FAQ articles on this site are collections of questions or arguments that I have seen various people use in regard to scrutiny of religious beliefs. The purpose of these lists is to present my response to these arguments so I can refer people to them any time, or so that anyone interested in these arguments can see another perspective.
Please note that of course not all Theists or people sympathetic to religion share all the same views. My responses here are simply in regard to these arguments themselves. Also, since my purpose is to address people’s actual concerns and arguments, I have no intention to misrepresent any arguments. If you think I have misrepresented or misunderstood a particular arguments, or perhaps think it requires a note about context, then please make a note in the comments, contact us on our Facebook page, or email us using the contact form on this website.
This FAQ looks at Theist questions and arguments regarding moral issues. I will be adding to it periodically.
God is my moral compass. What is your moral compass?
We get our morals from our natural human desire to mitigate suffering, and the consensus of the group of which each of us are part. Our opinions and feelings are based on the evidence about what increases fairness, reduces suffering, and ultimately improves peace of mind.
Religious people often seem to think that it is necessary to appeal to an authority in order to declare anything moral or immoral. But in reality we condemn things as moral or immoral based on the effects those actions have on our well-being. And that is the same whether God exists or not, so all heinous acts remain condemn-able without religious belief.
Without God, sacrificing yourself for another's life would be stupid.
False. Humans naturally value others and love others. These are feelings and beliefs developed through the process of natural selection because more caring creatures who worked together and were willing to sacrifice for the group, were more likely to have their group live on any reproduce. But individuals with no such feelings would be expelled from the group or not join one, and thus have much lower rate of survival.
The only reason necessary for sacrificing your life for another is love. Love for your spouse, love for your friends, love for your fellow soldiers; whatever it may be.
The mistake religious people make is in thinking that self-preservation is always the most “rational” thing to do. But that is false because what is rational depends entirely on what your goals are. For example, if you desire to know truth, you should not make assumptions or join religions; and if you love someone and value their life, then the most rational and intelligent thing to do is actually to sacrifice yourself if necessary to save them.
(And the question which needs to be asked is, if God does exist, then what difference does that make to this issue?)
If God doesn't exist, then why do people feel compassion and give to charity?
Because it’s part of human nature. Darwin described this evolved trait in the Descent of Man, and we’ve learned even more about it since then. People who have compassion, social skills, and desire for fairness were more likely to survive because it helped the group, and thus together they were more likely to survive and pass on their genes. “Being nice” is not evidence for a god.
If there's no afterlife, then why not just do bad things?
Let’s think about that. Imagine there is no God and you just try to do bad things. Will you actually be happier? Why would you actually feel good by doing that? Why would your life be better?
If you answer honestly, and you’re not a sociopath, you’re probably going to answer “no” to all those questions. Most of us have natural empathy and desires to avoid suffering for both ourselves and others. It usually just feels better to us to live in cooperation and peace. And obviously people also want to avoid the punishment to oneself that results from causing pain to others.
Penn Jillette summed up the issue by saying (paraphrased):
“The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, Without God, what’s to stop me from raping and murdering all I want? And my answer is, I do rape and murder all I want, and the amount I want is Zero.”
And lastly, remember that an atheist believes he or she only has this one life and therefore has to make the most of it. So jail time or death means they lose everything they will ever have. But the Christian believes that anyone can do any horrible, evil things and not only escape punishment but actually be rewarded in the infinite and more important life after this, simply for “accepting Jesus” before they die.
Doesn't secularism mean that in life it's every man for himself and survival is all that matters?
No, disbelieving in gods does not change the fact that we have feelings of community, compassion, hope, joy, and so on. Also, the need for survival in this life can actually be a strong motivator to adhere to very communal, loving concepts.
The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' is highly moral! It safeguards human life so how can you criticize the Bible?
The existence of some good moral concepts in the Bible do not excuse its major immoral faults (especially since the notion “do not kill” is not in any way unique to the Bible).
But more importantly, “Thou shalt not kill” is basically useless in the context of the Bible. It’s rendered irrelevant by the fact that God decides what is even moral or justified, thus the sixth commandment might as well not exist.
You spare who God says to spare, and kill who he says to kill. The passage even specifically uses the Hebrew word for “murder”, not “kill” in general. It forbids “unjustified killing”. And since the Bible views right and wrong on a per-case basis entirely depending on whether God commands it or not, the Bible safeguards nothing.
God is good. Humans cannot judge God's actions or his plans because God is greater than us and he has his own morality.
1) Might does not make Right. Regardless of who or what any being is, human or not, the concept of morality does not change. If the notion that “power makes your morality superior” were justifiable, then we would consider history’s worst tyrants to be the most righteous people who ever lived.
2) When you say that God is “good”, you are either A) using a human standard, or you are B) making the useless point that “God thinks that he is good/justified.”
But whenever anyone talks about someone or some action as being good or bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral, they mean that in terms of option ‘A’, a human standard. We do not consider deluded psychopathic murderers, or dictators, or religious extremists to be moral just because they might think they are good by their standards. The same would apply to a god.
So if you mean “God is good” in the first sense, then God’s goodness or wickedness must be judged by human standards, just like we do for anything else. And if he is evil according to that standard then there is no way in which he is better than Hitler or Stalin.
But if you mean it in the second sense, then you are simply saying that God thinks he is good, and it changes nothing about him being evil or cruel in the first sense.
If we take happiness from God's hand then we must take suffering too.
1. Why? God is supposed to be the perfect, omnipotent creator of everything. There is no reason for a sub par product, so to speak.
2. If life is viewed as a gift from God, then why should the gift include defects and intense misery? When you give someone a gift, the gift should be as good as you can make it so that it brings them as much happiness as possible. You do not give them a gift and make it cause them pain and suffering unnecessarily, all while telling them how much they owe you for having it at all. Such behavior is that of abusers and dictators.
3. If we receive both happiness and suffering from God, then what is the point of God? how is he any different from just letting nature run its course?
4. Don’t you think the suffering that humanity has experienced through history and continues to experience around the world is a little excessive?
If you're a materialist, then what are morals? Morals are not physical.
Technically morals are physical. They are ultimately chemicals and electrical signals driving our brain and body’s behavior. There is no basis to believe they are anything else.
And even if this materialist view were incorrect, it still wouldn’t prove whether a god exists or not. We would just be dealing with immaterial morals instead of material ones. It would be a non sequitur to claim that a god was necessary for them to form.
Hitler was an atheist!
Possibly, but if it’s true, would that point actually make Christianity look better?
If Hitler was not a devout Christian, then we know that he was trying very hard to make people think he was. His speeches would often include references to God’s will and allusions to scenes and sentiments from the Bible — which included anti-Jewish messages — and he would attack atheism and equate it with communism.
So if Hitler was an atheist, that would mean that despite being one, Hitler knew that Nazism, hate, and genocide would take hold and spread much more easily if he used Christianity to support his doctrines. Now that is a problem for Christians because it shows that their religion contains enough horrible ideas to be easily directed to terrible purposes.
The Bible and Christian doctrine isn’t all love and understanding. The New Testament has a strange mix of ideologies which include some very divisive, distrusting, hateful messages and fundamental concepts.
If humans choose morals, and God does not, then there would be no right and wrong because it would only depend on each individual's opinion. That's moral relativism.
See article Understanding Morality: Atheism vs Abraham
Without God, you can establish any belief system you want with no regard to an absolute authority.
“Might” does not make “right”. Authority is always irrelevant to what is morally right, and that is true whether or not any god exists. Simply following authority with no regard for the independent morality of those actions has been shown to lead to terrible, immoral consequences. One of the most famous examples of this was that “we were just following orders” was the excuse of many Nazis at the Nuremberg trials. So “following authority” as a moral basis is not a mark of morality. Rather, it is a mark of immorality.
Tons of religious people are very moral therefore religion is good!
You’ll find that the most sensible and morally good religious people hold views not at all unique to the religious, and which are often even contrary to much of their religious texts and fundamental tenets of their own religion, whereas the most hardcore believers are usually the most intolerant or even violent.
So we can tell that the good morals of religious people are not generally based in religion so this observation is not any support for religious influence on morality. Likewise it’s not based directly in lack of religion either. It’s based in our natural desire to reduce suffering. Religion just offers the potential to interfere with that by deluding us about the real nature of the world.
If there is a moral law then there must be a law giver.
There is no moral “law” out there floating around in space, or even in the human brain, so that statement makes no sense. Can you even explain what you are specifically referring to in objective reality? There is no such thing as a “moral law” that exists independently in the universe. Instead, there are only varying human opinions and experience about what is desirable and undesirable behavior.
If you are referring to human opinions, then there is no basis to say that our opinions come from a god. And it ignores the fact that different people and cultures have differences on what they believe is moral.
So the claim that there is a moral law is itself based on the assumption that there is a “moral law giver” because otherwise the very concept of a moral law makes no sense. It’s a circular argument.
God allows evil people to commit evil acts because sin has that consequence on creation.
If that claim to be true, it would mean that God is not in control of the nature or existence of sin. It would mean that God is subject to forces beyond his control; that he is not the creator of everything. But that contradicts the description of God as an all-benevolent being which created everything other than himself.
If atheism is true, then there would be no Hell for bad people! Bad people wouldn't pay for their crimes!
1) Believing in Hell doesn’t have any bearing on whether it actually exists or not.
2) Believing that Hell exists won’t stop people from committing crimes if they also believe that God will forgive them – or even that God supports what they are doing. If people believed only in Heaven and Hell but not in a forgiving god, then the belief in Hell might have a little more usefulness.
3) Are you only interested in vengeance? Why does it matter that bad people don’t suffer for eternity? What impact does that have on you or anyone else?
The abaya is in no way a form of oppression. I think it's liberating because I don't have to worry about what other people think of me.
First, if you are required to wear it, then it’s not liberating. It is something forced upon you, not something that is your choice.
Second, that particular justification for wearing the abaya reinforces the belief that it is right and normal for people to judge others based on appearances, and that you should feel bad or ashamed over others’ opinions of you.
These things foment a culture of shaming and misunderstanding people who do not conform to the majority’s cultural conceptions of “modesty” and it supports the bizarre notion – which is still all too prevalent in the modern world – that women are responsible for causing men to rape them.
The occurrence of evil and suffering is easy to explain: God does not force people to choose to not do evil. He let's them have free will to choose how they act. So God isn't evil; evil is the result of free human choice.
1) If God intervened to prevent evil, that would not be a violation or control of your mind. It would just be top-notch law enforcement and medical care.
2) By not interfering, people’s wills are being violated anyway. God is just favoring the free will of evil people over the will of their victims.
3) There are terrible things that happen regardless of human will anyway, like disease, famine, accidents, birth defects and disorders, etc.
4) Or God could have designed us differently. Having different personalty traits and dispositions do not mean that we do not have free will (in the practical sense, not philosophical sense obviously. Free Will in the philosophical sense is a nonsensical concept). A person who is incapable of evil due to their brain’s makeup (or soul’s make-up if you believe in souls) and personality, or the natural laws of the universe, would still have the exact same degree of freedom to choose how they act as anyone else.
Consider this example: We cannot fly at will without machines, but does that mean we do not have free will? No, it is simply not a capacity of ours. Similarly, if we could have no ill will and do no evil, then we would still have free will. We would just be better designed for peace and happiness.
So if a god existed and were omnipotent, then it could have created everyone and everything in any way. Thus you cannot claim that evil occurs due to any constraints, like “our nature”.
5) What do you think ultimately determines what choices people make? Are choices ultimately random? Or are they deterministic due to our genetic make -up (or soul’s make-up if you believe in souls). Or a combination?
In ALL of those possible situations, an omnipotent being that designed it all would be 100% responsible for the outcomes because that being determined the way it would everything and everyone work. So God would be evil. Or the simpler, less presumptuous answer is correct: such a being simply doesn’t exist.
We cannot use the existence of evil as an argument against the existence or goodness of God unless we believe that the standard of right and wrong by which we judge our world is an objective one.
The issue to which people refer when they say that God is not good, or that a benevolent and omnipotent god does not exist, is that we know suffering occurs and that factors which cause it are rampant. We just use the words “good” to refer to things that reduce suffering and “evil” to refer to things that cause greater suffering by unnecessarily enabling or inflicting it.
And if you do not use the word “good” in that way, then why should we care about God being “good”? You can try to define those words however you like, but the issue of whether God is good or not is about suffering, not whether anyone can simply come up with some different definitions of “right” and “wrong” so that they can label God as “good”.
Religious people who are anti-gay are just bad people who USE religion as an EXCUSE to hurt others!
I can address the issues regarding how we know that religion is clearly responsible for the majority of anti-gay attitudes in another post (I already describe many of the reasons in an article you can read here). In this post, let’s address the issue of assuming that anti-gay people are just bad people.
Many people who are anti-gay may indeed be hateful for reasons other than religion, but there are also many people who have sincere religious beliefs that homosexual behavior clashes with, so we cannot toss all anti-gay people under the same label.
Many of these latter sort of religious people do not think they are being hurting anyone – or they think that they are doing what is necessary to prevent greater overall harm. They honestly believe that they are helping people and the world by condemning homosexuality (and this argument applies to anything else religious people do which causes harm).
They even think that they are being loving by trying to help people escape sin and become closer to Christ. Remember that according to their beliefs, homosexuality is a choice of behavior, not who a person really is. They liken it to alcoholism in that some people have greater weakness for a bad behavior than others.
Countless people who have opposed gay marriage, or burned witches, and so on, were people who earnestly genuinely believed that what they were doing was right, because of the deluded worldview that religious belief gave them – especially adherence to Biblical belief.
So we need to be honest and admit that religion can cause harm, otherwise not only will we keep dealing with problems caused by religion, but also you will end up misunderstanding others and being hateful against them as people, when in reality they have been indoctrinated with a false worldview.
God gives everyone different testing conditions.
(Context: Argument used to explain why different people are born into more suffering or have worse things happen to them during their lives that are beyond their control)
1. Testing everyone differently wouldn’t give God any useful information because you couldn’t compare results. It would be like giving everyone a test in school but the questions on some tests may be “Here’s $100. Give $5 to someone in need.” while other people have to do an obstacle course with little food and a broken leg while running from murderous rebel fighters. One is much easier than the other, and will shape people’s views differently, thus skewing any comparison between the individuals themselves.
The conditions of one person’s test – be it poverty or wealth, what religion your family subscribes to, or where you are born in the world – would alter their attitudes and behaviors and beliefs, which would result in the test grossly favoring some people over others.
2. Testing people differently and subjecting them to different levels of suffering would simply be injustice. But that would contradict the notion of a benevolent and just God.
3. Why would God test people at all? If God already knows the outcome of anything before it ever occurs, as the Abrahamic religions claim, then no test can have a purpose. He would already know the results beforehand, as well as what is “in every heart”, so no test could provide him any new or useful information.
You can only blame yourself for going to hell. One can't be mad at the judge for enacting the consequences when the judge explained how to avoid the consequences.
1) If Yahweh were real then he hasn’t actually made his instructions clear – or made much of an effort for anyone to even know he exists. Even among believers, there are countless different opinions of what God wants, and none of them have sufficient evidence to support their case over anyone else.
2) Muslims make the same argument that you’re making. How righteous and logical a judge will you think God is if you are cast into hell for not being a Muslim?
3) Even if a god’s instructions were clear, that still wouldn’t make the act of throwing people into hell a moral act. It would just be a totalitarian one. Contrary to your claim, if a law is unjust or oppressive, then whoever breaks that law can certainly blame the one who issued it. Luckily though, we have no sound reason to believe that a god is real,m let alone one that punishes people for not acting the way it wants, so it’s really a moot point.
Evil brings out our true character, and creates opportunities in which we can truly be courageous. Anyone can be good if everything always goes well with us. That is easy.
1) Why does it matter that opportunities are created for people to be “courageous”? There is no reason to create “opportunities to be truly courageous” if you are an all-powerful being who can design a reality without suffering. How could that ever be justification for allowing all the violence, rapes, lying, oppression, illness, and misery in the world? It cannot be, if the creator of it all is benevolent and has the ability to make anything be however he wishes at any time.
2) If it would help people be good, then why wouldn’t a god create those good conditions for everyone to be born into? By choosing to not do it, he is choosing to let more, unnecessary evil occur. Why would you not want everyone to be good and everything to go well with everyone? If your goal is benevolent then you wish for there to be no suffering. So if you are omnipotent and can accomplish that goal, but you choose to do otherwise, then there is no benevolent point to your choice.
Atheism is responsible for the murders of millions of people! When atheists are in power, they oppress and murder people!
This accusation refers to dictators like Stalin and Mao and their Communist regimes which were officially atheistic. But the accusation that atheism is at fault for these things is flawed for these reasons:
1) Atheism did not lead to communism. Atheism was part of Communist ideology since Marx considered religion to be holding people back from demanding reform and improvement of their societal conditions. So atheism was not the cause of the violent or authoritarian aspects of Communism. It was only included to motivate people to rebel against their current oppression.
2) Atheism is one opinion. It does not indicate what political views the person has, nor why they do not believe in a god.
The Communists mostly rejected religion because they based their ideas on Marx and because religious institutions had traditionally supported oppressive governments in Europe. And like many people, the communists adopted certain opinions as a result of their allegiance to a political cause more than as a result of actually considering the validity of each question primarily on scientific or philosophical grounds. Since they tied this perspective to their economic goals, they were dogmatically atheistic rather than being truth-seekers first who reached atheism as their conclusion.
But many atheists who are not communists, disbelieve in gods for rational reasons instead of political ones; and while many of us condemn religion for the harm it does, atheism itself is not part of our overall political positions. And contrary to communists who have historically been dogmatically atheistic, many atheists today are advocating for people to believe whatever the evidence shows is most likely, whether it is atheism or not. We just think that atheism is more likely based on the evidence. As Sam Harris said, “no society ever suffered from being too reasonable”.
3) By considering the historical evidence, we can conclude where the fault for Communist violence really lies: authoritarian political doctrines. We can see that this is the case because authoritarian political ideologies are the common factor among governments that oppress and murder, regardless of being religious or atheistic, whereas atheism is not a consistently present factor.
Look around the world and the countries with the most atheism are among those with the least violence. Even the libertarian socialists in Spain were atheistic and they had a very cooperative peaceful society as a result of their anti-authoritarian ideals, until they were destroyed by fascists (a religious group supported by the church) and communists (atheistic group opposed to religion) who had very authoritarian doctrines. This sort of evidence demonstrates what factors are consistent in violence (authoritarianism) and which are not (atheism).
4) Regarding our views on harm done by religion, we do not think that religion is the only cause of problems in the world, and we do not claim that if everyone disbelieved in gods then peace would prevail everywhere all the time. So the occurrence of violence under atheists is not a challenge to our views.
What we are claiming is that religion is one of the world’s problems and that there would be less division and violence without it, just as we would be better off without authoritarian political doctrines.
God won't force us into complying with his commands to believe in him and follow his moral laws.
(Context: Believer justifying why God does just alter people to think as he wishes them to instead of punish them)
Hell is the Abrahamic God’s full infinite power to torture used against us. That is “forcing compliance”.
When a dictator tells someone that they are free to make any choice they want, but one choice will get them executed or thrown into a camp, then that is force. Would you consider that dictator to be loving and just? If not, then you concede that a god which punishes people with torture for disobeying him is not loving or just either, since the scenarios are the same.
Do you think humans have any more intrinsic value than other animals?
“Value” is not an inherent property of anything. For example, it is not like describing the wavelengths of light that an object absorbs or reflects.
Value is a purely subjective concept derived from conscious minds, like those of humans. Our minds desire certain events to happen, or to protect certain individuals or objects or ideas, so “value” is just a subjective opinion of those events of individuals, objects, or ideas.
And since humans tend to want the most protection for themselves and beings similar to them, my answer to the question is “Yes, in my opinion humans generally have more ‘value’ to us than other animals, in terms of whose lives I consider most important to protect.”
However I must add that I think other animals deserve to be treated as well as possible, and that I think there are many animals who are more ‘valuable’ and deserving of more respect than some human individuals in the world.
God still grieves for people lost to Hell. He doesn't WANT to send people to Hell.
First, that is the same way a person talks about an abusive boyfriend. It is like someone saying “He doesn’t want to hurt me but he does it to show me I’m wrong!” – wrong of course according to his personal maniacal opinions. There is nothing moral or justified in hurting people who are doing no serious harm to you or others.
Second, according to Abrahamic belief, God created the entire system from scratch. Everything. He created Hell. It is completely his own choice what happens, including to what degree someone is punished, if they are punished at all, and he decides why people are punished. Every aspect of the situation is entirely under his total control. So it is utterly nonsensical to say he does not want to do something, yet is going to do it.
Third, everyone is born with different personalities and dispositions. This affects what they believe or do not believe and how they act, even including what they can and do change about themselves throughout their lives. Also, everyone is born to different parents and in different cultures with various religious beliefs. They are indoctrinated with entirely different religions, and this was out of their control, just as most Christians are only Christians because of where they were born and what their parents believe. Would you think it was moral if God sent you to Hell if it turned out you were following the wrong beliefs?
Fourth, God punishes people based on their belief or disbelieve, yet he doesn’t try very hard to convince people he exists. If he didn’t want to send people to Hell, then he would make a genuine effort and at least demonstrate his existence to the degree we know even frogs or apples exist.
If gay people make gay pride posts then people love them for it. But if I make a straight pride post then why am I attacked for being a bigot?
The reason “straight pride” posts are attacked is because for the vast majority of people why post them – and the reason they were created in the first place – is as a response to “counter” gay pride. That therefore implies that the poster is opposed to LGBT equality.
It’s conceptually like saying “white power”. By using it in our cultural context, it implies that the person is probably a racist or xenophobic etc. Then there is also the point that it makes no sense to claim to be “proud” of something that is assumed to be “default” in our culture, like being heterosexual. A straight person has no real hardship or need to overcome anything as a result of being straight, whereas gay people are a minority who have needed to break through social suppression.
The Bible doesn't say anything about the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle. The Bible says 'love thy neighbor'. There are no rules or restrictions to that passage.
Actually, it does and there are. The Bible condemns all kinds of beliefs and behaviors, and the Biblical conception of how you demonstrate “love” differs in some ways from the modern western liberal or libertarian view. See Romans 1 for the most clear example of anti-gay sentiment in the Bible; or look at verses such as in Matthew 23 where Jesus attacks and condemns the Pharisees (and remember that once you start making exceptions then you’ve admitted that there are restrictions on “love thy neighbor”); or Psalm 14:1 or Romans 3:10-18 that condemn non-believers as immoral, worthless, and corrupt.
The Biblical belief is that all sin feeds into each other, and if you engage in one sin willingly, then you are lead away from God and you enter into other sins, like murder and so on. It’s really overblown, but that’s how they looked at it back then (and how fundamentalists look at it still).
The Bible’s authors had their own views about what these things like “love they neighbor” implied, included, or excluded – just as we all do. You have to look at passages like “love thy neighbor” in the context of the rest of the Bible in order to understand what it means by that sentiment. For example, the Bible speaks out against prostitution, and what Jesus does is helps a woman stop being one. He didn’t say that he just accepted her lifestyle. He tried to change her. Today we understand that prostitution and homosexuality are nothing alike, but to the Bible3’s authors they were clearly both sins.
We should stop pretending that the Bible is a beacon of goodness of moral guidance, and instead just admit that we shouldn’t be basing our values on everything it contains.
How can atheists condemn the Holocaust and murder of millions of people? Atheists believe in evolution so they just think that Hitler was the fittest.
1. As Dusty from the Cult of Dusty youtube channel pointed out, Hitler lost the second world war and killed himself. So even if atheists believed that “survival of the fittest” was our basis for morality, then Hitler would still be wrong. So the creationist’s conclusion does not hold up even if their mistaken premises were correct.
2. Evolution is not a moral philosophy. It is just an explanation of how life evolved on our planet and continues to change. It does not form the moral basis for how should behave.
3. As for how atheists do decide what is right and wrong, that depends on the individual person. But it seems most common that atheists believe the standard revolves around reducing harm to others, regardless of the will of any self-appointed authority.
1 Timothy 2:12 was there because women teaching and preaching in Ephesus would be very hard for non-Christians to distinguish from the female priestess in Diana Worship.
(Note: 1 Timothy 2:12 is the verse where the author, Paul, declares: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”)
1. The actual message and ideas of Christianity should be all that is necessary to distinguish Christian women from priestesses of other faiths. Or are the actual beliefs of Christianity so similar to pagan superstitions that people would not be able to differentiate between people espousing worship of Jesus rather than Diana?
2. If the purpose of this command was to make sure that Christian women were not confused with priestesses of Diana worship, then why is the command so broad? It does not just say that women should not preach openly in public. It says that they must learn quietly and not teach period or speak period. This indicates that the issue is not about being confused with other religions.
3. There were always men preaching for other religions too, but the Bible never says that men shouldn’t teach as a result of that, and demand that only women must teach in their place so as to avoid non-Christians being unable to distinguish between the faiths. So a clear bias against women is expressed in the verse.
4. If we read the full context of the verse then we can see that it actually addresses the reason for this command:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
So there is the true answer. Women were seen by Paul as secondary in an imagined hierarchy, and their gender is blamed for being deceived and thus for the beginning of sin (and perhaps the implication is that women are more likely to be be deceived by Satan and mislead people).
If you look all around the world in every culture you will see that they say it is wrong to murder. Why is that? Because they KNOW it is WRONG to murder. This is evidence of God's law written on our hearts.
People do not ban things because they “know” it is wrong. They ban things because they subjectively find them undesirable – either from the perspective of not wanting those things done to oneself and/or because of one’s empathy for the suffering of others. Opinions on what is right and wrong are also heavily shaped by arbitrary cultural influences.
If people find a particular thing desirable, then they do not say it is wrong. Those feelings of desirability and undesirability are the deciding factors in believing what is “right” or “wrong”. There is no “knowledge” of what is right or wrong that is independent from these issues and which determines our ethical opinions (People can of course be morally conflicted and desire to do something they consider “wrong”, but these are cases of emotionally desiring multiple things – such as to avoid stealing, but also wanting to possess something very badly. If the person did not feel emotionally opposed to stealing at all, then they would not be conflicted or consider stealing wrong).
Murder is widely viewed as undesirable because of its very obvious undesirable effects. But consider that myriad people and societies have, and still do, disagree with God’s law on many things ranging from idols to food choices to sexuality – and to what killings are justified – and lots more. Chances are that almost every person claiming that God’s law is written on our hearts actually would consider many of the things God commands in the Bible to be horribly unjust.
Sam Harris condones rape!
This is an absurd and sickeningly dishonest accusation. The claim is that Harris condoned rape by this sentence: “There is… nothing more natural than rape.”
But the mistake made by the accuser is two-fold. They 1) irrationally take the word “natural” to mean “good”, and 2) they ignore the context in which the statement appears and therefore they also completely miss the point that Harris was making.
“Natural” does not mean “Good” to all people. Some people view anything considered “natural” as somehow, for some reason or another, also meaning that it is morally good and desirable. But this is not at all the view of many people including Sam Harris.
When you read the sentence in the context of his argument he was making, you can see that he is in fact using the example of rape specifically because it is bad:
“Some researchers have speculated that religion itself may have played an important role in getting large groups of prehistoric humans to socially cohere. If this is true, we can say that religion has served an important purpose. This does not suggest, however, that it serves an important purpose now. There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape. But no one would argue that rape is good, or compatible with a civil society, because it may have had evolutionary advantages for our ancestors. That religion may have served some necessary function for us in the past does not preclude the possibility that it is now the greatest impediment to our building a global civilization.”
He is drawing a comparison between rape and religion specifically in regard to them being “natural” occurrences. And he argues that just like rape is an immoral thing, but natural and has played a part in creating our modern species, religion may also be natural and has played a part in the formation of our species, but it too is bad. And just as we understand that rape is immoral and unnecessary, so is religion immoral and unnecessary.
A person may certainly believe and argue that religion is not immoral, but regardless of your opinion on religion, the fact is that Harris was saying rape was bad. His argument would not even support his own side of the issue on religion if he thought rape was a good thing, because then he would be condoning religion as well, which I think we can all agree is something he certainly is not doing.
Sam Harris thinks that it's OK to kill people just for what they believe!
That accusation involves a lot of misunderstanding resulting from intentional misrepresentations of Harris’s writings.
A while ago, an image was passed around the internet when Reza Aslan, who has a professional feud with Sam Harris, shared the image on his Twitter account. it depicts a photo of Harris and a single sentence alleging to have been said or written by him, which read: “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”
Many liberals went nuts, including many liberal atheists. They reacted viciously in posts and comments in social media, condemning Harris for the statement. There are several problems exhibited by this situation. Liberals in America have become increasingly indoctrinated socialized into a particular dogmatic way of defining certain words and understanding certain concepts to suit a particular mainstream ideology.
In this case the issues in question are the meaning of the word “beliefs” and the concept that what people believe determines how they act.
Liberals mistakenly, but in accordance with their ideological views, generally use the term “beliefs” as synonymous with “harmless beliefs” (as in harmless ideas, attitudes, and opinions about reality). They do not use the term according to its plain definition which would encompass both harmless and harmful beliefs.
So when they see the quote mentioned above, they become fanatical. They immediately judge the quote according to their own use of those terms, even when their use of it does not align with an official definition or every definition of that word. Their rigid, emotionally-charged, knee-jerk, dogma-based thinking results in them desiring to make no effort to consider the objective meaning of the words or how another person might use them.
What makes the misinterptretation so absurd and inexcusable is that understanding what Harris meant here is not complex or difficult. You do not have to know various other things he has said in other writings, or interpret his words in a way that no one else uses them in order to know what he meant. All you need to do is actually read the words for what they are instead of assuming he means them the same way that you use them, and by making the minor effort to find the quote in context and pay attention to what he was talking about.
Someone who actually does that would quickly realize that “beliefs” would not exclude harmful beliefs, and that Harris was specifically referring to harmful beliefs that actively drive a person to attempt to commit violence (and that it should be done only if capture is impossible and in self defense). He also specifically mentions Al-Qaeda, and that retribution is not a sufficient reason to kill anyone. So even if someone did not understand the original statement, it is very clear that he is speaking about beliefs that are causing someone to actively pursue violence against others.
The whole point of that section in his book The End of Faith was that he was explaining the importance and severity of the link between belief and behavior. His point that it can be ethical to kill someone over their beliefs was made to convey how serious this connection is.
And for crying out loud, the book in which this quote appears has been out for 10 years and has been read and reviewed by many people. If Harris had indeed been saying that it was ethical to kill people for holding harmless beliefs that he just doesn’t agree with – as Reza Aslan’s liberal minions interpreted it – then it would have likely already been a well-circulated fact about Harris long before Reza posted it.
But liberals have been so indoctrinated into thinking they, ironically, must be viciously intolerant of intolerant ideas, that they actually won’t even consider what the person actually means because they consider such openness to be validating the opinions they consider intolerant. But of course this is a problem when their interpretation believes something is intolerant or awful when it is actually saying something quite different that they may even already agree with but simply would phrase differently.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the image posted by Reza Aslan actually involves a single, but very important misquotation. In Sam Harris’s book, the quote mentioned in the picture actually does not exist as shown in the image. He does not use the word “beliefs”. The actual quote reads “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”
This does not change Harris’s intended meaning or explanation, but the alteration of that word is very important for this reason: Swapping in the word “beliefs” in that quote radically changes the way that the average person will perceive that that lone quote since, as I mentioned earlier, the connotation of “beliefs” among people, especially liberals, is very narrow and refers only to “harmless beliefs”.
The person who created this image likely knew this and chose to substitute that word in so as to elicit the reaction from people that it did. Such disgusting tactics are sheer distortion, defamation, and propaganda that does not befit anyone claiming to be a reasonable, tolerant, open-minded thinker. However it very much suits a person whose goal is to incite rage and stigma and suppress views that do not absolutely conform to their own ideology’s beliefs, desires, and ways of conceptualizing how the world works.
Jesus was super nice and loved everyone and would accept anyone just the way they are!
(This is just a general paraphrase of an extremely common claim used by religious and secular liberals)
If the gospels are any indication (as you would have to take them as if you are even to say that he loved people either) Jesus’ views of what it meant to “love” someone meant helping to “fix” them and change their behavior.
For example, Jesus did not tell the prostitute that he accepted her lifestyle, that he didn’t judge her for it, and that she was free to do what she wanted as long as it was her choice and she didn’t harm anyone by doing it. Rather, he said “Sin no more.”
The concept of Jesus was not a person who accepted everyone as they are. He is specifically said to be someone who associated with those he deemed “sinners”. Hanging out with such people as part of a larger effort to change them because you consider them to be engaging in sinful behavior, is fundamentally different from accepting someone for who they are and not condemning their harmless life choices.
Religion itself is always good. Only distortion of religion is bad, such as when people inspire others to commit violence on the basis of religion.
All religions contain both good and harmful beliefs and doctrines (some more or less than others). I see no basis for the view that all religions ever conceived only establish beliefs and rules that have positive effects and never harmful effects.
These ideas can range from the good commands like caring for the poor, to harmful ones like believing that homosexuality is a mental illness, or punishing unbelievers and being fearful of what their disbelief will bring upon your society. Even the notion of an all-powerful, perfectly moral god who we must revere to an extreme is itself a dangerous idea that can produce intense emotions, paranoia, and struggles to follow the god’s commands – and to favor this struggle over more rational considerations of the effects on human (and other animals’) well-being.
It is true that religions are often wrongly interpreted in order to justify people’s preferences, but it is also true that much of the harm caused by religious belief is the result of accurate interpretation of religious doctrine.
It thus requires no distortion of a religion in order to justify evil in the name of that religion. In fact, people often have to distort the text and their beliefs in order to justify not committing harmful acts in the name of their religion.