Posted by: mystic444 | May 22, 2016

A Moneyless Society

For a number of years, I have believed that “money” is a concept which is completely unnecessary for the smooth functioning of human life, and in fact it produces a large part of the misery in our world. I give a different “twist” to the well known Christian statement that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. In my view, it is not only individual greed to accumulate wealth which produces evil results; it is the love of the very concept of “money”, to which society has become addicted, which is so productive of evil results.

 

Therefore I like to fantasize about what a moneyless society would be like. Over the past 6 years I have written 3 blog articles about this subject. The most recent one was written almost 3 years ago (October 30, 2013), and I have decided to reprint it instead of writing an entirely new article. Please feel free to fantasize with me!

 

A World Without Money

 

I have written 2 previous articles advocating a moneyless society: What Do We Consider Valuableand Choose Whom You Will Serve: God or Money. But the second of those articles was just over 3 years ago, so I think now would be a good time to return to that subject.

I realize, of course, that my thinking will correctly be labeled “utopian fantasy” and “wishful thinking”. But I don’t believe such “wishful thinking” is a bad thing – in fact it can be a very good thing – so long as it doesn’t prevent us from living in the “real world”. Engaging in “wishful thinking” can plant an idea in our minds which may in fact eventually bear real fruit, and the “fantasy” may become “reality”.

In the USA, we have just reached a temporary resolution of a “debt ceiling” controversy in Congress. We have a ‘debt based’ economy in which we have to ‘borrow’ money in order to pay off other preexisting bills and debts (or perhaps just to pay off the interest on the debts). Obviously this means simply that we are continually getting deeper and deeper into debt, until we have actually reached the point where there doesn’t even appear to be a possibility of ever getting out of debt. We reach a set limit on how much the Government is allowed to ‘borrow’, and then have to decide whether or not this set limit (“ceiling”) of debt can be raised.

So just fantasize with me a bit: imagine living in a world where everything is free. No one ‘charges’ for any goods or services, and therefore no one ‘pays’ for any goods or services. No one has (or needs) an ‘income’; and there is no borrowing and lending. Our Government would not be ‘borrowing’ money to pay ‘bills’, so there would be no such thing as reaching a ‘debt ceiling’ and having to decide whether or not to raise that ‘ceiling’. The whole ‘debt ceiling’ controversy would never have occurred. (Neither would there be any taxes to partially cover Government spending!)

Of course, there would also be no “Affordable Care Act” (AKA “Obamacare”) which one party would be able to use to ‘hold hostage’ the debt ceiling debate. No one could refuse to raise the (non-existent, in this scenario) ‘debt ceiling’ unless “Obamacare” was rescinded/postponed/defunded, because health care would be free to all and insurance companies would no longer exist. There would be no ‘government mandate’ that everyone must purchase insurance, and no one would have to worry about having to give up an insurance policy he/she likes because it doesn’t meet Government standards. The reasons for the “Affordable Care Act” simply would not exist: trying to enable as many people as possible to ‘afford’ insurance, eliminating preexisting illness/injury clauses, etc.

Doctors and hospitals would not have to worry about how they could possibly ‘earn a living’ if they had to provide their services for free, because everything would be free to them also.

Homelessness and starvation would be eliminated, because housing and food would also be free to all. Real Estate Agents would no doubt still exist to assist people in locating property and housing to fit their needs and desires; and distribution warehouses and stores would still exist. But there would be no ‘cost’ and ‘payment’ for these services and the goods they provide.

Being able to ‘afford’ a new car – or being able to ‘afford’ maintenance and repairs on your vehicle – would not be a problem, because in a moneyless society this, too, would be free to all. There might, though, be a problem with what to do with ‘used’ vehicles. I suppose there wouldn’t be all that many people looking for a ‘used’ car when they can get a new one.😀 Perhaps there would need to be regulations about how many ‘new’ vehicles a person or family may have, and how long the ‘new’ vehicle must be kept before it can be replaced. If a person or family felt they needed or wanted another vehicle (or vehicles) beyond the approved limit, they could get a ‘used’ vehicle. [That is at least one way this “used car problem” could be resolved]. Of course, there would probably still be antique car lovers who actually want old vehicles to lovingly restore and maintain.

Are you enjoying fantasizing about this? Well there’s much more of such enjoyable ‘wishful thinking’ where that comes from!😆 There would be no taxes; therefore there would be no Internal (Infernal?) Revenue Service to answer to. There would be no borrowing and debt, so there would be no falling behind in payments, debt collection agencies, and credit ratings to worry about. There would also obviously be no ‘interest’ (usury) on any loans.

There would be no retirement accounts, Social Security, or Disability payments; yet those who are retired or disabled would not be destitute.

There would be no Stock Market (and therefore no Stock Market collapses); and no banks (and therefore no need to ‘bail out’ banks and investment agencies which are ‘too big to fail’).

Besides “Obamacare” and the “debt ceiling” controversy, think of how much more legislation that ties Congress in knots is money related – and therefore would not exist in this fantastic moneyless society. How much that divides Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, etc. is in fact money related – how to raise money to carry on Government, and how to spend the money which is raised!

Would the elimination of money produce a ‘perfect’ society, in which no ‘evil’ exists? No, that’s not very likely unfortunately. While some people may quote the Christian apostle Paul’s statement that “the love of money is the root of all evil” to claim that everything which is evil springs from the love of money, that is certainly not true – and it’s probably not even what Paul’s statement meant. He was no doubt saying that the love of money is a root which is totally evil, and produces only evil ‘fruit’; but he was not saying that everything which is evil springs from that evil root.

People and nations would still no doubt find ways to irritate each other. Personal jealousies and strife would still exist. “That no good *#!% stole my girlfriend”; “I think my worthless husband is cheating on me”; “they worship a false god/practice an evil religion”; “we’re God’s chosen people and everyone else is worthless”, etc . A Government which wishes to be “top dog” will no doubt find excuses to attack other nations.

Nevertheless, getting rid of the very concept of money and material ‘wealth’ would relieve so many of the world’s problems. It would go such a long way toward establishing a utopian society. So I don’t mind engaging in such dreams. Hopefully you’ve found this bit of wishful thinking enjoyable also.:smile:

One of my ‘pet peeves’ is the persistent demand of Christians in the USA that they have a privileged position due to the alleged – but completely false – view that the US Government is founded on the Bible and Christian (or ‘Judeo-Christian’) principles. Two more examples of this have come to my attention recently.

 

First, in Delta County, Colorado, the School system decided to permit the Gideons to distribute Bibles in middle and high schools. (See here and here for instance.) This, of course, was perfectly fine so far as Christians were concerned (particularly those of a fundamentalist or evangelical persuasion). They don’t have any problem with Government schools promoting Christianity. After all, Christianity is allegedly the established religion of the USA, despite the First Amendment of the Constitution which prohibits Congress from making a law concerning an establishment of religion. (Such “founding fathers” as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison referred to this Constitutional stipulation by such terms as the “separation of church and state” or separation of “religion and government”).

 

Oh what an uproar arose, though, when some non-Christians got permission to distribute literature containing an opposing viewpoint! Atheists and “Satanists” (though those “Satanists” are in fact simply atheists who are willing to use the myth of “Satan” – meaning “adversary” – as a symbol of their opposition to the God myth) sought and received permission to distribute their own literature in middle and high schools in order to counter the promotion of Christianity in those schools. For those Christians, that old saying is not true: “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”!

 

Note that the atheists (including the “Satanist” group of atheists) were acting in response to the Christians’ Bible distribution. Their point was that religious literature of any nature is inappropriate in public schools; but if the government permits one religion to distribute its literature, then it must permit the same privilege to other religions (or groups opposing religion). If the Christians object to atheist literature (which they surely do), they have one sure way to prevent it: quit distributing their own material. The School District can of course prohibit the distribution of ALL religious (or anti-religious) materials and thereby solve the whole problem – and that would be the easiest and most consistent way to uphold the non-establishment clause in the US Constitution.

 

The second recent instance of the Christian demand for a position of privilege over other religions and over non-religion is the absurd vote in the State of Tennessee to make the Bible the “State Book”. (See here) A lot of smoke is blown about the desire to honor the economic and cultural influence of the Bible in Tennessee, but once all of the smoke is cleared away it is quite clear that this is just an attempt to recognize Christianity as the “State Religion”. That, of course, is blatantly in opposition to both the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. Nevertheless, both Houses of Tennessee’s Congress have overwhelmingly approved the bill, and it is now in the hands of the Governor to either sign it into law or veto it. The Governor has previously stated his opposition to the bill, but he hasn’t definitely said whether or not he will veto it. If he doesn’t veto the bill, there will almost certainly be legal challenges to its Constitutionality.

 

The arguments given by people who support the effort to make the Bible the “State Book” are specious, to say the least. A legal organization which has volunteered to defend Tennessee (for free) in the event of a legal challenge says it’s no different from having a State Bird or State Flower; and if another State or City should approve some other religious book as its “State/City Book”, they would not find it objectionable. For instance, if Dearborn, Michigan decided to make the Qur’an its official Book – since Dearborn has a predominantly Muslim population – they would see that as perfectly legitimate.

 

The problem with that argument lies with the religious nature of the Bible and the Qur’an. I’m sure there is no Constitutional problem with a State choosing a “State Book” – unless that book is a religious book. When the book is religious, making it a “State Book” runs afoul of the very specific prohibition against the establishment of religion, or showing preference for one religion over another (or over non-religion). If a State wants to make Moby Dick or Little House on the Prairie its “State Book”, I can’t see any Constitutional objection since those books are not religious in nature – and ‘establishing’ them does not constitute establishing religion or showing preference for a religion. (And of course, birds and flowers have no religious reference, and so picking a State Bird or State Flower in no way involves showing preference to a religion or establishing religion.) Choosing the Bible or the Qur’an, however, does constitute religious preference and establishment.

 

Some commenters maintain that School Boards have the right to prohibit material which they consider morally offensive and which could corrupt or psychologically harm children. Well if that is the criteria to be used, then the Bible certainly ought to be prohibited from distribution to children! The Bible contains a fair amount of sexually crude and explicit material – at least in “the Old Testament” portion. It could very reasonably be described as “pornographic”. Many Christians themselves (in the past at least) have considered an entire “book” in the “Old Testament” to be inappropriate for children: “The Song of Solomon”. The Bible also promotes hatred for, and murder of, people who hold religious views contrary to the will of “YHWH” (Jehovah or the LORD) – or simply those who occupy the lands supposedly granted to the Jews by YHWH. “Gentile” children have much to be afraid of from the Old Testament “God”, who commands the slaughter of men, women, and children who don’t have the ‘good fortune’ to be born Jews!

 

The “New Testament” can also be very psychologically damaging to anyone who takes its ‘warnings’ to heart. This supposed testament to the “grace of God” shows as much viciousness to those who fail to embrace its teachings about “the Lord Jesus Christ” and who don’t “obey” its “gospel”, as the “Old Testament” showed to those who don’t happen to be Jews (religiously or racially). I well remember lying awake many nights as a child and teenager worrying that perhaps I wasn’t truly “saved”, and therefore would perhaps face the awful vengeance of God and Jesus Christ should I die in my sleep! I also remember my mother telling me that she experienced the same worries for a prolonged period of time. She and I both somehow resolved our fears eventually – for the most part anyway, though the fear no doubt still remained subconsciously despite our ability to consciously convince ourselves that we did genuinely belong among the “saved”. Literature which generates this kind of “terrorist” fear of the “wrath” and “fiery vengeance” of “the Living God” toward anyone who doesn’t have the right religious beliefs and faith has no business being given to children and young people (or adults either, for that matter). Neither “Old” nor “New” Testament promotes religious diversity and tolerance!

Even if such moral and psychological problems did not exist in the Bible, though, the U.S. and State Constitutions establish secular government, and prohibit government establishment of, and preference for, any religion. This government prohibition extends to anything financed and supported by the government, including “public” schools. The U.S. Government (and individual State Governments) are not “Christian”, nor are they founded on Christianity or the Bible. The “founding fathers” made this explicit in the Treaty with Tripoli of Barbary (article 11) which was unanimously ratified in 1797 just 10 years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified. In clear and explicit language, that Treaty stated: “…the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.

 

It’s true that Christianity has maintained, de facto, a state of privilege despite the unconstitutionality of that privilege. However now that citizens of this country are ‘waking up’ and are ceasing to be intimidated by Christians, they are demanding that the Constitution be upheld and the de facto discrimination in favor of Christians and against other religious and non/anti-religious beliefs be repudiated. This repudiation of Christian privilege over others most certainly does not constitute “persecution” of Christians, no matter how much they may feel “persecuted”. It just removes “persecution” of non-Christians.

Posted by: mystic444 | February 9, 2016

“In God We Trust”?

I recently read that an atheist group in the USA is again challenging the U.S. motto “In God We Trust” and its presence on U.S. currency, maintaining that it is contrary to the 1st amendment of the Constitution which prohibits the establishment of religion. The motto has been legally challenged at least a couple of times previously, but the challenges have been unsuccessful.

 

I would think that governmental promotion and establishment of what most certainly amounts to a ‘confession of faith’ in a monotheistic deity would be so obviously contrary to the First Amendment prohibition as to make it ‘unbelievable’ that the government would attempt it and the federal judicial system would allow it. However that is precisely the situation.

 

The reason that the Court of Appeals gave for allowing the motto was: “Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise”. [See the section labeled “Challenges to the ‘In God We Trust’ Motto”]  That statement is blatantly ridiculous, and shows that the Court majority had a preconceived bias which they were determined to uphold no matter how absurdly nonsensical their argument.

 

How is it even conceivably possible that “God”, and a profession of trust in “God”, is non-religious? How can such a statement of faith in God be considered in any way ‘secular’, or ‘patriotic’, under a Constitution that requires that religion and government be entirely separate? How can a religious profession be considered a statement of ‘patriotism’ to a secular government/nation?

 

Trust in “God”, and profession of such trust, must be entirely individual and voluntary. If I wish to state that I trust in God, I may do so. I may also join with a group of likeminded individuals in giving a united affirmation that “in God we trust”. However it is no business of government to promote or require such an affirmation.

 

The motto is not only religious in its very nature, but the motivation for promoting the motto has been religious from its inception. The history of “In God We Trust” can be found in an article by the U.S. Department of the Treasury; a Wikipedia article; and an article from the Nashville, Tennessee chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. In those articles (and undoubtedly others like them) you will find that the motto was initially promoted in the early 1860s by Christians who felt that it was shameful that the ‘Founding Fathers’ had failed or refused to publicly and officially acknowledge God in the Constitution or elsewhere. They believed that acknowledgement and praise was owed to God, and the War between the States being fought at that time was a punishment from God for the ‘heathenism’ previously displayed by the USA.

 

The motto was first suggested in a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury by a Christian minister in 1861. The Secretary agreed with the sentiments expressed by the minister, and charged the Director of the Mint to come up with a design for coins which would express the supposed national dependence on “the almighty God”. The Director of the Mint was in fact a member of the National Reform Association, which sought to have the preamble to the U.S. Constitution changed to reflect the idea that the USA owed its existence to the “almighty God”, and that Jesus Christ is “the ruler among nations, and [whose] revealed will [is] the supreme law of the land”. The Association of course failed in its attempt to have the preamble altered; but the Director of the Mint (a member of the Association) was delighted to have the opportunity given to him to come up with a theistic motto for U.S. coins.

 

About 90 years later (1954), during another outbreak of religious fervor in reaction to the “godless communism” of the Soviet Union and China, the phrase “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance – so that it became “one nation, under God, indivisible…” instead of “one nation, indivisible…”. Then in 1955, a bill was introduced in Congress to add the motto “In God We Trust” to paper currency in addition to the coins, with the result that in 1957 the first paper bills bearing that motto were produced.

 

All of this was clearly a matter of religious fervor; there was nothing ‘secular’ about it. It was only considered ‘patriotic’ because of the ignorant belief that the USA is supposed to be a “Christian nation”, founded on “Christian (or ‘Judeo-Christian’) principles”. To be truly ‘patriotic’, it was thought that one had to be “Christian” or at least “religious”. Religion and patriotism to the U.S. government and nation were conflated, contrary to the Constitution which insisted that they be kept separate.

 

Around 6o years after the addition of “under God” to the Pledge, and the placing of “In God We Trust” on paper money, it is still obvious that the affirmation of trust, and “under God”, remains religious in nature and religiously motivated. Nothing has changed simply because it has become “accepted” and repeated so many times. Certainly atheists still tend to consider it an unacceptable promotion of a religious ‘confession of faith’; but those who so strongly promote the Pledge and the motto also affirm its religious nature. They aren’t interested in promoting a secular “patriotism”, but a “humble” acknowledgment of, and “praise” to, almighty God. It is still believed by the promoters that such acknowledgment and praise is “owed” to God, and that “His” judgment will fall heavily on the nation if it reneges on the affirmation.

 

However, the extreme irony of the situation is that those who so strongly insist on the Pledge and the motto will also strongly insist that those statements are in fact falsehoods! They tell us constantly that the USA has ‘departed’ from God (despite the Pledge and the motto), and that the ‘wrath’ and ‘judgment’ of God abide on the nation. When they insist that we ‘acknowledge’ God verbally, they are insisting that the people of the USA practice hypocrisy!

 

Every time there is a major flood, tornado, hurricane, or earthquake, our Christian promoters of hypocrisy are quick to announce that they know the reason why “God” has “judged” the nation in that way. Perhaps it’s the abounding ‘pornography’, the violence and sexual explicitness of TV programs and movies, or the acceptance of homosexuality and especially homosexual marriages. Whatever the particular reason(s), it is obvious to these Christians that the nation has ‘departed far from God’ and “He” is extremely angry with us.

 

Having “In God We Trust” as the official national motto, printed on our coins and paper bills, and constantly reciting “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, doesn’t seem to have helped us much “before God”, does it? Might it not be that “almighty God” and “the Lord Jesus Christ” are even angry at us for hypocritically affirming obvious falsehoods?? (😆 ) Why are our Christian zealots and theocrats so insistent on having us verbally profess what they themselves affirm is in fact a lie? Would it not be better, even in their view, to go ahead and remove the monotheistic affirmations rather than promote a lie?

 

However the promoters deal with the charge of hypocrisy, it remains evident that the affirmations are entirely religious and proceed from a religious motivation. Consequently, for the U.S. government to promote and “establish” those phrases is to explicitly defy the Constitution by “establishing religion”. Atheists and agnostics, as well as non-theistic ‘religions’ (such as Buddhism) and polytheistic religions (Hinduism, Wicca, etc.) are quite correct in opposing the “In God We Trust” motto and the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance; and thinking Christians ought to also stand in opposition to those phrases being imposed nationally. They should echo the statements of a couple of Baptist ministers at the time of the formation of the US Constitution:

Isaac Backus said – “Religious matters are to be separated from the jurisdiction of the state not because they are beneath the interests of the state, but, quite to the contrary, because they are too high and holy and thus are beyond the competence of the state.”

 

And John Leland said – “Is conformity of sentiments in matters of religion essential to the happiness of civil government? Not at all. Government has no more to do with the religious opinions of men than it has with the principles of mathematics. Let every man speak freely without fear–maintain the principles that he believes–worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in so doing…”

 

They were correct; modern theocrats are wrong.

Posted by: mystic444 | January 12, 2016

Do Christians and Muslims Believe in the Same God?

The recent controversy at Wheaton College in Illinois (USA) – still ongoing as of the writing of this article – concerning a professor named Larycia Hawkins, has caused national (and perhaps international) debate over the question of whether or not Christians and Muslims believe in the same God. (Wheaton is a Christian College). Larycia decided to wear a head covering (hijab) for a period of time to stand in solidarity with Muslims in the face of rising Islamophobia. That in itself was no problem; but she also said that she agreed with the Pope that Muslims and Christians worship the same God – and that apparently was a major “no-no” for many of the Wheaton faculty and staff. It is possible that Larycia may be fired for making that statement and refusing to back off due to the controversy.

 

For an atheist, of course, the whole situation is absurd; it just proves the foolishness of religion that two groups of people who each claim to believe in only one God, the sole Creator and Sustainer of all things, are arguing over whether they’re worshiping the same “one God”! Frankly, the absurdity of this ‘controversy’ would almost be enough to drive someone to atheism if he/she is not already there.😆

 

For the Muslim follower of the Qur’an (Koran), the answer to the question is an unarguable “yes”. “God and His prophet” have spoken and decided the issue, and no further ‘discussion’ is permissible for the Muslim believer. [Believers], argue only in the best way with the People of the Book, except with those of them who act unjustly. Say, “We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you; our God and your God is one [and the same]; we are devoted to Him.” (Quran 29:46, Abdel Haleem version). This same idea is repeated in numerous and various ways throughout the Qur’an. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have the same “Lord” and “God”; and despite the differences in the various religious beliefs, those who faithfully follow the teachings of Moses and Jesus will have their ‘reward’ from God just as much as the faithful followers of the teachings of Muhammad will. Certainly the Qur’an repudiates the idea of “the Trinity” and exhorts Christians not to say “Three” with reference to God; but that is a question of a mistaken understanding of the nature of the one God, not an actual belief in a different “God”. Apparently from the Muslim standpoint, God is able to “handle” such mistaken beliefs without condemning the mistaken parties to “hell”.

 

The real controversy over this question of whether or not the two monotheistic faiths are worshiping the same “one God” is confined to Christianity, it seems; and there certainly is controversy among Christians concerning the issue. To present a Christian viewpoint that the “God” of Christians and Muslims is indeed one and the same, Dan Martin of Nailing it to the door blog (linked on the right side of this page under the heading “Religion: Belief in God”) has given me permission to repost his most recent article: Worshiping the Same God”… Thoughts on the Controversy. I have great respect for Dan; his posts are always thoughtful and thought-provoking. I may not always agree with his conclusions (though I agree pretty thoroughly with this particular article), but I admire the fact that he thinks and is not afraid to speak his mind when he disagrees with ‘orthodoxy’. So here ‘for your reading pleasure’ is his article.

 

The news that Wheaton professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins may be fired over perceived conflicts between her public statements, and the college’s statement of faith, has been hailed and slammed across the internet.  At issue, nearly as I can determine, is that Dr. Hawkins refuses to recant her statement that Muslims and Christians worship the same God (full disclosure … I’ve said as much myself), and Wheaton authorities believe that such a statement is fundamentally at odds with their Statement of Faith and Educational Purpose.  In their own words, taken from Wheaton’s Frequently Asked Questions surrounding this controversy:

  1. Is it true that Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation, and the life of prayer.

As an institution of distinctively evangelical Christian identity, the core of our faith, as expressed in our Statement of Faith, is our belief that “the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, triumphing over all evil; and that all who believe in Him are justified by His shed blood and forgiven of all their sins.” We affirm that salvation is through Christ alone.

I find this answer interesting, not least because it doesn’t actually answer the question.  The fact that Islam and Christianity differ fundamentally in their teachings about God, or about how one ought to pray to God, does not necessarily mean that the God about which they teach isn’t the same one.  To the contrary, it seems to me that the differences might matter more if they are referring to the same God — by which I mean that describing the “right” God in the “wrong” way could be a more meaningful error than describing completely different deities (one of whom, we presume, is false).  Strictly speaking, the grammar of the Wheaton statement suggests as much … “there are fundamental differences between the two faiths” in their teachings about God; a point about which no Christian or Muslim I’ve ever met, would disagree.  This phrase is not at all equivalent to “they worship different Gods.”

It’s in the second paragraph, however, that things get interesting.  “The core” of Wheaton’s faith, they say, is Jesus death “as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice …”  If they mean that anyone who denies this “core” worships a different God than they … well … I’ve quite clearly repudiated that construction of Jesus death myself, as well as having taken issue with the idea that atonement is central to faith in Jesus or an appropriate reason for and means of evangelism. (I won’t go into detail, but I find it telling that Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t manage to achieve “core” status … that, to me, is about as fundamental a misconstrual as it’s possible to have in the Christian faith .) Do these positions of mine mean that I worship a different God than an Evangelical member of Wheaton’s faculty?  If they do, not only I, but an awfully large group of people who trust in the lordship of Jesus Christ worship a different God than the one that meets Wheaton’s standards.

What, really, are people saying when they say Christians and Muslims worship the same God, or when they say the two faiths worship different Gods?  Frankly, I think both statements are really code for other things, and it’s these other things that must be unpacked and held to the light.  When one says “Muslims and Christians worship the same God,” it seems to me they’re usually saying one of three things:

  1. All religions, or at least all of the Abrahamic religions, are different paths to the same God who will “save” faithful adherents from all of them.
  2. Because Muslims and Christians worship the same God, even though we obviously have theological and practical differences, we ought to use those elements of overlap (like the commands to love God and love our neighbor) as a starting point for peace and mutual respect.
  3. The historical antecedent to the “God” character in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism is the same in all three religions, although each has nuanced that character in different ways.

These things are so completely different that it is impossible to really engage in a coherent discussion until we know which meaning is intended by the speaker.  Number 3 is an indisputable historical/literary fact, but it also has very little meaning with regard to anyone’s theology or praxis.  I cannot conceive how any statement of faith could take issue with it.  Number 1, on the other hand, verges on universalism and is pretty clearly outside the pale of any Evangelical doctrine I know.  Number 2, which is probably closest to the reason I care about this issue at all, is also murkier in the minds of many Evangelicals.  Though most Evangelicals agree that we ought to treat even non-believers with love, they seem extremely nervous about appealing to any element of a non-Christian religion as good or true … even if that appeal is made, as the Apostle Paul did in Acts 17:22-23, as an entre to a conversation about Jesus.

Similarly, when one makes the statement “Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God,” it also can have several meanings:

  1. When spoken by a conservative Christian: “Allah is a false god, and those who worship Allah are going to hell.”  The Muslim equivalent, if I’ve understood it correctly, would be: “Christians are idolaters and polytheists.”  I’m guessing that also means Christians are going to hell, though I’m not certain.
  2. Since the God of Christianity is a Trinity, and the God of Islam is only a Unity, they cannot possibly be the same being.
  3. Since Christians teach salvation through Jesus Christ alone, no-one who denies Jesus’ saving work can be saved.

As with the affirmative statements above, these negative statements are quite different from each other, and must be engaged differently.  Number 1 seems to me largely a war cry, a delineation of the saved and the damned that, while popular in conservative Christianity, I find ultimately unhelpful.  It’s great for building walls and picking fights, but lousy for introducing people to Jesus.  As I have previously written, I find the idea that hell is a primary motivator for faith, or the penalty for anyone who doesn’t have it, to be unbiblical.

Number 2 is problematic in a different manner.  As many have pointed out in discussion of the Dr. Hawkins incident, if belief in the Trinity (particularly the version of Trinity as “eternally existing in three persons” as declared in Wheaton’s Statement of Faith) is a non-negotiable condition of belief in the “same God,” then neither Jews from Abraham to the present, nor many non-Nicene Christians (such as I) worship the same God as Wheaton’s Evangelicals do.  I don’t know how Wheatonites would evaluate my faith — I know for a fact I couldn’t sign their statement and teach there — but I rather suspect most would claim Jews worship the same God they do, even while denying Jesus as divine or as Messiah.  This criterion cannot be applied inconsistently and retain any validity.  Either Jews and Christians worship different Gods, or Muslims, Jews, and Christians worship the same one.  Anything else is illogical nonsense.

Number 3, which I know has been said repeatedly in debates such as these, is in fact a completely orthogonal statement.  Whether one worships the true God or not is not the same thing as whether one has (in Evangelical terms) “accepted” Jesus’ salvation or not.  And this is where the debate really gets complicated.  Adopting the Evangelical position for the moment, let us consider a hypothetical man who has cried out to God all his life, but only late in life learns the truth of Jesus and turns to him for “salvation.”  During that time before he learned of Jesus, was the man calling on a different God?  Did this man direct his prayers to a different divine target once he knew of Jesus?  Or did he just learn new truth that enriched and deepened his perspective of the God he always sought?  And now, if our same hypothetical man — despite his earnest search — never learned the name of Jesus, does this mean that his otherwise-identical search was directed to a different, false god?  I doubt it.

In the final analysis, I would suggest that the “same God” arguments come down to a question of whether we prefer to build walls or bridges between communities of unlike faith.  Neither side of the debate seems to contend either on the one hand that Islam and Christianity are identical/equivalent, or on the other that Christians and Muslims must inevitably be at war, although extremists on both sides do make those respective claims.  I do think that the “not the same God” argument seems mostly to be about maintaining a wall around the faith; that is, a clear delineation of who is in and outside the boundary.  And in the “same God” camp I mostly see people who are trying to identify common ground between admittedly-distinct camps, and use that common ground as a basis for relationship.  Anyone who has known me or my writing for any length of time, will know that I tend toward the latter position.  Ultimately, whether or not Muslims and Christians do worship the same God or not, is a lot less important than what we choose to do about it.

Posted by: mystic444 | December 10, 2015

Shooting in San Bernardino, California

Since the recent shooting in California, allegedly committed by a Muslim couple (Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik), Muslim believers are again urging people to recognize that Muslims in general are not responsible for – and guilty of – terrible things done by a few individuals self-identifying as “Muslims”. Murder is completely contrary to the teachings of Islam, and abhorrent to the vast majority of those calling themselves “Muslims”. So please don’t blame the actions of Farook and Malik on Islam or Muslims.

This viewpoint and plea is quite correct, of course. As I’ve shown in several previous blog posts, murder and terrorism are in fact completely opposed to the teachings of the Qur’an/Islam. Anytime anyone identifying as “Muslim” perpetrates acts of murder and other viciousness, he/she is in fact repudiating the Islam which he/she professes.

What I would like to know, though, is why anyone – particularly Muslims – would unquestioningly and uncritically accept the idea that this Muslim couple committed this horrible act, just because the news media (unhesitatingly presenting the “official story”) say so. In the Qur’an, which Muslims believe is “the word of God”, this exhortation is given: O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done (49:6, Yusuf Ali version). A blog which I check every day ( Ascertain the Truth ) contains this quotation on its home page: “He who accepts an idea without supporting evidence, is like one who gathers wood in the dead of the night, he might take a snake for a piece of wood.” Imam Shafi’ee

Personally, I am automatically skeptical of anything I read or hear from the “mainstream media”, particularly when the media are reporting stories from “official Government” or “Intelligence” sources. This attitude began between 30 and 40 years ago when I first read books challenging the official “lone nut” explanation of the John Kennedy assassination. My skeptical and cynical attitude was strengthened with reading about the Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations; and continued to become more pronounced with more and more exposes of Government lies and cover-ups. The lies of the George W. Bush administration leading us into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then my discovery of the involvement of the Government, Military, and Intelligence Agencies in the false flag events of 9/11/2001 really sealed my cynicism about “official stories”. With all of the lies, murders, and cover-ups of the U.S. Government, I have no qualms about equating it with the “wicked person” in the quote from the Qur’an – and considering that any report coming from that source is a report coming from a “wicked person”.

So when I first heard reports about a Muslim married couple murdering 14 people (and wounding 21 more) in San Bernardino, I was immediately skeptical. My skepticism was certainly not alleviated by the numerous statements that no one could figure out what led them to do this atrocious act. It was said to be so out of character for them; family and friends exclaimed that it was “unbelievable” (although in fact they did seem to actually believe the reports). I just figured that it very likely is literally “unbelievable”!

Then I found out that several eyewitnesses reported that three athletically built [white] MEN were the shooters and escaped in the black SUV (although the news commentator had to throw in the comment that of course we now know that one of the shooters was a small WOMAN – simply because that’s what “officials” said). When Farook and Malik were shot to death, the pictures show that they were in handcuffs. One wonders how they managed to engage in a shootout with the police with their hands in handcuffs!!! Or perhaps those valiant police officers found the dead bodies to be so dangerous that they had to handcuff them after they were dead!!! The more likely explanation is that the police arrested and handcuffed their ‘patsies’, put them in the SUV, and then staged a “shootout” winding up with the Muslim couple murdered. In order to make the staged shootout look more dramatic, they blew out the rolled-up windows.

The assertion that Tashfeen took the time to post on Facebook a “pledge of allegiance” to ISIS while allegedly engaged in murdering people is so absurd as to rank with the magic passports “found” on 9/11. The “magic bullet” explanation of the John Kennedy assassination is not less believable than the “passport” and “pledge of allegiance” stories!

Then there are obvious fallacies, such as stating that the couple were “devout” Muslims – expecting of course that the listener/reader will equate “devout” with “violent extremists”. That is absurd; in fact it’s malicious deviousness! Many people are “devout” in their faith (whether Muslim, Christian, or whatever) who would never even consider the use of violence. In fact, they would consider that their very “devoutness” excludes the idea of violence and murder. I have no doubt that Rizwan and Tashfeen were indeed devout; what I sincerely question is that they were murderers and terrorists (“extremists”).

Some reports suggested that Tashfeen might have become “radicalized” at the school in Pakistan where she was pursuing a doctorate degree – because the school supposedly has some connections with Taliban thinking! Can we not see through that absurdity? Are we not told that the Pakistani Taliban are strictly opposed to women’s education? (Remember the shooting of Malala Yousufzai because she advocated education for girls??) How can we imagine that a school for women in Pakistan could somehow be connected to Taliban thinking???

Here  and here are a couple of articles by Dr. Kevin Barrett at Veterans Today which are worth reading. The first one presents 10 “obvious questions” that we ought to be asking ourselves about this shooting.

The best course is to refuse to believe news reports – particularly when originating with Government and “Intelligence” Agencies – until one can “ascertain the truth” about the matter.

Posted by: mystic444 | November 24, 2015

Ignorant anti-Muslim nonsense again becoming popular

Anti-Muslim propaganda has never been absent; but recent attacks allegedly committed by “ISIS” and al-Qaeda affiliates (whether the attacks are real, false flags, or completely fraudulent) have produced a huge uptake in the nonsense being spouted. Presidential candidates, Congress people, and other leaders – as well as bloggers and commenters – are going crazy with their anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant proclamations and legislation.

A Syrian passport was ‘found’ at one of the Paris attack sites – therefore all Syrians must be ‘terrorists’ or at least suspect. Never mind that the supposed passport was in fact a fake, and there is no real evidence that any of the attackers were from Syria. Because of that fake passport, we must stop accepting Syrian refugees – though perhaps we can accept “Christian” refugees!

Again, never mind that those Syrian refugees are in fact fleeing from the atrocities committed by those very terrorists who supposedly carried out the attacks in Paris. Somehow we must conflate the terrorists with those who are fleeing the terrorists! How nonsensical can people be???

Actually, though, I can’t help but suspect that the real reason for opposing those refugees is the same as the reason our U.S. Government leaders are angry at the Russians for bombing terrorists in Syria. How dare those evil Russians bomb the terrorists whom the USA (and its allies) are training, funding, and otherwise supporting? And how dare anyone try to flee from those terrorists that the USA trains, funds, and supports? They must be “evil terrorists” themselves – as opposed to the “good terrorists” we support!

One of the Republican Presidential candidates (Donald Trump) is advocating such things as putting Muslim mosques under surveillance and perhaps closing “some” mosques, and suggests the idea of requiring Muslims to ‘register’ and carry Muslim IDs. A Muslim lady named Dalia Mogahed, in an interview with Chuck Todd from MSNBC [1], gave a perfect response to Donald Trump’s idiocy, though. When asked what Trump could do to better understand Islam, she replied: “I don’t want him to understand Islam. I want him to understand the Constitution.”

One of the main problems is that many people still imagine that terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS are true representatives of Islam, and almost all Muslims agree with them and support them. This is despite the loud outcries of mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims – as well as other Muslim groups such as the Ahmadiyyans – condemning terrorism and showing from the Qur’an and the sayings and practice of the Prophet Muhammad that terrorism is completely contrary to Islam. It is simply long past the time when the public should have come to recognize that terrorism is a vile perversion of the actual teachings of Islam; there is no excuse for the continuation of these anti-Islam attacks.

One delightful article showing the highly un-Islamic character of ISIS (and similar groups), which I saw recently on the Yahoo News site, was written in the form of a “letter” to Muhammad [2]. The author pointed out that when a man named Hurgoos ibn Zuhair accused the Prophet of stealing from his own people, and then stormed out of the mosque, Muhammad said: “From this man will come people who recite the Quran but they will not understand Islam. They will apostate due to their random killing of people. If I were to live, I would fight them.” That is certainly an apt description of our modern ISIS, al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda! They quote the Qur’an, but have no understanding of Islam. Their apostasy is characterized by randomly killing people. If Muhammad were alive in today’s world, he would be fighting such terrorists. The overwhelming majority of those today who call themselves Muslims agree with that evaluation and decry terrorism.

TV show host Bill Maher believes that it is “bulls**t” to think that Muslims share “American values” [3]; or at least “many” Muslims, including Muslims from Syria, don’t share those “American values” since they come from countries that practice Sharia and they themselves wish to follow Sharia. Of course everybody must understand that Sharia is absolutely incompatible with “American values”!

There are problems with this strongly held viewpoint of Mr. Maher, though. Although he apparently recognizes that not “all” Muslims have ‘un-American’ views, he still maintains a very monolithic view of “Sharia”. One would think from his statement that there is only one understanding of Sharia; and that the whole of this “Sharia” is unequivocally anti-American. That of course is pure silliness. Sharia is a large and complex system, covering all manner of different life-related subjects. Most of Sharia, from any viewpoint, is in fact quite consistent with “American” law and culture.

Of course, there are some aspects of some views of Sharia which conflict with “American” or “Western” ideas and laws; and there are “some” or even “many” Muslims who will share those views of Sharia which conflict with our ideas. What Bill Maher and those who share his outlook need to realize, though, is that a very important aspect of that Sharia which they so despise says that when a Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country, he must obey the laws of that country even if they conflict with Muslim law (Sharia)! He may truly believe that “Sharia” is the right and proper way of life; but if it is contrary to the laws of the country in which he resides, then he has no choice but to obey that country’s laws rather than “Sharia”. What’s un-American about that???

So let’s say that some Muslim immigrant to the USA believes that all “infidels” deserve to be killed. No matter how strongly he believes that absurd notion, he nevertheless is not allowed (even by Sharia) to follow through on that belief so long as he is living in the USA or some other country where freedom of religion is the law. If he takes it upon himself to kill non-Muslims, then he is not only in violation of the country’s laws, but also of the Sharia which he claims to love. Of course, even in Muslim countries the enactment of capital punishment is in the hands of the Government and its judicial system – not in the hands of individual citizens. Sharia does not allow for individuals to become ‘vigilantes’ and be “judge, jury, and executioner” of anyone they consider to be a ‘criminal’ or ‘heretic’ or ‘blasphemer’.

As I said, though, there are many different ‘understandings’ of Sharia, just as there are widely varying viewpoints among US citizens on the meaning of the Constitution. Supreme Court cases usually end in ‘split’ decisions. A majority of 5 or 6 of the Justices will come to one conclusion, while 3 or 4 of them reach an opposite conclusion. So in Islam, there are conflicting ideas about what Sharia teaches. There are some (or “many”) Muslims who believe that adulterers should be stoned to death and apostates should be killed. However, there are many others who strongly deny that such abhorrent ideas have any place in Islamic law. From my reading of the Qur’an, I have to agree with those who deny that those vicious practices are part of the “Islam” that Muhammad taught and practiced.

In an article entitled Challenging the ISIS and Islamophobe Narrative on Islam [4] Kashif N. Chaudhry shows that Islam is actually quite compatible with “American values” and does not need to be ‘reformed’ to achieve that compatibility. He is writing from an “Ahmadiyyan” Muslim viewpoint, but the views expressed in this article are precisely the same as taught by very many of the more ‘orthodox’ Muslims (Sunni and Shia). There is nothing distinctively “Ahmadiyyan” in the views in this article.

So please, let’s jump off this ridiculous anti-Islamic bandwagon. Islam and ‘Sharia’ as understood by very many Muslims is quite compatible with ‘American values’; and even those who do adhere to some abhorrent views of ‘Sharia’ still have to abide by U.S. law if they live here – ‘Sharia’ requires it.

[1] A very simple explanation of why it’s wrong to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism

{2} A letter to Prophet Muhammad

[3] Maher: Liberal Idea That Muslims Share American Values Is ‘Bulls**t

[4] Challenging the ISIS and Islamophobe Narrative on Islam

Posted by: mystic444 | October 22, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu: Holocaust Denier???

While it is very understandable that Palestinians would be outraged over Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that it was the Mufti of Jerusalem who put the idea of ‘burning’ the Jews into the head of Adolf Hitler, the outrage of many Jews is absurd and humorous.

Netanyahu has claimed that Hitler only intended to expel Jews from Germany, until the Mufti objected that if he did that the Jews would just immigrate to Palestine – which of course the Mufti did not want. So when Hitler asked what the Mufti would suggest instead, he replied “burn them”. Hitler, according to Netanyahu’s version, obviously thought that was a great idea and proceeded to issue the order for the extermination (rather than deportation) of the Jews. But some outspoken Jewish voices have exclaimed in horror that ‘Bibi’ has joined the “Holocaust” deniers by making that statement.

How is this in any way a denial of the “Holocaust” or any major part of the “Holocaust” story/myth? Netanyahu’s narrative affirms: (1) that large numbers of Jews (6,000,000) died in German “death camps”; (2) that most, if not all, of those deaths were deliberate murders – rather than being from disease (Typhus) and, particularly toward the end of the war, starvation resulting from “allied” bombing of German supply routes; (3) and that the order to ‘exterminate’ the Jews came from Hitler himself. These are the major contentions of the “Holocaust” myth. To say that someone else originally suggested the ‘extermination’ to Hitler does not deny any major tenet of the story.

Many Jews, though, cannot stomach even the suggestion that Hitler did not ‘originally’ intend to murder German Jews – he only intended to deport them. However, that is simply fact. In fact, the Zionists themselves had ‘collaborated’ with Hitler many years prior to his 1941 meeting with the Mufti, seeking to have German Jews deported to Palestine (“Israel”). These Zionists were well aware that Hitler’s “Final Solution” was deportation of the Jews, not their extermination; and they welcomed the idea. There is in fact good evidence that the Zionists had themselves instigated the “Jewish troubles” in Germany in order to provoke German hatred for Jews and desire to see them expelled from Germany. Hitler did indeed work out a deal with the Zionists to deport German Jews to Palestine.

The Mufti simply sought to dissuade Hitler from that deal (to deport Jews to Palestine). He essentially was saying: “if you want to deport Jews, for Allah’s sake please don’t send them here!” There is simply not one shred of evidence that the Mufti suggested extermination (‘burning’) as an alternative to deportation.

So Netanyahu is correct in saying that Hitler ‘originally’ only intended to deport Jews from Germany. Where he errs is in the assertion that Hitler ever deviated from that intention (whether or not someone else suggested the deviation to him). Hitler’s “Final Solution” was always deportation. It was called the “Final” solution because he felt that he couldn’t fully implement the plan until the war was ended. In the interim, the Jews (as well as non-Jewish communists, homosexuals, gypsies, etc.) were to be placed in labor camps (not “death camps”, contrary to popular myth).

The deaths in the camps were largely due to lice-spread Typhus. There was an epidemic of this disease in Europe at the time, and the Germans were in fact taking every precaution available to stop the epidemic and prevent deaths – yes, even in the labor camps. Even if there were no other reason, the German leaders did not want to be deprived of the labor of the detainees. The Zyklon-B gas alleged to have been used in murdering people in “gas chambers” was actually used to kill lice in clothing and bedding. The only actual “gas chambers” ever found in those labor camps were those delousing chambers – which were much too small to have ever been used to gas and kill humans. The human “gas chambers” are pure fiction. The Germans sought to preserve the lives of the detainees by gassing lice – not kill the detainees by gassing them.

Yes, many detainees did indeed die in the camps – but the deaths were due to the unfortunate ineffectiveness of the measures taken to prevent disease and death (such as the delousing “gas chambers”, shaving the hair off incoming detainees to get rid of any lice embedded in the hair, etc.). In addition, the intensive allied bombing of German supply routes toward the end of the war prevented supplies of food reaching the camps, and this resulted in starvation added to the Typhus (hence the extremely thin starved bodies seen in propaganda pictures). Hitler and his underlings, though, never deliberately sought the genocide of German Jews. Again, his “Final Solution” was deportation, not extermination.

Netanyahu has not denied any major tenet of the “Holocaust” myth; he rather affirms the whole thing. He merely shows his hatred of all things Palestinian by seeking to make a Palestinian Muslim man the originator of the idea for the alleged deliberate murder of Jews. Had it been true, it would not have taken away in the least from Hitler’s abhorrent willing implementation of the idea. However, none of it is true – except that Hitler ‘originally’ (and always) intended the deportation of Jews, not their extermination. The labor camps were the immediate/interim solution; deportation was the “final” solution. The Mufti simply did not want the Jews deported to Palestine.

Posted by: mystic444 | September 18, 2015

Did they think Ahmed had a bomb?

The following short article appeared in The Daily Kos on September 17 – entitled “They didn’t think he had a bomb”. It of course concerns the case of Ahmed Mohamed, the High School freshman in Irving, Texas (USA) who was suspended from school, and arrested by the police, for bring a CLOCK to school – which they supposedly thought was actually a bomb.

Great Post Sent to Me Today

I said: it’s sad they thought that kid had a bomb. 
She said: they didn’t think he had a bomb. 
I said: yes, they thought he made a bomb and even called the police. 
She said: They just wanted to humiliate a little Muslim boy. They didn’t think he had a bomb. 
I said: Don’t be a conspiracy theorist. They might be a little prejudiced, but I’m sure they thought he had a bomb. 
She said: OK. 
But they didn’t evacuate the school, like you do when there’s a bomb. 
They didn’t call a bomb squad – like you do when there’s a bomb. 
They didn’t get as far away from him as possible, like you do when there’s a bomb. 
Then they put him and the clock in an office: not like you do when there’s a bomb 
Then they waited with him for the police to arrive, and then they put the clock in the same car as the police. 
Then they took pictures of it. 

I said: Damn…..They never thought he had a bomb. 

EQUAL RIGHTS are HUMAN RIGHTS
The Irving PD, & the School Admin will be rightfully sued.
They can now pay Ahmed’s way to MIT.
Thanks.
“They never thought he had a bomb”

About two weeks ago, the Huffington Post published an article by a Christian pastor named Adam Phillips entitled The Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality. Why Does Franklin Graham Not Get This?. The character and quality of the arguments in this article are evident by the very first sentence: “The word “homosexuality” didn’t even show up in English translations of the Bible until 1946, so why do we say the Bible condemns it?”

That is such a ludicrous question, that it’s hard to believe that an intelligent and educated person could ask it. The absence of the word “homosexuality” makes no difference, when the thing which that word indicates is clearly expressed in clear words (both in the “Torah” and in the “New Testament”). The Bible is not condemning a word, but a thing. Leviticus 18:22 – You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them. Romans 1:26 and 27 – For this reason [that they “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator”] God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

Using the same argumentation, one could claim that the Bible does not condemn “bestiality” because that word does not even occur in the Bible. Yet Leviticus 18:23 says And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it, neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it; it is perversion. The word itself is absent, but the ‘thing’ is present and condemned.

Adam Phillips does in fact realize that condemnation of the ‘thing’ itself may be present even if it is not mentioned by ‘name’; so he devotes a good portion of the argument seeking to explain how such explicit statements of condemnation for homosexuality do not really mean what they ‘seem’ to say. In reality, he simply asserts that those verses “have nothing to do with homosexuality” without dealing with the actual wording of the statements.

For instance, concerning the verses in Leviticus, he approvingly quotes someone else as saying: “This is not a verse about homosexual love, or being gay. This command is there with all kinds of connotations of adultery, promiscuity, and idol worship from the surrounding nations.” So because there are prohibitions of other things also within the contexts of the Leviticus verses, we can somehow pretend that a man lying with another man as with a woman has nothing to do with homosexual sex??? What kind of reasoning is that?

The Leviticus passages claim to be forbidding the “Israelites” to do certain things which the nations around them do; and homosexual sex is one of those things (as well as sex with animals, heterosexual adultery, sex with a woman while she is in her menstrual period, and idolatry). The very act of homosexual sex is itself forbidden; it simply doesn’t matter whether the homosexual couple claims to desire to have a ‘committed, loving’ relationship. When the act of sex itself is forbidden, the continuing ‘committed’ relationship is also obviously forbidden.

The Torah (Leviticus) only forbids male homosexuality, though; for whatever reason female homosexuality is not mentioned (although females having sex with animals is forbidden). I have been told that the Talmud runs with that and maintains that female homosexuality is perfectly legitimate, because only male homosexuality is specifically forbidden. The Christian ‘apostle’ Paul corrected that oversight in Romans 1, though, where he castigated both male and female ‘unnatural’ acts of homosexuality.

The problem is not that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality – it most certainly does. The problem is a dishonest and lying “Christian” who doesn’t want to accept and obey the Biblical prohibitions, but still wants to convince himself that he is being ‘serious’ about the Bible and accepts its supposed ‘authority’. He agrees with the prohibition against sex with animals, so he feels no need to explain away that prohibition. But he doesn’t agree with the Biblical statements about homosexual sex, so he performs amazing acts of mental contortion to deny that those statements mean what they plainly say. Really, for him the simple assertion that “this has nothing to do with homosexuality” is sufficient; and he can’t understand why other people can’t see that.

The second sentence of Mr. Phillips’ article says this: “Billy Graham’s son is terrified that President Obama and a whole host of us have chucked out our Bibles in order to support marriage equality.” Well, in practice that is precisely what such “Christians” have done (“chucked out our Bibles”); and they ought to have the courage to openly acknowledge the fact instead of trying to hide in dishonesty. Adam and other “Christians” of like mind openly proclaim that they feel no need to practice certain other ‘Biblical’ requirements (thus ‘chucking out their Bibles’ in regard to those ‘laws’); why can’t they just say “yes the Bible does say that homosexuality is a major sin, and worthy of capital punishment; but we don’t give a hoot what the Bible says about it. We consider that ‘outdated’ at best.”

They certainly do this with other things. For instance, in the section dealing with the Leviticus prohibitions, the final paragraph (apparently still approvingly quoting someone else) says: “And if we want to get all Levitical about it, the same laws dictate that shellfish cannot be eaten (there goes Boston clam chowder and Willapa Bay oysters), mixed fabric garments cannot be worn (I guess I need to burn my Portland Timbers jersey), and sex with animals is strictly forbidden (yep, I totally agree).”

There are very few “Christians” today who accept Jesus’ strict teachings about divorce – that divorce is absolutely sinful except in the case of ‘fornication’. Those who divorce, and those who marry divorced people, are guilty of the heinous sin of ‘adultery’.

The Roman Catholic Church, I believe, still pretends to take a strong stance against divorce; but with casuistry worthy of the Jewish Talmudists, they get around it by ‘annulment’ of marriages. Instead of granting a ‘divorce’ to married couples, they just declare that the marriage was invalid from the beginning. Logically, of course, this annulment means that the couple was living in ‘fornication’ during their ‘invalid’ marriage, and any children they have are ‘bastards’. I’m sure they have some ingenious way to avoid that logical conclusion, however.

I’m not going to get into the other passages which Mr. Phillips explains away. The passages produced in Leviticus and Romans are so clear that it doesn’t matter whether the Biblical myth of Lot in Sodom is actually dealing primarily with homosexuality; or whether a couple of Greek words in the New Testament actually refer to homosexuality. While I don’t buy Adam’s explanations, I’ll let him go with them for the sake of the argument. As I said, the other passages are so clear as to not leave any doubt that the Bible explicitly condemns male/male and female/female sex, even though it doesn’t use the word ‘homosexual’ or ‘homosexuality’.

The point of my article is not to defend Biblical injunctions; I hope that is obvious. As I said in my last article: “For an ‘infidel’ such as me, though – who believes that the Bible is at best the teachings of men, and in fact much of it is more worthy of being labeled “doctrines of demons” than “the word of God” – the fact that the Bible teaches something is not at all a favorable recommendation for that teaching.” My point is that one needs to be honest with him/herself and others. Don’t be dishonest about what the Bible teaches in order to defend your own position; acknowledge what the Bible says, and have the courage to say you simply don’t care what it teaches (like I do). Why should anyone accept something just because some Jewish or Christian writers fraudulently put forward their beliefs as being “the Word of God”? We ought to just laugh at their presumption and would-be tyranny, and go on our way.

Posted by: mystic444 | July 2, 2015

Poor arguments for and against homosexual marriage

Debate over the issues of “gay” rights and “gay” marriage have been going on for some time; but since the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling making homosexual marriage legal in all States, my Yahoo News pages have been overflowing with articles both vilifying and celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision. Some of the arguments (both pro and con), however, have been extremely poor. Although perhaps you’re (justifiably) tired of reading rants on the issue, I would still like to look at a few of those poor arguments.

First, though, let me try to briefly give my own thoughts on the issue. Back in the late 1980s when I abandoned “Biblical Christianity”, I abandoned much of “Biblical” morality almost as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. Biblical views on homosexuality were among those things I abandoned. However, regarding homosexuality at least, my beliefs were in fact rather conflicted. Intellectually, I fully embraced the “gay rights” movement; but emotionally (or ‘in my gut’) I remained repulsed by the very thought of homosexual relationships. Nevertheless I sought to subdue my emotional abhorrence, and publicly denounced ‘homophobia’.

In 2010, when I began investigating Islam to see if it really was as horrible as so many people were saying, I was so overwhelmed by how totally opposite the teachings of the Qur’an were compared to the accusations that it is a hate-filled book calling for the murder of everyone who doesn’t embrace Islam, that I began to ‘fall in love’ with the Qur’an; and consequently I also allowed myself to fall under the influence of the anti-homosexuality statements in the Qur’an. I again succumbed to my emotional (or ‘gut’) feelings; hence my “I Agree With Phil” article of Dec. 21, 2013.

Recently I have once again begun to rethink this issue, and have regained my ‘conflicted’ state.🙄 I still have that automatic feeling of disgust and revulsion when I see pictures of two men or two women ‘lip-locked’; but intellectually I see flaws in the arguments I had against homosexuality and ‘gay’ marriage.

Now I’ll examine some of those faulty arguments that I’ve been reading in the news. From the side of those celebrating the Supreme Court decision, there are those who seek to show that homosexual rights and homosexual marriage are perfectly consistent with Christianity and the Bible. Some say that the Bible never condemns homosexual marriage – to which I respond, “well, Duh!” When the Bible condemns homosexuality itself, and says that those who practice homosexual acts should be killed, why would you imagine that it would be necessary to specifically condemn homosexual marriage??? Can you imagine someone saying that although pedophilia is a major crime, if the law does not specifically forbid pedophiles to marry the children they ‘love’ it mean that adults marrying young children must be acceptable, and we must open ourselves up to ‘love’? What nonsense! The Bible (both ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Testaments) considers homosexuality to be a major ‘sin’, worthy of death; so the Bible obviously is not compatible with homosexual marriage!

In An Open Letter to Franklin Graham Paula Garrett castigates Franklin Graham for saying that the Bible is clear about homosexuality and homosexual marriage. She says that although a few passages here and there can be cherry picked which indicate that marriage is between a male and a female, there are other passages in the Bible that have other views of marriage. The Bible allows for polygamy, concubines, and even the forced marriage of a rapist to his victim. The obvious problem with this argument is that all of those instances involve heterosexual relationships. There is simply not one hint in the Bible of an openness to homosexual relationships (including marriage). Although I have little to no respect for Franklin Graham, he is most certainly right that the Bible is quite clear as to its view of homosexuality.

If Paula Garrett had been arguing that the Bible is unclear with regard to the “Church” doctrine that marriage is between one man and one woman, she would of course have been correct – and quite justified in bringing up the many passages about polygamy and concubines. But when the argument is concerning heterosexuality versus homosexuality, the Bible is quite clear about its position.

The question then is whether or not the Bible is right in its position. But for a “Bible believing Christian” such as Franklin Graham, who believes that the Bible is infallibly inspired by God, this is not even debatable. Of course the Bible is right, and homosexuality is a great evil. Repent and be converted, you vile homosexuals, lest you be consumed by the fire of God’s judgment!😆 For an ‘infidel’ such as me, though – who believes that the Bible is at best the teachings of men, and in fact much of it is more worthy of being labeled “doctrines of demons” than “the word of God” – the fact that the Bible teaches something is not at all a favorable recommendation for that teaching.:smile:

Now I’ll refer to unsound arguments from the anti-‘gay’ marriage side. In an article in “National Review” Dennis Prager argues that the Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual marriage has completed the undermining of the USA as the ‘Founding Fathers’ envisioned it. He maintains the fallacious viewpoint that the USA was founded specifically on “Judeo-Christian” principles of morality and law, as contained in the holy book of “Judeo-Christianity”: the Bible. And of course, the Biblical (“Judeo-Christian”) view on marriage is unquestionably heterosexual, as mentioned in previous paragraphs.

Of course, this view of the “Judeo-Christian” and Biblical foundation of the USA, as envisioned by its “Founding Fathers”, is simply a falsehood. The “Founding Fathers” themselves were quite explicit about this. In the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli of Barbary (ratified in 1797, only approximately 10 years after the ratification of the US Constitution), Congress unanimously agreed in article 11 of the Treaty: As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, [Muslims]-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan [Muhammadan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. That is why the Constitution states emphatically that Congress can’t make any law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. And that is why the Constitution insists that there may not be any religious tests for prospective members of Congress or any public position.

Christianity is simply not the foundation of our nation (nor is any other religion). The Government was clearly intended to be ‘secular’, with religion and morals left up to the individual citizens and their churches. [For more complete discussion of this subject, see Are the United States a Christian Nation? and More Falsehoods From Franklin Graham.]

Mr. Prager then argues that the “Fathers” sought to base the laws and morals of the USA on the Bible because they realized that otherwise everything would be purely subjective. We would be left to what we ‘feel in our hearts’, rather than having objective ‘truth’ as a foundation. However the most famous of those “Fathers” – such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine – in fact realized that the Bible was so full of errors and contradictions that it could not possibly serve as an authoritative source of ‘objective truth’. On the contrary, the only ‘infallible word of God’ available to men is written not in a book, but in “Nature”. “Nature” speaks to men of every language all over the world. This is why the Declaration of Independence stated that true Government is founded on the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God – not the Bible and the Bible’s God.

This means that the “Fathers” believed that laws and morals are not just derived from what we feel in our “hearts”, but also (and perhaps more so) from reason and logic as applied to what can be observed in nature. Intuitive feelings are not to be overlooked or derided; but reason and nature are at least as important.

But this appeal to nature and reason might seem to in fact be the strongest argument against homosexuality. Isn’t heterosexuality ‘writ large’ in ‘nature’s book’? Isn’t it ‘obvious’ in nature itself that sexual relationships and marriage are intended to be between male and female – not male and male or female and female? This is the argument that I have used; and in point of fact it was no doubt just as clear an argument to Jefferson, Madison, and Paine.

This is an argument that Mike Huckabee used in his repudiation of the Supreme Court decision. Laws of nature – such as the law of Gravity – cannot be annulled by a fiat of Supreme Court Justices; and he feels that heterosexual marriage is as much a law of nature as the law of Gravity.

The problem with such an argument is, first of all, that laws of nature are not necessarily absolute. It is true that we can’t annul the law of Gravity (or haven’t been able to so far at least); but we can counterbalance it by exerting a force greater than Gravity’s force. That’s how we’re able to get airplanes and spaceships to fly. Even jumping up in the air illustrates a very temporary overcoming of Gravity’s force. The ability of birds to fly shows even in nature (without the addition of human technology) that one law of nature can be counterbalanced by another law of nature.

So while I don’t believe there is any ‘natural’ way to reproduce apart from ‘normal’ male/female sexual activity, we have discovered ways to impregnate a female without sexual intercourse with a male (in vitro fertilization, I believe it is called). Two males can get a female to agree to bear a child for them; and two females can get a male to provide sperm without actual sexual intercourse. Of course, there is always adoption also (though of course the adopted child could not have been born without a male and a female contributing).

As a matter of fact, though, there is nothing in nature to dictate that sexual activity must be limited to the ‘normal’ male/female relationship. Instances of homosexuality have long been observed in nature; and like it or not, homosexuality has existed ‘naturally’ among humans also throughout recorded human history. It may not be the ‘usual’ or ‘normal’ natural order, but it is nevertheless a real part of that order. Homosexuality can’t produce offspring; but who will be so foolish as to say that the production of offspring is the only reason for sexual activity? It is a reason, but certainly not “the” reason.

In fact, marriage itself is not a ‘law of nature’; it is simply a human arrangement (despite religious myths that declare that ‘God’ decreed the marriage contract and granted his priests – and government agents – the authority to supervise the making of such contracts). And human arrangements are subject to change. So I suppose that it’s perfectly legitimate for modern society to ‘redefine’ marriage to include homosexual unions. I still have my automatic ‘gut’ reactions to the concept of homosexuality and the sight of two males or two females kissing, etc.; but I have to submit to my intellect and reason telling me that it really is acceptable –and such arguments as given by Paula Garrett and Dennis Prager are decidedly poor ones.

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