Last night I was a panelist on the monthly FDA podcast (link to follow once it is on iTunes) discussing the question of whether or not political parties based on religious principles should be allowed to form in democratic countries. Besides me, there were a couple of representatives from the Party of Concerned Christians (Artur and Jim) that do indeed base their platform directly on the Bible, one very excitable member of FDA (Dan) and the moderator and founder of FDA (Stephen).
An interesting topic, but I think the question is ill-formed. I have no problem with the formation of any political party regardless of platform (within the limits set out on free speech). I think placing any unreasonable limitations on what a political party can stand for (again, with the same caveats) is fundamentally and fatally antidemocratic. Dan was the only dissenter on this, and I think he’s plain wrong. What he’s afraid of is theocracy. No argument there, particularly if one uses the Bible as the basis of political platforms. The two Christian members of the panel disagreed, of course, but offered absolutely no substance in rebuttal. Let’s face it – the Old Testament is strong evidence of a patently evil god and if that god were to exist there is no way I would possibly even consider worshiping it. Read More »
Last night CBC television aired a documentary on the Doc Zone entitled The Pagan Christ, based on Canadian Tom Harpur’s bestseller. Not exactly something I expect to see aired on US television any time soon. Too many Americans are far too insecure in their beliefs for allow dissenting opinion (I’ve always found that the insecurity of the belief holder increases as the square of the vehemence with which he/she protests). Harpur, a former Anglican minister and professor of Greek and New Testament at the University of Toronto, questions the existence of Jesus after realizing that there is simply no evidence for his existence. The description of the program contains the following passage:
So, what if it could be proven that Jesus never existed? What if there was evidence that every word of the New Testament – the cornerstone of Christianity – is based on myth and metaphor?
Indeed, so what if it could be proven that Jesus never existed? I suppose it might dispel the illusion that anything in the gospels actually happened, but one has to have total and complete blind faith already to believe the contradictory accounts anyway.
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“It is a sad day in our country when the moral foundation of our law and the acknowledgment of God has to be hidden from public view to appease a federal judge.” ~ Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, Nov. 14, 20031
Hypothesis: The Ten Commandments are the basis for our modern western legal system.
2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
3 Do not have any other gods before me.
4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,
6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
8 Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
9 For six days you shall labour and do all your work.
10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
~ Exodus 20:2-17
Many Christians believe that our western legal system is an extension of the Ten Commandments. This sounds to me like rather like ‘Guilt by Association’, a form of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Just because modern laws have some overlap, or even completely overlap each other, does not at all establish cause (God giving the Ten Commandments to Moses) and effect (civil law).
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‘The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.’ ~ Abraham Lincoln
A lot of Christians think they are being singled out when religion is criticized. In North America, this is actually true. But it’s not because we atheists have some soft spot for any other religion. It’s certainly not because atheists and agnostics in this part of the world think Christianity is somehow less credible than other mythologies. It’s simply because Christianity is what we are familiar with. Not surprising, given the relevant demographics on this continent. I just know more about it to criticize the specific elements of the religion. If I knew more about Judaism and Islam I would be equally critical in the specifics of their tenets.
And from what I do know about other religions, I see the same withdrawal from reason as that demonstrated by practitioners of Christianity. I see no reason to accept that any religion is more valid than any other. I’m very equal-opportunity in that regard. All religions ask one thing: either accept or reject unsubstantiated and unverifiable dogma. Given such a choice the path is clear: I do not. In the absence of positive evidence to the contrary, logic demands that the null hypothesis (in this case, the non-existence of god(s)) be maintained.
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