A last word on religion
Let me express appreciation to Mr. Engle for making arguments. Many are made uneasy by disputes, but in at least two august institutions (legislative and judicial), the argument is a time honored tool for arriving at truth. It is only when beliefs are challenged that they are confirmed valid. Let it also be said that we remain willing to defend to the death the right of the atheist to speak his mind. I appreciate the News and Sentinel for putting up this discussion. However in my judgment, it has gone far enough, as I have no desire to become dreary to readers. The atheists may have the last word with my blessing (such as it is).
Regarding Madison’s quotes, we heartily agree that religious bondage is responsible for much evil. We argue against such corruptions of Christianity. The second quote reveals the problem with relying on Atheist echo chambers for information, as they sometimes edit quotes in order to deceive rather than enlighten. Madison railed against “almost fifteen centuries of the legal establishment of Christianity…” Wait a minute. Almost fifteen? But it was then 1785; why not almost eighteen? Engle’s quote leaves out Madison’s own explanation, as he began that section by specifying “ecclesiastical establishments,” otherwise known as religious hierarchies. Again, we could not agree more. I frequently condemn man-made religious hierarchies, though never as forcefully nor effectively as Madison. And as hierarchies began to plague Christianity about AD 300, Madison’s thoughts are set in their proper context.
Superimposing a definition of 21st Century Deism on 18th Century Deists is misleading at best. The difference is illustrated by the wealth of Bible quotations in their writings, something in which a modern Deist would not engage. We also note that simply claiming that God was invented by primitive Middle Easterners does not make it so; therefore his implications are pointless.
Mr. Engle stated that the problem of evil and suffering ends the discussion. He seems unaware that not volumes but libraries have been written on the topic, and that claims like that of Epicurus, have always been shown to be nonsense arguments. By nonsense we meant that the claim itself demonstrates itself to be false. How does it do this? It acknowledges the necessity of God’s existence in order to disprove his existence; that’s not quite the silver bullet that the echo chambers are telling him. Actually, theists have wrestled with this problem on a sensible level since long before Epicurus (the book of Job being but one example), so we’re quite familiar with the topic.
As brevity is the soul of wit, I’ll not re-argue the case of the 10th plague, nor cite the overwhelming evidence of the deluge, nor prove that Bible critics make charges regarding slavery that they neither understand nor can prove. Instead I’ll close by agreeing with Mr. Engle that the Bible’s moral code does indeed condemn that which atheism endorses. We are reminded that our opponents reject morality, but expect us to believe that they are telling the truth. As he rejects a moral code in favor of his own corrupt one, we wonder why his own credibility is not suspect. We also express our willingness to discuss these matters further, either publicly or privately.