X-Message-Number: 20133
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 09:35:22 -0500
From: Jeff Dee <>
Subject: Re: Mr. Dee's Challenge Round 4
References: <>

Dani Kollin <> wrote:

Since you've titled your response, "Jeff Dee's Challenge Round 4", it 
seems to me that we ought to be discussing my actual challenge. Here it 
is again:

 > > > I've described the specific irrational religious belief which 
directly facilitates terrorism: the belief that proper behavior is 
dictated by a divine lawgiver who can and does change the rules from 
time to time. Add that to a MOTIVE to commit atrocities, and all it 
takes is a "prophet" delivering the god's new instructions to set large 
numbers of believers down that path.

 > > > If you think that secular movements ALSO contain a specific 
irrational belief which facilitates atrocities, please describe that 
specific belief. If you cannot, then you have not provided a causal link 
to support your accusation.

Since that was my challenge, I am taking the liberty (with all due 
respect) of editing your latest response down to just those points which 
come somewhere close to addressing it. As interesting as your tortured 
attempts to establish a correlation between secularism and atrocity may 
be, they are irrelevant. Correlation does not prove causation even IF 
the correlations you offer were accurate which, for the most part, 
they're not. For example:

 > Afghanistan: If I remember correctly the country,
 > though not perfect, did not become the living hell
 > that we all know and fear until the, ready, here it
 > comes, SOVIET invasion of 1979.  So the ideologically
 > non-religious Soviets started this mess.

What amazing doublethink! The living hell that Afghanistan became was a 
MONOTHEISTIC living hell, dominated by the Taliban. Yet you're 
attempting to blame that on the secular Soviets, just because their 
invasion preceded the Taliban's rise? That you should attempt this 
betrays, I think, a rather telling bias on your part.

 > I am not sure if you need religion to make such precepts valid.

The idea that we could know whether dictates of a god form a valid moral 
system is exposed as false by Socrates' Euthyphro Dilemma:


To sum it up (from the web page): "Is an act morally good because God 
wills it or is it good because God agrees that it is good? We place an 
enormous amount of trust in the character of God if the former is true 
(E.g. we assume God is all-good but we cannot know for sure), whilst we 
are led to question the status of God in the presence of the latter 
(E.g. God's omnipotence)."

This shows that the claim that moral goodness comes from a god is not 
provable even before we get to the question of whether belief in a god 
is necessary to validate precepts of moral goodness.

But there's more wrong with theistic morality than that. Theistic 
morality misses the POINT of having moral guidelines. By relying on 
consequences in an unproven hereafter, theistic morality abdicates any 
responsibility for the REAL consequences of our choices here on Earth 
during our actual lives.

 > But
 > we have yet to develop a better system to make sure
 > they are followed for more then a generation or two.

How would you know? Whenever it is suggested that a better set of 
behavioral guidelines might come from somewhere other than musty old 
"holy books", believers like you react with hostility and offer 
convoluted rationalizations to preserve your religion's monopoly on 

Here is a children's book on secular morality that you might find 

Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong
Dan Barker, Prometheus Books, 1992
ISBN 0-87975-731-0

 > You may be right on Hitler.  In researching his belief
 > system it would appear that for the media he often
 > times played the part of dutiful Christian.

And in doing so, he was able to manipulate the German people 
(Christians) into committing genocide. This simply proves my point; that 
when people already feel pressured by circumstance, and believe that 
proper behavior is dictated by a divine lawgiver who can change the 
rules, religion facilitates atrocity. All that is needed is a "prophet" 
to arise and tell them that God says it's now okay to do X. In Nazi 
Germany, that prophet was Hitler.

By the way, in doing further research, I found this site:


The writer also refutes my previous comment about Hitler's pagan views. 
Given the quality of his research, I retract that comment and now agree 
that Hitler was Christian.

 > Mr. Dee s quote from Mr. Kollin:
 > Babies were left to die of exposure if
 > not physically perfect until the Church decided that
 > all persons have souls and are INDIVIDUALLY valuable.
 > Mr. Dee:
 >  I'd love to see documentation to support this
 > audacious claim.
 > China passed a rule saying you can only have one
 > child.  The Chinese peasants, making a rational,
 > economical choice given their circumstances started
 > killing all the babies who happened to be born female.
 >  Why shouldn t they?  Nothing morally wrong, no
 > judgment beyond this world to deal with.

As troubling as the China situation is, it does not satisfy my demand 
for an example. Your claim was that "babies were left to die if not 
physically perfect". That is not the case in China. They are dealing 
with a REAL problem of massive overpopulation, not just killing babies 
they find aesthetically displeasing.

And how, exactly, would monotheism solve China's problems? 
Fundamentalist Christian monotheism (for example) would outlaw abortion, 
and Catholicism (for another example) would outlaw birth control as 
well. What would YOU recommend that the Chinese people do with the 
millions of extra mouths they cannot feed? Do you honestly believe that 
raising a child destined to starve to death is really more moral?

The rational solution to China's overpopulation is education and birth 
control. Neither the peasants' simplistic response to their government's 
regulations nor monotheistic mythology represent a real solution.

 > Mr. Dee: The people of Britain may be surprised to
 > learn that they are living in hell.
 > Mr. Kollin:
 > But Britain is not a secular culture.  Its government
 > and society are steeped in monotheistic values.

So monotheism gets the credit for all civilized cultures as long as it 
had a place in the culture's history, even if hardly anybody takes it 
seriously any more? Your bias is showing again.

 > Now for your last point Mr. Dee you used the arguments
 > of Mr. Madison, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin and Mr.
 > Paine to show that the founding fathers were against
 > religion and its use in determining the values of a
 > state or society.  Now this can be responded to in two
 > ways. The one I find most interesting are that you
 > picked some very telling choices.
 > Mr. Jefferson of course owned slaves including his own
 > children that he sired with the 16-year-old half
 > sister of his dead wife. At best he didn t rape her.
 > By all means claim him as a spokesman for the secular
 > world.

I find your response baffling. You wrote:

"The only place we can point to where secularism has managed to be 
benefit is the experiment called the United States. But that is because 
the founding fathers knew how vital a religious center is to a community."

So what is your point? If YOUR claim was true, then Jefferson (and all 
the other founding fathers whose dirty laundry you saw fit to air out) 
are spokesmen for the monotheistic world. You cannot have it both ways. 
The founding fathers' character flaws are irrelevant, but if you insist 
on bringing them up then they reflect as badly on your claim as they do 
on mine.

 > Historically speaking you picked some interesting
 > choices. But let s also refute your use of quotes with
 > some of my own, or some of the founding fathers and
 > mothers own.
 > President George Washington, September 17th, 1796:
 > "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without
 > God and the Bible"

That quote is said to come from Washington's "Farewell Address 1796", 
and is known to be a fraud. You can see a bitmap of that publication for 
yourself at EarlyAmerica.com, as published in the "Independent 
Chronicle." There is a bitmap of the document as well as a transcription.

I'm taking the liberty of snipping the rest of the quotes you listed. 
Some of them may be accurate, despite the shoddy scholarship behind your 
Washington quote. But they are all irrelevant to my challenge.

-Jeff Dee

"It is as morally bad not to care whether a thing is true
or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to
care how you got your money as long as you have got it."
-Edmund Way Teale, "Circle of the Seasons", 1950

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