CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Telling Lies for Atheism

Apr 29, 2009

In his famous work of fiction, The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky observed, through his character Smerdyakov, “For if there’s no everlasting God, there’s no such thing as virtue, and there’s no need of it.”

That seems to be an accurate reading of things. Without God and immortality, the case for an objective, transcendent moral order is awfully hard to make. And therefore the case for moral obligation is difficult to sustain as well.

If life is simply about survival, and the replication of genes, then things like morality in general and truth-telling in particular seem quite out of place. As an example, atheist Richard Dawkins has been fairly candid about life without God. As he wrote in his 1995 volume, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:

“Theologians worry away at the ‘problem of evil’ and a related ‘problem of suffering.’ … On the contrary, if the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies… are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention. It would manifest no intentions of any kind. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A.E. Housman put it: ‘For Nature, heartless, witless Nature. Will neither care nor know.’ DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”

Presumably in such a world truth means very little as well. After all, if humans are nothing but a bunch of selfish genes, then why should truth matter at all? If life is simply a purposeless struggle for survival, then why would it show any interest in truth or falsehood?

Such a reductionistic worldview may help to explain why some atheists seem so cavalier with the truth. Indeed, Richard Dawkins has had a bit of a history of stretching the truth and pushing misleading information. The many criticisms of his The God Delusion, even by fellow unbelievers, are a testimony to this.

But it seems poor Richard has been caught out yet again with a bad case of truth decay. The full story is told by English commentator Melanie Phillips: www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3571996/the-truth-delusion-of-richard-dawkins.thtml#comments

Phillips does a great job of demolishing Dawkins here. She begins with these words: “The most famous atheist in the world, biologist Professor Richard Dawkins, poses as the arch-apostle of reason, a scientist who stands for empirical truth in opposition to obscurantism and lies. What follows suggests that in fact he is sloppy and cavalier with both facts and reasoning to a disturbing degree.”

And she ends with these words: “Unfortunately, he fell flat on his face. From this attempt to tarnish his opponents with the charge of dishonesty, we learn instead that for Richard Dawkins truth is a delusion. Who other than the similarly deluded can ever take him seriously again?”

Please have a read of her entire article, and then come back here for the rest of the story. Mind you, the rest of the story simply gets worse. The part I play in this is two-fold. First, at one point in a recent public presentation Dawkins claims to be quoting from Phillips when in fact he is quoting from me. What he attributes to Phillips comes from an earlier article I wrote about both Dawkins and Phillips: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/10/30/dawkins-deism-and-jesus/#comment-136168

Second, not only can he not even get the authorship question right here, but he has deliberately misquoted me as well. He has done this by sneakily taking two separate remarks of mine and joining them into one paragraph, resulting in a quite misleading statement.

This is the paragraph in question as presented by Dawkins, (but wrongly attributed to Phillips): “Arch-atheist Richard Dawkins is an evolutionist. But many are now asking whether the dyed-in-the-wool critic of religion may be, well, evolving in his views about God. You see, in a recent debate with theist and Christian John Lennox, he let slip what many would regard as a major blooper: he actually admitted that there might be a case for theism of sorts. This was a worldview change of seismic proportions. It was a most remarkable turnaround. For someone who had spent over five decades championing the atheist cause to all of a sudden renounce it was an incredible achievement.”

But if you go to my original article, you will see that he took the first paragraph (which is speaking specifically about Dawkins), and then added my eighth paragraph to it (which is specifically referring to former atheist Antony Flew).

So he selectively cut and pasted from my article, in order to misrepresent me (or Phillips, as he sought to do). In part he can only make his trumped-up charges against Phillips by pulling quotes apart and re-pasting them together for his own disingenuous purposes.

When I spoke of a “worldview change of seismic proportions” in my original article I of course was referring to Flew, not to Dawkins. So Dawkins uses this cutting and pasting in an effort to discredit Phillips, when in fact all he has done is discredit himself.

Indeed, we are left with only two possible explanations for all this. He is either incompetent as a writer and researcher, or he has deliberately set out to misinform and deceive his audience. Either option is not very pretty. Considering that this guy actually calls himself a “Bright”, he does not seem so bright after all. He is either quite a dolt who cannot even do the most basic of quotations and referencing, or he has deliberately and maliciously made these gross misrepresentations and distortions in order to promote himself while he seeks to demonise Phillips.

So much for integrity and truth-telling Mr Dawkins. To paraphrase Dostoyevsky, “For if there’s no everlasting God, there’s no such thing as truth, and there’s no need of it.” Thanks for being such a good illustration of this Richard.

[1035 words]

47 Responses to Telling Lies for Atheism

  • Hi Bill,

    The interesting thing will be to follow how the other God-deniers handle this. Will they stand up for truth? Will they minimize the importance of this revelation? Will they apply consistent standards to Dawkins compared to what they apply to people with ideas that challenge their worldviews?

    Watch those goal posts shift around! (What does this say about what they believe?)

    Mark Rabich

  • Hi Bill,

    If he’d just cut and pasted a quote of yours verbatim, I’d be inclined to think it was only an error of provenance. But the fact that he presumably went to the trouble of reading, assessing, and then stitching two disparate quotes together does imply wilful deception.

    You’d think that over his long career of God-hating he’d have learnt to be a bit more careful. But a similar thing apparently happened when he put a different spin on events to explain why he was tongue-tied (and still in the end failed to provide a satisfactory answer) to the question: Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?

    creation.com/was-dawkins-stumped-frog-to-a-prince-critics-refuted-again

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Hi Bill,

    I’ve been given the opportunity for an on going debate via e-mail with some disciples of Dawkins within the Working Dog World. Although the corresponding is still at an early stage, it has become somewhat clear that Truth and facts do not penetrate their indoctrination. So the fact that Dawkins can be shown to be less than truthful will not sway them from adoring him. One can only hope that the continuing debate will make them some what uncomfortable with their ignorance.

    Nino Suraci

  • Bill, that was a delicious way to end the day – reading of Dawkins digging an ever deeper hole for himself. It is a self-correcting mechanism that those who despise truth are likely to fall into the ditch of deceit and thereby mar the ‘dignity’ of their arguments. As in the blind leading the blind. All good. And good that Melanie P could ‘gotcha’ Dawkins over his shallow jibe of ‘lying for Jesus’.
    David van Gend

  • I think something for all to remember is that taking up the athiest mantle commonly means also taking up the belief that all the religious people are deluded. In conversation it still surprises me this base assumption – and it is something not easily given up even when caught going in circles around relative morality…

    I mean, Christians, and others, are just dumb and deluded – how else could they believe in it, right?

    Yes they are, yes they are, yes they are!

    Tristan Ingle, Sydney.

  • Printed out, kept on file and ready for the debates. Advise other apologists to do the same…..
    Michael Boswell

  • I am curious as to how the morality of a god, such as the one in the Bible, is a better morality than that of humans. There are many violent and despicable acts either committed by god or committed in his name. Is it virtuous when god kills infants?
    Neil Ralston

  • Thanks Neil

    So please tell us where in the New Testament God kills an infant or commands it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • To be fair to Richard Dawkins, based on my experience with people who call themselves “brites”, the term generally refers to a better use of the electrical power of their brains. That better use being, to light a small room.

    But you are probably right, this is just an example of that much trumpeted SuperiorAtheistMorality(TM) that they are always going on about.

    Jason Rennie

  • Neil, I do believe that your Biblical research has only gone as far as the back of Dawkins new “God delusion T-Shirt.”
    Why does a scientist with any real credibility want to sell T-shirts belittling a God he doesn’t believe in?

    Nino Suraci

  • If Dawkins has done such an act then that is poor form but I am not here to defend him, he can do that himself. Reading the comments though made me reflect on a well worn but worthy passage

    “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone” John 8:7

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    But if I am reading you correctly, your comment really adds nothing of substance to the debate here. The passage you cite, and Matthew 7:1, are perhaps the two most misused and abused texts in the entire Bible, so often raised by atheists as some sort of a conversation stopper. They misuse these passages, wrongly assuming one is being commanded not to make any critical evaluations of anyone or anything unless one is perfect.

    I have written elsewhere about such faulty understandings of these texts:
    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2007/10/12/on-capital-punishment-part-2/
    www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/10/08/thou-shalt-judge/

    And your comment totally misses the point. It is so typical of atheists in general and Dawkins’s groupies in particular to completely avoid the issue at hand and attack the messenger instead. Simply look at the dozens of nasty comments being posted by misotheists under the Melanie Phillips article. Hardly any are in fact dealing with the actual issue. Most are simply ad hominem attacks on Phillips, and more Christian-bashing.

    Of course it is always easier for atheists to resort to name calling and mud-slinging instead of actually dealing with the arguments. And the issue is just what Phillips said it was: Dawkins prides himself in being the epitome of truth and rationality, yet he regularly resorts to mistruths and irrationality.

    To make the number of major blunders he has in just this one episode leaves us with few options: he is either simply inept at careful rational debate, or he has deliberately and maliciously made these misleading and inaccurate statements. Either way, he comes nowhere near to his claim that atheists are hard-headed rationalists who are so very superior to believers.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, the Melanie Phillips site seems to have been cleaned up a bit, but I found it very hard to read.

    The respondents don’t quote clearly to whom they are responding, comments are not separated from quotes etc.

    Sorry but I got a headache plowing through it all.

    John Angelico

  • Melanie’s article certainly exposes Dawkins’ sloppy quoting and his cheap shots at Chrsitianity.
    However your highlighting of the fact that he spliced two paragraphs together really exposes what Dawkins has done to promote his cause.
    Well done!
    Jenny Stokes

  • Thanks Jenny

    The real question is, is this merely a case of sloppy quoting (which is bad enough), or is this in fact deliberate misquoting (which is even worse). If it is the former, he is at best incompetent; if it is the latter, he is at worst malevolent.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill
    To extend your point about truth being irrelevant to atheists: how about choice? If humans are just the product of entities capable of physical measurement: atoms, molecules, chemicals electrical impulses, genes, etc which behave in a predictable fashion, surely there is no such thing as choice in their universe? The inescapable conclusion they must accept is that each individual human being is pre-programmed (by what?), and incapable of exercising choice? This we know is a nonsense.
    Dunstan Hartley

  • Dear Bill,
    thanks for a great service again. For another great example of what happens when man tries to use reason in defiance of truth. You will not hear this about Peter Singer on “our” ABC, but they do feature him too often: www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=279
    Gerard Flood

  • “Without God and immortality, the case for an objective, transcendent moral order is awfully hard to make. And therefore the case for moral obligation is difficult to sustain as well.”

    There is a philosopher called Plato who managed to demolish your arguments. You might want to read up on the Euthyphro dilemma.

    “If life is simply about survival, and the replication of genes, then things like morality in general and truth-telling in particular seem quite out of place.”

    Why? Why should we care what life is about? We care about what our lives and other peoples lives are about, not the concept of life as a whole.

    “Considering that this guy actually calls himself a “Bright”, he does not seem so bright after all”

    Blame Dennet for the label.

    “Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?”

    Any mutation that lengthens the DNA strands does that.

    “I mean, Christians, and others, are just dumb and deluded – how else could they believe in it, right? ”

    What do you expect people to believe? If someone believes something they tend to believe people who don’t believe it are wrong. What do you think about Muslims or Hindus?

    “So please tell us where in the New Testament God kills an infant or commands it.”

    God doesn’t appear much in the New Testament.

    “Why does a scientist with any real credibility want to sell T-shirts belittling a God he doesn’t believe in?”

    M-O-N-E-Y. Plus, making fun of idiots is always fun!

    “Either way, he comes nowhere near to his claim that atheists are hard-headed rationalists who are so very superior to believers.”

    We aren’t. Being right does not require being a rationalist.

    “To extend your point about truth being irrelevant to atheists: how about choice? If humans are just the product of entities capable of physical measurement: atoms, molecules, chemicals electrical impulses, genes, etc which behave in a predictable fashion, surely there is no such thing as choice in their universe? The inescapable conclusion they must accept is that each individual human being is pre-programmed (by what?), and incapable of exercising choice? This we know is a nonsense.”

    So, determinism is wrong… because you say it is nonsense. Except you give no rationale whatsoever. Note that adding souls into the mix doesn’t get the nebulous free will you love so much- see Calvinism for what happens if God is responsible for giving people souls.

    Samuel Skinner

  • Thanks Samuel

    But with all due respect, all you demonstrate here is how consistent atheists are – consistently wrong. I am afraid all you are doing here is giving atheism a really bad name. Space does not permit me to address all the howlers found in your remarks, so let me simply focus on three.

    It is of course ludicrous for atheists to appeal to Plato. He was an idealist, not a materialist. Sure, the platonic god is a far cry from the God of the Bible, but he is still a transcendent, immaterial, eternal being, something which atheists say does not exist.

    And he simply created a false dilemma in The Euthyphro. There is a third option which he did not discuss: that morality is based on and part of the very character of God. So morality is therefore neither something outside of God, and therefore greater than God, nor something merely arbitrary, based on the mere whim of God.

    And your wild comment about the New Testament is a perfect illustration of atheists who speak in total ignorance of what they pontificate on. They continually lecture us about a book they have never even bothered to read. As just one line of argument, the word “God” appears in the New Testament over 1300 times, or nearly 50 times in each book. So puh-leeese, spare us any more such nonsense here – it is just too much of an embarrassment for the atheist crusaders.

    Also, given how woefully ignorant you are of the Bible, please do not pretend you are now an expert on theology in general and Calvin in particular. Dawkins has already made himself out to be a bumbling oaf when he tries to wade into theology – you really shouldn’t repeat his mistakes here.

    Sorry Samuel, but I am afraid you will just have to try harder if you want to strike blows for the atheist kingdom. Traipsing out these silly and juvenile responses really does nothing for your cause. It simply strengthens the very claims we have been making here, that the ‘brights’ are in fact anything but. For all their pride in reason and rational debate, the fundamentalist atheists seem to illustrate the exact opposite.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • “God doesn’t appear much in the New Testament.”

    ROFL! You’re exactly a month late, Samuel (April Fool’s Day was last month). Psalm 14:1

    Mark Rabich

  • Thanks Samuel for your answer on why Dawkins sells T-Shirts. So it’s to make money off the Idiots that believe the delusion that he is peddling, right? Create a market of Idiot followers and exploit them for financial gain. Hmm… very scientific.
    Nino Suraci

  • Regarding my question a ways back, why limit your Bible references to the New Testament. Is the Old Testament not part of the Bible?
    Neil Ralston

  • It’s ok, I have come to the conclusion that people like most readers on this blog are just fixed on their beliefs about god. The rest of us will just live a happy life, serving no one and free. The rest of us will just savour every drop of life as it is and enjoy nature as it comes. I will step in on conversations that try to push god into other people. for the rest, i am just happy to see that i can compare my self to people with such beliefs.
    Tzu-yen Wang

  • Thanks Neil

    While the Old Testament is part of the Bible, there is both continuity and discontinuity with the New. Christians are followers of Christ, so he takes the pre-eminence here. I again ask, where does Jesus or the NT command infant sacrifice?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Tzu-yen

    But you just think you are free. In truth, you are already enslaved – to sin and self, and the delusions that go with this enslavement. We are made to be worshipping creatures, so if we don’t worship our true creator, we end up worshipping other gods. As Bob Dylan once sang, “It may be the Devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody”.

    You have made yourself to be god instead of the one true God. Thus you have taken upon yourself a burden which no human can hope to fulfil. By seeking to find completion, purpose and meaning in such a truncated world you will forever be disappointed. Finding that elusive happiness, peace and meaning only comes when we live according to how we were designed, not by running away from the very source of these goods.

    And yes, you must desperately try to find this happiness now in 70 short years or so, thinking there is nothing beyond the grave. It is a most pitiable existence – I know, I used to be there. Running from your maker may give you a bit of temporary giddiness, like a child experiences for a few fleeting moments when running away from home, but you will never be a complete and whole person as long as you push your reductionist atheism, and pretend you are the centre of the universe.

    Sin and self are the great sources of delusion, not faith in the living God. You can shake your fist at God all you like now, but when you stand before him, your smirk will disappear from your face in an instant, and you will realise the truth of Psalm 14:1.

    But as I say, I was once like you, glorying in my rebellion and perceived freedom. But I was in fact in deep bondage, and only when I laid down my arms and received the love and forgiveness of Christ did I find true freedom. Billions of other former slaves have likewise come to know the liberating joy and love found in a relationship with Jesus. As always, I will continue to pray for you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Tzu-yen Wang, at the age of 34 I came to know absolute freedom, His Name is Jesus Christ. So I know where your’e coming from because I’ve been there. Your appeal to freedom without God is unattainable, it’s just an illusion.

    Nino Suraci

  • “Richard Dawkins has had a bit of a history of stretching the truth and pushing misleading information.”
    All of religion is based on stretching the truth and misleading, Virgin birth? Blood to wine? Talking snake? Cain building a city? None of it ads up within the framework of logic and what we already know about the universe.

    “The universe” does indeed seem completely indifferent to “morality, truth, honesty.” But as humans on a planet with nearly 7 billion other people, we _have_ to care for such qualities if we’re to survive. Just because the universe is indifferent towards whether we kill our neighbour or not does not mean there are no advantages here on earth to not doing so. In other words, just because there likely is no daddy to punish us for our bad behaviour does not mean that good behaviour is not advised.

    Arthur Brash

  • Thanks Arthur

    But there is a big difference between whether something is true, and simply not wanting it to be true. All you demonstrate here is the close-mindedness of atheism. Because of your pre-commitment to naturalism, you simply have decided ahead of time that there can be no miraculous events. Thus on faith you rule out what otherwise could be examined, with the evidence weighed, and conclusions drawn. Your anti-supernatural prejudice has nothing to do with real science, and everything to do with scientism. Thus you live as much on faith as any theist does.

    And I also have to call your bluff on your take on morality. While it is nice of you to concede that in a materialistic, atheistic worldview, there can be no basis for objective morality and universal moral standards, you still want to smuggle in non-materialistic assumptions anyway, namely that morality is somehow desirable nonetheless.

    Of course morals cannot be measured in a test tube, nor weighed in a science lab. Your worldview rules out talk of morality, and a consistent atheist will not even waste time pining for a moral world. The more honest atheists have already admitted as much. For example, atheist J L Mackie said that we simply “invent” what is right and wrong. And as Michael Ruse has argued, ethics “is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate”.

    Or as naturalist Simon Blackburn put it, “Nature has no concern for good or bad, right or wrong. . . . We cannot get behind ethics.” At least these atheists were honest. Most atheists are not so forthright. So trying to smuggle ethics into your worldview will just not do Arthur. A materialistic worldview has no place for such non-material realities as right and wrong. Whatever happens just is, and “we dance to its music”, as Dawkins said.

    You say that it is merely “advised” that we have “good behaviour” (whatever that means), and that we need morality for the sake of survival. But as evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr rightly argued, “altruism toward strangers is a behaviour not supported by natural selection”. The Nazis thought what they were doing was “moral” and for the good of survival – at least the survival of the Aryan race.

    Given your worldview, in which transcendent moral standards do not exist, you have no way of claiming the Nazis were wrong. Indeed, a case could be made that the Nazis were simply basing their ideology and actions on Darwinian theory and the materialist worldview bundled with it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Seems as though the morality discussion has jumped threads. In regards to the Nazis, how would you know what they were thinking? They may have known what they were doing was immoral but just chose not to care at the time. After the war, as we know many of the high ranking officers went into hiding. This suggest they did not what they were doing was immoral and trying to hide from their wrong doings. In other words guilt and or shame. They also knew that if and when they were caught they would be in big trouble, not from any church but from the community at large. We need only look at the Nuremberg trials for verification. If the Church was to pass judgment on these people, I ask you what would they have done? What would Jesus have said to the Nazis? I absolve you of your sins and do not do it again? As we know, the Catholic Churches involvement with the Nazis is quite questionable. Many Jews were outed by the Catholic church after they converted from Judaism. Before WW2 Germany was predominantly a Christian Country. Hitler himself was brought up as a Catholic. What can we conclude from that?

    And what about the International Criminal Court. As of April this year 108 states are members of the court, 40 states have signed but not ratified the treaty and others have indicated their intention to accede to it. These countries come from a wide range of cultures and beliefs. Many are not Christian countries. Are you saying that the ICC are incapable of knowing right from wrong?

    So as you say that if one lives by a naturalistic world view (what ever that is) then we cannot claim that what the Nazis did was wrong. If that is the case then a person with a naturalistic view must be no better than Nazi (morally). Is that what you are trying to infer?

    In regards to the thread topic, if Dawkins has bent the truth then he should be exposed for it. It is very poor form. Personally I think he gets far too much exposure and often becomes bigger than the story. If someone had misquoted me so publicly I would be seeking a public explanation from that person as to why.

    Ben Green

  • To paraphrase Arthur,

    All of evolutionary history is based on stretching the truth and misleading.

    The origin of the universe: In the beginning there was nothing then it exploded.

    The origin of life: Going against certain well established scientific laws, matter just happened to arrange itself into complex self reproducing structures.

    The advancement of life: Going against what we observe today in the real world, ‘simple’ biological organisms managed miraculously to increase their complexity providing an incredible diversity of life.

    Sorry, but I don’t have enough faith to be an evolutionist.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • If you require “faith in evolution”, you do not understand evolution. Period.

    Religion is holding morality hostage, and too many feel “robbed” when someone else suggest that morality outside of religion makes perfect sense.

    Before Moses received the 10 commandments, no one thought killing and raping was kosher. If they did, they would not have got to the mountain where the commandments are believed to have been received. Morality does _not_ come from religion. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, they all claim that it comes from their holy scripture. Well, you cannot have it three ways. The only logical conclusion based on what we know today is that morality predates religions. All of them.

    And just because there is no evidence for a grand juror up in the sky, it does not mean everything goes. Is the only reason you’re doing good because god told you to?

    Rational human beings do not seek for reasons to be good. They just do their best – there is no need for religion to mandate it. There is no ultimate scale of what is best. But we know we’re doing something right when civilisation advances, and people live with one another in relative peace. That is the final result of the test, and not entry to a holy kingdom.

    Arthur Brash

  • Arthur – “…what we already know about the universe.”

    What arrogance to effectively say you can reliably determine the basis of truth when you know but a tiny fraction of what is real. I read somewhere that the lower estimate of stars in the universe is 10 to the power of 22. Our Sun is just one of them. I also read that you could fit about 109 Earths across the diameter of the Sun, which means it’s pretty big on its own.

    Never mind things closer to home, like the overwhelming evidence that Jesus lived, died on a cross, and rose again – demonstrating (again) that natural laws do not dictate to God what He can and cannot do. So who or what do I use as a basis for determining truth?

    When the moment comes when you stand in the presence of the One to whom the universe is but a toy, your current (and flawed) idea of “logic” will be meaningless, Arthur. The universe had a cause. It didn’t just ‘happen’. I can only stare in bemusement at the depth of your folly.

    Mark Rabich

  • Thanks Ben

    Yes we have been over all this ground before, and I am afraid it is not doing much good. Comment after comment, year after year, you keep rehashing the same old tired atheist rhetoric. If you were really interested in seeking truth in these areas, instead of simply going back to your atheist tracks and atheist websites to find more objections, you would be reading a bit from the other side (and I have suggested various titles to you earlier). But it does not look like you are serious about this, so there is not much point in me repeating myself here.

    But I will try one last time. As I have told you on numerous occasions, either there exists an objective, transcendent source of universal morality, or all morality is relative – based either on the individual or the culture. Since you deny the former, you are left with the latter.

    And we don’t have to guess what the Nazis were thinking. They clearly told us what they were on about. They clearly thought this was a good thing. But on your worldview, you cannot find moral fault with the Nazis. They were doing what they thought was right, and in the best interests of the German people. With no external standard by which to judge this, we are simply left with what the German culture in the 30s and 40s thought was right. Morality is all relative, and one culture simply cannot judge another culture.

    People may not like what the Nazis did, but if morality is culturally determined, then in the end we cannot complain about what another culture does. They do what they think is right, and that is the end of the discussion. You can’t keep pushing cultural relativism, and then expect us to seriously suggest that one culture is right and one culture is wrong. It is your worldview that is inconsistent here Ben, not mine.

    So please Ben, if you are serious about this debate, and are not just arguing because you like to argue, ease up on your tired atheist clichés, and do some real study with competing points of view. Until you do, I can only assume that you are not very serious about honestly seeking after truth.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Arthur

    As I mention in my rules, those with their own agenda who come here simply to evangelise for their worldview (atheism in your case) are encouraged instead to do so on their own websites. Life is too short, and my main concern is to discuss issues with honest seekers, not with those who have their minds already made up. So as with Ben, I will allow you this one final reply.

    Typical of atheists, you simply ignore all the replies we make, and just keep pushing your faith-based ideology, hoping that mere repetition can take the place type of rational argument.

    The Ten Commandments simply codified what God had already revealed to all men. People are moral persons because they live in a moral universe and are made in the image of a moral God. But because we are fallen, that inner moral sense is severely distorted and weakened.

    Again you concede moral relativism, but again you try to smuggle in arguments that have no place in your own worldview. Why be good in a world which is simply about selfish genes?

    Sorry, but the Nazis of course felt that they were doing “their best” and they certainly felt that their program would make for “civilisation advances” – certainly their own. And they felt it would lead to “relative peace”. So on all three of your criteria, the Nazis were morally justified to do what they did.

    Sorry, I just don’t have enough faith to believe in your bankrupt moral relativism, to paraphrase Ewan.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Also, Ben, getting back to Dawkins: A Dawkins’ apologist has posted a comment on Melanie’s site stating that Dawkins has apologised for getting the quote attribution wrong. Now if it were simply a case of getting the wrong source for a quote, that would be one thing. It happens often and can easily be forgiven.

    But the quote in question was a splice of two quite different paragraphs of mine, resulting in a completely misleading statement. It is hard not to conclude that this was deliberately – not accidently – done. So it is far from clear that he is off the hook on this one as yet.

    But maybe we can expect such tactics from those who believe we are nothing more than a clump of selfish genes. If playing fast and loose with the someone’s work will get you ahead in the evolutionary struggle for survival, then why not?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Indeed, Bill, I’m wondering why that collection of selfish genes we call Richard Dawkins would bother to apologize. Or why that collection of blind watchmaker parts called Ben Green would care about “morality discussion(s)” at all…

    It is tiresome to hear the same mistakes over and over again. Why do people claim rationality and yet the only guaranteed consistency they display is that gaping dichotomy between what they say and how they live? If you say that the world and universe is just about molecules, then it really doesn’t matter if you thieve that item from the shop, or deliberately knock someone over with your car, or exterminate a race of people. Arguments about the promotion of civilization or “relative peace” (from Arthur) are smokescreens because, clearly, the strong will still survive anyway. And what would it matter anyway if the whole human race died out and the insects took over? But nobody lives like that. So this is clearly about rejecting God first because of personal and/or selfish reasons and then finding so-called ‘rational’ arguments later and claiming them as the motivation.

    If you played a sport where the goalposts and rules were constantly shifted to suit your opponents whims you would quickly find another pastime. Hearing atheists claim rational superiority and yet trying to follow their logic is very much like that. They love to nitpick about Christianity but almost never ask the deep and hard questions about their own beliefs, when often the very reason people have arrived at God’s feet is because they have exhausted all other options. Are atheists afraid that they might find God and therefore lack sincerity in their pursuit to find out the truth? Jesus said “Seek and you will find.” In Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Ben Stein asks Dawkins what he would say to God if, after he dies, he discovers that God is real. Dawkins claimed something along the lines that God should’ve made himself more obvious, an answer that sounds absurd to most Christians, who would likely say about that, “Richard, you clearly weren’t looking very hard, because we found Him when we looked for Him.” In this hypothetical situation I also would say this – “Were you looking to find Him on His terms, or your own? Because He is God and He knows if you were faking it. A proud man will not find God.”

    Matthew 7:7-11
    Romans 1:20
    James 4:10
    Proverbs 3:34

    Mark Rabich

  • Bill: “I again ask, where does Jesus or the NT command infant sacrifice?”

    If the God of the NT is the same as the OT then why do you need a distinction?

    Also, how about the notion of unbaptized babies spending eternity in limbo in cases of infant mortality? Obviously, no suffering for the babies themselves but there’s be untold anguish caused to brainwashed parents who have lost children in infancy thanks to this evil dogma.

    Which, in religion’s style of making things up as they go along, has now been overturned.

    Richie Craze

  • Thanks Richie

    Because there is both continuity and discontinuity between the Testaments, as I already said.

    And please inform us all where exactly in the New Testament we find anything about “unbaptized babies spending eternity in limbo”. In fact, please show us anywhere in the 66 books of the Bible where we find this.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Richie, I reconmend that you actually do some real research into what the Bible teaches and then come back and make an informed comment. There are too many ignorant people in the world as it is. Also what Bible beleiving Christians accept as truth has not changed in two thousand years. Making things up as they go along is a proven “modus operandi” of those peddling the evolutionary lie. Dawkins has a doctorate in delusive story telling, jump on his site and watch the master at work.

    Nino Suraci

  • So are you seriously suggesting I’m making up the thological idea of “Limbo”? Bill, I’ve better things to do than to trawl through the bible looking for quotes for you. There’s plenty of nasty stuff in both. The whole concept of atonement for original sin is repellent enough (as well as nonsense as we now know), as is eternal damnation, which the NT introduces.

    Nino, if you think evolution is a lie then I would suggest you are the ignorant one, not me. I was brought up a Catholic so I do know a fair bit about Christianity as it happens. These ad hominem attacks are very common amongst Christians posting on websites, I’ve noticed.

    Richie Craze, UK

  • Thanks Richie

    “I do know a fair bit about Christianity as it happens.” And yet you cannot even answer the simplest of questions. This is so very typical of atheists: they pontificate on, and attack, a set of beliefs which in fact they haven’t the slightest idea about.

    Based on your all-so-typical comments, let me lay out for all to see the atheist modus operandi:

    1. Claim that only atheists are rational and intelligent.
    2. Pretend to be an expert on what you are attacking.
    3. When challenged to come up with the goods, change the subject or attack the messenger.
    4. Think that you have just won the argument.

    Thank you for once again demonstrating the intellectual poverty of atheism. It’s all bluster and bluff. It would be terribly funny if it weren’t so serious.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Richie,

    In case you’re wondering and others also need it spelled out, yes indeed, you believe some things about the Bible which are not true, which is as good as “making (it) up”. And you just use the “better things to do” line as a pathetic excuse for your ignorance and intellectual laziness. It may work amongst your peers and other atheists but not here. I’m pretty sure such sentiments are just seen as ironic here – you claim rational thought is in your corner, but all you do is display the direct opposite for all to see. It’s lame. I hope deep down you know you can do a lot better. Someone displaying real love for knowledge (ie. rationality) would leap at the opportunity to do some research.

    Why is your time so much more valuable that anybody else’s? Why should anybody bother spending their precious time arguing with you if you can’t even make a tiny effort to be accurate? And what do you have to gain by sticking to a lie, anyway? Isn’t it just better and easier to concede the point and move on? Or are you more interested in being ‘right’ about everything and justifying yourself than you are in perhaps having some light illuminated on a subject you are in darkness about? As far as I can tell, no regular on this blog claims to have perfect knowledge or something like that, but at least we generally agree on how to get closer to truth this day than we were the day before. How about you?

    This isn’t a game, you know, this concerns your future life – forever. What other issue in your life has the potential to be eternally regretful if you get it wrong? Bill is right, the stakes could not be higher.

    Mark Rabich

  • Hi Richie, I presumed you Catholic background from your first post. The Catholic Church un-officially adopted the concept of “limbo” in the middle ages and has recently formally abolished it. It was never a Biblical teaching so you can stop blaming the God that you don’t believe in for that one. As I suggested on my previous post to you, research the Bible if you are going to attack it, so that your ignorance may not be revealed.
    Secondly, for your information, I became a follower of Jesus Christ at the age of 34 (I say a follower of Jesus as opposed to a religious person committed to an institutional Church), so I had a thorough exposure to the made up lie of macro evolution. Subsequent to my realisation that Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth and The Life, I undertook formal studies which incorporated a thorough critique of the theory of evolution.
    The conclusion is that the theory of macro evolution is full of problems, and it undergirds a humanist religion that places man at the centre of the universe.
    Furthermore, from my experience, most people who claim to be evolutionists have never really examined the evidence for themselves. Have you?
    Richie, I hope that you are earnestly seeking truth, because if you are then I know that it will eventually lead you not to religion but to Him who is absolute truth, Jesus Christ.
    Nino Suraci

  • Richie, to be brought up a Catholic and to have a relationship with Christ are two separate things. I was brought up attending a Catholic Primary School and Catholic Secondary College and going to mass, but it wasn’t until I had an encounter with Jesus that my life totally changed and I started to develop a personal relationship with Jesus and a biblical worldview. You say that you know a “fair bit about Christianity as it happens” – Christianity is about knowing Jesus Christ – do you know Him?

    Your comment on “unbaptized babies spending eternity in limbo in cases of infant mortality” has no basis in Scripture and hence is untrue. Where is your source for this information? Is it reliable? Is it credible?

    Simone Curran

  • In response to Neil, It needs to be understood that the bible is quite clear when it comes to babies being killed. In the New Testament, only evil men such as Caesar killed hundreds of young children for his own evil desires. The only references to God “allowing” the destruction of families in the Old Testament; was due to the utter evil and filth that permeated these groups of people. This was rare that he did.

    In all the cases of whole generations of families being destroyed under Gods command, it was so that evil would not prevail. Biblically, children are a blessing from God.

    It also needs to be said that God’s morality cannot be brought into question, but our own humanistic ideas and corrupt minds. If God is real, and who the bible says he is, then he is all loving and just. Generally, the natural response to our own children is to punish them justly and with love according to their acts. God is the author and perfector of this concept.

    Lastly, the latter is right, despicable acts are committed in the name of God, not by God. Don’t blame him for our own mistakes.

    Lucas King

  • Thanks Bill for your effort and commitments to maintaining this site.

    Thank you for standing up for our faith, something I have trouble doing far too often.

    Thank you for being faithful to your calling to be one of His church’s watchman and I will continue praying for your protection and discernment.

    Thank you for visiting our chruch a few Sunday’s ago, your talk about ‘where are all the prophets?”. From our discussions I think it has got many of us thinking and considering how to honour our faith in our God… always a good thing.

    For those who do not believe as Christians do, no worries, you have every right to believe in what you believe in. Any Christian or otherwise who tries to “force” you to believe is probably not doing the right thing.

    We are told by God to love Him and love others, everything else is based on these two commands. If a Christian says something that upsets you, ask him or her which one of these two commands he or she is adhering to.

    If they can’t answer, then they need to take a time out. If they can, well, please understand that what they say is out of love for you and/or out of love for their God, and perhaps worthy of some thought.

    God set up the church to ultimately bless the world. We often mess up alot along the way, and there are times when we do it God’s way and get it right and good things happen. I will pray for everyone’s sake we get it right alot more than we get it wrong.

    Han Wei Koay

  • I love Dostoevsky but I have to disagree. Truth is necessary for trust. Trust is necessary for cooperation. Cooperation is necessary for any culture to survive.
    Abu Nudnik

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