Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Depraved Creature am I

On, Facebook, I recently shared a quote from A. A. Milne in my status.
The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief—call it what you will—than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course. ~A . A . Milne
One of my family members, who is a minister, responded in a somewhat cynical way.
Could be true. Man is a depraved creature and always tends to run AWAY from God not TO Him. Man doesn't understand that the limitations of "do not kill, steal, lie, covet, commit adultery" are actually good for him.
I rather think my uncle is probable being a bit sarcastic, which is part of his character. However, it does reflect the attitudes toward non-theists I observed when growing up in chruch.

Believers (particularly fundamentalist christians) often have the idea that one becomes a non-theist because he/she likes to sin. In my case, nothing could be further from the truth. Here's my response to my uncle's comment.
The OT had a lot to do with my deconversion. My problem wasn't with the ten commandments. It was with verses like deuteronomy 21:18-21. As long as a horrible commandment like that is in the bible I will never except accept it as the inerrant word of God.

I know, you'll protest that that was before the new covenent or something similar. But, the fact that God would have commanded filicide at all is very troubling to me. The simplest explaination is that it (the bible) was written by tryanical men who sought to control the common people through fear. Stuff like that has no place in my spiritual life.
My deconversion was a troubled time for me. I didn't come to a decision to be an atheist, lightly. I sought answers from ministers. I prayed. Man, did I pray. I read the bible. I read literature. As much as I hated it, I had to come to the conclusion that The Bible was like all other holy books. Written by men who thought that they knew about the universe, but didn't. The Bible, like all other holy books, was written to control people and written to make them conform.

Unlike my uncle, I don't think that humans are that depraved. Sure some of us are, but most people? Nah. Morality comes from society and from our own conscience. We are moral because we don't like to see others suffer. Maybe, it's a survival trait. Maybe, a species whose members help themselves have a slightly better chance of survival.

33 comments:

Savonarola said...

You obviously know your uncle a lot better than do I, but his response looks to me not to be sarcastic but rather an example of reading into something what one wants to read into it. To put it another way, it looks like apologetics.

Savonarola said...

You obviously know your uncle a lot better than do I, but his response looks to me not to be sarcastic but rather an example of reading into something what one wants to read into it. To put it another way, it looks like apologetics.

ethinethin said...

I got that "apologetics" vibe as well. Seems he dodges the whole meaning of the quote, or didn't get it at all.

One of the reasons I reject the old testament (and therefore the entire bible) is because of the acts of gruesome violence it endorses, as commanded by god, not the prescription for ethics. The ethics in the old testament are, to say the least, disappointing compared to modern, secular ethics.

I do agree with your uncle, though, although I'd quantify it a bit more: man has the potential to be a depraved creature, but not necessarily innately. That point is fairly obvious when you see Fred Phelps and the people in his church (and have an idea of how there are many mainstream fundamentalists who agree with Phelps more often than not). But then again, the old testament led those people to be depraved, so, not exactly a point in favor of ol' Moses.

Robert Madewell said...

And not a peep of a response to my rebuttal. Well, at least he didn't start defending the brutality like lots of christians do.

Robert Madewell said...

"You obviously know your uncle a lot better than do I, but his response looks to me not to be sarcastic but rather an example of reading into something what one wants to read into it. To put it another way, it looks like apologetics."

Well, he is a pastor. I kind of expect some apologetics from him. He is also well versed in the Bible. So, I think he knew exactly what kind of OT scripture that quote was refering to. So, I took his 10 commandment comment as a bit sarcastic.

It's really the "depraved creature" part that gave me pause. Sure, humans do have vast potential to be depraved, but it may have more to do with our society ills rather than because a remote ancestor ate the wrong fruit. It also hints that my uncle thinks that we have to be told by God how to be good and that we can't be good without the threat of Hell.

L.Long said...

Well part of your rebuttal is .....
that was before the new covenant or something similar.....
This is sometimes stated by jepus freaks but is in fact invented BS.
Cuz their beloved jepus states that NO PART of THE LAW OF MOSES can be ignored. They also ignore parts with the above statement but then bang you over the head about gays!!!!

Robert Madewell said...

I believe that most of Christian doctrine is in fact, as you eloquently stated, invented BS, also. The good and moral parts of Christianity is actually not unique to Christianity, but shared by most major religions.

Mark Morrison said...

You are depraved indeed as well as all mankind. We are born into sin. Do you have to teach a child to lie ? Of course not it comes natural. Also the simplest explaination is not always right. Understand the law was never supposed to save anyone. It points to the need of a savior. But you say what about deuteronomy 21:18-21. We have talked about this before haven't we ? You must first take into context the time and the events.

Mark Morrison said...

L.Long said...

Cuz their beloved Jesus states that NO PART of THE LAW OF MOSES can be ignored. They also ignore parts with the above statement but then bang you over the head about gays!!!!

Where did Jesus say "no part of the law can be ignored"?

ethinethin said...

"You must first take into context the time and the events."

Indeed. Since the bible was written by men, an ancient tribe of warlike pastoralists, you must take into account the culture of the original authors. Good point, Mark.

Robert Madewell said...

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:18-19

Mark Morrison said...

Matthew 5:17-20 (King James Version)

17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.


Galatians 3:24
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,that we might be justified by faith.

The law can take you to the cross and no further. Context remember ?

Mark Morrison said...

Since the bible was written by men, but inspired by God you must understand the context of the times and culture. Were most people miss the point is they think God owes them something. God doesn't owe you anything but what you deserve. Punishment and seperation from him for eterinty. It's only by his grace can we be saved.

Robert Madewell said...

Mark, you gripe about context and throw in a verse from a different author to prove your point?

Mark, Jesus says that the law will not pass until Heaven and Earth pass away (v. 18). The ground and the sky is still here, last time I checked, Mark. I don't think Jesus was talking about his crucifixion as being the fulfilment of the law. He was talking about the END OF EVERYTHING!

Again, this is not a context problem. It's a difference in interpretation. Just because I think it says something different than you do, does not make it out of context.

Mark Morrison said...

Robert did you read verse 17 ?

17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

now verse 18

18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Robert it was fulfilled with the death of Jesus on the cross !

ethinethin said...

"God doesn't owe you anything but what you deserve. Punishment and seperation from him for eterinty."

And how can god be called good when he created us in this state of depravity (and in his image, no less)?

That you believe this so thoroughly is disturbing to me. You really believe that you deserve eternal torment and that god made you that way... and you still turn to him, call him good, glorify him. Anything to avoid hell, right? Fear of hell is a powerful motivator.

Alternatively, the concept of hell is what initially drove me away from christianity. The idea that there is a perfect, loving, all-powerful being is contrary to the idea that said being created a place of eternal pain and suffering.

Regarding the bible and it being written by men, and simply "inspired by god", if it really was the "True Word of God(tm)" it would probably still apply today. Otherwise, why would he include such mundane rules and regulations that only apply for a few hundred years in a book that has lasted thousands of years?

That it contains a very specific set of rules for the ancient tribe of warlike pastoralists who wrote it is strong evidence that it is not the word of god, it is not inspired by god, and it was written entirely by men.

Oh yes, there are certainly some passages in the bible which can be considered ethical behavior in modern day... but the same could be said for all holy books. The simple fact of the matter is the majority of "levitical law" does not apply to modern life. It's meaningless at best but often immoral.

Mark Morrison said...

And how can god be called good when he created us in this state of depravity (and in his image, no less)?

God didn't create the mess we are in it's man's fault. Through our own choices we became seperated from God. Because God IS good He made a way for us to return to Him.

Mark Morrison said...

Fear of hell is a powerful motivator.

It is a powerful motivator but it wasn't what brought me to God. Understanding that I had offened the God that had gave me life brought me to Him. As King David said, Oh God against you and you alone have I sinned.

Robert Madewell said...

MARK:
Robert it was fulfilled with the death of Jesus on the cross !

ROB:
Actually, those verses do not say anything about a cross. That's my point.

Verse 17: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

So? what does he mean by fulfil in this context? The next verse says ...

Verse 18: For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Now, do you see what I'm getting at? Heaven and Earth did not "pass" when Jesus died, so I assume that by fulfiled he means the end of the world.

I don't know why I'm arguing this. Who cares what kind of shoes Little Red Riding Hood wears. No matter how we interpret this, it still makes no difference to my belief and it's not something that would convince me that God exists.

GCT said...

"You must first take into context the time and the events."

I just wrote a post today about taking the time and context into events and using it for apologizing for immorality.

Mark Morrison said...

Robert said:
it still makes no difference to my belief and it's not something that would convince me that God exists.

Just curious what would make you believe ?

Mark Morrison said...

GCT said...
"You must first take into context the time and the events."

I just wrote a post today about taking the time and context into events and using it for apologizing for immorality.

I never said the times and events were an excuse for immorality. GCT if you write something you have a target audience in mind correct ? The people of this time frame understood the illustration that was presented to them. Yet you want to use it to paint another picture.

ethinethin said...

Mark,
"Just curious what would make you believe ?"

Just curious... what would make you stop believing?

GCT said...

Mark,
If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn't fit, then don't wear it. Simple as that.

Robert Madewell said...

Mark, I'll believe when God answers the last prayer that I prayed. That was 4 years ago and I'm still waiting.

Mark Morrison said...

Robert Madewell said...
Mark, I'll believe when God answers the last prayer that I prayed. That was 4 years ago and I'm still waiting.


I'll spare you the old not a true Christian saying but I will tell you this, if you don't know Him there is only one prayer He will hear from you. With your background you know what that is.

Mark Morrison said...

ethinethin said...
Mark,
"Just curious what would make you believe ?"

Just curious... what would make you stop believing?

Fair enough, I can't ask a question and dodge the same one can I. Well I could but that would be dirty pool right? There is nothing that could happen that would make me not believe in God.Even before I became a Christian I knew that God was real. I know that sounds like a dodge but in truth it is something that I have always felt. Now I give the same question back to you. What made you stop believing?

Mark Morrison said...

GCT said...
Mark,
If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn't fit, then don't wear it. Simple as that.

I can take a child's story book and take it out of context to make it look any way I want to. Would that not be the same thing ?

ethinethin said...

Mark...
"There is nothing that could happen that would make me not believe in God. Even before I became a Christian I knew that God was real. I know that sounds like a dodge but in truth it is something that I have always felt."

But how do you know, and why should I trust your judgment on this matter? You have shown irrational thought in this decision. Nothing could make you abandon your belief, even if you were presented with compelling evidence to the contrary. In any other aspect of your life, would this abandonment of reasoning be acceptable? Plus, the same thing you said is said by people in all manner of religions, including Islam, Scientology, anything, you name it. People just "know" it's true, they just "felt" it and "knew".

"Now I give the same question back to you. What made you stop believing?"

It wasn't any one thing that made me stop believing, but a long list of issues that accumulated. The more I learned about Christianity, the more questions I had. Those questions were never answered by (Christian) books, pastors, or prayers. And I really did pray. I prayed a lot. I really didn't want to lose my faith, but I had to be honest with myself.

To answer your original question, however:

"Just curious what would make you believe ?"

To believe in God, I would have to have evidence that it exists. As of right now, I have never received evidence of God's existence from any theist I have ever asked. Rather, I get appeals to emotion by testimonials, appeals to fear by threats of hell, and bible quotes declaring how I am foolish. None of those things are evidence, and if there is no evidence for God, there is no evidence for Christianity (which is strengthened by that, using a doctrine of faith to shame people into believing).

Gaps in scientific understanding are not evidence for God. They are gaps in scientific understanding. Inserting God into those gaps would require compelling evidence. For example, answering "Well what created the universe?" with "God" only gives another question "Well what created God?". If it is somehow possible for God to have been uncaused, then it is somehow possible for the universe to be uncaused. Since there is ample evidence that the universe exists and no evidence that God exists, I conclude that it's more likely for the universe to be uncaused than to be created by an uncaused entity.

Mark Morrison said...

ethinethin,

You say there is no evidence of God but every where I look I find evidence. All of creation speaks of God. All of this didn't happen by chance. I know,I know don't tell me strawman and all that.

In science like religion you must take some things on faith. Just because you can't "see" something doesn't mean it's not there right?

Robert Madewell said...

Mark, just because we can't see something, doesn't mean that it takes faith to know that it is there.

We can't see an electron. Yet, I do not need faith to know it is there. I have evidence of the electrons existence. The electron has an effect in the macro world that we can test, measure, and see. So, I know that an electron exists.

God, on the other hand ... Well, all evidences that I have been given, are explainable by natural means. Even that feeling that you have that he is real can be explained by psychology. Telling me to look at the trees does not cut it.

My last prayer was an experiment of sorts. I asked God to prove himself to me, so that I will know that he is real. I don't care how. It can be a personal only to me sort of thing. But, I want more than a gut feeling. I have gut feelings about alot of things and I know that gut feelings are not reliable. Well, he's got the rest of my life to do it. I don't think that that is an unreasonable request. You want to see the car before you buy it, right?

Robert Madewell said...

Mark, a straw man is when you misrepresent your opponents position, so that it'd be easier to argue against. You didn't use a strawman arguement this this. At least I didn't catch it if you did.

Temaskian said...

I left because of the bible too, but not the OT. It was the NT that did it for me, since it was so full of contradictions and holes regarding the most important character of all in the bible as far as Christianity is concerned.

So I'm another living example of how it was nothing to do with the moral commandments.