit off. All of that organic waste now provides the fossil fuel that drives your car and heats your home. A world without fuel would be pretty useless, and evolution is a much more elegant way of getting it in the ground. Besides, religion generally asserts that it is important that atheism be intellectually credible or there's really no chance for moral free will. Not that you believe in free will. You also seem to be assuming that God cares that we look like modern humans. Mormonism is pretty well settled that ten fingers and toes are part of the divine plan, but in terms of traditional Judeo-Christian thought about "in God's image", all that really needs to happen is intelligent self-awareness and the capacity for moral development. There is a serious portion of the scientific community that feels that such a development was evolutionarily inevitable. Many feel the same about opposable thumbs, head/body ratios, and gestation periods. While Darwinian evolution is necessary for atheism, it is not by any means sufficient and is not a serious threat to theism.

  12. Ill agree with the NT being less moral than the OT even though, to me, it seems to focus on morals more it is also a lot of the reason why Christians seem to come off with crazy ideas. Even if God controlled the weather some of the time it should be apparent when something supernatural occurs, and if it happens naturally then why was God needed?

    One clarification on my part, when I say evolution is wasteful I meant in the sense that it causes a lot of pain and suffering to occur, and that it has no long-term goal meaning that it leads a lot of species into extinction. We don't say our ancestors went extinct, we just evolved. But we had roughly 6 other 'types' of 'pre-humans' that did go extinct, probably because of us.

  13. So now the problem with evolution is that it introduces suffering and pain? It seems we're back to theodicy.

  14. haha, but with evolution there is no need to jump through hoops to try to explain it, pain and suffering just is. like c.s.lewis said, the pain in suffering in the world does not support a benevolent god, apropos the problem of pain. I think that after 3000 years of trying to explain the fact of pain with a benevolent god and not coming up with a concrete answer means that the problem should probably be addressed a different, maybe by stating that at least part of the premise is wrong. I mean, someone who thinks God is a jealous, hateful, and tyrannical God makes a far better argument for the way the world is then someone who says God loves everyone.

  15. lol, wow. typos and notes:
    "pain AND suffering"
    C.S.Lewis of course wrote the book in an attempt to explain it all and didn't really have a good answer, especially when it came to animals.
    "addressed IN a different WAY"

  16. "Someone who thinks God is a jealous, hateful, and tyrannical God makes a far better argument for the way the world is then someone who says God loves everyone."

    I disagree. Care to make the argument and discuss? While the existence of an ongoing discussion of theodicy would certainly indicate that the problem has not been conclusively solved to everyone's satisfaction, there have been many compelling responses. In any case, resolving the problem by removing God may make suffering explainable, but it also makes it meaningless. Not a worthwhile trade in my opinion.

    And for the record, the problem of theodicy is not reconciling pain with a benevolent God. It is reconciling unjust suffering with a benevolent God who is also omnipotent. Details like those are particularly crucial to get right with a topic like this one.

  17. Both sides certainly do give good defenses, but being that I don't really believe in a god the other side doesn't hold up very well. Also, the simpler answer is that there is no god and suffering is overall pointless. Helps me to be a better person seeing it this way, and also enlivens me to want to do more in the world to get rid of needless suffering. Course, I think suffering is the number 2 reason for believing in a god after the fear of death.

    If I was dying in a third world country from some horrible disease and I was still young, I know I would NOT want someone telling me there is no god. So, I see the worth in this belief. I think many atheists don't think about the suffering children and what god and an afterlife does for them.

    Course, doesn't make it true. I'll go back to C.S.Lewis who ran into some issues with this especially when it came to animal suffering. It might be best to write a post on this. I have been yearning more and more lately to start doing 'research' posts where I'll present a post every now and then that is more like a paper rather than a rant or personal insight.