Matt yet again, demolishes a theist idiot!
Matt Dillahunty’s pre-debate video
One of the persistent criticisms of the so-called New Atheists — Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al. — is that many of their arguments, although directed against religious belief in general, are really relevant only for fundamentalists. Sure, if you interpret the Bible literally, God comes across as a homicidal, genocidal, misogynistic monster, but this crude understanding of scripture is held only by ignorant believers, who, at most, constitute a substantial minority of the faithful. Therefore, the New Atheists present a distorted view of religion and show little understanding of the mindset of “moderate” religionists. The moderate religionists do not believe the Bible provides us with a literally true history of ancient times, nor do they regard the Bible, in particular the Old Testament, as providing an accurate conception of God and God’s relationship to humanity.
Mmm, OK. Well, now there’s the perfect opportunity for all those moderate religious leaders, including presumably Pope “Who am I to judge?” Francis, to publicize their rejection of the simplistic, literal interpretation of scripture. They can discuss the story of Noah and God’s destruction of the world by flood, and in doing so they can repudiate the depiction of God that’s set forth in this story.
The recently released film Noah, starring, among others, Russell Crowe, is being marketed aggressively and is receiving wide publicity. Millions of people will be watching it across the world. Although the film deviates from the biblical version in some details, the key parts of the story are represented just as they are related in Genesis: God kills most humans and (non-marine) animals by causing them to drown. He does so because he is angered by the wickedness of most humans. Noah, his immediate family, and representatives of the various animal species are spared. In their publicity, the makers of the film assure us that they have tried to stay true to the values of a story that is a “cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.” Having seen the movie, I think the filmmakers have stayed true to those values. It is also undoubtedly true that the Noah story, with its accompanying values, is a “cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.” The problem is these values are morally repugnant.
Let’s not mince words: if the story of the Flood is to be believed, God is a moral monster. To say his response to the alleged wickedness of humans is disproportionate is a gross understatement. Moreover, God engages in conduct that we would expect from the worst dictators, namely collective punishment that sweeps in the innocent along with the guilty. Children, presumably, were among those drowned (unless we assume that wicked adults had no offspring) as were most all of the animals, who bore no responsibility whatsoever for the misdeeds of humans. Intentionally drowning a kitten is conduct we’d expect of some psychopathic juvenile, not a loving deity.
For those who accept the truth of scripture, the “lessons” of Noah are that violence and destruction are perfectly acceptable means of addressing problems, human rights (let alone animal rights) are an illusion, and power is ultimately what counts. God could destroy humanity and all animal life because — well, who’s going to try to stop him?
Anyway, now that Noah is on the minds of many, it’s an opportune time for all those moderate religious leaders to set the record straight. Indeed, one would think these religious leaders would feel obliged to repudiate the literal interpretation of the biblical story, lest the faithful misapprehend the true nature of God. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing for the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other respected leaders to issue a joint statement declaring the Noah story to be a pernicious fable, not to be taken seriously by believers today? This would be morally edifying, and, of course, would put those coarse New Atheists in their place.
But we know this is not going to happen. Of course, there are many religious people, including some religious leaders, who do not interpret scripture literally. They don’t believe that Adam and Eve were the first humans, that God expelled us from Eden, that God destroyed the world by flood, that Noah built an ark that somehow housed representatives of all the animal species, and so on. They do not accept the Bronze Age myths found in the Bible. However, unless they are leaders of denominations which have expressly moved away from reliance on scripture (e.g., the Unitarians) religious leaders generally keep quiet about their skepticism. Because the dirty little secret of moderate religious leaders is that their authority ultimately depends on the continued loyalty of the naïve believer, that is, the person who does accept these Bible stories more or less at face value, and it would not be prudent to have these believers begin to doubt scripture. Once one begins to cast doubt on the veracity of biblical accounts, it’s hard to know where to draw the line. It’s one thing to be skeptical of the Noah story, but Moses? And what of Jesus and the Resurrection? And what happens when believers stop relying on holy writ entirely and actually use reasons and facts to come to an understanding of their world and their moral obligations? Without the authority of scripture to legitimize their positions, religious leaders are out of business.
So best keep silent about some of the absurdities and embarrassments in the Bible. Oh, you can have some learned theologians write essays criticizing the New Atheists for their unsophisticated understanding of religion, waxing eloquent about how the Bible is only metaphor, and how God is not a personal deity but the ground of all Being, but for the ordinary believer, mum’s the word. Shh! It’s movie time. Pass the popcorn — and the collection plate.
-As a ‘New Atheist’ I believe that if cherry-picking the Bible is in order then people need to invent a new god. This current mythology doesn’t seem to work for the PC masses of today. They find the genocidal rages, the misogyny, the support of slavery and the call for believers to commit murder kind of distasteful to their current beliefs.
Why does Comfort persist in his idiocy? Delusion is the answer!
A Fistful of Myths
Called “Gora” by all those who knew him, Goparaju Ramchandra Rao (1902 – 1975) was one of the pioneering leaders of the Indian atheist movement. He was a freedom fighter and social reformer who fought against evils such as “untouchability,” poverty and superstition. I came across his An Atheist with Gandhi recently. It is a swift read, yet deeply insightful of a person who is as widely misunderstood as he is called a Mahatma. With a “great soul,” there is usually a lot to misunderstand. Most significantly, it is also revealing of the role and need for atheism in action, working for the uplifting of humanity not only intellectually, but with spade and shovel, the need of which has never been greater.
Initially denied, Gora’s persistence pays off as the exchange of letters is succeeded by an invitation to visit Gandhi’s “ashram.” The accounts of what follows are precious records so far ignored by mainstream “hagiographers” of Gandhi’s life.
Before I describe Gora’s findings, there are a fistful of myths to dispel. The term Mahatma is not an actual religious title. A 19th century Indian rationalist leader, Jyotirao Phule, who was a pioneer in the Indian uprisings against the atrocities of the prevailing caste system and scriptural dogma, was also bestowed the title of “Mahatma” by his admirers. It would not be possible to do so for a fierce critic of Hindu scripture if the title were a religious one. Mohandas Gandhi never claimed himself to be a saint. Even before this book entered consideration, it would have been a mistake to think that Gandhi was a religious leader, much less a “Hindu fundamentalist,” as described by some critics such as the esteemed Christopher Hitchens. He was a radical reformer who was reviled by the clergy of almost every religion in India. In his lifetime, many Muslim clerics and politicians attacked him as an “enemy of Islam,” while orthodox Hindu leaders despised him for leading the tearing down of the caste system, ending “untouchability” and taking away their position of authority amongst India’s masses. On his part, Gandhi made in-depth studies of various religions and criticized them over social injustices and fallacies in teachings. His desperate efforts to preserve India’s secular ethic cost him his life at the hands of a Hindu fascist. However, he did not make a conscious leap towards atheism.
What is “Atheism in Action”?
Gora finds Gandhi initially dismissive of atheism as a “denial of self,” an absence of morality and a spiritual vacuum inconceivable. After several attempts at correspondence, Gora finds himself invited to stay at Gandhi’s ashram, but does not receive an appointment to meet with him until much later. When he finally meets Gandhi, he realizes that Gandhi had spent the preceding days inquiring with Gora’s colleagues about his work in fighting “untouchability” and the positive results he produced. “Untouchability,” an abominable mixture of socio-religious slavery and segregation based on the insidious “caste system,” affected hundreds of millions of people then and no small numbers even today. Gandhi felt Indians were unworthy of independence until these evil practices were ended. It was Gandhi’s ascertaining that Gora was not merely an intellectual desiring idle talk that finally sparked his interest. First questioned on his work, Gora spoke of his organizing inter-community dining and adult education classes. When challenged by Gandhi that such work was not unique to atheism, Gora replies:
“Acceptance of atheism at once pulls down caste and religious barriers between man and man. There is no longer a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian. All are human beings. Further, the atheistic outlook puts man on his legs. There is neither divine will nor fate to control his actions. The release of free will awakens Harijans and the depressed classes from the stupor of inferiority into which they were pressed all these ages when they were made to believe that they were fated to be untouchables… After all it is man that created god to make society moral and to silence restless inquisitiveness about the how and the why of natural phenomena. Of course god was useful though a falsehood. But like all falsehoods, belief in god also gave rise to many evils in course of time and today it is not only useless but harmful to human progress. So I take to the propagation of atheism as an aid to my work. The results justify my choice.” (pg. 25)
When Gandhi says he not find the spread of atheism to be healthy, and muses a “fast” against it, he is struck with Gora’s two-fold response – (1) that he would fast against Gandhi’s fast, and (2) his conviction in atheism was steadfast but if Gandhi could point out where atheism was wrong, he would happily change his view.
When Gandhi directly asks “why do you want atheism,” Gora does not flinch from the challenge and does all atheists proud:
“I want ethics to rule and idealism to grow. That can be achieved only when belief in god and fate is done away with and consequently the theistic philosophy of life is changed. In positive terms, I want atheism, so that man shall cease to depend on god and stand firmly on his own legs. In such a man a healthy social outlook will grow, because atheism finds no justification for the economic and social inequalities between man and man. The inequalities have been kept so far by the acquiescence of the mass of theists rather than by any force of arms. When the belief in god goes and when man begins to stand on his own legs, all humanity becomes one and equal, because not only do men resemble much more than they differ but fellow-feeling smoothens the differences. I cannot remove god, if god were the truth. But it is not so. God is a falsehood conceived by man. Like many falsehoods, it was, in the past, useful to some extent. But like all falsehoods, it polluted life in the long run. So belief in god can go and it must go now in order to wash off corruption and to increase morality in mankind. I want atheism to make man self-confident and to establish social and economic equalities non-violently. Tell me, Bapu (Father), where am I wrong?” (pgs. 33-34)
Knowing Gandhi’s own religiosity and perhaps expecting a severe reaction, Gora felt “overwhelmed” when he found Gandhi encouraging him:
“Yes, I see an ideal in your talk. I can neither say that my theism is right nor your atheism is wrong. We are seekers after truth. We change whenever we find ourselves in the wrong. I changed like that many times in my life. I see you are a worker. You are not a fanatic. You will change whenever you find yourself in the wrong. There is no harm as long as you are not fanatical. Whether you are in the right or I am in the right, results will prove. Then I may go your way or you may come my way; or both of us may go a third way. So go ahead with your work. I will help you, though your method is against mine.” (pg. 34)
“Fundamentalists,” by definition, do not even consider such possibilities. Never has a Pat Robertson or an Imam Khomeini been prepared to concede to an atheist that “I can neither say that my theism is right nor your atheism is wrong.” Gandhi was himself on the lookout for fanaticism, and pleased to find none in the Indian atheist. Gora is perhaps testing Gandhi’s sincerity when he asks for guidance to “minimize my mistakes,” to which Gandhi replies:
“It is not a mistake to commit a mistake, for no one commits a mistake knowing it to be one. But it is a mistake not to correct the mistake after knowing it to be one. If you are afraid of committing a mistake, you are afraid of doing anything at all. You will correct your mistakes whenever you find them.” (pg. 34)
Of course, it is the trademark practice of the religious to continue with their mistakes even after they are made plain, but for the context of this conversation in 1945, I am prepared to accept that Gandhi and Gora had now established a sincere connection. Upon finding an atheist he could communicate with, admittedly on his terms, the 76-year old “Mahatma” was nevertheless more than willing to change his preconceived notions about atheism.
“Truth” is “God”?
A working relationship has also been formed, and Gora takes away from Gandhi a sense to intensify his anti-casteism campaign by facilitating inter-caste marriage. Gandhi later agrees to host the marriage of Gora’s daughter, who is marrying a man of the “untouchable” class. When informed that Gora’s prospective son-in-law is also an atheist and the family is concerned about the “divine blessing” bestowed on other couples who marry at the ashram, Gandhi promises to replace “in the name of God” with “in the name of Truth,” for “atheists also respect truth.” (pg. 37) The conversation then takes an interesting twist:
Gandhi: The concepts of truth may differ. But all admit and respect truth. That truth I call God. For some time, I was saying, ‘God is Truth,’ but that did not satisfy me. So now I say, ‘Truth is God.’
Gora: If truth is god, then why don’t you say ‘Satyam … ‘ (Truth) instead of ‘Raghupati Raghava’? ‘Raghupati Raghava’ conveys to others a meaning very different from what it conveys to you.
We could further argue that the worth of “Truth” does not need enhancement, and especially not through being related with a deity of any kind, but one can still appreciate the direction of Gandhi’s thinking, for he is putting reality before the theological conception. Upon the question of his prospective son-in-law, Arjun Rao, joining Gandhi’s ashram, Gora expresses a concern that he may be coerced into participating in religious activities. Gandhi says that the young man should attend prayers to instill discipline, but does not have to recite the verses if he does not believe in them.
I initially pictured a slight grin on Gandhi’s face when he asks Gora, “Suppose in the two years that Arjun Rao sits regularly at the prayers, he turns towards theism?” However, I realized this leg of the conversation was only half-humorous. Gora replied that he would welcome it, as he did not want anyone to be “an atheist with a closed mind.” In turn, Gandhi says, “Oh, yes. I know you are not a fanatic. Instead of Arjun Rao taking to theism, it looks as if both of you will carry this old man into your camp!” (pg. 38)
Gora’s debate with Gandhi carries into the political arena, with some very relevant results. When drafting the pledge of the Indian National Congress’s commitment to the independence of India in 1946, Gora objected to a reference to God. Gandhi offered in compromise a reference to a force that “we may or may not call divine but we all feel within us.” Although Gora notes that the very hypothesis of a non-human power of any kind subordinates the free will of humans to it and therefore is inherently theistic, he notes Gandhi’s willingness to incorporate different points of view. In 1925, at a point when Gandhi perhaps carried prejudices against atheism, had nevertheless written that he was willing to agree to the removal of the “mention of God” from the pledge of the Congress party if there had been a “conscientious objection” at the time. (pg. 46) A similar debate has been recently carried out between the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and various anchors at FOX News – with considerable rancor and animosity.
What Do These Observations Mean For Us?
Beyond gaining a deeper understanding of the life and times of a great human being, analyzing Mohandas Gandhi’s progressive way of thinking is crucial, for Gandhi and Gora showed in the 1940s what we consider impossible today – a partnership between the theists and the atheists for the greater good of humanity. The foremost lesson that most atheists should carry away with them from reading this most excellent and valuable book is that atheism in action and service can win over more of the religious than merely through intellectual discussions. Atheism must challenge religion not only in the mind, but fuel a person’s practical capacity for courageous action and service in challenging times.
This book does not pit an atheist against the leader of a religious establishment but with a singular personality who has a deep connection with an entire nation, which is why the call for “atheism in action” must be seriously considered for that is an essential way to make a connection with the masses. Mohandas Gandhi’s religious views and practices were exhaustive, eccentric and controversial, but also open and evolving. Gandhi never sought to conceal; he wrote extensively about his spiritual experiments, admitted his failings, sought out criticism from colleagues and friends. He repeatedly sought to persuade his audiences that he was simultaneously a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Parsi and a Jew. One could have sarcastically pointed out to Gandhi that the scriptures of various religions did not share his humanity in allowing multiple allegiances, it requires a closer look to realize that there is more than naïve idealism here. In his book Gandhi And His Religion, author Poosapati Appala Raju proposes that Gandhi incorporated secular ideas into a religious nomenclature in order to communicate with India’s deeply religious masses – a feature of Indian life that Gandhi did not think would change anytime soon. For all of Gandhi’s religiosity, he was determined that an independent India would be a secular republic.
Perhaps Gandhi’s final utterance on the subject came amidst his efforts to end the seemingly inexhaustible cycle of bloodbaths between Muslims and Hindus in 1946 and 1947. Having journeyed through parts of India engulfed in an atmosphere of terror fomented by medieval-style barbarism, Gandhi was reported as having “wished the communalists turned atheists if that served to stop communal hatred and riots.” (pg. 39) Whilst the sentiment is more due to anguish than conviction, we are reminded that Gandhi lived for the sake of humanity and not religious loyalties and dogma.
Gora’s testimony of him shows us that he was still prepared at a late age to move from a state of mind where “atheism” meant “immoral,” to understanding that atheism was a path of sincere and genuine humanity, and accepting that he could not say his theism was correct and atheism was not. He supported the work of the atheists to make sure that the goal of uplifting India’s people was being accomplished. This attitude is almost universally absent from religious leaders today. They value their own sense of righteousness and power above the greater good of humanity, which is why they often relish the frequent plunges into senseless barbarism to elevate their faith ever so closer to the imaginary realm of divinity.
India and the world were enriched significantly by the lives and work of Mohandas Gandhi and G. Ramachandra Rao. While the intellectual atheist would have continued to find Gandhi a sparring partner, he would be the kind worth sparring with. When the atheist in question was a worker, a person who wanted to make a real difference for humanity, he found the Mahatma standing by his side, a formidable ally.
“He was moving humanity and he was moving with humanity. He started with a humanity that believed in god of the ‘Raghupati Raghava’ type. As he pushed forward, he passed through the stages of ‘God is Truth’ and ‘Truth is God’. He never allowed old forms to hamper the progress. If he felt that the progress of humanity required leaving god altogether, I am sure, he was not the man to hesitate.”
– G. Ramachandra Rao, “Gora,” on Mahatma Gandhi (pg. 47)
WARRANT TO ARREST
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT
DEFENDANT: Yaweh. AKA ‘ The Lord Our God,’ AKA ‘Jesus
1. THE THINKING PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
TO ANY PEACE OFFICER: Complaint under the oath or penalty of perjury having been this day laid before me, that the crime(s) of violation of section(s) : ALL, has been committed, and accusing defendant, YAWEH.
YOU ARE THEREFORE COMMANDED FORTHWITH TO ARREST and bring forth said Defendant before a Judge of the above entitled Court, or in case of ‘HIS’ usual inability whatsoever to appear or act anywhere in any shape or form, said Defendant should be brought before the nearest accessible Magistrate of The Court of Common Sense.
BY ORDER OF THE HONORABLE: Christopher Hitchens, SUPERIOR ATHEIST COURT JUDGE. Signed this date: 12/25/2013
BAIL IS DENIED DUE TO SEVERITY OF INFRACTION(S):
1. Declaration of the granting of individual “Free Will” as excuse for criminal negligence in management of asset: Planet Earth. ie: Columbine, Sandy Hook, letting little Billy’s mom die of cancer on Christmas, giving long life to pedophiles while the innocent suffer, world hunger, earthquakes, allowing children to be beaten to death while you sit with your celestial thumb up your ass, claiming to be a ‘Personal Savior’ but being more impotent than an 88 year old man on Viagra, etc.
2. Moral turpitude in time frame spanning greater than 10.000 years, ie: ordering of genocide, orchestrating murder, rape, child rape, encouraging child abuse/neglect, unlawful declaration of several wars, condoning the trafficking and sale of human beings, menacing, impersonating a divine being, larceny exceeding $80 Billion per year, misappropriation of public resources, ( convincing humans that they have domain over the Earth and over animals).
3.Perpetration of widespread fraud, not restricted to and including: claiming to cure terminal illness,unlawful aquatic ambulation in hazardous circumstances, unlawful distribution of hallucinogenic substance for the purpose of defrauding individuals, ie: providing sustenance to multitudes using a few ‘fishes and loaves.’
4. Conspiracy to commit murder, (of minor child)/coercion, (convincing Abraham that he needed to murder his son to prove loyalty).
5. Rape, unlawful penetration of a minor, Mary, supposedly for the purpose of giving birth to you.
It is not believed that said Defendant will actually appear because NO ONE has actually SEEN said Defendant EVER, or has EVER witnessed any action by said insidious perpetrator.
Amazingly idiotic asshole calling in to this brilliant mans show!!!!