One of my abolitionist friends wrote a reply to a letter to the local student paper, and it was published here.
One EricKincade of http://www.noneexist.com showed up to post quite a long series of replies in the combox, and so I'd like to engage with his points here, since getting comments published in their comboxes is sketchy and inconsistent, often with long delays from submission to publication.
For me, it's easy to see that all religions are man-made.
1) For me too, save one.
2) And of course, that one most certainly includes human interaction.
3) It's easy for me to see that atheism (by which I mean any system, such as naturalism or materialism, that is atheistic) is man-made.
Sin is a man-made concept as well.
Notice the naked assertions. Hopefully this will not be the pattern.
people do good and bad things but where is the proof that sin actually exists?
He has written out the Christian definition from the beginning.
I simply ask: on atheism, people do things but where is the proof that good and bad actually exist?
Presuppositions are fundamental and essential in these kinds of questions. If Christianity is true, sin is lawlessness, breaking the law of the Creator. If atheism is true, there is no good or bad at all. Actions simply are.
There's no neutral ground on this kind of question. It's not as if "sin" or "good and bad" can be empirically tested by some scientific means. Asking for evidence for such comes dangerously close to a serious category error, and that is easily seen when one asks for the evidence that good and bad exist. What does bad taste like? What is its molarity and atomic weight? Where is it found and what studies have been performed on it?
If God made man, then I have specific difficult questions that should be actually very easy to answer.
Alright, I'll be happy to engage them.
Remember - he's granting from the outset that God made man. So from here on out, as long as he's asking these questions, I'm standing on the Christian platform, with Christian presuppositions, to answer. No fair importing (or smuggling in) atheistic presuppositions.
If you are a Christian and you are afraid to read this, I submit that your religion is in the business of mind control.
Well, sort of. Jesus is Lord, and His lordship includes everything, including human thought. And well it should, for Jesus created humans, the capacity for thought, souls, and brains. Before I knew Jesus, my mind led me to death and destruction, exactly like Romans 8 says:
5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But now that God has given me a new heart, one that is pleased to know and love Jesus such that I have real life on Earth and eternal life forever after, why would I run after vain things such as self-fulfillment and the lusts (for money, pride, power, fame, money, sex, and other gratification) that previously controlled me?
See, it's not as if man is free and then submits himself to slavery to Jesus. No, man is a slave to something at all times - either to sin, death, and the devil, or to Jesus. One or the other. Eric won't recognise that, but remember that he granted Christian presuppositions in these questions already. He is a slave to sin, death, and the devil, but he won't admit it, and I don't expect him to outside of Jesus' influence in his life.
Your religion does not want you to think for yourself or question the truth claims your religion makes.
Sort of true that "my religion does not want me to think for myself" - my utmost desire is to be "destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Mostly false that "my religion" doesn't want me to question. Question away! That's what this whole blog is about, but there's a difference between questioning and stubborn doubt, when one has received the correct answer but doesn't like it at some level and so refuses it for selfish reasons.
Religious leaders and their followers typically claim that criticizing their beliefs are a social taboo.
1) I believe that is a foolish modus operandi, so I stand with Eric in critiquing this poorly-conceived practice.
2) The actions of some -ists hardly constitute conclusive proof that the -ism is false anymore than Stalin's murder of tens of millions of his own citizens prove atheism is false.
“Don't argue about religion, lest you offend someone.”
An argument much more prominently found in the mouths of the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center anymore, used to suppress the free speech of Christians. The irony is rich.
if I say that Zeus is my God, Christians laugh at this. However, when we change the word "Zeus" to "God", then all bets are off, now it's true. God is a real god.
1) Yes, quite. God is the real god: "For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens" (1 Chronicles 16:26).
Jonah 2:8 Those who regard vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
2) Does Eric believe that counterfeit bills mean that real dollars don't exist?
The Christian proof that their belief is true is based on their faith.
Hardly. See my sidebar: "SOME GOOD ARGUMENTS FOR THEISM"
So far, we see that Eric has engaged some pretty poor representations of Christianity. It's too bad; I know they're out there, but at the same time it would be great if Eric could engage some knowledgeable Christians and respond to them.
If all believers of all faiths are proving what they are saying is the absolute truth because of their faith, then isn't it obvious that all religions are false?
If all believers of all scientific theories are proving what they are saying is the absolute truth because of their faith, then isn't it obvious that all scientific theories are false?
Rather, it could be that one of them is true and the rest are false.
believers are simply saying that because I believe in something, this means it's true.
I haven't heard anyone say that in quite some time.
When adults have an invisible friend, we call this religion. Who is crazy? The adult with the invisible friend or the adult without an invisible friend?
1) Yet the Bible does not present God as an "invisible friend". Not even close. He is the Creator, the Uncaused Cause, the necessary being.
2) Crazy is a statistical anomaly. Atheists are far and away the minority throughout world history.
3) Crazy is thinking that nothing acted on nothing for no reason at no time and everything sprung out of nothing.
4) God is not only invisible. He has made Himself known visibly, in the person of Jesus Christ. Just b/c Eric hasn't seen Jesus doesn't mean anything.
They can't come back from the dead tell us we were wrong. In religion, it's always later.
Christ came back from the dead to tell us we were wrong. In Christianity, it's already done.
Religion at its core divides people.
1) Yet atheism is responsible for more deaths in a much shorter time period than "religion".
2) Disagreement about all sorts of things divide people.
3) Is Eric sure that division is bad? How does he know?
4) This fulfills Jesus' prophecies quite well:
Matthew 10:34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.
John 15:18“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21“But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.
You have to believe to join.
1) Why would Eric want to join a church? Is he complaining about that?
2) Does Eric oppose the academic elitist expulsion of, among others, intelligent design theorists from universities? After all, you have to believe to join - that's what the Darwinian caste says.
why would anyone believe that an all wise god would create such an organization?
For the same reason He does anything - ultimately for His glory. To save a people for His own possession, to show His love and mercy to sinners.
Eric seems to be trying to correct God, but did he offer an argument, or just his own unsupported opinion?
why didn't their god have the foresight to inspire the writer's of the Bible so it would be filled with timeless morals and ethics which would apply to any culture in any time period of human history and written in such a way, that nobody could ever misinterpret the Bible?
He did, but without a specific argument from Eric as well as an alternative moral standard, I'm afraid this is merely vacuous chest-thumping.
why didn't their god simply write and publish the Bible himself?
Shrug. It pleased Him to incorporate human cooperation in the carrying-out of most everything.
And why don't religious texts have the wow factor one would expect from a god?
Only the biased God-hater can look at Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and come away saying "Meh. Show me something under a microscope; now THAT'S cool!"
Again, no argument. Eric is just expressing his bias.
Where are equal rights and human rights in the Bible?
1) Eric doesn't prove that equal rights or human rights are morally good. He just posits it, w/o argument.
2) Galatians 3:26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Why aren't slavery, racism, genocide, rape, war, religious terrorism, terrorism, the mutilation of children, child abuse, child labor and the repression of women's rights denounced as immoral in the Bible?
1) He hasn't read all the way to the end. ALL sin and evil is denounced, and will be destroyed finally, when God decides.
That's the point of the Cross - if He gave us all justice, we'd all be in Hell. Rather, He is working through this historical narrative so as to save some.
2) Notice how he assumes these things are bad, as if on atheism anything is objectively bad. He needs to make some argument, at some point, but hasn't so far.
first off, this is compulsory love. Is this such a wise thing to insist upon? What if you don't like your neighbor?
Luke 6:31“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34“If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
How do you love all your neighbors?
1) On atheism, love does not exist. I defy anyone to show me how it does and how it is meaningful in any way.
2) Not I, but Jesus in me. I can love b/c Jesus first loved me (1 John 4).
many people can't even love themselves or their loved ones. Divorce is 50%
Notice the incoherency to which he's descending at this point. It's just a mishmash. Eric is a poor man's Eddie Tabash - ask tons of simpleminded questions in the apparent hope that the Christian can't possibly get to ALL of them.
I'm certain you don't agree with the Bible regarding many of its teachings about sex. And you shouldn't.
1) Again, no argument.
2) And yes, I do agree with all of it.
3) He goes on to mistake description/historical narrative with prescription/commendation. His neglect of the context is rivaled only by his ignorance.
The verses people misquote to condemn gay sex have nothing to do with homosexuality and here's why. Consider this single Biblical text that was used for centuries to condemn masturbation:
???? What remote relevance does this have? Onan was having sex with a WOMAN, and pointedly refused to give his brother's family offspring, though that was his responsibility. Where is Eric going?
For Jewish text writers, a man sleeping with another man was an abomination.
What a foolish and ignorant thing to say. The Genesis 38 text even says why the Lord killed Onan! It's totally different than Eric's throwaway comment.
I always ask my Christian who I meet in this question: What year did science discover that it took a sperm and an egg for conception to occur?
I always reply to such bizarre questions with: What possible relevance does this have to whether Christianity is true? Eric doesn't tell us.
Which is why everyone (who read the Bible or heard about this from the Bible) before 1843 thought that "spilling the seed" was killing someone.
I'd like Eric to name just one person who thought that.
Never mind "everyone". Just one name. One.
What makes something moral?
Great question, on atheism. I'd love Eric to answer.
Here's Christianity's answer.
Something is typically moral when it increases the human well-being of others.
1) Typically? HOw does Eric know?
2) What is well-being but a circular self-reference?
On Heaven and hell - Once they die, they can't sin anymore
That is a speculation that is extrabiblical, and I'm free to reject it. Where is Eric's argument?
The Bible proposes that finite sin equals infinite punishment. Where's the justice?
1) On atheism, justice does not exist.
2) Finite sin against an infinitely holy God is an infinite injustice.
3) The Bible doesn't tell us that the lost in Hell stop sinning. My guess is they keep sinning unto eternity, cursing God all the more now that God has removed His common grace that they had in life (and yet they even cursed God in this life).
4) God has poured out justice on Jesus on the Cross so that the repentant may escape justice and gain eternal life and grace. Eric doesn't seem to care about that, and that's as sad as it gets.
why does anyone have to go to hell?
B/c God is the Lord, He has a law, and He does not tolerate rebellion and lawlessness forever.
Why not come up with an entirely new religion that has no resemblance to any previous religion?
Why start over when the Old Testament religion was always intended to be fulfilled by Jesus? Eric needs to read the Epistle to the Hebrews.
. Why would anyone want to believe in a religion or belief system which devalues our humanity?
1) I didn't want to believe in Jesus. I was given a new heart to believe. I hated the evidence and Jesus Himself, and now the evidence is far too substantial to dismiss.
2) B/c Jesus' salvation of sinners is that much better when they're wretched. May Jesus be glorified!
John 3:26And they came to John (the Baptist) and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” 27John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28“You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30“He must increase, but I must decrease."
Nonreligious message - We get our morals from ourselves.
There are so many reasons why this is false and imaginary.
Science says, if we don't know, let's find out. Science says, if we don't know, we are okay with this. Religions says, we know. See the difference?
1) Science never says "we know"?
2) Where is Eric's argument that his way is better? He never gave one.
Well, all of that and EricKincade has left us no better off. Just a massive bloviation of ignorance and poor reasoning.