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Atheist Community of Austin
Struggling "Unbeliever"... Need help

I am not sure what my position on atheism is yet and I am in a stage of weighing the evidence and what not and I just wanted to propose a few concerns that I have, which seem to make atheism unsatisfactory... Any answers would be great and don't attack me as being stupid if I don't say everything right, lets just discuss nicely and try to help me out, thanks.

1. From what I understand, if there is no higher moral authority, than there obviously cannot be any higher or objective morals at all. And this may be the case, which I think a reasonable argument. But, if this is true than what sense does it make to argue that God is immoral, Matt from the show says he is more moral than God, but he is only more moral than God depending on his set of relative morals. Collective human reasoning put together (which I believe is what secular humanists believe is the standard for morals...) could say that Jesus is evil and stupid for teaching to love your enemies, does that mean that he is or does that mean that human reasoning is ignorant and cannot comprehend right from wrong? In 100 years, collective human reasoning could say that pedophilia and rape is right because it is an example of sexual freedom, therefore if human reasoning determines this, then it is right. This does not prove or disprove anythihg, but is one area I am struggling in and I find atheism with no real response. Don't tell me that there are inherent good and evil (I have heard that before from my atheist friends) because this does not help the argument. If there is no higher authority on morals, there is no "real" right or wrong.

2. I know this is an argument all the time and I have heard it from so many people, but it is one that my lack of ignorance on has made me doubt that there is no "God" or higher intelligence. And it is of course the "uncaused" argument. The only point I want to make on this is that I feel that Theists seem to have the upper hand. I have always taken a stance of ignorance on this and said that we do not know how the universe came into being or what was before the big bang but if God did it, than what created God. I have heard this a lot and I have used this a lot. The only thing that I realized is that because this universe exists in space and time, and if the universe is not eternal (which most philosophers and scientist seem to agree on, than whatever or whomever "caused" it would logically be outside of space and time. Hopefully that made sense, so my problem would be that it is silly to ask "what created God" when it is obvious, that if He did create the universe he would be outside of space and time and therefore those of us existing within space and time could not make account for an eternal being. Hopefully that made sense, it may not have been the most logical argument but I am just saying that Theist seem to have a good reason for not explaining "what created God".

3. I have also always had trouble with the sheer number of people that believe in religion and especially how many believe in Christianity. I mean, what man-made gimmick could convince so many people! I hear so many stories of lives that are changed and I have witnessed real transformation in people. How can this all be false!! How can so many people be decieved??? How can so many personal experiences be stupid and made-up? And the reason this is important for me is because unlike a lot of atheists, the Christians I do know are extremely kind to others and to me and they do amazing things for the community and they have truly seemed to care about me. The only reason I mention this is because I don't buy into the argument that Christianity poisons everything and that they are all evil bigots. Some are, yes, but the ones I know who are the most devout and committed, always seem to be the greatest people... I am sure all of you have horror stories the other way around though :)

4. Another thing that baffles me, especially about Christianity and Judaism is the mythology of the Bible. I mean, there are so many different authors and such a vast span of period, yet they are telling the same story and there is a lot of consistency in the overall story. I mean there are contradictions but the story itself does flow pretty well. It would be like J.K. Rowling creating the Harry Potter books and then over the next 1000 years, different authors add on to the mythology without any of the authors messing up or disproving each others stories. This may not make sense to anybody, but it makes sense to me. And along the same line, I have always had trouble thinking of a motive for why all of these 1st century Jews would create this farce about Jesus and completely fabricate the whole thing and completely go against the religion of Judaism for no apparent reason. I mean historical sources seem to point toward the killing of some of these disciples for Jesus, why would they die for a farce that they created. Unless they were decieved or misled by Jesus, but if Jesus was real and it the consensus is that he died (which I believe it to be the consensus from what I read) than why would he die for a made-up story that he created... Again, these don't really prove anything, but these are questions that are running through my mind that make some kind of sense to me...

Any help would be great, and again be respectful, I am just questioning some things...

QUOTE: "1. From what I understand, if there is no higher moral authority, than there obviously cannot be any higher or objective morals at all." I guess it all depends on how you define morality in the first place. In reality, bad behavior by atheists or theists can not logically prove or disprove the existence of God. Some of the most "moral" people I have ever met do not practice any religion or have a belief in god.

I don't know what Matt said about the morality of man verses the morality of god, nevertheless, these are the facts.

Religion has been promoted from the beginning, to the masses, as gods perfect laws. They are convinced that if there were no invisible man in the sky watching people's every move, and judging them, everyone would be doing horrible things. This is not logical and is not the truth. Under god's law all sin is the same (all sin is equal) and deserving of condemnation and to burn in hell forever. This is torture which most civilized cultures condemn. Job 4:17 "Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker?" Under mans law all violations of the law are not equal. And the punishments are not equivalent either. If the punishment doesn't fit the crime then it is just vengeful. Suffering forever because you don't believe in an invisible god without any physical proof for it's existence is an example.

Deuteronomy 24:16. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. Can someone die for your sins? Not according to mans law. No offence that requires the death penalty can be satisfied by the death of another person (no matter how holy.) This is in conflict with the fact that (it is written) that God blames everyone for the "original" sin of Adam and Eve. God was completely O.K. with the torture and killing of his son Jesus for everyone else's sins. I would think that a perfect god could make up his mind.

There are many bible passages that would appear to be immoral by today's secular and religious standards. There are passages where God expressly commands others to kill people, and several stories where God irrationally kills or tries to kill for no apparent reason. Violence is easily the most often mentioned activity in the bible.

Today there is no country (even third world) that would accept genocide. Most every civilized country regards it as the most serious, reprehensible, horrifying and disgusting crime of which humans are capable. There is a conflict between what is written in the bible and the concept of a just, loving, caring, benevolent god, and his responsibility for causing these actions. If you believe that the bible describes a perfect moral being with perfect moral judgment your conclusions are very different from many biblical scholars.

People's belief in a god has little to do with morality or depravity. They believe in a god who is always watching them, and if they don't obey his (weird laws) will be condemn to eternal hell because they are told if they do they will live forever; it's fear of hell and immortality not morality. That's the major attraction and it always has been.

There are many bible stories where god has done or commanded believers to do things that are contradictory to basic moral principles; at the same time, God is described as the source of morality. The god who commands things like rape, murder, and slavery is also described as the source for morality in the world. If the bible is accurate in describing god's actions and commands then he certainly cannot be moral.

Anyone can deny these facts, but they are the facts, and these facts seriously question the likelihood of the existence of god, or the morality of the god of the bible.

You might be asking the wrong questions when dealing with your beliefs. Your questions rely heavily on the belief that the God you have doubts about is "good" and the books you question speak of some historic truths. I think to best analyze what you believe is to try and step out of yourself and form questions as if you never heard about religion. Let's say you're an alien from a different planet and you came across planet earth. What kinds of observation can you see about the nature of humans? We seem to be very social creatures and in many groups we have hierarchies of power. And if you really look into the history of human civilization, you'll find that power and the control of people/territory/wealth was very important to the survival of groups/nations.

Historians have pinpointed that the cradle of civilization developed in the region of Mesopotamia from artifacts found and mapping the spread of this particular culture over the world. For example, native Indians didn't have a notion of Moses or Jesus or Muhammad until the white settlers came. Where are all the Asians in the Bible? I would think that if Biblical characters came across an Asian person they would write about it. How could this be? The Bible only spoke of people and places known only to the writers at that time period because primitive technology prevented them from crossing vast distances. Why aren't there Asian testimonies of the Judeo-Christian God or stories of God talking to an Indian in the Bible? I suppose Satan got to those people first. The reason I brought up the Mesopotamian is because that's where western civilization is rooted from. Be it a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Pagan, or Hindu, most likely Mesopotamia is where religion has evolved and diverged to the many religions we have today.

In Mesopotamia, during this early era, small tribes of people started coming together and forming greater communities. So it is reasonable that as the communities grew, problems among tribes would occur. So without even having to take out your history books, what do you think would happen when you get large groups of people together? I think as rational, intelligent beings that want to survive and raise a family, they would want some kind of order. That's why we have leaders. In mostly all human communities, you'll find a leader or group of leaders. And from these beginning stages of civilization, you can extrapolate how the struggle for power and control can evolve. Why do you think Politics and Religion go hand-in-hand? It's not that difficult to see how a large group of people can follow sets of ideas if these sets of ideas benefit the group as a whole. Beliefs have changed over human history. Many beliefs have been presented and the ones that have survived are mostly due to power struggles within nations. That's why pro-dominant religions are separated by conquered regions. Why is it that America mostly Christian? Could it be that the people that conquered it were mostly Christian?

As for morality, it is dictated by the society that you live in. I define morality as the accepted way of behavior within a given group. For instance, if you were in a group that believes that killing animals and eating meat was immoral (like PETA does), in that group morality is based on not harming other animals and eating only plants. If you're talking about absolute morality, then try thinking about what you think all peaceful people would want to share in order to live a full life. Ask yourself, "Do you really need God to tell you that killing others is bad or if you value your belongings does God need to say it's not a good idea if you take someone else's stuff without compensation". It doesn't take divine intuition to rationale why certain things are wrong to do.

For the question of how it all began and where the universe came from, if you're really interested in understanding the universe, there are plenty of people searching and experimenting on the nature of the universe. The study of the universe is not just one subject. You kinda have to have a basic understanding of physic, chemistry, and cosmology. There are studies exploring String Theory that can potentially allow us to understand the universe beyond the big bang. Where the existence of multi-universes can be possible. These fields of thought are pretty exciting and we understand our universe and our place in it more and more every day. If your only answer is "God did it". Why bother searching and questioning if you are sure that your answer is correct. The thing about humans is that we don't know everything and pretending that we do know is not advancing our understanding.

Sure religion and the followers of the many religions in the world can inspire good things. If believing in a high power brings order to your life, more power to you. Just believing in something doesn't make it true and belonging to a group that shares your belief doesn't make your belief truer than other groups. If you value what is true when dealing within reality, being skeptical about supernatural claims, or simply saying that you don't know, then shedding the dogma and doctrines of any particular belief would suit you best. But if you take comfort in knowing that there is a higher power guiding your life and the universe is hard to understand so saying "God did it" gives you piece of mind, than stay a believer. But understand that not everyone shares in your particular belief and be mindful of the group you belong to if you chose to belong to one.

I'm answering the rest of questions I only answered one.

QUOTE: " The only thing that I realized is that because this universe exists in space and time, and if the universe is not eternal (which most philosophers and scientist seem to agree on, than whatever or whomever "caused" it would logically be outside of space and time."

ANSWER: There is no proof that there is anything outside time and space, and there is proof that it was not necessary "in the beginning." Three British astrophysicists, Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970, they published papers in which they extended Einstein's Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space. According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy. The singularity didn't appear in space; rather, space began inside of the singularity. British astrophysicists Stephen W. Hawking and James B. Hartle were trying to understanding such things as what came before the "Big Bang" at the beginning of the universe as well as what laws were true at the beginning of time itself. By combining Einstein's ideas about time and space (from the theory of relativity) with the known laws of quantum physics, they developed a mathematical description of space-time that used imaginary time. One wouldn't have to appeal to something outside the universe, to determine how the universe began. Instead, the way the universe started out at the Big Bang would be determined by the state of the universe in imaginary time. Thus, the universe would be a completely self-contained system. It would not be determined by ANYTHING OUTSIDE THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE, that we observe. The no boundary hypothesis also predicts that the universe will eventually collapse again.

QUOTE: "I don't buy into the argument that Christianity poisons everything and that they are all evil bigots. Some are, yes, but the ones I know who are the most devout and committed, always seem to be the greatest people... I am sure all of you have horror stories the other way around though :)"

ANSWER: Other than Money, Religion is the cause of almost every major conflict in the world. There are all sorts of deception around that non-believers don't fall for, which makes them "the problem."

QUOTE: Another thing that baffles me, especially about Christianity and Judaism is the mythology of the Bible. I mean, there are so many different authors and such a vast span of period, yet they are telling the same story and there is a lot of consistency in the overall story.

ANSWER: A person can prove that almost anything is true if they read only the evidence that is favorable to their view, and ignore any evidence that disputes their view. Discrepancies are ignored not resolved. Philo (a historian) lived during the time of Jesus in Jerusalem, from 20 BCE to 50 CE. never once mentioned Jesus. Josephus (a historian) was also a native of Judea and was born in 37 AD. Josephus lived in Cana, which is the very city in which Christ is said to have performed his renowned miracle. Josephus never once mentions Jesus. Justin Martyr not only never quotes or mentions any of the four Gospels; he never even mentions the writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. The name "Jesus Christ" was not formally adopted until after the first Council of Nicaea. Furthermore, there is no cross in early Christian art before the middle of the 5th century. (John 8:3-11) Jesus was stoned to death and then hung on a tree. The crucifixion was added in the year 367. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." (Acts 5.30.)" If Jesus was hung on a tree, then why say in Mark 8.34 "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Jesus was allegedly saying this long before he was crucified. There isn't a single word contained in the Sermon on the Mount that isn't contained in what is called the Sacred Book of the Jews, long before Jesus lived.

QUOTE: I have always had trouble thinking of a motive for why all of these 1st century Jews would create this farce about Jesus and completely fabricate the whole thing and completely go against the religion of Judaism for no apparent reason.

ANSWER: The Jews didn't create the "new religion." Rome was at war with the Jews and Rome feared the slave would adopt Judaism because the Jews opposed slaver. The Emperor Constantine shaped the bible around AD 325. The violent and powerful forces, which only wanted to gain territory and wealth, committed genocide and cultural eradication in their mission. Few ancient religious writings have survived their assaults. In many cases every trace of the society's religious writings, practices, and even buildings were destroyed. The purpose of these crusades was to replace their religion with the conqueror's religion, because their religious customs were labeled as heresies. The Essenes (Jews) living around the Dead Sea left the Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1947-48 and 60's. The Essenes hid their library because they knew that if they were attacked they would be killed off and their writings burned. The Essenes were "Jews". They were victims of the Roman Empire. Christianity was a concoction of the Roman Empire, under the Emperor Constantine, who blended the Christian Church with the institutionalized "pagan" practices of Rome and eliminated any semblance of the teachings of any other religion. Constantine's "new religion" and the name of the god "Jesus Christ" was decided at the Council of Nicea, it was presented to the 300 Bishops who unanimously approved it. The 300 Bishops who finally voted "to unite the names of the two chief Gods were a set of illiterate men who understood nothing significant. Also, these ignorant men were afraid they would be accused of being heretics. Their votes decided that the world would accept and receive the name of the new god who would lead the New Religious System known as "Christianity." Jesus Christ became the redeemer of the whole world who died on the cross for everyone's sins.

The birth date of Jesus was agreed on by the Bishops who attended the Nicean Conference in 332 A.D. because it commemorated the birth of the Sun God (the original Deity, Amun-Ra), thousands of years before Jesus the Christ. Constantine decreed Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in 333 A.D. This started the systematic purge of any and all competing religious systems. As such, the original Trinity of Ausar, Aset and Heru (renamed Osiris, Isis and Horus by the Greeks) which existed before circa 4,100 years, and was replaced with a Christian religious Trinity consisting of The Father, Son And Holy Ghost. Emperor Constantine's legacy is that under his imperial religious supremacy, Rome functioned as the most potent outpost of religious tyranny; he decreed Christianity as the supreme religion. Christianity is and always has been a political instrument. All Christianity was ever about (from the beginning with the Romans) was a way to acquire political power and control over the people. It has always been a political tool to for global expansion, imperialism, and enslavement.

QUOTE: "if Jesus was real and it the consensus is that he died (which I believe it to be the consensus from what I read) than why would he die for a made-up story that he created..."

ANSWER: One of the great conundrums to Biblical research has been the nagging lack of independent contemporary documentation making any reference whatsoever to a nascent Galilean religion. The real support to this case of vacant references to early Christianity is to be found in the strange silence that surrounds researches into the famous Dead Sea Scrolls; leather, parchment and metal scrolls written in Hebrew which have been unearthed in the hundreds, often complete and in excellent condition. The records of religious events, important commentaries and chronicles by a sect of Essene scribes and scholars writing in Judea for a hundred years up to 70 A.D. And nowhere is mention made of a new religion, a Messiah, a worker of miracles, a preaching to multitudes, a trial and crucifixion, nothing, and this silence is a great embarrassment to Ministers and is treated extremely cautiously by the Biblical academic community.

QUOTE: "I mean historical sources seem to point toward the killing of some of these disciples for Jesus, why would they die for a farce that they created."

ANSWER: No one knows who actually wrote the 66 books that were eventually canonized to make the bible. (Many myths were not included.) The names associated with the books in the bible mythologies are not the individuals who wrote them. Much of the bible is anonymous or forgeries. Libraries that have been discovered as part of archaeological exploration make it possible for us to study ancient cultures. These ancient scrolls/ manuscripts are what actually make up the Bible. The Bible is made up of picked and chosen works from many different sources. However, some books mentioned in the bible are not in the bible. It is helpful to interpret the actions of those who decided what we needed to know in order to helps us better understand what this was really all about.

Again, WOW!

You couldn't think of any good (notice that I'm not putting 'good' in double quotations) that Christians do? Your response was two sentences or so. Hm. What's going on there? I know many-an-atheists who do good. Surely, you can think of a Christian - or Christians - do good. Not sure if "good" is the point, but, that seemed to be a big point of discussion. I'm truly fascinated by how framed and absolute-sounding you are. Though I do appreciate the detailed responses. I don't come to the same conclusions as you do - ironically because my own frame-work is different from yours. The thing of it is you will never find god, or God. (One concept I'll never understand). God has to find you. Have you heard His voice? I pray that you do. Blessings to you, Linda. (Don't worry, I'm not trying to convert as I know that is a ridiculous thing:)

You are wasting your time proselytizing. People who can't follow what the topic is should not be telling people what to think. The topic was the morality of man verses the morality of god. If you have nothing to say on the topic I suggest you stop wasting everyone's time.

Most of the bible describes god as a being that can't control his temper, orders the killing of people (sometimes for no reason) is jealous, likes the smell of meat burning, and wants people to give him there very best things to prove that they love him (those priest were eating good in those days.) It sounds like most defective humans because that's who made it all up. These stories are just tedious and irrelevant, and very unlikely the work of an incomprehensibly brilliant master of the universe.

"All things are subject to interpretation. Whatever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not of truth" - Friedrich Nietzsche

Some very excellent question. Partial response to #1 Conversations with a Christians: Sayest the Christians: But you do claim that there is no such thing as moral truth, do you not?What i mean by this is that the holocust was wrong regardless of whether any of us agree or not. You reject universal objective truth. Do you not?

Sayest I: I believe that there are things that are true. One thing that is true is that most people (regardless their religious allegiance) do not wish to live in an environment where people are allowed to harm one another without consequence (in fact the few people who do want such a thing tend to be religious extremists). Most of us wish to live in an environment where we will be allowed to live peaceful with the freedom to live as we would please, with the understanding that there are necessary limits to this freedom. People don't wish to live in chaos and do understand that actions have consequences. While I do reject universal truths in terms of morality (morality cannot be found under a microscope), I can honestly claim that the Holocaust was wrong. Now, of course the Germany and Austria in which these crimes occurred were heavily Christian at the time. I personally can see no historical evidence that moral absolutes (if they exist) have ever honestly had any impact upon our behavior as a species. I reject the holocaust for the same reason that I oppose the genocide inflicted upon the Mideanites and the inhabitants of Jericho (read the OT if you are wondering about these references); a world in which such behavior is permitted is a very dangerous world for all it's inhabitants (that would include me). Sayest the Christian: This is basically true; but i would add, that while some people don't want to be harmed personally and might practice acts of charity, i doubt that most people generally care about those outside their immediate family and chosen freinds, though they might like to make others think so for the sake of appearences. There are violent people who use religion as a banner of truimph. There has also been many people in history that have used atheism and naturalism as a banner of truimph and as an excuse for evil. In fact, in a world where people do not believe in the truth of moral values, there is more then enough fertile grounds for the growth of inhuman ignorance. I suggest you read history, and then you will not make such biased misrepresentations.

Sayest I: While I don't agree that all instances of charity or kindness are for premeditated Darwinian purposes, there is some truth to the claim that people will act for the sake of appearances. Evolutionists make this claim routinely and view this tendency as a key aspect of sexual selection. There are benefits to appearing to being a good, kind, moral person, which exist both within a Darwinian point of view and a theistic point of view. While I agree that there have been atheists who have committed acts of "evil", I can think of few (none actually) who have done so in the name of atheism; history is filled with atrocities committed in the name of a god.

Sayest the Christian: No you cannot claim that the holocaust is evil. You can merely say that you personally dislike that kind of behavior. The holocaust, in a world without objective moral truth, is taboo; nothing more.[/QUOTE]

Sayest I: Yes I can. Again, the permission of such behavior has consequences for us all. A world in which such disregard for human life was considered the norm or acceptable would not be a world in which I would choose to live. Such a world would be chaotic and extremely dangerous to us all. Ultimately, my morality is a selfish one; as I for my own selfish reasons do not wish to live in a world where cruelty and hatred are considered acceptable. One never knows when one will be the victim of such cruelty and hatred.

Sayest the Christian: The world in which you wish to believe in, human beings have no more objective value then an slug has; so you cannot expect people to treat your existence with any more respect then they choose to.

Sayest I: True I selfishly attach value to the species to which I am a member, so in a sense you are correct...so what? You are correct that I "cannot expect people to treat (my) existence with any more respect then they choose to". I'm not sure what that statement proves, as it's true whether there is a god or not. Ultimately I can say this: history provides us with little evidence that religion improves our existence on this tiny rock, orbiting a tiny star, drifting along with the whole of the Milky Way, inside our ever expanding universe. At best, religion has the opiate effect as described to us by Marx; perhaps it allows us to endure with the hope that we are somehow special while existing inside a universe that cares for absolutely nothing. Ironically, if humanity is to find salvation from the likely inevitable death that awaits our species it will not be a god providing it, but rather the very science that most theist now accuse of villainies. I will say this: if I could be convinced that religion is in fact of value to our species; that we are better off with it than without it, then I would stand aside and allow our species to enjoy the bliss of its ignorance. However, I have not been convince of this and in fact have been convinced of very much the opposite and I believe that as is typically the case that bliss does not come with ignorance. With ignorance comes: fear, hatred, superstition and suffering; not bliss. Ultimately, human life has the value we give it, and I value my life and the lives of those that I love and care for and thus it can be said that I am a humanist.

Sayest the Christian: There are clues that point toward theism. For instance; All healthy minded people experience a capacity for guilt, which is activated when we are given reason to believe that something about our behavior is immoral. Though it is true that one can be deceived about right and wrong, we all have a basic understanding of it. We universally agree and take for granted that there is such a thing as right, wrong, honor and virtue. Thus the mere fact that we have a moral conscience would suggest that there is such a thing as an objective wrong despite a universal disagreement about what that might be. It seems a rather bizzare coincidence that among the other senses we have a sense of guilt which, like the others, coincides with an objective reality, more specifically with that aspect of reality concerning our "free choices". It seems to me that we have a "sixth sense". Its called a moral conscience".

Sayest I: The existence of a moral conscience can be and has been explained in completely evolutionist terms. Obviously, if we were each sociopaths (i.e. unrestrained in our willingness to inflict harm and death upon our fellow humans) that would undeniably have a tremendous and negative impact upon our survivability as a species. The fact that 90% of us have an innate urge not to inflict harm upon our neighbors can not only be explained in Darwinian terms, but can best be explained in Darwinian terms. Certainly you can admit that a species that co-exists peacefully and works collaboratively has a better chance of survival than a species that indiscriminately preys upon itself. Guilt would be just one of the mechanisms through which this reality is accomplished. But what precisely is guilt? You have claimed that quote: "It seems a rather bizarre coincidence that among the other senses we have a sense of guilt which, like the others, coincides with an objective reality, more specifically with that aspect of reality concerning our "free choices". It seems to me that we have a "sixth sense". Its called a "moral conscience"." End quote. You are correct, as most most humans do in fact feel quilt when they believe that they have harmed another. How is it that we feel this and just how is it that we know just what it is we should feel guilty about? Well in Essence guilt is nothing more than a variety of empathy which as defined by the Merriam-Wester online dictionary is: "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner". Guilt is the sorrow we feel when others suffer because of our actions. But as you point out, how is it that our feelings of guilt always seem to correspond with our knowledge of right and wrong? The answer is almost laughably simple. We know when to feel guilty because we know what harms us personally. In other words, I know that I do not like being punched in the face; because of this knowledge I rightfully assume that others have the same attitudes and experiences when being punched in the face. Were I to punch someone in the face I am able to empathize with the victim of said punch (i.e. I can identify with the pain the victim has experienced when it was punched) and for that I feel a certain degree of sorrow. To one degree or the other, I would share in the suffering of the victim regardless as to whether I threw the punch or not (this is empathy); however this sorrow is amplified by the fact that I personally inflicted the pain upon the unfortunate victim. This amplified sense of sorrow is precisely what guilt is, and it can range anywhere from a mild sense of melancholy to a life long sense of anguish. As you can see, there's nothing magical about how it is we know what to feel guilty about. We know when to feel guilt because we have an understanding of just how our actions would effect others because we know how those same actions would effect ourselves. Essentially guilt is empathy plus personal responsibility. Now, a better question than why it is we feel guilt would be: why do we feel empathy? There is still much to be learned about empathy about what it is and why it is. The scientific consensus appears to be that it is an autonomic bio-chemical response and that it is an essential component to social discourse and interaction (most autistics would tell you (if they can) that it is extremely difficult to become socially integrated when you are completely oblivious to the concerns and feelings of others). The physiological nature of empathy can be researched easily by anyone with access to a library or a connection to the Internet. How exactly it resulted from evolution, is and will always remain a mystery; but why it evolved should be obvious to each of us. The most fundamental benefits of empathy are made clear in the following example: you see a fellow human dangling from a cliff; your empathy for the plight of the dangling human leads you to rush over and pull him to safety, and in doing so you have just saved the life of a human who may later go on and propagate sexually (thus increasing the survivability of the species). Furthermore, by having saved a fellow human, you become viewed as a hero and more desirable to members of the opposite sex and thus increase your chances of propagating sexually yourself. Empathy has a direct effect upon a species' survivability and an effect upon an individual's social status which can directly improve his (usually it is the male) chance of passing on his genes. Let's look at another possible event where multiple emotions are at play: you happen upon a fellow human who is being attacked by a bear; because of empathy you have a strong desire to save the man from his gruesome fate; fear on the other hand makes you hesitant to risk the same fate to save another human; on this occasion you flee for safety and while you feel guilt for your inaction you are still very much alive yourself. In this situation, fear trumps empathy and as a result only one human is eliminated from the genetic pool whereas had you rushed in to play the hero likely two genetic agents would have been eliminated. A willingness to act for the betterment for one's entire culture or species cannot help but to have improved our chances of surviving, and these facts remain relevant even today. Of course, not all of our "urges" conform to the accepted Christian notion of morality. It's a known fact that most humans (particularly males of our species) routinely experience lustful urges to engage in carnal acts with the immediate objects of our desires, and these urges give no consideration to the "morality" of their existence or to whether or not the object of our desires is our spouse. Christian theologians have acknowledged early on our "evil" and innate lusts. In fact, look at all of the seven deadly sins (or however many there are now), they each stem from our innate tendency to "sin"; our internal tendency to fall short of what your god demands of us. Any claim that we have a "sixth sense" leading us to do good must be then countered by the notion the we also have (in the eye's of most Christians) a "seventh sense" leading us to do evil.

Sayest the Christian: The fact is, most of the freedoms we enjoy is based on a belief in transcendental ethics. If people avoid wrong, they avoid it because they believe that their behavior is truly wrong and thus they cannot stand to be wrong. The atheist is the same, accept they hold these ethical beliefs irrationally.

Sayest I: To the uneducated, such an inference may seem the case, but a modest understanding of the truths of evolution quickly and easily provide an alternative the theist's favorite explanation for everything: "god did it". There's nothing irrational about the knowledge that one's greatest hope to live a happy and peaceful life is to live in a happy and peaceful world.

Sayest the Christian: When they are forced to see the irrationality of it, rather then accept the inference of Gods existence, they choose to disbelieve in moral truth altogether. Now imagine a world where people no longer infer those values on people; such is the danger of promoting naturalism; and even more foolish is such an endeavor when we have no evidence to support a naturalistic world view. I find it quite disturbing that people would want to promote it. Perhaps they believe naturalism provides certain freedoms that they would not have in a strictly moral climate?

Sayest I: This is a completely different argument all together. Now, I've already briefly explained just how it is that morality could and did develop via Darwinian methods, but now you're arguing that there are frightful consequences to "a world where people no longer infer those values on people". Perhaps, but as you've already asserted these values are intrinsic and found in each of us given to us by God; so how could such a thing actually occur if your theory is correct? The claim that we have no evidence to support a naturalistic world view is true in much the same manner as the claim that we have no evidence as to the existence of the sun. In truth, what we have no evidence of is the existence of a god. Now, a god may very well exist, but I see no evidence of that fact. We naturalists promote naturalism for two reasons: A) it is in fact the truth and accepting that fact just makes sense; B) we've seen the "benefits" of religion and quite frankly we wish to have nothing more to do with it. We've seen the Jihads and crusades, the witch burnings and the hatred of knowledge that comes with a belief in a god and we've had enough. We believe (and evidence seems to confirm this) that a superior morality (i.e. a morality in which life is actually respected and treated with compassion) comes in the absence of a god. Mankind's greatest hope lies not in our superstitions, but in science and knowledge. Again, the claim that evolution explains nothing is a claim made in ignorance. Evolution can and has explained everything that you have just suggested it does not; you just have to be willing to open your mind to the truth.

Response to question 2. Sayest the Christian: exactly why do you find the Aquainian proofs invalid, do you know of something physical which is self creating? I would say that there simplicity is indicative of their truth.

Sayest I: Taking your predisposition to believe in a god out of the equation for a second: do you know of anything that isn't physical?

As far as the origin of the universe is concerned, one of two things happens to be the case: A) The universe exists in and of itself or B) there exists or existed a non-physical entity that resides in some other reality than our own and has or had both the ability and desire to create our universe. Now, based upon our experiences and observations, both are completely impossible; however one of them had to have happened. If one denies one of these possibilities based upon the fact that it could not (to our knowledge) have happened; then they must affirm an equally impossible alternative. On the other hand, as an agnostic, I do neither. I confess that I don't know and acknowledge that our universe could conceivably have a creator; however, it is worth noting that even if this creator exists he/she/it is almost certainly not the absurdly ridiculous god of the bible.

Sayest the Christian: What do you mean when you ask me to take my belief in a god out of the question for a second?

Sayest I: I mean, that if you don't start with the assumption that a god exists, can you think of anything that is not physical?

Sayest the Christian: Why yes i do, the first cause. As nothing physical can cause itself, that means that the first cause must necessarily be non-physical. As such, the existence of the physical is the proof of the non-physical.

Sayest I: There is at least one exception to your claim that nothing physical can cause itself, that of course being the universe itself. True, our experiences (apart from this one example) indicate that nothing physical can cause itself, but our experiences also indicate that everything that does exist is in fact physical. Based upon our experiences, the existence of a non-physical being is no less improbable than a universe that has just always existed. For the record, I'm not saying that you're wrong; I'm merely saying that your solution to the question "why do we exist" is just as impossible (to our knowledge) as that of the atheists.

Sayest the Christian: Everything requires a cause. unless you know of some reason that the universe should be different, it does too.

Sayest I: Ultimately, something exists without a cause, be that god or the universe. It is no more absurd to believe that the universe might exist without a cause, than it is to believe that a being (your god) could exist without a cause.

Sayest the Christian: Why do you feel the only other possibility is accurately described as a non-physical being in another dimension? 1. dimension is a quality of physicality 2. dimension is a quality of our universe. So this other dimension in which your non-physical being resides, is self creating? Already you violate causality in your premise.

Sayest I: First of all, by "some other dimension", I meant to imply a reality separate from ours. I'm not sure that there is actually a word for that. Since a being responsible for the creation of our universe could not at the same time be from our universe, it would have to exist in a reality separate from our own; that is what I was attempting the describe with the word dimension. Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, but at the same time I'm not sure which word would have worked better. Ultimately, this first cause of yours would owe it's existence to itself which, which to all of our experiences, is as impossible as a universe doing the same. Let's not forget that likely since the early days of our species we have sought an answer to every question, and that answer has always been god. Why does it rain: god. Why is there lightening: god. Where are there earthquakes: god. Where do babies come from: god. Rather than ever admit that they just didn't know the answer to the questions, our forefathers always responded with the universal default. Literally, god was the answer to every mystery and this is an attitude that exists very much unto this day. But as human knowledge has steadily advanced, science has replaced god as the answer to every question save one: why does anything exists as opposed to nothing? This is the last substantial question that remains unanswered by scientists. While we now know why it rains, what causes earthquakes and where babies come from; the origins of our universe is a question that continues to elude scientific explanation and our ancient urges to assign an ancient explanation remains firmly intact. Fortunately, as has always been the case, knowledge seekers have never been content to shrug their sholders and walk away; and if there is ever to be discovered an answer to this last question, it will be found. At that point, god will have gone from being the answer to every question to an answer without a question; and thus we will be forced to wonder: why does god exist?

Sayest the Christian: self causation is logically impossible, while a non-physical cause is the only possible first cause for the observable universe.

Sayest I: Again, to our experiences, self causation is no more impossible than is a non-physical existence. Clearly one of these two impossibilities must be true.

Sayest the Christian: I am interested in your reasoning for the assertion that if there is a god then it is not the god of the bible. why do you think that?

Sayest I: It's inconceivable to me that a being with the wisdom and power to create an entire universe could at the same time being the hate and rage filled, genocidal, hell-casting, jealous freak the bible describes him to be. Seriously, out of respect for god (if it exists) I would never think so poorly of it to believe that the bible paints an accurate picture of it's character.

Response to question #3: You realize that even if Christianity is true (or islam or hinduism or whatever) then the majority of humans on this planet have still fallen for a "man-made gimmick" as you called it. The sizable majority of humans are religious, yet no religion possesses anywhere near a majority of the available market. Even if one religion is 100% true, the majority of humans have none-the-less fallen for a trick that has lead them to worship a god that does not exist. If the 2.1 billion christians are correct then the rest of us 4 billion humans have fallen for a lie. No matter how you look at it, the mass majority of us are suckers. I too know several excellent theists and several rotten theists. Belief in a god can lead people to acts of kindness and acts of evil; history indicates that the latter is more often the case. Response to 4: I absolutely disagree with the claim that their is a lot of consistency to be found in the bible. The OT is the most inconsistent, jumbled, silly text that I have ever read, bar none. The NT is consistent with portions of the OT by design in an effort to show that one follows the other. As far as 1st century Jews creating a new religion, well it certainly would not be the first time that people just created a religion and wasn't the last. I suspect that the christianity that resulted was light year from anything this Jesus fellow ever envisioned, but that's just me. It does appear that in many ways the faith continued to evolve for centuries after its origination. As far as the early christians being willing to die for a false belief, well history is filled with humans being willing to die for false beliefs. Look at the whole Waco disaster. How many people actually died for that freak? People actually believed that David Koresh was god and many were convinced that 3 days following his death he would come back to life. When people want to believe they can be convinced of anything. Even if you limit the conversation to 1st century messianic Jews, Jesus was probably not the first and he was definitely not the last. That particular time was ripe with Jews claiming to be the messiah and many many many Jews died at their command.

Hey guys... Zerilos and Linda... Thanks for your responses, I am still reading a lot and taking my time with these decisions and so I had a few responses/questions to ask and tell what things I am satisfied with and what things I am unsatisfied with...

Just a quick response to your response of #3... I think Christians readily admit that truth can be found in other religions... It is not that Islam and Judaism have been duped, it is merely that they do not have the full experience of the truth or revelation or whatever... They obviously wouldn't say Judaism was man-made and they would merely say Islam is a confusion and reaction about the true nature of God so on and so forth... That's just interesting talk that doesn't prove anything really but it is fascinating to think that these 1st century Jews had the ability to create something so lasting (and sorry Linda, if I was reading you right, it sounds like you think Christianity sprang up from Constantine on... but it can be historically verified that it was 1st century Jews that laid the foundations (Paul, Peter, John etc.)

Zerilos you answered some of questions on the moral argument but I am still a little shaky... From your lengthy response, it sounds as if you would affirm what I said that "morals" are a result of evolution and manifest themselves in "collective human reasoning" and that human reasoning will decide what is right or wrong or in between. I would affirm this, but no one will follow my logic and admit that in 100 years time, if human reasoning decides (say for the U.S) that rape is an expression of sexual freedom and should not be thought of as wrong... Then there is no previously stated or higher ground that could combat this claim... In the same line Zerilos, you say that God is hateful and cruel and kills and such... But I wonder why you think your morals or our society's moral has an upper ground on the ancients conception of a good "God", there is no way to decide if our evolved morals are good or bad... If we deduce that they are something "good" than we are admitting we have a basis to judge off of and we don't... I cannot say one action is better or worse than another, and as an atheist, I have to affirm that or deny that, there is no middle ground. At least that is the way I see it and I am still wrestling with it... I just don't think you or I can claim that you have any certain knowledge whether the ancients idea of God is good or bad...

I realize that it is silly to judge who has done more good or bad in the world, my only point was that I don't see any evidence of the "religion poisons everything" thing. If I had my way, we would stop trying to "convert" Christians and admit that it is alright for them to have their religion and even support it if it makes people happy...

In regard to my last question... This is the stance that has been satisfying for me and the motives behind why 1st century Jews would create a Jesus. However you seem to be arguing that they were all merely mistaken with a false belief on who Jesus was, not they made it up knowing it was a lie which is a completely different question... As far as this is concerned, it was Jesus who was a deceiver and that is a completely different scenario...

Anyway, like I said I am still wrestling... What disturbs me to most is what do Atheists have to fight for... I mean I say that there is no after-life and that we are all going to rot in the grace, but then why try to convert anyway because there is no "betterment of mankind" there is no "search for truth", because in the end, it won't make a difference... So why not just let Christians live and try to make themselves happy and leave everyone alone. This is just my stance and partly why Atheism scares me into being something else... haha... Anyway thanks for all your help and feel free to respond.

QUOTE: "there is no "search for truth"! On whose part? You're scared all right! Atheists don't try to convert anybody xians do that! You are on an atheist message board asking questions, and I wonder why you are asking questions when you already have all the answers. QUOTE "(and sorry Linda, if I was reading you right, it sounds like you think Christianity sprang up from Constantine on... but it can be historically verified that it was 1st century Jews that laid the foundations (Paul, Peter, John etc.)" … That's what apologists say not the scholars. . If all of your evidence comes from Xian apologetics that ignore any evidence that disputes their view I'm sure you think you have the facts.

The words authorized and original, as applied to the Bible, do not mean true or original. What was written originally is absolutely unknown. The events surrounding "Jesus" were supposed to have taken place within a certain time in history, normally taken to be around 4 BCE to 33 CE. It is important to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the history of that period. The main information sources of the "Jesus" myths life are from the documents known as the gospels, other historians living at the very same time, and in the very same place, give no information about Jesus. The gospels that are claimed to have been written by an apostle (Matthew), a follower of an apostle (Mark who followed Peter) and a companion of Paul (Luke) are bogus. Mark, not Matthew, was the earliest written gospel and both Matthew and Luke were heavily dependent upon it. Analysis of the internal evidence also shows that, and they were all written after 70 C.E. close to half a century after the so-called death of Jesus. The author of Mark could not have been a follower of the so-called Peter. The author was not a witness nor was he the friend of a witness to the events in Jesus' life. His identity is unknown to us. The findings above have implications regarding the authorship of Matthew and Luke. Both the authors of Matthew and Luke are also unknown to us. The gospel of John, most scholars agree, is a very late and unreliable work. As in the case of Mark, Matthew and Luke - the author of this gospel is unknown to us. The names Mark, Matthew, Luke and John represent nothing, and the attempts by apologists to try and reassert the reliability of this second century tradition is not convincing to any scholar. Could documents written at least close to half a century after the death of its main character, by non-eyewitnesses, give reliable testimonies of that person's life? The answer is a "No." It is important to note also, the rural (Hicksville) nature of this project. It is this relevant. It tells us how sophisticated most of the followers were. Thus any kind of historical testimony would most likely have come from ignorant, uneducated peasants. This was the kind of audience who witnessed "miracles" and listened to crap.

We don't celebrate Easter because it was the time that Jesus rose from the dead. We celebrate Easter because it is a carryover from paganism. Read Ezekiel the eighth chapter, verse fourteen, and you'll see that Ezekiel referred to the women who were standing before the gate of the house of Jehovah, weeping over Tammuz. Tammuz was born of a virgin, Sumerian-Babylonian, savior-god, who died and was resurrected, and each spring, in this ceremony, the women wept and wailed over his death, and then a few days later, they celebrated his resurrection. It's a pagan custom. (Does it sound familiar?) Nevertheless, the deception continues.

No reputable biblical theologian today, Catholic or Protestant treats the virgin birth stories in Matthew and Luke as history. The problem is that this information hasn't reached the people. The birth of Jesus, as important as it is to the Christian belief system, is described in only two places in the entire Bible, the first chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew and the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke. The writers of the Gospels of Mark and John neither apparently deem the miraculous virgin birth and the circumstances surrounding it worthy of mention, nor did Paul who said simply that, "Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4). Maybe they never heard of it? Outside of the two birth narratives, "Jesus" mythos parents are practically ignored. Joseph is mentioned only three times, once in Luke 3:23 and twice in the Gospel of John, 1:45 and 6:42. In these passages Joseph is referred to as "the father" of Jesus. Mary, his mother, is also mentioned only three times outside the birth narratives, Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55 (obviously copied from Mark) and Acts 1:14. In none of them is she referred to as a "virgin." The Pauline Epistles, the verse that mentions a virgin is found in the KJV. It is incorrectly translated. Other Bibles such as the NEB, RSV and the Jerusalem Bible (Catholic Version) do not give credence to the belief in a virgin birth. It has been long-established false by the fact that existing early xians writings neither mention it nor show any awareness of it prior to the writing of the fake "Gospel of Matthew" sometime after 80 C. E. It appears nowhere in the authentic (meaning not forgery) epistles of Paul (working for the Romans to establish a new religion.) The writers of the fake "Matthew and Luke" fame, although they drew heavily from Mark, wisely omitted this enlightening little detail. (See Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke 8:19-20.) The author of John, who gives the description of the Christ figure, overlooks the birth narrative that he must certainly have known of since he wrote so late. But on two occasions, 1:45 and 6:42, "Jesus" myth is referred to simply as "The son of Joseph". In Romans 1:3 Paul tells us without proof that the mythical "Jesus" was in fact a direct descendant of King David. The subject surfaces again in Galatians 4:4 where he says in reference to this mythical character "Jesus" that, "When the fullness of time had come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law." These are extremely helpful statements, because Paul's writings predate the gospels of Matthew and Luke by some twenty five to thirty years. He was a contemporary of Jesus yet he obviously never heard of the virgin birth touted as one of Christianity's most important miracles. The only conclusion we are left with is that the virgin birth of Jesus myth was a fantasy concoction of the writers of Matthew and Luke inserted in their gospels probably for the purpose of converting Pagans. All pagan gods were born of virgins and come back in the spring.

The later writers of the "gospel according to Matthew," copied Mark's story verbatim. Mark's verses 27-33, being nearly word for word reproduced in Matthew's 13-16, 20-24 of chapter 16; the only material verbal difference being in Peter's answer, in verse 16, where Peter's words are expanded: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," obviously throw in by the interpreter of verses 17-19. Over time the fervor of the Cleric to exalt Peter increased; there are many admitted forgeries of documents having that purpose in view. So it was, obviously, a forging Cleric who took a manuscript of "Matthew," and turning to the above verses copied from "Mark," added in, or made a new manuscript copy containing, the notable forgery of verses 17-19. There, onto the commonplace and unnoticed reply of Peter, "Thou art the Christ," tacked on.

After the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and the discovery on the third day of his empty grave by the Magdalene, which she immediately reported to Peter and John, they ran doubting to the grave, looked in, and "saw, and believed"; and John positively swears: "For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead." (John Chapter 20) But this inspired assertion contains a thought-provoking historical missing entry: for "as yet" there was, of course, no "scripture" about the death and resurrection at all, nor for well over a century afterwards.

Apostle Paul mentioned in First Corinthians the fifteenth chapter he had seen Jesus in a vision after he had died. People with visions, and a hidden agenda, are very unreliable evidence. Furthermore, eyewitnesses did not write the gospel accounts. On top of that there are no writings of the so-called eyewitnesses. Bible scholars know this and the evidence indicates it is a certainty. If you think that an apostle Matthew wrote Matthew, or the apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, you are not captivated by details. Luke even in the beginning of his gospel said that he was not an eyewitness to these things but that he had made inquiries into the subject.

John did not write the gospel that bears that name. Bible scholars know that. The evidence is overwhelming. Go to get the information, and study it, and you'll see that John who wrote the book of John was certainly not an eyewitness to the resurrection. As for the Apostle Paul, he had a vision, and visions don't count. It's that simple. Jesus Christ never establishes any new religion, or even a newfound Jewish religion! Jesus never made the forged statement in Matthew: "Go ye into all the world, and teach all nations." The avowed mission of the Jews who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, was exclusively to their fellow Jews: "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel"; and they expressly commanded their disciples not to preach to the Gentiles, nor even to the near-Jewish Samaritans. It is impossible that a "Jesus" (whose brother was James) could have so flagrantly contradicted the basic principles of his exclusive mission, and could have commanded the institution of a permanent and perpetual religious organization or xian "Church," to preach his exclusively Jewish Messianic doctrines to all nations of the earth, which was to perish within that generation. This is conclusive proof of the later forgery of this passage. It is recognized by reputable scholars that what the so-called historians were doing was recounting what Xians had been told to believed. Josephus did not write about Jesus, very reliable theologians admit it's a forgery. As for as eyewitnesses, what did they ever write? You don't know if they really said that they saw the resurrection, or whether they said they saw the empty tomb, or Jesus after he was resurrected. You have the word of someone who wrote a gospel account who said that they said. You have the account of the Apostle Paul's vision, and said that Jesus appeared to five hundred witnesses. There is not one word written about this happening that is not a forgery. It is nothing but hearsay evidence. People don't believe that Jesus rose from the dead any more than they believe that Osiris rose from the dead.

The dates when the Dead Sea Scrolls were being written was ascertained to have started in 150 BCE and continued until 70 CE, a period of 220 years. During those years 872 scrolls were written in Hebrew and Aramaic by the peoples of Qumran. It is important to note that the supposed life of Jesus was between 2 BCE and 36 CE (a period of 38 years) and that the Romans in 70 CE destroyed the Great Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem. These are the important dates to remember for putting together the emerging picture from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scholars and theologians of integrity soon began the translation of the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls. After the scholars finished the translation work on the Dead Sea Scrolls one very important fact came out, and that was that nowhere in the Dead Sea Scrolls was the name "Jesus" nor was the Jesus mythos mentioned. Also, the popular Christian view of early Christianity had no support in the new translations.

The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the practices that people regard as xian innovations are not, for example the Lord's Prayer and the Lord's Supper, because they can be traced to the Qumrans. They go back at least one century before the birth of Christ. The Dead Sea Scrolls challenged the two most fundamental beliefs of Christianity. 1. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ. 2. Christianity as the embodiment of the message of Christ. The Dead Sea Scrolls put both these beliefs in jeopardy. This is why the Catholic Church put off making the Dead Sea Scrolls available to the world. In accordance with the information from the accounts of the times in the Dead Sea Scrolls the name Jesus a very important character was not mentioned. If the myth was loosely based on an actual person it would at best have been one among many "teachers of righteousness" that were part of an ultra conservative messianic Jewish (not Christian) movement based in Qumran going back at least 100 years BCE (before Jesus was a twinkle in anyone's eye.) The Romans did not simply come to Judea in 70 CE to suppress a small uprising; they came to stop political dissidents for good. So, they were very through in what they came to do. What it means is that everything today's Christians think they know about Christianity is false. Their beliefs are layers of numerous popular pagan beliefs of the victorious Graeco-Roman culture and rehashed as the Jesus myth. The dissent over slavery, and the Jewish uprisings threatened Rome they wanted to end it. Roman aristocrats decided to concoct a region as a solution to the situation. Roman aristocrats came up with a novel idea of creating a new religion by means of the preaching of Paul of Tarsus. Paul's story that the messiah had come and died for their sins (though they failed to recognize him) gave them access to a kingdom in heaven. Paul took his message among the Gentiles where he had some influence, because the Jews hated him. Most of these people had horrible lives, and wanted security and salvation in the after life.

The contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls are known among scholars, but are never preached to enlighten the common man. The average person does not take the trouble of investigating what the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century contains, and their indifference to find the truth is incredibly taken advantage of by the clergy of cheating institutions who are expert in capitalizing on the popularity of myths and binding people with religious superstitions. It is not very convincing that these men who were chosen by God and are "gifted" with the to understand spiritual things, and yet they can't provide the facts when they are so obtainable.

In 313 A. D. Constantine the emperor of Roman was supposed to have embraced Christianity. In 321 A.D. Constantine declared the "Sun's day" it was probably never called Sunday. Constantine deceptively claimed Apollo, the Sun God as his patron and stamped Apollo's image on one side of his coin and the initials J.C. that are adaptable to (Jesus Christ) or (Julius Caesar) on the other. Apollo the Sun God is the true ancient Egyptian Deity, Heru, the Son of Ausar and Aset who was renamed Apollo by the Greeks and Romans. In the beginning of Constantine's rule the biggest question was whether or not the empire would worship both the Hindu Krishna and the Druidic Hesus or should they unite them into one God. Constantine started a campaign to accept both Gods. And we all know how that came out in 325 A.D. they named their god Jesus and started killing off everyone else's god.

"If I had the power that the New Testament narrative say that Jesus had, I would not cure one person of blindness, I would make blindness impossible; I would not cure one person of leprosy, I would abolish leprosy." Joseph Lewis (1889-1968)

I would like to add the origin of the Abrahamic religions started out in the same place. Atheists don't believe in any god/gods. Atheists do not try to prove anything about deus. Scholars study ancient manuscripts to find the "truth" about ancient cultures and religion NT and the OT and everything in between.

The Sumero-Akkadian story of the creation of the World found its way to Palestine long before the Israelites' advent there, and they learned of them from the Canaanites. The style of writing discovered at Ugarit is known as alphabetic cuneiform. This is a unique blending of an alphabetic script and cuneiform. Cuneiform was passing from the scene and alphabetic scripts were coming in. Ugaritic is a bridge from one to the other. Besides single words being illuminated by the Ugaritic texts, entire ideas or complexes of ideas have parallels in the literature. Deities worshipped at Ugarit were El Shaddai, El (the chief god) Elyon, and El Berith.

The Hebrew writers apply all of these names to Yahweh. What this means is that the Hebrew theologians adopted the titles of the Phoenician gods and attributed them to Yahweh in an effort to eliminate them. If Yahweh is all of these there is no need for the Phoenician gods to exist. This process is known as assimilation. Besides the chief god at Ugarit there were also lesser gods, demons, and goddesses. The most important of these lesser gods were Baal, Asherah, Yam and Mot. In Hebrew Asherah is called the wife of Baal; but she is also known as the consort of Yahweh! Baal (a lesser deity) is described as the "rider on the clouds" interestingly enough, this description is also used of Yahweh in Psalm 68:5.

One Ugaritic text testifies that among the inhabitants of Ugarit, Yahweh was viewed as another son of El ( sm . bny . yw . ilt ) "The name of the son of god, Yahweh." This text showing that Yahweh was known at Ugarit, though not as the Lord but as one of the many sons of El. Among the other gods worshipped at Ugarit there are Dagon, Tirosch, Horon, Nahar, Resheph, Kotar Hosis, Shachar (who is the equivalent of Satan), and Shalem. One of the most famous of the lesser deities at Ugarit was Dan'il. There is little doubt that this figure corresponds to the Biblical Daniel (while predating him by several centuries.) Most scholars agree that the Canonical prophet was the Ugarit Dan'il.

Another creature is Leviathan. Hebrew text Isaiah 27:1 and Ugarit texts describe this beast. In Ugarit, as in Israel, the cult played a central role in the lives of the people. Ugaritic myths - story of Baal's enthronement as king. Baal is killed by Mot (in the fall of the year) and he remains dead until the spring of the year. His victory over death was celebrated as his enthronement over the other gods. (Sound familiar?) The Hebrew text also celebrates the enthronement of Yahweh. As in the Ugaritic myth, the purpose of Yahweh's enthronement is to re-enact creation. Another interesting parallel between Israel and Ugarit is the yearly ritual known as the sending out of the "scapegoats" one for god and one for a demon.

The Ugarit texts were found in 1923 and were interpreted later on by a man who was an expert in ancient languages and decoding. We understand the literature itself much better now, and we are now able to clarify difficult words due to their Ugaritic homogeneity. What all of this means is that it all comes out of ancient myths/superstitions!

Anyone looking for "truth" should look at what the scholars have to say about the archeological finds, since their only purpose is to find the "truth", they don't have to perpetuate superstition since they are not in that business.

You said-Just a quick response to your response of #3... I think Christians readily admit that truth can be found in other religions... It is not that Islam and Judaism have been duped, it is merely that they do not have the full experience of the truth or revelation or whatever... They obviously wouldn't say Judaism was man-made and they would merely say Islam is a confusion and reaction about the true nature of God so on and so forth... That's just interesting talk that doesn't prove anything really but it is fascinating to think that these 1st century Jews had the ability to create something so lasting (and sorry Linda, if I was reading you right, it sounds like you think Christianity sprang up from Constantine on... but it can be historically verified that it was 1st century Jews that laid the foundations (Paul, Peter, John etc.) I said- A couple of points. This whole all religions are the same, just in different ways excuse has become the theist's newest cop-out. Humans create relgions, it's just always been the case and there are countless documented occasions where we know for a fact this has happened. This doesn't mean that there is no god or that there is no true faith, but it does mean that we should not assume without evidence that a religion is true merely because it has existed for 2,000 years. Let's assume that christianity is true and that all other religions are composed of truth seekers who have merely gotten god's message wrong. What does this say about god's ability to communicate, when about 67% of honest truth seeking religious humans have gotten god's message really really wrong? God reveals himself and most of us have gotten the message wrong. Whose fault is that? Is it our fault, if so why? You acnnot tell me that most Muslims and Hindus and Jews are not honest in their beliefs. Plus the fact that a religion has existed since the 1st century is really not that unusual. Hindusism has existed since around 2000BCE. Ultimately, there is no verifiable evidence that christianity is true and IMO tons of evidence that it was a manufactured faith. The only argument that I see christians making any more is the whole "if christianity isn't true, then why does it exist" argument and it's really really weak. BTW, I don't personally by the whole Constantine argument either.

You said-I would affirm this, but no one will follow my logic and admit that in 100 years time, if human reasoning decides (say for the U.S) that rape is an expression of sexual freedom and should not be thought of as wrong... Then there is no previously stated or higher ground that could combat this claim...

I said-This whole what if rape is considered moral 100 years from now argument carries no weight as it could happen even if morality has its origins in god. Clearly, even if this is true, our moral practices would still be dependent upon our understanding and enforcement of right and wrong which I am certain you would agree often varies from what is actually right and wrong. In other words, we could legalize rape 100 years from now even if it was a "sin", what we consider right and wrong would still be a matter of perception; God would be outraged, but as history indicates he would permit it none-the-less. The fact that you wish morality had an objective origin established by a god does not make it so, and that basically seems to be the argument you're making here. To paraphrase, I understand you to be saying "I want rape to be objectively immoral as established by my favorite god"; great I want to be a billionaire, but that desire is not reflected by my bank account and your desire is not reflected by any facts. Rape is immoral because we have declared it so (a declaration I happen to agree with as a world where rape was permited would be a horrible horrible place).

I do not agree that religion poisons everything, that's a bit extream; however I do believe that the world would be better off without it. I'm not going to go into detail as to why I believe this (volumes have been written) as it would take too long.

I cannot honestly say that I know exactly why or how christianity developed (there are dozens of valid theories); however I can say that I have seen no argument that would come even close to convincing me of it's validity and countless reasons why I know it to be invalid. I cannot say for a fact that there is not god (maybe there is maybe there isn't), but for a thousand reasons I am 100% certain that christianity is a lie.

Ok, I understand and I usually think the same way but its just a little fishy to me to say "Rape is immoral because we have declared it so...". So my point is in a 100 years if Rape is declared as moral, than it is moral. If human reasoning declares pedophilia as moral, than it is moral. That kind of relativism scares me to death and I don't think it is accurate of reality and this is one of my biggest struggles at this time. This kind of relativistic morals does not seem to make sense to me or appeal to me (so you are right I do wish there were objective morals). I just think the argument that there are objective morals is legitimate...

Jackson This whole argument seems to be based entirely upon a desire that bad things be bad because they're bad and not just because we say they're bad. Again, even if morality has an objective basis (rape is wrong because it's wrong-a perfect example of a tautology) it would still be dependent upon us to figure this out and to then enforce a prohibition against rape. Again, history is filled with examples where this did not occur. In either scenario, rape or pedophilia could be legal 100 years from now (seriously doubt it though). Keep in mind that we do not develop out moral attitudes by chance, but rather by observation and understanding (and for some of us by mental disorder) and as long the consensus remains that rape does far more harm to a society than good (far far more harm) then we should expect to see it remain prohibited. Unlike the laws of Moses and Mohammed where involuntary concubinage was legal, I cannot personally image a scenario where a secular society would ever view rape as an acceptable behavior.

Do xians read the bible? I only asked because it appears god approved of rape. Here is the proof and it also seems that mans law is what prohibits rape not gods. I guess Matt was right!

Isaiah 13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.

Zechariah 14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

The rape of the women is justified because their women were raped back in Zion. So this is revenge and is justifiable according to the Bible.

Isaiah 13:16 - Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes, upon the ground, or against the wall, as was foretold should be, Psalm 137:8 and in way of retaliation for what they did to the Jews, 2 Chronicles 36:17 and this was to be done "before their eyes," in the sight of the inhabitants, which must make it the more distressing.

Their houses shall be spoiled; plundered of the substance, wealth, and riches in them, by the Persian soldiers: and their wives ravished; by the same, and both before their eyes, and after the slain, in like manner as they had ravished the women in Zion, Lamentations 5:11.

In Judges 21, gods He orders the murder of all the people of Jabesh-gilead, except for the virgin girls who were taken to be forcibly raped and married. The God of the Bible also allows slavery, including selling your own daughter as a sex slave Exodus 21:1-ll.

This is the type of moral behavior religion gave mankind, it is the law of man that gave us justice.

Zerilos - "I don't personally by the whole Constantine argument either." Where is the proof that it's wrong? A perfect example of - "Everything they've ever 'known' has been proven to be wrong." All that Jackson or Zerilos has done is to tell you what they think or don't believe without any history or evidence. Leysin and Linda gave plenty of evidence, history and facts.

Leysin - "Historians have pinpointed that the cradle of civilization developed in the region of Mesopotamia from artifacts found and mapping the spread of this particular culture over the world." That is an excellent place to start looking for answers.

Constantine murdered his wife and elder son before setting out to make the world Roman, on the pretext of defending the church against paganism. Even a haphazard examination of history would show most people that things are completely different from what we have been told. All that most of the people know is a half-ass synopsis of major historical events.

"The birth date of Jesus was agreed on by the Bishops who attended the Nicean Conference in 332 A.D. because it commemorated the birth of the Sun God." "The contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls are known among scholars, but are never preached to enlighten the common man" and "Ugaritic is a bridge from one to the other." I read what Linda wrote about the beginning of religion did you? I think the discrepancies that were pointed out in the scriptures alone would be sufficient, also, the Dead Sea Scrolls problems, and Ugarit, tell the story very well. That's not to say Constantine is not a big problem if you know anything about the true history.

"We've been lied to by every institution. What makes you think for one minute that the religious institution is the only one that's never been touched? The religious institutions of this world are at the bottom of the dirt. The religious institutions in this world were put there by the same people who gave you your government, your corrupt education, who set up your international banking cartels." -Jordan Maxwell

In 312 AD psychopath Constantine, a man who murdered his son and boiled his wife alive, was made Emperor of the Roman Empire. He spent the rest of his life using Christianity as a tool to achieve political domination. One day during a battle at Milvian Bridge, Constantine claimed to have seen a vision that converted him to Christianity. He said he saw in the sky a picture of the cross and the words "In this sign thou shalt conquer." In reality he worshipped the Greek god Apollo and Sol Invictus, never converted to Christianity, and remained Pontifex Maximus of the Pagan Church until the day he died! He did, however, use Christianity and the sign of the cross to conquer his enemies, just as his alleged vision suggested.

"The most heinous and the cruelest crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives." -Gandhi

Constantine never converted to Christianity (not even on his deathbed). Beginning in the fourth century Christianity was legalized about the time that the Roman Empire was starting to decline. In a book called, "The Heretics," Walter Nigg wrote: "Constantine, who treated religious questions solely from a political point of view, assured unanimity by banishing all the bishops who would not sign the new profession of faith. In this way unity was achieved. Not a single bishop said a single word against this monstrous thing."

Christianity grew in power and influence following the first Council of Nicea, and Roman emperors and influential citizenry became enmeshed with the leadership of the church. It is during this time that a combination of Christians, Roman emperors, and scholars comprised what would become the core organization and power structure of the Catholic Church.

"Investigations into the beginnings of religion have accumulated steadily throughout the past half-century. It is only by great efforts of censorship, by sectarian education of an elaborately protected sort, and the like, that ignorance about them is maintained." -H. G. Wells Constantine used Christianity and Jesus as a way to get his soldiers to fight in the name of Christ. This was all used to build the Empire. Pagan religions customs and traditions were inserted into the "new improved religion" Christianity! Festival held in honor of Tammuz or Adonis (Ezekiel 8:14. Tammaz was born of a virgin, Sumerian-Babylonian, savior-god, it is in your very own scriptures. The reason for incorporating other religions was to convert people not because they really believed any of it. I can only assume that you have never heard of that Empire building conquest known in history as the Crusades.

If the argument is just that Constantine took this Jewish/Pagan hybrid and used it to his advantage, then I agree 100%. Christianity would not have had anywhere near the prominence it has if he had not. Now if the arguement is being made that Constantine invented Xtianity out of nothing then that's hogwash. There is too much evidence of a pre-Constantinian Xtian faith to hold the view at least IMO.

Zerilos QUOTE: -"If the argument is just that Constantine took this Jewish/Pagan hybrid and used it to his advantage, then I agree 100%. Christianity would not have had anywhere near the prominence it has if he had not. Now if the arguement is being made that Constantine invented Xtianity out of nothing then that's hogwash. There is too much evidence of a pre-Constantinian Xtian faith to hold the view at least IMO."

That not it (you didn't get it!) Constantine is only one player late in the game. I wrote about ALL RELIGIONS and their origins. Judaism and xianity have no "real" connection (scholars know this) the claim that they do is absolutely false. Xianity is pagan as most any scholar knows and can easily be confirmed. Most atheists already know this!

A BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Constantine is just one player! Xianity was never ever connected to anything Jewish. It is a fact, xianity did NOT come from Judaism, that's always been a LIE. That's why we call it xianity. In accordance with the information from the accounts of the times in the Dead Sea Scrolls the name Jesus a very important character was not mentioned. If the myth was loosely based on an actual person it would at best have been one among many "teachers of righteousness" that were part of an ultra conservative messianic Jewish (NOT CHRISTIAN) movement based in Qumran going back at least 100 years BCE (before the mythical Jesus was a twinkle in anyone's eye.) There isn't a single word contained in the Sermon on the Mount that isn't contained in what is called the Sacred Book of the Jews, long before the mythical Jesus could have lived. Jesus said: "Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." That is not a new axiom or a new principle. It came from Lao-Tse and Buddha some 500 or 600 years before Christ. The whole concept of a God is a derivative of the ancient oriental despotism. Lao-Tse, a contemporary of Confucius in China, founded Taoism. Among his best-known sayings are to "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek. The point is that these things were attributed to this deified figure (Jesus) much later on.

The origin or Judaism: One Ugaritic text testifies that among the inhabitants of Ugarit, Yahweh was viewed as another son of El ( sm . bny . yw . ilt ) "The name of the son of god, Yahweh." All religion is nothing more than the rehashing of ancient superstitions.

No one knows who actually wrote the 66 books that were eventually canonized to make the bible. (Many myths were not included.) The names associated with the books in the bible mythologies are not the individuals who wrote them. Much of the bible is anonymous or forgeries. Libraries that have been discovered as part of archaeological exploration make it possible for us to study ancient cultures. These ancient scrolls/ manuscripts are what actually make up the Bible. The Bible is made up of picked and chosen works from many different sources. However, some books mentioned in the bible are not in the bible. It is helpful to interpret the actions of those who decided what we needed to know in order to help us better understand what this was really all about. Go back and read all the BLOOPERS that they made concocting the scriptures out of cheesecloth.

The corporate conservative monopoly broadcasting has done a great job of vilifying anyone who thinks there are conspiracies, but only a fool wouldn't know better. They spread foolish conspiracies (the war on Xmas; Elvis is alive!) believing that the public will think that no real conspiracies exist. While they explained away real conspiracies with stories that not even a stupid child would believe (then or now.)

Apostle Paul mentioned in First Corinthians the fifteenth chapter he had seen Jesus in a vision after he had died. People with visions, and a hidden agenda, are very unreliable evidence. The origin of spreading superstition and myths starts with Paul. Who was not a friend of James but his rival, and the Dead Sea Scrolls confirms Saul assisted Rome in the attack on Jerusalem. Paul's name was Saul. It would be pretty embarrassing for xians if the major player in starting the "new religion" actually helped kill Jesus' brother James, the head of the temple and a very important figure. After that they exalted the Jesus myth to be more important than James'. The Romans did not simply come to Judea in 70 CE to suppress a small uprising; they came to stop political dissidents for good. What it means is that everything today's Christians think they know about Christianity is false. Their beliefs are layers of numerous popular pagan beliefs of the victorious Graeco-Roman culture and rehashed as the Jesus myth. The dissent over slavery and the Jewish uprisings threatened Rome, so they wanted to end it. Roman aristocrats decided to concoct a region as a solution to the situation. Roman aristocrats (the Piso dynasty) came up with a novel idea of creating a new religion by means of the preaching of Paul of Tarsus. (Long before Constantine). Paul's story that the messiah had come and died for their sins (though they failed to recognize him) gave them access to a kingdom in heaven. Paul took his message among the Gentiles where he had some influence. Paul was a good friend of the Roman Empire. Also read about the Piso's who actually wrote the bible.

The Dead Sea Schrolls the records of religious events, important commentaries and chronicles by a sect of Essene scribes and scholars writing in Judea for a hundred years up to 70 A.D. And nowhere is mention made of a new religion, a Messiah, a worker of miracles, a preaching to multitudes, a trial and crucifixion, nothing! All the scholars know this and only apologists deny it!

In 313 A. D. Constantine the emperor of Rome was supposed to have embraced Christianity. In 321 A.D. Constantine declared the "Sun's day" it was probably never called Sunday. Constantine elevated Christianity to the state religion of the Roman Empire and in doing so deified Jesus.

You can find lots of apologists who will deny this! The scholars are right not the apologists!

Jackson said, "But I wonder why you think your morals or our society's moral has an upper ground on the ancients conception of a good "God", there is no way to decide if our evolved morals are good or bad..."

That's the major problem you don't understand what is being said! You can say anything that you want to but it doesn't make it true. Like Gregory said you haven't backed anything up with a single fact. Religious experiences, saying people are nice, and so on are not facts. I agree with Gregory that the only post on this page that have any modicum of intelligence is Linda, Leysin and Gregory! I can assure you that there are philosophies that have much higher values than Xianity. I really think this is a waste of time but here is some information concerning morality and criminal behavior.

You seem to believe that "religion" (no matter how false) can solve society's problems, when it never has and it never will. The scientific research into criminal psychology is what will answer the questions and solve the problem of psychopaths and psychopathic killers. It is genetic, hormonal, biological and conditioning. Psychotics do not have control over their disease, and religion has none of the answers, and never ever has! The Son of Sam psychopath turned (prison minister) prison letters that were written to serial killer Gary Evans makes a mockery out of David Berkowitz's supposed embrace of Christianity.

Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the most infamous and notorious serial killers in American history. Dahmer was born into a family of devout members of the Stone-Campbell denomination known as the "Church of Christ" or "Churches of Christ."

Another serial killer Dennis Lynn Rader He was known as the BTK killer which stands for "bind, torture and kill" was also a member of the Christ Lutheran Church, a Lutheran congregation of about 200 people, near his former high school. He had been a member for about 30 years and had been elected president of the Congregation Council. He was also a Cub Scout leader.

Then there is the infamous "faith based parole" that lead to the release of Wayne Dumond a psychotic killer "come to Jesus" who got out and killed again. Mike Huckabee religious extremist and advocate of "faith based parole" was reported to have been quick to offer clemency when his fellow ministers requested it. As prosecutor Robert Herzfeld said in 2004, "It seems to be true at least anecdotally that if a minister is involved, (Huckabee) seems likely to grant clemency." The scandal was surrounding Wayne Dumond a convicted rapist "faith based" paroled who went to rape and murder again after his release.

Where did you get the idea that insane behavior is caused by a lack of religious fanaticism? It's not caused by anything but insanity, and frankly being religious does not exclude being insane. The things you are describing are due to mental illness not morality. If people were not so ignorant we would be addressing mental illness instead of locking insane people up without treatment and then letting them out "faith based" or otherwise crazier than ever. Including psychotic killer turned "Jesus" freaks.

I think Linda you are just changing your name and reaffirming that you are the only intelligent one on the bored! haha... maybe, maybe not but zeriolos and I are having a good discussion and I don't think it is unintelligent to parse out where morals come and so on... I am not advocating religion or saying half the things you think I am saying... I am merely questioning whether there are objective morals or not and other related questions...

And for Constantine... He did not create Christianity... He helped it grow, but I believe there were 6 million Christians around the time of Constantine... I think almost any historian notices that... So I don't think Constantine fooled everyone and created this religion... Authentic writings from church fathers dating around 100 B.C. disciples express doctrines about Christianity that are affirmed by the church today before Constantine was even born... You sound like it is a "Dan Brown" conspiracy and it was Constantine who did everything... that's just not true.

And zeriolos so I don't misunderstand you, you do affirm that there is no objective morals or real right or wrong? Or are you saying some things are wrong and some things are right, for instance rape, are you taking kind of a Betrand Russel stance and saying that like yellow is not blue, rape is wrong. Things are as they are kind of thing... Hopefully that makes sense but I just wanted to clear up what you were saying... because for me, knowing for sure that certain things are inherently wrong in the universe, is objective... So we can't say rape is wrong. From our own logic, we have merely said that it is probably not the best thing for society...

I really wasn't interested in a conversation I gave you facts, and instead of addressing them you brought up issues that I didn't address. Particularly, I never said Constantine started a religion. Constantine deified Jesus, which any historian or a scholar knows. They also know how common that was in Rome. Julius Caesar deified by the Roman Senate 27 BCE -14 CE Reign of Emperor Augustus. Augustus was the first Roman ruler to be worshiped as a son of a god (divi filius), and the day of his birth was considered the beginning of his glad tidings or "gospel" for the world.

I also gave factual answers to:

Jackson - PARTIAL QUOTE - "Matt from the show says he is more moral than God, but he is only more moral than God depending on his set of relative morals. Collective human reasoning put together (which I believe is what secular humanists believe is the standard for morals...) could say that Jesus is evil and stupid for teaching to love your enemies, etc.

I answered this in my first post with proof from the scriptures, which you never addressed! Instead you bring up some other issue about right and wrong, which I didn't address.

Lao-Tse, a contemporary of Confucius in China, founded Taoism. Among his best known sayings are to "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek." Sound familiar? The scriptures have similar themes and copied sayings. That's why some people believe that they must have all come from god! Address that.

Jackson - QUOTE - "The only thing that I realized is that because this universe exists in space and time, and if the universe is not eternal (which most philosophers and scientist seem to agree on, than whatever or whomever "caused" it would logically be outside of space and time."

I did address this with a scientific answer. Go back and read the whole thing and then answer it! There is no proof that there is anything OUTSIDE time and space, and there is proof that it was not necessary "in the beginning." Three British astrophysicists, Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. The problem is you are not addressing anything that I said!

Jackson - QUOTE - "Another thing that baffles me, especially about Christianity and Judaism is the mythology of the Bible. I mean, there are so many different authors and such a vast span of period, yet they are telling the same story and there is a lot of consistency in the overall story."

The origin of Judaism: One Ugaritic text testifies that among the inhabitants of Ugarit, Yahweh was viewed as another son of El ( sm . bny . yw . ilt ) "The name of the son of god, Yahweh." All religion is nothing more than the rehashing of ancient superstitions. This has nothing to do with Constantine, everyone knows that I said he deified Jesus! However, the Ugaritic texts were not addressed either.

The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the practices that people regard as xian innovations are not, for example the Lord's Prayer and the Lord's Supper, because they can be traced to the Qumrans. They go back at least one century before the birth of Christ. This sect was not xian they were Jewish. The contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls are known among scholars, but are never preached to enlighten the common man. Nothing to do with Constantine, but was not addressed.

They have found ancient writings that confirm the rehashing of myths in the bible, and deliberate misinterpretation produced ideas for revised creation myths like the one in Genesis. Some Jewish traditions of the first century B.C., however, identified Yahweh (Jehovah) with the serpent deity who accompanied the Mother in her garden. Sometimes she was Eve, sometimes her name was given as Nahemah, Naama, or Namrael, who gave birth to Eve and Adam without the help of any male, even the serpent.

MORE ON ANCIENT MYTHS AND THE SIMILARITIES TO BIBLICAL STORIES: Eve was one of the common Middle-Eastern names of superior feminine power (long before the scriptures.) The secret of God's "Name of power," the Tetragrammaton, was the three-quarters of it invoked not God, but Eve. YHWH, yod-he-vau-he, from the Hebrew root HWH, meaning both "life" and "woman" in Latin letters, E-V-E. 16 With the addition of I (yod), it amounted to the Goddess's invocation of her own name as the Word of creation, a common idea in Egypt and other ancient lands. Many biblical stories came from Egypt.

Actually, churches depend for their very existence on the orthodox myth of Eve. "Take the snake, the fruit-tree, and the woman from the tableau, and we have no fall, no frowning Judge, no Inferno, no everlasting punishment no need of a Savior. Thus the bottom falls out of the whole Christian theology." Equally destructive to Christian theology would be restoration of books arbitrarily excluded from the canon, such as the Apocalypse of Adam, in which Adam stated that he and Eve were created together but she was his superior. "She brought with her a glory, which she had seen in the aeon from which we had come forth. She taught me a word of knowledge. And we resembled the great eternal angels, for we were higher than the God who had created us." If you don't agree just answer with something better.

I was giving incontrovertible proof as to where religion came from and all the myths. That's all I wrote about. Ancient history and science is what I wrote about, and nothing else. The misquoting was not on my part. Never said anything that could be construed into Constantine starting a religion. CONSTANTINE WAS NEVER A XIAN he was a pagan. "Constantine declared the "Sun's day" it was probably never called Sunday. Constantine elevated Christianity to the state religion of the Roman Empire and in doing so deified Jesus. Constantine deified Jesus, which was not all that unusual in those days. Julius Caesar deified by the Roman Senate 27 BCE -14 CE Reign of Emperor Augustus. Augustus was the first Roman ruler to be worshiped as a SON OF A GOD (divi filius), and the day of his birth was considered the beginning of his glad tidings or "gospel" for the world. This is common well known history.

Archaeological exploration makes it possible for us to study ancient cultures. These ancient scrolls/ manuscripts are what actually make up the Bible. The Bible is made up of picked and chosen works from many different sources.

The Dead Sea Schrolls the records of religious events, important commentaries and chronicles by a sect of Essene scribes and scholars writing in Judea for a hundred years up to 70 A.D. And nowhere is mention made of a new religion, a Messiah, a worker of miracles, a preaching to multitudes, a trial and crucifixion, nothing! All the scholars know this and only apologists deny it!

This was long before Constantine deified Jesus. Apostle Paul mentioned in First Corinthians the fifteenth chapter he had seen Jesus in a vision after he had died. People with visions, and a hidden agenda, are very unreliable evidence. The origin of spreading superstition and myths starts with Paul. Who was not a friend of James, the head of temple in Jerusalem, but his rival. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirms Saul/Paul assisted Rome in the attack on Jerusalem. It would be pretty embarrassing for xians if the major player in starting the "new religion" actually helped kill Jesus' brother James, the head of the temple and a very important figure. After that they exalted the Jesus myth to be more important than James. The Romans did not simply come to Judea in 70 CE to suppress a small uprising; they came to stop political dissidents for good. As anyone can see by the dates it is the history of things that happened long before Constantine deified Jesus and made xianity the official religion of Rome.

Jackson said, "I think Linda you are just changing your name and reaffirming that you are the only intelligent one on the bored! haha..." She must at least be intelligent enough to spell BOARD. Jackson said, "If I had my way, we would stop trying to "convert" Christians and admit that it is alright for them to have their religion and even support it if it makes people happy..." Atheists are not the ones trying to "convert" anyone; they are simply declaring what they believe and do not believe. As for supporting it because it makes people happy, Crack-cocaine might make some people happy, but I'm not going to support it. Real morality is sticking to your guns no matter what anyone else thinks and doing your thinking for yourself.

Jackson said, "I have also always had trouble with the sheer number of people that believe in religion and especially how many believe in Christianity. I mean, what man-made gimmick could convince so many people!" There are a lot of Hindus as well- just because a lot of people believe something is no proof of its accuracy. Jackson said, "if He did create the universe he would be outside of space and time and therefore those of us existing within space and time could not make account for an eternal being. Hopefully that made sense, it may not have been the most logical argument but I am just saying that Theist seem to have a good reason for not explaining "what created God" But it is no explanation for why god, the being who can do just about anything, doesn't intervene to stop crime, war, and disease.

Jackson said, "In 100 years, collective human reasoning could say that pedophilia and rape is right because it is an example of sexual freedom, therefore if human reasoning determines this, then it is right. This does not prove or disprove anythihg, but is one area I am struggling in and I find atheism with no real response." Good grief-there was plenty of pedophilia and rape in the bible, women passed around like cattle, so the gawd thing obviously doesn't stop immorality-human instinct and desire for a better life is where morality comes from, in my humble opinion.

Jackson, I am very much enjoying our conversation. Thanks. I do doubt that you are honestly a "struggling unbeliever" but who cares as it's a wonderful pretext for a conversation.

I guess I'm saying that there are no objective morals even if a god exists who ordered us to obey his commands. Merely being a position of authority does not mean that you have the best interest of your subjects at heart. If a god exists, he may have the ability to insist upon our subservience, but that does not mean that his commands have our best interests at heart. One can possess legal authority via physical intimidation, but true moral authority lies behind the intent of its origin. This god you suggest invented morality is the same god who invented tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and famines; not exactly the resume of a being who is concerned about our well being. Either rape is evil because we say it is or because god says it is, either is subjective to the will of the originator. The best morality would be one that came from those who personally stand to gain and lose as a result of its enforcement as it will most likely be the best reflection of the desires of those whose behavior it serves to modify. Again, even if morality is objectively wrong (rape is wrong because rape is wrong) it would still depend on us to figure this out. We would still be operating under an assumption that we know what is moral and immoral whether it was true or not.

Jackson said, "I am an unbeliever and am having doubts about atheism, or merely questions that I need answered…"

Anyone on an atheist message board can dispute those people who are making claims, and nobody picks their adversary. To be an atheist most often requires a morsel of independent thought to begin with. Atheists do not make claims they just don't believe the theists claims. The burden of proof is on those who make extraordinary claims.

There are no beliefs involved in atheism, nor does atheism have any institutionalized rituals or behaviors. The only thing they have in common is they don't believe in god/gods. You claim to be an unbeliever, despite the fact, that you keep telling everyone that a higher authority is where morality comes from! Tell us what that is if it's not god. Where did you find the moral authorities teachings? I'm usually pretty good at figuring things out, but where is the unbelief! Including, you don't see how all of those believers could be wrong, where is that coming from? Unbelief?

Someone who wants answers to 'questions' asks 'questions' there is no point in arguing over a higher authority for morality if you can't give any proof of it's existence. If that's not god what is it? I would think an unbeliever would have a few issues with belief, but I can't find one. Are there any?

Jackson said, "From what I understand, if there is no higher moral authority, than there obviously cannot be any higher or objective morals at all. And this may be the case, which I think a reasonable argument."

Most people think that the Constitution is better. It is the law. Many theists would agree with this, and only the extremist would disagree. If Americans were living by the moral code of ancient scriptures like (the bible) we would still have slavery.

Jackson said, "Don't tell me that there are inherent good and evil (I have heard that before from my atheist friends) because this does not help the argument. If there is no higher authority on morals, there is no "real" right or wrong."

What's the question? All you are doing is telling people what not to tell you, and proselytizing. "If there is no higher authority on morals, there is no "real" right or wrong." Do you think the bible is a good example of morality? Many people don't. Who is this higher authority? Do you think that all people should be governed by some religion? What higher authority should there be other than the Constitution? Whether you are a believer or a non-believer that higher authority is the Constitution. Once you attempt legislation upon religious grounds, you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution. -- William Butler Yeats

Jackson said, "Theist seem to have a good reason for not explaining "what created God".

The burden of proof is on those who make claims. Theism doesn't explain anything, and I can't think of a better reason why, except for the fact is theists can't. If you think their reasons are good what's the problem?

Jackson said, "I hear so many stories of lives that are changed and I have witnessed real transformation in people. How can this all be false!! How can so many people be decieved??? How can so many personal experiences be stupid and made-up? And the reason this is important for me is because unlike a lot of atheists, the Christians I do know are extremely kind to others and to me and they do amazing things for the community and they have truly seemed to care about me."

You are very adamant about the virtue of Christians and it smacks of a desire to prove something? This does not sound like an independent thinker. I think it is pretty obvious that you have little in common with independent thinkers or anyone of that elk. You should be with people who you agree with.

Jackson said, "I don't buy into the argument that Christianity poisons everything and that they are all evil bigots. Some are, yes, but the ones I know who are the most devout and committed, always seem to be the greatest people... I am sure all of you have horror stories the other way around though :)"

Did you see the Frontline program Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial - When the judge in Dover finally ruled against ID the movie ends with the judge revealing how his own life was threatened? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you have no problem believing that atheists are not kind unlike your Christian friends? You don't seem to have a problem with Christianity or Christians, and what atheists point out, as being problematic concerning the scriptures or the authenticity of Christianity was ignored, except for bogus issues that nobody voiced. Now, why don't you answer something that someone did say?

From what you have written like this ("unlike a lot of atheists, the Christians I do know are extremely kind to others") in combination with all the other things that you wrote - I think that you have a problem with non- believers.

This reminds me of the closed logic of religiosity, no one can ever be right but believers, and no matter how much proof is presented that it is correct, it will be considered incorrect by the believer. It is a closed logic system that defines itself as always true and all differing views as always false.

And sorry for the confusion in response to "Leysin" but you seem to be acting like I am doubting God and basing my beliefs on that he exists. Ha, but thats the opposite of what I am saying... I am an unbeliever and am having doubts about atheism, or merely questions that I need answered... I just have Christian friends who are really nice and good people and I don't think they are evil and cannot possibly do anything like Linda seems to think ;) And so once I noticed that I was open to other things that I always was taught about Christians and found maybe they aren't all true... Thats all, just a studying period in my life, but I don't come to these issues presupposing God exists, not at all... And Linda or Henry (I think you might be the same ;)) even though you totally misquote me about me thinking religon is needed to do good... I don't think that, but I do think religon does good, I have seen mean and evil people have a complete transfomration after accepting God and so I am not sure what to do with that... In this guy's case, I commend him and if that was the only way for him to change, than fine. I will take good ethics over good reason any day... You can be a complete moron for all I care, but if you have good ethics, than I am not gonna bother you...

Jackson: "You can be a complete moron for all I care, but if you have good ethics, than I am not gonna bother you..."

Maybe you can start a pro-moron support group.

I have seen mean and evil people have a complete transfomration after accepting God and so I am not sure what to do with that... In this guy's case, I commend him and if that was the only way for him to change, than fine.

The word is TRANSFORMATION - Most people who are mean and evil are mentally ill and the best help is psychoanalysis. It is not what the mentally ill or substance abusers prefer because professionals really know when someone is conning them. They can get to the bottom of the problem, and it is much more lasting.

Henry gave examples of people who did scam the ministers. The stories are well-known cases that have been written about in newspapers and prestigious publications all over the country. Any well-informed person already knows everything he said and that it is true. It proves that religion doesn't change bad people or crazy people. Do you have a rebuttal or not?

Here is my research - Just type this in search (Criminal Ponzi Scheme Shockingly Run By Christians) "SEC has finally released the good stuff on Stanford Financial the mini-Madoff Ponzi scheme that made $8 billion disappear. Incredibly, the company's Southern Christian leaders were big hypocritical frauds"!

All done under the cloak of moral superiority! This is just one story there are many more. I don't think anyone needs to be pushing fake Xian morality on people who probably have a greater since of what morality is than most of the liars that are pushing Xian values on our Nation! Take a look at jerks like Ted Haggard or Ralph Reed!

To apply reason and logic to explain the world rather than superstition is not immoral, and neither is using coherent judgment instead of religious bigotry, or hysterical madness to solve the unsolved. There is something immoral about abandoning your own judgment".

Jackson,

I too, also have Christian friends and they also cause not harm which is why I say more power to them if they believe. But religion has also spawned great evils. It's that potential for abuse that we have to oppose.

Hi Jackson,

For now, I am only going to answer question 1. I will answer the others at a later date since this subject is mind-taxing.

Q 1: "If there is no higher authority on morals, there is no "real" right or wrong. " "Then what sense does it make to argue that God is immoral?"

A 1: You are attempting to discover moral logic from the stance that many attorneys find themselves studying prior to becoming an attorney. There are two principles of moral arguments: Substantive and Consequential. Each are genuine moral dilemmas. Ahh... but, what is "genuine"?

Type in and internet search for "A Moral Argument For Moral Dilemmas." It will explain how to arrive at a rational conclusion of the very thing you are asking. You will also realize that this is an age-old dilemma. It is not new and it certainly is not divine in origin. It is human, which is exactly why it is still an issue. It is no surprise to me, being Atheist, that any omniscient creator would be bound by the same human dilemma (meaning that fact is further proof, for me, why God does not exist).

As far as God goes in all of this, One must first assume that there is a God and that this God is omniscient to begin with, or that *he* created anything at all in the first place.

For example, what if there was a way to "zoom out of the universe" to get a bigger picture of everything and as we zoom out we notice that everything begins to look like a dark water?

And... as we zoom out more, we begin to notice that this "water" appears to inside of a hole of some kind, like a pothole in a parking lot. So, we zoom out even more... and sure enough, we are just dark space inside a pothole on another planet, except we are only a smaller version of the planet and pothole that holds us.

I might as well believe that than to believe that a God created the universe. There is no difference because neither one has any proof of being true or false.

---does that mean that human reasoning is ignorant and cannot comprehend right from wrong? In 100 years, collective human reasoning could say that pedophilia and rape is right because it is an example of sexual freedom, therefore if human reasoning determines this, then it is right.---

Human slavery was obviously wrong. Rape is obviously wrong. Flying passenger jets into occupied buildings and killing innocent people is obviously wrong.

The dilemma you are facing is NOT a question of knowing or not knowing what is right or wrong. Rather, when attempting to place a superstitious governance as the authority of what is right or wrong, it will ultimately fail because that higher authority does not exist in the first place. It is as unachievable as getting 72 virgin angels because it was "moral" to crash planes into building to get to the virgins. Therefore, humans ARE the highest authority on morals... only limited by their own ignorance. Morality is only as moral as ignorance will allow. Humans are not perfect. We do make mistakes. That still does not demand that their be the need for the omniscient perfection of a creator.

Since it is obvious that God-believing humans are well aware of the human atrocities that were performed by such an omniscient "moral" creator. The fact that humans have the capacity to live a higher moral standard than an alleged omniscient creator of morals, is something that should rationally be enough to convince all humans that the bible was created and written by humans on the basis of immoral human ideas, and not by some "moral" omniscient creator.

When the student out teaches the teacher... who, then, is the teacher?

THAT is exactly why the moral/immoral religious arguments always fails. Toss out the creator and suddenly it is fixed to a workable level where only human ignorance is the "gate keeper" on just how moral something is or isn't. Morality is an evolutionary process. It is not a given.

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