Let he who does not live in a glass house cast the first stone.

February 2nd, 2006

I’d barely recovered from my last religious wrestling match with Rick Esenberg of Shark and Shepherd when he decided to endorse this anti-atheist diatribe by Dale Reich.

I wonder if someone has been slipping something into the holy water at these guys’ churches?

That’s the only thing I can think of that might have inspired such parochial pablum.

For the record, viagra usa stuff I’m not an atheist.

I’m an agnostic.

But I think that still qualifies me to debunk Dale.

Dale challenges atheists to “…embrace the world as you say it is: a purely physical and random place where goodness and evil don’t really exist…”

First news flash: Christians don’t own good and evil. Look up good or evil on Dictionary.com and you’ll notice the entries don’t mention God, there Jesus, patient or Satan once.

Just because I don’t believe in the guy with the pitchfork and the horns doesn’t mean I can’t believe in good and evil.

Dale goes on the to say, “What I meant to say is that God is the basis for good and evil, and once you reject him and his rules, you’re left with nothing but self-serving and self-preservation.”

Or you’re left with the opportunity to determine your own purpose in life rather than finding your life’s meaning in a book that sits on the exact same library shelf as:

The Koran
Bullfinch’s Mythology
The Vedas
The Book of Mormen
And Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard.

(Be careful which one you pick up, by the way. I’d hate for you to get confused about which is Gospel and which is garbage.)

Then Dale asserts, “For them, life should be merely an exercise in seeking personal pleasure, procreating and then dying.”

Thank you for the suggestions, Dale, but I think I’ll do my own thing if you don’t mind.

The whole problem here is that Dale would find life meaningless and immoral without Jesus, so he can’t fathom how the 4.5 BILLION people on Earth who are not Christians can handle it.

(That’s right Dale 77% of the people on the planet do NOT believe in Jesus and they somehow manage to make it through their day.)

Rick is much less contentious than Dale manages to sound, so the only thing I want to point out to him is the danger of tossing out a statement like:

My sense is that the abandonment of some source of transcendent value tends to result in utilitarianism and utilitarianism tends to result in slaughter.

I’m sorry, but I’d be willing to bet that religious fanaticism has led to far more slaughter than utilitarianism could ever dream of.

Just off the top of my head I can name:

the Spanish Inquisition
The Crusades
the Salem Witch Trials
Oliver Cromwell
The Troubles in Ireland
Today’s Islamic terrorists
And most cases of ethnic cleansing (including the Holocaust) which are usually at least partially based on religious differences.

No offense guys, but before you decide to devalue everyone who doesn’t share your exact view of the Universe, you might want to reread Jesus’s advice about throwing stones.

For the record, I applaud (and envy) anyone with a settled belief structure. But just because I respect your beliefs, doesn’t mean I’m going to give you a free shot at me because you don’t respect mine.

Entry Filed under: Milwaukee,Observations,Personal,Philosophy,Politics

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. grumps  |  February 2nd, 2006 at 5:23 am

    You go, Eliot. I’ll hold your coat.

    The notion that non-Christians have no sense of right or wrong is so pig-headedly 20th century American that it is truly embarassing.

  • 2. Nick  |  February 2nd, 2006 at 10:34 am

    Lord love a duck… I don’t consider myself to really be a Christian anymore… but at least I can say that guy gives good Christians a bad name.

  • 3. Seth Zlotocha  |  February 2nd, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Well done, Elliot. I’m glad you and Jay at Folkbum had the energy to directly respond to Reich’s op-ed. I just couldn’t stop counting the ways it was wrong long enough to find time to type.

  • 4. Rick  |  February 2nd, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    Elliott, chiil man, I said I wouldn’t write the same piece Dame did and I expressly said that people do find notions of right and wrong that they place in different sources than Christianity or religion generlally. What I said is that the idea that we can be the measure of value is vastly overrated. It tends not to work out so well. I don’t know if more evil has been done in the name of religion or materialist ideologies. But here are three big names on the materailist side of the ledger”: Hitler, Mao and Stalin. The Holocaust had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with an agressiviely secular materialism. , I am a practicing Christian but if this was Germany In 1941, i’d be on my way to the camps because I have a Jewish parent (who has never practiced his family’s faith.). Converting to Christianity or agnosticism or anything else diid a Jew no good. Hitler didn’t care about religion; in fact he said you could not be a good German and a good Christian and he was right. While historic attitudes toward Jews contributed to anti-Semitism, the Nazi pogrom was based more in misplaced notions of racial superiority, the possibility of perfecting the race and the idea of advancing what was seen as the greater good through cruel measures.

    Finally, making ana rgument with which you do not agree is not “devaluing” you.

  • 5. Administrator  |  February 2nd, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    So you’re saying I may have overreacted? ;)

    I know you wouldn’t have written the same piece as Dale, Rick…

    …which is why I didn’t really tee off on you.

    I also recognize that Hitler targeted many people beyond the Jews which is why I qualified my statement about ethnic cleansing. (But I still contend that nearly all cases of ethnic cleansing have some element of religion associated with it.)

    (I’ve got to give you Mao and Stalin, though. Bastards.)

    As I pointed out in my later post on religion, I have no quarrel with people of faith. (In fact, I envy them.)

    But i think Dale crossed the line (I’m not sure how much more devauled he could make me feel than comparing me to a sociopath) and I definitely meant to slap him back across it.

    Sorry if you felt that I hit you too hard with my backswing.

  • 6. Rick  |  February 3rd, 2006 at 10:09 am

    No, you should swing as you deem proper. This is the blogosphere. I admit I was trying to resurrect what i saw as a core of value in Dale’s piece. In his defense, though, 700 word op-eds tend to push you away from subtlety and even-handedness. Its really hard to accomplish those things and say anything interesting at the same time.

    The thing about the Holocaust lands on one of my soapboxes. I am one of those guys that reads lots of stuff on the Third Reich because I just can’t believe how such a civilized nation could have become so barbaric so quickly. And I feel strongly that it had nothing to do with religion. It isn’t that Hitler went after more than just Jews, its that the animosity against Jews was racial, not religious. I would have been a mischlinge of the first degree no matter what I said I believed . A Jew could get baptized; could join the Nazi Party; could have won the Iron Cross in WWI. None of that mattered. You still got killed.

    I’ll give you that stupid – and very unbiblical – Christian attitudes toward Jews helped prepare the ground but, in the end, it was not about faith.

    Hitler hated Christianity. He tried to nazify the church in order to use if for his ends (and, sadly, many clerics went along), but then he couldn’t do that, he repressed it.

    This, however, is a completely different topic. I will stand down now.

  • 7. Administrator  |  February 3rd, 2006 at 10:19 am

    As a blogger, I always have a bit of a dilemma.

    Successful blogging is about finding a community that you fit into.

    But for me, blogging is only fulfilling if I can spout off about whatever the hell I want to.

    Because my politics and philosophies don’t fit comfortably onto either end of the traditional Left/Right spectrum, I often find myself expressing an opinion I know will alienate somone that I might agree with 95% of the rest of the time.

    It’s part of the problem of being an eclectic personality. (And don’t even get me started on the issues of being a fictional character.)

  • 8. Fuzz Martin :: FuzzMartin&hellip  |  November 20th, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    […] Elliot has claimed to be an agnostic. He says it so often that it almost seems like he is trying to convince himself. (I, however, think that he has a stronger faith than most people who claim to be […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP () and so is spam.

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