Skip to main content

Not for the Faint of Heart

Hi all,

Please do not click on the links below if you are made queasy by graphic content. Also, if you are a Christian, please understand that I am not attacking you personally. The point is to bring into sharp focus the ethical implications of some biblical passages, and ask ourselves if it's morally ok to endorse and defend such behavior and/or teachings -- no matter what its source. We do the same when we criticize the putatively unethical teachings of other religions and belief systems; intellectual honesty and consistency requires us to apply the same standards to our own views, avoiding excuses and special pleading at all costs. Our standards of evaluation shouldn't fluctuate when we turn them on ourselves.

With that said, I feel obligated to denounce what is heinously unethical. The truth isn't always pretty, and pernicious ideas should be exposed and confronted. Without further ado, then here, here, here, and here are some rather graphic illustrations of the meaning of some biblical passages.

If these passages were in any other religious text, wouldn't you condemn such teaching/behavior as morally reprehensible? Read the surrounding passages to make sure you're not reading them out of context. Did it help make you feel any better about these passages? If these passages, and their surrounding contexts, were in any other religious text, and an apologist for that religion gave a sophisticated answer about how "times were different back then", or "God's morality is higher than ours", or "Allah, (or Vishnu, or...) made us; he can do anything he wants with us", or "you don't understand, those people (including the slaves and "little ones" and "young girls who haven't yet known any man by sleeping with him") were really wicked -- they deserved what they got", etc., would that diminish your moral outrage with respect to that religion or its god? Why, then, should it help in these cases?

Sincerely,

exapologist

Comments

John W. Loftus said…
I've seen these before. That helps to paint the whole picture doesn't it?
Roger said…
So long as the 'whole picture' adds up to a propaganda poster. ;)

It really depends, exapologist. If I read those things in a religious text, then saw that the people whose religion leaned strongly on the text were largely responsible for ending slavery, building hospitals, promoting charity and peace - well, then I'd start to ask what was going on. I'd listen to them talk; maybe they had explanations for those passages, ranging from 'they were not the end all, be all of the situation (oral law and other such factors were in play)' to 'they were, in a world where death is the universal rule even in times of peace, perhaps necessary to bring about a future good'.

I'd have a look at the people, how they lived, how they acted, and what they believed in - realizing that a book is an incomplete record of knowledge, as all books are meant to be read and interpreted by individuals and groups. And if I saw that they were, when all is said and done, promoting peace, charity, justice, and hope.. well, then I'd go back to the person who highlighted those passages, and ask them - why is it you didn't offer the complete story here?

Keep in mind - you ask this in an age where (among other christian religious leaders) the Pope(s) meets with lamas, mullahs, and monks, urging tolerance and cooperation. Meanwhile, words like "Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them" are found, not by centuries-old writings of monks, or millenia-old writings of priests - but in the past few years, by atheists.

So I guess, nicely summed up, my answer would be: But so many of us believers already look upon the faiths of others, see their histories, their past writings, and realize that the subject is complicated. We even, as PJP2 (among others) have said, recognize that there is truth and value in their faiths.

Meanwhile, we have atheists who talk about how stupid and dangerous all those religious people are, and how they must be dealt with - either by force of culture, or maybe, just maybe, harsher methods.

Thank you, I'll take the (ha ha) devil I know.

Popular posts from this blog

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

CfP: Inquiry: New Work on the Existence of God

NEW WORK ON THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
In recent years, methods and concepts in logic, metaphysics and epistemology have become more and more sophisticated. For example, much new, subtle and interesting work has been done on modality, grounding, explanation and infinity, in both logic, metaphysics as well as epistemology. The three classical arguments for the existence of God – ontological arguments, cosmological arguments and fine-tuning arguments – all turn on issues of modality, grounding, explanation and infinity. In light of recent work, these arguments can - and to some extent have - become more sophisticated as well. Inquiry hereby calls for new and original papers in the intersection of recent work in logic, metaphysics and epistemology and the three main types of arguments for the existence of God. 


The deadline is 31 January 2017. Direct queries to einar.d.bohn at uia.no.

Andrew Moon's New Paper on Recent Work in Reformed Epistemology...

...in the latest issue of Philosophy Compass. Here's the abstract:
Reformed epistemology, roughly, is the thesis that religious belief can be rational without argument. After providing some background, I present Plantinga's defense of reformed epistemology and its influence on religious debunking arguments. I then discuss three objections to Plantinga's arguments that arise from the following topics: skeptical theism, cognitive science of religion, and basicality. I then show how reformed epistemology has recently been undergirded by a number of epistemological theories, including phenomenal conservatism and virtue epistemology. I end by noting that a good objection to reformed epistemology must criticize either a substantive epistemological theory or the application of that theory to religious belief; I also show that the famous Great Pumpkin Objection is an example of the former. And if a copy should make its way to my inbox...

UPDATE: Thanks!