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Published: Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@ Mike Richards – “I've read the Koran. I found no directives in that book to murder innocent people.”

Check the Bible – specifically, the part about the Amalekites. Unless of course you believe they were all guilty, including women, children, babies… farm animals.

I’m always baffled when religious people claim that we have been given absolute morals by God. What is your evidence for this? I’ve already cited one example of directing his people to break a commandment, and the fact is the OT is filled with God commanded or condoned barbarism and moral relativism.

Take slavery – what does the Bile say about treating fellow human beings like farm equipment? Not only does the Bible condone it even provides instructions for how to treat your slaves (e.g., when beating them, don’t blind them or knock out their teeth… words of wisdom indeed!).

By the way, this distasteful fact was what allowed Southern preachers to regularly trounce their Northern counterparts in the slavery debates of the 1850’s.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Nothing to add here.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

More people have been slaughtered from "My God is better than your God",
than all the Godless heathens there ever have been combined.

9/11,
WWII,
The Inquisition,
The Crusades,

The older I get,
the more true John Lennon's "Imagine" becomes.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

@Mountanman
"Do you really want to live in a world where morality is relative? Really?"

Want to know an example of a system that happens when morality isn't relative? When a nation decides to impose Sharia Law on everybody. There needs to be a happy medium when it comes to the laws of a nation.

@Mike Richards
"Do you think that terrorists worship God? Why would you think that? How do their ACTIONS show that they worship God?"

If they think they are worshiping God, even if they're doing it wrong, then they are worshiping God. Which is not to say he won't have a few choice words for them on the other side, of course.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"Telling us that "religion" is the cause of evil is misleading"

And that characterization of my post is misleading. Religion does not inherently cause evil. Nor is it always the impetus for good. Same with Atheism.

Look. I see religion as a generally good force in this world. But it is not without its warts.

While many believe that the 911 hijackers were misguided in their understanding of their religion, to claim that they were not religious by definition, is just nonsense.

There are many atrocities in history committed in the name of religion. Perhaps a poor understanding of religion, but related non-the-less. That is undeniable.

Religious teachings have been interpreted to justify lots of different things, good and bad. People do it all the time. Even to this day. And, of course, their understanding and their application is correct.
Or is it?

But back to the topic.

It is possible for a non believer to be a great member of society. Just as it is possible for those who claim strict religious adherence to be detrimental.

And there are many many examples of both. And why the premise of this letter is clearly wrong.

UTCProgress
American Fork, UT

@Mike Richards

You would think that after the thousands of posts you make you would at least attempt to do a little research. Of course, why let reality get in the way of your belief system. It took me all of 1 minute to find multiple instances where God commanded the believers to kill. It is found in every religion's scripture. As has been stated here by others, believing in God does not make one moral, and despite the writer's claim, we are not "born" moral and ethical. It is learned behavior. A lawful and orderly society does not depend on a vengeful God to ensure compliance, simply a desire to recognize that everyone has a right to peace. Throughout history religion has been used to justify war and killing. The 20th century is unique in that major genocides were committed by people who had disavowed religion. Prior to that, the greatest offenders wrapped their genocide in religion.

Here are a few scriptures where God says killing is super:

1 Samuel 15:2-3
1 Nephi 4:18
Quran 5:33

Lane Myer
Salt Lake City, UT

MR: "How many societies believed in slavery? ...How many treated women as chattel? ...Where were the "rules" in those societies? ..."

-------

Why Mike, those two lines describe the US when it first became a country. Slavery was not uprooted for a century and women only gain some independence a century after that! There was no law to protect a wife from being raped by her husband until the latter part of the 20th century. Where was God? Why didn't he protect those women and grant them the freedom that white males had from the start? Aren't we a righteous nation? Why does it take so long for us to change?

If nothing else proves to me that morality is relative, it is the laws of marital rape. Just 50 years ago, a man still had the right and privilege of "owning" his wife and could engage in sex with or without her permission. She had no law to back her up and society, churches, and most men saw nothing wrong with it and had no guilt associated with that act. Wives were to obey their husbands. It was not a sin or even unlawful. It sure is today!

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

I'm glad we have Atheists to keep the religous Zealots from having their ways --

stoning for adultery,
beheading infadels,
the inquisition,
the crusades,
Feeding unbelievers to the Lions,
Salem Witch Trials,
Aztec Human Sacrifices,
and even closer to home -- Mountain Meadows

Heck -- we even have the Religous insisting the State Kill for Killing,
and don't you DARE try to take away our guns!

marxist
Salt Lake City, UT

Re: Mike Richards "How many societies believed in slavery? How many killed children?..." I believe your beloved God is Israel ordered them to do just that.

Strider303
Salt Lake City, UT

It appears that many of us comment either for or against a religious basis for a code of conduct. Some hold that God is the author of an acceptable, to Him, behavioral code. Others seem to acknowledge a need for some "moral" code of conduct but want to leave God or gods, out of the equation.

If no higher authority to which to appeal, then each person's philosophy on life is his/her god or drummer to which they march proclaiming the correctness of validity of their position.

Reminds me of The Blind Men and The Elephant, by John Godfrey Saxe. From the last stanza:

"So, oft in theological wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
and prate about and elephant
Not one of them has seen!"

Burma Shave.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

The author seems to say, "Okay, atheists CAN be moral, but only because God gave them a moral compass too!"

I'll take the concession. The rest cannot be proven or disproven.

He also seems to say that, if there is no god, society would suddenly deem all laws against murder, stealing, and fraud (lying) unnecessary. Really? Absent a god, we would all prefer anarchy to civility and order? Because we see what is happening in Somalia and other failed states and think, "Yeah – we want some of that!"

I don’t buy that one.

I think human history shows that our moral sense has evolved over time. I also think it shows that our progress has been enormously enhanced by the knowledge and information we have gained from scientific research. Some religions have kept up with this knowledge curve and have adapted accordingly. Some have not. But none have been LEADING the way.

Res Novae
Ashburn, VA

As a devout Mormon, I categorically reject this letter's arguments on moral, philosophical, and (even) religious grounds.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Alright then,
Next question --

Who's God?

And we're right back to square one of a stupid, viscous circle.
Let the slaughter continue.

======

BTW – pmccombs
Orem, UT

I have a feeling that people like this atheist friend of mine may get into heaven before those who think that goodness only matters if there is a God.
•8:04 a.m. April 22, 2014

Best comment ever.
Atheist tending to those dying and being shunned for having AIDS.

I’ll take an atheist like that at his “works”,
Over all the believers and their “faith” any day.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

Mike Richards describes the Bible and how they wrote and disobeyed their own rules...
Where did rules come from? Look at the history of "civilization". How many societies believed in slavery? How many killed children? How many treated women as chattel? How many had tribes led by war lords? Where were the "rules" in those societies? Why did they murder and rape?

Do you think that terrorists worship God? Why would you think that? How do their ACTIONS show that they worship God? Hasn't God told us to do no murder? Are you claiming that their religion teaches them to murder?

God changes his mind all the time in the bible, murder, rape scorched earth depends on the prophet at the time.
Some folks believed they were doing Gods work in a little place called Mountain Meadow, not so long ago.

one old man
Ogden, UT

When you stop to think of it, you might realize that atheists really are people of faith, just as any person who believes in a God is a person of faith.

Each has faith in a belief that they are correct -- or at least that they HOPE they are correct.

We will all find out someday.

In the meantime, why not just respect each other and enjoy the company of other good people who may not have faith in the same things we have faith in?

Could the bottom line really be that Atheism is actually a form of religion?

FT
salt lake city, UT

I knew this was going to be a terse blog when a few, frequent posters threw their religous beliefs out there to support their arguments. Attacking religon and religous post are easy foder because of it's history and lack of empirical data. Religon's last argument standing will always be faith and that's one that cannot be refuted as it needs no evidence, history or science to support it. It's an undeniable fact that one does not need religon or God to be moral or just, nor does belief in God or religon make one pure or just. If you believe otherwise, your believe in your faith is stronger than fact. I have no problem with that unless you try to govern or impose harm on others on the basis of that faith.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@one old man - “Could the bottom line really be that Atheism is actually a form of religion?

Kudos to your “let’s all just enjoy each others company” statement, but I have to take issue with your quote above.

Is your non-belief in Zeus a form of religion? If so, please explain.

Atheism is simply a word we use (devoid of positive content) to label those who no longer believe in any of the gods of antiquity, so in that sense we’re all atheists. But the term in modern usage is applied to those who extent their non-belief to one more god than you do.

So atheism is a religion in the same way baldness is a hair color, of not collecting stamps is a hobby, or “off” is a TV channel.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The good that men do is likely the result of the need of good from others. The drive to survive demands that we follow every hopeful avenue toward that accomplishment. And sometimes that requires the help of others. So intelligent men might set a sharing agenda even without a God.

Our mothers often told us to play nice so that we could enjoy the others to play with. Our world is greater because we establish rules of conduct that help each other in the struggle to survive. The Ten Commandments that are attributed to God seem to me to be the agreement between men rather than the desires of God. I can't see why God would be interested in people killing other people. Especially when it seems that more people have been killed under religious banners than for any other reason.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Uhmmmm... I don't think he was saying that only religious people have a moral compass.

I think he was observing that ALL people have an innate sense of what's right/wrong. Even atheists and people of every faith.

Like people have pointed out... our culture influences that innate sense of right/wrong. And we can learn to suppress it (like with slavery, etc). Your culture may teach you, and you may even accept it as "right", but there's usually something in the back of your mind telling you that slaver really isn't right.

Being able to overrule our innate ability to tell what's right and wrong is just part of being human. And the constant battle we have in mortality and our dual nature.

===

I don't think he was trying to be offensive to anybody by saying we ALL have the ability to discern what's right/wrong.

And he absolutely wasn't inferring that only religious people know what's right or wrong.

I don't know why some people are so offended...

one old man
Ogden, UT

I don't know, Tyler. But if it's not a religion, why are there so many books about atheism, why do atheists have an annual convention (in SLC this year) and why do they feel the need to expound so vehemently in opposition to religion?

But on the other hand, why do religions feel the same needs to attack atheism?

I was just trying to point out that there may not really be all that much difference between the two. After all, aren't both of them simply beliefs that neither side can hope to prove?

Doesn't it come down to something called FAITH on both sides of the coin?

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