Suffer The Witch - Part I
Suffer The Witch - Part II
The Athesit Pupil
Ironically enough, I had the same student in class this quarter. On Monday, October 6, 2008 , after class, I had a 45-minute conversation with two of my 'self-proclaiming Atheist' students. One of them, of course, was the same student that you've been reading about. To my recollection, I made mention after class of being finished reading the David Mills book he had given me. I was commenting how "tired" his arguments were.
Some how, some way we got back on the subject of witches! (who knows) The student was telling me about how Christians, even today, are killing witches. I told him to send me the info on that, because that's obviously not Christian, but crazy! Well, he did send me an EMail with a link to the article. I will begin by posting the ATHEIST EMail to me followed by my RESPONSE:
Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 11:48 AM
Here's that article on the witch hunts in Africa I mentioned.
Here's an excerpt
"Although old tribal beliefs in witch doctors are not so deeply buried in people's memories, and although there had been indigenous Christians in Nigeria since the 19th century, it is American and Scottish Pentecostal and evangelical missionaries of the past 50 years who have shaped these fanatical beliefs. Evil spirits, satanic possessions and miracles can be found aplenty in the Bible, references to killing witches turn up in Exodus, Deuteronomy and Galatians, and literal interpretation of scriptures is a popular crowd-pleaser."
I also found a blog dedicated to this situation
The discussion last night was fun.
Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 9:32 PM
I read the article and it's about the saddest, yet silliest thing, I've seen. I didn't really understand the blog site. It had one picture and various other articles and different subjects.
As we've discussed before, you can have various groups of people misuse or misrepresent Christianity. This kooky practice is obviously the exception and not the rule. This is a very "watery" straw man set up to attack the Biblical literalism.
Unless you read the Bible with the ability to understand things from somebody else's point of view, and to appreciate the cultural and social forces that may have influenced their outlook you will end up with a wrong understanding. You must apply this understanding to interpreting the meaning of written texts and symbolic artifacts (such as art or sculpture or architecture), which may be either historic or contemporary.
What if some whacked out member of American Atheists was off in some country killing Christians and someone said, "Um, yeah, Atheists are Christian killers! Here's an article to prove it." You would protest because you are being lumped in to the group. Again, you don't find anyone but fringe, crazy groups running around killing supposed witches.
I'm not sure about the fascination with witches....
"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. " - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2
"What we have to fight for is the necessary security for the existence and increase of our race and people, the subsistence of its children and the maintenance of our racial stock unmixed, the freedom and independence of the Fatherland; so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 8
Something else to "chew" on...
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 11:11 AM
I totally agree about groups misuse or misrepresent Christianity as well as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism etc. My point is that the bible doesn't give you a good sense of right or wrong. It gives you a confused sense of morality. Can a lie be wrong in all cases? When the family that help hide Anne Frank's family lied to the nazis was it really a sin against god? Or when Ray comfort lies his way into a national debate about proving the existence of god using scientific evidence and not using the bible, should he be stoned to death?...That kind of hypocrisy is what gives Christians a bad name. There will always be unscrupulous people that take advantage of a group in order to gain wealth and power. That's exactly what's going in Nigeria...Most of those church leaders are crooks, but there will also be some that genuinely believe what they are doing is right...and they have biblical text to back it up. When you are convinced there is a god then you will be prone to magical thinking.
The only problem is that this is no different than any other religion. If I don't read the Koran, the Hindu Vedas, or the Tao-te-Ching with the ability to understand things from somebody else's point of view....yada, yada, yada...then I won't understand them either. This could even be said to people who have read Origin of Species.
This already happened...except it wasn't an article...it was a documentary. It's basic theme was "Um, yeah, Atheists are Jew killers! Here's a documentary to prove it." Then you are led down a path connecting the dots between atheism, evolution, and the holocaust. All of which are non sequiturs.
It's not limited to witches...the common theme of my interests is magical thinking. This includes demon possesion, prophecy, telepathy, prayer, alternative medicine, and psychics among many others. When you believe in magic of any sort you become susceptible to magical thinking.
Thought that video was good...I like all the irreducibly complex examples. Once you start to understand evolution, these become fun little brain teasers. If you watch the video below you can see how it's done. If you watch the video's back to back then it's like Penn and Teller showing you a trick then showing you how it's done.
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 1:52 PM
Anne Frank's family being hidden from the Nazi's by lying is not a Biblical type of lying, but rather discretion. The Bible shows various scenarios of descretion vs outright lying. "Hey, John, what do you think of my new hat?" "It's okay, look fine." (Although I may not really like it at all) versus...."Hey, honey, how much money did you spend at the 'boat' last night?" "Oh, um, $50." (Although $75 was really spent.) There is a difference and most people outright lie so much every day that we don't have to worry about distinctions too much. They would be guilty. Guilty as sin.
I do not look to the Bible, per se, for my morality. As I've said before, each person knows right from wrong regardless of their environment. Imagine a man who was isolated on an island with no influence from anyone. He is "rescued" and comes back to the U.S. He goes "out on the town", gets drunk, rapes a woman and murders her. First, his conscious would bear witness that what he was doing wrong. Second, once caught, he could attempt to say that he didn't know any better because he was raised on an island without any influence and thought that it was "okay" to do such things. Will a good judge let him go because of his supposed ignorance? Of course not! Many people wanting to hide behind the fig leaves of their excuses will probably attempt to say the same things to God when they stand before Him. It won't work with our court system and it definitely won't work with His.
The conscious is a VERY powerful thing.
~Ray Comfort vs. Rapid Response Squad~
Ray's whole intent was to get the Gospel out on National television. Mission accomplished. The word "science" means "knowledge". Going down the scientific path, one can conclude painting..painter, building...builder, creation/design...Creator/Designer. All of creation testifies to the existence of God. Most Atheists don't care for Ray Comfort because he exposes Evolution as a lie and presents the Gospel while he's doing it.
~What About Other Religions~
Why is Christianity different from other "religions" and the only way? Good question! Find out here.
~Bombadier Beetle RebuttalVideo~
Again, you have GOT to be kidding me! I had already watched the video and thought (it was fleeting) that you may even send it as a rebuttal. However, I thought, Chad would never send me that video because:
- The guy readily admits in all caps...my HYPOTHESIS (he's just guessing and with his 3.5lbs of gray matter).
- It looks like a 3rd grader got a hold of MS Paint and dropped it into some free video software.
- It doesn't explain anything and frankly just doesn't make any sense.
- The feeble explanation he does provide is so far reaching he might as well say that the bug "evolved" a mini .50 cal on it's butt, turns its excrement into bullets and expels them with it's own "gas" (Hey, maybe I, too, should make a video!).
- EVERYTHING he says is using "could have" "possibly" "might have" lingo.
If I was an Atheist, I would campaign to have the video removed because it's an embarrassment to "the cause".
- Scientists have already (heavily) studied the Bombadier Beetle and are stumped.
THIS, not Christianity and the Bible, is an example of "magical" beliefs. Most people are willing to believe anything...as long as it's not in the Bible.
Something else to "peck" on...
Are You A 'Good' Person? If you think so, by what standard are you measuring your goodness?
I agree...there is a world of variation in lying...the scale is grey. Speaking for myself, I use a system to decide whether lying would be right or wrong in a situation. The size of lie, the purpose for the lie, the amount of damage done by the lie, or even the amount of good that can be caused by the lie. I'll also compare the situation to any similar memories I have for more experiential knowledge. My brain will do this so fast and at a subconscious level that I won't even be aware that it took place...that is unless there is a conflict in my mind about whether it is right or wrong. If a conflict arises then I'll have to play with the situation in my head to try and make a decision. At this point I might even seek some insight from some other people. More comparison data about this situation might make it an easier decision. Most lies I can judge before I even know it but the difficult one's take time. This lets you know the scale is grey. An absolute commandment like 'thou shall not bare false witness' wouldn't need any time to think it over. You would know immediately what to do and would never need to think about it. It also leaves no wiggle room at all for lying.
This is a head scratcher for me...maybe I'm naive, but this thought has never gone through my mind before. It strikes me as paranoia but I'm not sure. I'll ask around and see if I'm the in the minority. If I don't find very many other people that think most people tell outright lies on a daily basis then I might start worrying about ya.
Yeah...I'm betting you get your morality from the same place I do...the brain. Knowledge of right or wrong comes from many places including your environment. The variation it has in what is appropriate from culture to culture and generation to generation makes this apparent.
Your analogy reminds me of the Adam and Eve problem. Let me know if I get any part of this story wrong. God makes Adam and Eve. He tells them not to eat of the tree of knowledge. At this point they were innocent and knew nothing about right and wrong. Eve meets the snake and it gives her a different set of instructions. She decides to take the snakes advice and eat the fruit. Then Adam and Eve are punished by God for disobeying. The problem is Eve has no “baseline” to make her decision. She couldn’t know disobeying God would be wrong since she hadn’t eaten the fruit yet. The whole Judeo-Christian-Muslim creation story is built around making us feel guilty about a decision that couldn’t be made with any knowledge of right or wrong. This is essentially a choice that Eve had to make blind.
Now there doesn’t seem to be enough detail in your analogy to know if this guy started life on the island or was stranded there from an earlier age. Let me see if I can address each situation
- He’s a wild man, grown up isolated on an island. He’s rescued. If during his time in the US he escapes, get’s drunk, and rapes someone then his Guardians would be responsible. They could even be prosecuted for negligence.
- He was stranded sometime in his childhood. If he was stranded before the age of reason (before around 6 or 7) then the same rules will probably apply from ex. 1. If it’s after that then his punishment would be decided on the basis of how much experience he had with culture and his ability to make rational decisions.
Your argument seems to be based around the idea of absolute morality. The problem is that with absolute morality slavery is still okay. It was never abolished in the bible; in fact parts of the bible could be read as a slave owner’s manual. If slavery use to be right but now it’s wrong then your morals are relative. If morals are relative, and God can change them at will then your morals are nothing more than a cosmic “Simon Says” game.
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)
And he broke a commandment to do it. It was seen as hypocritical and dishonest by anyone who wasn't already on Ray and Kirk's side. The coke can, painting, and building analogies fall short because they don't replicate. You need replication with variation and natural selection in order to gain complexity. The only example Ray has used that does replicate is the banana...and we know how that turned out for him. Most atheists don't care for Ray because he is dishonest. If you want to know what "Most atheist" think about Ray you should read some blogposts at https://owa07.sullivan.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=3b3db5145c1741749cde7c4913c79529&URL=http%3a%2f%2fraytractors.blogspot.com%2f ...You'll find NSFW language here and there but overall it's not too bad. Here's a good one about the dishonesty behind the WOTM episode on evolution. http://raytractors.blogspot.com/2008/08/debunking-evilution.html
- Yeah...notice the big caps...This guy isn't trying to pull anything over on you (I wonder how big Einsteins brain was when he developed the original Hypothesis of Relativity)
- Yeah, and E=MC2 doesn't work when you write it in ketchup on a napkin
- I didn’t seem to have a problem with it.
- EVERYTHING he says is using "could have" "possibly" "might have" lingo.
This IS the way you describe a hypothysis. This argument really makes me think you don’t understand science at all.
- Have you been campaigning to get the banana or peanut butter argument removed from youtube?
- How do you know the scientists are stumped at this? There are tons of things we don’t know about regarding how things evolved but we have yet to find something that doesn’t have a logical explanation. The challenge of irreducible complexity is that a system couldn’t have formed naturally. If a natural means can be explained regardless of whether it is true then it’s not irreducible complex. This would be like you and I watching David Copperfield make something disappear. If you couldn’t figure out how he did it you might think he really has magical powers. If I could figure out a way he could have done it without magical powers then we know it can be done without magic. This certainly doesn’t mean that it wasn’t done with magic. It simply means your initially hypothesis that it can’t happen by trickery and must be magic is false.
There’s more detail at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/bombardier.html
Also, I was thinking about the chariots at the bottom of the Red Sea and did some research on it. Answers in Genesis has an article debunking all the claims of that guy. It’s sounds like he had an “Indiana Jones” complex.
Just in case you didn’t get a chance to see it yet…check out this trailer for the new Battlefield: Heroes
...And [Other Student] wanted to be in on the conversation so I CC'd him.
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 5:44 PM
I'm sorry that I have not responded to your EMail. I have been super-busy and will respond soon. I also want to re-iterate that really enjoy the dialogue, respect you and your thoughts and look forward to more soon!
Also, I am considering placing the conversation on my blog if that's okay with you. Let me know what you think.
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 8:37 PM
yeah...that's okay with me.
Well, there you have it. I am posting this on the blog so more people can read it and freely comment.