Category Archives: Email

Email — Adam and Eve

Not all my email is from people who disagree with me.  Below is an email from someone who enjoys my  blog posts.

I love your stuff.  I just wanted to tell you that, and offer you words of encouragement.  I know the pain of telling someone a truth and having them rationalize it and dismiss you without having presented any argument.  Most of the time, they don’t even have the capacity to recognize defeat in a debate.  I think that the faith philosophy forces them to repress their natural inclination to logic, reason, and skepticism.  I sympathize with them because I used to be a Christian: terrified to even think anything critical of my faith or my savior.  This is an exchange that really sums up the frustration if you want to read it.  I just wanted to say keep it up.  You’re welcome to post my response all over your blog.

Best wishes,

Brad

Her first response to the knowledge of good and evil argument:

I think you misunderstood the story completely. The point was that, they were created so pure, without a sin, they were innocent like children, but they were not like children incapable to sin. Adam an Eve was able to choose. They also were free to choose. They were not slaves. As you don’t force your loved ones to love you, God didn’t force them to love Him, even though he made a very wonderful world for them and loved them very much. But they chose not to obey his rules, they cheated God, so they were actually evil in God’s eyes! So how could God then let them live forever as long as they didn’t keep his word? Can God live together with evil? Of course not! And that’s when God chose to make us mortal, and let us suffer in this world.
As you know from that time men were sinners, and never could stop from sinning all over again more and more. Now we inherit the sin to each other, also help each other to do it.

My response:

Maybe you’ve missed the point I made: Adam and Eve were ignorant about the WHOLE subject of good and evil—they were utterly incapable of thinking about it, talking about it, or making any decisions about it. There is no way you can say it is morally just to punish someone for doing wrong when they have no concept of wrong. Likewise, it would be moral abasement to praise the creature for doing something that was morally proper, because he couldn’t have known it was good. Any decision he makes concerning good and evil is nullified by his ignorance. And if he does something good or evil, it is completely by accident and has nothing to do with his ability for discernment in such matters—because he has no discerning ability whatsoever. Let’s pretend that you had a child with a disability. And you told him not to do something, but he did it anyway. But also pretend that a part of his condition means that he cannot decipher language very well. In essence, it doesn’t matter what you told him, he can’t understand you. But after you discovered that he disobeyed you, with the full knowledge of his condition, you begin to beat him mercilessly until he screams in anguish and tears fill his eyes. You continue to beat him and as he begs for mercy, you kill him. This what god does in that story; could you do that to your own child? Adam and Eve are not human beings, they are Ken and Barbie dolls. They have a severe mental handicap: they are not just under informed, they are absolutely ignorant. The only thing happening before the fall of “man” was Adam naming animals all day and Eve lounging around with snakes. There may not have been a care in the world, but they wouldn’t have known it because they were just two oblivious husks of human beings. If anything, the “Fall of man” was the best thing that ever happened to him. The problem with the theological connotations behind that wretched story is that it tells people that they are wicked, evil sinners, and there is nothing they can do about it. What a terrible concept! First man is given the boot (from what we are told is a good place) for, when it comes down to the details, being ignorant. Now, post-Fall, he’s born evil, capable of nothing but sinning, except for the chance occasion that something else (but never him) commits a good act but uses his body like a puppet—and he had better make sure to direct the credit for such good deeds to the higher power and not himself or else it will be hubris. I don’t see how it’s defensible but through blind faith and a mind always prepared to rationalize every truth that contradicts it’s belief—which, as I showed earlier, is based on obfuscation. The main point that I want to underline concerning the texts, which is true of the Ark, the Fall, and every other story in the Bible is that they should never be interpreted as historical facts; they should be interpreted as symbolic, metaphysical ideas. To interpret the stories as historical facts is to miss the whole point behind them which is to present a metaphysical or symbolic idea.

Her Response:

Adam and Eve were not ignorant at all. God let them know that you must not eat from this tree, and that was an order, but they didn’t listen to God, can’t you see the difference? They did something that God didn’t want them to do, so that a sin. They were not incapable to understand as you are saying, it’s the opposite, they knew God but just liked “more” than what they got, but lost even what they had.

There are very evil and wicked people ,very bad bad people, so it’s not a terrible concept, it’s reality.

Thank you for the kind words, I will definitely put that on the blog. I always appreciate a good well-worded argument. Here is the approach I like to take when I’m discussing the Genesis creation story:

God told Adam and Eve “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

The serpent told them: Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Now they have heard 2 claims, one from God and one from the serpent. Both claims were told to individuals who do not yet possess the ability to tell right from wrong or good from evil. (The tree was the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” to say they already knew good from evil means this was just a normal tree and not a tree of “knowledge” as the Bible God claimed.)

According to Genesis 3:22, God said: “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” confirming that the serpent told the truth when he described the results of eating the fruit.

Adam and Eve didn’t die the day they ate the fruit, but they did become “as gods, knowing good and evil.” God said Adam and Eve would “surely die” the same day they ate the fruit – that didn’t happen – instead, God realized they could still become immortal so he kicked them out of the garden. “… lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden…” (If someone uses the “a day to God is like 1000 years to mankind” argument, they’re saying God lacks basic conversion skills.)

Sure Adam and Eve knew something would happen if they eat from the tree, they had been told they will either “surely die,” or will “not surely die” and will become “as gods, knowing good and evil.” They didn’t know that obeying God was good and disobeying God was evil. They simply had two contradictory accounts of what would happen if they ate the fruit… and to top it off, the Bible says the fruit looked good.

Notice what God did NOT tell Adam and Eve.

He did not say: “Watch out for the serpent, he lies.”

He did not say: “If you choose to disobey me you will condemn you and all your children and every future generation of mankind to be tortured for eternity.”

He did not say: “If you eat the fruit you won’t actually die the same day, but you will be kicked out of the garden and forced to work for a living and have painful childbirth – and I will create poisonous plants and man-eating animals, and microscopic flesh-eating bacteria who will eat your future children alive.”

It’s like me telling you I have a quarter is in my right hand, and someone else telling you it is in my left hand.  Then asking you to guess which hand the quarter was in and telling you I will kill you if you get it wrong.  You didn’t see me place the quarter, so you wouldn’t know who was telling the truth.

Christians often argue that Adam and Eve did die that day, spiritually.   Saying they died spiritually is to simply ignore the meaning of the words used. The word translated as “surely die” in Genesis 2:17 is “muwth” it is the same word used in Genesis 5:5 to describe the physical death of Adam “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” It’s also the same word used to describe the physical death of: Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Haran, and Terah. (And that’s just in the first 11 books of Genesis) It’s also the word used for the “thou shalt surely die” threat God made against Abimelech in a dream (Gen 20:7) if he didn’t return the prophet’s wife.

The same word, the same threat, from the same God, in the same book – yet the same people would argue that the meaning is completely different. The same word is used more than 500 other times in the Bible, each time referring to physical death — except (according to some apologists) this ONE time.

I hope that helps with your discussion.

Thanks again for the email,

Your friend,
Shawn

Islamic Prayer Is As Effective as NOT Praying.

I received an interesting email from a Muslim who said Islamic prayers really are effective. He didn’t like it when I asked him to provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of Islamic prayers.  Enjoy the read:


“Guess youre not familiar with Islam after all, considering in another video of yours- rather a pathatic atempt of ruining our image- you made a hadith up!”

I guess you’re not as familiar with Islam as I am, and I definitely would never claim to be an expert.  The hadith was not made up.  Read it for yourself on the PDF here: http://x.co/UNRl go to page 319, you can read the Arabic or English version.

“pfft really?”

Yeah, really.

“let’s ignore the part where God tortures us for not praying for a while now, shall we?”

I prefer not to ignore the parts where God threatens to torture people… and if you really believe God exists and is a tyrant horrible enough to torture people, then you shouldn’t ignore him when he tells you the things he will use to justify tormenting you.

“when someone prays and then works for what he wants and gets it, he comes to appreciate it more,”

More than what?  Just having it handed to him on a silver platter… agreed.  More than working for it without praying first… I don’t think so.

“praying also gives him that feeling of responsibality towards that thing and he feels that this earned money is not fully his, that helps that person to donate some of it to the poor!”

So, praying doesn’t actually help you accomplish anything more than just working without prayer… but it guilts you into donating some of your money to the poor?

“im just sitting simple examples here ok? let’s look at the one who doesnt believe in god, say he works gets money and all, he has that part in him that no one can ever deny it exist that tells him that this money is only his and no one is allowed to take any of it cause its YOURS you fuckin worked SO HARD for it, so no, you dont wanna help the others with it.”

You got me, I don’t know how you read my mind so amazingly well.  I hoard every dollar I spend and I don’t ever help anyone or donate to any kind of charity.  You obviously don’t know any unbelievers.  However, if you need threats from an imaginary man to motivate you to help out those who are less fortunate, then please — keep believing in whatever imaginary creature motivates you to act as if you actually cared about the other humans living alongside you.

“Still sounds Supernatural? not really.”

I agree, nothing supernatural — which kinda makes me wonder why you mentioned it.  Especially since you were originally telling me Islamic prayers were effective.  So far you’ve only argued that they’re effective at guilting you into donating money to charity, not that they’re effective at getting messages to and from God.

“it has something to do with your soul! oh please tell me you believe in souls.”

Nope, sorry.

“As for praying to God, first of all i have reached the point where i stopped wasting my time asking why the heck do i have to pray to god if helping is just as important cause i simply started to Want to pray to god cause its the least i could do to thank him for everything he gave me!”

Perfect, you admit that praying is ineffective… or at least that praying and then working is just as effective as working without praying.  Finally something we can agree about.  Oddly, it also means God didn’t really give you anything — since you still had to work for all of it.

“no matter how things can get worse i always remind myself that there are people out there that have much much worse lives than mine.”

Motivating yourself by focusing on the misery of others… interesting.  For me, that motivates me to do what I can to help make their lives better in whatever way I can.  I don’t use the suffering of others to make myself feel better.

“i come from Palestine, you should understand, i spend my life fearing for my family’s lives.”

Not a position I envy, and not a position I would wish on anyone.

“and btw, english isnt my mother language so exuse my mistake. although i believe it is understandable enough for you.”

You’re doing great.  Your English is much better than my Arabic.

“I never even think of God torturing me if i didnt pray cause i was busy doing something else, Islam teaches us that He is the most Merciful.”

How can you say he threatens to torture you if you don’t perform specific redundant actions and then say he is “most merciful?”  Torturing people is not even slightly merciful.

“all i know and all i could care about is that helping others is just as important as praying.”

Wrong, helping others is far more important than talking to an invisible man who supposedly already knows everything.

“all proofes of praying being healthy to your mind and body are books i own, i did a very simple research on the internet though and found this
http://www.answering-christianity.com/psychology_of_prayers.htm
read it ALL and tell me what you think.”

The video we are discussing specifically asks about prayer groups, and why God would need multiple people to ask God to do the same thing before he finally answers — and I pointed out that a simple phone call is much more effective at delivering a message and getting a message in return.  The link you provided does nothing to show that prayer is effective at getting a message to or from God — and definitely not even close to the effectiveness of a telephone.  It also doesn’t explain why group prayers would be needed in order to get a message to or from God.

“listen, sometimes you say that you have opened your mind up and discovered God doesnt exist, but fact is you have closed it and you’re refusing to believe in God.”

I’ve discovered that the reasons I used to have for believing in God just don’t work.  And then it’s simply a matter of being intellectually honest with myself.  With no reason to believe that any gods exist, I simply don’t believe in Gods.  My mind is open to change — if evidence can be provided, but understand — if I can come up with a non-supernatural explanation for your “evidence” then it’s NOT evidence.  If your “evidence” is just an assertion – it’s NOT evidence.  Simply pointing out something that science can’t explain is NOT evidence.  If I can replace the word “God” with “Fairies” and the argument still works, it’s NOT evidence.  I’m not refusing to believe in God, I’m refusing to believe in ANYTHING for bad reasons.

“just make sure you did the right decition”

Not believing in God wasn’t a decision, it was a result.  Not believing in God came as a result of an honest inquiry into the argument used to defend the existence of God.  When the arguments failed, there was no reason left for believing in God.

“again, sorry for any grammer or spelling mistakes, english isnt my first language.”

No problem, as I said – Your English is much better than my Arabic.

Your friend,
Shawn
aka: AZSuperman01

Email from a Muslim

I received an email from a Muslim who came across my Tough Questions for Muslims series.

I am just wondering why you lie? Is it because you want to see Muslims go to gitmo bay for torture?

You would probably love it if we had to wear a badge on our arms that identify us as a Muslim and you would love it if we got sent to the gas chambers.

Why do you hate us? What did we ever do to you? You are spreading your lies so that we are dehumanized and then you can justify mass murder.

I can’t make this stuff up. Apparently asking questions about a religion is the same as “lying” about the religion and pointing out absurdities is”dehumanizing” the members in order to justify mass murder.

For the record, I don’t hate any Muslims.  I do hate Islam, just as I hate all other religions that teach their adherents to be bigoted, misogynistic, hate-filled, violent, and irrational.  I would love Islam, as a religion, to die.  The world would be a much better place if Sharia Law was lost to history… My hope is that one day all religions will become a regretful period in human history when all but a remote few have moved beyond silly superstitions – not by force, but by the continual onward progress of human society.

Ask an Atheist: Questions on Bhagavad-Gita Teachings

Hi Shawn,

Thanks for presenting different views on popular religions of present
world. Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is third biggest “religion” in line
and I am a Hindu by birth.

While Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) offers multiple books (Vedas),
Bhagavad-Gita is revered as the summary of all the Vedas.
Bhagavad-Gita contains the teachings of Lord Sri Krishna.

As a believer of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) I respect Bhagavad-Gita
and my views are always in favor of these great teachings. During our
childhood, we always enjoyed the encouragement from our
parents/priests to interpret these teachings in our own way and
justify our interpretation. As a kid I always enjoyed the freedom of
asking questions on Bhagavad-Gita teachings, though my understanding
of the subject was next to nothing.

Going through your videos reminds me of those days. The important
point is that you ask questions without any emotional baggage. I want
to take this opportunity to humbly request you to spare some time to
look into Bhagavad-Gita and pose questions just like the way you are
doing on other religious teachings.

While there are multiple English translations available, I would
recommend the book “Bhagavad-Gita As It Is”. It provides the
original Sanskrit text, English translation and Purport from the
Author. If you prefer I could order one book for you or pay through
Donation option on your site.

Once again thank you for your time and effort.

Regards,
Vasu

Hello Vasu,

Thank you very much for the email, and I appreciate the offer.  Most theists that contact me tell me to read their holy books, but you are the first that has offered to purchase a copy for me.  Luckily, I don’t need another copy of the Bhagavad-Gita.

I have a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita on my Kindle.  I have read parts of it but I must confess that I have not read yet read the entire book.

I have had people requesting that I make “Tough Questions” videos for many different faiths including Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism etc. and I wish I had the time to study each religion in depth enough to create a video series for each – however most of my time is currently taken up by my job and my family, so it may be awhile before I am able to study enough about Hinduism to feel comfortable creating a video series specifically for that faith.

Thanks again for your email.

Your friend,
Shawn

Ask an Atheist: A Different View

Hi.
I recently came across your videos and found them entertaining. You certainly ask some interesting questions. I feel I should ask though. Are you an atheist because you do not believe there is a god or because you do not believe in the current portrayal of God? Will your views change if one argues that there is a god but he is probably on sabbatical and is due back in the next several millenia? Will it change if it is argued that God did create hell for people he chose just for the fun of it and he acts as it pleases him even if it requires him to set satan off on those he is not particularly fond of?

Thank you for your reply.

Thanks for the email.  I’m glad you like the videos on my YouTube channel.  I enjoy making them, and I enjoy seeing the creative responses they receive.

Regarding your question, I don’t see the two options as mutually exclusive.  I am an atheist because I have seen no reason to believe in any gods.  There are several “current portrayals” of God, I have seen nothing to support belief in any of them.

My views on the existence of gods will not change simply because someone redefines the word – well, let me clarify that – someone could define “God” as anything they want, ie: “God is love” or “God is the Universe.”  I believe in love and in the universe but I already have words for those concepts and see no benefit gained by calling either of them “God.”

The definition you suggest, an absentee god who tortures people for fun, is not supported by any better evidence than any other definition, so there is no justification for believing in it either.

Thanks for the email.