Daily Awesome: Ella E. Gibson

I’ve often thought that we could quickly diminish the number of Christians to nearly zero in an instant if one of the criteria of being a professing Christian is to have read the Bible word for word. It’s an awful book. I’ve had the unfortunate experience to have read it twice: the first time seeking the truth in it, the second time to appreciate the wretchedness of it.

Here’s a quote that sums up how backward the values in that book are, an irony considering how revered it is publicly.

Any family which permits such a volume to lie on their parlor-table ought to be ostracized from all respectable society.

Ella E. Gibson ~ The Godly Women of the Bible by an Ungodly Woman of the Nineteenth Century*

*as quoted by Annie Laurie Gaylor in the book Woe to the Women

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Posted on December 7, 2012, in Atheism, Daily Awesome!, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. By what standard to do say that the Bible is awful?

    • Haha, sorry. *By what standard do you say that the Bible is awful?

      • Well, since I was sharing my own opinion about it after having read it, it is by my own personal standard. It’s an odd question posed by what I’m assuming is Christian believer? Is your intention to try and trip me up on sort of moral standard that I don’t have as an atheist, that I’m sure you can tell me you can provide as a Christian?

        But, outside of my own personal standard, common decency and basic social standards would make anyone who read the thing think it was an awful book. That is, anyone who wasn’t pre disposed to think it had value by their indoctrination or other such inhibition to critical thought.

      • Thanks for responding. Not trying to taunt or anything, just trying to understand how you’re approaching this. And yes, I do come from a Christian perspective.

        So it’s your own personal standard – you seem to think other people should agree with this standard. If, for instance, I say that the Bible is a wonderful book, in your worldview are you able to say that one of us is objectively right or wrong? Or is it just two equal opinions?

        I’ll ask the same question about the common decency and basic social standards (I’m assuming by those words you mean the majority moral opinions of society). What if we lived in a society that also thought that the whole Bible was a wonderful book. Are you able to say in your worldview that this is objectively wrong? Or is is just your opinion that it is wrong.

        If these moral arguments you make are merely your opinion, why should I consider your opinion valid or relevant to anyone else?

  2. I do live in a society that thinks the Bible is a wonderful book. It’s astounding to me, because most people who claim that it’s so great haven’t even read it. And those who have read don’t adhere to its tenets.

    So first, if you haven’t read it cover to cover this conversation needs to be over until you have. If you have read it cover to cover, I would suggest you find a better “standard” with which to choose your moralistic worldview, because most of the stuff in it is really only adhered to by people we would call nutty. Most Christians claim to get their morality from the Bible, but actually pretty much adhere to modern social moral values. They tend to pick and choose what they like out of the Bible and ignore the rest. Convenient and certainly not objective.

    Thirdly, a Christian’s argument about these “standards” is not with atheists. We don’t believe in the Bible, plain and simple. When you guys get done arguing with yourselves about what the thing actually says and what the Bible actually means, then let’s have a discussion about that. Get Karen Armstrong, Pat Robertson and the Pope to agree about what is actually in the Bible, and I will consider your point that you have some sort of “standard” that comes from the Bible on which you believe in. Until then, your argument is with other Christians and not with me, but I suppose I’m certainly happy to discuss it (to a point).

    • Well you never really responded to my comments….

      Why do you suggest I get a better standard? Are you saying some standards are better than others? On what grounds?

      Yes, I certainly agree that some people who call themselves Christians clearly are not – and I have an objective standard by which to see that.

      • I directly responded to what you were asking I don’t think you like the conclusion. Just saying that you have an “objective standard” doesn’t mean you actually have one. Christians can’t agree on anything that “standard” says (and again, most haven’t read what that “standard” says anyway).

        And to answer your question, my general standard is “harm”. Do actions cause “harm” to other people or not? As a human, I empathize with other humans because I feel pain, experience sadness, and a full range of other emotions both good and bad and wish for myself and others to mitigate the harm done in their lives. A very simple standard, very complex in implementing. And no, it’s not objective, because objective standards cannot be shown to exist. Saying they exist doesn’t making it so even if you really, really wish it to be true.

        Again, when Christians agree on what the Bible says, I will concede the objective standard. Until then, I’m afraid you’re out of luck in your claim that you have one. Again, go round up all the Christians and get them to agree with your “objective standard” and I’ll consider what you’re saying. Until then, you’re deluding yourself that you actually have an objective standard.

    • I’m not sure why you think you answered my questions. One of the more important ones I asked was how you could say that one standard was right and the other was wrong in your worldview. To follow-up, if it is merely your opinion, why should I (or anyone) consider your opinion as ‘better’ than another?

      Instead of answering, you have been attacking what you think is my view.

      Thank you for providing me the standard of ‘harm’. My question regarding this would be: why is harm morally wrong? Again, is it just your opinion? If so, why should anyone else care?

      Also, I’m not sure why you feel that everyone who calls themselves a Christian must agree on the objective moral standard for it to exist. Must everyone have the same opinion on gravity so that gravity is able to exist? Of course, the answer is no.

      The fact of the matter is, we both live and follow an objective moral standard. When we see injustice, we cry foul. When we look at the atrocities of past (and present) societies, we say they are wrong. If we come across a man who molests children for fun, we stop him. The point is, in the Christian worldview one has a consistent basis for acting in this way. The atheist/materialist worldview cannot allow for consistent actions. In that worldview, the best you can come up with are opinions of what is good and what is bad. There is no foundation for saying that one person’s opinions are valid and another’s are invalid. They just simply are. Neither of us live that way and this reveals the God that we know exists.

      • Here’s why I think I already answered your question. When you asked “how can you say one standard is right and one is wrong?” we are talking about separate things. It is your claim, not mine, that there is a single, objective, moral standard. Not only do I not think that there is such a thing as an object moral standard (something you seem to just want to declare as a fact without showing that there is one), but even if I conceded the point and agreed that there was an objective moral standard (which again, I don’t think there is one), I have yet to meet a person that can show me they have access to the knowledge of exactly what that objective moral standard would look like. Which leads me to your next point.

        The reason Christians need to agree on what the objective moral standard is because you would still have no idea who actually is correct about the moral standard. As I mentioned previously, just because you want to think you need exactly what is correct morally doesn’t mean you are correct.

        All the examples you gave to back up your “fact” an objective moral standard are not adhered to by everyone, and religious Christians are some of the worst offenders. I find it especially ironic that you said “if we come across a man who molests children for fun, we stop him”. First of all I love that you threw in the “for fun” part. Was that to get the filthy religious people – who always seem to be the ones that do it in the first place- off the hook and blame it on demons or his “soul” is sick? Anyway, case after case has been documented of clergy violating this moral standard and then vast rationalized cover-ups of this abhorrent behavior are enacted in the name of religion.

        You also make the unfounded claim that the Christian worldview somehow has a foundation for objective moral beliefs when an atheist like me doesn’t. So again, I will ask you, if there is the “foundation” that you speak of, why can’t good Christians agree about what is moral and what isn’t? I can ask you the exact same question you have asked me: who in your Christian worldview has the authority to say what is right and wrong. Don’t say the Bible, because Christians cannot agree on what the Bible means, therefore, there is subjectivity in what the thing actually says.

        I hate to break this to you, but we’re all in the same boat here. None of us knows with any kind of ultimate certainty what is right and wrong. This is why Christians are just like anyone else when it comes to moral questions, they are all across the board and can’t agree with each other what is moral and what isn’t.

        It’s best that we reason all this stuff out and make the best logical decisions about how to mitigate harm and allow human happiness to flourish. Give you a hint: it isn’t found in the really awful moral guide that is the Bible. Genocide, rape, owning women, slavery, punishment by death… Those aren’t the types of things I find morally appealing. Call me crazy, but I’d rather admit that there is no objective moral standard than to follow the backward ideas that the Bible condones. Why don’t you follow me in the pledge to try and be the best people we can be and drop that nonsense. How about it?

      • 3 points:

        1. People who call themselves Christians (not all of whom are actually Christians) sometimes will disagree on what the Bible says. It does not follow that there is no discernible message from the Bible.

        2. You say morality isn’t objective, yet you act as if it is (‘abhorrent behaviour etc.). If you truly take that view, start being consistent with yourself and stop applying your standards to others of different opinions (the initial reason I commented on this post). There morality is no better or worse than yours.

        3. You ask me to follow in your pledge to be the best people we can be. Where do you get the idea of ‘best’ in a world without objective morals? There is no best, there is no worst, there is no right, there is no wrong. There just is.

        You don’t live that way. You’re being inconsistent with yourself- you need to borrow from my worldview to live in your own.

  3. Response to your 3 points:

    1. I think it does follow, or at least to this degree: It’s a fact that Christians disagree about what the Bible says. So either only some people have it right, or no people have it right, because they all can’t all have it right as established by the fact that they don’t agree. Therefore, even if we were to agree that there is value in the Bible (we don’t agree because I hold very little value in the Bible) you cannot establish a criteria for which Christians have it correct, again, leaving you in the same boat as me. You, just like me, can only use our reasoning to get to what we believe to be correct. You are just like everyone else. Christians don’t get some special magical “I got it right” just because they say so.

    2. I do not give up my right to have opinion simply because I don’t believe in your notion of what morality supposedly entails. You define morality differently than me because you have some idea that it actually exists as a “thing” in some kind of ideal Platonic sense. I simply believe it is a social construct made up by people, and evolved behavior that allows us to all get along and cooperate. Since morality is man-made, and I am a man, it absolutely follows that I would weigh on what we should or should not do. If god wants to weigh in to me personally, I’ll consider his argument for morality, but until then, us humans are on our own.

    Again, just because you say objective morality exists does not make it so. Only one person in this discussion is being consistent and that is me. I don’t believe in objective morality, I believe we have to use the best reasoning and logic at our disposal to create the best circumstances for ourselves that we can, and that is my definition of morality. You actually claim some objective morality, but you can’t tell me how we can know what it is. You think it’s in the Christian worldview, but you can’t tell me even one person who is capable of discerning what is the true morality of the Bible. Again, your argument isn’t with me, please, go get others who think the Bible has value, come up with a consistent, coherent, consensus as to what it means, and then come talk to me. Until then, you’re pretty much declaring things to be true that you have absolutely no evidence for.

    3. “Best”, “better”, “good”, “bad” are by definition “relative” terms, not “objective” ones. What are they relative to? Humans. Our language, our lives, our decisions as to what constitutes “good” and “better”. Generally we’re going to agree on a lot about what constitutes “good” because we are of the same species and have similar needs, goals and desires. But specifically we disagree on what may or may not be “good” or “better” to individuals and for society and so we have to hammer it out and come up with tools and strategies to do so. My contention is that logic, reason, and science are the best tools we have to work our way through these problems. It is up to us to determine what is moral and what isn’t. This is the point you and I will just never get past. We honestly don’t live in the same world and can’t even agree on definitions.

    So, I guess at this point we are just talking past each other, and while I’m glad you stopped by to chat, you really will never understand my point because we believe different things. I’m at least willing to entertain the notion that there are objective moral values, but there is absolutely no evidence of it and much evidence to the contrary. You will never, ever entertain the notion that you are wrong and that will probably be how the discussion has to be left. How many inconsistencies in the Bible and/or variation in Christian’s morals do you need to have before you believe that there actually is not a common standard for morality?

    Again, I appreciate the dialogue, and I’m interested in a response if you care to, but at some point, talking with people who think they have it all figured out, and have all the answers gets a little redundant, i.e. people who might say something like this: “there is objective morality and I know for a fact there is, and further I have access to the foundations of that objective morality with my Christian worldview” I just don’t buy it. I don’t think there is objective morality and even if there is, I don’t believe you personally have access to knowledge of it.

  4. Ah yes, an oversight on my part. Still kind of building this blog. My email is eric@skepticalmusic.com

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