Would We Have No Commitment to Equality Without Christianity?

William of Ockham, fourteenth century English Franciscan friar, theologian, and philosopher, has some questions.

Readers of my last post, and readers of English more generally, could be forgiven for thinking that in his essay, “Christian human rights: An introduction,” and in his forthcoming book, Christian Human Rights, the Harvard intellectual historian Samuel Moyn wants to argue that human rights are somehow Christian.

In his essay at The Immanent Frame, he claims that the influence of Catholic intellectuals in the 1940s “tells us about the fortunes of the concept as a whole,” that it was “quite difficult to find non-Christians who enthused about human rights, and more especially their basis in human dignity, in the age,” and that the history of Christian human rights in the 1940s is therefore “a large part of the history of human rights discourse generally.” Perhaps boldest of all, Moyn claims that “[w]ithout Christianity, our commitment to the moral equality of human beings is unlikely to have come about.”

askbadgeSuch swashbuckling claims make for a startling overturning of conventional wisdom about the secular and multicultural sources of human rights (and, let’s be honest, for lots of logic-chopping on blogs by more timid intellects such as my own)—the more startling the less you understand them. In the context of contemporary debates about the entanglement of religion and human rights, it is all the more important that we do so. Of course, everything depends on the meaning of “human rights” and on the nature of their proposed relation to Christian thought (you were warned about the logic-chopping).

Moyn’s thesis would be most startling if it were asserting a moral or philosophical relation, the claim that the Christian notion of the inherent dignity of the person provides the best or only adequate moral justification for universal human rights. But, as far as I can tell, Moyn is not actually staking this claim, nor would the histories he uncovers underwrite it. Even if it were historically accurate to say that Catholic intellectuals such as Emmanuel Mounier and Jacques Maritain were responsible for formulating the modern notion of human rights, it would not follow that their preferred spiritual grounding of human rights is sound, let alone that human rights can have no secular grounding.

Although at some moments it may sound moral or philosophical, Moyn’s thesis surely is asserting a causal-historical relation. Here we need clarity on the meaning of “human rights.” If we are referring to a global movement in popular culture, politics, and civil society, then by Moyn’s own account, human rights emerges much later, advanced by activists on the secular left. As the historian John Witte, Jr., observes:

It’s not clear to me how the “breakthrough” of human rights into a global movement after the 1970s is related to this mid-century story about Christianity and human rights. The upshot of Moyn’s story is that in the later twentieth century “secular liberalism” eclipsed “Christian conservatism,” allowing the human rights paradigm to flourish more universally.

A more modest causal-historical thesis is that 1940s Catholic discourse, while not sparking a mass human rights movement, was a significant contributing cause of the embrace of dignity-and-rights language by powerful elites and its inclusion in European constitutions, the UN Charter, and the Universal Declaration. Granted, support for this historical claim would still not vindicate Moyn’s counterfactual claim that absent Christianity, our commitment to moral equality “is unlikely to have come about.” But in his defense, I don’t know that anything could.

In another critical commentary on Moyn, the philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff cuts to a more fundamental ambiguity in “human rights.” He distinguishes between the concept of a human right as such and particular instances of that concept. The concept of a human right is the concept of a universal right, an entitlement that is held by every human being simply in virtue of being human. Instances are a subset of these rights—for instance, the right to marry or the right to a nationality—that are labeled “human rights” (a term that rose to prominence in English only in the postwar era) and recognized in international law.

Accordingly, there are “two stories to be told about the recognition of human rights,” Wolterstorff notes.

One is the story of the introduction and employment of the concept of rights and the inclusion of what we would now call “human rights” among the rights identified. The other is the story of the singling out of that special subset of rights that we now call “human rights” and conceptualizing them as such.

The latter story, he concedes, could be relatively recent and could prominently feature mid-century Catholic personalist intellectuals. But this would not preclude the possibility of a much longer and much different story of universal rights, one that goes back at least to the canon lawyers of the twelfth century.

Moyn might respond that the older rights traditions are sufficiently different from the Catholic personalist concept that we are justified in calling it a new concept. The success of this response turns on whether the Catholic personalist concept was in fact the concept that came to prevail among mid-century elites.

For there were a number of concepts of rights and personal dignity circulating during this period and, contra Moyn, plenty of non-Christians enthusing about them along with Christians enthusing for non-Christian reasons. My next post will sketch some of their stories.

  • Jim Reed

    We are traditionally a Christian nation, and as the progressive part of Christianity moves away from traditional Christianity and towards secular humanism, they become more expressive of human rights.

  • Universally applied human rights? Like in the writings of Robert G. Ingersoll?

  • Camera Obscura

    I’ve come to gradually believe that the modern conception of human rights is, actually, developed out of the Christian interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. Those ideas arose where they did, among the people they did out of the basis of their religious beliefs. The basis for the concept of rights the equal endowment with those rights and, as importantly, the moral obligation to respect and observe those rights can’t come from science and they can’t be sustained on a basis of secular law in a way that is effective. In the end, the successful exercise of rights depends on what people believe they are enjoined to do in daily life and to vote for at the ballot box. There is nothing in secularism that does any of that, though the cultural habits learned from the Christian tradition can endure for a while cut off from those sources of support, I have ever confidence that they weaken and fade. I think we are seeing their destruction through enforced secularism since the 1960s. That is what I think accounts for the failure of liberal politics in the past forty years.

    There is nothing in science or secular philosophy that can honestly replace that religious belief that is durable or coherent and which won’t be vulnerable to willful skepticism that will destroy it. There is nothing produced by the proposed secular substitutes that isn’t corroded into indifference in even those without the inclination to violate rights. That’s the reason that so many who call themselves liberals today are merely liberalish libertarians who are politically impotant in most things.

    When we passed marriage equality in Maine the support of more than 200 religious congregations was vital to that success, it had gone the other way quite recently. Even when it passed as a legislative act, one of the legislators said he voted for equality because his Catholic mother taught him that fairness was a moral obligation. The United Church of Christ is a good example to show that it wasn’t just Catholics who were pushing human rights and there are many other religious denominations and individuals who could be pointed to, though the Catholic tradition, certainly Mounier’s personalism, were important, as were writings going back to St. Gregory of Nyssa and earlier. Though they are all rooted in the Hebrew scriptures, as were the teachings of Jesus.

  • Camera Obscura

    Oh, yeah, the past 40 years in the United States has been just a beacon of human rights, hasn’t it. Well, if by “human rights” you mean just that it’s legal to sleep with pretty much whoever you can get to say “yes” and to be as rude and crude as you want to be on TV and radio. If you mean feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, alleviating the lot of those who are imprisoned, welcoming the stranger among you and treating them like they were one of you, not so much. While a lot of that is a failure of those who call themselves “Christians” to do what is demanded of them by Jesus and the other Jewish prophets, the increasingly secular, religious and non-religious, have certainly not done much to counter the “Christian” right.

    And it isn’t the whole of those who get called the “religious right” who have just figured the devil should take the hindmost. Even the two last conservative popes, in their social justice encyclicals and those dealing with human rights in all aspects not involving sex, are to the very far left. Bernie Sanders correctly said that Pope Francis is to the left of him in such matters.

  • Jim Reed

    Human rights could be the right not to be discriminated against by the church. According to the church, religious rights is the right to discriminate.

  • Camera Obscura

    What does that mean?

    If non-discrimination depended on the support of atheists and agnostics not a single non-discrimination law would have ever been adopted, including those making discrimination against atheists illegal in 1964. Laws put into place by religious believers, often at the request of religious believers giving religious reasons why they were not only desirable but required by religion. You might want to go look at the history of both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, neither of which would have ever gotten anywhere without the massive effort of religious organizations, the Black churches foremost among those. American atheists’ free exercise of their rights is thanks to the efforts of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other religious groups and churches advocacy, shedding their blood and putting their lives on the line.

  • Jim Reed

    Putting their lives on the line in all the battles we have had of Christian vs. Christian.

  • Camera Obscura

    Christians vs. those who were violating everything Jesus taught. They were also Americans vs. Americans, does that negate the reality of the United States and humans vs. humans, so I would guess humanism is out the window.

    I believe I’ve pointed out to you that Jesus gave a very simple test as to the quality of a persons’ sincerity in being his follower, if they were following his teachings. Such “Christians” as who discriminated against people based on their skin color or their ethnicity were certainly violating the teachings of Jesus, they were violating nothing about being an atheist so they were being better atheists than they were being followers of Jesus. Those who didn’t practice discrimination, who were good to people without regard to their ethnic background were the ones who followed the teachings of Jesus established from the earliest of Christian scriptures such as the Letter of St. James. Tell me how radical discrimination, other forms of discrimination are compatible with what is written in that earliest of Christian writings.

    Did the atheist on atheist violence of the French reign of terror, the Soviet succession struggles, the factional fighting between the “Gang of 5” and the sucessful side in the post-Mao China and numerous wars, mostly of words but with some fist fights, among the Marxist parties here and abroad not discredit atheism? I mean, what were those people, including the ones to took the ice ax to Trotsky doing that was a violation of atheism?

  • Jim Reed

    We as a nation are ripping ourselves apart, and Christianity is not the answer. It is just making things worse.

  • Camera Obscura

    Oh, yeah, like atheism which is manifested primarily in a small self-defined elite mocking and dissing more than 90% of the country is going to do a lot to bring the nation together. Especially as atheism can produce no durable moral position that requires people to treat other people with respect or that includes that people have a right to equal respect.

  • Jim Reed

    Maybe the problem is Christians see themselves as closer to God, and so even though they know it is important to love others, they still see those others as cut off from God.

  • Camera Obscura

    Well, prove my point about those who don’t follow the teachings of Jesus while calling themselves “Christians” “Judge not lest you be judged,” “Take the beam from your eye so you can see clearly the mite in your brothers eye,” ” Tax collectors and prostitutes will enter into the kingdom of heaven before the (fundamentalists),” “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” It’s not easy to follow the teachings of Jesus, especially those teachings.

    No one is cut off from God except by their choice and they are still not cut off. You don’t really know an awful lot about Christians outside of a particular kind of percision, judgmental stereotype, one which, a few words changed, is far more typical of online atheists than it is even online Christians.

  • Jim Reed

    The more I talk with Christians the more I see them following that judgmental stereotype.

  • Camera Obscura

    I think you should take the beam out of your eye and maybe you’d be able to make that distinction. Try looking at the atheists’ comments here if you want to see rampant judgmentalism.

  • Jim Reed

    OK, I’ll read the thread again.

  • cranefly

    Wait, so some Catholic ivory towerists in the 1940s invented human rights, before non-Christians were expressing interest in such things? Non-Christians like Gandhi or the massive Hindu/Muslim human rights movement he was part of on the Indian subcontinent until he died in 1948?

  • ShirleyRManley

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  • Re: “Oh, yeah, like atheism which is manifested primarily in a small self-defined elite mocking and dissing more than 90% of the country is going to do a lot to bring the nation together.”

    Ah. So all of that atheist “mocking and dissing” must explain why there are so many devout theists “mocking and dissing” atheists. No?

  • Camera Obscura

    I suspect most devout theists spent little time thinking about atheists before the advent of the neo atheists about twelve years ago and the concurrent explosion of atheists spouting invective at more than 90% of the population who are not atheists. I didn’t and I’d read a lot of atheists before then. Atheists online talk about little else than how stupid, how base, how evil the majority of humanity are as compared to their “Bright” enlightened selves. Atheists are reaping what they sowed and can expect to reap more of it. As someone who decided about eight years ago who decided they should be answered, I’m generally not lost in the crowd of theists answering back online. Though I have noticed more people unwilling to let the invective and, more so, the distortions and outright lies go unanswered in the past year or two.

  • Camera Obscura

    Catholic personalism was hardly an ivory tower pheonenon. Among its manifestations was and is the Catholic Worker movement, which was, compared to atheist efforts, hands on and hard working. And that’s only one of the manifestations of it in the United States. Mounier wasn’t an academic, he was a journalist.

    Personalism has been a far more positively active service to the down and out and the poor and discriminated against than any comparable atheist movement which, like the Marxists, are primarily a combination of bumbling ideologues who fight with each other over minutia of dogma and doctrine and who sandbag anyone who looks like they might actually, you know, do something and academics who have done nothing but write and hold stupid, pointless, futile meetings like The Left Forum to hash out things like the now known to be false cover story of the innocence of the Rosenbergs into its sixth decade.

  • Jim Reed

    Gandhi found himself in a place and time where something needed to be done, and he did something. The Catholic ivory towerists in the 1940s were like the ivory towerists of other periods. The Catholic ivory tower is a time consuming project.

  • The Major Revisionism I’m waiting for with bated breath is the rewrite of the Protestant Conscience as the Root of Capitalism. Max Weber and All That Stuffe.

    With Indian immigrants taking over the commanding heights of corporate America, and India’s apparently Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, poised to preside over a decade or so of Asian tiger style growth, how long can it be before some Western sociologist discovers that pantheist animism supplies a sound basis for understanding of the post-industrial economy?

    What, after all, is the symbol of America’s ur-capitalist Republican Party if not a somewhat Americanized elephant god Ganesh, though grey rather than the original’s purer blue?

    -dlj.

  • One of the sadder things I’ve seen recently is that the Dixie Cup company has fallen into the claws of the Koch clan, I assume because they are masters not of productive investment but of the manipulation of America’s tax and banking regulations.

    During the 1960s, when I worked for the church, that company was one of the mainstays of the civil rights revolution. The widow of the founder had inherited the company, at the time worth notionally $400 million, and she was also a trustee of the Lutheran Church pastors’ retirement fund, which was in the $600 million range. So she said to herself, “Self, I sez, I’ve got an even billion sitting here. What am I going to do with it?”

    So she sticks $67,000, which at the time was the maximum covered by the FDIC safety net, in every little peckerwood bank in the South, and then she gets in her beat up old Cadillac, sorta like Driving Miss Daisy, and she goes and visits all the bank managers. “Nice little town you got here,” went the pitch. “I imagine we could scrape up a bit more money to stick in your bank, if it weren’t fer the chickenshit* racism that is holding the place back…”

    Not the whole revolution, maybe, but a stp on the right direction.

    -dlj.

  • PsiCop,

    Well said. I’ve enjoyed the pushback against the dogmatic Dennetts and Dawkinses of the past few months.

    -dlj.

  • Jim Reed

    They keep getting more rich, and all they need to do is buy the votes of about half the population. They are rich enough for that with plenty to spare in case they run into any problems and end up needing to spend a little more.

  • They shure are clever, aren’t they, Jim, calculating how much They have to lose for optimum greed, eh, Jim?

    It’s good to know you understand it all, Jim, because it certainly is too complicated for the rest of us to figger out, Jim, so we’re in your great debt, Jim, for telling us how They fix it all.

    Thank you, Jim. Thank you. Good work, Jim.

    -dlj.

  • Yes, because dogmatic Christianists are all so much better than “dogmatic” atheists.

  • IsaacLHawk

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  • Jim Reed

    They might not even understand it to that level, but it just seems to be the way things work out. Look at the Bush administration. He turned Clinton’s budget surplus into a record deficit, crashed the economy and risked wiping out everything but the rich banks, and left us with a couple wars of choice. Then Obama had to clean up the mess, and it was hard since the Republican strategy became stop Obama on everything, make things fail, and blame Obama. Imagine where we would be if Republicans had won again? They have to let our economy build back up so they have more to steal next time.

  • apotropoxy

    WOULD WE HAVE NO COMMITMENT TO EQUALITY WITHOUT CHRISTIANITY?
    ___________

    You get to start that discussion when you acknowledge that you can’t be pro-life while ignoring the pro-addiction/death matrix of the Tobacco Industrial Complex.

  • apotropoxy

    Camera Obscura wrote: “I’ve come to gradually believe that the modern conception of human rights is, actually, developed out of the Christian interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures.”
    __________________

    … then you must find it ironic that it was arguably the most Christian nation in western Europe that gave rise to the movement and man who was committed to killing all the Hebrews he could.

  • Camera Obscura

    There was nothing that the Nazis did which conformed to the teachings of Jesus, a Jew, who lived and died as a Jew, was identified by his killers as a Jew, who chose his apostles who were all Jewish, whose earliest, named, followers were all Jewish with a few gentiles mixed in. We know from the atheist, anti-religious hater of Christianity Martin Borman and other Nazi insiders that the plan was to destroy Christianity. Here is Borman

    “National Socialist and Christian concepts are irreconcilable. The Christian churches build upon man’s ignorance and endeavor to keep the greatest possible number of people in a state of ignorance. For it is only in this fashion that the churches can maintain their power. ”

    Replace the first phrase with “science” and he’d fit in on any atheist majority blog comment thread.

    Their interum strategy was through replacing anything like real Christianity with a fraud, the “Reich Church” as a stop gap means and part of the long game they were playing. Hitler told his religious opponents that they didn’t matter as he had their children, who were legally required to belong to the Hitler Youth, which was run by Baldur von Schirach, who explicitly said it was an anti-Christian effort based on the thoughts of another of the vehement Christian haters among the Nazis, Alfred Rosenberg.

    The OSS report on the Nazis intentions for Christianity included this:

    “No human being would know anything of Christianity if it had not been drilled into him in his childhood by pastors. The so-called dear God in no wise gives knowledge of his existence to young people in advance, but in an astonishing manner in spite of his omnipotence leaves this to the efforts of pastors. If therefore in the future our youth learns nothing more of this Christianity, whose doctrines are far below ours, Christinaity will disappear by itself.”

    D-75, copy of letter dated 12 December 1941from Security Police and Security Service (Sicherheitspolizei und Sicherheitsdienst) Inspector Bierkamp to Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) enclosing copy of the Borman decree.

    The Nazis would never have taken power in Germany if their anti-Christian intentions had been explicit, they took power step by step, murdering their opponents, including members of the Christian clergy and all through their regime. The students of the White Rose and Helmuth Hübener were all killed by that engine of the “enlightenment” the guillotine, who opposed the Nazis from their understanding of Christianity. The same is true for a huge number of those who resisted and hid Jews in Poland, where the largest resistance was based, and in other countries. The difference is that they were following the teachings of Jesus while the Nazis were violating the teachings of Jesus. The Nazis weren’t, though, violating any moral requirements of atheism.

  • Well_Read

    There were human rights and equality long before christianity. There was always the ruling class above the rest, but there were laws in Rome and before about how to treat people. Christians were persecuted in Rome because they were arrogant and thought they were above the law. They refused to perform normal duties required of Roman citizens. After they became the established religion they outlawed all other beliefs, hunted down and killed non adherents, and destroyed temples, idols and artifacts (same as the Jews after the 10 rules were written). Christians were never for equality for others. The protestants were killing catholics in Europe at the time when Britain outlawed catholic beliefs. Puritans would not live in Britain if they couldn’t enforce their brand of ‘pure’ christianity, that’s why they came here. Jesus said to allow your beliefs to break up families and even kill non believers.

    Their texts tell a story of love and equality, but they have never practiced that part of their beliefs with ppl who don’t believe what they believe.

  • Well_Read

    You know nothing about atheists, just another believer who hates ppl they dont know anything about.

  • Jim Reed

    You are just egging him on, and then we have to read more of Christians judging us.

  • Camera Obscura

    I’ll bet I’ve read more of what atheists said about their thinking than you have. And more about the actual history of atheists, especially those with political power.

    Atheists have been a millstone around the neck of the left for going on fifty years, if not a century and a half. Their ideology is inevitably in conflict with a view of human beings possessing both inherent and equally held rights and an absolute moral obligation to act in respect of those rights, those being undermined by both the lack of a source of those rights and moral obligations as well as any metaphysics in which those can possibly reside. If that’s not the case, tell me where in atheism or materialism those can be found in a form that won’t fall to the general atheist method of refuting any proposed entity that doesn’t fit in their narrow, reductionist view of reality. That’s a real challenge, by the way, one I’ve posted on my blog and which no atheist has, as of yet, attempted to do. My theory of atheism in regard to those is supported by the history of atheists with control of governments.

  • Jim Reed

    That Christians persecuted in Rome stuff is just Christians making up stuff long after the fact.

  • Camera Obscura

    Your name is Badly Chosen. Your grasp of history is a superficial, two dimensional cartoon without any shading.

    If you think that Roman law was an expression of rights and equality you are entirely wrong, it was an explicitly and violently patriarchal system in which women and children were chattels and there was a massive slave population. And that was during the Republican period before the Imperial system took hold and made things even worse. Female children under the Roman law could be killed at will by parents, infanticide for both genders but, especially, of females was routine and entirely legal. Girls were given away in marriage and they were traded like property. Slave children were routinely prostituted by their owners, those who survived held in a form of slavery far worse than that allowed in the Mosaic law. The empire held entire nations of people in bondage. enforcing their rule by routine torture and killing, at times crucifying thousands of men, women and children as a means of enforcing their absolute rule.. Your notion that Christians were persecuted by the Roman Empire because Christians were arrogant is absurd.

  • Camera Obscura

    Here we have the online atheist erudition in a nut shell, whenever confronted with inconvenient reality and the historical record, deny, deny, deny.

  • Jim Reed

    The problem is so much of history was written by the Christians.

  • Well_Read

    no one challenges you because you sound like a crazy person.

  • Camera Obscura

    Well Read? You haven’t even looked over this comment tread because I’ve been challenged on it and all over the place. If you could challenge what I said you would, you haven’t so the reasonable conclusion is that you can’t.

  • Well_Read

    there are letters written between Roman rulers that talk about whether they should keep killing christians. Rome had freedom of religion but it had to be an approved religion, it was approved by Constantine years later to be worshiped equally with pagan religions. There are also stories outside the NT that christians martyred themselves voluntarily to die and be with jesus, even in the Colosseum. google it.

  • Well_Read

    I dont challenge you because your mind is made up and cant be changed. You are biased to the point of being delusional. Cant have a conversation w someone like that.

  • Camera Obscura

    Well, that’s an invitation to ignore any history that is written by atheists, especially as Christianity holds it’s a sin to tell a lie whereas atheism doesn’t hold it’s a sin to tell a lie. Atheism can’t even tell you that it’s wrong to tell a lie on behalf of atheist propaganda whereas Christians have to violate the prohibition on bearing false witness to misrepresent history.

    Atheism leads to anti-intellectualism in so many cases.

  • Camera Obscura

    You don’t challenge me because you can’t or you would.

  • Camera Obscura

    If you believe in democracy you have to take what more than 90% of the population thinks as important, but, then, atheists have never gained power except through non-democratic means. It was Jim Reed who made the accusation that religion was driving the country apart, that more than 90% of the country is religious identifies an area of agreement in their rejection of atheism. What’s driving America apart is economic inequality and the theft of everything by the 1%. If anything we’re becoming too much like those atheist ruled countries in which a small, ideological elite rule against the will and welfare of The People.

    I haven’t been hypocritical, there is no requirement in the Gospels to not refute and describe the habits of atheists. If anything there is a requirement to refute them. Atheists seem to have invented a requirement that religious folk, Christians, especially, just roll over and play dead when there is no such requirement in scripture.

  • DC

    If the author is only going back to the middle of the 20th century, then the author has an extremely limited knowledge of the history of human dignity and equality and the Christian development and influence in ‘equality.’ Try going back to the 16th century… and I’m going to leave it there – I’ll let the author figure it out.

  • Re: “If you believe in democracy you have to take what more than 90% of the population thinks as important …”

    Actually, no, I don’t. There’s “democracy” and then there’s “the tyranny of the majority,” which our representative republic was designed to prevent. So I don’t have to do what 90% of people do. Even if they attempt to use force to make me go along with them.

    Re: “… but, then, atheists have never gained power except through non-democratic means.”

    What “power”? There are no atheists in Congress, in state governors’ chairs, or in the Supreme Court. Quite the contrary, they have NO power.

    Re: “It was Jim Reed who made the accusation that religion was driving the country apart, that more than 90% of the country is religious identifies an area of agreement in their rejection of atheism.”

    Two things: Those 90% are NOT united in their religion. Far from it. They belong to any number of religions and sects within them. So don’t belong to any specific religion at all. Second, I’m not Jim Reed so I’m not sure why you would bring him up to me. All I did was point out that your assumption that 90% of people MUST be correct, is a fallacy. Doesn’t matter to me if you choose to cling petulantly to your fallacy, if it makes you feel better, but you’d still be wrong.

    Re: “What’s driving America apart is economic inequality and the theft of everything by the 1%.”

    You mean like all those billionaire backers of the Right who’ve convinced the good Christian folk to go along with it all? And all those good Christian folk who actually think that’s what their Jesus taught?

    Re: “I haven’t been hypocritical, there is no requirement in the Gospels to not refute and describe the habits of atheists.”

    Actually you ARE hypocritical. You drip with contempt for atheists, citing their contempt for believers as the reason for your own contempt for them. That’s textbook hypocrisy! Not to mention, psychological projection.

  • Camera Obscura

    “There’s “democracy” and then there’s “the tyranny of the majority”. Well, that majority adopted and maintains things like the Bill of Rights to prevent majority rule from turning into a tyranny of the majority.

    Atheists have ruled entire countries, The Soviet Union, China, the occupied countries in Eastern Europe, Albania, North Korea, etc. The history of atheist government includes the Reign of Terror in France and the vehemently anti-religious Calles dictatorship in Mexico. You have way too narrow a knowledge of the world if you don’t know anything about the past century in other places.

    However, your statement gives me the chance to point out that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, under which atheists are a covered class, outlawing discrimination against atheists, was made a law by a congress which was just about uniformly comprised of Christians and Jews, the Supreme Court which upheld the rights of atheists, as well, comprised by those who professed religious belief. You can contrast the rights of religious people, and others, under atheist rule in 100% of the cases when that has happened.

    I said that more than 90% are united in their rejection of atheism.

    The billionaires who profess Christianity, and it’s hardly 100% of them, are a good example of the saying that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God, not to mention the warning to the rich of the consequences of injustice to the destitute in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. All through the Gospels, the Letter of James and elsewhere the followers of Jesus were warned against the evil that comes with wealth, the Letter of James points out to the early followers of Jesus that it is the rich who persecute them, not the poor.
    I didn’t always have my current thinking about atheists, it’s the past dozen years of neo-atheist invective and my research into their claims that has brought me to the conclusions I’ve reached. I did what few atheists have done, I read what atheists really said and really did and drew my conclusions from those things. In the process I realized that atheism, materialism, is incompatible with the most basic requirements of democracy and morality.

  • cranefly

    I didn’t associate the Catholic Worker movement. That is good to know, and I certainly appreciate it. But it would be disingenuous to treat the Catholic Worker Movement as Catholicism itself; for one thing, anarchism and socialism have an authorship claim as well. For another, it interests me that Dorothy Day and Gandhi had a direct influence in common: Leo Tolstoy’s radically nonviolent interpretation of Christianity, which most Americans would hardly call Christianity, because it was grounded in a rejection of Just War along with nearly everything the Catholic and Orthodox churches stood for: the wealth and military might of monarchies and governments, capitalism, “hypnotism” in the form of sacraments, clericalism, afterlife marketing, colonialism, tribalism, hierarchy, etc. All things that the Catholic Church must own to, before it takes credit for possibly also being the native church of those who gave us “human rights.” Moyn may be more right than he realizes, that “without Christianity,” i.e. without the colonial violence and exploitation done by (and in) the Christian West, human rights movements might never have become imperative in Christian populations, where Christians would use their given faith and context to develop a theology of human rights. But Gandhi, before the 1940s, was already showing us that other native faiths can serve in times of mass injustice. So far, the lesson for me is: without history, we wouldn’t have history. I don’t see that Christianity is the only religion where a philosophy of human rights can/does follow from the faith of the adherents, so I don’t see why we should assume that the pure merits of Christianity, as opposed to other historical convergences, should get credit for human rights.

  • Re: “Well, that majority adopted and maintains things like the Bill of Rights to prevent majority rule from turning into a tyranny of the majority.”

    Correct. And the terms of that Bill of Rights applies the same for atheists as it does for your vaunted and holy 90%. The cold fact is, atheists do not have to knuckle under to your type.

    Re: “Atheists have ruled entire countries, The Soviet Union, China, the occupied countries in Eastern Europe, Albania, North Korea, etc.”

    Actually all of those countries did, or currently have, churches. Many of them have been co-opted by their governments, but they had/have them. They are not entirely “atheist” in nature. I know you’ll insist otherwise, but too bad, that’s the way it is.

    Re: “I said that more than 90% are united in their rejection of atheism.”

    Bully for them! But that doesn’t mean atheists are required to knuckle under to your vaunted and holy 90%.

    Re: “The billionaires who profess Christianity, and it’s hardly 100% of them, are a good example of the saying that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God …”

    Correct, which is why this “ostentatious wealth is what Jesus wanted us to have” is complete B.S.

    Re: “I didn’t always have my current thinking about atheists, it’s the past dozen years of neo-atheist invective and my research into their claims that has brought me to the conclusions I’ve reached.”

    Right, because HOW DARE those insolent atheists defy the vaunted and holy 90% and actually openly talk about their atheism! Why, it’s intolerable!

    Re: “I did what few atheists have done, I read what atheists really said and really did and drew my conclusions from those things.”

    No you didn’t. You just listened to what Christian apologists told you about them. Your entire line of propaganda — from your majoritarianism to your mention of “atheist regimes” (which weren’t/aren’t actually “atheist”) — gives you away.

    Re: “In the process I realized that atheism, materialism, is incompatible with the most basic requirements of democracy and morality.”

    Neither atheism nor religion have the slightest thing to do with “morality.” There are lots of moral atheists, just as there are immoral believers; you might, for instance, want to talk to the victims of child-abusing Catholic priests whose depredations had been shielded by the hierarchy. Yeah, those guys were all just soooooo “moral,” now, weren’t they?

    Again, the presumed connection between morality and religion is a figment of the imagination of Christian apologists, who keep intoning — without the slightest evidence to back it up — that God makes morality and a lack of God is immorality. It’s a flat-out lie.

  • Camera Obscura

    I didn’t represent the Catholic Worker movement for Catholicism, I represented it as a manifestation of Catholic personalism, something that both Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day were explicit about in founding Catholic worker.

  • Camera Obscura

    Where did you get the idea that I asserted that the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to atheists? I’m the one who has been asserting the absolute and objective reality of inherent rights equally held by everyone and the absolute, objective moral obligation to act in recognition of those rights. Where do you find those rights and obligations in the atheist universe?

    The record of those governments is clear, they murdered enormous numbers of people for the free exercise of religion, they maintained phony churches largely for show and to gull people, especially people abroad that there was something like religious freedom. People who lived there knew differently and as soon as those governments fall they return to their authentic churches in large numbers.

    You continue to miss the point about 90% of the population and show no signs of wanting to get it. If I had your position I might be tempted to pretend I didn’t get it, either.

    “Neither atheism nor religion have the slightest thing to do with “morality.”

    I’m not surprised you find the concept of morality to be so strange that you put it in quotes because atheism not only has nothing to do with morality, taken to its logical conclusion it is nihilistic. Religion has everything to do with morality, to deny that is so absurd that only someone who has, literally, never looked at scriptures or looked into religion could say what you did. I used to be surprised at how many atheists didn’t know the first thing about what they were going on about, I’m not surprised about that any more. The moral positions violated by those priests who molested and raped children were, in fact, morals that were established in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious tradition, child rape being common in many societies in the ancient and classical world. As I mention to another atheist here, hiring out slave children to brothels was common in classical Roman society where they would be raped, often in relation to temple establishments. They were hardly the only Pagan society which practiced child rape. It is particluarly ironic, given you pseudonym, that one of the advocates for the legalization of child rape in the United States was a prominent member of CSICOP and the religion editor at Paul Kurtz’s Prometheus Books, the late Vern Bullough. He was involved with the pedophile front group Paidika whose purpose was the legalization and “normalization” of sex between adults and children, including abolishing age of consent laws. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can go look at his own CV, if it’s still posted online, he included his involvement with the group in it as did his colleagues in atheism and pseudo-skepticism in their encomiums to him on his death. I can tell you what in Christianity the priest-molesters violated, I can’t tell you what they violated in the morality of atheism. In order for you to express your indignation over it, you have to borrow moral positions that aren’t found in atheism but are found in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and a number of other religions.

  • Re: “Where did you get the idea that I asserted that the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to atheists?”

    Because you keep insisting the will of the vaunted and holy 90% is much more important than the wishes of atheists.

    Re: “The record of those governments is clear, they murdered enormous numbers of people for the free exercise of religion …”

    And religious regimes have murdered millions, too. Your common Christian apologetic talking-point point is invalid.

    Re: “People who lived there knew differently and as soon as those governments fall they return to their authentic churches in large numbers.”

    Churches that were still there for them to go to because they’d been left behind by those same regimes.

    Re: “You continue to miss the point about 90% of the population and show no signs of wanting to get it.”

    Don’t worry yourself so much. Really, I do get it. I get it more than you could possibly imagine. Your majoritarianism shines bright and clear. No one could possibly miss it.

    Re: “I’m not surprised you find the concept of morality to be so strange that you put it in quotes …”

    So you think the use of quotes means I think morality is strange? Where in the world could you possibly have gotten that idea? To be clear, I put it in quotes because it means different things to different people. To religiofascists, in particular, it means “everyone thinking and doing precisely what I tell them to think and do because I demand it of them.” Other people have other definitions.

    Re: “Religion has everything to do with morality, to deny that is so absurd …”

    What’s absurd here is insisting that religion is morality, because it absolutely is not. As I said before, just ask any victim of a priestly pedophile.

    Re: “The moral positions violated by those priests who molested and raped children were, in fact, morals that were established in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious tradition, child rape being common in many societies in the ancient and classical world.”

    Curiously, those morals were never adopted by the priestly pedophilies or their protectors in the hierarchy of a Church which supposedly is Christian and ought to have enforced those morals on its clergy … but refused to.

    Re: “It is particluarly ironic, given you pseudonym, that one of the advocates for the legalization of child rape in the United States was a prominent member of CSICOP and the religion editor at Paul Kurtz’s Prometheus Books, the late Vern Bullough.”

    My pseudonym has nothing to do with CSICOP, which is now known as CSI. Aside from having read some of their materials, I’m not a member of CSI and have nothing to do with them. If you must know, my pseudonym is a reference to something in the TV show Babylon 5. I’ll just leave it at that and let you figure it out.

    But please, thank you for your attempt to smear me by association with someone you believe to be a pedophilie (but didn’t prove was one). I must congratulate you on that. Well done! That was really Christian of you.

    Re: “I can tell you what in Christianity the priest-molesters violated, I can’t tell you what they violated in the morality of atheism.”

    I’m not an atheist but I assume most of them would say those pedophilic priests broke the law and ought to have been prosecuted and jailed for it. Under Christianity, a lot of them skated, because of the Church.

    Re: “In order for you to express your indignation over it, you have to borrow moral positions that aren’t found in atheism but are found in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and a number of other religions.”

    Actually, for me “to express [my] indignation over it,” all I need to know is that the pedophilic priests broke the law and deserved to be punished. It’s really just that simple. Too bad the Church, which is supposedly a moral institution, disagreed with that assessment.

    Oh, and once again I must thank you for that attempted smear. You managed to live down to all my expectations of Christianists.

  • cranefly

    True, I was going back to the guy in the article.

  • Camera Obscura

    Politically, it is all important, atheists couldn’t win an election if two thirds of that 90% stayed home, they couldn’t if about 83% of it stayed home. In terms of liberal politics, which is what I am interested in, atheists have every sign of being better at losing elections than winning them. Or what has the period of fundamentalist political success didn’t you notice?

    There are no religious regimes that can match atheists with political control for murder, they are the world record holders, perhaps apart from Genghis Khan who wasn’t a Christian. And, as I keep having to point out, Christians who murder people are violating the most basic moral teachings of Jesus, atheists who do that are not violating any moral position of atheism, and neither are the Christians who murder people, they’re being perfectly good at following the tacit atheist prohibition on murder. The entire Spanish Inquisition, lasting hundreds of years, wracked up a tiny fraction of what Stalin managed to during his regime. Or Pol Pot or Mao….. One big difference is that most of those accused under the Inquisition were found not guilty.

    You’re not an atheist. Um,hum, I see. If you chose your pseudonym unaware of its implications then, what can I say, I just must know more about the culture and history of recent atheism than you do. You see, I read what atheists have said about atheism, I formed my ideas about atheism primarily through what they said and the record of what they did in the world.

    What smear would that be? That Vern Bullough was a major figure in Paidika, a pedophile promotion organization who would like to abolish those laws that the ordained child rapists and molesters violated? If he had succeeded, I guess your anger at them wouldn’t have happened as it was merely the fact that they broke laws that bothers you. So your position actually supports my contention about the consequences of not believing in moral absolutes. Under your moral relativism all we would have to do is poll most Americans to see if they thought, for example, atheists had any civil rights that should be protected. If they said no then atheists complaining about violations of their rights would be delusional because, by your apparent standard, they would have no rights. That is if the Civil Rights act was overturned removing legal protection of the rights of atheists as well as others.

    The idea that social consensus produces rights and moral obligations means that any group that society doesn’t believe has rights has no moral obligation to even consider if maybe they’re wrong about that. I have yet to read an atheist explanation of rights and the obligation to respect those which would not have, in the past and, perhaps, in the future not strip atheists of rights that anyone has a right to respect. As a gay man, no, I really don’t want my rights to have to depend on that absurd idea, those were always there even before anyone noticed that they were. Rights and the moral obligation to respect those are as real as atoms, molecules, and planets moving through gravity. They are certainly more known to be real than multi-verses, strings, membranes etc. at the Plank scale or the just-so stories of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, what that version of rights is based on.

  • Re: “Or what has the period of fundamentalist political success didn’t you notice?”

    So you’re drifting from plain old majoritarianism (i.e. the vaunted and holy 90% must be right) to electoral majoritarianism (i.e. fundies are successful in elections therefore they must be right). Keep up the fallacies, dude, this is hilarious.

    Re: “The entire Spanish Inquisition, lasting hundreds of years, wracked up a tiny fraction of what Stalin managed to during his regime. Or Pol Pot or Mao.”

    Just so you know, I stopped reading that paragraph after the mentions of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao, which are stock Christian apologetic scare words, which no longer frighten me. None of these guys has any relevance to atheism as a whole. Stalin wasn’t even an atheist … he was a Russian Orthodox Christian and had even attended seminary in his youth.

    Re: “If you chose your pseudonym unaware of its implications then, what can I say, I just must know more about the culture and history of recent atheism than you do.”

    Oh, this is rich. After I told you where I got my pseudonym from (you’re aware, I hope, it’s “PsiCop” not “CSICOP”?), you’re going to to tell me that’s not where I got it from and that I don’t actually know where I got it from? You’re insane, do you know that?

    Re: “What smear would that be?”

    That I’m an associate of Vern Bullough, whom you call a pedophile. For the record, I’d never heard of the guy until you mentioned him. I have no idea what relevance he has to me, either (you’re aware, I hope, my handle is “PsiCop” not “CSICOP”?)

    Re: “The idea that social consensus produces rights and moral obligations means that any group that society doesn’t believe has rights has no moral obligation to even consider if maybe they’re wrong about that.”

    Yeah, and that’s kind of why we have these things called “laws.” You know, rules that a state/society uses to coerce people into doing or not doing things regardless of whether or not they wish to.

    Re: “So your position actually supports my contention about the consequences of not believing in moral absolutes.”

    That’s funny, because you’d never mentioned moral absolutes before. You’re copying in more and more crap from your Christian apologetics materials again.

    Re: “Rights and the moral obligation to respect those are as real as atoms, molecules, and planets moving through gravity.”

    Great! Disclose which instrumentation you’ve used to detect and/or measure all of them.

    Re: “They are certainly more known to be real than multi-verses, strings, membranes etc. at the Plank scale or the just-so stories of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, what that version of rights is based on.”

    Again, you’re dumping stock Christian apologetics crap into this discussion without any of it even being relevant. I never mentioned Planck distances, branes, strings, or any of that. You’re only bringing it up because you’re copying it from something else. I’m honestly not interested in any of that bilge … I’ve been a fundie Christian myself and I already know all about it. In fact, I probably know much more about it than you do, because all you’re doing is regurgitating it without even understanding what it is. So spew that ridiculousness at someone else who’s stupid enough to tolerate it from you.

  • Camera Obscura

    It’s pointless to discuss something with someone as dishonest as you are. To claim that Stalin wasn’t an atheist is about as transparent a lie as could be, though you obviously are confident it’s one that atheists will pretend to believe.

  • apotropoxy

    “There was nothing that the Nazis did which conformed to the teachings of Jesus…”
    ___________________

    There was nothing I posted that suggested that they did. I simply noted that Nazi Germany was perhaps the most thorough Christianized nation in Europe. European Christians had been perpetrating outrages against Jews since their religion was legalized. Nazi Germany was only the most recent horrenda against a long hated minority.

    Your dodge is an old one. We call it No True Scotsman.

  • apotropoxy

    Not true.

  • Camera Obscura

    You know, that “No True Scotsman” phrase is generally one of the markers that an atheist can’t deal with an argument, there are a number of them which have become current online.

    I have certainly not denied that Christians have been guilty of antisemitism, which is especially irrational as Jesus, the central figure in their religion was born, lived as and died a Jew, Christians either have to believe, fully, that God decided to be born as a Jew or they have to believe that a major part of the knowledge we have about Jesus is wrong. Not to mention pretty much his entire teaching which is all about treating people well, not lying about them, treating them well even when they act against you.

    Jesus said that there would be many people pretending to act in his name but the real test of their authenticity was in how well they carried out his teachings and his idea of The Law. There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus that is consistent with the practices of antisemitism, racism, gender discrimination, etc. Anyone who did those while claiming Christianity, from year 1 AD to 201 AD is violating the teachings of Jesus. And, as I had to tell one of your tag team buddies on another discussion thread here, antisemitism was practiced before the birth of Jesus, there was a form of it current among classical Greeks, including a version of the blood libel, which there is some evidence was also attributed to Christians, as well. To blame Christianity in general for evils committed by Christians makes far less sense than to blame scientists in general for the violations of science that are documented in, among other places, Retraction Watch.

    All during the period when some Christians were practicing antisemitism there was condemnation of that practice. Papal encyclicals against the blood libel, expulsions, antisemetic violence were issued, Some of those note that it was kings and others whose motive was to steal the property of Jews who whipped up the antisemitism and lied the lies. Of course any institution or people with a history of two thousand years is going to have a mixed record of success in being good. Atheists certainly have had a mixed record of being good, some of them having been guilty of everything atheists pin on Christians, and they are also guilty of lying about that as the guy who tried to claim Stalin wasn’t an atheist here did. The big difference is that Christianity has ways to identify all of those things, antisemitism, violating rights, lying as being wrong, atheism doesn’t, science doesn’t. Atheism, science have to borrow moral positions derived from religion to make their critique of religion. In terms of morality atheism is a totally deficient ideology as science, as well, provides no moral truths.

    The requirement that the entire history of Christianity has to be sin free or Christianity is debunked is certainly not the same rule that atheists and academics apply to atheism. That is especially remarkable as atheism has a far, far higher body count per year of having political power and very likely for all time than Christianity managed to wrack up in its history. In the period of the past century, the one that any Christian alive today has responsibility for, atheism has proven to be far the more dangerous idea no matter how much someone like Steve Weinberg lies about that.

  • Re: “It’s pointless to discuss something with someone as dishonest as you are.”

    … says the person who insisted the inspiration for my own pseudonym wasn’t what I said it was. Obviously you have no idea what you’re talking about (you can’t even tell the difference between “PsiCop” and “CSICOP,” for some reason). But you couldn’t even admit you were wrong. So you’re hardly the one to run around telling others that they’re “liars.”

    Re: “To claim that Stalin wasn’t an atheist is about as transparent a lie as could be …”

    Except that it’s not a lie! Stalin was an Orthodox Christian and did attend seminary in his youth. Any dependable reference site will tell you this. Go look it up for yourself … someplace other than your Christian apologetics Web sites.

  • apotropoxy

    “You know, that “No True Scotsman” phrase is generally one of the markers that an atheist can’t deal with an argument,
    _______________

    No. That comes as news to me.
    (You have now added the Sweeping Generalization fallacy to your list of non sequitorials. Care to try False Equivalence next?)

  • Camera Obscura

    Well, now I know you don’t know what the term “sweeping generalization” means since I only said it was a general marker and I further limited it by mentioning it was encountered online.

    I could have added the incorrect citations and even inventions of alleged logical fallacies as common habits of online atheists who. quite often, don’t have the first clue of what those mean. Why not try to answer the points made instead of coming up with those lame excuses for not dealing with them?

  • Camera Obscura

    Now you’re becoming hysterical, I didn’t “insist” that the inspiration for your pseudonym wasn’t what you said it was, I merely expressed my doubt that you would have been unaware of it being a homonym for one of the major atheist-pseudo-skeptical groups of the past forty years. As I obviously know more about the history of CSICOP than you seem to I would have known the difference between your cover name and the acronym for that group. Considering its disastrous and scandalous single “scientific investigation” which couldn’t even get the relatively simple statistical analysis right and then incompetently lied about that in its bumbled cover up, it’s understandable why Paul Kurtz would want to change that.

    Stalin was the sponsor of the League of Militant Atheists, the Tartar Militant Godless, and the man who destroyed churches, cathedrals, monasteries, convents, murdered priests, Buddhist lamas, bishops, ministers, etc. He infamously ordered the dynamiting of the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ The Savior, filming its destruction to be used as anti-religious propaganda. The record of Stalinist murders of religious people, the suppression of religion and the destruction of religious institutions is massive and won’t disappear anymore than his massive record of murder, terror and enslaving people.

    Online atheists have mounted a lie campaign to deny the fact that atheism was one of the basic foundations of the Soviet dictatorship, groups like the Guerrilla Skeptics have altered the accounts of various aspects of that on places like Wikipedia and other aspects of the underside of the history of atheism. Atheists apparently have to lie about their history, even that within living memory in order to cover it up. Atheists don’t believe it’s a sin to lie so they lie with a freedom that no sincere Christian could.

  • Re: “I didn’t “insist” that the inspiration for your pseudonym wasn’t what you said it was, I merely expressed my doubt that you would have been unaware of it being a homonym for one of the major atheist-pseudo-skeptical groups of the past forty years.”

    That it’s a “homonym” is completely irrelevant to anything. It certainly doesn’t justify your attempt to smear me as the associate of a pedophile (which I’m not). Grow the heck up and get over it already.

    Re: “Stalin was the sponsor of the League of Militant Atheists, the Tartar Militant Godless, and the man who destroyed churches, cathedrals, monasteries, convents, murdered priests, Buddhist lamas, bishops, ministers, etc.”

    He also was Russian Orthodox and had attended seminary in his youth. Period. End of discussion. Stalin is another of those things you need to grow up and get over already.

    Re: “Online atheists have mounted a lie campaign to deny the fact that atheism was one of the basic foundations of the Soviet dictatorship …”

    And Christian apologists have been carrying on centuries of multiple lie campaigns in which they misrepresented their opponents, misrepresented their own faith, and in turn spawned vile movements like anti-Semitism. Your complaint basically amounts to, “But those horrific atheists are lying better than we are!” Call me unimpressed with that.

    Re: “Atheists don’t believe it’s a sin to lie so they lie with a freedom that no sincere Christian could.”

    And Christians never lie!? Seriously? You’re actually going to try to go with that? In spite of the fact that a lot of Christians view lying for Jesus as being scripturally holy? I know you won’t believe that, but it can be found in Hebrews 11:31, wherein Rahab the Harlot was explicitly declared sanctified by her lying (her story can be found in Joshua 2).

    Please, by all means, go ahead and try to tell me Christians never lie because their deity ordered them not to, whereas atheists lie all the time because they have no deity ordering them not to. Do it. Please. I’m begging you. I need a good laugh, and your continual defense of the indefensible, based upon your petulant, childish need never to admit being wrong about anything (e.g. Stalin, who was Russian Orthodox and attended seminary), will fill that bill quite nicely.

    Again, I must thank you for living down to all my expectations of Christians. I knew from the start you had no idea what you’re talking about, and you just keep making that clearer with your every comment.

  • Camera Obscura

    That it is a homonym for CSICOP was relevant to my point, you don’t get to determine what someone else chooses to address. That you find the history of organized atheism inconvenient is certainly not going to prevent me from raising it. I have studied that history and it determines the character of atheism in 2015.

    The denial by atheists of the atheism of Stalin and the Soviet leadership is as much a falsification of history as the denial that Leopold X was Catholic. I’ve had atheists make denials of the place of explicit atheism in the history of the past century that were as big a lie as David Irving’s attempt to distance Hitler from genocide. Atheism obviously needs to lie about its history and its major figures, which is especially telling in that they deny any kind of substance as to what atheism is.

    Atheists have sought to use the internet in the most dishonest of ways, especially around their explicit attempt to turn things like Wikipedia into propaganda vehicles for atheism, that other groups, such as neo-fascists, neo-Nazis (they entirely hijacked the Croatian Wikipedia) and others for whom the truth is inconvenient is certainly nothing that is deemed immoral under atheism. As I’ve pointed out, Christianity holds that it is a sin to tell a lie and a serious sin to bear false witness, in many denominations, that’s called a mortal sin. Atheists who complain about Christians lying are making a moral critique impossible in atheism, so they are temporarily pretending to be Christians too, in a way.

    I doubt I’ve “lived down” your expectations of Christians because it’s clear you have made a determined effort to think the worst of Christians. I used to be more inclined to distinguish between atheists who were base liars and those who aren’t, as I’ve known atheists who were quite honest. But I don’t make that distinction as much because they don’t assert themselves as an alternative to the organized atheists who troll websites and populate the new atheism. Though I do note individuals for their honesty when what they say is relevant. Richard Lewontin is an example of that.

  • Camera Obscura

    Oh, and I’ve addressed those occasions when morality demands that a lie be told, the “would you lie to the Nazis about where the Jewish people were hiding” question. There are higher values in some cases than telling the truth, that necessity to lie is made necessary by the massive immorality of other people in the situation their immorality brings about. Telling the truth of where a potential murder victim is hiding is entirely less of a moral exigency than preventing them from being murdered. That exigency is the result of the immoral intentions of their murderers.

    I know that argument deals with things entirely more complex and more realistic than what atheism is made of but even atheists can comprehend that truth. That is until they try to game the complexity of the issue to make dishonest claims about it. You don’t have to be an atheist to do that but there is nothing in atheism that identifies it as immoral dishonesty.

  • Re: “… you don’t get to determine what someone else chooses to address.”

    Actually, yes I do get to tell you it’s irrelevant. That you don’t think it’s irrelevant is because you’re petulant and juvenile and refuse to let go of it.

    Re: “The denial by atheists of the atheism of Stalin and the Soviet leadership is as much a falsification of history as the denial that Leopold X was Catholic.”

    It is NOT false to say Stalin was Russian Orthodox. He DID attend seminary. Period. Your refusal to acknowledge historical fact only further demonstrates your petulant childishness. That atheists are the ones who’ve pointed it out to you, DOES NOT and never will make it wrong. As I said, this is another of those things you need to get over already.

    Re: “… (they entirely hijacked the Croatian Wikipedia) …”

    More whining and crying over something you haven’t even attempted to substantiate. Waah waah waah little baby. Waah waah.

    Re: ” As I’ve pointed out, Christianity holds that it is a sin to tell a lie and a serious sin to bear false witness, in many denominations, that’s called a mortal sin.”

    Scripture (i.e. Hebrews 11:31) disagrees with you on this. You may not like it, but you do have to live with it, because those words are right there in the Bible you worship.

    Re: “Atheists who complain about Christians lying are making a moral critique impossible in atheism, so they are temporarily pretending to be Christians too, in a way.”

    Christians who insist atheists can ONLY tell lies because their atheism compels them to, and who in turn insist Christians never can lie because their God told them not to, are also ignoring the fact that Christians lie all the time and their deity won’t stop them. That in turn means they have no moral high-ground upon which to stand.

    Re: “… as I’ve known atheists who were quite honest>”

    Curiously, though, so far you’ve insisted — repeatedly — that atheists are compelled always to lie by their atheism. But here you admit they can be honest. This could only be the case if honesty were possible without your precious Christian God forcing them to be honest. This, in turn, invalidates your entire argument about honesty being possible only for believers in your precious God.

    You just destroyed your entire argument about atheists being perpetual liars by nature … but given your petulance, I expect you’ll refuse to acknowledge it.

  • Camera Obscura

    “Actually, yes I do get to tell you….”

    Atheists, always figuring someone died and made them God.

    Well, then, by your reasoning, the ex-priest Joseph McCabe, the Richard Dawkins-Christopher Hitchens of his age, the most prominent Brit-atheist before Russell, was never an atheist as he claimed, he was a Catholic. After all, he’d been ordained. And he’s just one of a list of ex-priest, ex-minister, ex-nuns, etc. who have gone on to have careers as atheist spokesmen. All of those ex-fundamentalists and ex-evangelicals who one encounters are lying about being atheists, Hemant Mehta is lying about being an atheist because he’s a Jain, etc.

    This is your brain on new atheism, obviously.

    New atheists only deny what they don’t like so it’s not worth presenting documentation. I’ve done that over and over again here and elsewhere. I don’t include links here because I don’t want my comments to be held up in moderation.

  • Re: “Atheists, always figuring someone died and made them God.”

    First, I’m not an atheist. (This is the 2nd or 3rd time I’ve said it.) Second, I do get to tell you that my choice of pseudonym has nothing to do with “CSICOP” because — well! — I picked it and know for a fact that it’s not relevant. Stamp your feet and whine and cry and insinuate that I associate with pedophiles all you like — but you are wrong, and have no f-ing idea what you’re talking about, absurdly and repeatedly insisting you know more about how and why I picked my own pseudonym than I do.

    It’s time for you to grow up, little baby.

    Re: “This is your brain on new atheism, obviously.”

    Except I’m not a “new atheist,” much less an atheist of any kind. That’s something else you have no concept of. You keep repeating that I’m an atheist even after I’ve explained that I’m not — as though, somehow, miraculously, you know more about what I think, than I do. That’s absurd too.

    As I said … it’s time for you to grow up, little baby.

    Re: “I don’t include links here because I don’t want my comments to be held up in moderation.”

    I don’t include links because you’re too much of a petulant crybaby for it to be worth the effort. Waah waah waah.

  • Re: “That it is a homonym for CSICOP was relevant to my point, you don’t get to determine what someone else chooses to address.”

    So you plan to continue this laughable and absurd line of attack based on your assertion that I don’t even know why I selected my pseudonym. Really!? You are insane. Not just childishly petulant … you’re outright nuts.

    Re: “The denial by atheists of the atheism of Stalin and the Soviet leadership is as much a falsification of history as the denial that Leopold X was Catholic.”

    I will keep repeating it as often as I can: Stalin was Russian Orthodox. No amount of you insisting otherwise can ever possibly change that fact.

    Re: “Atheism obviously needs to lie about its history and its major figures …”

    So, that makes it OK for Christians to have lied about their own history and major figures? They’ve got a long record of doing so, such as Eusebius’s Historia Ecclesiae in the mid-4th century, which contains many distortions and lies. Even in the 5th century Christian scholars had caught on to its dishonesty. Christian historiography only got worse from there.

    Re: “… [atheists] entirely hijacked the Croatian Wikipedia …”

    A claim for which you have provided zero evidence and keep blaming me for. That, too, is crazy. Just f-ing insane. Even if it happened — which I doubt — the cold reality here is that I didn’t have anything to do with it, you whiny little crybaby. Beginning with the salient fact that I’m not even an atheist in the first place. What part of that do you not get?

    Re: “As I’ve pointed out, Christianity holds that it is a sin to tell a lie …”

    Which hasn’t stopped Christians from lying all the time. Time for you to grow up, suck it up, and get back on your medication.