Angry atheist rants


As I approach my role as Vice-Chair of Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) by keeping religion and my position in BULS totally separate. So, this post you’ll be reading from BULS member and atheist Max Ramsay, rather than BULS Vice-Chair Max Ramsay.

Ancient copies of the King James Bible are carried during a procession at Westminster Abbey to mark its 400th anniversary. Photograph: Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty Images

Today David Cameron declared “Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so” and “that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.”.

Now, I’d like to point out that I respect everyone’s right to have whatever faith they so wish. But, to be quite honest, Cameron really hasn’t read much of the King James’ Bible if he believes this is the case.

Now the first point is something seemingly imported from the USA. Given that a poll in 2004 conducted by the BBC showed that 39% of the UK population did not believe in God. That’s right, today we’re anything but a Christian nation, we’re a secular nation.

You may say, “Oh, but we were founded upon Christian ideals and it has played a such a vital part in history in the last few centuries.”. Really?! If we did derive our morals and values from the bible we’d still find acceptable;

  1. General slaughters (I Chronicles 20:3, Judges 8:10 and Deuteronomy 3:6-7)
  2. Burying victims alive (Numbers 16:32-35)
  3. Killing unbelievers (Deuteronomy 13:5, 13:6, 13:8-9 and 13:15)
  4. Genocides (II Chronicles 14:9 and 14:12 and II Samuel 12:31)
  5. Raping (Isaiah 13:15-16)
  6. Slavery (Exodus 21:2-6 and 21:20-21, Leviticus 25:44-46 and 1 Peter 2:18-21)
  7. White supremacy (Romulus 12:1-3 and 12:19-21 and Philipians 3:18)
  8. Jewish Persecution (Matthew 27: 22 and 27:25, John 7:1 and 8:44, Acts 7:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15)
  9. Women’s persecution (Leviticus 15:19-21 and 18:19, Proverbs 21:19, Corinthians 11:3 and 14:34-35, Ephesians 5:22-24 and Timothy 2:12-15)
  10. Justify physical punishment of children (Leviticus 20:9, Psalm 127:3, Proverbs 13:24, 22:6, 22:15 and 23:12-14)
  11. Homophobia (Leviticus 20:13 and 18:22, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Romans 1:24 and 1:26-27 and Corinthians 6:9-10)
  12. Oppose medical science (Acts 15:29, James 5:13-15 and Matthew 9:2-8)
  13. To justify war (Exodus 15:3, Deuteronomy 20:4 and 1 Timothy 4:18)

Now can Cameron really claim that we were founded upon these values? That we derive our morals and values from the bible? And that we’re still a Christian nation? Again, while I respect people’s right to believe this, it is quite clear that what binds us and gives us true sense of values is secular enlightened thinking.

Max

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12 comments on “Angry atheist rants

  1. Possibly the most ill informed and ignorant argument put forward by BULS. And, I say that as someone who is centre-Left, is in support (generally speaking) of the separation of religion and polity, and someone who has a Biblical Studies degree. Just ridiculous. It’s quite clearly not what Cameron was alluding to – indeed I think that the majority of things listed above would be inconceivable to most ‘Christians’. There is no substance, no context and therefore this post has no credence.

    Even for a rant it’s ridiculous.

  2. maxattacks says:

    Well I’m sorry, I’m going to have to completely disagree.

    “indeed I think that the majority of things listed above would be inconceivable to most ‘Christians’.” – And yes, why is that? Because we’ve had a secular enlightened thinking play its hand. We’re anything but a Christian nation and it’s a dangerous slope to even claim that we are (just look at the US).

    “There is no substance, no context” – I’m not really sure what you mean when you refer to that, if you mean the “context” of the 13 points that were made were taken out of context; then I was unaware there was a context where they were ever acceptable.

    “separation of religion and polity,” – And I generally agree with that on the most part. But then I personally don’t believe religion has a privileged position beyond criticism what so ever (especially given the sheer damage it has done to humanity). So when the Prime Minister makes a vague vacuous claim that’s far from anything that is perceivably true, then I’m going to rip him to shreds on that matter

    • Unfortunately, there is not much to disagree with because I was not making a counter claim or argument, rather I was making an observation.

      Your reply is just as riddled with inertia and redundancy as your post however. You think enlightenment shaped polity and religion this much over the period of simply one epoch? That is the most ill informed and, quite frankly, ignorant argument you have put forward so far. Anyhow, I’m not defending the fact that we are Christian nation – anything but in fact. I am simply pointing out the fact that if you want to make an argument you must have good methodological grounding, which this lacks; robust substance, of which there is none; and valid claims, and the claims you make are spurious at best.

      As per your second point, I did not assert that there was a context where they were acceptable to a western, enlightened and liberal mindset. However, as you seem unaware the world was not always this way. These are not the Christian values Cameron was referring to, and suggest thusly makes you look idiotic. The context I am referring to is twofold however. The wider scriptural context in which these verses are written, and the sociological context of the Hebrew, Hellenistic and Roman cultures in which they were written. Both of these areas you clearly have no credibility in therefore to make bold accustations makes you look, again, misinformed.

      Your third needs no further unpacking as I don’t think we contend in that area.

      Your original post and subsequent rebuttal are, as they say, all frills and no knickers. It lacks coherency, relevancy, contextualisation, basic knowledge and rigor.

      • maxattacks says:

        “You think enlightenment shaped polity and religion this much over the period of simply one epoch?” – First I referred to “secular enlightened thinking” not the enlightenment specifically (though the latter certainly plays it part). But yes, it’s enlightened thinking (or the enlightenment) that means we don’t think homosexuality is adherently wrong, that persecution of the Jewish people is acceptable and many many other previously accepted beliefs.

        “Your original post and subsequent rebuttal are, as they say, all frills and no knickers. It lacks coherency, relevancy, contextualisation, basic knowledge and rigor.” – Well then your entitled to delude yourself to that idea

        “I’m not defending the fact that we are Christian nation” – And that’s the sole point I’m trying to make, we’re anything but a Christian nation today. If we truly were we’d accept those 13 points. I’m not sure how hard this is to accept. And that’s why I’m quite content to call Cameron up on this. I’ll make no bones about it, Christian theology is one of the single biggest sources of hatred and evil on the planet. That’s why I feel I’m at liberty to tell him he’s completely and utterly wrong.

        “The wider scriptural context in which these verses are written, and the sociological context of the Hebrew, Hellenistic and Roman cultures in which they were written.” – Well then you made huge misjudgement on my own personal views on morality. I’m not a moral relativist. Yes, those may have been acceptable to people of the time, it doesn’t make them moral, at all, regardless of the prevailing culture of the time.

        “I don’t think we contend in that area.” – Really? I hadn’t even touched upon the more immoral parts of Christianity.

  3. ‘And that’s the sole point I’m trying to make, we’re anything but a Christian nation today. If we truly were we’d accept those 13 points.’ False. This shows your basic lack of knowledge around Christian Theology which you so flippantly cite as the ‘single biggest sources of hatred and evil on the planet’. The issue also has nothing to do with moral relativism, rather correct exegesis. I’m not saying you should understand these things, or need to understand these things. I’m merely saying that because you clearly don’t understand or comprehend them you should not talk about them.

    ‘I hadn’t even touched upon the more immoral parts of Christianity.’ This statement one again shows your haphazard approach, not only to Christianity, but to religion as a whole. I am not arguing the case for religion, or proselytising here. I’m just saying that it would be your interpretation of Christianity. An interpretation which in my opinion, seems misinformed and silly. You cannot make sweeping generalisation about one of the worlds largest religious systems.

  4. maxattacks says:

    “I’m merely saying that because you clearly don’t understand or comprehend them you should not talk about them.” – Again, you are very entitled to delude yourself to that. The problem is, you’ve provided no evidence to prove me wrong on almost all the points I’ve made. I’ve stated my beliefs and the reasons behind them, yet all I’ve heard are claims that I “don’t understand or comprehend them”. I quite rightly am just going to keep disregarding your vague assertions if you provide no evidence for me to believe them.

  5. Im with Jonny here, to be a christian does not mean that you have to beleive everything in the bible as factually corect and as the beleives you must have. For example the bible says the world was made in 6 days, now scientists know that the world wasnt built in 6 days but many of them are christina, they instead in some cases beleive that the 6 days can essentially refer to 6 different time periods that we see if the development of the earth.

    Attuitudes change with time what was accepted back 2000 years ago isnt nessecarrily tru today.

    BTW the last census [put christians at 71%, now in anyones book that is a mjority making us a christian country. You dont have to go to church every week to be a christian, heck I dont but I do think of myself as one probably in the same way cameron feels he is a christian.

  6. maxattacks says:

    You’ve just demonstrated my point Pete, “the bible says the world was made in 6 days, now scientists know that the world wasnt built in 6 days”. And why do accept this? Because of secular enlightened thinking. “but many of them are christina, ” You’ll find the Christian grouping a tiny minority within the scientific community.

    “Attuitudes change with time what was accepted back 2000 years ago isnt nessecarrily tru today.” And again, why do we no accept the bibles literature? Secular enlightened thinking. It may have been acceptable at the time, but I’m no moral relativist. Just because it was acceptable at the time doesn’t make it moral at all.

    Two things with the census statistic. 1. That’s probably been greatly reduced in the 10 years since then and 2. That’s irrelevant regardless. For one we don’t practice everything from above in the post and America has a Christian population of around 80% (ish) but they’re anything but a Christian Nation however much the American right claims they are.

    • Mark Golding says:

      The meaning of the word ‘Christian’ is being debated here I think. There are as many meaningful definitions as there are people giving them it would seem. One man’s bible is another man’s curse and so on. The arguments, and I’ve heard most of them, inevitably descend into scholarly tit for tat trading of blows over the age old myth versus the fact debate concerning the authenticity of the historical roots of Christianity and then it gets really nasty.
      Religion is a nasty business, rather like politics, because at the heart of both lies the deepest foundations as to what constitutes an individual’s raison d’etre upon which the entire fabric/superstructure of ‘his’ constructed life depends. Attack the foundations and you attack the whole structure.
      The irony is that the discourse across the dividing line of believing and not believing in a Creator relies mostly on words for which no absolute definition is forthcoming. Power words like justice, peace, love, equality etc are used exhaustively in arguments, and without precise meanings conversations have to rely heavily on the unseen things we believe binds humanity; things that cannot be proved to exist by observation and by rigorous testing.
      Politics and religion are so close together in this one respect. People who argue passionately about things they cannot show exist in reality as having been brought into existence by a primordial cause or an extra-terrestrial intelligence often call upon some law or supernatural cause to justify its acceptance as a social/moral imperative saying things like ‘its the law of nature’. At this juncture there is an overlap of the method used by both adherents who externalise values and beliefs, pinning them to ideas about the purpose of humanity that are almost absolute, like a god. Collectivism is a typical example.
      Sorry… I’m waffling..

  7. Charlie says:

    The Western World is nothing more than a reference to modern day Christendom. Citizens of western nations, regardless of if they think they believe in Christ or the bible or whatnot, are none the less of the Christian culture, just as a atheist in the middle east will still be Islamic culturally speaking.

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