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artifex  ·  4012 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The God Hypothesis - The Advanced Apes

There's a less obvious problem with that idea though, and it's this idea that secular unbelievers attest that they somehow know what Jesus said and meant better than believers do. Why, I've even seen you do it here on Hubski, Mk (not now, but a couple of weeks and threads ago - I believe regarding Jesus' stance on wealth and wealth distribution where, IIRC, you likened him to a Socialist - something the church would not say, especially considering that socialism grew up around the Orthodox Church). And I didn't say anything because, honestly, I didn't want to have to untangle the host of issues that would have inevitably arisen in the discussion.

But the premise is kind of absurd: that people who don't spend any time in church (let alone regularly attending), any time studying or reading in-depth texts, and don't have any personal commitment to the church, doctrine, etc. would somehow understand the things better than believer, and are thus be in a position to criticize them and their behavior.

Now, I'm not saying the Church or Christians should be immune from outside criticism. I'm questioning the presumption inherent in many of the criticisms I see and hear.

If we were to put it in naturalistic terms, it would be like a bunch if high school biology teachers (generalists) criticizing the scholarly works of a world-renowned ornithologist (specialist), only when the ornithologist tries to correct them, the teachers form a mob and ridicule him.

I could go on, but I think that's enough to chew on at the moment.

artifex  ·  4012 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The God Hypothesis - The Advanced Apes

At this point, I'm honestly just tired and worn down by the incredible amount of antagonism I encounter on a daily basis. If people who don't know a thing about me want to think I'm a brainwashed, bronze-age, zombie-worshiper, let them. I have better things to do with my time than get caught in a verbal slug-fest; namely, working to making the world better in tangible ways like Jesus taught.

artifex  ·  4012 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The God Hypothesis - The Advanced Apes

I suppose to vent my frustration more than anything, or on the slim chance I get a serious response, engage and educate.

artifex  ·  4014 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The God Hypothesis - The Advanced Apes


This is an idiotic article, and I really don't feel like tearing it to shreds, because arguing with atheists over the internet is possibly the biggest exercise in futility and wast of time that one can engage in.

theadvancedapes: if you're going to criticize religion, it would do you good to actually learn what religious people believe instead of going, "huurr durr Copernicus, stupid theists."

I can't take a shred of this article seriously, the stupidity and the sheer arrogance of it all hurts so bad.

artifex  ·  4028 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Bible Refers to Jesus' Wife, Too

|There is no question that books have been edited, stripped out, and added over the centuries.

As far as the gospels and much of the new testament are concerned, this is incorrect. We get the Jesus narrative from the gospels, and we have really early copies of the gospels, dating back to as early as 125 AD, which, in the case of the Gospel of John is only 30-40 years after the first publication. Considering that it was the old world, pre-printing press, this isn't irregular or uncommon.

Also, understand that these writings weren't disposable or thrown around the way we throw books around today. These writings were venerated and cherished.

Orthodoxy also holds that tradition is just as valid as the written word. In this case, tradition verifies the text. The Western mind boggles at this, because it has no exposure to (and thus no respect for) any kind of tradition.

Anyway, here's a chart with dates: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible#The_New_Testam...

artifex  ·  4034 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Proof claimed for deep connection between primes

So... I read that, but I don't understand the significance of it.

artifex  ·  4068 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

    I just wanted to clear that up since your premise regarding atheists is immediately and obviously flawed.

Is it? I mean, we like to pretend our ideas and such are isolated and affect nothing outside their own little realms, but nothing could be further from the truth. Atheism affects the whole man, and as a result, society. Look at the Soviet Union. It was a state that was officially born out of atheism.

Here's a list of other atheistic states: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_atheism

Here's a recent thread from r/atheism that highlights the trend I'm pointing out: http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/y3275/so_i_noticed_...

My premise is anecdotal, yes. But that's entirely different from saying it's flawed. And the only reason this premise is anecdotal is because there's no real way to be empirical about it (or, indeed, much of social science).

The reason this premise is true is because the only power in a completely naturalistic system is violence and coercion (aka, control). The state organizes these into the largest, most coordinated body possible. Therefore, the state is supreme. (Note: the only difference between the state and the mob is that the state is usually bigger than the mob. Some anarcho-capitalist scholars say the state uses the "Mafia model" of government).

That is why atheism almost always goes hand-in-hand with statism.

Even you deceive yourself when you say:

    but I do believe as a social creature born into a community, that it is eminently fair and just that all members that want to be a part of that society must contribute if they want to stay in it

Really? It's reasonable to force every living creature shaped by millions of years of diverse evolution into a box of conformity? And what elevates one man over another that they get to decide what the criteria is?

Thought experiment: replace "social creature" with "black people." Imagine it's being spoken by a white person of privilege, during slavery in America. It's the exact same language used to defend slavery. (And truly, we're all slaves to the state).

It's reasonable to threaten violence against those who want to opt out of the system? It's reasonable to have armed men raid the homes of families because they didn't pay protection to the biggest mob of all?

As an atheist, you don't even have any logical grounds for morality (a fact I will defend to the death). Yet you employ the language of morality to obfuscate unilateral mob violence against people.

Reasonable? Right? Good? Fair?


(Now, I'm a Christian, so I won't always agree with him, but stefbot makes some amazing points in that video).

artifex  ·  4070 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America


artifex  ·  4070 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

See it! Cool. Thanks.

artifex  ·  4070 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

Before I begin; sorry, I don't know hubski markup yet, so I don't know how to quote you efficiently.

To address the first paragraph; given the democratic nature of the republic, and the past 200+ years of Judicial history, I'd say that for the vast majority of people, it does pass the sniff test. At any rate, majority has little to do with the "rightness" of a subject.

If you really want me to demonstrate it, I'll start with the idea that this atheist worships the state. How do we know this? Because from the get-go, he presumes the state owns everything. This is why he willingly confuses subsidies with tax exemption. To him, it's not that the government isn't taking away something from the church. It's that they're letting them use what the government already owns, while the same privilege isn't being extended to everyone else.

This is an arrangement he despises, and as such, thinks it should be changed. It's the equivalent of a petulant child demanding their mother take away their sibling's juice box because they don't have one.

For the second paragraph: full disclosure - I am an anarchist of sorts. Taxation is violent theft. It's a group of people taking money away from people who've worked for it (mostly so they can buy bombs and bullets to kill brown people in the Middle East).

I think it's actually unreasonable to say that someone is justified to take another person's money just because they wear a badge or sit on a seat of authority. Really, how do you justify it?

I mean, really, how is that a reasonable position? How is the unilateral use of force and violence to rob people in any way remotely reasonable?

The simple truth is: it's not reasonable. It's just statist philosophy; a violent, immoral system that many can't even see because they were raised in it and have had their head pumped full of statist nonsense in public schools.

artifex  ·  4070 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

>I think you were being snide.

Alright, whatever. Think what you want.

>tax-free dollars are spent on building luxury churches and mega-salaries for their pastors.

You are aware that all church employee salaries are taxed, right?

I love how I cite specific Supreme court cases, and quote the judicial record, and you respond with:

> And what I am saying is that if the courts of this country have seen fit to weigh the issue at all, then it must not be quite so clearly, so explicitly, so definitely written as you say it is.

I think the issue is quite clear for those who want to look at it.

>At the very least, it seems to me that the amendment says nothing about forcing other citizens to pay for the benefits that religious organizations enjoy from the government, such as, again, fire departments, etc.

Why should the government force anyone to pay for these services? These weren't laid out in a constitutional manner. Why don't we pay private fire brigades and police forces, like they do in Brazil? I don't think you should have to subsidize anyone either, but it's not the church's fault the the government is robbing you.

artifex  ·  4070 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

I wasn't trying to be snide with anything I wrote. I think you're misreading my voice.

As far as secular organizations; yes, and they're called 501c3 non-profits. Who also don't pay tax. Should we be demanding they all pay their "fair share" as well?

I also never conceded anything. I basically said you brought up some points, but failed to realize the full implications of them - such as forgetting about the "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" clause in the 1st Amendment.

And the thing is... I still don't think you grasp that part. Taxation is a form of control. If they tax the church, they prohibit the free exercise of religion when they do so. Therefore, churches being tax exempt is explicitly written in the 1st Amendment, and this is why the Supreme Court has always ruled in favor of no church taxation.

To suggest otherwise is to be utterly ignorant of 200 years of this republic's legislative history.

The only way you could ever tax the churches is if you held a Constitutional convention and completely rewrote the 1st Amendment.

And, let's face it: that will never happen.

artifex  ·  4070 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

This is a false interpretation, and not one the courts have historically given.

The courts view taxation as a form of control (as the founders did - which is why there was, as you say, no income tax).

If you were to tax a church, you'd be "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" since taxation is a control, and thus, in violation of the First Amendment.

artifex  ·  4070 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

This was the point of the "opposing views" article I referenced above.

The First Amendment has repeatedly been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that Churches are free from taxation, since taxation, by definition is a form of governmental control, and the First Amendment calls for, as you quoted, "no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." If you tax churches, you violate the first amendment because you are now, "prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

This is something that's been upheld by the courts repeatedly. If you have a problem with this, you literally have a problem with the First Amendment. So go ahead, hold a Constitutional Convention, and re-write it.

As far as the Charities are concerned, I counted at least 15 religiously affiliated charities in the first two pages. I'm not going to go through and list, line-by-line, the religious status of all 200 charities for purposes of brevity.

And true, my quip about atheists worshiping the state is a bit of a generalization, the point of me saying this is to point out that most atheists simply aren't consistent in their rejection of hierarchy. For most, they simply replace a religious hierarchy they find distasteful, with the State. Thus, they pay tribute to the state (and get mad at anyone who doesn't). They attack anyone who attacks the existence of the state. They cheer when the state chooses to smite their enemies (and go to great lengths convincing it to do so). And they find security in the state (which is why we see a greater demand for state-funded education and healthcare).

Tribute. Loyalty. Dogma. And a sense of Security.

If that isn't a kind of worship, what is?

artifex  ·  4071 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The outrageous subsidies to religion in America

The author is really playing fast and loose (or perhaps simply being ignorant) by equating tax exempt status with subsidies (which are when funds previously collected through taxation are redistributed to certain, special interests). Churches aren't receiving money from the state. The state simply isn't taking their money away from them.

It makes one wonder why the author doesn't target other tax-exempt entities in his critique, such as all 501c3 non-profit organizations. I'm sure, by his definitions, you could find billions more in "unclaimed revenue."

The original intention of the Founders was that the land churches were built on belonged to God; we were just stewarding it temporarily. As such, it should not be subjected to the same taxes as the populace (especially given the value churches and other places of worship add to communities in terms of communal identity, education, health services, charity, etc. - see this list published by Forbes of the top U.S. charities in terms of Revenue, and look at how many of them are religiously based: http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/14/Revenue_1.html)

Moreover, in 1971, the Supreme Court upheld the law in Lemon v. Kurtzman saying "non-taxation of churches is undergirded by 'more than 200 years of virtually universal practice imbedded in our colonial experience and continuing into the present.' "

(Source: http://www.opposingviews.com/arguments/churches-are-tax-exem...)

FTA: "There is a distinction between constitutionally separate “sovereigns.” For one sovereign entity to tax another leaves the taxed one subservient to that authority. This is true both in the symbolic statement of paying the tax and in the practical effect of supporting the sovereign party. So, in our constitutional structure, states may not tax each other, and they may not tax property of the federal government. The District of Columbia does not tax the property owned by foreign governments, and New York does not tax the property owned by the United Nations."

Really, what this author is saying is that he looks at his neighbor not paying taxes, while he is paying taxes, and feels it is unfair. Therefore, tax them as well!

But wouldn't it be just as logical to say, "Hey, why can't I have the same tax rate as them?"

You see; it's not really about fairness, because if he were evaluating it logically, he could arguably get a better deal out of the situation by getting rid of his tax burdens as well. So, it's not about fairness by any logical definition. It's about punishing people who believe differently from him, because he doesn't like them.

And of course the atheist author wants the state to punish the church. So many atheists these days worship at the alter of the state (and thus, state violence). (See: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/brainpolice/archive/2008/04...)