The Devil Made Him Do It: How Jesus and Satan Absolve Christian Criminals of All Guilt December 14, 2013

The Devil Made Him Do It: How Jesus and Satan Absolve Christian Criminals of All Guilt

One of the problems with the notion that Jesus died for your sins is that you’re pre-forgiven by the only authority you believe really matters.

As for earthly justice, I have a feeling the court won’t be overly impressed by Alexander Gonzalez Garcia‘s excuse for sexually assaulting an underage girl.

Alexander Gonzalez Garcia, a deacon with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nampa, was arrested Tuesday. Prosecutors say a girl younger than 16 told investigators in July that Garcia inappropriately touched her in a church storage room during a potluck a few days earlier. …

The detectives said in court documents that Garcia claimed Satan was also in the storage room and may have taken control of his body.

You can see the appeal of religion: Taking responsibility for your own skeevy actions is never necessary as long as you have one fictitious entity to blame them on, and another to wash away any remnant of guilt.

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  • momtarkle

    Damned poor defense.

  • One of the problems?

    The concepts of sin and divine forgiveness are at the very core of what makes Christianity arguably the most dangerous and immoral religion currently practiced.

  • Al

    As long as the courts use a bible to swear on and have slogans such as “in god we trust” displayed, then they should accept the satan defense. We know Justice Scalia believes in the devil

  • kickinitincrik

    I think if I get in trouble with the law I’ll pull out the atheist card and say that the chance combination of chemicals which make make up my being pre-determined me to commit such and such a crime. I am a victim because I have no free will and because I got a sucky draw from the random biological assortment of the universe. You can see the appeal of atheism. Taking responsibility for your own skeevy actions is never necessary as long as you have have one strictly materialistic universe to blame it on. Stupid universe. Go back to where you came from!

  • Michael Harrison

    And if there were a physiological condition resulting in criminal behavior, the legal system has measures to account for that. As for me, I think you have a simplistic understanding of free will.

  • David Evans

    He should call Satan as a witness. Though my guess is that Satan will have an alibi.

  • Terry Firma

    If you are wealthy, or have parents who are, you could just say it’s not your fault you have “affluenza.” Being too rich to care is now a bona fide illness that excuses killing at least four people.

  • You can see the appeal of atheism. Taking responsibility for your own skeevy actions is never necessary as long as you have have one strictly materialistic universe to blame it on. Stupid universe. Go back to where you came from!

    Has there been a rash of “I’m not responsible for my actions because atheism” arguments in court cases that just aren’t getting reported on? Or is this more an airy hypothetical based on an assumption of how you think atheists may well consider the implications of naturalism because you’ve never actually asked any atheists how they actually think about the implications of naturalism?

  • Well, there are physical or mental conditions that result in criminal behavior- pedophilia, sociopathy, some psycopathies- and our legal system is ill equipped to deal with them.

  • Michael Harrison

    I would argue that it is not pedophilia, but acting on it, which is the problem. Similarly, the vast majority of of sociopaths aren’t criminals (just jerks, presumably). Of course, this veers dangerously to the anti-gay application of “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” And this is where the ethics question gets murky: part brain structure, part consideration of social impact.

    Rather, what I had in mind was much simpler: demonstrable lack of impulse control — even if the person knew that a given behavior was wrong, and did not want to act so, that person is neurologically incapable of stopping.

  • I know what you were talking about. I’m just pointing out that not all criminal behavior is volitional. We don’t deal with that well. We end up punishing people for whom punishment can serve no useful purpose. We don’t know how to fix these people medically, we just don’t know how to handle them. So we often handle them badly. I think this is an aspect of our current morality that future societies will look back on quite negatively (rather like we look back on slavery).

  • JT Rager

    When we atheists state that we do good things without the help of a god, Christians say “You are moral because that is God making you good decisions”. If Satan is the one making us do bad things, do Christians think we are moral agents whatsoever?

  • Keyra

    Ever heard of Islam? And actually Jesus repeatedly preached to do good, not do bad and ask for forgiveness later.

  • Keyra

    There’s no such thing as pre-meditated repentance, that’s not how it works.

  • cary_w

    I think the term you are searching for here is the “insanity plea”. You can plead insanity because some kind of biological or mental conditions makes you delusional and incapable of understanding reality and controlling your actions.

    Interestingly enough, in our local high profile case of kidnapping and rape, the perpetrator claimed he was only following God’s will and refused to answer questions, instead he sang and recited Bible verses whenever he was brought into the courtroom. He was eventually declared insane and incappible of standing trial, so, I believe, he is now locked up in a some kind of prison mental institution. So apparently using the excuse of “following the word of God” counts as insanity, let’s hope “possessed by Satan” counts as insanity too.

  • I don’t consider Islam to be as dangerous as Christianity. It only appears so because in today’s world most theocracies are Islamic. All theocracies bring out the worst in people- the Christian theocracies in our past certainly demonstrate that.

    In terms of the actual morality drawn from religion, however, Christianity is far worse than Islam.

  • We end up punishing people for whom punishment can serve no useful purpose.

    This is kind of a leap. There are plenty of social and psychological purposes to punishment for wrongdoing that would still be perfectly sensible even if the person who acted wrongly had no control over their actions.

    One of the most obvious (and ironic) is its utility in responding to the instinctual need most humans have for retribution as an effective way to psychologically cope with a breach of the social order. If we use as a relevant level of abstraction humans being tribal/pack animals, then analogically the way we punish social errors is similar to how pack animals enforce social order.

    Part of the pragmatic point of punishment (and if I were to guess, perhaps the primary evolutionary pressure that led to it being a powerful instinct in creatures like ourselves, other apes, canines, and social felines) is that it allows a social grouping to be sparing with force and violence, which limits its total cost compared to the benefits to the social group members of being a group of individual entities with mostly shared but sometimes conflicting desires and ends.

  • Mick

    So when JC suggests that unbelievers should be tied up and drowned in the ocean (Matthew 18:6) how does that fit in with preaching “to do good and not do bad”?

  • TCC

    In fairness, that’s not directed at unbelievers, and it isn’t really a suggestion.

  • Anat

    Lack of free will does not get you off the hook. You are still a choice-making machine with multiple feedback loops. Your choices do not emerge from nowhere, they emerge in response to your internal makeup and external conditions. The way people respond to your actions is part of the external conditions that set up your future behavior and the future behavior of others who are aware of your history. If negative sanctions are likely to lead you or third parties to make better choices in the future it is right of society to impose them on you. Thus the rationale of holding people responsible for their actions in a materialistic universe.

    If a computer malfunctions because of bad input the input needs to be modified. Punishment to a human is a form of input.

  • It is easier to get over a loss if a force of nature took it then if a malevolent person did it. If a storm destroyed your house you don’t need to forgive it (as long as you don’t see the work of a being behind it). You accept it somehow. But if a person destroyed your house, you have to kind of forgive to get over it. You will allways ask yourself why did he that and that will torture you.
    From that perspective if satan was involved, what is kind of a force of nature, then it probably is easier for the victim to handle the incident because the evildoer was kind of a victim himself and did it not out of an incomprehensible motivation. It sounds crazy, I know, but on a psychological level arguing with satan could help the victim to get over it easier than if she has to deal with a well aware abuse of confidence.
    The problem is, in a modern world we don’t buy that anymore.
    But if you belief in the existence of satan, then this way really could be easier than that a person of god, in which you believe as well, did something so terrible out of free will, in which you beliefe too.

    I usually argue that exactly this is the reason why I am afraid of religions, because they give their ethic responsibility away and everybody is happy..

  • The Starship Maxima

    That son of a bitch should be executed for being a member of the church, abusing a young girl and then trying to say the devil did it.

  • Disgusting.

  • purr
  • Rob P.

    I think Justice Scalia would accept that excuse.

  • Greg G.

    Invisible Satan made him do it and Invisible Jesus forgave him for doing it so it doesn’t matter if the person harmed by the action holds a grudge. She should get over it because the incident was never about the two real people involved. It’s an invisible battle between invisible beings. Is that too hard to understand?

  • Red-Star

    Wouldn’t that make him even more guilty in the code he claims to follow if it was true? Not only did you commit the Sins of Wrath of Lust but you did it because the Devil told you and you knew it was the Devil?

  • lucky21

    Low Blow.

  • He might accept the explanation. I sincerely doubt he would find that that explanation excuses.

  • lucky21

    Actually if you go to any Christian they would say he defiantly is not getting out of this one because of the fact that many do believe that people are ultimately responsible for their own actions. The devil might tempt but the thing all comes back to the fact that its your own dang fault. That didn’t work with Adam so how do you think it would work now. The answer is a big NO!!! People stop trying to blame Satan and man up to your sins.

  • Brenda

    Matthew 18:6 reads, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

    Disbelief in God’s existence is certainly considered a sin in Christianity. So if an atheist shared their view with a child and ended up being the catalyst for that child to lose faith, it would be sinful. How is Matthew 18:6 not directed at unbelievers?

  • Dave

    Is this a way of running a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity defence by proxy?

  • TCC

    I should probably clarify that it’s not directed only at unbelievers or even at all unbelievers. The situation you propose would apply, I’m sure, but it need not be true for all unbelievers, and “causing someone to sin” in this context isn’t specifically about losing faith, either, so it could even apply to religious individuals (even the apostles themselves, who are the ones getting this advice).

  • kickinitincrik

    Strange comments. Since Christianity is so evil there is probably justifiable cause in outlawing the Bible and killing those who hold such terrible beliefs. It wouldn’t be the first time an atheist has done that.

  • You seem to be confusing knowing an idea is terrible and wanting to ban it. Christianity is awful, sure, but people don’t want to ban it because totalitarianism is even worse.

    Are you really still bringing up that tired, inaccurate trope that atheist totalitarianism is worse than other totalitarianism? It’s simply not so, no matter how much you want to believe it. Shockingly, totalitarianism tends to suck. The religiosity or lack thereof of the leadership doesn’t change the suckage.

  • kickinitincrik

    Atheism is more of a natural kin to totalitarianism, since there is no intrinsic morality one has to be enforced, one that would obviously exclude those that believe in a higher power, a totalitarian atheistic state cannot handle that. Atheism also does not have any sort of absolute moral constraints for those who wish to be brutal.

  • Uh, you do realize that if you think you have the One Right Way to Live Life, you’re far more likely to try to enforce it on others by actual force, right? Religion, especially the Abrahamic ones, is ripe for use and abuse by totalitarian regimes, and has been so used for centuries. Do you think the Indian caste system would have held without Hinduism to prop it up? No. Do you think Hitler could have gotten power without appealing to God and religious anti-Semitism? No. Do you think Saudi Arabia’s monarchy could have retained power for so long without religious secret police keeping people “in their proper place”? No.

    Atheism has no moral function at all. That’s why most of us are humanists- it is a philosophical position that describes what we do believe, as opposed to what we don’t believe. Atheism has absolutely no moral content, positive or negative, so you can’t argue that it leads to either good or bad ethical outcomes. Secular humanism, on the other hand, leads to pretty damned good outcomes, so that’s where I throw my support.

    Why would you think that an atheist democracy would automatically exclude theists? Do theist democracies automatically exclude atheists?

  • Pofarmer

    In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile
    to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting
    his abuses in return for protection to his own.

    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17,

  • So I assume you are an evil person, because your lack of belief in unicorns lacks any intrinsic morality, and lacks any sort of absolute moral constraints?

  • CottonBlimp

    We end up punishing people for whom punishment can serve no useful purpose. We don’t know how to fix these people medically, we just don’t know how to handle them.

    I wonder if anyone’s thought of locking them up somewhere they can’t endanger others.

  • CottonBlimp

    It’s not possible to blame the universe, because it’s not conscious. You might as well blame a rock.

    The court doesn’t need to delve into philosophy, it just needs to ask “is this person a danger to society?” Whether you commit violence out of choice or biology is, at most, relevant to sentencing, not the verdict.

  • CottonBlimp

    I’m really curious whether you think that’s an unfair attack on Scalia’s faith or his history of misogyny.

  • Whitney

    In some ways, “Satan made me do it” doesn’t even wash with other Christians. I mean, shouldn’t this guy have been praying for divine assistance? One would think that a loving god would help someone under such a theoretically dire threat.

    Or is he saying “Satan got the OK from JC, so I had to!”?

  • Intelligent Donkey

    We have no morality. We are just sockpuppets caught in a tug-of-war between Yahweh and Satan. We do good and bad things according to which deity currently has his hand stuck up our asses.

  • Everyone always is blaming Satan for their own bad behavior. Well, Satan didn’t do it. He was at my house, playing D & D 4th edition the day in question. He’s a regular player in my game group, along with Jesus and the angel Maroni. Satan plays a 5th level Warlord and is really one of the group’s core go-to players. He even brings snax and they are often really good but Jesus always complains they tempt him too much and ruin his diet.

  • Atheism is more of a natural kin to totalitarianism,

    Says the Xian who believes in a totalitarian god who drowned the whole world in a fit of pique.

    since there is no intrinsic morality one has to be enforced,

    Says the Xian who believes in a totalitarian god who condones and supports “moralities” like rape, murder, genocide and slavery.

    one that would obviously exclude those that believe in a higher power,

    Says the Xian who believes in a higher power more immoral than he is or could ever be.

    a totalitarian atheistic state cannot handle that.

    Says a Xian who believes in a totalitarian god that punishes people for having the “wrong” thoughts, aka thought-crime.

    Atheism also does not have any sort of absolute moral constraints for those who wish to be brutal.

    Says the Xian who is simply a sociopath on a leash.

  • Ella Warnock

    They also often say that your good works are nothing but filthy rags as far as god is concerned. I asked the last person who told me that if I should just stop donating time and money to charities, since god viewed my doing those things as “evil,” anyway. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get an answer. He just walked away sulking.

  • Ella Warnock

    Actually, I discovered that I’m completely responsible for my behavior and feelings. It would be awfully nice to just say, “oh my bad, well, I’m not perfect, just forgiven (tee hee, giggle)” and skip merrily on my way as I’ve seen so many who have done some really thoughtless or hateful deeds. They don’t give a damn when they hurt someone, and they proudly pull the jesus card with impunity. I don’t HAVE a card to play; I’m responsible, and no one else.

  • anon atheist

    How can Islam be worse if it does not know the Golden Rule and has in contrast to Christianity only a selective prohibition on killing people that does not allow you to kill other muslims but allows you to kill non-muslims?
    And why do islamic democracies also not accept the universal human rights? Why is there virtually no religious freedom in islamic democracies compared to christian ones?

  • Glasofruix

    Uh, so the only thing that keeps you from killing, stealing and raping is the fear of eventual divine punishement? If so, you sir, are a terrible person.

  • Drakk

    Christians aren’t capable of morally good actions. It’s just angels making them do it.

  • Michael Harrison

    Your projection is showing.

  • Michael Harrison

    Here, let me google that for you:

  • The Golden Rule is a part of every society, every religion, every non-religion. It’s a part of human nature.

    Christianity has only a selective prohibition on killing people, as well. That’s true for all the Abrahamic religions.

    Why did Christian theocracies not accept universal human rights? Why was there virtually no religious freedom in Christian theocracies? What modern Christian democracies are you comparing them with? I’m not aware of any modern Christian theocracies. But many Islamic states to offer a fair degree of religious freedom- something that is especially true in non-theocracies like Turkey.

    All the Abrahamic religions endorse huge amounts of savagery and immoral (by modern standards) behavior. The only thing that keeps them in check is secular governments. That has substantially civilized Judaism and Christianity, but has not yet brought Islam under control.

  • We’ve done something like that in the case of people with dangerous illnesses- TB, typhoid, others. It’s the idea behind locking up the criminally insane. But it’s not something we apply broadly, in part because we simply don’t yet know enough about the real roots of criminal behavior to reliably separate that which is deliberate from that which is outside the control of the criminal.

    And of course, as 3lemenope says above (or implies), the unfortunate fact is that revenge is still a powerful factor in our legal system, despite its insistence on justice.

  • TrickQuestion

    Oddly enough, jesus never saves.

  • Artor

    Yes, calling Scalia “Justice,” is entirely uncalled-for.

  • Artor

    4th ed. IS the work of Satan! 3.5 is the Truth and the Light.

  • Artor

    Maybe I’m showing my ignorance here, but are there ANY Islamic democracies?

  • anon atheist

    “The Golden Rule is a part of every society”
    God is Love.

    Please CP with these kinds of meaningless statements you are not going to impress anybody.

    “I’m not aware of any modern Christian theocracies.”

    Ever asked yourself why there aren’t any modern Christian theocracies but so many islamic ones?

    “But many Islamic
    states to offer a fair degree of religious freedom- something that is
    especially true in non-theocracies like Turkey.”

    Shut up about our atheism and we won’t put you in jail.

    No matter whether it is Libya, Egypt or Turkey as soon as the muslims have a chance to vote they vote for the radicals, for the extremists. They want to get rid of democracy as soon as possible. Common denominator in all these countries.

  • David Evans

    The KJV has 18.6 as

    But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    which I’ve always read as primarily about child abuse. Recent evidence seems to show that that is (to say the least) not confined to unbelievers.

  • Turkey is a secular democracy with a largely Islamic population. Malaysia is an officially Islamic democracy. There are other examples.

  • David Evans

    Two words – the Spanish Inquisition

  • How is it meaningless to recognize that the golden rule has been discovered by virtually every society?

    There are still Christian theocracies in Africa. I think we see the modern Islamic theocracies because of European influences that very much distorted the economic and social development of most of those countries.

    Voting Muslims seek to change society in certain ways, just as all voters do. It isn’t obvious to me that they sek to get rid of democracy.

  • trj

    Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan. Democracy does not equal freedom of religion, though.

  • anon atheist

    “I think we see the modern Islamic theocracies because of European influences that very much distorted the economic and social development of most of those countries.”

    Saudi Arabia, Quatar, UAE, …
    (”’European”’ influences! that’s rich)

    “It isn’t obvious to me that they sek to get rid of democracy.”

    That is the problem.

  • Several. One thing to keep in mind is that democracy is really a mechanism of government, rather than a form of government; democracy can be implemented to varying extents, and so the presence of democracy in any country should be understood as a sliding scale, rather than a binary yes/no.

    Some countries use democracy to determine leadership, some to determine the disposition of issues directly, and there are varying flavors and intensities of those structures, too. Americans vote mostly only on legislative representation (and sort of indirectly upon executive offices), with some states and municipalities also implementing more direct democracy regarding issues and legislative proposals and occassionally judicial composition. The Swiss, in contrast, vote on damn near everything; a whole host of things that would normally be handled by legislatures in other republics are instead handled by direct voting on referenda.

  • kickinitincrik

    Scarecrow, scarecrow, scarecrow, scarecrow…ad hominem.

  • kickinitincrik

    I can do that too. It’s fun. Do you think North Korea would have become what it was without atheism? Do you think Hitler would have done what he did without the German scholarly higher criticism of the Bible and the without applying Darwin’s ideas on the human race? Now, I don’t throw out these arguments because they’re too simplistic and they don’t deal with deeper philosophical issues which atheists seem to skirt. None of these causes are sufficient causes for an explanation of what atrocity we decide to cherry pick, although some are necessary and some are just guilty by association.

    Atheism doesn’t have a moral function. It’s inadequate in that way. That’s why humanism is needed – which is really nothing but a parasitic cherry picking of what other worldviews have discovered. My point however still stands. The atheism had no ultimate standard by which to measure itself by. Moral constraints are arbitrary and therefore an atheist ruler would have less restraint if he decided that atrocities were necessary.

    Atheist democracy? An atheist democracy can work just fine as long as it has the moral underpinnings of a different worldview. Most atheists live this way. They are atheists but live within a Judeo-Christian mindset of ethics and history. What would interest me more is a nation that doesn’t have it’s national roots in a Judeo-Christian mindset. The ones that have tried to remove the roots have eventually crumbled or have been or have become oppressive. Some of the European nations may present an interesting case study. Their Christian heritage is still too strong and it’s not appropriate yet to say that atheistic humanism has granted them their democracy. They’ve inherited their societies and it remains to be seen what they can do with them – unless of course they give them away to something a little more potent like Islam. .

  • smrnda

    Actually, Hitler rejected Darwin’s ideas because if we were all descended from a common ancestor, Jews and Germans would not be two intrinsically different races, just variants of human. If races are divinely ordained by god, then they *aren’t* just random products of human migration and adaptation. Here is the first hit I find on that:

    I’d also like to add, as someone whose ancestors left Europe owing to antisemitism, that the church was totally behind persecuting Jews and had done so for ages. The Nazis didn’t just pop out of nowhere and *suddenly* decide they hated Jews. Check out what Martin Luther wrote – he’d have fit right in with Hitler and Goebbels when it came to his antisemitism. Czarist pogroms condoned by the Orthodox Church pushed my ancestors out of Ukraine. Learn some history.

    I would also say that most atheists living in functional societies do not follow Christian morals – they tend to owe more to pre-Christian Greek philosophies (check out Epicurus for the origins of atheist philosophy, utilitarianism and the social contract.) The one area that Christian ethics distinguishes itself from ordinary ethics is throwing hissy fits over what people do sexually.

    If you’re going to argue that atheism needs humanism, sure, because atheism on its own is just not believing in gods, it isn’t about believing in anything. But religions are hostile to humanism because they set ‘good or bad’ as not what is good or bad for people, but what pleases god, people be damned.

  • smrnda

    I’d say, to some extent, Jewish ethics are better in some ways than Christian ethics. Example – forgiveness isn’t a right, you have to make amends, so the child molester can’t turn the victim into the *bad person* by pointing out how they won’t forgive him. Turn the other cheek? People have a legitimate right to defend themselves against oppression.

    I’m not saying Judaism is 100 % right – I’m an atheist from a very liberal secular Jewish family, so I may not be the most informed, but many of the teachings of Jesus are very easily twisted to serve oppressors.

  • smrnda

    Actually, Uganda is becoming a theocracy. So is Russia.

  • smrnda

    Well, science is helping us determine whether the claim that you have no control is accurate. This is why the insanity defense doesn’t work so often. In order to *not be responsible* one must have an actual psychiatric illness manifesting symptoms that would make it impossible for you to distinguish right and wrong, legal and illegal. Science can *PROVE* that your claim of an unlucky draw is false, and the ability of science will be better as lots of research is done into the differences in brains of criminals and normal people.

    You DO understand that very few atheists are in jail, but it’s full of people sure the devil made them do it and who are eagerly awaiting god’s forgiveness, and just can’t get why the people the raped or the people whose loved ones they killed can’t be Christ like and forgive them?

  • smrnda

    I think the issue is that it tends to cut a break only to those who are potentially delusional or unable to think through their actions. I’ve been delusional and hallucinating, and probably since I’m white and female they cut me a break even though I happened to act violently towards police. (I’m betting if I was Black and male, I’d be dead.)

    I think we need to better address other issues. We have such a huge stigma about pedophilia that I doubt many people would be able to openly tell a therapist “I’m sexually attracted to kids, can you help me not act on this?” But I think if they could openly state that, we’d be better off. I mean, if a person can be open about that, they can say “Hey, I really don’t think I should do this job since I’d have to work with kids” the way a recovering addict can admit certain jobs might trigger a relapse, or a person like myself can request accommodations for my schizo-affective disorder.

  • smrnda

    As an atheist, and ESPECIALLY as a non-Christian, I can’t just fuck over people and then demand they forgive me, because Jesus.

  • smrnda

    It’s not just the invisible people, it’s the sinner who has this huge story of sin and redemption now. The victim was just a nameless prop.

  • Artor

    Thanks for the illumination. It’s that spectrum I was thinking of. Can a country with a large Muslim population like Turkey really be considered am “Islamic Democracy,” or is it a democracy with a lot of Muslims? Someone mentioned Bangladesh, which in practice doesn’t sound very democratic, from what I’ve heard of it.

  • Artor

    I agree with you on Uganda. As for Russia, I see Putin et al exploiting the church to consolidate their own personal power. That’s a bit different from the church itself seizing power. You know Putin would crush it mercilessly if he thought they were a serious rival to him, like Stalin did before him.

  • Artor

    Saudi Arabia, Quatar, UAE, …
    (”’European”’ influences! that’s rich)

    You don’t know much of the history of the Middle East if you think “that’s rich.” All of those territories were under colonial rule until fairly recently. Remember Lawrence of Arabia?

    Edit: re Lawrence of Arabia. RIP Peter O’Toole. I just saw that he died yesterday.

  • One of the most important distinguishing marks between states that implement democracy is what they choose to place beyond the power of a democratic majority to alter. In the US, for example, the Bill of Rights (and some other constitutional provisions) lay down exceptions to the democratic power such that even if everybody agreed with/voted for certain things, they still would not come to pass.

    So, a useful way to distinguish an Islamic democracy from a democracy that just happens to have a lot of Muslims might be in looking at whether values important to Islam (or Islam itself) is protected from the power of democratic majorities. Turkey could plausibly be called a democracy that happens to have a lot of Muslims, somewhat less so but still plausibly Indonesia, even less so Pakistan. On the other end, Iran is pretty firmly an Islamic democracy (insofar as it is a democracy at all, which BTW is much much more than most of its neighbors). One could think of a great deal of the unrest in Egypt as precisely an argument over whether they wish to be an Islamic democracy or whether they wish to be a democracy that just happens to have a lot of Muslims.

  • Artor

    Atheism also does not have any sort of absolute moral constraints for those who wish to be brutal.

    LOL! And Xianity does? That’s funny! You should take this act on the road!

  • The lazy debater relies upon technicality and informal fallacy to relieve them of the difficult task of actually addressing substance. The effective debater, while acknowledging the deductive error, still engages with the argument anyway.

    Not least because your audience may not agree with you about whether a particular case qualifies as a proper accusation of the informal fallacy in question.

  • Hey, just because Satan briefly worked at WOTC before 4th ed was released, doesn’t mean he wrote it. He was creating new Magic: The Gathering cards. True story.

  • While I completely agree with this, religious co-option by tyrannies is quite common and something most religions don’t fight very hard against. The church is currently part and parcel of the general atmosphere of intolerance and dictatorship in Russia.

  • Scarecrow

    Please read the bible, specifically Genesis 5:32 – 10:1


    Murder: Romans 1:24-32 NLT, Numbers 1:48-51 NLT, Exodus 31:12-15 NLT, 2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB, 1Samuel 6:19-20 ASV, 1 Kings 20:35-36 NLT, 2 Samuel 6:3-7 NAB, Isaiah 14:21 NAB, Hosea 9:11-16 NLT, Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT, Exodus 12:29-30 NLT, Jeremiah 51:20-26, Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT, Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT, Judges 15:14-15 NAB, just to name a few….

    Slavery: Exodus 21:2-11, 21-22, Leviticus 25:44-46, Ephesians 6:5 NLT, just to name a few….

    Genocide: Genesis 5:32-10:1, Exodus 23:23, 1 Samuel 15:2-3, Jeremiah 15:1-4, Ezekiel 35:7-9, Joshua 8:1-29 NLT, just to name a few…..

    Rape: Judges 21:10-24 NLT, Numbers 31:7-18 NLT, Deuteronomy 20:10-14, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, 28-29, just to name a few….


    See above bible quotes


    Matthew 5:27-28. Thought crime, pure and simple. Even thinking it gets you in trouble.

    ad hominem.

    Not in the least. You asserted “Atheism also does not have any sort of absolute moral constraints for those who wish to be brutal,” thereby implying that your belief system, Xianity, had “absolute moral constraints for those who wish to be brutal.” Anyone who claims they aren’t brutal as a result of those moral constraints IS a sociopath on a leash. QED.

  • kickinitincrik

    Morals from pre-Christian Greek philosophies? Is that why you’re okay with slavery, infanticide, spousal abuse and pedophilia? Do you really want the Greeks to be your example of morality?
    I don’t bring up the connection between Darwin and Hitler because it’s doesn’t prove anything. What Hitler may or may not have believed has nothing to do with the truth of Christianity, Darwinism or whatever. Although, I think one can make a better argument for the Hitler/Darwin connection than the idea that Hitler was influenced by the Jewish Christ and the Jewish apostles to do what he did. The Hitler argument is nothing but a superficial inflammatory argument.

  • Stev84

    Turkey used to be very secular, with a strict separation of church and state. There has been a growing and alarming religious influence in recent years though. One can definitely say that the country is becoming more Islamic. But they aren’t at the point where Islamic values determine all policies.

  • You do realize that the official Nazi motto, on their belt buckles and everything, was “Gott mit uns”, which means “God is with us”, right?

    I suggest an in-depth study of German and European anti-Semitism before you continue this line of debate. Jews were persecuted throughout Europe for centuries (nigh on millenia; certainly more than one millenium) because of canards about Jews killing Jesus. People were heavily influenced by the anti-Semitism of the Gospel of John, and Hitler used that history and trope of dehumanization and persecution to rake up hatred against Jews that was inherent in the primary religion (Catholicism) of the region. It took until Pope John Paul II for the Catholic church to admit that, oh right, the Jews didn’t kill Jesus and it wasn’t fair to hold modern day people accountable for something their ancestors did (or didn’t do). You will note that is after the Holocaust occurred.

    If you want to argue for Hitler/Darwin (even though Hitler explicitly rejected Darwin’s theories, so good luck with that!), you should probably actually make an argument, instead of just saying you think there is one to be made.

  • I love your answers.

  • Thanks.

  • “Is that why you’re okay with slavery, infanticide, spousal abuse and pedophilia?”

    We’re not, in fact, “okay with” any of those things. Christians, on the other paw…

  • kickinitincrik

    So the change in your pocket tells me that you trust in God, eh? Or maybe we shouldn’t judge a person’s worldview by their Prussian-made belt buckle. What a pointless little anecdote that is. I am still waiting for you to tell me how the self-hating Jews of the Bible taught anti-antisemitism.

  • kickinitincrik

    What a brilliant point? Of course. The lack of belief has no bearing on anything. I can lack belief in gravity, women, electricity and nothing will happen.

  • Neko

    What’s so bad about parasitic cherry picking, kick? St. Paul did it.

  • Neko

    Moral constraints are arbitrary and therefore an atheist ruler would have less restraint if he decided that atrocities were necessary.

    Whaat? Peter the Great? Ivan the Terrible? Bloody Mary? The list goes on and on.

  • kickinitincrik

    Neko! You’re like batman, lurking in the shadows. Tell me what you think caused Paul to go from Pharisee to parasite.

  • Neko

    That is the most tantalizing enigma in all of Western history! I don’t know!

  • I blame the drugs.

  • Kidsworld Bali

    The “appeal of religion” or “fundamentalist wacko Christianity?” Couldn’t atheism appeal to a pedophile since there is no accountability if you’re not caught

  • Dear FSM, you are an ignorant one, aren’t you?

    If the official motto of your nation is God is with us, and you are also a genocidal, warmongering nation who argues that God is on your side and loves what you’re doing, then guess what? You don’t get to claim that nation did bad stuff because of a lack of god.

    As for the second question, Google is your friend. In a nutshell, 2,000 years ago there were many factions of Jews. These factions included, but were not limited to, the Pharisees, Samaritans, Essenes, and Sadducees. None of these factions liked each other very much, and they did a lot of yelling at each other, sort of like Baptists and Catholics in theological debates. The Pharisees generally included the priestly class and were the biggest, most “mainstream” faction so they were called “Jews” while everyone else was called by their faction name. Like many religious and ideological disputes, it got ugly sometimes. John was likely a Samaritan. He didn’t like Pharisees very much, and wrote bad stuff about them in his Gospel as part of an intramural factional struggle. Since Pharisees are the predecessors of modern rabbinical Judaism, and since most Christians throughout history have been as ignorant of history as you are, they just read the stuff about how Jews were bad and took it at face value. And thus was born centuries upon centuries of persecution.

  • Richard Thomas

    Uh, we have laws against sexual contact with a minor. I didn’t know prison time = no accountability.

  • If you choose not to believe in that which is tangibly real, something will certainly happen. You will be seen as damaged in some way. You will be outside society.

    Choose not to believe in leprechauns, unicorns, or most other imaginary things, and you will be seen as normal. A handful of imaginary gods remain the only fantasies that society chooses to consider acceptable. Fortunately, that seems to be changing.

  • anon atheist

    So when this man in Saudi Arabia was punished with seven years of prison and 500 whip lashes for publicly stating that jews and christians should be treated the same way as muslims and barely escaped execution by reconfirming three times in front of the court that he was a muslim this had nothing to do with islam, but with the European colonial rule.

    Thanks for enlightening me.

  • Kidsworld Bali

    “If you’re not caught”….means no prison time, and therefore no accountability. How else can I put it?

  • kickinitincrik

    Wow. The problem these days is that with a little Google searching and a little Wiki searching people think they’re educated.
    So basically Pharisees are called Jews and John was a Samaritan and then Hitler. And it gets all tied into a nice little package with a Prussian belt. I see. Thank you professor.

  • keddaw

    “And why do islamic democracies also not accept the universal human rights?”

    The US hasn’t signed up for the Convention on the Rights of the Child because it wants to kill children. Seriously, that is the reason:

  • Nobody suggested that, and you know it. Your question was why do we have modern Islamic theocracies, and I think a good case can be made that European colonialism is a big part of the reason.

    While the punishment itself is a consequence of Islam, it is no different than the punishments meted out for exactly the same crime by Christian theocracies over many centuries.

    The ethics of both religions are poor, but a secular society provides a good deal of shelter from the harms either can create.

  • Richard Thomas

    A. First of all, if you can name a secular institution with even a fraction of the reputation for shielding pedophiles as the Roman Catholic Church, I would love to hear it.
    B. For some reason, you are assuming that atheism is something to appeal to people. It’s not. It’s just the natural result of critically examining your religious beliefs and realizing they don’t make sense.
    C. “Good” and “evil” are concepts that are completely independent of religious belief. There are incredibly evil religious people, and incredibly benevolent atheists. If you don’t know the difference between right and wrong then you lack empathy, not religion. Troll better.

  • LDavidH

    Except that the Bible never acknowledges that as a excuse for sinning… It’s a man-made excuse, and should not be accepted by anybody.

  • Kidsworld Bali

    A. The British Foreign Office.
    B. I have no religious beliefs to “critically examine.” Atheism assumes existence is by chance. I don’t. That does not imply I am anti-science or pro-religion.

    C. What do “good” and “evil” or “right” and “wrong” have to do with it? Critically examine your beliefs better.

  • If you wish to fail reading comprehension, that is your choice. Since no one else is having any trouble following my posts, I think the problem is on your end of this conversation.

  • purr

    The problem is you. I understood just fine and in fact I learned something new.

  • Richard Thomas

    You asserted that atheism would attract pedophiles because you assume there are no consequences. I replied that (1) atheism is not a “choice” that someone picks just because they don’t feel like going to hell for sinning or something like that and (2) religious belief or lack thereof has nothing to do with morality. Seriously, if you want to debate it, at least figure out your own position. Otherwise, have a nice day.

  • Kidsworld Bali

    That is a lame response indeed. I asserted nothing, but my position is as clear as day, i.e. atheists may commit crimes on the assumption they “get away with it” if they are not caught by the authorities. In other words, pedophilia is not the preserve of religious-minded folks. You disagree?

  • kickinitincrik

    Yes, I’m lazy. It’s like someone dumps a heaping pile of garbage at my feet. Garbage that I’ve already sifted through. I have better more productive things to do. If Bear wants to be precise and deal with the point at hand then I may engage. But I’m not obligated to sift through his herrings. Especially if his way of dealing with my criticisms of atheism is by criticizing Christianity.

  • Richard Thomas

    “Couldn’t atheism appeal to a pedophile since there is no accountability if you’re not caught”-direct quote from your original post; NOT that pedophilia is the preserve of the religious. If you want to debate here, stop moving the goalposts, or go back to Ray Comfort’s page. Have a nice day.

  • You are not obligated to address comments at all. The point is, if you do choose to engage (and you have), then there are more or less effective ways to do it. I was simply pointing out that the method you chose, particularly given the context of a hostile audience, was especially ineffective. You can with that, or not, as you will. I have no particular desire for or investment in you being effective at communicating your ideas, because frankly your ideas (insofar as they have been expressed so far) I find have basically no value–the parts of Christianity I personally find valuable your perspective seems particularly alienated from–but on a different level, seeing someone do something very poorly when it could easily be done better is an irritant, a personal pet peeve.

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