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June 9, 2006

Death and Religion

The prospect of evading death is supposed to be a great moral force: providing incentive -- the largest, longest possible of incentives -- for good behavior. Whether the logic here in any sense works is very much an open question, as is the issue of whether the carrot/stick of heaven/hell has in fact increased the world's supply of doing good. But this blurring of the line between life and death has surely had at least this cost: a cheapening of life and, on occasion, even a celebration of death.

Extreme figures make weak examples, but I can't help but note this reaction to the death of the great death merchant Musab al-Zarqawi:

"We herald the martyrdom of our mujahid Sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and we stress that this is an honor for our nation," a statement signed by one of Mr. Zarqawi's deputies, Abu Abdul Rahman al-Iraqi, said.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at June 9, 2006 11:57 PM


Are you writing a history of atheism or an argument for atheism?

Posted by: mark shulgasser at June 14, 2006 11:12 AM

it will be a history of not an argument for. though a sympathetic one, to be sure.

Posted by: mitch at June 14, 2006 3:09 PM

Power, in and of itself, is oderless. The pungent stench it often affects us with is just a result of mis-management of the wares. It's a pershiable commodity, after all. Unfortunately for us, the stench has thus far prevailed over sweet fragrances.

Posted by: Loranku at June 18, 2006 3:08 AM

I was raised a Christian and resented it. As a
teen I adopted atheism and felt religious people were idiots. Since then I have become a Christian of my own free will. What changed my mind? Two things:
1)A Christian man asked me to listen to a tape by R.C. Sproul about Creation vs. Chaos. The question I was left with was, "How can something come from nothing?" Even Francis Crick had to create for himself a theory that aliens sent the DNA material to the earth for evolution to begin. This guy was a genius and he sounded like the religious idiots I despised. The point of the
tape was that, logically, it took more faith to believe in evolution than in a God, since chance can not create anything.
2)What about the prophecies? How did these ancient writers know that Isreal would become a country again and that they would be a thorn in the side of the whole world? How did they know we would create cars and that we would need the oil in the Middle East, thus setting the stage for Armegeddon? They didn't. As an atheist I always thought alternative fuels would prevent this, that mankind would save the earth. Twenty years later I can see I was wrong about much.
Now I must endure that hate I once inflicted on all Christians I came across. Just ask the Campus Crusaders who stayed at our motel during one spring break. As they filed off the bus they were greeted by my stereo purposely on the balcony blasting Highway to Hell at maximum volume. I laughingly yelled down to one of the girls, "Satan is alive and well in Daytona, baby." He was. Now I am the one ridiculed by friends, even family, for trying to live a real faith. I'm sorry I was a fool, if you happen to read this. You were the brave ones.

Posted by: forgiven at November 22, 2006 12:28 PM

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