Atheism vs. Theism email debate part 1

So a couple weeks ago, someone commented on my true story, Middle Finger Justice (a story about someone from my childhood who kinda went a little crazy over someone flipping off her kids). Here was his first comment:

Saying that these individuals were motivated by “Christ” (the guy who said “love your enemies”) is ludicrous.

So I responded by saying,

What are you basing your theory on? If they were not motivated by their religion and spiritual perspective, then what was their motivation? Can you give examples of non-religious individuals behaving this way?

So then he wrote me this email, but for some reason didn’t post it as a comment:

Question #1:

I’m basing my “theory” (more like my thoughts) on the fact that that lady (your childhood friend’s mom) absolutely does not have an accurate knowledge of “Christ-ian” teaching (both in theology and practice) and probably should be admitted to the psych ward. For her to say crap like “if someone is giving my kid the middle finger, they’re cursing them to hell”, she’s seriously deluded.

I agree with you, you certainly do know some “interesting people”.

Question #2:

Her motivation sounds like extremist, quasi-Christain militia BS. I would say she came from either an ultra abusive or ultra conservative (probably no less abusive mentally, emotionally or physically) background. SO, most of her motivation would come from the anger/abuse that she’s been “discipled in”. Her view of God/spirituality/life has all been misconstrued/twisted by the lack of love (or even sanity) that she’s experienced in her life. I’d guess that’d most likely be her (and his) motivation. And obviously!… they (or at least he) needed to go to the psych ward because of the “voices in his head” telling them to do evil things.

Question #3:Have you read any historical books, the newspaper or watched tv? There’s tons of people motivated to do evil things that aren’t “religious”. Take Stalin for example (or any other atheistic/communistic dictator), he was motivated by his atheism (even Darwinism) to view people as mere animals (no intrinsic worth), and ensure systematic genocide of millions people. Atheism/nihilism asserts that there are no moral absolutes, no meaning to life, the universe is just one big mistake (and we’re extremely insignificant mistakes within it), and thus, we’re ultimately just clumps of cells/matter. No more, no less. What’s the difference between killing one million ants as I step on an ant hill or one million people – in the end they’re both just bunches of matter (that we subjectively value differently). And this universe is just going to fizzle out into nothingness, so what’s the big deal if people die a little early, in the end it won’t matter anyways. Stalin (and anyone who takes atheism/nihilism seriously) knew this and I think it can motivate people to do evil things.

Now, that’s one (probably poorly argued) example of how a dogmatic atheism can bring about tremendous evil. I think there’s tons of irreligious people that do evil things everyday as well.

So, my answer is: yes. Charles Manson. Joseph Stalin. (people either “irreligious” or outright atheist) ect…

Though I obviously don’t agree with everything (or a lot of stuff) on this site, here’s a graph to sort of get perspective on “religiously” motivated violence vs. “non-religiously” motivated violence:

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/atrocities.html

And I replied with:

Hey, thanks so much for replying. Some interesting stuff to think about. Do you mind if I post this as a new blog entry in the next couple days and respond a little more in depth? Obviously I’ll leave your name/email off.

The Charles Manson thing is easy, just do a Google search for “charles manson religion” and you find a bunch of theories about his Scientology and believing he’s Jesus and whatnot. Stalin, and some of the other points you made, are gonna be a bit more complicated to talk about :)

Now, he wrote me a few more emails and I actually responded to those. I intend to post those as well, but I kinda got distracted with moving apartments (I moved across town to avoid the 40 minute drive) and with his other emails and it’s taken me some time to get back to this, but I’ll put up a response to this in my next entry.

YouTube – Why I Hate Cops

A lovely rant mirroring many of my own opinions about police.

I like how he points out that there were a ton of very nice Nazis who loved their families and helped their neighbors. So many people forget this and just see things as good and evil.

Edit: hate is a strong word. I don’t hate them or wish them any harm, because that would be hypocritical to my fundamental reasons for opposing what they do. I simply believe that what police do is counter-productive to peace on Earth.

Obama admin takes a hard stance on pot legalization in California | Anarchist Writers

Obama admin takes a hard stance on pot legalization in California | Anarchist Writers.

Sad that members of the Obama administration would announce their intent to blatantly disregard the tenth amendment of the US constitution (the one that guarantees power to the states or people).

The other interesting thing this article discusses is something I didn’t really realize about the drug war, which is just how racist it is. I thought minorities in the US used drugs in disproportionate quantities because of economic and cultural issues. It turns out white people use drugs just as much as minorities, we just don’t get arrested for it.

And I’m the crazy one for saying the system doesn’t make any sense.

Time Travel in a 1928 Chaplin film?

My jaw drops sometimes at the conclusions some people will jump to based on the tiniest piece of “evidence”. Granted, the majority of people don’t jump to time-traveling conclusions, but the fact that there’s enough believers out there that this video becomes so viral is kinda scary. It’s the same as all those people who believed you could use your cell phone to pop popcorn based on a single well-made YouTube video (though I guess that has at least a little scientific plausibility). We’ve seen so many fantasies on TV and been told so many lies about God, Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny that we’re desperate to believe in any kind of insanity, or we’re just so confused about reality that we don’t know what to believe.

I mean, seriously, it’s a woman with her hand on her ear. There’s nothing that even resembles a cell phone in the shot, yet people want so desperately to believe, as though our world isn’t exciting enough as it is. It seems like statistically, with all the countless hours of old video out there, we should be seeing even crazier coincidences than this.

This is one thing I really appreciate about my mom when I was a kid. My parents always made it clear that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny weren’t literally real, and every time I came up with a wacky idea (like the time I thought Madonna was talking to me through a cassette tape), my mom would shoot the idea down, thinking of my long-term psychological development instead of my short-term emotions.

Edit: You know, on second thought, I wonder if some folks out there are pulling our legs here. Maybe this is all just a variation on trolling. Someone makes a claim that this video proves time travel and everyone (such as myself) freaks out and writes big long blog posts about how important it is to have a grasp on reality and they’re just laughing at how we’re the ones who actually don’t have a grip because we really think a YouTube clip is gonna make people believe in time travel.

What Non-Christians Want Christians To Hear

What Non-Christians Want Christians To Hear.

I could add my own to this list about the time two of my best friends were Christian, and after knowing them for six years, my girlfriend happened to ask if they thought we were going to burn in hell for who we were. It never occurred to me that they supported our eternal suffering because they seemed to be such good, caring people, and loyal friends, but they did. After six years they never bothered to warn me, and when my girlfriend was trying to hold back tears, they simply shrugged it off like she was just being foolish for having feelings. I doubt that they ever realized how much they hurt me that day.

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ barred by federal judge

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ barred by federal judge – latimes.com

Important day for gay rights, though I can’t help hearing good ol’ Bill Hicks and his words of wisdom (I’m repeating from memory so it’s probably not perfect):

“Anyone dumb enough to want to be in the military should be let in–they say ‘oh the military’s moral core will be affected’–moral core!? You guys are hired killers–you are thugs–and when we need you to go blow the fuck out of some nation of little brown people, we’ll let you know. Until then, shut the fuck up.”

It’s good for gay rights, obviously, but will make our military even more efficient at bringing terror and destruction to other nations.

But I also saw this today: Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex « OkTrends some fascinating statistics about gays and straights on the OKCupid dating site. Wow according to their test group of 3.2 million users (think of how many random phone studies come out with just a couple thousand subjects), gay men are more ambitious, more artistic, more literate, less competitive, less kinky, much less horny, more political and significantly less violent and aggressive. Fascinating stuff. Maybe the gays will help bring some sanity to the military… but, somehow I don’t think it’ll happen.