Sorry, I've been kind of busy. haha. I'm usually pretty quick witted, but that's not during extended work. I'll concoct something tonight or tomorrow. You make valiant points, but I'll never concede defeat.
The nature of the site doesn't change the information it presents. I don't understand how it's reasonable to present an article claiming one such similarities, with no citations on the "important" half of the information, and then reject an article with citations to the reputable source for this information, on the grounds of "trying to combine religion and logic".
The article I presented uses simple logic, mainly that the alleged similarities have no reputable source, and comparison from the Book of the Dead as it relates to the Bible.
The man who started this whole thing is apparently named Gerald Massey, and it seems as though he essentially made the whole thing up. Here's someothersources, and that Stupid Evil Bastard site is definitely not apologetics based if that's your issue.
It's not an atheist doing good that makes him an enemy of God, it's an atheist who has sinned in the past. I'll agree it's scary, though perhaps not in the manner you're thinking of. And yes, there will always be some who think atheists are always evil all the time. However, they are actually fewer than there are made out to be.
Now, as for Jesus existing- I've found a page of recorded quotes, many of them by prominent Roman officials. There's some others too. It is an apologetics page, but the people involved have no input, except summarizing the ending portions of some of the letters they quote from. After some Google searches, I can say that many of these are reliable quotes. Perhaps you'll find differently?
Sorry, but I'm afraid I put very little credence in a website whose main goal is apologetics. In my opinion, apologetics is one of the worst creations of rethe religious, because it attempts to fuse two things that are polar opposites: religion, of course, and logic. Sure, there might be inconsistencies in translation, both from the Book of the Dead and the Bible, however, that does mean the facts can be thrown out the window. Doesn't work that way. Apologetics makes a business of going around logic and reason without truly confronting it. Again, any argument will always end in a religious person saying "Because the Bible says".
It's a little scary that you say that an atheist doing good will be seen as an enemy of God... this hearkens back to my scientific ancestors who were burned at the stake for simply offering questions and trying to gain more insight. You seem like a rational guy who wouldn't hold a gripe against me, but there are others in your league who probably would not hesitate to attack and kill me. You know?
And about the whole Jesus debate... don't forget that it's the responsibility of the believer to prove existence, not the nonbeliever to prove nonexistence. What hard, historical evidence is there (meaning, the Bible doesn't count) that the Jesus portrayed in the Bible actually existed?
I'd say, that as a person who actively rejects the existence of God, you are currently hellbound. It's not something I could be outraged over, though I am actually a bit... concerned? Concerned about your choice on the matter.
The better person... It depends on your mindset, and in who's mind you'd be considered good, and their standard of good. A Christian who feels obligated to do a good thing out of respect and gratitude for God, is good in God's eyes, and probably the eyes of most anyone watching. Earning heaven to avoid hell is the wrong motivation, and as far as the afterlife is concerned would likely be considered "invalid". An atheist who just does it because he wants to, assuming it's out of goodwill and not because they want something, will be seen as good by people, but as an enemy by God. That does not imply hatred, by the way.
As for Horus. This site makes a pretty good "NO U", and has the added benefit of a link to a translation of The Book of the Dead, which appears to be the only decent source for Egyptian mythology. The rest appear to be spells.
I think you know what I mean when I say Jesus existed. I've yet to see a convincing argument against the existence of Jesus as a person.
I agree with you with the "good by nature" idea. I'm not saying people are bad, I'm just saying that most of our instincts go against the laws of both God and man. I think that's well accepted (and, of course, I also don't believe there are reasons above self preservation in our lizard brain, which is the most instinctual layer). But I also agree that good is good, no matter what reason is given. However! There are quite a few snippets from the Bible where piousness and faith are apparently required for Heaven, which leads me to believe that, as an atheist, I wouldn't be accepted into Heaven no matter how good or decent I am. What's your opinion on that? And, I guess my overall question is about this topic is this: when comparing similar acts between Christians and atheists, who is the "better person", so to say: The Christian who feels obligated to do it, or the atheist who just wants to do it?
And I really have to chuckle and pat you on the back for your description of the Bible there. Most of it is truly quite mundane and boring, I think we all can agree (along with very long a bizarrely placed family trees of sorts). But ever read Nicholas Sparks? Mundane and trite can sell like hell! Oh, and don't forget to read up on Horus. His story was the basis for the Jesus story, and is essentially plagiarized idea-for-idea.
And there are records of tons of people crucified in Roman times for upsetting the Jews. That was a time where any deviation from the state, or religion, could be used as reason for death. It's really not that surprising, and proves nothing, that one of 'em was named Yeshua. I'm pretty sure if you dig deep enough, you'd find someone who was crucified with the name of Billy Joe-Bob.
It's true that hell isn't actually in the Bible, as such. Originally the word was Sheol. Grave, pit, abyss. It has more in common with Tartarus than the Inferno. Weeping and gnashing of teeth still applies. And yes, Satan descended to Earth, rather than hell.
And at the core of it, love for God is supposed to outweigh love for other people. However, selfless service to other people is considered service to God, and such service can come about by living out appreciation of the purification Christ gave us through the Crucifixion through gratefulness.
I think you misunderstood what I was trying to convey, there. I meant that such a person wouldn't worry about what a Christian may see as having no way out. There aren't as many situations that would require the lesser of evils as one would think. But when a person comes ends up in the middle of one, somebody who does not feel obligated to make a good choice will make a decent choice, and that would be the end of it. If good is done, it doesn't matter who does it. The difference is that Christians are called to live that way out of love for God and other people. Atheists are not.
Hm. Adam and Eve had little notion of what was right or wrong until eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Jesus said that by knowing the Law you are subject to it. Therefore if you honestly did not know what you were doing was wrong, it's not really wrong, as far as you're concerned. Sticking your finger in an electrical socket is obviously a bad idea, but how can anyone expect you to know that's it's against the rules if nobody's told you?
I really don't know if it's "natural" that a person does good. I do know that it's better than simple self-preservation. We have the Bible because there is an imperfection among humanity, and this is what happened to give us a chance to fix it.
I still don't understand how you can have studied the Bible and determine it's all fiction. Trials that end in the death of good people? Mundane boat rides? Accurate geographical information? That sort of thing isn't important to telling a good parable. Not to mention there are records of some guy named Yeshua who got crucified for upsetting the Jews.
Ah, you say that the purpose of Hell isn't to terrorize, but to seek God. However, what about the fact that nowhere in the Bible is "Hell" as we know it written of? I'm no biblical scholar, but from what I can tell, when Satan was banished from Heaven, he descended to Earth, no? And you mention that agape is the most lasting (and presumably, most important) love. So, you're saying that love for God is more important than love for your fellow human being? Understand where I'm coming from... to me, that's like saying one's invisible friend is more important than a friend of flesh and blood. Not to mention I disagree that it's generally "best for everyone involved". Wasn't it out of love for God that Moses' followers were banished to the desert? Wasn't it Abraham that nearly burned his own son (this memory is a bit hazy, so forgive me if I'm wrong).
Anyhow, you say that we atheists can only choose the lesser of two evils. Why is that? If we do the exact same "moral" deed as a Christian, is it not as moral for us because we do it for different purpose? If a Christian didn't believe in God, would they do that exact same moral deed? Don't forget, true morality is based on physical and emotional acts (always has been, even from the Bible days; morality is different from piousness). So, I just don't understand why morality of the same physical/emotional degree is, for an atheist, less moral? Is it because we're not looking to please God, just our fellow human being? And if that's the case, wouldn't you say that the Christians have an exterior motive? Sorry for all the questions, I'm actually quite interested in picking your brain about this topic.
And I disagree with you incredibly on the last paragraph, on someone who knows nothing would do nothing wrong. In fact, I'd be inclined to believe that a person who knows nothing, by the standard of religion and society, would do everything wrong. Standards and traditions are a learned thing, and they evolve, which calls into play the question of "instinctual morality". Are the morals you uphold as a Christian natural? Are the good deeds any person upholds "natural"? We don't know. But if so, we surely wouldn't need the Bible (essentially a book of morality and philosophy of the Christian religion through parables - not a historical document! But that's a different story I think we've covered already.)
Enforced...? To some degree, yes they are, whether it's by others or one's own self. However, I think that the conscience knows when something is wrong and when it's right. The intensity and impact, and the persistence of such a thing varies from person to person. It's also quickly distorted if it's not nourished. I'll say this, punishment is an odd thing. It's traditionally been the place of a ruling body to set punishment in place, but the duty of the citizens not to invoke it. Barring abuse by the ruler, it's not something to fear if you're not in the wrong. If it's your position that Hell is used as something to terrorize people into following the rules, I don't think you understand the original purpose, the whole concept of Christianity. It's not to avoid Hell, it's to seek God. Paradise is ideally no more than a perk. Lawfulness is not fear, it's respectful and it's reasonable considering so many people in such an intricate society. Looking at a bigger picture, what results in the most lasting love (agape), or joy, or peace is logically best for all involved. That's morality, and that's what I know as the truth.
People who think atheists can't have morals are obviously incorrect. The question is the quality of the atheists' morality. It's far more flexible, which has it's own strengths- in what many Christians would call a moral dilemma, an atheist can simply chose the lesser of two evils and be on their way. However, it's more likely that they could miss something that causes long-term repercussions, or something of that nature. You called yourself "decent". Not "good". I'm not good, believe me, but (I said, as I as I ran the risk of getting even more preachy) I know what is.
It would be incredibly hard to imagine an uninfluenced human being, especially in today's world. Even feral kids are raised to uphold the traditions, as it were, of whatever raised them. Such a person would not need any sense of morality in any case. a person who knows nothing would do nothing, and would do nothing wrong.
Big post, dude. I was working up a response, but to be perfectly honest it's taking too much time. I'm not a flake, I swear, but it's just too much right now. I'll go and let things settle in my head and streamline it before trying to respond. I don't know if it'll be later this afternoon, or tonight, or tomorrow or what. But I fully intend to answer this. I hope you can understand.
Ah, you said it! Moral Code. It been a long belief of mine that morals, while not only being relative, are enforced against people's natural will. For example, a lot of religious folk believe that we atheists can not have morals, so we must be bad people. I think I'm a decent person. But I ask, why? Why do people do good? Is it ingrained in us to do good? I don't think so; if they were, they wouldn't require enforcement, ie, condemnation and consequence. Why does God feel it necessary to punish someone if they don't follow his laws, when religious people believe his laws are absolute and the Only Way? If they were, wouldn't we all agree on them, on an instinctual level? Same with social laws, that use jail and execution as a means to frighten people out of doing certain things (as the way Hell is used to frighten people into God's laws). Could it be that these are nothing more than sets of rules concocted by people that are implanted on us out of complete fear of consequence as opposed to a natural order?
I don't know. I really don't... I believe so, though.
Think about it this way. If you were in an egg, cut off from all life, hurtling through space at an unknown speed in complete blackness, no sense being able to penetrate your contentiousness (EDIT: contentiousness? Try consciousness, haha), from the day you're born to the day you die. How would you know the morals you believe in now are the Truth? Because they're part of the God-given body/brain/spirit you have? But if that's the case, why use negative (and even positive!) reinforcement to make sure you follow them? It just doesn't make sense to me.
Relativism feels like a natural follow up to atheism. Historically, moral code has been passed down by people deemed greater than most. Many have religions or certain patterns of thinking associated with them. If there's not a higher being, nothing that makes those people special, there's nothing that says those people were right outside of their own heads. So you do what you want to do.
Okay, so do you believe that religion itself is infallible? I don't mean the people... I mean the framework.
And murder... the bane of the moral relativist. Personally, I think murder in any way is as close to an absolute moral as we'll get. Even theft, in my opinion, is negotiable (I would steal to feel a starving family, no questions asked). And murder is also somewhat negotiable, since in a kill-or-be-killed situation, it ain't no question at all. Now, premeditated murder is a little different. I don't believe premeditated murder is in our instincts. I think it derives from psychology; that is, psychosis or antisocial personality disorder.
However, I cannot deny them the idea that they may think it right. Just like I can't deny you the thought that religion is right, even though I think both are wrong. Hey, for all I know, religion is caused by a psychological, or even neurological, disorder. I don't know.
The point of relativism is to admit that there is no Truth. Everything is dependent on viewpoint, be it personal fancy or psychological imbalance. It's listed as a type of philosophy, but it's not! It merely states that no philosophy is right, and no philosophy is wrong. It allows you to form your own philosophy, based on what you want to believe, not what others tell you you should believe. It's an add-on to belief, I'd say, that says what you believe is not absolute, not the way it should, or even must, be, like most religions preach. Just because someone's a moral relativist doesn't mean they believe premeditated murder is right, it just means they accept some people may view it as acceptable, and some people do.
I agree with you totally on Catholicism. I'm sure in their minds they don't see it that way, but "The Lord thy God is One God", and it's wrong to offer worship to others. I think there was even a verse warning about people worshiping angels. Christianity =/= Catholicism.
Also, I will say religion. One of the major points of Christianity is that the practitioners don't have to be perfect, In fact, if they were, Christianity need not exist. Humans are human and subject to tripping up, and that's evident in most everything you can see today.
There's one issue here. I can tell you all I want about what I believe, but you have no reason to think it right, since it's "my point of view". So let's set that aside. Do you personally think premeditated murder is moral? I'd assume not, but I want to hear what you have to say.