Let’s Discuss

Cover of "Tortured for Christ"
Cover of Tortured for Christ

“The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. there is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, “There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.” I have heard one torturer even say, “I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil that is in my heart.” He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture infl[i]cted on prisoners.” – Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ, 34

Richard Wurmbrand wrote his book Tortured for Christ to describe his imprisonment and torture for preaching Christianity under the soviet Union’s regime in Romania.

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Tracy

I’m Tracy

18 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss”

      1. I shouldn’t have to. There are reasonable arguments and then there is shameless opportunism. People have been tortured in the name of Christ as well. One could as easily spin a yarn about how belief in God frees folks from all responsibilities to their fellow men and then talk about the cruelty of Christianity. It would have equal value. But if you or anyone else really wishes to believe that the kind of filth posted up above they are certainly free to do so. Nothing I or any other unbeliever says is going to make an impact on the pornographic impulse that leads people to consume messages like this.

        Enjoy.

      2. Okay. I get that you have a problem with his statement, but I don’t yet get what it is.

        Do you believe that if people do not believe in the afterlife and have no hope of punishment or reward for their actions, those who wish to do evil will have no reason not to do so? Why or why not?

        Do you doubt that his torturers actually made those statements?

  1. It seems to me, that both the torturers and the tortured in this case were in fact victims of authoritarianism. The idea that our choises between good or bad are only regulated by an invisible ever stalking father figure, or not.

    Most people I know, have outgrown that phase where they choose between ethical and unethical actions as a result of wether they get caught or not, in their early childhood. There is a natural phase in our lives where adults restrict their offspring by demanding authority, but in the process of growing up we should learn how to understand the difference between good and evil on our own. The idea of an atheist explaining his evil actions by saying, that he can do anything since there is no god to punish him, is like he was never grown to adulthood, where a person takes responsibility for his/her actions.

    It is of course a possibility, that an emotionally immature, or rather disturbed person might get to this conclusion, when he realizes there are no gods. It reminds me of those religious persons who explain that the only reason why they do not physically attack a nother person (for example an atheist who annoys them) is only because Jesus tells them not to.

    My guess is that such a torturer as explained above is a result of authoritarian culture, where he has never understood how ethics work, and has been like a wild animal only leashed by religious fear, and when he has lost that fear, nothing keeps him from punishing the world for the fear he once felt. Is the fear of punishment, the only thing that keeps you from evil, or selfish actions? I really hope not.

    Religions may restrict some disturbed people, but since the authoritarianism of religions is often the cause for their emotional disturbance in that they think right and wrong is determined only by a divine “big brother”, it is no cure. If people want to be selfish, they are perfectly capable of it within religious morals and even dispite their fear of eternal punishment. Remember, most people who do the most horrible things, think they have every right to do so, and very often that right is lend from some supreme authority like a god, or as in the case of Mr. Wurmbrand from a lack of one.

    1. Okay, so in your opinion, if there is no ultimate reward for good and no punishment for evil, if one wants to do something evil, why should he not?

  2. This is a complicated matter, but I try to be brief.

    People do all sorts of horrible things regardless of wether they believe they are being watched over by a divine judge, or not. The fact that a person has learned not to do evil only out of fear for supernatural punishment may cause that person to do evil things, because she/he is unable to recognize what is right or wrong as he/she expects such things are decided by arbitrary commands from authority, or when he/she realizes that the supernatural threat was imaginary (like in the case of the torturer in your post). However, that is not the fault of the realization, rather it is the fault of how that person was never taught how ethics works in real life. Most horrible things in history have been done in the firm belief, that what is done is necessary and even sanctioned by some form of authority, be it a god, or a dictator, or what ever.

    Our natural ability to compassion (we share with most other mammals at least) is what encourages us all the time not to do evil. If we are mentally heathy and have enough information about the situation, it results in that we make ethical choises.

    Humans are a complicated social species. We teach altruism to our offspring. To live in a society and be a part of it, means you should not do evil, because as a member you should be able to understand that this way you and all the others have a better life. All societies have regulated what they consider evil by social morals. Those rules are healthy when they are based on ethics and compassion (as I think Jesus kind of suggested at some point in comparrison to the arbitrary laws of the OT). Unhealthy when they are based on authority. Punishments are for people who regardless of the rules still abuse them. Best form of punishment teaches the individual not to stray again. The threat of punishment is not so much for the great majority of healthy individuals who accept the common rules and follow them, but for the minority of individuals with a some sort of disorder.

    Even in a situation where evil is not discouraged, or is even encouraged, we should not do it, because we should be able to understand, that by doing evil we are wounding ourselves and we should also have compassion towards the victims of this evil. We should also be able to understand, that we are not able to controll all the imaginable reprecussions of our actions that affect other people. It is the rule of cause and effect, if really simplified.

    Regardless, if you think conscience is given by a god, or it is a product of natural selection, as I think, conscience is there within everyone of us and it will be wounded every time we do something selfish, that causes actual harm to others. Correct?

    1. Let me try this again.Take lying, for instance. Let’s say that Brianna stole shoes from a shopping mall, She gets arrested and the police, lacking evidence, ask her if she stole it.

      If she says yes, She’ll get punished. If she says no, She’s likely to get off, because the police don’t have enough evidence to convict her.
      You answer seems to be that she should say no because by lying, she would be hurting herself. But that does not seem true. Telling the truth is what will hurt her here.

      You say that doing something wrong hurt our conscience. Of course. Every time you do something wrong, it makes me it easier to justify the action and do it again, but unless there is some reason why I should not do it again, and unless the action is not worth it, that’s a moot point. This is mush easier to see if Brianna’s action wasn’t shoplifting, but something worse. Something that would send her to jail for a very long time. In that situation, saying she should tell the truth because lying would hurt her is quite amusing.

      Or take another example. Let’s say Cara loves dresses and she needs a new dress for a party. All her friends have new dresses. So, she goes to the mall and steals a new dress. She’s done it before, so she knows how to not get caught. Yes, this means that the store loses some money, but why should she care? For what reason should she be looking out for the store owner rather than looking out for herself?

      Neither Brianna nor Cara have any disorders. They are simply people with wants; the desire not to spend the rest of their life in jail, the desire for a new dress, the desire to take care of themselves.

      Also, you seem to think that I believe that the treat of punishment is necessary for people to follow rules. Stop thinking that. People can follow simple rules without the treat of punishment if they want to, like you obviously do. My question is “Why should they want to?” If the right thing is not what they want for themselves? Why should they not be selfish if what they want is not what best for someone else? Why should that person be given preference over themselves?

      You say that as a member of the society “you should be able to understand that this way you and all the others have a better life”. and that “The threat of punishment is not so much for the great majority of healthy individuals who accept the common rules and follow them, but for the minority of individuals with a some sort of disorder.”

      I do not really understand that statement. Are you suggesting that the boy who cheats on tests, the girl who shoplifts, the dude who breaks into houses and steals people’s money, the banker who steals the money entrusted to him and the common person who lies (which by the way, includes you) are a minority with some sort of disorder? That’s an awfully large minority. In fact, it includes pretty much all of us.

      In summary, my questions number two
      1. Why should we be unselfish?
      2. Who made that moral law that says we should be unselfish? Laws like that have to be made by someone. I never heard of one that wasn’t (don’t drive on the right side of the road, stop at a red light, etc. if no one ever said that, it wouldn’t be a law). so, who made this law?

      Awaiting your reply

      1. To clarify my second question, why are we obligated> to do the right thing even when we don’t want it? It is one thing to say being unselfish is a good idea that’ll help me and the human race. It is another to say that we ought to be unselfish. i.e. that we have an obligation to fulfill by being unselfish and doing wrong things violates that obligation.

  3. Well, I do think stealing is a social disorder. If Cara and Brianna want something they do not own, they should ask themselves, if they really need it. Most of us want some stuff, that is not awailable to us, but we need to ask ourselves, if the stealing of such things is really worth the damage we will do to ourselves and the fabric of society around us and to people who really own that stuff. Some people evaluate this thing only by the terms, of is the stealing of the item they lust for, worht the risk of getting caught, that is a disorder. If Brianna and Cara do not understand, that they will be causing more harm to themselves by stealing, than by not having that particular thing, they do have a disorder.

    I have never stolen anything. Not because I was ever affraid of an invisible god watching over me, or because I was affraid of getting caught, but because I have been brought up to be proud of doing the right thing and to understand the reprecussions of my actions to others and through them also to myself (just like most people have been). And also because I have never really had to steal anything, because I was never so poor and hungry I had no option. I am not a liar. Are you accusing me of being one?

    In real life all crimes are not equal, are they? Minor crimes are punished by lesser punishments. In supernatural terms, Christianity offers only one punishment for doing worng – eternal torture, pain and suffering. Who would think this is in any proportion to any possible crime? Why would you think that such a thing was brought forth by a “benevolent” god?

    Selfishness is a natural and purposefull ability we all have, but in order to live as members of any society we need to controll it. We do have means to do so. Empathy and compassion are our natural ways of setting ourselves to the position of others, so that we know how the other people will react. Most of the time we are not even aware of it, when we use them. There are, I am sorry to say, people like sociopaths who totally lack these perfectly natural traits. Just like conscience, wich is a mechanism, that causes us to act socially rather than anti-socially. To most people these do come rather naturally without any mental effort. But we do engage in everyday asking of ethical questions from ourselves, that we do not even pay any attention to, because the answers are so obvious to us. Like should we steal something from the shop. If we face a really big and complicated question, we are able to reason with these emotions by dealing with them by ethics. It is the information about the world around us, that helps us to come to the right conclusions, when selfishness is in need and when should compassion override it. In cases where people might get these things the wrong way up, we have laws to remind us of the morals of the society.

    There are no ultimate moral laws abowe us humans. Ehtics is a form of logic we humans are capable of, where we use our natural ability for empathy and compassion to reason. By ethics we define what is right and what is worng. What is proportionate and what is not. Morals is a social phenomenon of acceptable conduct every society defines. It is usually better for everyone, if morals is determined by ethics, rather than when it is determined by appealing to authority. Hence, there is no need for any supreme moral lawgiver.

    1. If you wish to argue that you have never told a lie, I won’t argue with you, but I will conclude that you are lying about it. I know no one who has never told a lie. My point is simple. You said that “The threat of punishment is not so much for the great majority of healthy individuals who accept the common rules and follow them, but for the minority of individuals with a some sort of disorder.” I disagreed. I said that people who break the moral law are by no means a minority. Everyone has done something wrong. The great majority of people I know do in fact lie on a regular basis (say, once a month to be generous) and I contend that that includes you. If you disagree, I won’t argue with you. If you don’t, then you must agree that the majority of people do not in fact follow these ethical rules. Does this make you a liar? umm… Yes. But that okay. It makes me a liar too.

      “I have never stolen anything. Not because I was ever affraid of an invisible god watching over me, or because I was affraid of getting caught, but because I have been brought up to be proud of doing the right thing and to understand the reprecussions of my actions to others and through them also to myself (just like most people have been). And also because I have never really had to steal anything, because I was never so poor and hungry I had no option.”

      That’s nice, but a red herring. I never suggested the contrary.

      “In real life all crimes are not equal, are they? Minor crimes are punished by lesser punishments. In supernatural terms, Christianity offers only one punishment for doing worng – eternal torture, pain and suffering. Who would think this is in any proportion to any possible crime? Why would you think that such a thing was brought forth by a “benevolent” god?”

      Red herring.

      I do not think you answered my questions. You said that selflessness is a good thing, you said that we ought to be unselfish, but you never said why. I agree that we ought to be unselfish, i.e. that we have an obligation to be unselfish and I have my reasons for that. Do you? I have argued that being unselfish is not always in our best interests (e.g. in Cara’s case) and the telling the truth is not always in our best interests (e.g. in Brianna’s case). Yet, we both agree that we ought to tell the truth and not steal.

      My question is why. All you have done is argued that it is so. I do not deny that it is so. Why is it so?

      Finally, you said something that amazed me. You said, “By ethics we define what is right and what is worng. What is proportionate and what is not. Morals is a social phenomenon of acceptable conduct every society defines.”

      I noticed two things.
      You noted that we define what is right and wrong, not that we discover them. What you seem to be saying is that whatever the society says is wrong is wrong and whatever the society calls right is right. This in fact means that there is no such thing as real right and wrong, just what the society says it is. It used to be acceptable conduct to burn widows on the funeral pyres on their husbands. By your statement, this was ethical because the society said so.

      I hope we both disagree with that claim. Perhaps I misunderstood you. It would be nice if you could clarify that claim.

      My main reason for writing this is to ask a question. Why are we obligated to be unselfish? Even when it is not in our interests, even when it hurts. Why should I give my life for someone else? All those things are good, but I need to know why you, who do not believe in God, think they constitute an obligation.

      If you do not wish to answer, may I tell you why they constitute an obligation in Christianity?

  4. By all means, tell me why you think they constitute an obligation in Christianity. Though, I would guess I have heard similar explanation allready.

    Lying is most often less harmfull than stealing. That is why there are only very specific situations where lying is seen as illegal. It is seen as immoral though, since it is an ethical principle, that lying causes harm. I asked, if you thought I was a liar because I just wanted to make sure how you percieved me.

    I obviously did not make myself clear, even though I thought I did.

    My answer to your two examples was, that the reasons why these imaginary characters Cara and Brianna should not do wrong is, that they should have compassion to others and to themselves, because braking those social rules will hurt them and others more than what they win by braking them. It is a question of a logical principle. Most often when people brake those rules is only when they do not understand the consequences to others or to themselves, as in your example.

    Immediate reward or suffering may be the most obvious reprecussions of our actions. When people cross the line of becoming thieves, their self image changes for the worse and as it is all too easy for them to do the act again. Even if they never repeat the act, they have allready wounded themselves. Their idea of social rules has shifted, and they have become a bit more cynical. Becoming cynical in this way is the worst kind of violence a person may do onto their spyche. They are setting themselves outside the social rules for selfish reasons, that are not beneficial to social animals such as humans. Repeating the act causes them not only to lower their standards, but it increases the chance of being caught. Even if the thieves never gets caught, they have damaged their self image and do that every time they steal.

    Any adult person should understand at least that, if we want to have a functioning society, we need to agree on the rules, and if those rules are not met by everyone, that is how much worse the society functions. It is a good reason and reason enough to follow the rules of the society, if they are ethical, just to support a functioning society. That is the reason why most people follow the social morals of their respective cultures, regardless if they agree with everything in those rules.

    Most people want to do good and right, because acting that way is rewarding in itself. Even when no-one sees them, or when there would be a material reward to do otherwise, or even when they are threatened by violence not to do the right thing. Being honest with yourself is very rewarding, is it not?

    The ethical obligation to choose right over wrong is obvious one, is it not? If you would choose to do wrong out of personal gratification you get from doing the wrong thing, then there is defenately something wrong with you.

    At no point did I give any support to moral relativism. I do not understand where you got that. I said, that the morals of a society is beneficial when it is based on knowledge and ethics and not on arbitrary commands from authority.

    There are no magical rules existing outside human experience we need to discover. What we need to discover is correct information to make better judgement over any given situation. We tend to choose the lesser harm and right over wrong, because that is naturally beneficial to us as members of a social species. Correct?

    1. Okay. Your answers are that Cara and Briana should do the right thing because
      1. They should be compassionate
      2. Doing the wrong thing hurts them by damaging their self image.

      The first answer doesn’t really work. I’m asking why Cara should have compassion on the store owner and not steal the dress and replying that she should have compassion on the store owner is as they say, true, but not worth saying. It’s terribly circular.

      The second answer doesn’t help me much, either. Take Carlos, for instance. He runs an international sex trafficking ring. He makes tons of money from it. He’s also spent most of his life committing every imaginable crime – rising from petty theft in his teens to burglary, armed robber, rape and working as a hired assassin for some time before becoming his own boss. Whatever you think of this, he’s definitely not dying of guilt. His actions have given him what he wants – money and a comfortable life. However, one morning he experiences the odd thought that he ought to turn himself in and pay for his crimes. This is the right thing to do. However, his punishment is definitely not going to be light. I’m almost completely certain that Carlos would pick a diminished self image over the gas chamber. It would definitely hurt him less and he’ll get to enjoy the fruit of his labors even longer.

      That it hurts less is never an explanation for why it is better to do the right thing, let alone why it is obligatory. There are right things that hurt way more than the wrong thing.

      Yes, that we are obligated to choose right over wrong is obvious. The more interesting thing is whether one’s worldview can explain it. I asked who made the laws that we ought to do one thing or the other because laws have to be made. If my mom never said not to eat in the living room, it wouldn’t be a rule not to eat in the living room. You said that every society defines those laws. That’s moral relativism.

      You said, “By ethics we define what is right and what is worng. What is proportionate and what is not. Morals is a social phenomenon of acceptable conduct every society defines. It is usually better for everyone, if morals is determined by ethics, rather than when it is determined by appealing to authority.”
      You also said, “There are no magical rules existing outside human experience we need to discover. What we need to discover is correct information to make better judgement over any given situation. We tend to choose the lesser harm and right over wrong, because that is naturally beneficial to us as members of a social species.”

      Summary: There are no rules we need to discover. We define what is right and wrong ourselves by deciding what we think is beneficial to us and causes less harm.

      If there are no rules beyond those we make, if we make the rules, then what is obligatory is what we say is obligatory and what is prohibited is what we say is prohibited. That’s moral relativism. In a culture where society says it is obligatory for a woman to burn herself with her dead husband, it is obligatory. We both agree that this is not so. Therefore, there are rules beyond those we make.

      Now, since there is a rule, and it wasn’t made by us, who do you think it was made by?

      In Christianity, it is obligatory to do the right as opposed to the wrong thing, because it is a law that we are all subject to. If you are subject to a law, you are obligated to keep it. On your view, I am no more subject to the law made by society any more than you are subject to the law I made not to eat peanut butter and pancakes together. You have no authority over me and I have no authority over you except the authority you give me.

      “We tend to choose the lesser harm and right over wrong, because that is naturally beneficial to us as members of a social species.”

      Like Carlos is going to choose the lesser harm of not turning himself in?

  5. No, no, no. You totally misunderstood me. Propably my own fault, though.

    How do you know wich rules are the correct ones? Every society, culture and religion has a set of rules. To compare them between each other we need to have a mechanic in order to evaluate them. Otherwise our perspective is culturally relativistic. Wich rules do we choose? Those that are traditional to us through our own culture, or those that are ethical? By far most people choose their values, faith and religion only by being born into a certain culture. As far as it is possible for us to know all rules about human conduct are authored by humans. What people think is right, or wrong, is very much culturally related. How do we define wich culture is right about any particular issue? By ethics. Ethics is the rationalization of our natural ability for empathy and compassion and healthy amount of selfishness. Of choosing the lesser harm not only to the individual, but to all persons involved. Of choosing fair and just over selfish and improportionate. Therefore, ethics is beyond and overrides any arbitrary, or culturally traditional system of rules. And you know what? That is exactly the way most people come to choose good before evil in most situations. Propably you too.

    Would you see human beings as selfish creatures incapable of compassion unless there is a threat to them, or a selfish motivation for them to do the right thing? But there are plenty of good reasons for people to choose right before wrong, without any rules by an authority. There are plenty of natural moral principless, that are easy for people to rationalize, regardless of their cultural backround. Why would you ignore my main points about people wanting to do good in order to be a part of functioning and fair society and feeling good about themselves?

    The world is full of Carloses, Caras, and Briannas who think themselves as Christians, or even as good Christians. And you know what, Jesus has forgiven them their trespasses. Has he not? At least, if they just remember to ask it from him and believe in him sincerely. I am sorry, but there is no evidence of divine retribution for doing wrong. It is up to us humans to stop evil.

    1. Yes, I get what your ethics is. However, unless your system of ethics is true, it’s just another made up system like the traditional ones you reject. According to your ethics, it is wrong to murder a baby. That is a rule. Rules have to be made by someone. These rules were not made by us. That would be moral relativism. So, they were either made by someone else or by nobody in which case they are not rules and so do not exist. What I am saying is that your system of ethics leads to mine.

      Secondly, it is one thing to say Carlos ought to turn himself in and face the consequences, it is another thing to explain why he is obligated to do so. Why should he follow your rule at such loss to himself? I am in no way suggesting that humans are selfish and incapable of compassion unless there is a threat to them. If I have ever made that claim, feel free to point out where. However, I am saying that on your view, Carlos is not obligated to turn himself in. By refusing to turn himself in, he does not break any law that he is under, on your view. Yet, in reality, Carlos is obligated to turn himself in. He does break a law that he is under by not turning himself in. A view that does not correspond to reality is false whether it is one of the traditional views or your ethics.

      “But there are plenty of good reasons for people to choose right before wrong, without any rules by an authority.”

      Of course there are.The issue is not that they need rules by an authority in order to choose the right thing, but that they need rules by an authority in order to be obligated to choose the right thing.
      Cara doesn’t need to be threatened in order to do the right thing. She could just find some compassion in her heart, but unless there is some sort of rule to which she is subject that says she must, she is not obligated to. If she is not obligated to, then there is no sense in calling stealing ‘wrong’ because the whole point of calling something wrong is to say that one is obligated to abstain from it. If there is a rule, then it was made by someone. It was not made by us. We’ve been here before.

      “The world is full of Carloses, Caras, and Briannas who think themselves as Christians, or even as good Christians. And you know what, Jesus has forgiven them their trespasses. Has he not? At least, if they just remember to ask it from him and believe in him sincerely. I am sorry, but there is no evidence of divine retribution for doing wrong. It is up to us humans to stop evil.”

      You do know what a red herring is, don’t you?

      You have the last word.

  6. Well, thank you for the last word. As a rethorical question then: How do you know any rules are made by someone else than us humans? There really is no way of knowing, is there? We humans form the rules our socities work upon now and in the ancient times. The rules we use are based either on ethics, or arbitrary commands by an authority. If ethics leads to some conclusions, that are the same as those some authority has given, we do not jump into the conclusion, that all the rules by the authority must be just and correct. Ethics – the logic of harm caused by our actions or inaction – is however the only way we have, to evaluate all the different sets of rules we use. It is culturally relativistic to say that your god sets the rules for everyone, while a representative of a nother culture and different religion claims that very same thing as a property of their god, or gods. It is not culturally relativistic to assume best rules are achieved by using ethics, especially so, if the ethics is based on best possible information and knowledge we have about the universe, world around us and the human condition. How do we obtain the best possible information and knowledge then? By randomly choosing a religion, or by defending the prejudices of our respective cultural traditions and religions? No, but by science. Science of the material and observable universe around us and research of us humans and our psyche as a part of that.

    Most ethical choises are simple and easy to make with a minimal amount of information and knowledge. Most obvious and common rules for most societies are based on those choises.

    In the real world your characters like Carlos are not really “obligated” to do anything exept by the laws of the countries where he acts in and also by the international law. By ethics we know why he should be compelled to do something, but there is no “obligation” other then the commonly accepted rules of his respective culture. He uses that free will of his to choose between ethical and unethical. The possible reprecussions of his actions and inaction define wether or not he is being ethical or not. To most of us it is clear that the world we want to live in is a world where certain rules are abided. The world is better for a bigger part of humanity, if they are beneficial to as many people as possible. As a member of a society we may point out that he has the moral and ethical responsibility to act in a certain way, but there is nothing forcing him, exept other people. The other people do have an ethical justification of forcing him to stop from harming ohters and some people even have an ethical responsibility to force him in this way, maily simply because they are able to. But sometimes people brake the rules. Why? Because they can. Because there is no “obligation” other than that of ethics, laws and other social rules.

    As an example, a Roman slave owner of the antiquity was not “obligated” by his society not to own slaves. He was raised to the culture where his gods did not object to the idea of owning slaves. He hardly saw them as humans. Yet, ethics of the thing are, that by using compassion, that he was naturally capable of – as a mammal – and a minimum amount of information from the slaves themselves of what it is to be a slave, he should have been compelled to work for a society, that did not enslave people. Did he end up in hell for owning slaves, or for mistreating them? I hope this helps you to understand how ethics is not bound by supernatural “rules” or by divine authorities, nor even by social morals, but it is a system of logical conclusions natural to us as humans. That you now see, why ethics is really not culturally relativistic, but on the contrary, it is the only means we have to compare cultural phenomenons and morals fairly.

    It is a completely nother matter, if this natural ability for compassion and logical ethics we have, was given to us by some particular god to evaluate wich set of divine rules are actually divine, or more often not. I thought the idea of your blog was to ethically evaluate a particular religion. Perhaps I was wrong about that, but if I was not, I suggest you continue your quest and perhaps you grow from trying to find excuses to ethically questionable passages alledgedly inspired by a god. Or perhaps you find the message of love from your holy book and learn to more or less ignore all the hatred, misogony and cutural relativism in it.

    Finally, I must say I do not see how my comments you described as “red herrings” were anything of the kind. They referred to your original post, in wich the quotation seemed very strongly to insinuate, that atheism leads to random acts of violence, just because the atheists are not affraid of a divine and supernatural punishment for doing evil. Perhaps I understood wrong, but I honestly thought by quoting that you meant, that the fear of divine punishment is the only thing that keeps people from torturing others.

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