Ethics Opinion

When religion makes people worse (COMMENTARY)

Seminarian Mark Mergner prays the rosary as he awaits Pope Francis' arrival at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on September 23, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Patrick Semansky/Pool *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GUSHEE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on April 6, 2016.
Seminarian Mark Mergner prays the rosary as he awaits Pope Francis' arrival at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on September 23, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Patrick Semansky/Pool *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GUSHEE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on April 6, 2016.

Seminarian Mark Mergner prays the rosary as he awaits Pope Francis’ arrival at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Patrick Semansky/Pool
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GUSHEE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on April 6, 2016.

(RNS) Religion can do a great job helping believers discern right from wrong.

Religion can help believers relate kindly and justly to other people.

And religion can stiffen the will of believers when they face unjust suffering for their faith.

I was taught these things when I studied Christian ethics, and they continue to motivate me in my work as an ethics professor today.

But experience has me rethinking these claims more than I did at the beginning of my journey.

Now I see that religion can sometimes do a poor job helping believers discern right from wrong or relate kindly and justly to others. And religion can easily persuade people that the rejection they experience for their hurtful or ill-considered convictions is martyrdom for “God’s truth,“ leaving them even more entrenched in their destructive beliefs.


READ: Pope blesses eyes of Ohio girl going blind


My two key teachers in the field of Christian ethics in the 1980s were the Baptist theologian Glen Stassen of Southern Baptist Seminary and the Lutheran ethicist Larry Rasmussen of Union Theological Seminary in New York.

These men knew each other and shared many common scholarly interests that shaped me as well. These included the Nazi period in Germany, the extraordinary life of the scholar-pastor-resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the challenge of overcoming racism and the fight against the nuclear arms race during the Cold War.

Both men modeled and taught me an essentially hopeful vision about the role that Christian convictions can play in making believers more faithful and society better.

They taught a faith that had learned the lessons of the Nazi period; that honored Bonhoeffer for standing fast against Nazi seductions when so many of his fellow Christians surrendered their souls; that resisted America’s own racism; and that rejected the idea that more nukes would make the world safer.

My own dissertation focused on that small minority of Christians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. I sought to discover what kind of character, motivations and faith shaped these people who risked their lives when their neighbors were standing by indifferently. I have spent much of my career attempting to teach what I have sometimes called a “rescuer Christianity,” over against a “bystander Christianity.”

But now as a wizened old veteran of the fight, I struggle with discouragement sometimes. It is not just that many Christians fail to live up to the clear demands of Christian discipleship. It’s that we can’t even agree on what those demands are. We all say we believe in Jesus, but what we make of that belief is so irreconcilably different that I am not sure that we are in any meaningful way members of the same religious community.


READGay Methodist pastor a step closer to church trial


I should have seen this more clearly all along. After all, could it really be said that Bonhoeffer, who died resisting Hitler, shared the same religion as the “Christian” men who murdered children in Hitler’s name?

What common religious values united white Christian members of the Ku Klux Klan and black Christians fighting for an end to segregation and lynching?

And how much do Islam-fearing, pro-torture Christians have in common with those who embrace interfaith comity?

A faith that stands with the crucified is very different from a faith that does the crucifying. The question becomes not whether you say you follow Jesus, but which Jesus you follow.

Worst of all has been my discovery in recent years of versions of Christianity that actually make people worse human beings than they might otherwise have been.

Here churches, pastors, or individuals interpret Scripture or faith in such a way that they do harm they would not do if they were just good old-fashioned pagans.

I never anticipated that I would think: “If we could just keep people out of (this version of) church, they would be better people.”


READ: Why Tennessee should love the Bible


David Gushee is distinguished university professor of Christian ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He writes the Christians, Conflict and Change blog for RNS. Photo courtesy of David Gushee

David Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He writes the Christians, Conflict and Change blog for RNS. Photo courtesy of David Gushee

Christian leaders often puzzle over why Christianity in America is declining so rapidly. Here’s a reason: Some highly visible versions of Christianity are so abhorrent that reasonably sensible people want nothing to do with it or the people who practice it.

The same, of course, holds for abhorrent versions of other religions. But that’s their problem, and this one is mine.

(David Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He writes the Christians, Conflict and Change blog at RNS)

About the author

David Gushee

73 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • This reminds me of a statement I have heard before, “love is not tolerance”. As a Christian I find that an easy statement to apply to others…but a hard statement to receive.
    A statement that can be applied and received a little easier for myself: grace is not tolerance. It seems to put what I believe and who I claim to stand before into perspective when I consider my state. It also helps me to hear what the author is saying when I consider what others think about my interactions with them.

  • This part: “Christian leaders often puzzle over why Christianity in America is declining so rapidly. Here’s a reason: Some highly visible versions of Christianity are so abhorrent that reasonably sensible people want nothing to do with it or the people who practice it.” – is the money shot. Today, people associate “Christian” with elbows-out political activism a la Ralph Reed’s “the won’t know what hit them until they’re in a body bag.” Westboro Baptist Church is the best known public face of our faith, and people like Kim Davis and those florists etc. who feel better about themselves by denying services to the people they hate.

  • Dr. Gushee:

    Jesus said, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt 7:14). Only a few find it or Him or the true relational essence of the Faith once delivered to the Saints. Keep your eyes focused on Christ and His mission. Everyone and everything else will let us down or drag us down.

    Blessings!

    Ron F. Hale

  • I find myself asking the same question. I see how a religious belief system may bring out the best in people but I also see how it brings out the worst. Further, in my line of work, I see how religion is often used by the individual and their faith leaders to ignore or hide from psychological, social, and physical issues resulting in a pattern of abusive and self-destructive behavior.

  • Bad mouthing religion has backfired in America and there is no fear of the Lord
    anymore is one of the reasons for the decline in America. We have a nation full
    of people who want to go to heaven but dont want to Repent or if people do talk
    about sins it’s usually abortion or homosexuals but people who still get drunk or
    gossips, gamble heavy,sells sex,be mean,covets,sleep around all go to hell too!
    1 Corinthians 5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 plus 1 Peter 4:1-7….Luke 13 are great.

  • The answer is clear. When the church is persecuted, as it is in places like China or Iran, Christians are real-deal, because the cost is so chillingly high, only a true believer who puts Jesus ahead of all would be willing to pay it.

    But in places like the United States which has vast regions where Christians are dominant, the church often becomes a laughingstock at best and a moral and spiritual horror at worst. It’s socially acceptable and in some cases essential for social and business and political success to pretend to be one. There is no price to pay for being a Christian, and so in most churches, half the people are just conforming. And churches compete with each other over who can conform fastest to the culture, so as to attract the most people.

    What America’s churches need is a good swift kick in the behind, administered by a wave or two of persecution or some national calamity. Absent that, they will just keep out-stinking each other.

  • The problem with beliefs – all beliefs – is that they all have their blind spots and their weaknesses.

    For example, if you believe the Bible is the word of God, you might therefore believe that slavery is OK, and the slaughter of witches is a sacred duty.

    It’s also easy to interpret texts and traditions in a self-serving way. If you want to love your neighbours and treat them justly, there are texts for that, and if you want to hate them or kill them, there are texts for that, too.

    Over the years, the contrast between religious rules and common knowledge has increased. This has made more and more religious ideas untenable.

  • I wonder if the Bible itself is a test for believers, in regard to how they should treat other people and what they value.

    It contains exhortations to cruelty and exhortations to kindness;
    admonishments to respect and admonishments to abuse;
    commands to avenge and commands to forgive;
    instructions to coexist and instructions to conquer; etc.

    It certainly grants its readers the freedom of choice.

    If it is a test, I’d love to think that Matthew 25:35-40 holds the key.
    It ends with (NIV) “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

  • I think the test you are seeking will not be long in coming, not only in America but throughout the world. Between the growing secularization of our citizens, the rise of militant Islam (which brooks no accommodation), the increasing paganism. etc., the genuine church (sincere if imperfect believers) will find itself in the very state you prescribe. Those hostile to biblically based Christianity will pooh-pooh these concerns as chronic Christian bedwetting with no basis in reality, which will make a perfect foundation for the persecution which will separate “the wheat from the chaff.”

  • I think religion brings out the worst in people far more often than it brings out the best. People who treat others with decency don’t need religion to validate their actions, but people who treat others with cruelty often rely on religion to validate their actions.

  • Bible based Christianity as you call it is generally hostile to things America holds dear such as religious freedom for all beliefs, democratic leadership and civil liberties. People reject it because it is in most cases repugnant to moral sensibilities, rational behavior, and a sense of greater citizenship.

  • “Christian leaders often puzzle over why Christianity in America is declining so rapidly. Here’s a reason: Some highly visible versions of Christianity are so abhorrent that reasonably sensible people want nothing to do with it or the people who practice it”

    Here’s a clue David

    “God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.” Second London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689
    God’s eternal decree of course includes those drawn to and those who find the gospel “abhorrent”.

  • Ron, I believe that It is not that sinners find Jesus, but rather that Jesus finds sinners and calls them at His appointed time.

  • Readers should be aware who’s motivating the bakers and florists to commit those crimes. A group of anti-gay lawyers from the “Alliance Defending Freedom Of Faith” just can’t accept that laws banning public accommodations discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are settled law. This “Alliance” is going around the US States that ban such discrimination, seeking to incite anti-gay bakers, photographers, florists, and other wedding industry suppliers to target same gender couples, attack them and violate these laws, promising to defend the anti-gays in court and the media for free and pay any fines involved BEFORE these crimes are committed. These “Alliance” lawyers are involved in ALL these cases. And then anti-gays dishonestly claim LGBT Americans are targeting THEM!

    Want proof? This “Alliance” admit all that at their website.

  • For whatever reason, Americans are walking away from religion:

    “[T]he major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.”

    http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

  • At some point those who depart from the Bible depart from Chistianity. Gushee has sided with the world’s sexual ethic, and now Bible based Christianity appears to him as propagating hate. I’m a fan of the philosopher Thomas Reid. He identifies the flaws of modern philosophy and is the true descendent of British empiricism. Kant led us to retreat into our minds to find knowledge. Truth is found outside of our wicked hearts and minds. Look at world history. Who created the strongest families? Who created modern science? Who created human rights? All these efforts were led by Christian people who took their Bibles seriously. Hitler with help hijacked science with social Darwinism. The gays have now grabbed hold of family and human rights. Yet the disfunction of the LGBT community is on display to anyone who knows them. Sadly, empiricism has been traded in for so-called rational ideology. Watching Western Civ. is akin to Old Test. Israel. Both lost their first love. Why? God had…

  • The wheat is already separating from the chaff, Diogenes. The hard issues of the present day are in many ways a blessing in disguise.

    Oh, and thanks, Lare, for a perfect summation of Rome’s ever so reasonable reasons for feeding Christians to the lions — one that could have been lifted from the pages of Tacitus, Pliny and Celsus themselves.

  • Thank you both for demonstrating the smug self righteous arrogance which turns so many people away from religious belief and practice. Keep fouling those nests.

    The Roman’s found religious freedom, democracy, civil liberties, and rational behavior so antithetical to your beliefs?!

    I will chalk this up to reactive snark without bothering to see what was being responded to. Not worth a 15+ post Gish gallop ensuing 🙂

  • If you were familiar with the pagan writers you probably would have refrained from echoing them so eerily.

    The early Christians’ morals were deemed “depraved” (Pliny), “sinister and revolting” (Tacitus). Celsus (as well as masses of basement-dwelling college drop-outs busily cutting and pasting Hitchens and Dawkins into atheist echo-chambers ) dismissed them as ignorant “slaves and women.” Nothing much new there. But your last statement, about the “greater citizenship,” is most telling, because it is true, and it is the very reason why Rome as well as every murderous regime ever to grace the historical record has hated Christianity — because we answer to a higher citizenship that that which is accountable to mere fallen man.

  • TJ,

    “Hitler with help hijacked science with social Darwinism.”

    Since the end of World War II in 1945, Christianity has made a Herculean effort to distance itself from having any accountability in Germany’s extermination of the Jews. But the reality is that it was entirely rooted in nearly two thousand years of Christianity’s persecution of the Jewish people. And then this culturally entrenched hatred was skillfully exploited by Hitler and others. Given the fact that reality plays only a minuscule role in religion, the belief that Christianity had no accountability is just one more myth among all the other myths that comprise their sincerely held beliefs.

    “The gays have now grabbed hold of family and human rights. Yet the disfunction of the LGBT community is on display to anyone who knows them.”

    It’s almost amusing to hear someone talk about the “disfunction of the LGBT community” while they dysfunctionally cling tenaciously to ancient myths.

  • Strawman point. The author did not call the Gospel abhorrent. He called the reprehensible behavior some people engage in allegedly in service of the Gospel abhorrent.

    Of course the smug, self-satisfied and patronizing tone many self-professed Christians take to those who of the same faith who disagree with them tends to drive reasonably sensible people away. Add to that a strong urge by certain Christians to attack religious freedom, civil liberties and basic democratic principles and you have even more reasons why sane, reasonable people would want to stray away from those types of people.

  • “At some point those who depart from the Bible depart from Chistianity. Gushee has sided with the world’s sexual ethic, and now Bible based Christianity appears to him as propagating hate.”

    Well that is just a load of hooey. It isn’t people like Gushee who are urging for laws to attack the civil liberties of others, to excuse malicious behavior or is showing contempt for differing beliefs. That is all you.

    Who created human rights? People who did not believe that Christians were entitled to be laws unto themselves.. People who did not think that God’s law was a governing principle of the nation, but instead believed laws should be appropriate for any and all faiths. People who did not consider the Bible to be a legal textbook, but at best a PERSONAL guideline. Nobody who would have adopted your views.

    “Who created the strongest families? ”

    The Japanese royal family is the only dynasty which has lasted unbroken for over 2600 years to present day. 🙂

  • I subscribe to Reza Aslan’s comment, that religions are not inherently violent or peaceful. Violent and peaceful people can find what they want to believe in most any holy book if they choose. It is not the religion, per se – it is the individual justifying their internal nature.

  • I’m not sure “Kim Davis and those florists” hate homosexuals seeking marriage. One can be against something in principle without actually hating those who pursue it.

  • YO! I have no objection to religious freedom for anyone as long as the practice stays within present legal norms. However, I also reserve the right to lobby for laws that represent Christian orthodoxy as that is the system of religion I believe most efficacious to the benefit of all human souls. Your assessment reflects a perspective well off center relative to western traditions and precepts. Moving the needle does not necessarily represent progress. Our present culture begins to reflect everything that led to the decline and fall of every past world empire known to humanity.

  • I found this article refreshing. The admission that Christianity (and other religions) is used to justify evil should be yelled across every church.

    I grew up Catholic, but gave it up over what I saw as destructive teachings. I found nothing better in any other religion, Christian or not. It’s not that their weren’t good people. The Friar that taught my confirmation class was a kind, gentle, honest man who was patient with my questions. But he had no answers and his excuses for bad ideas was grossly inadequate. My father is a good man, but some of his beliefs are horrifying.

    There are good and great people everywhere. There are bad and evil people everywhere. There are those just keeping their heads down, trying to survive.

    I’m convinced this is accurate: to make a good person do evil things, that takes religion. In Germany it was a thousand years of Christian anti semitism combined with an economic disaster that made the Nazis possible. Aryanism was a weird…

  • Yoh, you are so quick to jump to conclusions, you must be incredibly fit from all of that exercise. No, my main point for Dr. Gushee is his mistaken concept that people can be talked into Christianity. Dr. Gushee states that the reason Christianity is in decline as he says is because “reasonable people” want nothing to do with “highly visible versions” of Christianity, as if people really had a choice in the matter. I am speaking theologically here, viz: the Bible tells us that all manner of people may take on the trappings of religion without actual conversion of the heart. This is why Jesus said that many would come to him proclaiming all of the good deeds done His name and He would tell them to depart, because He never knew them. More to my point, that God is sovereign in his dispensation of grace in salvation, that he has decreed all who will be adopted as his children (Eph 1:4, 5,11) and saved. One may give the gospel to the unsaved all day long but unless that person is…

  • …acted on by the Holy Spirit their heart will remain as hard as stone. The gospel to them is “abhorrent” no matter what visible form it takes.

  • If you’re talking about our founders, they would be the first to tell you that they didn’t create human rights; they only acknowledged them. They considered human rights to be God-given and therefore inalienable.

  • Yoh is a nearly flawless contrary indicator for what is generally right and good and reasonable.

    He also acquires screen names like Imelda Marcos acquired shoes.

  • You’re assuming that Christianity is one of the “ancient myths” as though that were a settled fact rather than a flippant utterance.

    I suppose you also believe that the whole of reality is material and just sprung into being by its lonesome.

    After all, it happens all of the time. Boats and beds and I-Phones and soccer balls and skyscrapers and books and shopping centers and weight machines are perpetually manifesting themselves.

  • CarrotCakeMan, there’s an obvious difference between saying that a business must serve all customers and saying that a business must accede to any request by a given customer.

  • Everett, you’re both right. Welcome to the antinomy of God’s sovereignty vs. human responsibility.

  • It’s becoming more socially acceptable to be an atheist, and so those who never were anything else to begin with are more likely to say who they are to pollsters.

    Plus, a combination of radical secularists dominating the school systems and lazy pastors not wanting to tax congregants’ lazy minds with such things as rigorous thought or real apologetics makes kids think that reason and logic and facts all favor unbelief over belief.

    Studies suggest that the chief reason teens and young adults reject biblical religion is intellectual. They are convinced that faith requires one to commit intellectual suicide……most are not even acquainted with the main arguments on behalf of faith, nor have they read any books making its case.

  • You want special favor under the law for being Christian. Your contempt for the principles of religious freedom we hold dear as a nation is duly noted. Like many a theocrat, you want to give undue and undeserved credit to your religion in our society. To the point where you expect special privilege for being a believer and demonstrate a complete disregard and disrespect for any other belief. Our nation isn’t here to serve your Christian Orthodoxy, its here to serve all faiths and beliefs

  • Doubling down on a ridiculous and tone deaf response doesn’t make it any more sensible. I assume you really didn’t want to say that your Christian beliefs oppose religious freedom for all beliefs, democratic leadership and civil liberties. I am giving you the benefit of a doubt here. But I could be wrong.

  • You are quick to condemn and obviously quick to misrepresent what people say. Your “speaking theologically” comes off a lot like smug arrogant self-righteousness. Self aggrandizing and wrapping yourself up in religiosity to avoid a dialogue.

    Gushee holds back from making the inevitable conclusion. As a believer and it would be crossing a line he is unwilling to do. The point that religion’s main point is to invoke unquestioned arbitrary authority. To claim a position that allegedly should not be questioned, debated or analyzed closely. To be accepted without reason or reflect.

    You want your view to not only be taken seriously, but unquestioned. Hence the invocation of Biblical language and bible verse. Using it as a talisman to ward off any real discussion.

  • There you go with the fiction that we should ignore that Christians have been both oppressor and liberator alike by invoking their faith. Not in the mood to keep that dishonest chestnut going. Waste of bandwidth

    The founding fathers of our nation created a working democracy that isn’t mired down in the sectarian nonsense which typifies Christian notions of morality and government. The first government which truly made religious freedom (not just “tolerance”) for all faiths an integral part of its system. Something many Christians to this day don’t feel comfortable with. A Christian Nation is not one which respects civil liberties. Which is why calls for the US to be a Christian Nation are so repugnant to those who love it and the freedoms it represent.

  • Larry, I’m sorry, but complaints from you about insults or snark can never elicit anything but a ripple of laughter.

  • You’re right–I didn’t want to say that because I was not addressing any issue related to religious liberty. I was addressing your time-worn reasons for hating biblical Christianity.

  • “A Christian Nation is not one which respects civil liberties.” Only a predominantly Christian nation would ever accept the foundational view of man’s identity, worth, and place in the universe upon which civil liberties as we know them here and now can stand. It sure didn’t exist before Christianity and it hasn’t emerged on its own anywhere else.

    And every single one of our fathers knew that.

  • There is an obvious difference between an honest argument on the subject and what you are engaging in.

  • They don’t read much of anything else, either. Anything greater than a tweet-sized idea or factoid is too taxing on their attention spans. Generalized ignorance in this country is rising like murky floodwaters.

  • Whatever makes you feel superior to non-believers. None of it is remotely true, but it definitely feeds your ego to think that atheists are people who simply don’t know any better.

    “most are not even acquainted with the main arguments on behalf of faith”

    No Jack, its that the main arguments on behalf of faith are pretty dire. That they are all self-serving and vacant. Especially since NOBODY ANYWHERE ACCEPTS RELIGIOUS BELIEF ON THE BASIS OF ANY GIVEN ARGUMENT.

  • Nonsense unsupported by facts. You simply want to put a tramp stamp of Christianity on our nation and laws. Christianity does not support free exercise of religion nor a notion of secular government of the Establishment Clause. Both violate the first 3 commandments.

    We have our religious freedoms because Christians could not get along with each other. They had the nasty habit of taking political power and using it to murder people of other sects.

    if Christianity was such a basis of moral thinking, you would support so many immoral positions on behalf of it. 🙂

  • You need to read Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Lare. It is as much an essay on the very religious source of the right to religious freedom as it is a statute.

    There hasn’t been a movie made from it, of course, but then again, it’s not all that long.

  • Jack, gay people want exactly the same cake that such a baker, for example, might offer to a thrice married, formicating and adulterous former republican congressman, or the slutty daughter of a feral snow MILF on her second illegitimate child who still has time to lecture other people about their morals.

  • One does not need to hate to be a raging bigot. All one needs to do is have a completely unquestioning belief in ones wholly imaginary superiority as a moral person, a Christian, and a human being.

    they don’t get it. They are obsessed with sin, at least of the sexual variety. They abhor sin but cannot fathom the impenetrable blackness of their own souls.

  • Of course you have the right to lobby for whatever laws you like. You can even lobby for laws that try to place your purely theological concerns into the laws which govern all of us. It’s exactly that sort of thinking and acting that have led to the current crop of license to discriminate laws.

    And the rest of us have the right to fight against purely theological concerns in our secular laws, which concerns are as a well oiled weather vane, and point out that such laws are a violation of what America is supposed to stand for. Expect more of the same.

    You know that every single society that has embraced homosexuality as normal has fallen. What you may choose to forget is that every single society that has not embraced homosexuality has also fallen.

    It’s what they do.

  • If you don’t believe this, perhaps you should watch “The Help”, a big movie from a few years ago. It exhibits the attitude exactly. Those white ladies sure did love their black maids and servants, but god forbid that one of those black ladies should presume to sit on the white ladies’ toilets. That was just too much to bear. Those black women needed to know their place, and it wasn’t on an equal footing with the white ladies.

    The word you want isn’t hate. The word you want is UPPITY.

  • Calling people names (atheist, radical secularists etc.) is empty rhetoric. Most “believers” are not able to muster a cogent statement of their “beliefs”, nor are they familiar with the history of their religion.
    “..(lack of) real apologetics makes kids think that reason and logic and facts all favor unbelief over belief.” I will bite Jack. Show me some “real apologetics” that are not mere puffs of rhetoric that Emmanuel Kant”s “Critique” blew away before Darwin got the chance to start the landslide of facts that have forced all but a few holdouts to accept that even God “must have used evolution” to create the universe.

  • Jack,

    Humans are obviously simple organisms compared to a god who must be infinitely more intelligent, skilled, and powerful to have created the universe. An old question that people seem to spend little time contemplating is: Where did God come from? A common answer is: God is eternal, and thus has always existed. And then they change the subject. All the answers I’ve heard seem to be designed to avoid any serious consideration of the question.

    People can assert that God just suddenly appeared, but there is not a single shred of evidence for that (and Bible verses don’t count). So, if God didn’t just suddenly appear, he must have developed by some form of evolution.

    If you are unable to believe that life on earth could have developed via evolution, how can you possibly believe that an infinitely more intelligent, skilled, and powerful God suddenly appeared from nowhere or through a form of evolution?

  • Sarah, yes. I see no indication that there is hate involved. People are so quick to jump at disagreement and call it hate. That is one of the major problems here.

  • Yoh, don’t be silly. You should know by now that on any issue, I state what my position is. Agree or disagree, what you see is what you get.

    Ben, I get it and I can attest that there’s no shortage of hypocrisy among fellow evangelicals. I’ve been on the receiving end a few times, and was none too pleased. On the other hand, the people closest to me live out their faith with authenticity and integrity.

    My point still stands…..the right to be served is not the same as the right to have every particular request fulfilled as part of that service. It would be surreal if there were no daylight at any point between the two.

    And yes, if I were a baker, and a straight couple came in and I knew, for example, that the guy had ditched his wife, no, I wouldn’t agree to write “Happy Wedding” in their cake.

  • Sorry to burst your bubble, yoh — unfortunately you leave me little choice — but the world is filled with people who came to faith in Christ by following facts and logic to their natural destination.

    BTW, you should know better than to trot out your same old silliness about faith and reason being in conflict. I guess you’re a slow learner, probably because there’s no immediate cost for your being wrong, unlike doing other silly things like crossing an interstate during rush hour or sticking your hand into an open fire. Life imposes no immediate cost for endlessly repeating silly stuff, unless it’s on a job interview or a business negotiation.

  • Well, Shawnie, Larry is just being Larry…..or yoh…..or any number of other names.

    Watching Larry try to fake an intellectual argument is a little like watching an eight-year-old donning his father’s old suit from B-squared. Great suit but the tyke’s swimming in it!

  • Well, Richard, you’re right that the answer to “where did God come from?” is “God is eternal and thus has always existed.”

    Now if you can show that to be true of the universe, that would be one thing. But if we are to believe the Big Bang (not to mention the Good Book), the universe is not eternal but had a literal beginning.

  • Watching yoh/Larry trying to refute Shawnie is like watching a mouse trying to climb Mt. Everest.

  • That is the second time this thread where you made a blatantly untrue argument.

    Nobody accepts religious belief because it is a rational or sensible thing to do. Far from it. Religion requires unquestioned acceptance of blatantly irrational nonsense, supernatural hoodoo and arbitrary authority.

    It seems to compel some people into some truly mindless nonsense and compels dishonest discourse in its defense. Anyone who does not credit faith for their belief is 1ying.

  • I pointed out quite clearly that not all bigotry is hate. And Davis the perfect example of a raging hypocrite, judging others, and considering herself just too effin’ holy to do her job.

  • Jack, I don’t think you get it at all. You picked perhaps the worst possible example.

    I’ve been to at least 1000 weddings, literally. I have NEVER seen a cake with happy wedding on it.

    My point is simple. This is not asking you to accede to any special request. I’m willing to concede that point for the sake of the argument, but that,s not what we’re talking about. The cake you would make for my wedding is identical to the cake you would make for John and marsha’s wedding. There is no difference. Your belief that somehow you are participating in my wedding, condoning, it simply that– your belief. I don’t care whether you believe it or not.

    But here is the actual equal treatment. Have the courtesy to tell me that your booked, or any other proposition you will other than that you won’t serve me, trust me the same as anyone else. Don’t tell me that you as a hypocrite Christian are just too moral to treat me like everyone else, or how you would like to be treated.

  • Seriously, Jack, can you imagine the founders’ reaction to someone crediting them with “creating human rights?” Or the claim that they DIDN’T consider “God’s law a guiding principle” when our very first president hailed the adoption of the Bill of Rights with the recognition of “the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor?”

    Now we can see why the founders so fervently desired a well-educated and moral populace– for all their fears about what might happen without one have been realized.

  • Jack, from hard experience, I would not trust anyone who goes around calling everyone liars any farther than I could throw them. That screams either paranoia or projection, and neither one promises any kind of sane interaction.

  • Jack, the Big Bang is only the beginning of the universe *as we know it*… That’s not the same thing as being the literal beginning of universe.

    We can’t really know what things were like before the Big Bang, because of the nature of the starting singularity*, but that doesn’t mean there was no existence then. Perhaps there have been an infinite number of universes that have come into being, only to eventually collapse in on themselves again and start the process over. There is no way we can know for sure, at least not with our current technology, but it seems far more reasonable to assume the universe has always existed then that a uniquely un-created creator made it (Occam’s razor and all that).

    (*The nature of the singularity prevents us from knowing what was before because said singularity was literally all matter and energy condensed into a single point. There could not possibly be any evidence of what was before the singularity left behind).

  • I’m afraid as a gay man I’m disappointingly familiar with this kind of Christian… Increasingly it’s becoming the only time I see Christianity evoked. It’s becoming difficult to see it as a force for good when the only contact one has with it is so negative.

  • I want know how it took you so long to see this? This kind of religiously inspired bigotry is ubiquitously on display. But welcome aboard nonetheless.

  • I subscribe to the “Reza is a fraud” meme and that he is pedaling a fictional meme. His religion is an engine of motivation to hurt, maim and kill people for a host of thought crimes, not the least of which is homosexuality. If you’d like to rebut my claim, please do it after you read the 2013 Pew poll titled, “The World’s Muslims”. It is the religion and the beliefs that ARE preached from the Mosques and here, the pulpits.

ADVERTISEMENTs