“But those are Old Testament laws!”

I will often challenge my Christian peers with some of the following laws put forth in the Bible:

  • If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head. (Leviticus 20:9)
  • If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)
  • If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
  • If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. (Exodus 21:20-21)
  • Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. (Leviticus 19:19)
  • When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. (Leviticus 15:19)
  • For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. (Exodus 35:2)

…and so on, and so forth. I then ask of them which of these laws have they broken? Why is it okay that they have not yet been put to death for their violation of Biblical laws? Why do these things apparently no longer matter to their god?

Every answer is exactly the same: those are Jewish laws of the Old Testament. Those laws were put forth by Moses. And then something about Jesus dying and those Old Testament laws not being of relevance any longer.

A couple things come to my mind at that point. First, the law forbidding homosexuality is a so-called Old Testament law (Leviticus 20:13 which, for the record, not only says homosexuality is an abomonation, but that anybody committing such a treacherous act should be put to death immediately) which Christians just love to quote when attempting to pry their religious beliefs into politics. That and, y’know, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21). That old thing which the “New Testament Christians” place as the foundations of their morality. As a sidenote, Jesus later references the “commandments” (Matthew 19:17-19), but only six of them. He omits the first three, which are all about loving God, and then sort of combines the last two so as to say simply to treat your neighbor as yourself. The “golden rule,” so to speak. The important thing here, though, is that even Jesus himself was saying to follow those Old Testament laws.

So are the Old Testament laws still relevant? You say no, but Jesus says yes.

The second thing that comes to mind is Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” God does not change his mind. Whether they’re laws put forth in the Old Testament or the New, he does not change his mind. Did you work last Sunday? Time to die.

Oh. Also, there’s this, which can be found in the New Testament.

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. (I Peter 2:18)

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10 thoughts on ““But those are Old Testament laws!”

  1. Thanks for this post. I am currently involved in a discussion on twitter( #mavunoforall) and on my blog in this regard.

    Can I have your permission to re-post this? I will give you the credit and link back

  2. I’m afraid I can’t answer for some of these laws since I lack the necessary knowledge, especially when it comes to the question of just what form slavery took in the Old Testament. However, I can say that there is a profound difference between Law as it appears in the Old Testament and New Testament. The truth of the matter is that the Law of the New Testament is actually stricter; instead of being told not to commit murder or curse we are told not to be angry with our brother at all (some of the original texts read “without cause”). The Old Testament is full of rules and regulations because we can’t keep the Law in its purest form which concerns what happens in our hearts rather than what we do with our hands and at that time the purity of God’s people was much more dependent on obedience than on grace (I will not say that it was entirely dependent on obedience or that it was their salvation that this rested on because the Bible says that even Abraham was saved by faith alone). The New Testament casts aside many of the safe-guards because we now have the chance for a personal relationship with God and both our faith and salvation rest upon grace and a continual conversation with God of the kind that only the prophets and priests of the Old Testament had.

    I know I claimed to lack knowledge here but there are some verses I do feel either informed enough to answer confidently or else simply feel appear so outrageous that they require some direct answer. Dueteronomy 22:28-29, for starters, appears quite outrageous but I suspect (and I just looked the verse up to confirm this) that the original Hebrew does not necessarily mean rape but rather is a general term for sexual intercourse. Also, the reason he must marry her is firstly so that he can provide for her as an unmarried woman in those times who had lost her virginity had almost no chances of marriage outside this law and as such would have been in a troublesome position and secondly because in the Bible the act of sex literally made a man and a woman “one flesh” and therefore married in the eyes of God. Besides, if the man in question is in fact a rapist, chances were high that he’d do something else that would require a stoning simply by his nature. Next, the issue of mixing animals, crops, and clothing materials seems trivial and that is because it is probably symbolic; the point was purity and it emphasized not only how the Israelites were to keep themselves pure but also how everything had been made by God into precisely the thing it was and in this way the commandment was for a sort of worship which delighted in each aspect of creation. Finally, when it comes to the commandment to slaves to serve their masters, this must be read in light of the fact that slavery in the Roman Empire was nowhere near the horror of slavery in America and in consideration of the fact that this is a commandment to individual believers on how they themselves are to follw Christ. This passage is not about the rights of or limitations on particular socioeconomic groups but rather the manner in which believers can express Christ-like love; Jesus cried out for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him but to take this and say that they were right to crucify Him is absurd.

    Really, these questions may trouble me at times but on the whole I never view them as serious concerns. What is important to me as far as the legitimacy of Christian doctrine is concerned is the historicity of the Gospels, the evidence for which is really quite good. If you accept them as even mildly accurate it becomes almost logically impossible to dismiss Him firstly because of the miracles, some of which had very large audiences, and because of what he said which leads to the “Liar, Lunatic, Lord” argument of C.S. Lewis. In fact you don’t even need to accept that he directly claimed to be God in order for this argument to work since the mere fact that he claimed to forgive sins and spoke with authority and “not like the Teachers of the Law” as the audience of the Sermon on the Mount observed is quite enough. I could go on for ages about the Resurrection and Paul’s conversion and such but the point is that once the Gospels are established as accurate and Jesus as Messiah (and in my mind this is quite established) then it is a simple matter to accept the divine guidance of the Church in canonizing the rest of the Bible, especially the Old Testament since, as you pointed out, Jesus deferred to it.

    • In other words, some of the laws put forth in the Bible are literal (with varying degrees of extremity) and some are symbolic. I’m interested in knowing how you know which are which. Who told you?

      I’m also interested in seeing the evidence of the legitimacy of the Christian doctrine and the accuracy of the Gospels. If any of your evidence lies within the Bible, please omit it. It is fallacious to use “facts” put forth in a book to prove that very book is truthful. Any other evidence will be considered.

  3. First, I have to admit that what I described is even more complicated and troublesome ground than “some laws are literal and some laws are symbolic” since really what I’m saying (on that particular area of the subject) is that some laws have a symbolic nature, some are pure matters of righteousness (or “literal” as you said, though in a sense all the laws are literal), and some are safeguards which are designed to prevent us from stumbling but are not themselves important in any way if we can break them without breaking the laws of pure righteousness which they attend (in fact believers may often have to impose such laws on themselves like when someone prone to alcoholism has to institute a law in their own life to avoid situations that can lead them to that temptation). There actually is a lot of guidance here in the Sermon on the Mount, Peter’s vision in which he was told to eat traditionally unclean animals, and other particular teachings and sayings of Jesus but of course there does reach a point where one is forced to work on more abstract analysis and speculation. For Christians, howeverm this matter is helped by the fact that we have the Holy Spirit to empower us (but this does require our surrender, otherwise the many crimes of the Church would have been impossible) and the fact that our salvation does not rest on good works. We don’t have to have it all worked out.

    As for evidence of the Bible’s authenticity, you have to start with the question of when it would have gone offtrack if it ever did. At this point, archaeological evidence has shown that the Bible really hasn’t experienced any more change than can be expected from the trouble of translating something from one language into another and any time there are new translations they go back to the ancient Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew texts that have been uncovered. That means that if you’re going to claim the Gospels are distorted, you really only have a few decades for that distortion to have happened in.

    Regarding the issue of those decades, one problem is that the Gospels include a few particularly grand miracles with many witnesses, meaning that if these claims had been an outright lie it would have been relatively easy for Christians to have been called out on them. In addition there are other areas in which lies simply wouldn’t have worked such as the Sermon on the Mount (since it is honestly the most radical sermon every preached, it would have stuck in a few people’s memories) and the issue of Jesus’ resting place which happened to be owned by a major religious official. Following this same trend there is Paul’s claim in one of the epistles (simply his being a Christian at all is a major point of interest since he had little to gain by joining the Church) that after Jesus’ resurrection he appeared to five-hundred people at once, many of whom were alive at the time of the letter. Remember that the epistles were meant simply to rebuke an encourage the various churches and as such were very public (not easily altered) and weren’t even considered as possible holy texts until later when the church set about canonizing the New Testament.

    After this there is the character of the Gospels and of Jesus’ messages. G.K. Chesterton once remarked that when he was a skeptic he was surprised by the fact that Christianity was accused of being at once too violent and too ready to accept persecution, at once a pessimism that denied one an enjoyment of life and nature and at the same time a fool’s paradise. What he concluded at first was that it was a uniquely wicked thing but he later concluded that it was a thing uniquely right and that the answers it gave us were not the ones we would have guessed, being a coexistance of two extreme opposites in their proper place rather than a lukewarm balance. What I mean to say is that the philosophies of Jesus as depicted by the Gospels and the story of Jeus as depicted by the Gospels are never quite what we expect and do not seem like the kind of thing that could be invented. You go to it with a vision of the Messiah as a calm, stoic figure and you find Him frequently bursting out with anger and frustration and sometimes breaking down int tears. You go expecting only a servant and you find His feet being washed in perfume with the hair of Mary Magdelene and then when you decide He must really be a king you see Him washing the feet of the men He just prophesied would renounce Him. You read about his love of the poor and His rebuke to the rich man and decide He must be an early Marxist but then He turns around and says to “give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and give to God what is God’s” thus showing what almost seems like a total lack of interest in any potential revolution. In addition to these modern misconceptions, we see that there really were distortions back then: they were called the apocryphal gospels and they let us know how the story would have gone if it had been a purely human invention. Jesus bursts out of the tomb as a giant who avenges Himself on His executioners. A six-year old Messiah turns rocks into birds and kills a playmate through recklessness only to raise him from the grave so it’s not a sin. We see what a fake Gospel would have looked like and this isn’t. Besides this there is the question just why the Gospel would have been meddled with seeing as how nearly all of the apostles died as martyrs and people typically don’t die for something they know is false.

    There are many other aspects to this case which I am not informed enough to address but before I close I’d like to make two more points that really go hand in hand. First is the issue of the lack of evidence against the Gospels. It’s true that every now and then someone will claim to find some evidence that disproves them but somehow it never seems to stick. Where are the writings of the Pharisees and Roman historians that tell us just what really happened? Where is the propaganda material of major skeptics of the age like Julian the Apostate? What in the world make intelligent, respectable men like Augustine and Saul throw in their lot with these fanatics? Secondly, from what base do you attack these claims yourself? In order to know anything we must accept that we do not always have to know how we know something and also that a claim which has been backed up must be met not only with the possibility that it is wrong but also with evidence that it is wrong (look up “the problem of the criterion” and the epistemological philosophy called “particularism”). To choose to constantly ask “how do you know” is to choose to know nothing at all.

    From what stance do you gather the epistemological and ethical resources to challenge this worldview?

    • Not s single thing you mentioned counts as evidence. It either came directly from the Bible, or would depend on the truthfulness of the Bible in order to be relevant. The reason we don’t have writing from the early first century debating the issue of whether or not such a man as Jesus ever existed could, perhaps, be due in part to the fact that he never did.

      As for the Bible changing or going off-track, it certainly has. Let’s only consider the fact that plenty of gospels have been omitted from the Bible because churches or governments deemed them unnecessary, contradictory, or wrong. Who are they to say?

      martyrs and people typically don’t die for something they know is false. That’s just silly. Of course they don’t know it’s false. They were just wrong.

      But despite your failure to answer my question, I’ll give yours a try anyway.

      From what stance do you gather the epistemological and ethical resources to challenge this worldview?

      Ethically, the reason I challenge belief in Christ is because belief in Christ is belief in the Bible, is belief in all the other terrible things spewed forth in that book, is support for indoctrination of religious or religious-based laws into laws that affect my life, is support for Bible-based discrimination on individuals or groups whose lifestyles or choices would otherwise not be challenged… the list goes on.

      Otherwise, I challenge the very idea of faith. So many people are so sure – they just know – that certain things don’t exist. Santa Claus, leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, all of the other imagined gods. How can somebody “just know” those don’t exist, yet be absolutely certain their god, who really is no different than all the others in duty and ability, does exist? Logically, that line of thinking makes absolutely no sense.

  4. Actually, my argument did consist of evidence, you simply were not willing to accept it. My arguments do not require the Bible to true since what they say is not “the Gospels are legitimate because they say they are” but rather “the Gospels are legitimate because an analysis of the text shows that they are not written like forgeries.” The point is that they do not consistently follow any of the patterns of myths or human philosophies and they do not have the singular themes of something written to promote a particular belief system already established. It’s called textual analysis and it is not circular reasoning.

    Next, you raise the question of whether or not Jesus ever existed. First of all, He is mentioned by Josephus so yes He did exist (which once again raises the point of why none of the supposed lies of the Gospels were called). Christianity arose in the midst of a massive, technologically advanced nation that kept historical records, to suggest something as wild as the total nonexistence of Jesus of Nazareth practically requires the acceptance of a massive conspiracy determined to rewrite history and create a false religion. As for the matter of martyrdom, I was talking about the apostles and if anyone falsified the Gospels it would have been them so they would in fact have known it was a lie. When it comes to the supposed altering of the Bible, those books that got thrown out were books like the apocryphal Gospels and other similar texts that had been circulating. When the Bible was canonized, the standard for New Testament books was that they had to either be written by an apostle or somehow endorsed by an apostle. Trust me, I have no problem with the fact that people who never even met Messiah didn’t get to call their books about Him “holy scripture.”

    Regarding my challenge in the last comment, I think you misunderstood me; what I was asking for was the basis in your worldview by which you could claim to have any knowledge whatsoever. Christianity, being a supernaturalist worldview, allows for human reason, moral values, and the existence of other entities that science cannot test or explain like numbers and the laws of logic. If, however, your standard of knowledge is that something must be able to be tested and confirmed through science (a standard, by the way, which cannot itself be tested and confirmed by science) then you cannot claim to have any knowledge of moral truth or even that moral truth exists.

    Finally, as for faith, many Christians do in fact have good reasons for believing in God such as personal miracles. Moreover, you do in fact have faith. You have faith that when you hear about a new survey, you are not being lied to. You have faith that your senses are giving you a generally accurate perception of reality and that your entire life as you know it is not just a dream. You also have faith that somehow everything that exists came about without an infinite being or force creating it, which seems to me to require quite a lot of faith indeed.

    • The point is that they do not consistently follow any of the patterns of myths or human philosophies and they do not have the singular themes of something written to promote a particular belief system already established.
      Right, except for the fact that the myth of Jesus and pretty much everything else in the Christian Bible seems to have been borrowed from other, previously-existing religions. So there’s that.

      He is mentioned by Josephus so yes He did exist.
      Josephus’ writing in regards to Jesus (which amounted to a single paragraph out of an entire book) is a proven forgery. As a matter of fact, not a single other text written by historians who lived during the mythical Jesus’ time exists.

      Christianity arose in the midst of a massive, technologically advanced nation that kept historical records, to suggest something as wild as the total nonexistence of Jesus of Nazareth practically requires the acceptance of a massive conspiracy determined to rewrite history and create a false religion.
      Which makes it all the more amazing that everybody who lived during that time simply failed to mention him in their writings.

      As for the matter of martyrdom, I was talking about the apostles and if anyone falsified the Gospels it would have been them so they would in fact have known it was a lie.
      Or they actually believed what they were saying. Still doesn’t make ’em right.

      Trust me, I have no problem with the fact that people who never even met Messiah didn’t get to call their books about Him “holy scripture.”
      So the books written a hundred or so years after the mythological Jesus was said to have died – they were written by people who had met him, right?

      Christianity, being a supernaturalist worldview, allows for human reason, moral values, and the existence of other entities that science cannot test or explain like numbers and the laws of logic.
      Which is precisely how Christians think they can get away with saying such ridiculous things as, “Well, it doesn’t have to make sense. God made the rules.” Well, believe it or not, we live in the real world. The world we live in works in ways we can measure through the use of science. Taking one or two things we just haven’t figured out a scientific measure for yet and saying it proves a god exists is a cop-out. It’s called giving up. Science will get there eventually. I have faith.

      you cannot claim to have any knowledge of moral truth or even that moral truth exists.
      People are animals. Our morals evolved with us as we became more sociable animals. Lying and cheating is bad because if we cannot trust our neighbors it creates tension and the survival of the human as a social animal is made more difficult.

      [stuff about faith]
      I do have faith in things. I have faith in things that are measurable. I have faith that the earth will continue to rotate on its axis around the sun at least for the remainder of my life, just as it has for the last billion or so years. There is, of course, the chance that something could go wrong. When I read a survery it’s possible I’m being lied to. I accept the fact that the things I have faith in may be wrong. Can you?

  5. 1- First of all, I should not have used the word “any” in that argument. As far as that correction is concerned, thank you for you have delivered me from a great evil (as Socrates would say). That said, I realize that there are many of the elements of mythologies in the Gospel such as the dying god. This honestly is not something that I find all that surprising, nor does it strike a blow to my faith. C.S. Lewis wrote in his autobiography that the largest blow to his Christian faith when he was a child came from the peculiar idea that religion was some kind of natural delusion that humanity frequently fell into and that it was usually wrong except for this religion and one of the things that led him back to Christianity was the realization that it was the fulfillment of paganism (there is a very good but lengthy quote on this that I’m going to put at the end of this comment). I am not enough well-read in the ancient myths nore well-trained enough in literary criticism to point out precisely how the Gospels are unlike myths but I can say that having at one point been quite interested in mythology and now very much more interested in the Gospel, the two do not read like one another at all. The pagan poetry is missing and though all the monster are there along with a great hero (interestingly there seems to be a great lack of good heroic companions, the apostles are all very far from being either very brave or very clever or very loyal) but the way all those elements are used is completely different. Once again, I apologise for my insufficienies in this area but if I may be permitted to point out one noticeable difference, there is a deep sadness in all paganism that is not present in the Gospels. There is the hope from the pagan heavens.

    2- I’ll take your word for it.

    3- It is not surprising that He was not mentioned by historians because He was not a political figure. Except for the Pharisees He never denounced or supported any political leaders. He really had no interest. However, the fact of the age is still very important firstly because it allows us to examine the background against which the Gospel is set and secondly because this means that when the persecution of the Christians began surveys could have been taken and research done to confirm or deny the historical claims of the Gospels. Since it was impractical to keep a Torah scroll in every home, the Jews still carried on an oral tradition (every Jewish child was expected to memorize the entire Torah) and scientists have found that such cultures have very good memories.

    4- The apostles preached that Jesus rose from the dead. Unless they all suffered from the same hallucination, this means that they either lied or believed what they were saying but not both. If you doubt that they taught this, consider the Epistles. I believe I mentioned already that these were open letters to the various churches from Paul which means that they were written in the early days (in “Scaling the Secular City” J.P. Moreland claims that the vast majority of modern scholars accept at least seven to nine of the epistles as authentic and he sites Donald Guthrie on the matter so if you want to see what the proffessionals have to say about it you can read those two) and that there was a level of accountability within the church on the matter because the letters were addressed to everyone and not just the officials. The importance of all this is that the Epistles were written only a few decades after the death of Messiah and they testify to the Reserrection, the divinty of Jesus, and other issues that can only have been lies or truths.

    There is something else to consider as well here. I realize that the whole idea of trying to start a new religion may not strike you, being an athiest, as such a grave issue but try to put yourself in the shoes of these first century Jews. They were risking more than their lives in this, they were risking their eternal souls. Not only that, but they were risking their souls on a doctrine that did not follow naturally in the common mind out of Judaism (there are many ways in which signs of the Gospel can be seen early on but they still were not picked up on until after Jesus came) with such aspects as the Trinity, a Messiah who is also God, the embracing of Gentiles, and other apparently non-Jewish teachings.

    5- I believe I already said that the basis on which New Testament books were chosen was that they had to have been written or somehow endorsed by an apostle. I realize you may not agree that these books were written only a few decades after Jesus’ death but please remember that I do and avoid making claims that they were written ceturies after ad if we both agreed to the claims.

    With that said, there are many aspects of the Gospel that not only point to them coming ultimately from a single source (I am here talking about their subject, not their writers) but also suggest that if they were purely human inventions at all they were not invented later on. First, Jesus appears to have had His own literary style including some features that show His Jewish roots such as his short sayings (this was a common feature of rabbi but not of the Greeks and other Gentiles who mainly made up the Church later on) and others which do not appear either in earlier Jewish teachers or later in the Church such as His use of questions, his three-fold sayings, his use of the word “abba” in referring to God (the word basically means “daddy” and it expresses a levity that was nonexistant in the Jewish tradition and extremely rare in the Church), and phrases like “how much more” or “I tell you the truth.” In addition to this there are also sayings of Jesus which are totally irrelevant to the Church even when Christians think the Gospels were written such as His devotion to issues like the Sabbath, the love He shows for Israel, and His controversies with the Pharisees. On the other hand, many issues that were very relevant at those times were ignored, such as circumcision, food laws, missions to the Gentiles, baptism, gifts of the Spirit, and rules governing the Church. I don’t know enough to argue about other books, but I would consider the Gospels and the Epistles to be the main points here.

    6- I don’t know anyone who has said that “it doesn’t have to make sense. God made the rules.” I think you are getting this from a stereotype but if not, please refrain from bringing out flagrant idiots. I will justify the Doctrine to which I am accountable and I will justify (or modify and apologize for) my own arguments for which I am accountable but I refuse to justify every imbecile who happens to call himself a Christian simply because they are not justified in the eyes of God. I will be ruthless in my arguments but I at least intend to be somewhat polite and I expect the same from you.

    On the topic of your actual objection, this is not a “God of the gaps theory.” That argument could be made in discussing evolution (as a pure accident and not a guided force) versus intelligent design but there are some things which we can clearly see science will never be able to explain because that is their nature. Numbers, the laws of logic, intrinsic values, and the like are all outside the natural world. Their impact can be felt in the world of matter and energy but they are infinite in nature (consider the fact that all these things appear to be everywhere and nowhere at once, there is no place that the color red can be closed out of but we also cannot point to a red flower and say that a thing called “red” is physically inside that flower or any part of it) and are still outside. You are free to say that all these things (except intrinsic values) are not spiritual but you cannot claim that they are not supernatural. These are things that can only be studied by what Plato called “dialectics”, through speculation and the use of logic. In the subject of human reason,

    I might add that you are free to claim that science will be able to discern how we are able to see reason even if reason itself cannot be explained through science. However, I still do not believe that this ability can be explained through science alone. I have for a very long time rejected the argument that the one who believes the mind to be a mere product of the brain cuts away the foundation of their own arguments because they refute human reason but I have recently come to accept the notion. My earlier objection was that the brain is subject to the laws of nature and they are in turn subject to the laws of reason so we could have rational abstract thoughts because of this, yet I am now inclined to say this applies only to mathematics since I see nothing in nature that would explain why a certain conclusion might follow a given premise. This is confirmed by computers since they are completely incapable of understanding the world through insight. Program the right formulas into a computer and it will beat the best chessplayer in the world but if you were to somehow give the computer an understanding of the rules of chess and the objectives but did not feed into it any algorithms for playing effectively at chess (this is of course a logical contradiction since if it could understand the objectives of chess it would be a mind and not a computer but we can ignore that for the sake of this though experiment) it would be completely helpless; no move would seem to it any better than any other move. It can calculate numbers and it can do many clever things that way but only because it’s programmers have expressed the world to it through numbers, it cannot itself see any of the patterns in the world without us teaching it to do so. Again, there is room to claim that this is a temporary inadequacy of science and not a natural shortcoming which can only be overcome by following another epistemological path… but I sincerely doubt it.

    7- I believe you have made my case for me on this point. If we are to live meaningfully then meaning (as dependent upon intrinsic values) must precede us. If all ethics and meaning came first from us and not us first from it, then they are lower than us and can hold no true authority over our lives. You say that morality is based around survival (I assume that evolution also plays are part in this) but what if someone does not want to live? By your system of right and wrong, there is no good reason for me not to be an entirely immoral person or even to go on a killing spree if, by some defect, I prefer pain to pleasure and dischord to peace. You can say that my neighbors do not share my preference but that is a reason for them to try to stop me, not for me to stop myself. When a man asks why he lives, he will only be satisfied by a morality which life serves, a morality which serves life is irrelevant. In sum, you have no more right to praise or rebuke my desire to love my neighbor as myself any more than you have the right to praise or rebuke my desire to have french toast instead of waffles.

    Not only this but your meaning in life is one that dies and as such (since one of the chief characteristics of meaning as discussed by philosophers for millenia is its immortal nature) it is already dead. It does not matter whether I will die today or eighty years from now and neither does it matter whether my species, and indeed all life, will perish this next second or after the next billion years. It doesn’t matter how long your conception of meaning has to live because against the infinite blackness of death (as concieved by athiests) all finite lifetimes are equally miniscule.

    8- Yes, as a matter of fact I am very much able to accept the fact that I may be wrong; it is because I was willing to accept that I was wrong that I became a Christian in the first place. If I came to see more and more evidence that God did not exist then I would be rather afraid but that is because of this belief’s centrality in my worldview; I seriously doubt it could be called healthy to accept such a fundamental change lightly. In truth, I think I am probably more prepared than you to accept that my faith in things like the continued rotation of the earth and other purely natural things is wrong because I do not consider this world my true home.

    I notice that you have continued to evade my qestion concerning your own worldview. Perhaps it is hidden in one of your arguments but if it is then either I cannot find it or you are a Nihilist. If the case is the latter, you have my sympathies but I admire your honesty. If that is not the case, then where is your hope and what is your basis for believing your thoughts and physical impressions of the world? Why do you live and choose to continue living? Can you articulate any of this directly? You have been trying very hard to shake my foundations, I think it is fair that you allow me the same opportunity.

    If I may be plain (and I realize there is no way to say this that is not an insult to some degree or another) I have recently been coming to believe that the glory of atheism is also the glory of Christianity. The more I look at the atheist philosophies and leaders the more I am convinced that atheism can only survive by feeding off anti-religious sentiments and a general contempt for the great mass of all who have worshiped. Would anyone have heard of Richard Dawkins if there had been no Augustine or Thomas Aquinas? Every critic whose claim to fame is his attacks on the faith is yet another mark of the greatness of the very faith he attacks for he is riding upon its back. In short, atheism and all atheist philosophies (not counting Buddhism of course, which does not always include a belief in God) are entirely negative, deriving their very existence from anger alone, without any hope or authority to appeal to. Thus, if you tell me that you have no foundations (and worse yet, if you are proud of it) then I shall say that you are in fact quite firmly founded and you are founded upon the very same Rock as I.

    “For my own part, I have sometimes told my audience that the only two things really worth considering are Christianity and Hinduism. (Islam is only the greatest of the Christian heresies, Buddhism only the greatest of the Hindu heresies. Real Paganism is dead. All that was best in Judaism and Platonism survives in Christianity.) There isn’t really, for an adult mind, this infinite variety of religions to consider. We may salva reverentia [“without outraging reverence] divide religions, as we do soups, into “thick” and “clear.” By Thick I mean those which have orgies and ecstasies and mysteries and local attachments: Africa is full of Thick religions. By Clear I mean those which are philosophical, ethical and universalizing: Stoicism, Buddhism, and the Ethical Church are Clear religions. Now if there is a true religion it must be both Thick and Clear: for the true God must have made both the child and the man, both the savage and the citizen, both the head and the belly. And the only two religions that fulfil this condition are Hinduism and Christianity. But Hinduism fulfils it imperfectly. The Clear religion of the Brahmin hermit in the jungle and the Thick religion of the neighbouring temple go on side by side. The Brahmin hermit doesn’t bother about the temple prostitution nor the worshipper in the temple about the hermit’s metaphysics. But Christianity really breaks down the middle wall of the partition. It takes a convert from central Africa and tells him to obey an enlightened universalist ethic: it takes a twentieth-century academic prig like me and tells me to go fasting to a Mystery, to drink the blood of the Lord. The savage convert has to be Clear: I have to be Thick. That is how one knows one has come to the real religion.” C.S. Lewis in “God in the Dock”

    • I will address only the question you posed for me at the end of your response and a subsequent generalization you made that happens to be entirely wrong. I fear addressing anything else you have said would be beating a dead horse since nothing you’ve said this time cannot be answered again by something I’ve already said. But I do at least owe you an answer to your question.

      What is your worldview?
      I haven’t answered this yet primarily because it requires an awful lot of thought. This isn’t something that belongs in a comment on my blog since it’s kind of a big deal. Theists love to make the claim that, since atheists do not believe in supernaturalism or an afterlife, their lives must have no meaning whatsoever. This could not be further from the truth. I would wager to say, in fact, that an atheist values life infinitely more than a theist does. More on that in an upcoming post about our opposing views. Consider this your teaser.

      I’m keeping this short and sweet, since a real look into my worldview is worth its own blog post. But here’s the abridged version: I want to be happy, and I want other people to be happy. My parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents, and so on and so forth, were kind enough to mate and way on down the line I’m pleased that I was the result. And so long as I’m here, I might as well do something. A human life, in the great scheme of things, is terribly short. If I’m going to leave an impression, I only have one shot at it, so I have to make the best of my time here.

      That will have to suffice. I’ll tell you my worldview is much deeper than that. Just to get this out of the way, though, I should tell you I think people who ask “why are we here” are asking the wrong question. I don’t believe there’s an ultimate destination or a supreme purpose for our being here. Our why is exactly the same as for every other species: to procreate and continue the species. I’m more interested in asking how we are here. To me, things like primordial soup and stardust are far more fascinating.

      As far as atheism depending on religion in order to exist, that’s somewhat true. Atheism does depend on theism in order to exist, otherwise the word atheism itself wouldn’t make sense. You’re posing a logical fallacy, though. Just because religion is real doesn’t mean religion is true. There are plenty of people out there who believe in the Loch Ness Monster; the belief in Nessie is very much real. It’s just wrong. If there were enough people who believed in Nessie, to the point where it affected my life on a daily basis, I’d probably get angry about it. If politicians began making laws based on their beliefs in the Loch Ness Monster, I’d fight back. Hell, a word like “anessieism” may even show up. But nessieism doesn’t affect my life, so I’m not angry about it, so I’m not outspoken about it. When things that just don’t make sense do affect my life daily; when the failure to believe in these things makes me a pariah; when politicians promote laws based on a belief in something that, logically, makes no sense at all – that’s when I get pissed off. That’s when I make a blog about it.

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