Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sunday School: More Good Biblical Advice, #137


More of God's good advice on torture here from his Big Book of Stories and Stuff.  Just remember, children, sometimes you have to beat people for their own good (although don't try it at home).  And remember, too, that the Christian God isn't evil for giving such advice, he's just misunderstood -- or as one commenter argued recently here at Not PC, "Sometimes you have to do evil to do good."

If you're a real adept, you can say all that with a straight face.

[Image from Russell's Teapot.  Torture advice collected by Dwindling in Unbelief.  There's plenty more advice and humour at both places.]


  1. Thats the old testament. That stuff went out with the arc.


    Hang in there for the punchline :-)


  3. Dang it i think that's the second time I've done that.

    Make that ^ into a single line

  4. "Sometimes you have to do evil to do good."

    Did someone say that? When your usual gasbag ideologues start up I get off the RSS comment bus.

    The oozing unchristian like derision for us deluded heathen fools, and the fatwa against you Peter over the last week has been enlightening.

    Religion always seems to blossom into a hate club. It's all about submit, or die, and out come the torches and pitchforks.

    We should have a Sod Off God Week.

    Oh and atheism is a religion like bald is a hair colour.

  5. Yes, I'm afraid it's true.

    One particular amoral moron who's been retarded by too much theology informed readers that "A good person can and would cause evil, if he had a good reason to do so." A "good" reason?

    Here's his example: when it came to the question of stopping a group heading for obvious disaster, "if I had a good reason for not heading them off, then I could justifiably fail to do so ..."

    A 'good' reason for not stopping a tragedy? What would that be?

    Then he got more explicit, but not before arguing that this stuff is "in fact largely uncontroversial." We it might be in the circles in which he mixes.

    He said, "Its not true that a good person would never cause evil even if they have a good reason to."

    How so? Here's the rationalisation: "surgeon’s [sic] for example cut into people wounding them are maiming them, this is causing evil..." Yes, our theologian said that, which he considers so "uncontroversial" that he kept referring back to it as if he'd proved something, eg., "an all good being can be the source of evil if he has a good reason for causing it. For the reasons spelt out above..."

    No wonder that on his own blog he maintains that to call the millennia-long intellectual wilderness dominated by religion by the title The Dark Ages is an "unacceptable value judgement."

    Forfend us all for making unacceptable value judgements about his "all-good" imaginary friend, eh.

  6. Comrade MOT, you said, "Thats the old testament. That stuff went out with the arc."

    Really? I think not.

    Perhaps that's what they told you in Sunday School, eh, since they didn't want you reading this sort of stuff.

    This from the first pages of Matthew, for example:

    # Those who bear bad fruit will be cut down and burned "with unquenchable fire." 3:10, 12

    # Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn't the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament:"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." 5:17

    # Jesus recommends that to avoid sin we cut off our hands and pluck out our eyes. This advice is given immediately after he says that anyone who looks with lust at any women commits adultery. 5:29-30

    Or, from Mark:
    # Any city that doesn't "receive" the followers of Jesus will be destroyed in a manner even more savage than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. 6:11

    # Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children as required by Old Testament law. (See Ex.21:15, Lev.20:9, Dt.21:18-21) 7:9-10

    Or from Luke:

    Those who fail to bear "good fruit" will be "hewn down, and cast into the fire." 3:9

    Jesus says that entire cities will be violently destroyed and the inhabitants "thrust down to hell" for not "receiving" his disciples. 10:10-15

    # Jesus believed the story of Noah's ark. He thought it really happened and had no problem with the idea of God drowning everything and everybody. 17:26-27

    # Jesus also believes the story about Sodom's destruction. He says, "even thus shall it be in the day the son of man is revealed ... Remember Lot's wife." This tells us about Jesus' knowledge of science and history, and his sense of justice. 17:29-32

    # In the parable of the talents, Jesus says that God takes what is not rightly his, and reaps what he didn't sow. The parable ends with the words: "bring them [those who preferred not to be ruled by him] hither, and slay them before me." 19:22-27

    Nice chap, your Lord and Master. Here's more barbarism from John:

    As an example to parents everywhere and to save the world (from himself), God had his own son tortured and killed. 3:16

    # The "wrath of God" is on all unbelievers. 3:36

    # Jesus believes people are crippled by God as a punishment for sin. He tells a crippled man, after healing him, to "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." 5:14

    Or maybe you think that the Church created upon Peter had expunged these repugnant barbarities? Guess not. Here's Peter in 'The Acts of the Apostles':

    # Peter claims that Deuteronomy 18:18-19 refers to Jesus, saying that those who refuse to follow him (all non-Christians) must be killed. 3:23

    # Peter and God scare Ananias and his wife to death for not forking over all of the money that they made when selling their land. 5:1-10

    Or maybe you think the barbarities were expunged by Paul? Um, guess not. Here he is writing the the Romans ...:

    Homosexuals (those "without natural affection") and their supporters (those "that have pleasure in them") are "worthy of death." 1:31-32

    The guilty are "justified" and "saved from wrath" by the blood of an innocent victim. 5:9

    ... to the Corinthians:

    # Paul claims that God killed 23,000 in a plague for "committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab 10:8

    # If you tempt Christ (How could you tempt Christ?), you'll will die from snake bites. 10:9

    ... to the Colossians:

    God makes peace through blood. 1:19-20

    ... to the Thessalonians:

    Jesus will "consume" the wicked "with the spirit of his mouth." 2:8

    ... and from Hebrews:

    # God will not forgive us unless we shed the blood of some innocent creature. 9:13-14, 22

    # Those who disobeyed the Old Testament law were killed without mercy. It will be much worse for those who displease Jesus. 10:28-29

    So where's your "arc" now, Comrade?

    I could easily go on, but the fact is, Comrade, it's no wonder they don't like you reading the Bible in Sunday School: Both Testaments need a parental advisory warning on the cover saying: "Don't read. Full of Barbaric Bluster."

  7. I had a look at the links, and there is certainly no shortage of godbags masquerading as pious prophets to futher their own sick interests.

    People often get involved in these organisations because they're hurting in some way and are easy prey for spiritual vultures. The religious worship a pathological personality type. An angry, judgmental, overbearing ego -–the type of person you'd cross the street to avoid.

    Faith is just unreason: "I believe this thing even though there is no evidence for it". Why should anyone be able to ask that others tiptoe around them, simply because they've defined their opinions as "faith"? I'm tired of all the admonitions to respect the religious because of their religion. Believing something stupid, religiously based or otherwise, should not bring respect.

    That we atheists end up being those who are despised should actually be a source of pride because it means that we are a threat to this delusional worldview.

    And really, all the bluster against you only amounts to "Atheist go home". It's time to stop suffering these 'intellectual' arguments with our 'friends'. They are unwinnable. This is not because OUR position is flawed. In fact, our premise is unassailable by any but the most fanatical, deluded, small-minded swine.

  8. "Faith is just unreason: "I believe this thing even though there is no evidence for it". Why should anyone be able to ask that others tiptoe around them, simply because they've defined their opinions as "faith"?

    "I'm tired of all the admonitions to respect the religious because of their religion. Believing something stupid, religiously based or otherwise, should not bring respect.

    "That we atheists end up being those who are despised should actually be a source of pride because it means that we are a threat to this delusional worldview.

    Bravo, Ruth. Damned well said.

  9. I have to give you credit for an extensive reply to my comment.

    Most of these refer to god's punishment of wrong doers(punishment is somthing that I disaprove of)as opposed to advising people to use violence.

  10. the only thing i disagree with is the "although don't try it at home"...sometimes that is the place where the evil exists most prominently...imo

  11. The Neo-Orthodox strain of theology is chock full of examples of people doing "evil" to do good. Just look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who thought murder and lies were perfectly acceptable if it meant getting rid of one Adolf Hitler.

    Theology is always up for discussion and debate. But picking an interpretation, debunking it, and supremely declaring all faith in God to be bullshit as a result, is, as I have pointed out to you several times, not necessarily a worthwhile argument. At most you can succeed in debunking one school of thought, but otherwise you will simply buy yourself an argument that does the wider debate between faith and lack thereof no purpose.

  12. PC

    Disgusting indeed.

    The notion of evil being a part of the good is but one example that pollutes the thinking of these lunatics. There are many others. They know that their belief system is false, riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions (hence they talk about holy mysteries and try to dodge around them). Their obscenity is to refuse to confront those issues honestly and eject the false beliefs at source. Instead they commit the atrocity of suppressing their own ability to reason. Worse is that they demand everyone else do the same, or else (as the bible quotations clearly demonstrate). Hence violence is peace. Evil is good. Love is suffering. Those who disagree are fools to be beaten!

    The interesting part about the previous debate (regarding theism, good and evil) is what the theist in question was avoiding. He knows full well that it is evil to do evil. He knows full well that it is not good to do evil. Yet he argues as he did. He pretends that an evil doer is a good person if he has a good reason to be evil (good + good = evil)!

    That theist dissembles, attempting to confuse the opposites of good and evil. He needs to argue thus. What he was at pains to evade was that it is impossible for his omniscient, omnipotent being to be all good. Such an entity, were it to exist, would necessarily be the source (the cause and creator) of all evil. Hence it could NEVER be all good. It would be evil incarnate! That means he is a worshipper of evil. The whole pile of sand upon which he bases his religious beliefs is thus revealed as evil.


  13. PC, do you actually read those Bible verses or copy this stuff straight from the SAB?

    If you read the verse, you will see that Solomon says that it sometimes takes an awful lot before some turn from their evil ways. That could be punishment done by the proper authority for their evil, but also very adverse circumstances in life.

    Where and how this this verse you may beat people up? As Ann Rand said: to win an argument with your opponents, don't hesitate to twist their statements to say something it doesn't say.

  14. Perhaps you prefer other versions, Berend? Let's see what other versions says about the "awful lot" it takes to "turn [people] from their evil ways":

    NAS: "Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes {reach} the innermost parts."

    American Standard: "Stripes that wound cleanse away evil; And strokes reach the innermost parts."

    King James: "The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly."

    Bible in Basic English: "By the wounds of the rod evil is taken away, and blows make clean the deepest parts of the body."

    English Revised: "Stripes that wound cleanse away evil: and strokes reach the innermost parts of the belly."

    God's Word Translation: "Brutal beatings cleanse away wickedness. Such beatings cleanse the innermost being."

    Jewish Bible: "Sharp wounds cleanse away evil; so do stripes that reach the inward parts."

    World English Bible: "Wounding blows cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the innermost parts."

    Should I go on, Berend?

    Note that there's nothing there about persuasion, about logic, about appealing to a person's reason -- instead of this, which is how human beings deal with one another, "an awful lot" to 'turn people from their evil ways' means stripes, beatings, wounding blows, sharp wounds, brutal beatings.

    Your Solomon was a brutal man. Your imaginary friend is a brutal being.

    The proverb is not out of place, either. It's of a piece with the whole bloody Christian story, isn't it, in which supposedly "by His wounds [we are] all healed."

    You see, in order to "turn [people] from their evil ways" one is required to commit evil -- requiring presumably, that the person administering the beating is then to receive one, which means the person administering that beating should then receive one, which means ....

    It's barbaric, isn't it.

  15. Berend, this statement of yours is disgraceful. You said: "As Ann Rand [sic] said: to win an argument with your opponents, don't hesitate to twist their statements to say something it doesn't say."

    First of all, AYN Rand never said that. It's a flat out lie. In fact, Rand scholars have frequently pointed out that in order to deal with Ayn Rand's ideas scholars first twist her statements to say something she didn't say.

    So she never said it; and the technique is one used against her, not by her.

    Second of all, as all of those translations of your text indicate, this is flat out brutal nonsense. And in order to defend the brutal, superstitious nonsense of your magic book you've now resorted to lying to wish away its brutality. That's disgraceful.

    But at least that means you do realise that when taken straight, your book is indefensible.

  16. Elijah Lineberry28 Apr 2008, 10:50:00

    Gosh, Peter, some of these religious quotations are rather 'creepy'...and I am astonished at the defence of this barbaric witchcraft which is taking place here from Blair, Berend and others.

    Oh, and Berend, you will find it is we libertarians who have our words and meanings twisted, not the other way...(happens to me almost daily!)

  17. pc, I know all that. Ann Rand said the opposite exactly. I just wanted to see your reaction when I twisted your saints word and secondly to point out that you're not following her teachings.

    She said that you should state a point better than your opponent. Time you start applying that principle.

  18. PC: “A ‘good’ reason for not stopping a tragedy. What would that be?”

    I can think of several reasons.

    1. To show someone the error of their ways; that actions have consequences.

    2. To achieve justice; punish evil-doers.

    3. To prevent a greater evil.

    In Ayn Rand’s epic tome Atlas Shrugged, the protagonist John Galt takes actions he knows will result in economic disaster and mass death. Yet he is not dissuaded from his actions, nor does he shrink from the known consequences.

    Are Galt’s actions ‘good’ or ‘evil’?

  19. Berend

    OK. Let's see how you would apply your "good reasons" to do evil.

    The young children and their guide are about to enter the canyon. You KNOW that the floods are coming. You KNOW that they have not got the ability to handle the resulting floodwaters. You KNOW for certain that if you do not head them off and stop them going in there some of them will die horribly.

    So you'd do absolutely bluddy nothing? You, Berend, would allow then to walk past and enter the canyon without even one word of warning*. You'd rationalise that you have a good reason for this atrocity? You are going to teach them children the error of their ways by killing some of them? You are going to punish the evil children and their evil families and evil friends? You are going to fuck them all up real good by doing nothing! Of course, this is going to prevent a greater evil (one of the children may grow up to be a murderer- like you perhaps) you opine. Right. Letting children get killed is "good" because it prevents evil. Sure, killing children does that. Yeah. Sure.

    Now it is shocking enough were an individual such as yourself to behave in that way. It would properly be regarded as a criminal act of ommission, but it gets worse. There is one further issue to confront. That is that your all knowing, all powerful, supernatural being not only has it within his power to prevent the tragedy, he uses his powers to create it. He does it. He causes its occurance. Now we are dealing, not with an act of omission but an act of commission. That is evil. Think on that.


    *from what I know of you I am safe in saying that you would never behave like that, you'd act decisively to prevent the tragedy- you'd act to save life, not destroy it.

  20. LGM, I think you're discussing this with the wrong person. I agree with you actually, and strongly disagree with "Sometimes you have to do evil to do good."

    Haven't looked up who posted that, but it's just a reminder this is the Internet: no one knows you're a dog when posting.

  21. LGM: “*from what I know of you I am safe in saying that you would never behave like that, you'd act decisively to prevent the tragedy- you'd act to save life, not destroy it.”

    LGM, before you launch into your next splutterfest, check the identity of your protagonist. Your reply should have been addressed to me. And you’re right. Of course I would have acted to prevent such a tragedy.

    However, my comment addressed the general query: “A ‘good’ reason for not stopping a tragedy. What would that be?” The example I used was Ayn Rand’s fictional hero John Galt, who knowingly becomes an agent of destruction and death.

    You have made an unequivocal claim in regard to people who knowingly cause evil, namely:

    “When [people] commit evil, they are doing evil shit. That's when they are evil…When a person is being or doing evil, they are evil. Period.”

    So by your lights John Galt is not just evil, but “evil. Period”. And yet Rand said she created Galt in order to realise her vision of the ideal man. So in your view Rand’s ideal man is “evil. Period”.

    You may now toss your Rand literature into the bin and direct your invective against the evil John Galt.

  22. Brenda

    I was refering to the arguments previously posted by M&M. You have merely copy/posted them.

    Galt is a FICTIONAL character who appears in a novel. The novel was written by Rand to examine certain issues of philosophy. Galt does not exist, nor is he claimed to exist. Understand that theists claim God exists. There is a difference.

    If you were able to read and comprehend what you read you'd discover Galt is but a finite individual who is a competant man but no more than that. He is not omniscient. He is not omnipotent. What he does stand for is to live his life free and WITHOUT initiations of force for or against. He refuses to support those who demand he be enslaved to them. He refuses to obey those who would try to employ force against him. He does not direct force against other people. He does not take an evil course of action. Note also that he offers his enemies the opportunity to trade value with him on a voluntary basis. They refuse him. They are also in the position where they can request his help but not demand it. They don't take up the opportunity. Instead they try torture and attempt to kill. It is they who partake in the evil. It is they who cause the suffering. Galt is in the position of going on strike and withdrawing his labour. Others follow suit.

    Try to understand this novel (in which Galt appears) is a work of fiction intended to illustrate certain concepts. The morality it delivers is not to kill the unbelievers. Like so much else you write, the position you infer is false.

    You really are quite the fool!


  23. algae: “Galt is a FICTIONAL character…”

    Is God a fictional character?

    “He does not take an evil course of action.”

    A major premise underpinning the plot of Atlas Shrugged is that Galt and his fellow producers are all that stand between the common people and death and destruction. Galt deliberately withdraws his services and encourages others to do likewise with the express purpose of destroying the existing society.

    He does so in the full knowledge that innocents will suffer and die in the resulting collapse. Suffering and death rate as evil in most people’s book; presumably also in Atlas Shrugged.

    Let’s use your own recent claim as a test as to whether Galt’s actions could be considered evil: “He causes its occurance [sic]. Now we are dealing, not with an act of omission but an act of commission. That is evil.”

    Out of your own mouth you again condemn as evil John Galt, aka the ideal man, a morally perfect specimen. And yet, as the society collapses around him, this morally perfect man refuses to lift a finger to help the victims of his own actions.

  24. Brendan

    Is God fictional? Theists say not.

    Is Galt fictional? Thiests and atheists agree that he is.

    Simple enough. Even for you to understand.
    Re the novel

    You're misrepresenting the story. How selective. You really do need to stop telling lies all the time. They are easy to spot- not very clever.

    The disasters that befall the collectivists and their fellows occur because of their own actions. They commit the evils and the results of those actions are theirs to endure.

    Galt and colleagues try warning them (in the story Galt takes great personal risk to do that) and attempt to stave off the looming disaster (labouring for years to support a disintergrating society). They are treated with contempt and their warnings ignored. It is Galt who realises that people will do what they want to do and that he can't force them not to. He explains at length that an initiation of force would be an evil act. He realises it is wrong to save evil by using force. Why do that? He is not omnipotent anyway (can't save the world). So he withdraws his labour and goes on strike. Others follow. He tries to save those who he can save. An important point is that the society (in the book) is on the verge of collapse. The disaster is inevitable. The warnings are ignored.

    This is all clearly outlined in the novel. For example, in Galt's speech.

    An analogy to Galt's situation would be if you were attempting to warn a group of adventurers entering the about-to-flood canyon of the danger, only to have them push you aside and proceed onward to their fate regardless of your warning. What would you do then? Follow them to their doom or get out of the canyon. Remember, you are not omniscient or omnipotent. It is their action which will bring them to disaster. Their choice is between survival and tragedy. You have done the good thing, but you do not owe them your life. That you would get out of there and survive is not evil, even though, at one point, you did indeed stand between the adventurers and disaster. Their choice was to push you aside.
    Stated again, you do not owe them your life. Galt's circumstances and actions are analogous.

    In conclusion, your characterisation of the Atlas Shrugged book is false. You can make up as many deceptions and lies as you like Brendan. In the end lies are all you have to produce.

    What a fool you are!


  25. LGM: “[The collectivists] commit the evils and the results of those actions are theirs to endure.”

    Which is the same argument theists use to exonerate God. But of course Galt also takes action to bring down the system, analogous to God bringing about flood/fire and brimstone on the unrighteous.

    “Galt and colleagues try warning them…They are treated with contempt and their warnings ignored.”

    The Bible is full of warnings about the bad stuff that will happen to sinners, delivered through the mouths of the prophets, and of the contempt these prophets experience from the people they are trying to save. The story of Noah tells of how a righteous remnant is saved in Noah’s ark. Galt’s Gulch, anyone?

    And of course the Bible culminates in Jesus, the perfect man, who also warns the people of the fate that awaits sinners. There are some marked similarities between the story of Jesus and the story of Galt, in terms of plot, character, and theme.

    “It is Galt who realises that people will do what they want to do and that he can't force them not to.”

    Neither will God force people to be good, since forcing people to be good deprives them of their free will, and makes them less than human. Looks like God and Galt are on the same page here, singing from the same hymn book in two-part harmony.

    If God is evil, then so is Galt. Conversely, if Galt is exonerated, so is God.

  26. A desperate effort on your part, but you're misrepresenting the position again. Dissembling and attempting to substitute one entity for another does not validate your argument. "Similar to" is not "the same as".

    Just for a starters, Galt is a finite person of limited knowledge and limited means of action. God is omniscient and omnipotent. He is also the creator of everything including that which is evil. Not so in the case of Mr Galt. Surely you're not claiming Galt is God?

    Brendan, it's pretty obvious you have not read the novel or if you have, you failed to understand the ideas it illustrates and why they were selected by the author. Either way, you've not presented Rand's work accurately. My suspicion is that you are being very deceptive for your own purpose. It doesn't work.

    BTW, just through interest, are you a theist?


  27. LGM: “Surely you're not claiming Galt is God.”

    What I said was: “There are marked similarities between the story of Jesus and the story of Galt…” For example:

    - Jesus has a mission; Galt has a mission
    - Jesus is morally perfect; Galt is morally perfect
    - Jesus goes into the wilderness; Galt goes into the wilderness
    - Jesus invites like-minded people to follow him; Galt invites like-minded people to follow him
    - Jesus performs miracles; Galt invents miracle machines
    - Jesus teaches his followers a prayer; Galt teaches his followers a prayer
    - Jesus is tempted by money, fame and power; Galt is tempted by money, fame and power
    - Jesus is betrayed; Galt is betrayed
    - Jesus is tortured by the ignorant; Galt is tortured by the ignorant
    - Jesus gains eternal life; Galt gains man’s life
    - Jesus has a personal symbol; Galt has a personal symbol.

    Interestingly, observe that some of these similarities are of an inverted kind. For example, Jesus goes into the wilderness to test himself and then return to the world. Galt escapes from the world to create a society in his own image that will replace the world. Jesus sends his disciples out into the world to bring light and life to the nations. John takes his disciples out from the world in order to bring about darkness and destruction.

    The Jesus symbol is about giving. The Galt symbol is about taking. The Jesus prayer asks for sustenance and promises reconciliation. The Galt prayer rejects sustenance and retreats into solipsism. Rand has taken important elements of the Christ story and inverted them, in a parallel to the way she inverts traditional morality.

    In other words, Galt functions a sort of, well, anti-Christ, which is no doubt Rand’s intention, although the resulting image is probably less attractive than she envisaged.

    “BTW, just through interest, are you a theist?”

    Just out of interest, why do you ask?

  28. Brendan

    "Just out of interest, why do you ask?"

    Among other things, it was because I wondered whether it was possible for you to answer a direct question honestly and without prevarication. Seems you can't.


  29. LGM: “Among other things, it was because I wondered whether it was possible for you to answer a direct question honestly and without prevarication.”

    Dropped the ball again, LGM. You’ve well mastered the art of evasion through ad hominen. Miss Rand would be proud.

  30. So how come you can't just answer the question? Why do you consistently evade everything?


  31. LGM: “So how come you can't just answer the question?”

    Because I don’t trust you. However, you can demonstrate good faith by answering, as honestly as you are able, the following two questions.

    1. Why do my personal beliefs matter to you?

    2. Do my personal beliefs make any difference to my arguments?

    In addition, I want an agreement that using my personal beliefs on this matter to critique my arguments is a logical fallacy, specifically an ad hominen. Deal?


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