John W. Loftus, in his recent book, attempted to make the case that the Bible does not value animals, and that the Bible and its authors would condone animal cruelty. The opposite is true. As I demonstrated in my recent debate with him, the Bible is very much concerned for the welfare of the animals, and Loftus’ view otherwise is founded in various misunderstandings regarding scripture.
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Ethics is a wide topic that touches every facet of our individual lives and our society. I want to talk about a very small slice. The fact that ethics has, in certain cases, been boiled down to one concern – environmental ethics or how we interact with the natural world. In particular, reducing one’s carbon footprint.
Let me explain. The BBC recently appointed Justin Rowlett as “Ethical Man”, his task was for him, along with his family, to live ethically for one year. Something we should all aspire to, right? However, his ethical duties were not to help old ladies across the road, to treat others with respect, but to live in such a way so that he and his family would minimize their carbon footprint and consequently their impact on the environment. (1) [Read more…]
A blog called Just Atheists was written by a group of atheists who tried to explore ethics and justice in the absence of a Creator who grants us those things. One author named Brian J. Sabel wrote a post in March 2008 that explored death and why he believed that a nonreligious view of death was superior to the religious one.
Unfortunately, the original article is long gone. The only bit of it that has been preserved in tact is this quote, cited on my own blog:
Without the rewards of the afterlife, [the religious] say, our lives on earth have no value or meaning. They often view my rejection of a belief in an afterlife as a cynical and nihilistic view which robs humankind of our best qualities. They could not be more wrong. And, in fact, I feel that my view elevates the value of human life beyond the capacity of a religious view.
The finite nature of our lives compels me to believe that each life is unique, valuable, and irreplaceable. When a person dies she is gone and we will never get her back. The consequence of this belief is that I love the people around me very deeply because I recognize how precious they are and how fortunate I am to experience their lives – they could be gone from me so quickly.
Brian actually has a point. His view elevates the view of this life above how religious often view it. But the Bible doesn’t teach us to view this life as one of much importance. The Bible calls this life a “mist” (Jms 4:14). Like Brian’s astute observation, the Bible affirms that this life can be taken from us at any moment.
Unlike Brian, the Bible states we must build our treasure in heaven (Mt 6:19-20). But if life is a vapor and our focus should be on heaven, does that mean we have no regard for this life or the people we meet? Is the secular view really superior in that it places a higher value on life than we religious? [Read more…]
Charity and Christianity are married. Charity did not have its origin in the world of antiquity as sometimes alleged:
- “Plato (427-327 BC) said that a poor man (usually a slave) was who was no longer able to work because of sickness should be left to die. He even praised Aesculapius, the famous Greek physician, for not prescribing medicine to those he knew were preoccupied with their illness (Republic 3.406d – 410a). The Roman philosopher Plautus (254 – 184 BC) argued, “You do a beggar bad service by giving him food and drink; you lose what you give and prolong his life for more misery” (Trinummus 2.338-39) Thucydides (ca. 460-44 BC), the honored historian of ancient Greece, cites an example of the plague that struck Athens during the Peloponnesian War in 430 BC. Many of the sick and dying of the Athenians were deserted.” (Alvin Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World, 128-29) [Read more…]