“The Bible says not to kill yet many Christians support the death penalty”, CARM defends this view.

In this I article I would like to address a post that was created on CARM.ORG. CARM is the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, an organization devoted to the defense of the Christian gospel and ideologies. The post I’d like to address is a CARM writer’s response to an email written concerning Christians and their support of the death penalty. The email reads:

” The Bible says it is forbidden to kill, yet many Christians in America support the death penalty and order wars and bombs which kill tens of thousands, yet this is somehow rationalized and an excuse is made as to how this does not violate Christianity, when it plainly does.”

This is a very serious statement and is quite hard to address when dealing with the “turn the other cheek” principle and forgiveness that Jesus taught. Is it Biblically moral for a Christian (a New Testament following Christian) to believe that the killing of a person who has committed a crime, is just?

The response to this email is blurred by word play, but in the end the conclusion is:

“Furthermore, murder is the unlawful taking of life. Killing is the lawful taking of life. Therefore, in the issue of taking life we must determine whether or not is lawful or not. If a murderer is sentenced to death in a lawful manner via the law of the land, then it is not murder.”

With this conclusion one can see immediate problems, starting with the assumption that there is a lawful and unlawful taking of life. This is then followed up by saying that the lawfulness of taking a life is determined by the ‘law of the land’, thus immediately raising the question “Does this in turn justify Sha’ria law also?”

Not only does the statement made by the writer of this article, produced by CARM.org, suggest that the taking of life can be lawful, it also condones revenge.

“[…]God gives us the right of self-defense and sometimes in that self-defense, it is necessary to kill someone.”

Self-defense would be prohibiting something harmful from happening in the first place. Revenge is making a harmful action after the initial wrong has been done. And of these two categories, the death penalty would fall under the latter.

To follow a Christian principle of forgiveness, murder cannot be justified, but if one feels so inclined to quote an obscure Old Testament verse that condones war or violence or murder, and rape for that matter, then remember this, using a holy scripture to justify your actions can go both ways. Any person who thinks it is lawful to take your life can be justified by scripture also.

Murder and Killing are two terms for the same act, taking ones life. Does either term seem less violent? No, Killing is Murder, Murder is Killing, they are one in the same. However, it is no surprise that Christian Fundamentalists do not share this view.

Thoughts on Ignorance

Emma Goldman onces said, “The most violent element of society is ignorance.” And I could not agree more fully. Massacres, genocides, and ethnic cleansing, among many other atrocities, have all sprung from the simple term ignorance, often accompanied by greed. There is another side of ignorance that is important to address also. The fact is, ignorance has created multiple extremely conceited, dumb and arrogant generations, and it is this point that I would like to address.

Over time people become ignorant of what is actually important because distractions are continually created, and eventually consume whole civilizations. Between the glorification of public figures, excessive amounts of shallow entertainment, and activities that require no mental activity, people have become more and more detached from any kind of search for knowledge and understanding. When one combines what is mentioned above with consumerism, a dangerous cocktail is created, which can be described by many different terms, escapism being one of them.

Escapism has almost become synonymous with our generation. When one observes society today they may notice that Aldous Huxley’s predictions of future societies was almost dead on. Now, one would think that at this time in history we would be making an exorbitant amount of progress considering we now have the greatest database of information and shared thought that man has ever seen. This database is what we call the internet. However, the majority of our population settles for minimum requirements being made and are no longer interested in learning.

Yet, if one has stopped seeking understanding, truth and knowledge they become a static being and ignorance rules their thought. Being enslaved by ignorance confines a person to only one corner of their overall existence. To be set free one must seek those exact objects which they have chosen to ignore.

Not only do we have the most massive database of information and shared thought that we have ever known, but we also have more books than ever have been available to any civilization, and they are all essentially at the tips of our fingers. But of course this is completely ignored by the majority of our population.

Imagine if every person had an inclination to seek knowledge, we would be far beyond where we are now. Many people who could help make a significant difference in the progress of man, have become absorbed in things that deter them from ever reaching their full potential, and this is one of the most important things to abolish in the world. With the abolishment of the trait of ignorance many other things will fall with it. Prejudices, delusion and minuscule differences could be done away with if people began to try to understand their fellowman, and began to examine the world through a critical eye.

We are at an important point in history that needs to be handled with extreme care, every person can make a difference, and by abandoning outdated ideologies, prejudices and any other obsolete things that divide us from each other we can make serious progress.

“Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.”
-Dalai Lama

Conflicting Moral Codes, and What to Do About Them (via Huisjen’s Philosophy Blog)

An important insight into the conflicting moral codes between religions and different groups of people in general. The thoughts presented in this essay should not be ignored, through ideas like these bigotry could one day be abolished, but due to the massive amount of hotheaded fundamentalists from so many different belief systems, cultures and countries, it will be quite a while still.

One of the most difficult questions of philosophy is deciding on a moral code to adhere to. One of the most difficult questions after that is how to relate to the moral codes of others, particularly when they go against the code you’ve taken as your own. These are questions concerning which one libraries’ worth of speculation and contemplation have been written, with no final consensus, so it would be the height of hubris to assume that I might p … Read More

via Huisjen’s Philosophy Blog

If Judgement Day Actually Happens…

(One of my favorite online past-times is stumbling. Now, for those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, go to stumbleupon.com as soon as you are done reading this post and make an account and you will surely be addicted to this amazing site in no time. I will not take the time to describe what exactly it does in-depth in this post but its quite easy to understand simply by experiencing it. Amazingly I manage to digress before I even start to speak of my topic, this simply proves my professionalism. Obviously.)

This post was something that piqued my interest a while back on the internet and ironically I ended up stumblingupon it today and it completely reminded me of how great a short story this is. (If you would even call it a short story)

Essentially this story is what an atheist would say to God in the case that Judgement Day were to actually happen, as many people believe, will one day come to pass. One must note that this story is in response to the age-old question: “What if your wrong?”. Which is often presented by a believer of a religion, when they are debating religion’s authenticity and they no longer have any defenses left. I found this to be an accurate judgement of what one, when logically thought out, would say.

The original post is here, however the full story is below. Enjoy.

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But What If Your Wrong

“But what if you’re wrong?” So goes the common questions posed to atheists by Christians. Putting aside for a moment the obvious retort (what if they are wrong and another religion is right?) I decided to really organize my thoughts a bit. What would I say if I was wrong, the Christians were right, and a moment after dying I found myself before the blinding majesty of Yahweh with Christ at his right hand?

Oh. Oh dear. I see. Well, I guess this is about as close to incontrovertible evidence for your existence as I could have ever demanded.  Actually, as a good skeptic I pray you won’t get offended if I entertain the possibility that I’m experiencing a hypoxia-induced hallucination.  But, I’ll just go along with this for now.

I’m not going to kneel or anything if you don’t mind.  That would kind of be shutting the barn door after the cows have run out, don’t you think?  Besides: by your will, I was thrust into life in a very undignified manner and state, so the least you could do would be to let me leave it in better circumstances.  And really, that would be the very, very least you could do.  You know, now that the initial shock of being dead is starting to wear off, I find myself getting angry.  I’m trying to restrain it, but this whole situation is… absurd.  According to most accounts, this is the part where you judge me.  Who the hell are you to be a moral judge?  You’re a sadistic, genocidal sex-obsessed tyrant.  All my life, I laughed off those Christians who accused me of “hating God”.  Like I told them, it wasn’t that I hated you; I just genuinely didn’t think you existed.  But I did hate the idea of you.  I didn’t see evidence to believe in any gods, but you in particular seemed like a logical contradiction.  I was glad that the Bible was a work of-seeming-fiction because the belief that all of the most terrible things in the world were, at the worst, designed by or, at the best, permitted by an all-powerful conscious being was too horrible to not hate.  It’s oddly refreshing to find that all this time I was outraged at something more tangible.

Or is this the part where your grand plan is revealed, your “mysterious ways” made clear? Will you say the magic words and suddenly I’ll understand how a child being raped, murdered, and left in a ditch fits in with you infinite benevolence?  Will starvation and disease make sense? Because you know, I don’t think I want them to make sense.  If that’s part of your omniscient knowledge, then I don’t want that part. I guess its fitting:  humanity’s first act of defiance was to want knowledge to be more like you.  Then let my last act of defiance be choosing ignorance so that I can be as unlike you as possible.

This is all perfectly futile.  You know me better than anyone.  You know my mind. You know how I thought. You know – and had the power over- all the circumstances in my life that meant you very existence seemed impossible to me.  After all, you “knit me together in my mother’s womb,” didn’t you?  So am I just a casualty of free will, then?  You wanted worship from people who could choose to worship you and, to satisfy your ego, decided it was a fair price to create people whom you knewwouldn’t choose you and would face eternal torture for it.  You know, even if almost everything had been perfect, a world free from pain and death where everyone would freely choose to spend an eternity with you – except for one person, and yet you made him anyways… then you would still be infinitely more evil than all the worst of humanity combined.  You’re going to judge me? On behalf of all that’s good and decent in your creation, I judge you. I may have been a willful child, but you were a terrible father.

I can’t say I’m really inclined to beg for my soul now, given what I said about you knowing me perfectly.  Even so, supposing mercy’s still an option (and that last rant didn’t kill my chances), I guess it’s worth a shot.  I can’t pretend I have any love for you, but no principle is worth being damned over if it can be helped.  What shall I say in my defense?

I tried to be good without you.  You told your followers to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and visit the sick.  I did those things, not because you told me to or because I thought I was “storing up treasure in heaven”.  I did them for their own sake, for the sake of my neighbors.  When I saw suffering, I tried to help instead of saying a quick prayer to you and believing I’d done something.  And when I didn’t help and suffering continued, I held myself responsible instead of concluding it was just your divine will.

And I was content with one life- in fact, despite how terrible life could be, I was usually quite grateful to have one.  I didn’t demand more.  I was content to create my own meaning in the meaningless chaos, to find love in all the pain, to find the beautiful simplicity in the apparent complexity.  And I have to say, you may have failed basic ethics but you sure had a deft hand when it came to creating the cosmos – not least because you did it in such a way as to make yourself seem irrelevant.  The splendor of the night sky, the incredible diversity of life, everything.  Quantum mechanics? That was crazy, I loved it!  And relativity?  You were on a roll that day, really.  I saw nearly all of your creation for what it was:  wonderful.  I didn’t look at an exquisitely intricate world and call it fallen.  I didn’t look at a newborn baby and call it sinful.  I didn’t look at my seemingly finite life and call it inadequate.

So you created us because you desired companionship and love?  Well then, you needed me.  But I didn’t need you.  I grew up and took responsibility for my own life.  If that really is the greatest crime of all, then there’s nothing more I can say.  The deck was stacked against me, but honestly, I can’t truly say I have any regrets.  Heaven, hell, oblivion… your move, God.

Though I still think I’m probably hallucinating.

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I found this overall to be entertaining and rather clever to say the least. What did you think?