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Monday, January 31, 2011

Was Hitler an atheist?

One of the many claims of Christians is that Adolph Hitler was an atheist. They make this statement for many reasons, primarily to distance themselves from this infamous mass murderer. After all, if Hitler was an atheist, then that explains his actions, since we all know atheists are immoral. (See my article on whether atheists actually are immoral for more on this topic) However, if Hitler was a Christian, then they are in the embarrassing position of trying to explain why a Christian would kill so many people. Actually, since Christians have been killing people for close to 2000 years, it is hard to understand why they think it is unusual.

Hitler was raised as a Catholic and remained one for his entire life. He made Christian school prayer mandatory for the 1930's German schoolchildren who grew up to be his dreaded SS.  The Catholic Church never ex-communicated Hitler for any of his actions. In fact, they sent him birthday greetings every year during the war.  It has been noted that Hitler had minor disagreements with the Catholic church in Germany (but not with the church in Rome, with which he signed a Concordat in 1933, and which ordered the German church to fall in line), and they have attempted to twist these minor disagreements into a widespread misconception that he was an atheist. Hitlers issue with the Church was that he believed he should be above it, not with its message. If the Catholic Church considered Hitler a good Christian, and he considered himself a Christian, it is amusing to hear others try and explain that he really was not one. The Catholic Church did ex-communicate Martin Luther for his writings and actions, so they would take that response when they considered it appropriate. If you really believe that Hitler was not a Christian, please answer this. What did Hitler do that the god of the OT did not also do?

Hitler, Franco and Mussolini were given VETO power over whom the pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany, Spain and Italy. In turn they surtaxed the Catholics and gave the money to the Vatican. Hitler wrote a speech in which he talks about this alliance, this is an excerpt: “The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.” Adolf Hitler, 22 July 1933, writing to the Nazi Party.

...Adolph Hitler said "As for the Jews, I am just carrying on with the same policy which the Catholic Church has adopted for 1500 years.....when it regarded the Jews as dangerous and pushed them into ghettos, etc., because it knew what the Jews were like..." Because of the Council of Trent, laws were set forth to establish who was a heretic and history shows us that the Vatican legally slaughtered "heretics" to cleanse the Land of Christians and Jews. As the Second Vatican Council commenced in 1963, Pope John XXIII declared, "I do accept entirely all that has been decided and declared at the Council of Trent" this includes the 100 or so anathema's against Bible Christians.

...The truth is that the teachings of the Council of Trent, made the Inquisition & Holocaust possible and these teachings are still being used to kill Bible Christians all over the world even today. Adolph Hitler was never excommunicated as a Catholic for his crimes against the Jews. Instead, the Vatican considered him to be a hero. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were backed by the Vatican and this is what a Catholic newspaper in Spain said about Hitler the day he died:- "Adolph Hitler, son of the Catholic Church, died while defending Christianity. [Roman Catholicism] It is therefore understandable that words cannot be found to lament over his death, when so many were found to exalt his life. Over his moral remains stands his victorious moral figure, with the palm of the martyr; God gives Hitler the laurels of victory."

As for atheism, Hitler specifically opposed it in a 1933 speech in Berlin: "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."

There are many reasons to say that Hitler was a Christian. There are the numerous expressions of his belief, both written and oral, both public and private.

“National Socialism is not a cult-movement-- a movement for worship; it is exclusively a ‘volkic’ political doctrine based upon racial principles.  In its purpose there is no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood-relationship... We will not allow mystically- minded occult folk with a passion for exploring the secrets of the world beyond to steal into our Movement.  Such folk are not National Socialists, but something else-- in any case something which has nothing to do with us.  At the head of our programme there stand no secret surmising but clear-cut perception and straightforward profession of belief.  But since we set as the central point of this perception and of this profession of belief the maintenance and hence the security for the future of a being formed by God, we thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will-- not in the secret twilight of a new house of worship, but openly before the face of the Lord…  Our worship is exclusively the cultivation of the natural, and for that reason, because natural, therefore God-willed.  Our humility is the unconditional submission before the divine laws of existence so far as they are known to us men.”  -Adolf Hitler, in Nuremberg on 6 Sept.1938.

    “We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith.  We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” -Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933

    "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.  It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth!  was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.  In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders.  How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.  To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross.  As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…  And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."  –Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed.  The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

    "Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars.  Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition." -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
    "The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."  -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
    "With satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people." -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
    “The best characterization is provided by the product of this religious education, the Jew himself.  His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine.  Of course, the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence.  In return, Christ was nailed to the cross, while our present- day party Christians debase themselves to begging for Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish parties-- and this against their own nation.”–Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
    "…the fall of man in paradise has always been followed by his expulsion."  -Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf 
    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”  –Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
    “The anti-Semitism of the new movement was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.”  –Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
“Only in the steady and constant application of force lies the very first prerequisite for success.  This persistence, however, can always and only arise from a definite spiritual conviction. Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain.”  –Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf .

Hitler not only believed in Jesus (which alone made him a Christian) but his work against the Jews came straight from Christian theological reasoning just as had many Christian saints of the past. His Christian expressions of “Lord God,” “Living Christ,” and “Lord and Savior” indicates his acknowledgement of Jesus as God and his acceptance of a resurrected Christ (for what else can “Living” and “Savior” mean except from a resurrected state?). Hitler also believed in the supernatural concept of life after death. In Mein Kampf he wrote, “a religion in the Aryan sense cannot be imagined which lacks the conviction of survival after death in some form.”

Another indication of Hitler’s beliefs about religion comes from his private library of numerous books. Although most of Hitler’s books came as gifts from writers and publishers, those where he penciled and underlined sections reveal, not only the books that he read, but also those that he commented on and had an interest in. Timothy W. Ryback, who examined Hitler’s books, found more than 130 books devoted to spirituality and religion including the teachings of Jesus Christ. Some of the titles included, Sunday Meditations; On Prayer; A Primer for Religious Questions, Large and Small; Large Truths About Mankind, the World and God; a German translation of E. Stanley Jones’s 1931 best seller, The Christ of the Mount; and a 500-page work on the life and teachings of Jesus, published in 1935 under the title The Son: The Evangelical Sources and Pronouncements of Jesus of Nazareth in Their Original Form and With the Jewish Influences. Ryback also found a leather-bound tome — with WORTE CHRISTI, or “Words of Christ,” embossed in gold on the cover — According to Ryback, it “was well worn, the silky, supple leather peeling upward in gentle curls along the edges. Human hands had obviously spent a lot of time with this book…. I scanned the book for marginalia that might suggest a close study of the text. A white-silk bookmark, preserved in its original perfection between pages 22 and 23 (only the portion exposed to the air had deteriorated), lay across a description of the Last Supper as related by Saint John. A series of pages that followed contained only a single aphorism each: ‘Believe in God’ (page 31), ‘Have no fear, just believe’ (page 52), ‘If you believe, anything is possible’ (page 53), and so on, all the way to page 95, which offers the solemn wisdom ‘Many are called but few are chosen.’” [Ryback]

Even if it is true that Hitler was against Christianity, the German people were mostly Christians themselves. The fact that they would willingly follow someone who was anti-Christian does not say much about their faith. However, this does not mean that they disbelieved Christian virtues. The Germans believed that they were the embodiment of Christianity. They were the master race and as such, they were above all the other lesser races who needed these Christian directions.

As Christians are so fond of saying about bible verses, you have to understand the context. Hitler was not against Christianity, he simply felt that it needed to be subservient to him. He was a megalomaniac, you need to keep that in mind. He also felt that as his master race dominated the world, that it would sweep out the beliefs of the lesser races including their misunderstanding of Jesus.

But just for the sake of argument, lets pretend that Hitler really did pretend his Christianity; that his sole aim went to politically winning over German Christians so that he could gain their confidence. How in the world does that improve your argument in protecting Christianity from Hitler? If that proved the case, then who should get the blame, Hitler or the gullible Christian German citizens who believed him? And what does that say for the integrity of Christianity if the most Christianized country in the world could not distinguish a member of their own belief system? Think about it. If the most pious Christians and clergymen could not tell if Hitler practiced false or "real" Christianity, then how in the world could anyone tell? I submit that the only way to tell comes from the very words from those who make the claim. Indeed, this constitutes the very flaw of any religion because there never has existed a testable way to determine the truthfulness of a belief in the supernatural. And if you cannot tell by the words of your fellow Christians, then anyone with minimal acting talent can deceive anyone, including monks, bishops, or popes. In fact, monks, bishops and popes themselves, could fall prey to falsehood. I submit to you that a false Christian and a real Christian makes absolutely no difference. Why? Because if I have it right (and I think I do) then Christianity never represented reality, thus an honest believing Christian and a dishonest believing Christian fall on equal turf: they both have it wrong, and they both practice falsehoods!

The only evidence we have, or could ever have, about people who call themselves Christian comes from the very confession of those making the claim. And since Hitler makes his claim to Christianity abundantly and clearly, we can only rely on his claim, regardless of whether he actually believed in Christ or not. False Christianity has as just much validity as any claim to Christianity, even if you could prove dishonesty.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Are atheists immoral?

That atheists are immoral is a statement that we hear from theists constantly. Simply not believing in God automatically makes us immoral. The actions of atheist Communists in the 20th Century demonstrate that atheists are immoral. But is it an accurate viewpoint?

This is a site that shows dozens of secular/ atheist humanitarian groups. Christians are not the only people who help out their fellow Man. Christians do help, but often with strings attached.
If atheists are right, and god is simply a myth, then our disbelief, in and of itself, cannot make us immoral. Because that would make all people equally moral or immoral. However, as a society, we all tend to agree that certain behaviors are immoral. Genocide, murder, slavery, theft; these are all actions we currently consider immoral. First, it needs to be noted that not all people in all times have considered these actions to be immoral. However, in most societies today these are considered immoral actions. So, what makes these actions immoral to most everybody today? These are all actions that harm people. So, are all actions that harm people considered immoral? Oddly, no. There are many actions that people do that cause harm to others and are not considered immoral. For example, killing in self defense or times of war. Some cultures accept killing others because of passion, such as finding your spouse being unfaithful. What is intriguing about this is that it shows that immorality is not a cut and dried proposition. What some cultures consider immoral, others yawn at. Now this seems odd from the viewpoint that god has determined all acceptable behavior. However, from the perspective that people actually determine what is acceptable or not, it makes perfect sense.

It is also interesting that the Christian god has condoned many of these actions in the past. The bible makes no reference that slavery is immoral. In fact, it provides rules for owning slaves.
Exodus 21:1-4 "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself."
Deuteronomy 15:12-18 "And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him."
Exodus 21:7 "And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do."
Regarding the beating and killing of slaves, the Book of Exodus contains laws regarding punishment for the one who kills the slave as well as injunctions to avoid injuring the eyes and teeth.
Exodus 21:20-21 "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money."
Exodus 21:26-27 "And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake. And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake."
The Book of Leviticus prohibited the harsh ruling over other Israelites, but that slaves could be taken from the Gentiles.
Leviticus 25:44-46 "Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour."
Also, in Leviticus, a distinction is made between the hired servant and the slave.
Leviticus 25:48-53 "After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself. And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him."
Slaves were to undergo circumcision.
Genesis 17:13 "He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."
Genesis 17:27 "And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him."
Female captives are considered spoils of war.
Deuteronomy 21:10-14 "When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her."
Deuteronomy 20:14 "But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself"
The punishment for sexual activity with a female slave who is engaged consisted of animal sacrifice in the Temple. There is no comment on sexual activity with one who is not married or engaged.
Leviticus 19:20-22 "And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him."
The Book of Numbers makes references to thousands of female captives who were to be given to the priests.
Numbers 31:28-47 "And levy a tribute unto the Lord of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep: Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the Lord. And of the children of Israel's half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the Lord."
Mark 14:66 "And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest."
There were restrictions on reselling slaves. Apparently a Hebrew slave could not be resold.
Exodus 21:8 "If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money."
If one were to purchase his own brother into slavery, laws in Leviticus prevent treating him as other slaves, but rather as a guest or servant. The Living Bible refers to "a fellow Israelite" rather than "brother."
Leviticus 25:39 "And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return."
The Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy mention that the punishment for kidnapping an Israelite and selling them into slavery is punishable by death. And a debtor who could not pay back creditors could be sold into slavery or have his children sold.
Exodus 21:16 "And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death."
Deuteronomy 24:7 "If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you."
II Kings 4:1 "Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen."
Slaves could, themselves, own slaves. Saul's slave Ziba owned 20 slaves of his own: 2 Samuel 9:10: "...Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants."
The Sabbath applied to slaves as well.
Exodus 20:10 "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates."
The New Testament did not forbid or alter the institution of slavery, nor did it improve their conditions.
1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
Colossians 3:11 "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

Murder has been condoned by the Christian God many times in the past. This is one of the reasons we say the bible is inconsistent. Christians tell us that if we only followed the 10 Commandments, then we would have a wonderful society. One of the 10 Commandments says "Thou shall not kill". However, God then gives a multiple of reasons to kill throughout the Bible. The commandment was not "Thou shall not kill, unless I say otherwise", it was a straightforward rule that we should not kill others. Why would God give a rule and say not to kill people, but then turn around and tell people to kill others all the time? Here is a thought; the bible was written by men and it is not the inspired word of an all knowing deity.

Kill People Who Don't Listen to Priests
    Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death.  Such evil must be purged from Israel.  (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

Kill Witches
    You should not let a sorceress live.  (Exodus 22:17 NAB)

Kill Homosexuals
    "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives."  (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

Kill Fortunetellers
    A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death.  (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

Death for Hitting Dad
    Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death.  (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

Death for Cursing Parents
    1) If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will go out at the coming of darkness.  (Proverbs 20:20 NAB)
    2) All who curse their father or mother must be put to death.  They are guilty of a capital offense.  (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)

Death for Adultery
    If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.  (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

Death for Fornication
    A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.  (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

Death to Followers of Other Religions
    Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed.  (Exodus 22:19 NAB)

Kill Nonbelievers
    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.  (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

Kill False Prophets
    If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, "You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord."  When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through.  (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)

Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God
    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods.  In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully.  If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.  Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it.  Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God.  That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt.  Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction.  Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you.  He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors.  "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him."  (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night
    But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house.  Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.  (Deuteronomy  22:20-21 NAB)

Kill Followers of Other Religions.
    1) If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him.  Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you.  You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.  And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst.  (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

    2) Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, has done evil in the sight of the LORD your God and has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden.  When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death.  (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)

Death for Blasphemy
    One day a man who had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got into a fight with one of the Israelite men.  During the fight, this son of an Israelite woman blasphemed the LORD's name.  So the man was brought to Moses for judgment.  His mother's name was Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan.  They put the man in custody until the LORD's will in the matter should become clear.  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard him to lay their hands on his head.  Then let the entire community stone him to death.  Say to the people of Israel: Those who blaspheme God will suffer the consequences of their guilt and be punished.  Anyone who blasphemes the LORD's name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel.  Any Israelite or foreigner among you who blasphemes the LORD's name will surely die.  (Leviticus 24:10-16 NLT)

Kill False Prophets
    1) Suppose there are prophets among you, or those who have dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles,  and the predicted signs or miracles take place.  If the prophets then say, 'Come, let us worship the gods of foreign nations,' do not listen to them.  The LORD your God is testing you to see if you love him with all your heart and soul.  Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone.  Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.  The false prophets or dreamers who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of slavery in the land of Egypt.  Since they try to keep you from following the LORD your God, you must execute them to remove the evil from among you.  (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NLT)

    2) But any prophet who claims to give a message from another god or who falsely claims to speak for me must die.'  You may wonder, 'How will we know whether the prophecy is from the LORD or not?'  If the prophet predicts something in the LORD's name and it does not happen, the LORD did not give the message.  That prophet has spoken on his own and need not be feared.  (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NLT)

Infidels and Gays Should Die
    So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired.  As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies.  Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies.  So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever.  Amen.  That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires.  Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.  And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other.  Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.  When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done.  Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.  They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful.  They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents.  They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving.  They are fully aware of God's death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway.  And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.  (Romans 1:24-32 NLT)

Kill Anyone who Approaches the Tabernacle
    For the LORD had said to Moses, 'Exempt the tribe of Levi from the census; do not include them when you count the rest of the Israelites.  You must put the Levites in charge of the Tabernacle of the Covenant, along with its furnishings and equipment.  They must carry the Tabernacle and its equipment as you travel, and they must care for it and camp around it.  Whenever the Tabernacle is moved, the Levites will take it down and set it up again.  Anyone else who goes too near the Tabernacle will be executed.'  (Numbers 1:48-51 NLT)

Kill People for Working on the Sabbath
    The LORD then gave these further instructions to Moses: 'Tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you forever.  It helps you to remember that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.  Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy.  Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community.  Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest.  I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.'  (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)

I believe this shows that we cannot use the bible as the source for morality. People simply do not agree with it. It is inconsistent and therefore, not the foundation of morality that Christians claim it to be.

Did Communists kill in the name of atheism? This is a bizarre claim of theists. Communists killed in the name of their state totalitarianism. Theist totalitarian governments also kill in the same manner. The issue here is that any totalitarian government is bad, not just atheist ones.

Atheists get divorced at lower rates than Christians, especially Evangelical Christians. Many Christians try to rationalize this but it is clear that a true follower of Jesus can neither divorce someone nor marry someone who is divorced.  There is an exception to the rule, however.  If a spouse commits adultery, divorce is permissible.  On the same token, the Bible also says that anyone who obtains a divorce and marries another is an adulterer.  Remember that 80% of this country is Christian yet we have a 50% divorce rate.  A majority of divorces are a result of irreconcilable differences, not adultery, which implies that Christians are again practicing selective morality.  How many Christians are working on a second, third or fourth marriage?

1) “So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6 & Mark 10:9).
2) “Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32, 19:9 & Luke 16:18).
3) "Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery" (Matthew 5:32).
4) "...whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her" (Mark 10:11 & Luke 16:18), which applies to women as well (Mark 10:12).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Was Jesus a real person?

The standard idea is that Jesus was a real person who lived and was killed. The debate normally centers over the idea of whether Jesus was actually the son of God. The comment that all valid historians accept that Jesus existed gets made all the time. But is it reasonable to start with the premise that Jesus was actually a real person? No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings.

It is interesting when we look at the early church leaders. Was this a group of people who tried to follow the message of Jesus? Did they hold to the idea that truth was all they needed to win converts? Then why would they have set out deliberately to lie? Were they willing to create falsehoods and deceits merely to advance themselves and their designs? The records shows that they did indeed plan to lie for Jesus. And for many Christians even to this day, lying for Jesus has been a useful concept to further their goals.
"I will only mention the Apostle Paul. ... He, then, if anyone, ought to be calumniated; we should speak thus to him: ‘The proofs which you have used against the Jews and against other heretics bear a different meaning in their own contexts to that which they bear in your Epistles.
We see passages taken captive by your pen and pressed into service to win you a victory, which in volumes from which they are taken have no controversial bearing at all ... the line so often adopted by strong men in controversy – of justifying the means by the result."

– St. Jerome, Epistle to Pammachus (xlviii, 13; N&PNF. vi, 72-73)

Was there ever a person actually called Jesus? There were actually many different people called Jesus. The name was actually very common during that period.  Josephus, the first century Jewish historian mentions no fewer than nineteen different people named Jesus and about half of them were contemporaries of the supposed Christ.  It is highly likely that the stories of the various people called Jesus got confused or lumped together.

There are many man-god myths from around the world. It is fascinating how similar many of them are to the concept of Jesus. Many of these stories are from religions that are older than Christianity. If older religions had developed the concept of the god-man before Christianity did, it is hardly a stretch to accept that Christianity borrowed from these myths to develop its tale.

I call the story of Jesus a myth because it is founded on a myth and is supported by a myth. Jesus had to die for our sins. The concept of original sin was developed because Adam sinned against God. But there was no Adam, no Garden of Eden. It is a myth. We know this from the study of geology, biology and astronomy.

If there is no original sin, there is no reason for Jesus to die on the cross to atone for us. (By the way, when he was dead for those three days, was the Trinity reduced to a Duality for that period of time? Just curious.)

We know the stories of the Flood, Jonah and the sun stopping in the sky are a myth, as well as many others. How do we know this? From the study of geology, biology and astronomy. Since Jesus confirms the Old Testament, we know he cannot be all knowing and is a myth as well.

Krishna, Buddha, Mithra and Horus are all examples of the man-god myth from different religions. These are all from older religions, yet they encompass many of the same elements as Christianity. I have listed posts that describe these similarities in detail. It seems odd that so many other religions describe the elements of Christianity before Jesus was supposed to have existed. Christians try to explain this away by stating that these other religions actually copied Christianity. A rather odd explanation when the other religions are older than Christianity. My favorite is when they say Satan created the other religions to confuse mankind.

Most of these have the same version of the man-god. Born of a virgin, 12 disciples, killed, often crucified, Dec 25 is a pivotal time point. The same story repackaged for a new audience.

Hercules was mentioned by Flavius Josephus. Should we assume that man-god actually existed based on that? How is that any different than Christians insisting that only a real person would be mentioned by ancient historians?

Since Jesus was Jewish, it is also interesting to note that the Jewish people do not believe Jesus was the Messiah. Now, their disbelief starts with the idea that Jesus was a real person, just not the son of God. So, why would this be relevant?  If Jesus was just a man and not the son of god, my premise is still valid. As I have already mentioned, there were many people living at the time of the supposed Christ that had the name Jesus.  For it is the idea of a divine Jesus that I believe is a myth. Lets take a look at some of the reasons that the Jewish people do not accept Jesus as divine.

What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:
A. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
B. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
C. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
D. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world—on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
The historical fact is that Jesus fulfilled none of these messianic prophecies.
Christians counter that Jesus will fulfill these in the Second Coming, but Jewish sources show that the Messiah will fulfill the prophecies outright, and no concept of a second coming exists.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Does the bible show true prophecy?

There are thousands of prophecies in the bible. Are they true? Most can be shown to be completed due to one of three things. They can either be shown to be so vague that anything could used to demonstrate it occurred, or was so obvious that it had to occur at some point in time, or have been shown to have been written after the fact, retro-fitting the prophecy to an event that already occurred. The other consideration is that they are actually wrong. In actuality, many of these so called fulfilled prophecies failed, were false or weren't prophecies at all.  Many of these prophecies are so vague, they can be attributed to different events.  It's also a fact that the Bible was written many years after these presumed prophecies and their "fulfillment" took place.  It's also fair to mention that nowhere in the Bible will you find countries such as the United States, Russia, China, Korea, Great Britain prophesied.  Oh, Christians will tell you that they are, if you know how to interpret the Bible, but that does not make it accurate.

A story is told about a captain in the U.S. Cavalry many years ago who was riding through a small town in Oklahoma. As he passed by a barn, he suddenly pulled his horse to a stop, because right there before him on the side of the barn were dozens of bull's eye circles drawn with chalk, and in the center of each one was a bullet hole.
About that time another man walked by and the captain asked him, "Do you know who is the marksman responsible for all those bull's eyes?" The passer-by nodded his head and said, "Yep, that would be Billy Hawkins. But he's a mite peculiar."
The captain replied, "Well I don't care what he is like. The Cavalry can use anyone who can shoot that well."
"Ah ha," said the other man, "But I think you should know that Billy shoots first, then he comes over and draws those circles."
The above story is an illustration of a common Christian favorite pastime—making the Bible say what they wanted it to say.

“Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. Yet thus saith the Lord God; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered. And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.”
—Ezekiel 29:9-15

I think we can all agree that this never happened.

We also have this in Ezekiel

Ezekiel didn’t just predict that Tyre would be destroyed; he predicted it would be destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon:
  • “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.”
    —Ezekiel 26:7-10

  • This is a false prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar did indeed besiege Tyre for many years – but, as any history book will tell you, he failed to conquer it. (Tyre is a city on an island just offshore, with suburbs on the mainlands. Nebuchadnezzar conquered those, but failed to break into the island city.) Alexander the Great did conquer it later, but he was not the object of Ezekiel’s prophecy.
  • God also said in Ezekiel 26:14, “And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the Lord have spoken it, saith the Lord God.”
    • This is completely wrong. Tyre exists to this day, and plenty of people still live there
    • Genesis 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

  • Here God tells Isaac that his descendents (Hebrews) will be as numerous as the stars. Considering the number of stars there are in the universe, that would have to be on the order of 10 to the 20th power of Jewish people.

  • Isaiah 17:1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
    Damascus is still inhabited today with over a million people, and hardly a ruinous heap.

  • Isaiah 19:4-5 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts. And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.
    The river mentioned here is the Nile. The Nile is still one of Egypt’s greatest natural resource.

  • Isaiah 19:18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.
    The Canaanite language has never been spoken in Egypt, and is now an extinct.

  • Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
    There are uncircumcised people living in Jerusalem even today.

  • Ezekiel 29:10-11 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
    Never in its long history has Egypt ever been uninhabited for forty years.

A real prophecy would be along the lines of something like this:

In the year 1776, as the future dating method will present it,  13 colonies of England, on the continent of North America, will rebel and fight a war of freedom. Against superior forces, they will prevail and name this new country The United States of America. They will forgo kings and monarchs and elect people to lead them called  Presidents. The first will be named George Washington.

Now, if someone had said that 3000 years ago, I would call them a prophet. The silly ones in the bible, are only believed by people lost in their god delusion

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Old Testament vs the New Testament rules

One comment I hear Christians say a lot is that Jesus abolished the laws of the OT and established a new Covenant. Therefore, all the rules that god established for moral behavior in the OT are no longer in effect. We hear how the god of the OT has been tempered by Jesus and that he is not as violent as the god of the OT was.

Now what is interesting about this is that Christians also tell us that Jesus is god, part of the Trinity, the Creator and has existed for all time. That there is really only one god.  Now if Jesus has existed for all time and was around when the universe was created, that means he was around when the OT god (who is actually him) made the rules that Jesus would then abolish at a later point.

Now, what makes this really, really  interesting is that Christians also maintain that god and gods laws are unchanging.
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8
"...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever...." 1 Peter 1:23
"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle [a tiny mark in the original spelling of a word] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." Matthew 5:18
"And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail." Luke 16:17

"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
And what makes this completely fascinating is that Jesus said he did not come to change the law.

Matthew 5:17-18 (New International Version)
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

Now, if Jesus is God, and has been around since he created everything, that means he created the OT laws. Therefore, it is absurd to also claim that he needed to come along later to change or fulfill the laws. He is all knowing and omnipotent. How is it possible that he did not know that the original Covenant would not work for all time? How is it possible that he could not make the original Covenant work for all time?

It is humorous for Christians to try and pretend that Jesus has come along after the fact while maintaining that he was involved with the original creation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why is being gay an abomination?

According to the bible, being gay is an abomination. Supposedly two people of the same sex sleeping together is disgusting to the Lord. Well, this idea needs to be approached from two perspectives.

The first is whether or not being gay is a natural orientation. Since I am not gay, I have no way to know if this is true or not. However, since I am not gay, I do know that I am not interested in gay sex. I also know I enjoy heterosexual sex very much. I know it is not a "choice" over this issue. It would not matter how mad I was at my parents or how many times a priest tried to have me help him be one with the Lord, I have no interest in that. Not that there is anything wrong with it, to quote Seinfeld. So, from a personal perspective, it does not seem like  homosexuality is a choice.

And let's be honest, the homosexual acts of anal penetration and oral sex are also performed by heterosexual couples, often with much enjoyment and gusto. Therefore, it cannot be said that these actions are homosexual acts.

How about other animals? After all, gay sex is often referred to as being against nature.

Sodomy has been stigmatized for century upon century, and in many cultures across the world and through time, mostly seeking to stigmatize relationships between members of the same sex. Almost invariably, when it is criminalized, those who criminalize it (or would do so) refer to it as the "crime against nature" or the "sin against nature." The presumption is that homosexual behavior is a perversion, and a uniquely human perversion, engaged in as the result of what is presumed to be a learned attraction to members of the same sex.
There's only one problem with that assumption: None of it is true.

In the approximately 1,000 to 3,000 species whose behavior has been well researched and described in the literature, approximately 450 have been shown to have clear homosexual behaviors.  Any homosexual behavior you care to name - anal sex, same sex kissing, long-term pair bonding between members of the same sex, courtship rituals unique to homosexual couples, all these and many more are all commonly found in the animal kingdom.

Lets also look at it from a biblical concept. What does the bible say about it? I know it calls it an abomination in the OT. However, Jesus makes no reference to homosexuality being a sin in the NT. Since Jesus is supposedly God, and Christians believe he is all knowing, surely he would have made some comment on homosexuality if he felt it was a problem.  However, for some reason, Christians feel this is worse than almost anything else. Which is an odd perspective given the number of gay adult videos viewed every year, compared to the actual percentage of gay people in the world. However, what other abominations does the Bible specify? Of course, adultery (Lev 18:20), sex with animals (Lev 18:23), remarrying one's wife after she's had another husband in between (Deut 24:4), or approaching any woman during the time of her "uncleanness" (Lev 18:19). Cross-dressing is out (Deut 22:5).

Other abominations include tarot readings, glancing at your horoscope, trimming one's beard, and getting a tattoo (Lev 19:26-28). Haughty eyes (Prov 6:17) and telling lies (Prov 6:17, 12:22) are big abominations. Being untruthful also includes false weights and measures (Prov 11:1), or any other dishonesty in business. "Everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God" (Prov 11:16).

Charging or paying interest are abominations. Bankers and anyone with a mortgage, car loan or credit card debt will be unavailable to throw the first stone, regardless of the interest rate (Psalm 15:1-5, Jeremiah 15:10). Graven images of other gods are an abomination (Deut 7:25).

Let us not forget wearing blended fabrics. Deuteronomy 22:11 forbids wearing a material made of wool and linen, but Leviticus 19:19 says it's an abomination to wear any blended material, period. Hence a woman in a man's button-down can be doubly abominable if it's a no-iron, easy care blend of cotton and polyester.

Of course, when confronted with such information, there are people who will tell you that the blended fabrics abomination is really just a symbolic warning that Jews should not mix with other cultures, and that the dietary laws were set aside for Gentiles at the Council of Jerusalem, and that these "other abominations" were about self-preservation, hygiene and just for Orthodox Jews anyway. In short, when something they do is shown to be an abomination, many abominators become instant anthropologists, Biblical scholars and historians as well.

So why do active abominators continue to refer to the Bible when condemning homosexuals? Are such men and women unaware of their own abominations detailed in the same scriptures? Or are they simply hypocrites like so many Christians are?

For myself, I am sure that these Christian people who must be full of integrity, since they are continually telling everyone this tidbit of information, once informed of their own abominable behavior, will step into the circle and accept for themselves whatever punishment they were going to hand out to others. "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) That's the verse I recall whenever someone uses the Bible to justify a pet bias.

So, as we can see, there are many things that the biblical god takes issue with. But for some reason, what christians' focus on is homosexuality. I will avoid the easy target of saying perhaps they hate something they see in themselves and suggest that they work on accepting gay people as easily as they do with people who wear blended fabrics or men who trim their beards.

I get asked alot why I stand up for gays, if I am not gay myself. I defend many people that are not the same as me. I defend liberals when the attack on them is unwarranted, but I am not liberal. I defend Muslims when the attack on them is unwarranted, but I am not Muslim. I stand up for Christians when their right to free speech is infringed, as I would stand up for anyone’s right to free speech. As much as Fred Phelps repulses me, he has a right to speak his bigoted and insane views. And when gays are attacked, I stand up and defend them, even though I am not gay. It is called being an American citizen. You should try it sometime.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals, and 362 to heterosexuals. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love heterosexuals, it’s just that they need more supervision.
-Lynn Lavner

Homosexuality in males may be caused in part by genes that can increase fertility in females, according to a new study.
The findings may help solve the puzzle of why, if homosexuality is hereditary, it hasn't already disappeared from the gene pool, since gay people are less likely to reproduce than heterosexuals.
A team of researchers found that some female relatives of gay men tend to have more children than average. The scientists used a computer model to explain how two genes passed on through the maternal line could produce this effect.
In 2004 the researchers studied about 200 Italian families and found that the mothers, maternal aunts and maternal grandmothers of gay men are more fecund, or fruitful, than average. Recently, they tried to explain their findings with a number of genetic models, and found one that fit the bill.

"This is the first time that a model fits all our empirical data," said Andrea Camperio-Ciani, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Padova in Italy who led the study. "These genes work in a sexually antagonistic way — that means that when they're represented in a female, they increase fecundity , and when they're represented in a male, they decrease fecundity. It's a trait that benefits one sex at the cost of the other."
The researchers detail their findings in the June 18 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.
If this scenario turns out to be true, it could help explain the seeming paradox of hereditary homosexuality. Since gay people are less likely to reproduce than heterosexuals, many experts have wondered why, if homosexuality is caused by genetic factors, it wouldn't have been eliminated from the gene pool already.
But if the same genes create both homosexuality in men and increased fertility in women, then any losses in offspring that come about from the males would be made up for by the females of the family.
"Sexually antagonistic selection is an old idea by Richard Dawkins, but this has never been proven in humans," Camperio-Ciani told LiveScience. "There are a large quantity of these traits found in insects, for example, and recently in deer sexually antagonistic traits have been discovered, showing that high-ranking males produce rather unsuccessful daughters. We found that sexually antagonistic selection is operating also in our species, and we found it in a very important trait, which is homosexuality."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Evil and natural selection

It is interesting when a Christian does something terrible, the response is “they are not real Christians”. But of course, if someone does something wrong using natural selection as the basis for that decision, that simply means everyone who accepts the theory is evil and the theory itself is wrong. To paraphrase a Christian, perhaps they were not ‘real evolutionists”? Have some bad things been done in the name of evolution? Yes. But that does not mean the theory is wrong.
Atomic theory allowed for the creation of atomic bombs. Does that mean when one explodes that the theory is evil? If someone uses the theory to harm someone, how does that mean that the theory is actually incorrect? Or is it the people who use atomic bombs to hurt other the evil ones?
Mathematics provides the use of accounting. If someone used accounting to develop a process for deciding on rationing who gets health care, does that make mathematics evil or wrong? Or was the evil action simply the people who did the rationing?
People use many ideas in bad ways. People have used religion to justify witch burning and killing of infidels.
But here is the rub. When people use a scientific theory to harm people, that is the decision of those specific people. They are not doing it because of a belief in a higher power. When people use religion to harm people, they do so because they believe their god desires that action. And trying to convince people their religion is evil is very hard. Christians believe it was okay for god to drown the entire world. This included one day old infants, because they were “evil” in his eyes.
When you can stand up and say that was wrong; or when you can say that your one day old infant is evil and deserves to be drowned, and please make sure you tell them that when they are older, we will take your protests a little more seriously.

Where does morality come from?

I hear the comment all the time, if there is no god, there is no way to determine what is good or bad. One persons opinion is just as valid as another. Only the absolutes that come from a god can make this distinction. But is this accurate? Can morality only derive from the authority of a god?

This is not a compelling argument. In fact, if the god of the bible sets the standards for morality, he has done a lousy job of it. He commands people not to kill, but then orders people to kill in his name. He wipes out all of humanity in a flood, with the exception of eight people. I know Christians believe that god can do anything he wants to mankind since he supposedly created us and mankind was entirely evil, however, that argument does not hold up. One week old infants are not capable of evil. We expect authority to be better than the rest of us. God should not only be better, he should be infinitely better. He should not be petty or frustrated or angry. These are human characteristics and god is supposed to be better than humanity. He also is supposed to be all knowing. An all knowing god would know that one week old infants are not sinning against anyone.

The Riddle of Epicurus, or problem of evil, is a famous argument against the existence of an all-powerful and providential God. As recorded by Lactantius:

God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak - and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful - which is equally foreign to god's nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?

This problem is further complicated because according to the bible, evil comes from god.

•I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, KJV)

•Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (Amos 3:6, KJV)

•Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? (Lamentations 3:38)

That means there are only a few alternatives. One, the bible is wrong. Two, god both creates good and evil and permits them both free reign. Three, there is no god and events which are good and bad happen according to the laws of probability. The odds favor the third option.

The fact that we have the concepts "good" and "evil" also does not prove that there is a god making such definitions. For example, there is no absolute definition of "hot." And yet, from our biological perspective, we can judge what is "hot" and what is not "hot." It is the same for "pain"; Yet we are biologically wired to interpret "pain" as "bad." This is one of the mechanisms that we have for the preservation of the self and the species. Our ability to empathize, I suspect, is also a biological preservation-of-the-species mechanism. Therefore, I believe that our concepts of "good" and "evil" are simply conceptualizations of these biological functions. The fact that many concepts don't have an ultimate meaning in a godless universe does not mean that they are without meaning to our biological nature

It is much easier to explain how morality and ethics evolved over time from a naturalist point of view. Mankind is inherently a social animal, like most primates. Behaviors that benefit the group are encouraged, while negative actions are shunned. Since cooperation helps the group, and murder does not, individuals who exhibit those traits are either welcomed or driven off. Over time, these traits form the basis of the social contract and become entrenched in society.

Since mankind is a social animal, he feels empathy for others, as do many primates. He helps people because we have learned as a species those behaviors which best benefit the group. Christians try and make it sound as if these are only attributes that religious people have. In reality, not only do most people exhibit them, but most primate societies do as well. Since other primate societies know nothing of the Christian concept of god, or have ever read the bible, it would seem odd to see them demonstrate these behaviors if Christians are correct. However, since man has developed from the same family tree as these other primate societies, it makes perfect sense why we, as well as other primate societies, exhibit the same type of group behavior.

So, is there actually sin? There is no evil in the religious sense of sin, but there is right and wrong. As mankind developed, behaviors that benefited the species were considered good or "moral" and behaviors that were detrimental for the species were considered bad or "sin". After centuries of the behaviors working for the betterment of the species, they became ingrained into us. It is really very easy to understand.