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Jewish Standard‘s Unorthodox Standards: No To Gays, Yes To Shellfish + Wool-Linen Clothing Ads?

This week furor erupted over the New Jersey Jewish Standard‘s decision to halt all same-sex marriage announcements after running just one, highlighting the engagement of Justin Rosen and Avi Smolen (who happens to be a Rutgers grad). That decision was immediately followed by the newspaper reconsidering the ban. Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner responds.

Two weeks ago, the Jewish Standard newspaper of Bergen County, NJ announced an upcoming same sex marriage in its communal celebratory section. This was a first for the paper. The community responded with a firestorm of opinions. Many were supportive of the new initiative as representative of the plurality in the community. However, a large and vocal contingent of dissatisfied readers, predominantly Orthodox, claimed it was a violation of Jewish law from the Torah and must be stopped “or else.”

The paper this week printed a statement that stated the following: “A group of rabbis has reached out to us and conveyed the deep sensitivities within the traditional/Orthodox community to this issue…and the announcement caused pain and consternation. The Jewish Standard has always striven to draw the community together, rather than drive its many segments apart. We have decided, therefore, since this is such a divisive issue, not to run such announcements in the future.”

In essence, the paper was bullied into changing its stance to cater to the needs of some and alienating the needs of others. The Orthodox fell on the sword of religious dictum although it is nothing more than homophobia. Allow me to explain.

In the same paper, advertisements and articles run weekly that:

a) Advertise and promote non-kosher restaurants (some showing pictures of shellfish and pork);

b) Endorse non-religious activities that coincide with the Shabbat and holidays;

c) Publicize clothiers that sell clothing that mixes wool and linen, a biblical prohibition; and

d) Celebrate Bar and Bat Mitzvahs of patrilineal Jews. (In traditional Judaism, ancestry is determined by the mother. Reform Judaism allows for patrilineal descent to determine one’s lineage; Conservative and Orthodox Judaism do not).

Each of these four cases are biblical transgressions that appear regularly in the circulation of the paper. Nary have I seen an editorial or heard a protest over these items in direct contradiction to Biblical law that is routinely printed in the Jewish Standard. But, when Jewish men that love and commit to each other announce their intent to marry, the hands of the Orthodox are raised in protest. And their issue? It is biblically prohibited, as cited in Leviticus, Chapter 18.

If commitment to the letter of biblical law were the issue, both hands of the Orthodox would have been raised and waiving in protest years ago over the contradictions listed above.

Make no mistake about it. This is homophobia, masquerading as religious piety. Pure and simple.

The Jewish people have always been at the vanguard of civil rights issues. That connection stems from the biblical verse in Exodus 22, where God instructs the Jewish people to “Be kind to strangers, because you were a stranger in a strange land too.” God does not simply remind the Jews that they were slaves and foreigners in Egypt – God instructs them. That biblical teaching has been the compass for the Jewish people and the reason we have proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Susan B. Anthony. It was that ethic that drove Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman to Mississippi in 1964 to stand next to James Chaney and help register African-American voters. Jews even died protecting the rights of the other. When did our compass stop working?

Homosexuality is the civil rights issue of this generation. Judaism specifically teaches us our responsibility to the ‘other’ and our role in standing side by side as brothers and sisters, perhaps divided by orientation, race, religion or creed but united in love of humanity, tolerance and respect.

This week alone, five young people took their lives because they felt unsafe in their sexual identity. An 18 year old boy from Bergen County had his privacy invaded and was publically mocked after he shared an intimate encounter with another man. His humiliation led him to jump from the George Washington Bridge. His lifeless body was pulled from the Hudson River two days later. As a community, our hearts should ache for these children. Mine does because my heart was shaped by the values of Judaism; the values that demonstrate to me that love of our fellow is the core of our cannon. My heart aches because of the centuries of teachings by our rabbis who uniformly taught that saving a life is paramount. All else is inconsequential.

Religion is a beautiful thing. There are many stripes, shapes and colors to religion and sometimes when they unite together, its diversity can shine like a rainbow. But all it takes is one color or one stripe to hide fear and phobias behind the mask of religious piety and leave us seeing the world in black and white. To blame the monochrome on religion instead of personal belief is cowardice. Regardless of how observant we say we are, not being honest to ourselves is the most sacrilegious act of all.

By:          
 
Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi and spiritual leader of Temple Emanu-El, in Closter NJ, a Conservative synagogue with close to 800 family members. He is a leading voice in the shaping of the Jewish world. Rabbi Kirshner sits on the National Council of AIPAC, is a member of the National Israel Bonds Cabinet, serves as an officer of the New York Board of Rabbis, is a Rabbinic Fellow of the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and an alumnus of the inaugural class of Rabbinic Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
 

On:           Oct 7, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

  • 51 Comments
    • Cam
      Cam

      I headed over to the site, and the paper is getting EVICERATED by it’s readership for backing down to the Rabbi’s. If they don’t allow in the same sex marriages I think they could be in serious trouble because the attacks on the paper by 99% of the readers were strong, it was wonderful to see so many non-gay people standing up for the gay couple.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Soupy
      Soupy

      This is no different than Christians who pluck the old “homosexual abomination” out of the Old Testament but ignore most of the other bizarre “laws”.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      That was a good response.

      Although I disagree with the rabbi when he says: “Religion is a beautiful thing.”

      I have never found religion to be beautiful. All religion thrives on hatred and division.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 2:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • EdWoody
      EdWoody

      The paper has already followed up by saying that they may have been too hasty in kow-towing. They’re looking into it further, not just making a blanket ban.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark [Different person #1 using similar name]

      Here are a couple that I love – that abomination thing -one being worse than another

      Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and
      female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend
      of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can
      you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

      I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus
      35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
      to kill him myself?

      I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
      me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

      Oct 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tallskin2
      tallskin2

      Pfffff, more religious nonsense and bigotry.

      For goodness people leave your ridiculous & savage bronze age sky pixie beliefs behind you like children leave their belief in santa claus behind them.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran
      Kieran

      How about this doozy from Deuteronomy 25 vs.11-12:

      “If two Israelite men are fighting and the wife of one tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, her hand MUST BE CUT OFF without pity”.

      I don’t know, but that sounds more like it was written by a male tribal chief who lived 4,000 years ago than the loving, merciful God of the universe.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ron
      ron

      Ah, the Bible. The best-selling fiction book of all time. For the record, the only burning bush I ever saw was on a redhead I dated once.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      @Mark: And don’t forget control. It’s all about control.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      @Mark: Simply not true. Perhaps you haven’t found the right religious group yet, but to say that all religion thrives on hatred is absolutely ridiculous. I’m not about to say that religion hasn’t been used by men to justify evil for a long time.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 5:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • peteNsfo
      peteNsfo

      This story made it to the NYT editorial page today…

      Oct 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy
      Andy

      @Kieran: That’s why the Jews have the 2,000 year old book called the Talmud, which reinterprets verses like that. It is a central core of Jewish belief that many things in the Bible arent meant to be taken literally. this is a fact.

      Bible verses calling for corporal punishment like the example you gave, have never ever been followed through by the Jewish people in its entire history. The Talmud which is studied more than the bible by Jews discusses each case and explains what financial penalty should be placed instead.

      Even regarding capital punishment which the bible is full of, the Talmud states according to Jewish Law any court that issue more than one death penalty in 70 yrs was disbanded. It is also practiaclly impossible to be sentenced that way anyway. The rabbis places countless boundries and pre requirments to that punishment being allowed to be applied.

      The rabbis of the Talmud, were against all forms of capital and corporal punishment.

      Get your facts straight or do some reading for once and learn about something you have no info on before you make false statement.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      @Daez: “Perhaps you haven’t found the right religious group yet, but to say that all religion thrives on hatred is absolutely ridiculous.”

      OK, I’ll modify my statement. The VAST MAJORITY of religions thrive on hatred and division and control.

      I don’t ever expect to find the ‘right’ religious group. I don’t believe in the vengeful, sky fairy worshipped by the religious groups.

      I wonder, how anyone can worship a ‘god’ that is a genocidal maniac. Didn’t this ‘god’ slaughter every 1st born child in Egypt. He’s a murderous asshole

      Oct 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      @Andy

      So are we supposed to be impressed by the fact that rabbis study the Talmud?

      Big deal. It’s still a work of fiction.

      I can study Jackie Collins if I like. That’s as relevant as a rabbi studying the Talmud. It’s just as meaningless.

      Religious people think their beliefs give them a right to pass judgement on and discriminate against those who don’t abide by THEIR rules.

      That is sick and wrong on every level.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 6:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      Surely the Rabbi knew this was coming from the Orthodox side of the Temple.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 6:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy
      Andy

      @Mark: What exactly is your point? What do you mean “so they study the talmud?”? That’s the whole point!

      Kerian referenced a verse and I explaned that Jews dont take those verses literally. Thats not a “so”, that is the whole point. There is no value to a verse calling for corporal punishement. Im not really sure what you’re missing.

      Regarding your point that [most/many] religious people think their beliefs give them a right to pass judgement etc… I agree with you that it is sick and wrong on every level. Im not sure though how that discounts the facts that the laws themselves, independent of the people, does not pass judgement on and discriminate.

      You need to learn the diff between Jewish and other religous views on things. You may want to keep on beleiving that all religion is eveil because it benefits you somehow, but it is not being intellectually honest.

      You are not being intellectually honest if you value your misconceptions that you refuse to research over facts.

      Oct 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charlie-o
      Charlie-o

      Great logic. This is a divisive issue. We want to include everyone; therefore, we’re kicking out the gays.

      A lot like the ADL’s position on the Manhattan mosque. They’re for toleration and against discrimination. Building a mosque somewhat near ground zero might cause tension; therefore, the mosque should not be built.

      No Maimonides around here, boys. This is tea party country!

      Oct 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark [Different person #2 using similar name]

      @Mark “You may want to keep on beleiving that all religion is evil because it benefits you somehow”

      I don’t believe that religion itself is evil. It is utterly illogical; irrational and way too often viciously bigoted.

      “What do you mean “so they study the talmud?”? That’s the whole point! ”

      My point is that they are studying a several thousand year old work of fiction. But they seem to think that the fact that they are studying this work of fiction gives theior superstitious beliefs some validity. It doesn’t.

      “You need to learn the diff between Jewish and other religous views on things.”

      The Jewish view on the world is that ‘god’ invented the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th.

      It is as absurd a religion as christianity or islam or hinduism or scientology.

      And the orthodox version of judaism ius disgustingly bigotted and hateful towards women and gay people.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 8:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      I think it’s facinating that somebody put a thumbs down on the first comment (Mine)

      That comment just stated that the paper was getting blasted by it’s readership for backing down to the rabbi’s and that 99% of the letters were very pro-gay and that was nice to see.

      I’m curious, would the person who put a thumbs down on that care to post their reason that a comment cheering that a bunch of hetrosexual people were writing pro-gay letters to the paper? Come on, at least post your bigotry on here for all to see.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Henry Holland
      Henry Holland

      I wonder, how anyone can worship a ‘god’ that is a genocidal maniac. Didn’t this ‘god’ slaughter every 1st born child in Egypt. He’s a murderous asshole

      There’s a great British TV show called Being Human that’s about 20-somethings who are a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf living in modern England. The (hot male) vampire gets tangled up with some religious nutters and there’s this great scene where he’s told he doesn’t get to just blend in, that he’s an abomination. He tells the woman (not exactly, from memory):

      God made man in his own image. What if that included his rage? And his spite and his indifference and his cruelty? What if God made us too? We’re all his children you see but God’s a bit of a bastard.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Mark (ironically the name one of the twelve disciples in the New Testament) states:

      “And the orthodox version of judaism ius disgustingly bigotted and hateful towards women and gay people.”

      However, his own statements are disgustingly bigoted and hateful towards people of faith, including Jews.

      Mark says that the collected experiences of millions of human beings is “It is utterly illogical; irrational and way too often viciously bigoted.”

      However, less than 1% of the Jewish texts or Christian texts or Islamic texts can be used to endorse any bigotry, and the core principles all three are justice, equality, compassion, and empathy. But atheism has only one belief: all religious people are wrong and inferior. Atheism is intrinsically bigoted, it’s only belief that is that everyone else in the world is automatically wrong.

      “My point is that they are studying a several thousand year old work of fiction. But they seem to think that the fact that they are studying this work of fiction gives theior superstitious beliefs some validity. It doesn’t.”

      Mark believes the Torah and the Bible are fiction, not because he has any evidence, but just because. That makes his belief a work of fiction, a superstitious belief. Yet, because this belief is his, he thinks it is valid and somehow proves that most of humanity is wrong about their own lives and experiences.

      Mark apparently believes that by not studying something, he can know more about it than those who have spent their entire lives studying it. This is pride, not healthy self-esteem, but the same abusive ego driven self-aggrandizement that drives homophobia, and racism, and sexism, and every other prejudice.

      Mark is complaining about homophobes, but is just a much a bigot.

      “I have never found religion to be beautiful. All religion thrives on hatred and division.”

      Homophobes routinely make a similar statement about homosexuality, saying that they never find homosexual lovemaking to be beautiful or loving, but characterizing it as lust and abuse. Mark is using exactly the same tactics that homophobes use, and again, it is about his pride. As with homophobes, Mark’s personal disinterest in something is inflated by his pride to the point that it is supposed to define other people’s lives.

      The ironic thing is that religion, unlike atheism, offers a standard of right and wrong, and in criticizing religion, Mark is using a foundational religious concept, co-opting it from something he labels “utterly illogical; irrational”. Kinda like the way homophobic mainstream society co-opt ideas, fashion, trends, music, from GLBTQ people, or the way racist society co-opt ideas, fashion, trends, music from people of color.

      “Religious people think their beliefs give them a right to pass judgement on and discriminate against those who don’t abide by THEIR rules.”

      Mark defines all religious people by the actions of a few, much like homophobes who define all GLBTQ people by the actions of a few.

      Of course, atheism is only used as a justification for passing judgment on and discriminating against people who do believe the same way atheists do. Mark does to people of faith exactly what he accuses all people of faith of doing.

      “I don’t believe in the vengeful, sky fairy worshipped by the religious groups.

      I wonder, how anyone can worship a ‘god’ that is a genocidal maniac. Didn’t this ‘god’ slaughter every 1st born child in Egypt. He’s a murderous asshole”

      Mark fabricates dishonest, and at times, grossly distorted, claims about religion, just as homophobes fabricate dishonest, and at times grossly distorted claims about GLBTQ people. As ugly as Mark’s remarks are, homophobes say equally ugly things about GLBTQ people. How then can Mark, with any integrity, complain about homophobes anywhere, when he behaves just as badly, articulates just as much hate and contempt?

      Pride. When atheists say ugly things about billions of people, it is supposed to be ok because they are the one’s saying it. They’re superior, ya’know, to everyone else on the planet, to the billions they dismiss as irrational, illogical, delusional, etc.

      Atheism is a prejudice, just like homophobia, and racism, and sexism. It has only one precept – the denial of the experiences of most of humanity, serving one purpose – to inflate the ego of some by disparaging and dismissing most of humanity.

      Homophobes hate about 10% of humanity, but atheism promotes hatred of 90% -99% of humanity.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Cassandra:

      By your logic then any religeon that believes it is the true relegeon hates every other religeon. If some atheist says that they don’t believe in God. That is no more bigoted than any Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Bhuddist saying “I believe thatm y religeon is the correct one.”

      Oct 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Syl
      Syl

      Rabbi Kershner, thank you for writing this article. There are queer people of all faiths, and it is a source of great pain and anguish for many of them every time their religious leaders tell them that they are loathed by their Creator simply for being who they are.

      Every rabbi, priest, minister, guru and imam who has the courage to come forward in defense of what you so rightly called the civil rights issue of our generation is, imho, doing a mitzah.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andy
      Andy

      @Mark: No point in responding to points I’ve already addressed, it benefits you to beleive what you believe, I have no interest in making more Jews, but I argued because you have your facts wrong.

      Well you introdiced another fact you have wrong. And that is that Jews believe the world was created in 7 days. That is plain false. In fact Jewish teachings believe that this is an allegory and not literal.

      You’re just plain wrong.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 4:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      “By your logic then any religeon that believes it is the true relegeon hates every other religeon.”

      No, Cam, that would be your logic. You’re introducing concepts I have not used or suggested. What a shame that you didn’t even bother to attempt to address what I actually posted, relying instead an argument of your own invention.

      “If some atheist says that they don’t believe in God. That is no more bigoted than any Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Bhuddist saying “I believe thatm y religeon is the correct one.”

      Actually, it is very different. See, atheism asserts that the testimony of most of humanity about their own experiences is completely wrong, that religious people don’t know the truth of their own lives.

      Those religions that denounce other faiths generally make a very different claim. They recognize that people are experiencing something spiritual, but reject how those people express or understand what they experience.

      While it is true that some religionists do express hate for other religions, but that doesn’t change the fact that atheism is only a prejudice, it has nothing else. But religions, even those that are prejudiced against other religions, have other beliefs in addition to their rejection of other beliefs. Atheism offers only the rejection of most of humanity, all other religions offer more than that.

      Additionally, your criticism is illogical. No one dismisses science just because the acceptance of any one theory or law to explain an observed phenomena intrinsically rejects all other explanations for the same phenomena.

      Rejection alone of something does not constitute prejudice, Cam. Criticism alone is not prejudice, and frankly, your excuse parallels the way homophobes insist that any criticism of their homophobia, their contempt for GLBTQ people, is itself prejudice. No one falls for it when they try it, why should I fall for your attempt here?

      When rejection of that something – whether it is a belief, or experience, or position, or trait, results in concluding that all those who have that something are intrinsically inferior and worthy of scorn, then it is prejudice.

      Atheism is a prejudice – it prejudges most of humanity and concludes that they are wrong, inferior, and worse. Religions are not intrinsically prejudices, though they, like everything else, can be used to justify prejudice.

      Lastly, Cam, your argument is a poor attempt at “well, they do it too” as a way of making excuses for atheism. But the fact that some people in a group have wronged you, or are prejudiced themselves, does not make the prejudice that is atheism any less abusive and dehumanizing. When Mark judges all people of faith by some, he is doing exactly the same thing that homophobes do when they judge all GLBTQ people by drag queens, or leather daddies, or the gay guy who flirted with ‘em, etc. When atheism rejects the testimony of people of faith about our lives, it is the same as when homophobes reject the testimony of GLBTQ people about our lives.

      Some people here only want to hear other people’s prejudices exposed and challenged, specifically, homophobia – the prejudice that harm them, and do not wish to be reminded that their own ugly assumptions about millions of people are also prejudice.

      But all prejudices are the same process, only the target changes, and when we endorse, celebrate, engage in or are simply oblivious to one – racism, sexism, atheism, we nurture all the rest, including homophobia, as well.

      I know, I know, that will make many people unhappy and they’ll vote down my post, and within a week, complain when their own post is voted down. But their unhappiness won’t change a thing.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Cam

      There’s whole other level to the difference between the way different religions reject each other, versus the way that atheism rejects all religions.

      Each religion is based on one or more person’s experiences of something, something transcendent and inexplicable, yet experienced none the less. When people from two different religions argue and reject each other’s religions, they are each operating from two different sets of experiences, and their disagreement arises out of any difference in those two data sets.

      Kinda like the debate in science now over the homo floresiensis fossils found in Micronesia. Different groups of scientists are coming up with different data, and from that, refuting each other’s work and conclusions. Or when two people argue over the value of any other experience – a movie, a song, a book, etc.

      But atheism is not based on experience, but on the lack of experience. Atheism argues “I have not experienced x, therefore, x does not exist”. Pretty silly, actually. Imagine if someone said “I did not see Star Wars, therefore, Star Wars does not exist”. Yeah, yeah, someone can argue, “but Star Wars in on film, it can be experienced by anyone who wants to”, to which billions of people of faith reply “God can be experienced by anyone who wants to”.

      The premise of atheism “I haven’t experienced God, therefore God does not exist” is not rational, but it is entirely ego driven.

      So, the dynamic in atheism vs. religion is not between two groups with different sets of experiences, but between a group with no experiences, no data, and a group with experiences and data. That’s a very different dynamic.

      And interestingly enough, that’s the same dynamic at work in homophobia. Homophobes, generally, have no data about being a self-accepting, emotionally healthy homosexual. They either have no data about being gay at all, or, have only the data of being self-loathing and fearful. Their position is like that of atheism. And they put themselves in opposition to people who have real life experiences of being attracted to their own gender, of not choosing it, of fighting it, of love and passion and devotion, joy and heartbreak, etc.

      When the issue is homosexuality, folks here have no trouble seeing that GLBTQ people, speaking from their experiences, are the most credible, but somehow, a vocal few here on Queerty refuse to see that when the issue is spirituality, atheism has no data, and people of faith, testifying from their experience as GLBTQ testify from theirs, are the most credible.

      Which returns to the issue of prejudice, because atheism is really just the decision that billions of people, because they share a particular trait, are automatically wrong, for no reason other than that they are people of faith. Atheism denounces people of faith for who they are. Just like homophobia, just like racism, just like sexism, and on and on.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • pete
      pete

      @Cassandra: What a bunch of crap! Atheism is not about the lack of experience of God, it is using your common sense that the Bible and religions are completely made up fables to try and make sense of the world and nature. And saying that homophobes could say that homosexuality cannot exist because they have not experienced it is a total joke. Believe whatever the hell you want, it makes no difference to me. Believe up is down if you want. Atheists don’t hate religious folk. Only when you try to save our souls or belive in virgin births, rising from the dead, or parting seas. Just leave me out of it!

      Oct 8, 2010 at 5:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Pete

      “What a bunch of crap!”

      The empty dismissal, signaling that no evidence or logic will follow.

      “Atheism is not about the lack of experience of God, it is using your common sense that the Bible and religions are completely made up fables to try and make sense of the world and nature.”

      So, you think it is common sense to believe that 99% of humanity is pulling your leg about their experiences?

      Atheists routinely defend their belief (that God does not exist) on the grounds “I never experienced God”. Mark’s initial claim was that he had never experienced the beauty in religion.

      “And saying that homophobes could say that homosexuality cannot exist because they have not experienced it is a total joke.”

      Dismissing a rational argument as “a total joke” is not a substitute for a substantive rebuttal. The fact is that homophobes do indeed say that no one is really attracted to their own gender, because they never experienced same-sex sexual attractions. Denying reality won’t make my accurate comparison go away.

      Both atheists and homophobes assert that because they don’t experience something, no one does. Atheists say this about God, homophobes say it about same-sex sexual attraction.

      “Believe whatever the hell you want, it makes no difference to me.”

      How arrogant of you to give me permission, as if I need your permission. If you are going to argue against my premise, try not to validate with such obvious displays of extreme pride.

      “Atheists don’t hate religious folk.”

      Sorry, but the statements by Mark, among many others, refute your claim. Of course, homophobes continually claim that they do not gays and lesbians either, so your protestation only strengthens the comparison.

      “Only when you try to save our souls or belive in virgin births, rising from the dead, or parting seas.”

      So you do hate us for our beliefs.

      “Just leave me out of it!”

      Hey, you chose to post.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      If the bible is not meant to be taken literally then it’s reasonable to assume it’s just fictional bullshit.

      Otherwise I demand you offer the same respect to my belief that Jackie Collins is the ne messiah.

      Atheism isn’t hateful. It doesn’t condone murder and slavery like the christian, muslim an jewish books do.

      And Cassandra – I’d like to remind you that the ‘god’ you believe in, slaughtered the 1st born child of every Egyptian parent.

      Do you support genocide?

      Or do you accept that the bible is a work of fiction.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 9:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      “So you do hate us for our beliefs.”

      Of course not.

      We pity you for your beliefs.

      It is truly sad that people still believe that badly written, thousands of years old, fictional books, written solely to give meaning to the lives of desert dwelling, illiterate peasants, still have validity in 2010.

      Science and reason and literacy are much more evolved these days.

      There is no reason for ‘god’.

      Just treat people with respect.

      However don’t demand respect for silly, irrelevant, religious beliefs.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      Jackie Collins is about to publish a new book.

      It is called ‘Hollywood Hookers’.

      I wonder if Cassandra respects my belief that it is the word of my Almighty.

      Or is she just a bigot?

      Oct 8, 2010 at 9:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 7 · ron wrote, “Ah, the Bible. The best-selling fiction book of all time. For the record, the only burning bush I ever saw was on a redhead I dated once.”

      … not complete true – it is a collection of stories, myths, and history, with myths sometimes woven around historical fact. Just look at No 6 with the quote from Deuteronomy 25 vs.11-12: “If two Israelite men are fighting and the wife of one tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, her hand MUST BE CUT OFF without pity.”

      It seem ancient Israeli women were kind of feisty and sometimes joined in on a fracas. The men didn’t like having their testicles grabbed, so they used their clout to keep the women in line. Archaeologist sometimes use the Bible as a guide for where to look for artifacts. It beats digging in a completely random part of the desert. Some of the miracles may be based on fact. The walls of Jerico may have come tumbling down due to seismic activity on the nearby Jerico fault. http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/jericho-archaeology.htm has a partial account.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 1:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      “If the bible is not meant to be taken literally then it’s reasonable to assume it’s just fictional bullshit.”

      ReallY? You know, a lot of science books use metaphor and simile and other non-literal forms of expression. Does that make science fictional bullsh*t as well?

      Of course not, to rational people. It is not reasonable to conclude that anything that is not literal is b.s. All of the arts are less than literal, and mathematics, perhaps the most precise of all sciences, is hardly literal.

      “Otherwise I demand you offer the same respect to my belief that Jackie Collins is the ne messiah.”

      You are full of demands, aren’t you? So much pride, is that what makes it hard for you to recognize God? The fact that if you acknowledge God’s presence, you won’t be the most exalted thing in your world anymore?

      A”theism isn’t hateful. It doesn’t condone murder and slavery like the christian, muslim an jewish books do.”

      Of course it is hateful. It denounces the lives and testimony and experiences of most of humanity, without evidence, reason or logic. Your own remarks demonstrate malice and contempt. Atheism neither condemns nor condones murder or slavery, it has only one premise “all people of faith who ever lived are wrong just because”. And institutionalized atheism unleashed some of the worst systematic atrocities of the last century.

      “And Cassandra – I’d like to remind you that the ‘god’ you believe in, slaughtered the 1st born child of every Egyptian parent.”

      It is interesting that you chose this story to be upset about. The liberation of the Israelites from Egypt is a case of God ending the oppression of an entire people. You complain early as if you find fault with slavery, now you find fault when it is ended? Do you have a moral compass?

      God gave the Pharoah of Egypt ten opportunities to free the enslaved people of Israel, the Pharoah was asked and warned repeatedly. At every step, the Pharoah could have stopped the chain of plagues by simply freeing the people of Israel, but chose not to. The Pharoah could have prevent the whole thing simply by allowing the people to leave the first time he was asked. He chose not to, and that choice had consequences.

      Of course, one of the things atheism objects to is the notion that anything an atheist does wrong should have consequences. But I digress.

      You of course, out dishonesty, tell only part of the story in order to create a false image.

      “Do you support genocide?”

      Of course not, I am not an atheist who believes that life has no value, no purpose, is just chemicals engaged in randomly organized reactions. But the story of the exodus is not about genocide.

      So, why do you support false testimony and deception? Are you afraid of telling truth, or incapable of recognizing it? Or are you just so full of hatred for people of faith that you deliberately lie about our beliefs to be obnoxious for your own pleasure?

      “Or do you accept that the bible is a work of fiction.”
      Why would I embrace your false choice and be sucked into your lies?

      Your posts though are a work of fiction. Perhaps that is where your confusion lies.

      You quoted me: “So you do hate us for our beliefs.”

      and replied: “Of course not.”

      And yet, your post proves you wrong.

      “We pity you for your beliefs.”

      That’s a pretty hateful thing to say, considering that your making a negative and pejorative conclusion about something that we experience as beautiful, uplifting, empowering, that encourages us to daily strive to be more just, more loving, more compassionate. How terrible that you pity people for striving to be good and loving, forgiving and repentant, for seeking to create injustice and end injustice.

      Oh, I know, that isn’t what you meant. You meant that you pity us for a collection of things you think we believe that have no real basis in our beliefs, our texts, our experiences or lives.

      Which is just what homophobes say. They pity GLBTQ people for our lives – which they, like you, describe in terrible and ugly, yet thoroughly untruthful ways.

      “It is truly sad that people still believe that badly written, thousands of years old, fictional books, written solely to give meaning to the lives of desert dwelling, illiterate peasants, still have validity in 2010.”

      What is sad is that you pass judgment on something you have no real knowledge of, because your characterization of it above is extraordinarily inaccurate. Either you are just being malicious, or you have no idea what actually is in the Bible. Or both. I suspect both.

      “Science and reason and literacy are much more evolved these days.”

      Yet atheism, as you represent it, contains none of the above.

      “There is no reason for ‘god’.”

      What a silly argument. God exists, people experience God. Of course, your argument is a silly and subjective one. There is no reason for the universe to exist either. There is no reason, as yet determined at least, for the laws of physics to be as they are, for the sub-atomic particles to have the qualities they do, and yet, as near as science can prove, they exist.

      There is, by the way, no reason for you, outside of God. In a existence without God, you, and everyone else, are just the product of chance and probability, and even your sense of identity is just an illusion created by semi-organized chemical reactions occurring in the mass of matter we call bodies.

      “Just treat people with respect. However don’t demand respect for silly, irrelevant, religious beliefs.”

      I see, the ‘treat people respect’ was something only other people are to do, not you, right? You don’t respect people of faith at all, not even enough to believe us when we tell you what we experience, yet tell us to treat people with respect. A case of do as you say, not as you do, eh?

      Of course, you’ve already make that clear with your past, abusive and derogatory posts. Mark, if you were really trying to prove that atheism is not a prejudice, posting derogatory and abusive misrepresentations of Christian belief is the wrong way to accomplish that. After all, the bigots people recognize the best, employ the very same tactic about GLBTQ people.

      Christianity teaches a loving, generous, perfectly just God, which you characterize – i.e., lie about our beliefs – as “vengeful, sky fairy”. You dismiss the collected testimony of generations of religious people, about events that happened before you were born, as fiction.

      Is this an example of how moral and ethical you are on your own, without God? It isn’t a very good example. It is tragic how consistently people who revile religion resort to horrendously abusive, unethical and immoral behavior to make their case. To me, your posts, Mark, only demonstrate how miserable it is to live in denial of God’s presence.

      “Jackie Collins is about to publish a new book.

      It is called ‘Hollywood Hookers’.”

      Funny, it isn’t listed on Amazon. Googling “Jackie Collins” and “new release” returns “Poor Little B*tch Girl”, Feb 2010, and the last update on her webpage is for January 2010, about the same book.

      So, apparently, your posts cannot be taken literally, which means, in your own words: “then it’s reasonable to assume it’s just fictional bullsh*t”.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 3:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      I missed this, but had to share with Mark, whose posts cannot be taken literally:

      “Although Collins initially said on her official website that there would probably be no more Lucky Santangelo novels after Drop Dead Beautiful, she is now actually working on the seventh book in the series, Goddess of Vengeance, to be published in 2011. Also according to her official website, she is currently writing a play entitled Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Lies.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Collins

      Oct 9, 2010 at 3:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rob
      Rob

      @Cassandra: I was reading through your arguments earlier and seeing that you had a point, but now it seems like you’re being petty with that Jackie Collins “exposure.” You post like a know-it-all and therefore seem hypocritical when you chatise others for their excessive pride. And this may be the point that the atheist crowd doesn’t like about some religious people — they start to come off as zealots. Just saying.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Rob

      “I was reading through your arguments earlier and seeing that you had a point, but now it seems like you’re being petty with that Jackie Collins “exposure.” ”

      Actually, I made a very valid point. Mark’s post number 30 clearly could not be taken literally, and yet he dismissed the Bible, in its entirety, because parts of it, the metaphors and parables for example, are not literal.

      “You post like a know-it-all and therefore seem hypocritical when you chatise others for their excessive pride.”

      I think you are projecting. And I find it sad that you find fault with accuracy and attention to detail. One of the reasons that anti-gay theology is still so accepted is that people settle for superficial and simplistic answers and explanations.

      “And this may be the point that the atheist crowd doesn’t like about some religious people — they start to come off as zealots. Just saying.”

      Then that would be the true hypocrisy, wouldn’t it?

      Don’t you think that there is something petty, something ‘know it all’ about your post, which, rather than contribute to the actual subject, chastising me for not writing in the style you like about the things you want me to?

      Wouldn’t it have been more useful for you to address either the subject of the post – the double standard of the Jewish Standard, or the issue I raise regarding the striking parallel between homophobia and atheism?

      Just saying.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chris H
      Chris H

      @Cassandra: There is such thing as theophobia and theist discrimination. In the same way as not every religious person is a homophobe, not every atheist is a theophobe. I’ve seen you make the point again and again and again that atheism is a prejudice. False, theophobia is a prejudice. The choice to reject the notion of a God is as equally valid as the choice to believe in the notion of a God. They each deny the experience or lack of experience of the other.

      You speak so much about pride, but isn’t it prideful to think that people who have never experienced God are “doing something wrong?”

      Religion is more than just a set of beliefs about a spiritual being, it’s a social structure and a moral structure and an economic structure as well.
      There are many other social structures, moral structures, and economic structures. To claim that because an atheist rejects the beliefs in a spiritual being means they are amoral is ridiculous, and assumes that they cannot and do not assume some other moral structure based on natural laws and secular humanism.

      I often defend you, but it’s when you make these kinds of arguments that I sigh. Your zealousness (and I mean that in the original sense of the term and not the politically leaded sense) in your beliefs oftentimes crosses over into atheist-phobia. But thanks for having the pride to give [B]me[/B] free choice on what [B]I[/B] do and don’t believe.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Chris H.

      “There is such thing as theophobia and theist discrimination. In the same way as not every religious person is a homophobe, not every atheist is a theophobe.”

      Oh, like the way not everyone who condemns homosexuality is not a homophobe.

      Of course, I haven’t used the term theophobia, which means “morbid fear or hatred of God”. That would be inaccurate at least.

      Atheism denies the existence of God, so, technically, it isn’t fair to call any of ‘em theophobes.

      “I’ve seen you make the point again and again and again that atheism is a prejudice. False, theophobia is a prejudice.”

      Sorry, but no. See, a prejudice is a judgment about a group of people based on one or more perceived, shared traits. Atheism asserts that all people of faith are wrong about their experiences for the sole reason of who they are.

      Theophobia is not a prejudice, it is emotional response to God, just as arachnophobia is an emotional response to spiders.

      “The choice to reject the notion of a God is as equally valid as the choice to believe in the notion of a God. They each deny the experience or lack of experience of the other.”

      Ok, if you say so, then, the choice to reject the notion that homosexuality is acceptable, innate, not chosen, is as equally valid as the choice to believe that homosexuality is acceptable, innate, not chosen. So no more complaining about the homophobes eh?

      Unless, of course, there is an intrinsic moral wrong involved when someone refuses to accept someone’s testimony about their own lives, or when the lack of evidence is considered the equivalent of evidence.

      “You speak so much about pride, but isn’t it prideful to think that people who have never experienced God are “doing something wrong?”

      So then it follows that it is prideful to speak of people who have never experienced same-sex love, romance and intimacy as “doing something wrong”.

      Of course, the issue of wrongdoing arises not from never experiencing God, or never experiencing same-sex love and intimacy, but in concluding that because one has not experienced these things, no one else really has either, and if they say they have, they are either lying about it or deluded.

      “Religion is more than just a set of beliefs about a spiritual being, it’s a social structure and a moral structure and an economic structure as well.”

      You left out the most important part: all of these components of religion reflect the lives, experiences, testimony and analysis of real human beings. Religion is not a thought experiment created out of nothing, it has its foundation in the experiences of real people.

      Take an element that many people find inexplicable, like ritual. Rituals arise from experience, someone, or a group of people, discovers that if they do something in a particular way, sing a particular way, move in a particular way, it helps them experience the Divine. Others find it helps them to, so the “particular way” is repeated until it becomes ritual. Enough people find value in it that it continues for as long as it is helpful.

      “There are many other social structures, moral structures, and economic structures.”

      Some of which are based on conjecture, and others have arisen out of experience.

      “To claim that because an atheist rejects the beliefs in a spiritual being means they are amoral is ridiculous,”

      The charge of ridiculous is not evidence, it is simply a dismissal. I’ve been careful over the months to explain how atheism is a moral violation.

      The foundation of human relationships, interactions, society, morals and ethics, is the principle that when we voice our experience – of pain, joy, fear, whatever – others believe us unless they have concrete evidence we are not telling the truth. Atheism rejects the testimony of people of faith about their experiences, without a shred of evidence, in fact on the complete lack of any evidence of its own. Basically, atheism states to people of faith ‘you are all liars because I have had the same experience’. That violates the very core of human interaction.

      “and assumes that they cannot and do not assume some other moral structure based on natural laws and secular humanism.”

      While you are apparently reading something into my posts that I have not articulated, there is a point you are missing.

      Atheism itself offers no moral structure, neither does natural law or secular humanism. To the degree that either natural law or secular humanism have a moral structure, it is borrowed from religion. The only precept atheism has is one that violates the primary state of trust between humans, and it provides nothing else.

      Of course, natural law in particular has been a component in many religious moral codes. Versions of natural law that exclude God end up having to embrace many things we consider moral wrongs. Secular humanism is an extremely broad category of beliefs, basically a catch-all for anything other than religion.

      The ironic thing, then, is that those who criticize and condemn religion are relying on a religious belief – that there is a fundamental right and wrong – to make their judgment.

      Strip away religion and all that is left is evolutionary theory, organic chemistry, and the vagaries of probability theory.

      “I often defend you, but it’s when you make these kinds of arguments that I sigh.”

      That seems rather condescending, particularly since the arguments you provided are not the ones I’ve been articulating.

      “Your zealousness (and I mean that in the original sense of the term and not the politically leaded sense) in your beliefs oftentimes crosses over into atheist-phobia.”

      On your say so, I suppose. Should I sigh now?

      “But thanks for having the pride to give [B]me[/B] free choice on what [B]I[/B] do and don’t believe.”

      I can’t thank you for being dismissive and snarky. But I should point out that my recognition of your right to believe as you will is not out of pride, but humility. Though atheism is in practice contemptuous of that emotion, religions tend to promote it.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Something to consider:

      Homophobes routinely reject the testimony of GLBTQ people about our lives. Atheism intrinsically rejects the testimony of people of faith about their lives.

      How can we expect heterosexuals like B.Hill to believe us when we say “I did not chose to be gay” when atheist folks here say “All you religious people are lying, there is no God”?

      Oct 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chris H
      Chris H

      @Cassandra: Is there a pluralism in the acceptance of others’s experiences as entirely valid? Must more than one person have experienced “the same thing” (in air quotes because NO two people experience the same thing. they may attribute it to the same thing, but it’s never the same experience). If that’s the case, must we defer to the experiences of sociopaths and satanists for what is a valid belief or moral structure?

      You play around with moral relativism and false equality. Homophobes don’t only deny our experience, they wish to remove our rights by legislation in the public secular sector. Atheists (the monolithic entity to which we ascribe simply the non-belief in a god) aren’t trying to remove the rights of the religious. Some people may hate God or hate religion, and wish to remove those rights, but attributing this as a consequence of a non-belief in a God is simply a hasty generalization (another fallacy). This is why it’s not prideful for an atheist to say ‘you can believe whatever you want.’ It’s true. Most of us don’t give a shit if someone is a homphobe or is religious (not trying to equate these two sentiments, just mentioning the two examples we are speaking about), gay people just don’t want homophobes legislating the public sector, and atheists just don’t want the religious legislating the public sector as well.

      You claim that other morals are simply “borrowed” from religion, what bullshit. The respect for the dead, burials, working as a community, and valuing one another as distinct individuals happens regardless of whether there is an overarching religion. The belief that there are certain natural rights that one is endowed simply by existing is not a religious belief, it’s ingrained into our DNA and our communities, and has been since the dawn of man. Any archeologist can tell you that Neanderthals and Cro Magnons both exhibited these behaviors that we label as “moralisms.” Monkeys, elephants, and other animals exhibit these kinds of behaviors as well (and they certainly don’t have religion). And having a moral system that punishes people for attempting to remove these natural rights from one another, and protects these natural rights for all, is not inherently religious. Just because modern humans (Homo sapiens) who were beginning to create religion have created a name for them does not mean we created this belief or these structures. That would be a cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scott
      Scott

      Thank you for the great commentary! I also think it’s nice that these two found each other — there aren’t a lot of gays in this world, and there certainly aren’t a lot of Jews, so these folks deserve credit for marrying within the faith.

      Oct 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      Cassandra – I think your religious belief is absurd, stupid, moronic and ill-informed.

      However that’s perfectly acceptable.

      Your religion is nothing but a freely chosen, voluntary set of beliefs.

      Atheists do not desire to strip anyone of their human or civil rights.

      Believing in a murderous sky fairy is not a right that needs to be respected.

      Jackie Collins is my ‘god’.

      And she has a bigger cock than your ‘god’.

      Oct 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Soupy
      Soupy

      There’s a new book by Sam Harris called “The Moral Landscape: How Science can determine Human Values”. Very interesting.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 12:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Mark

      Bearing in mind that you’ve demonstrated that what you write cannot be taken literally, and therefore, according to you “then it’s reasonable to assume it’s just fictional bullsh*t”.”

      You deserve a response, even though you see yourself as merely chemicals reacting according to probability and laws of physics.

      “I think your religious belief is absurd, stupid, moronic and ill-informed.”

      Your abusiveness is not going to prove that you have a moral compass, and it certainly does not refute my assertion that atheism is a prejudice.

      “Your religion is nothing but a freely chosen, voluntary set of beliefs.”

      You know, homophobes have the same habit you do of telling me what my life and experience really are.

      “Atheists do not desire to strip anyone of their human or civil rights.”

      Oh, if only that were true. But time after time, consistently to the point of being definitively, atheists express their desire to rid the world of religion.

      Of course, homophobes make the same claim you just made, saying that they do not desire to strip anyone of their human or civil rights, and yet, we know how that is really going. And the Stasi in East Germany gave the world a really good taste of what an atheist society looks like.

      “Believing in a murderous sky fairy is not a right that needs to be respected.”

      Characterizing my belief in God as ‘murderous sky fairy’ indicates that you are incapable of showing respect.

      “Jackie Collins is my ‘god’.”
      Perhaps you should learn more about her then, because you were wrong about her next book.

      “And she has a bigger cock than your ‘god’.”

      I don’t have a ‘god’. I have a deep and personal, experienced based relationship with God.

      How sad that your ‘god’ encourages you to resort to vulgarity and abusiveness.

      I should point out that your behavior is classic bigotry. Homophobes, and racists, and anti-Semites, make the very same kinds of arguments – offensive distortions and mocking name-calling, vulgar comparisons and fixations, anything to dehumanize and minimize the importance of the thing and people you hate.

      It may sound trite, but each abusive post from you is evidence of prejudice, rather than any kind of rational conclusion.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 1:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      Chris H

      “Is there a pluralism in the acceptance of others’s experiences as entirely valid? Must more than one person have experienced “the same thing” (in air quotes because NO two people experience the same thing. they may attribute it to the same thing, but it’s never the same experience). If that’s the case, must we defer to the experiences of sociopaths and satanists for what is a valid belief or moral structure?”

      Your question neatly avoids the issue I have presented, which is the difference between a perspective that is based on experience of something, and one that is based on no experience of something.

      Of course, atheism asserts that no matter how many people, billions so far, have experience God, their lack of experience proves that all of those billions of people are just wrong.

      When you used sociopaths and satanists as your example, it was the equivalent of an someone who opposes same-sex marriage invoking bestiality and polygamy.

      “You play around with moral relativism and false equality.”
      Quote me and prove it.

      “Homophobes don’t only deny our experience, they wish to remove our rights by legislation in the public secular sector. Atheists (the monolithic entity to which we ascribe simply the non-belief in a god) aren’t trying to remove the rights of the religious.”

      Time and time again, atheists on-line have called for a world without religion, which would indeed require removing the rights of the religious.

      However, you are essentially arguing that because atheists have not been able to fully persecute people of faith, their belief that people of faith are delusional, untrustworthy witness even to their own experiences, is not a prejudice.

      That dog doesn’t hunt, Chris. Prejudice is not defined by how much harm it manages to inflict. The bigot who never physically harms a GLBTQ person is still a bigot.

      “This is why it’s not prideful for an atheist to say ‘you can believe whatever you want.'”

      Actually, it is, because it intrinsically presumes that the atheist has some say in what other people can or can not believe. It parallels the way homophobes say they have a right to disagree with homosexuality, giving themselves the right to an opinion about what someone else does with his or her genitalia.

      “Most of us don’t give a shit if someone is a homphobe or is religious ”

      Yeah, that’s why every thread here even slightly related to religion inevitably is filled with hate speech about religion and religious people.

      “gay people just don’t want homophobes legislating the public sector, and atheists just don’t want the religious legislating the public sector as well.”

      Unfortunately, and unlike GLBTQ people, atheists online consistently articulate a desire to rid the world of religion, and go beyond objecting to religion based legislation to, well, the vitriolic and abusive remarks that Mark and SkyChief2 post.

      “You claim that other morals are simply “borrowed” from religion, what bullshit.”

      Dismissing an argument as bullshit is evidence that you either do not understand it, or have no evidence to refute it.

      “The respect for the dead, burials, working as a community, and valuing one another as distinct individuals happens regardless of whether there is an overarching religion.”

      Prove it. Prove that any of these things occur in a group of people with no religion and without any influence, even accidental and minimal, from religion.

      Anthropologists look to burials to find evidence of religion, finding links to religion in even the earliest burial sites.

      You are ducking the point. Atheism has no moral code or ethical code to offer anyone. It has one concept: there is no God. That is it. It has nothing else. And that one concept requires dismissing and disregarding the testimony and experiences of most of humanity, an intrinsically immoral act.

      “The belief that there are certain natural rights that one is endowed simply by existing is not a religious belief, it’s ingrained into our DNA and our communities, and has been since the dawn of man.”

      Put the by who or what? Sub atomic particles do not recognize rights, neither does bio-chemistry. The idea of natural rights arises from religion, not science.

      “Any archeologist can tell you that Neanderthals and Cro Magnons both exhibited these behaviors that we label as “moralisms.” Monkeys, elephants, and other animals exhibit these kinds of behaviors as well (and they certainly don’t have religion).”

      But no honest scientist from any field can show how these behaviors arise from physics, chemistry, quantum or macro mechanics. The pure science world simply does not produce the ethical systems, the sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice, humans have. Morality, right and wrong, simply do not arise from the laws that determine the physical world.

      “And having a moral system that punishes people for attempting to remove these natural rights from one another, and protects these natural rights for all, is not inherently religious.”

      It certainly doesn’t arise out of science, out of the fundamental laws that force sub-atomic particles to interact in certain way, probability invoked, to produce atomic particles that interact in certain ways to produce atoms, which interact to produce molecules, which interact to produce enzymes and proteins and other complex molecules, that interact to produce chemical reactions, which if viewed on a macro level, appear as complex behaviors. Science alone reduces everything, including every thought and feeling you have, to the more or less random interactions between particles. Even your indignation, and people’s down votes on my posts, are, in a god-free perspective, just complex chemical reactions.

      Who is to say then, that the series of chemical reactions that creates your illusion of self-hood, is more important than the series of chemical reactions that causes another illusion of self-hood to try to destroy you?

      See, on the pure physical world level, one devoid of a absolute deity who values you and me and everyone else, we are nothing more than the chemicals that make up our bodies interacting in chemical ways with the other collections of chemicals all around us.

      Religion begins by asserting that humans have an intrinsic value, which we do indeed feel, but which cannot arise from the pure physical.

      “Just because modern humans (Homo sapiens) who were beginning to create religion have created a name for them does not mean we created this belief or these structures.”

      Just because you can conceive of some other origin for compassion, empathy, sense of justice, doesn’t mean that your conception is accurate.

      You are arguing that because there could be another reason for morality, God cannot be the reason. That is the same kind of logic homophobes use when they say “people are capable of making choices, so therefore, homosexuality is chosen”.

      Remember, atheism doesn’t offer these things like compassion and altruism and community, in fact, it ignores if not negates some of them. The laws of physics, which describe every physical process known to man so far, cannot explain or predict, neither can the softer sciences of biology and chemistry explain how interacting chemicals lead to altruism, compassion, justice.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 1:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      I missed this, Chris.

      “Monkeys, elephants, and other animals exhibit these kinds of behaviors as well (and they certainly don’t have religion).”

      But religion generally states that they were made by God, and Christianity, (at least, others as well perhaps) asserts that the creation, all of it, reflects the intrinsic qualities of the Divine. In other words, these ‘kinds of behaviors’ appear in the physical universe as reflections of the Divine.

      We learn more and more about what animals are capable of, and experience, every year. Not so long ago, scientists would have told you that animals don’t feel emotions, that fish and invertebrates don’t feel pain. Now, evidence has convinced many scientists that animals not only have a rich emotional life, they have at least significant indicators of a moral life as well, fish and even invertebrates feel pain.

      We cannot know yet if animals have knowledge of God, science cannot give us that answer, nor can we know whether animals have religion. When an elephant stands sentinel over the body of a deceased member of its herd, swaying and moaning, is it grieving? Is it praying? Is it doing both?

      Atheism cannot answer truthfully. Science cannot access any data, and any theory predicated by the laws of science would conclude that neither emotion nor prayer actually exist, they are simply illusions created from accumulated probabilities.

      Religion though, says that all of the universe is made in God’s image, the mystics, who resonate for me more than legalists, say that all of God’s attributes are manifested in the universe itself, and so, most likely the elephant is not only grieving, and suffering loss, it is acknowledging the Divine as well.

      I suspect that your core confusion here lies in believing that religion creates compassion, empathy, altruism, etc. That is not what I argued, nor is it what religions in general teach. These qualities come from God, according to religion in general, and specific religions have different paths to encourage improvement in one’s ability to manifest these qualities.

      The only thing atheism itself encourages is contempt for most of humanity.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 2:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dallas David
      Dallas David

      God is an atheist,
      so to be more like God,
      I became an atheist.
      Can you beleive it?!?!

      Oct 11, 2010 at 2:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra

      “There’s a new book by Sam Harris called “The Moral Landscape: How Science can determine Human Values”. Very interesting.”

      The interview with him on Amazon isn’t very promising, it is mostly the standard anti-religious polemics and cherry-picking. Mostly, he defines religion by one small portion of it, modern fundamentalism in Christianity and Islam, and even there, his understanding is deeply flawed.

      I’m wouldn’t spend money on it, but if the local library has a copy, I’d read it.

      Fundamentalist atheists have a lot in common with fundamentalist religionists.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 2:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dallas David
      Dallas David

      Actually, philosophical determinism makes more sense to me than any other explanation of what we’re doing here.

      I used to teach Sunday School years ago, and while I didn’t really understand all of the doctrine I was dishing out, it was part of a tradition that provided answers to a lot of life’s unanswerable questions. It also provided a lot of people a lot of comfort in a lot of unpleasant situations.

      Me, I’m ok with the fact that my body is part of the food chain, and that some of the water in my morning coffee was probably part of some other human being or animal, and that my pee would eventually be recycled into other people/animals. And the rest of my body will eventually follow. So I conclude that the best thing I can do now is to make the world a better place to be for the molecules that will get recycled into other people all over the planet.
      That’s my religion, if you can call it that. It doesn’t have a god, doesn’t answer many questions, but considering what I paid for it and the ongoing upkeep, I’d say I’m getting my money’s worth.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 2:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dan Kean
      Dan Kean

      Okay. I think I need to solve this debate. The Jewish belief is always being translated by rabbis, who try to figure out the real meaning of the stories. So if, for example, the old testament states that The world was created in seven days, the rabbis say that this isn’t supposed to be taken literally, it’s just the order of the development of earth. The order, not including the days, starts with ligth and dark, skies (atmosphere) and water, and so on, until the humans were created and god rested. This may be a reference to the fact that meanwhile no other species is more advanced than us. I hope I helped to clear this up.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 7:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dallas David
      Dallas David

      Too bad the planet wasn’t created by 7 gays instead of by Jehovah in 7 days.

      It would be a much gayer place to be.

      There would have been an “Adam and Steve,” we’d have 69 days in a month as well as months of 69’s, and we’d have a 50-50 chance of having a ‘Steve’s Apple” instead of an ‘Adam’s Apple.’

      Instead of the first 2 offspring named Cain and Able (How long did Cain hate his brother? As long as he was Able), they’d have adopted some kids from somewhere, and raised them up to be good citizens.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei5pgFurWnE

      Oct 12, 2010 at 3:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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