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Glen T. Winstein

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    The basics of my overview of people who do or don't believe in God with my
         eye toward not wanting harm
    Some ground rules people who believe and don't believe in God might agree to
         so as to get along friendlier and not cause harm

  Page 1


    1. "How to Think About God" by Mortimer Adler--how to think about the possi-
               bility of the basic God concept
    2. Faith understood as such

  People of belief and non-belief choices and cruelty

    3. Keep up to speed about the known proven things God is possible beyond
             orthodox/conservative belief
             liberal/progressive/reform belief
                Conservative and liberal stances
              - conservative stances are more prone to defend old text writers
                     despite current knowledge
              - Liberal stances are more prone to honor the basic God concept
                     by adapting to current knowledge

  Neither belief in the basic concept of God nor atheism are character determin-

    4. Don't be 'centric and intolerant about things that aren't character
    5. Religion without proof of God for all, or state atheism, as law of the
             land is institutionalized 'centric intolerance

  The Abrahamic God and the cruelties of life

    6. Job--believing in God despite the cruelties of life
    7. God's prerogative vs. human ethics and a sign of God or of "not God"

  The church/temple/mosque/gymnasium where they're having a meeting of Glen

  Page 2

  Applying these stances about God and cruelty to the Bible and related issues
       that came up in my research

    Phobias about Jews and Christians and the Tanakh/OT

    1. Two perspectives on OT cruelty--
             orthodox/conservative and liberal/reform/progressive stances
             which I may refer to as simply conservative and liberal
             a. Creation, great flood, ancient Near East cosmology, etc.--
             b. Mosaic law of the land and cruelties not continued in the NT
                      Mosaic law
                      Eye for an eye
             c. Cherem
                       First appearance of "cherem"
                           Numbers 21:2
                      Seven Caananite nations
                           Deut.7:1-6,16, 20:10-18
                           1 Sam.15:3
              d. Cruelty to concubine
                           Judges 19:25-28
              e. Cruelty to children
                      Child sacrifice
                           Gen.22, Ex.22:29, Judges 11:30-39, 2 Sam.21:5,6,8,9 (also 10-14)
                      Disobedient son put to death
                           Deut. 21:18-21
                      Children put to death for ridiculing Elisha
                           2 Kings 2:23
                      Children bashed against rocks
                           Psalm 137:9
                      Children put to death for the sins of their fathers
                           Isaiah 14:21-23

  Page 3

    2. Religion and women
    3. Religion and homosexuality
    4. Religion and slavery
    5. Afterlife and cruelty
          Hell as torment, separation from God, Christian Universalism

  Page 4

    6. Some things about the first century Jews and early Christians that were
              agreeable to assimilation
    7. Some things that happened later among the Jews and Christians that
              weren't agreeable to assimilation

    8. Some things about the Muslims that were agreeable to assimilation
    9. Some things that happened later among the Muslims that weren't agreeable
              to assimilation
              a. Sharia
              b. Orthodox, conservative, and liberal Islam
              c. Islamophobia and terrorism
              d. Claims of divine prerogative to justify killing or hurting for God
              e. Why don't the reform and progressive Muslims do more to
                        change the Orthodox, conservative, and liberal Muslims?

   10. Muslim Conquests, Crusades, persecution, Inquisition, religious war, the
               myth of the Dark Ages, and the founding of Israel
   11. Middle East antisemitism and homophobia
         Isaeli anti-Arabism

  Page 5

   12. How I apply my stances in my the coverage of the Jehovah's Witnesses
               leaders--"Glenster's Guide to GTJ Brooklyn"



  These are some of my basics about belief in God regarding ground rules that
people of belief and non-belief stances may agree on so that nobody should be
hurt or killed, or even unfriendly toward each other, over such things.  I main-
ly cover those things in regard to the source material for the three main Abra-
hamic religions and related contemporary issues.

   GTW note--as of Feb., 2016, I've updated the links, mostly for Wikipedia, of
"Basics" but I'm sure a number of the Wikipedia articles have changed, too.  If
it's a contemporary issue you might want to take a look to see what's new.

  Thesis: since the basic god/God concept is a possibility one might or might
not hope for, ethics dictate there should be no harm.  Arbitrary harm would be
sadism, prejudice, and murder.  Making belief or non-belief law of the land
would be institutionalized 'centric intolerance so separation of church and
state is the best fit.  Defining conservative social stances as the ones of mis-
information and harm, I'd recommend liberal--the same regarding belief, basical-
ly (cosmology, evolution, right and regards for women and LGBT people, climate
change, no inerrant text, separation of church and state).

  Rationalism defined to mean only going for the known proven things by defini-
tion rules out belief in a possible god/God beyond the known things.  But people
typically aren't strict rationalists--they employ rationalism as part of their
vocabulary in keeping up to speed about the known proven things.  They can
choose whether or not to deal with just the math of the music whatever their
subjective reactions might be.

  As with my PC videogame walkthroughs, my effort is more to be inclusive (bring
as many people as possible into ability to play the game) than exclusive (try to
be a hotshot gamer).

  I wrote this to precede my JWs leaders expose and give my basic outlooks on
some common ground believers and non-believers might agree to in order to get
along, etc.  Put real simply, faith is a belief in a possible God beyond the
known things, so it respects that concept better to stay up to speed about the
known things and, because it's a hope for a possibility not a proven, to not
want anyone hurt or killed over such things.  (I just saved you the time of
reading the rest of this if you want something you can put on a 3" x 5" card.)

  If it's a choice between respecting the perceived integrity of an old text
(conservative stances) or respecting the God concept by keeping up to speed
about the known things God's possible beyond (liberal stances) in those regards,
I recommend the latter.  I reason that it shows more respect for the the basic
God concept, and the point of related worship is worship of God not worship of
old text writer.

  If God is there, it wouldn't honor Him to misinform or harm needlessly in His
name--in fact, I think it would piss Him off.  Put another way, if we imagine a
supernatural voice encouraging misinformation and needless harm, that would be
the Devil--the father of lies.

  The basic God concept I use (see more on "How to Think About God" by Mortimer
Adler below) doesn't specify anything about the character of the believer, how
reliable they are about the known things God is possible beyond, preclude belief
in other things, or preclude being 'centric or intolerant, etc.

  Atheism is rejection of belief in a god or gods.  The concept doesn't define
character or reliability regarding the known things or preclude belief in other
things or preclude being 'centric or intolerant, either.  Some of an atheist's
rejections of old perceptions of old texts may be the same as a liberal believ-

  I suggest the believers and non-believers who agree to these terms agree to
not want any believers and non-believers hurt or killed over these things.  If
that's agreed to, removing the main objections, I suggest they may each make
their case to the other but get along friendly whether the other goes along or
not--to not be 'centric and intolerant or send FU's at everyone different than
them over a wall of alienation.  The friendliness is more condusive to the con-
versation if they want to persuade the other to their stance, too.

  With the main obections kept in that perspective, it becomes more a matter of
subjective reactions of liking or not liking music beyond the objective math of

  I'm not concerned to cover all the specific examples of the worst that can
happen when these rules are deviated from to illustrate my points--the history
of wars and death counts of believers and non-believers.  But I give some of the
highlights of those (sometimes just Copying and Pasting from Wikipedia and other
sources) and links to related articles if anyone wants to know more about them.

  ("Are there links to YouTube videos of those?"  No.  Look those up yourself.
Some of you people aren't wired up right.  OK, here are links to sites of fig-
ures about perfectly disgusting fields of blood from belief and non-belief abom-
ination and murder.  Now there's some fun.)

  I hope people of belief or non-belief might find some common ground to let
them get along better with each other.  (After reading some people butting heads
on several message boards, I wanted to referee with a few friendly suggestions.)

  Neither belief in the basic concept of God nor basic atheism are character
    determinents, and we shouldn't be 'centric and intolerant about things that
    aren't character determinents

  1. "How to Think About God" by Mortimer Adler--how to think about the possi-
         bility of the basic God concept

  There are various pro and con philosophies about the existence of God.

  Intelligent design doesn't prove there's a God.  It poses that because the
cosmos is of a complex design it can't have just come about from natural laws--
it must have had an even more complex eternal designer.  The problem with the
idea is that if an even more complex designer didn't need to be designed then an
infinitely less complex cosmos wouldn't need one, either.  It can suppliment a
God concept to imagine God behind it all but I wouldn't call it a proof.  Also,
any book that's tried to prove otherwise that I know of has been shown to be junk
science by actual scientists.

  Further, the efficiency stance holds that if there is a basic Abrahamic per-
sonal God with an interest to take all or some people into infinity/heaven that
there are some such people all over the world.  An efficient way for God to han-
dle that would be to talk to all the people in all the languages at once.  It
would leave great evidence that God was there and the offer was made.  It would
avoid the inefficient efforts of errant old texts (you can't look out from a
mountaintop over a round but flat earth, comets--supposedly there to chase the
jinn--don't exhibit a chasing pattern, homosexuals don't choose to be bad or de-
serve to be executed with rocks because of the way they're naturally oriented,
problems shown by textual criticism, the unexplained randomness of the victims
of natural tragedies, etc.).  Why just talk to one mistake-prone person at a
time?  If He allowed such mistakes to be written He should have sent an editor
to make corrections to it and didn't.

  Mortimer Adler's book "How to Think About God" reasons that the basic God con-
cept of an eternal, transcendent, necessary, exnihilating/sustaining cause for
the cosmos.  If you add the stipulation of God being a knowing being, He'd know
everything.  He'd preside over the cosmos and all life, the bad and the good,
provide life, and that everybody of all ages, innocent or guilty, dies.

  Mortimer reasons that it's a compelling, not arbitrary, possibility--that the
evidence of the cosmos compels you to consider the basic concept as a possibili-
ty.  To hope He/She/It is there, and beyond that hope to assign God a name, in-
terventions with people, who God talked to and told what, etc., is a choice
whether or not to have a faith--a hope for a possible God and God's activity be-
yond the proven facts.

  In this article I'll operate from that basic concept of God--a transcendent,
eternal, creative/sustaining etc.  For the basic concept of atheism I'll use the
basic idea of rejection of belief in God or gods.

  Neither idea stipulates anything otherwise--the believer's or non-believer's
character, desire to do harm, inclination to be 'centric and intolerant (such as
making their stance law of the land), belief in other things, reliability in re-
porting the known things of the world, etc.

  The basic concepts of God and atheism don't come with character determinants,
names for God, interventions, etc.  All-beneficence is an added stipulation I
wouldn't recommend: if God were all-beneficent we'd all live in heavenly circum-
stances forever and we don't.  Nothing of ethics or the known things prove God
whether God exists or not.  Giving the bad things of the world as proof God isn't
is as illogical as giving intelligent design as proof God is.

  Neither belief in the basic concept of God nor atheism are a character deter-
minent.  If the one choosing either stipulates any needless harm or anything
about bad character, blame the stipulator.  Therefore, I can add both to the
list when I say we shouldn't be 'centric or intolerent about things that aren't
character determinents such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, handicap,
nationality, etc.

  We can add basic belief in God or not to that list before any harmful stipula-
tions are added.  It's pretty simple: how do we avoid harm over it?--don't add
harmful stipulations.  Now with what's left on the plate, you can believe in God
or not.  I'm not a pacifist in all regards, but think of me as like Gandhi when
it comes to faith or not things.

  For those who prefer an Abrahmic God indicated to the whole world, in Judaism
the Messiah is established during worldwide events, in Christianity Jesus is to
appear to the world in the second coming, and in Islam there is a resurrection
of the dead and judgment of all by Allah.

  2. Faith understood as such

  If you're going to go there, understand faith as such--a hope for a possible
God beyond the known proven things.  A reference to that in Christianity is what
Jesus said to doubting Thomas: "Blessed are they who did not see, and yet be-
lieved." (NASB John 20:29)

  So keep up to speed about the known proven things that God is possible beyond.
The liberal stances do that more reliably and conservative stances are more
prone to create curators for outmoded or even harmful models created without do-
ing that.

  And because it's a faith in a possible, not proven, God, no one should be hurt
or killed over it.  Arbitrary hurting and killing is sadism and murder.

  I don't think the perspective I intend should be any affront to someone who
doesn't care for religion or philosophy (although aversion to all philosophy
could obviously lead to problems whether you believe in God or not).

  I enjoyed math and science in school and read the latest science news.  In un-
derstanding faith as such, as a hope for a possible God beyond the known things,
I'd also recommend keeping up with the known things God is possible beyond (lib-
eral not conservative stances on various issues--evolution, rights and regard of
women and LGBT people, etc.).

  Understanding it as a possibility, not a proven, also means there shouldn't be
harm over it.  Arbitrary hurting and killing are sadism and murder, and 'centric
intolerance by some of either choice about faith have caused the most harm on
the issue.  Claiming proof of either stance can lead some to make either law of
the land with punishments, which is institutionalized 'centric intolerance.

  An analogy I make is with music, the known things being like the objective
math of the music and faith or not being like subjective reactions beyond it
with no one obliged to anyone else's subjective reactions.  Get the known things
right or you'll play off the beat and hit wrong notes.  Not wanting final arbi-
ters of taste requiring subjective reactions is like wanting separation of
church and state.  We can't objectively prove someone else has to have the same
subjective reaction so shouldn't be 'centric and only have friends with the same
likes and dislikes in music.

  I've enjoyed math and science, but can love writing and listening to songs,
too.  In this perspective, atheism, rejection of belief in god or gods, is like
someone not liking a song another likes to me, not a difference in acceptance of
math and science.  Misinformation with those come with the sort of conservative
stances I referred to which I'd discourage as harmful to the God concept and

  I can't prove God let alone specifics added to the basic concept, that I'd
pick my parents if all I could do is pick them out of a summary of the qualities
of all the possible parents in the world, prove that you have to love a song I
love, etc., and, all due respect to the math of them and related odds, I'm glad
that's not all there is.  Some things are subjective and can not only be under-
stood as such but cherished.  It's a personal call.

  Ontological arguments don't require all beneficence.  They should exclude it
if taken to require that He have us all live in heavenly circumstances forever
and we don't.  Still, you can believe in life or not and a God that presides
over it or not and reckon on the possibility.  Otherwise evil partly gets into
human free will and whether or not this God should provide that.

  Atheism is rejection of belief in God or gods, similar to rationalism defined
to mean focus on only the known proven things, not a belief, although atheists
may be better or worse at rationalism--getting the facts right--and may believe
other things.  Agnosticism leaves the possibility of God open.  Belief can be
understood for God as beyond the known things while staying up on the known
things or not.


  Orthodox/conservative belief
  Liberal/progressive/reform belief
      Conservative and liberal stances

  In Abrahamic religion, there's orthodox, conservative, liberal, progressive,
and reform belief (also Jewish/Christian/Islamic humanism).  A person may be any
of those but have a conservative or liberal stance on an issue.

  For the purpose of this article, I'm going to define Abrahamic

  - conservative belief as more prone to defend the perceived integrity of an
old interpretation of an old text, claim God as proven which can lead to making
their belief law of the land (with punishment and execution), restricted rights
for women and complimentarianism, judgment that LGBT people are bad and re-
stricted rights for them, arguments against evolution, etc., and

  - liberal belief as more prone to harmonize the basic God concept with know-
ledge (about the cosmos, evolution, equal rights for women and homosexuals,
slavery, etc.) that's arrived since the old texts were written--to keep up to
speed with the known things God is possible beyond, and to understand faith as
such--a hope in a possible God--so not want harm over such things because it
would be arbitrary hurting and killing-sadism and murder--so want separation of
church and state.

  I'd recommend the latter as more respectful to the God concept, which is sup-
posed to be the focus of the worship--God, not an old text writer.

  The conservative stance is more likely to take Genesis literally and the lib-
eral stance is more prone to take it allegorically.  The conservative stance is
more likely to take the Moses account literally and the liberal stance is more
likely to take it as a romanticized version of how monotheism arose, include
ideas of the culture of the time (the sky is a hard dome, etc.) and not what God
would know, etc.

  I recommend liberal of the two--if the choice is to have faith in an old text
at odds with current knoowledge and God, and the point is supposed to be honor
of God, honoring God should take priority over honoring somebody who wrote a
text a long time ago.  If God is there, it wouldn't honor Him to misinform or
harm needlessly in His name.  In fact, if He's there, I think it would piss Him

  An easy example to use to show the liberal method but get everyone to agree on
is Ancient Near East cosmology (the sky a hard dome, etc.).  Even conservatives
would agree it represents the culture of the time and not what God would know.
(The problem is some people have a hard dome about other issues, too.)

  Faith is a hope for a possible God

  When it comes to faith, you can try too hard to prove is as isn't.

  I didn't say belief and atheism.  I build the idea in this article from a
basic belief understood as such for a basic God concept and rejection of belief
in God or gods.

  An atheist isn't necessarily a rationalist--they may not be good at getting
the facts right or believe in something other than a God or gods, and a believer
isn't necessarily bad at raionalism--they may understand their faith as such and
keep up with the facts.  The focus for an expose on the JWs leaders is when they
try to show the best evidence and reasoning proves their exclusiveness because
there isn't any proof it, and the same for those who claim proof is or isn't for

  I don't know proof is or isn't for that, so you get propaganda as many people
play either extreme (Paul Broun: the world is 9,000 years old and the Big Bang
and evolution are lies from the pit of hell, or Chris Hitchens: belief in God
has caused most of the wars in the world, etc.)

  The ones for whom the whole issue of faith is to try to prove either of those
tend to have more in common than they realize (and be equally prone to have dis-
paraging things to say about the other whole group).  To me, they belong in the
same group as the JWs leaders.  They're both trying to watch the sun come up by
staring into the west.  The JWs leaders are among the believers and non-believ-
ers who can train you to think the whole issue is to prove is or isn't, and they
all mischaracterize faith understood as such.

  Some conservative believers and some non-believers make the case that the con-
cept of God and faith in God comes with whatever outdated conservative attach-
ments, all or nothing, it's just that one believes it and the other rejects it.
It's another way they remind me of each other.  Those aren't the only two

  Aside from any divine intervention possibilities, it was always a choice of
whether or not to have a hope commitment, a faith, in a possible God beyond the
prove-able things.  I wouldn't expect everyone to have all the same choices any
more than for the subjective preferences beyond the math of music.  Just know
what you're doing as such if you go there.

  Neither faith understood as such for the basic concept of God--an eternal,
transcendent, necessary, exnihilating/sustaining cause for the cosmos--nor the
basic concept of atheism--to reject the idea of the existence of God or gods--
comes with stipulations to hurt or kill anybody over it.

  If either hurts or kills for their stance or recommends it, blame the stipula-
tor.  I've been a believer and non-believer at different times of my life and
tried to be a nice rightful person either way, and I've had either kind as
friends over the years, and I've had either kind among my favorite composers,
actors, authors, etc., so I don't plan to make any ham-handed broadside swings
at either whole group.  In fact, I mainly dislike the ham-handed broadside
swings of either as part of the harm I don't like.

  Either group of millions of people included those who committed crime and even
murdered, some even getting onto lists of the big abominations of all time.

  Cases of an Abrahamic religion made law of the land allegedly include Mosaic
law, ? BC, and include the Edict of Thessalonica delivered by Theosodius I,
Gratian, and Valentinian II in 380 AD, etc., and further developed by other
leaders, and the Constitution of Medina drafted by Muhammad shortly after the
journey of him and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD and Sharia fur-
ther developed by subsequent Muslim leaders.

  If you're going to make the belief the law of the land, have anyone taxed a
nickel, punished, or hurt for a religious reason, you better have miraculous
proof of God, like him waving to all who are to accept it and explaining that he
wants it (alleged for God parting the sea and being available for consultation
via the Ark of the Covenant for Mosaic law in the early OT, etc.--obviously it's
a matter of faith that they happened).  Otherwise, it's a theological and ethi-
cal dilemma.  It's hurting and killing arbitrarily without the prerogative--sad-
ism and murder.

  This isn't a stance taken purely by non-believers or liberal believers.  The
Ark disappeared by 587-586 BBC.  Followers still had old writings and even peo-
ple of faith, but couldn't have Mosaic law for all rightfully anymore.  For pun-
ishment and execution for God to not be arbitrary, not be be sadism and murder,
you need God to make Himself known and that He wants it for all who are to ac-
cept it as alleged in the early Old Testament--parting seas, having an angel
talk from flaming shrubbery, be there for consultation via the Ark of the Cove-
nant, etc.--or no deal.

  I recommend that the believers and non-believers who can agree to these terms
agree to not like the misinformation and harm of believers and non-believers who
propagandize against whoever different than them and who create unnecessary
harm.  They add to the division, unfriendliness, and worse between people.


  This leads to several ideas:
  3.  Keep up to speed about the proven rational things--the see-able, touch-
            able, measurable things God is possible beyond

  A good source for things like the age of the universe, cosmology, evolution,
homosexuality, the history of separation of church and state, slavery, and equal
rights for women, etc. are the Wikipedia, Science Daily, Scientific American,
and besthistorysites web sites and other such research sources on the Internet
and at the library.  If your local public library doesn't have what you're look-
ing for, you can request an interlibrary loan to have material sent from another
library for free.

  Not messing with the facts doesn't just mean to not bother people that the
world is 6,000 years old, birds appeared before land animals, the state of the
art of cosmology is ancient near eastern, or taking something like the Noah
flood account literally instead of allegorically if it goes against the known
facts.  It also means a religious or non-religious person shouldn't propagandize
against people that are different than them, which ties in with the next Basic
about not being 'centric.

  Not keeping up with the known things can lead someone to fall for claims of
proof of God therefore want it as law of the land with punishment and even war.
They may follow a fake prophet (JWs leaders) or fake faith healer (Popoff) or
such, not double-check the exclusive things they're told, forgo proper medical
treatment, and possibly die.
  FBI Audiotape Project:

  Some people get too 'centric about music and about anything else people may
see themselves in groups about (race, nationality, age, etc.), too, and cause
division or worse, but it's the being 'centric I'd warn against, not music.
Being flexible about having friends of the variety of such types is better.

  To make an analogy with music, we should all agree on the math of the music
(used to divide scales and define beats, the notes of a scale and chords, who
owns copyrights, etc.) like we should agree on the known proven things of the
rational world generally.  In subjective reactions, we don't have to agree on
what songs to like or dislike, though.  There should be freedom of subjective
reaction, no one obliged to another's subjective reactions, like there should be
separation of church and state.

  objective   math of music                    Known things of rationalism

  subjective  feelings about music        faith or not

  freedom of subjective reactions         separation of church and state

  Don't be a final arbiter of taste           Don't be 'centric and intolerant about
       about subjective reactions                  choice of belief/non-belief in God

  We don't want the trumpet players 'centric and intolerant and refusing to so-
cialize with the trombone players, people hitting each other over the head with
trombones, and get the facts right or you'll be playing off the beat and hitting

  With what's left on the plate, you can believe in God or not, and I hope
you're friends with each other either way.

  And if an old idea goes against newfound facts, it's better to be able to im-
provise than just play recitals of old music.  You don't want to be playing a
different song than the rest of the band because then you're not just someone
with a possibility and a hope, you're strange.  "Check his sheet music"--you
don't want that.

  If you propagandize against believers or non-believers but get the facts wrong
in the name of making your case, you can't be in the band.  You have to stay
home and play by yourself, which is a whole different subject.

  If you want either to presuade the other to their stance, friendliness is more
conducive to that than by either sending FU's over a wall of alienation.

  4.  Don't be 'centric and intolerant about things that aren't character

  Don't be too 'centric and intolerant about people outside your group regarding
things that aren't character determinants (belief or rejection of belief in the
basic God concept, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) or you're a pain
in the a** whichever of those things you are or pick (see the links below).  A
belief or non-belief stance shouldn't be the law of the land, which would be in-
stitutionalized 'centric intolerance and people could be hurt or killed over
something no one should be hurt or killed over.

  The only acceptable way to have a theocracy, or more generally have anyone
hurt or killed because God allegedly needs it, is if God makes Himself known to
all who must abide by it.  In Abrahamic religion, it's an article of faith that
God made Himself known by various miracles (the parting of the Red Sea, etc.),
and was regularly available for consultation via the Ark of the Covenant, for
Mosaic law, but the Ark of the Covenant disappeared by 587-586 BC.  Without
such proof of God and that He wants His rules made law of the land, such hurting
and killing over it creates the ethical and theological dilemma of arbitrary
hurting or killing--sadism and murder.

  By proof of God I mean something as clear as God waving and saying "Hi there,
I want you to do this" so we all know He's there.  The choice isn't faith in Him
being there or not--the only choice would be if you want to agree with Him or
not.  It wouldn't be referred to as faith but as "Have you met Yahweh yet?"
With all due respect to the possibility of God and faith understood as such, I
don't know anyone with proof like that.

  You might even believe the Ark of the Covenant or such existed, but it
wouldn't justify anyone being hurt or killed in the present unless there was
such proof, with no other reasonable explanation, to all who must accept it in
the present.

  Some people have said things like "nothing has caused more death than belief
in God."  But again, neither the basic God or atheist concepts come with stipu-
lations to hurt or kill anybody.  I recommend this outlook as a better overview:

  Take the 'centric intolerant believers on the offense, such as in in religious
war, but not those on the defense or believers who weren't 'centric and wouldn't
take part,

  those 'centric non-believers on the offense, such as some leaders of State
Atheism trying to eliminate believers, but not those on the defense or non-be-
lievers who wouldn't take part,

  those 'centric racists on the offense but not the people on the defense or who
wouldn't take part,

  those people 'centric about sexual orientation, about whatever that isn't a
character determinant, etc.,

  and one of the big causes of unnecessary hurt or death in history has been be-
ing too 'centric and intolerant about things that aren't character determinants.
I think that defines the problem better and doesn't mischaracterize a lot of
nice people.

  As substantiation of that, I submit the evidence below of bad behavior of be-
lievers and non-believers.

  It's both believers or non-believers who were too 'centric about their belief
or non-belief choice, or other things that aren't character determinants, to the
point of harsh intolerance of others, even making their indulgence law of the
land with harsh punishments, that caused that harm, and not either the believers
or non-believers who weren't too 'centric about it.

  See the section on Religious Wars in part 9--about 7% of the wars in history
were religious wars.

  A little more controversially, more on that point is found in "The Irrational
Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens," a
2008 book by American writer and technology entrepreneur Vox Day.  I don't agree
with all of his opinions, some of which seem male Protestant 'centric to me, and
I'd at least agree with his targets that I don't want anyone hurt or killed over
such things.  But he refutes some propaganda about people who believe in God,
such as the claim that belief in God is the main cause of war in history, and
reaffirms the case that a minority of the wars of human history have been due to

  I would refute the claim that belief in God is the main cause of war in his-
tory as well.  In my case, I'd again point out that neither the basic concept of
faith in God uderstood as such or atheism carries stipulations to hurt or kill
anyone.  I'd blame those who stipulate hurting and killing due to 'centric in-
tolerance about those and other things that aren't character determinants such
as by making either belief or non-belief stance the law of the land.

  "Imagine" (1971, Lennon)

  I go along with the basic populist interpretation--not a sugar-coated com-
munist manifesto (which was a little late to have been a good companion piece
for "Back in the USSR") but to imagine a world with no harm between people.

  But everyone doesn't have to have the same belief or non-belief choice, to all
be of one religion or " religion," to stop that harm.  I'd say we
shouldn't be 'centric in tolerant whether we believe in the basic God idea or
not--to be more relaxed about the differences, and should use the liberal not
conservative stances for Abrahamic specifics beyond that.

  The advice to not be 'centric doesn't require you to recommend that someone
"imagine there's no heaven" any more than to imagine there aren't any people who
don't believe in heaven or any people of a certain sexual orientation, race,
etc.  It's to realize we're going to have different kinds and encourage people
to relax about it, to not get 'centric about it.  I've read that more of the
young people in the USA are that way, and a bigger tension than between denomin-
ations is between conservative and liberal stances with liberalism growing,
which I think is healthy.

  The lyrics for "Imagine," 1971, are kind of ironic.  They suggest you imagine
a eutopia on earth that's all-inclusive beyond what's realistic to expect.  It's
something to hope for--heaven or paradise on Earth.  The way to do it suggested
includes that you imagine no heaven, which in God belief is a hope commitment
that can be exclusive or inclusive--Universalism.  And some people's idea of
that is heaven on earth.  And in the middle of the song, he asks you not to ima-
gine it.

  If heaven of God belief can be imagined as inclusive or exclusive, the most
towards that in the known world would have to be exclusive, with police and
jails, etc., as long as common human selfishness is appropriately named.

  The lyric suggests you imagine "no religion" implying religion as populated
by people who are all conservative in being 'centric and intolerant.  It's iron-
ic because the 'centric and intolerant stance is to characterize another group
by the worst of it, and it's exclusivist to claim the cure is to not have them
there.  Ironically, that's actually the kind of 'centric intolerant outlook be-
hind most of the harm in human history over this issue and others.  The more ap-
propriate point for a lyric advocating harmony is that believers and non-be-
lievers shouldn't be 'centric and intolerant about each other.

  If the guidelines I suggest above are taken, it's like the analogy with music
I made about it.  Seen that way, there's the extra irony of a songwriter saying
the world would be better off without anyone liking songs.

  (The irony takes a turn for even worse when you consider John said "Imagine"
was "virtually The Communist Manifesto, even though I am not particularly a
communist and I do not belong to any movement" ["Lennon in America" by Geoffrey
Giuliano, 2000].  And in a Feb.4, 1971, Rolling Stone interview, the specific
communist leader John and Yoko said was beginning to do a good job was Chairman
Mao.  Mao was an exclusivist about creating harmony, notably in being 'centric
and intolerant of believers and causing millions to die or suffer.  More gener-
ally, he appears among the top few examples of people who've created mass kill-
ings, most due to famine, at the site.

  Finally, the one time I know of John taking a whack at Christianity was after
"Imagine" when he went to conservative faith healer Oral Roberts.  No wonder he
didn't see it as a viable option--he stunk at it.

  Since faith is a hope commitment for a possible God beyond the known facts and
atheism just goes for the known facts, and there's nothing in the known facts
for either to support being 'centric or anyone being hurt or killed over such
things, neither is any grounds for people being 'centric or hurting or killing
over such stuff.

  Neither the basic belief in God understood as such or atheism, rejection of
belief in God or gods, stipulate that anyone be hurt or killed.  If anyone stip-
ulates it, blame the stipulator.  There have been those of either sort on lists
of abominations and those of either sort who'd never get on such lists.

  The good--as in chance to live, find love--and bad--as in death, unfairness--
in life is the same for those who believe or don't.  Either way you can be
grateful for the good and dislike the bad.  An all-beneficent life, or God of
one, would provide heavenly circumstances forever, which nobody thinks is the
case so is a moot point on the choice.

  The hurting and killing of life or by the people of it aren't deal-breakers on
the basic choice to believe in God or not.  But some of either make ham-handed
broadside swings against the other whole group and, ironically, 'centric intol-
erance over things that aren't character determinants, which can be indicated by
such ham-handed broadside swings, is often the cause of the added hurting and

  Belief in God is faith.  Even the NT says you're saved by faith--a hope com-
mitment in a possible God.  In my ideal of it, it's not a disagreement about the
see-able, touchable, measurable things (some people's arguments for literal in-
terpretations of Genesis and such notwithstanding).  I would think both sides of
it would understand that--it's just one chooses to hope for a God beyond those
things and the other doesn't.  When either side tries to rationalize it too
much, I think they miss the point.  It's fair game that one might try to per-
suade the other to their choice, but whether the other goes for it or not, I
hope they're still friends afterward.

  But when people perceive they're in a group, some may rationalize they're the
good ones and others are stupid and crazy and cause all the trouble in the
world--they get 'centric.  They might do it over race, income level, national-
ity, gender, sexual orientation, political party, preferred style of music, age,
etc.  Someone once divided a room in half, and some of the people on one side of
the room got that way about the ones on the other side of the room.

  Some people have said they don't know of anything that's caused people to kill
people as much as belief in God.  I'd say nothing has been as big a cause of
people killing people than people getting too 'centric.

  Then walls of alienation go up, with people distrusting instead of knowing the
ones on the other side, then even hating the ones on the other side.

  If they make it law of the land, it's institutionalized 'centric intolerance.

  It's caused murder as run by certain leaders of State Atheism or who had a
religion as law of the land.  The deaths weren't due to belief or non-belief in
God, but getting 'centric and intolerant about either one.

  When people perceive they're in a group, some rationalize they're the good
ones and others are crazy or stupid or cause all the trouble in the world, they
put up a wall of alienation and distrust those on the other side instead of
knowing them, even hate them as lesser beings, and that's when someone is burned
at the stake, the jets fly into the skyscrapers, Hitler with a bastardized soci-
al Darwinism (not actual Darwinism) tries to manipulate Christianity for geno-
cide, Stalin has tens of thousands of priests and others killed, etc.

  But a recent article in Yahoo showed that more kids in school are more relaxed
over each other's different choices about God.  I think that's healthy.  We're
never going to have everyone the same in each category, but we can be more re-
laxed and friendly about there being the different kinds.

  Jesus didn't teach to look for people who believe differently and beat them
up, tax them, make them live under any law of the land about it, or consider
them unclean, and neither did Paul (1 Cor.10:31-11:1).

  The JWs leaders get 'centric to the point of cooking up the research books to
try to prove their dozen or so distinctive rules meant to prove their exclusive-
ness (that they're God's chosen spokespeople from a literal 144,000 most holy).
Thousands have died by making the mistake of following the JWs leaders' cooked
up cases about blood, by following the JWs leaders regarding worldliness and
politics in Nazi Germany and Malawi, and were separated from friends and loved
ones over their harsh shunning rules (required not just for actual bad behavior
but for unrepentant criticism of any of the JWs leaders' distinctive rules).
The case I have for that is at the next links, which is what I'd recommend to
JWs or anyone considering becoming a follower of the JWs leaders.

  5. Religion without proof of God for all, or state atheism, as law of the
            land is institutionalized 'centric intolerance

  The worst spin on that is to characterize Christianity as intending that any
OT cruelty be given as advisable.  That's not mainstream though, and I'd never
recommend it.  Even conservative politicians who are bigoted about homosexuals
don't promise to execute them.

  While some conservatives and critics alike leave the impression the choice is
to interpret the Bible that way or nothing, there's no harm in acknowledging
there's orthodox, conservative, and reform/progresssive/liberal in Abrahamic re-
ligions.  It remains true that if you're going to go there, a growing progres-
sive stance shows there are a few positive points I'd recommend as suitable for
ethical ground rules for the other way to spin it:

  I don't mean to force points, but I'd recommend that, if you're going to go
there, a reform/progresssive Christian stance is more up to speed and ethical.
More and more young people are realizing that, which I think is healthy.

  As the good Lord said to those poised to throw rocks, "Let he who is too 'cen-
tric dig thyself."

  To be unethical is to overindulge the self at another's unnecessary hurt or
expense, unfair regard or treatment.

  "The New Testament generally asserts that all morality flows from the Great
Commandment, to love God with all one's heart, mind, strength, and soul, and to
love one's neighbor as oneself.  In this, Jesus was reaffirming the teaching of
the Torah, Deut 6:4-9 and Lev 19:18, see also Ministry of Jesus and The Law of
Christ. Christ united these commands together and proposed himself as a model
of the love required in John 13:12, known also as The New Commandment."

  People can believe in a possible God this way that way or no way and be
friendly and ethical with each other.

  If it goes beyond that to anyone calling for anyone to be hurt or killed or
fined because allegedly God needs it to happen, then it goes beyond what's arbi-
trary but harmless and I'd need to see compelling evidence, explainable no other
reasonable way, for it or it's unjustified.

  Belief in God, apart from personally witnessing a divine intervention, is a
hope for a possible God beyond the proven facts.  Therefore, there's no substan-
tiation for anyone to be hurt or killed over it.

  An exception could be made for a divine intervention due to God's prerogative,
and you may prefer to believe such intervention occurred in a past account.  But
to hurt or kill in the present due to faith that it happened in a past account
of alleged divine intervention would be to hurt or kill for an arbitrary rea-
son--sadism or murder.

  For me to feel any present such hurting or killing is justified, I'd want the
person who told me God told them to tell me to do it guess the number I'm think-
ing of between one and a billion ten times in a row, see the clouds part and
Charlton Heston talking from a flaming shrub, see Bunny Berigan with some wings
play some cadenzas, or no deal.  So far, I haven't seen one.

  If the belief (without a show of divine intervention) or non-belief stance is
made law of the land, it's institutionalized 'centric intolerance.  It's uneth-
ical to do it for belief unless the people of the land are all shown a divine
intervention of God calling for it (not arbitrary trust in old writings on it,
not arbitrary trust in an old account) while it's in practice.

  Religion as law of the land (Moses, Theodosius, Muhammad)

  Having someone punished or killed in the name of God, for a purely religious
reason, without a show of divine intervention to substantiate the claim, is an
ethical and theological dilemma: it's hurting or killing for an arbitrary rea-
son--sadism or murder.  If doing so is the law of the land without a show of
divine intervention to all who are supposed to accept it, it's institutionalized
sadism and murder--organized crime.

  Since faith in God is a belief in a God beyond the known facts, there's no
substantiation in the facts (without a show of divine intervention) for anyone
to be hurt or killed over it, and unsubstantiated killing, killing without a
case for defense in the facts, is murder.

  According to the three main Abrahmatic religions, the story goes that God told
Abrahm to sacrifice his son (then stopped him once Abrahm set about doing it
having seen him pass the test of faith).  Abrahm didn't hear from a guy down the
road who read an old book so had an opinion that maybe God would like such a
thing, or that the latest secular leader made it a law, so Abrahm thought he
might give it a try--God is supposed to have told Abrahm personally.

  And if God told someone else to do it but didn't tell me or anyone else, He
wouldn't want me or anyone else to accept it because He'd want us to be against
arbitrary killing--murder.  God should either make a divine intervention to tell
all of us to accept it or we shouldn't.

  If the idea is that God only told one person to kill someone, they could con-
sider whatever trials and tribulations they were put through as a murderer as a
test of their faith.  However, assuming God would rather have many accept a just
idea than trouble many people that the just idea is only murder, that one person
should be examined for mental stability, understanding of the issues, political
or religious zealousness, etc.  I haven't seen a divine intervention but the
known proven world includes some delusional people.

  Basically, in Abrahamic religion, the story goes that justification for Mosaic
law was God being present via the Ark of the Covenant.  It's presently only a
matter of an article of faith--nobody is asking you to live under Mosaic law
since the Ark was gone by the fall of Jerusalem in 587-586 BC.

  (The stance of Genesis being allegory followed by Mosaic law establishment be-
ing a romanticization of the rise of monotheism comes with the bonus of less
death caused.  It's supported by various things: God wouldn't teach Ancient Near
East Cosmology, wouldn't have a small percent of animals and people made homo-
sexual then want homosexuals put to death at Lev.18, etc.)

  Jesus and followers didn't propose that their faith had to be law of the
land--it was to be spread anywhere among all kinds of people without giving of-
fense (1 Cor.10:32-11:1).


  Judaism and self-defense

  My interpretation--your mileage may vary--regarding Jesus' pacifistic state-
ments on one hand and soldiers not told to abandon their careers (as they would
have been if trying to join the Quakers or Jehovah's Witnesses--pacifist groups)
and Rom.13 praising the gov't as doing God's work on the other (see p.6 of
"Glenster's Guide to GTJ Brooklyn" for more):

  The scriptural issue is debated as a matter of personal conscience.  It de-
pends how you interpret and weigh the one batch of scriptures and concerns
against the other.

  "Some theologians, however, reject the pacifist interpretation of Chris-
  tian dogma. W.E. Addis et al. have written: 'There have been sects, notably
  the Quakers, which have denied altogether the lawfulness of war, partly be-
  cause they believe it to be prohibited by Christ (Mt. v. 39, etc), partly on
  humanitarian grounds. On the Scriptural ground they are easily refuted; the
  case of the soldiers instructed by in their duties by St. John the Baptist,
  and that of the military men whom Christ and His Apostles loved and familiar-
  ly conversed with (Lk 3:14, Acts 10, Mt 8:5), without a word to imply that
  their calling was unlawful, sufficiently prove the point.'"

  I start by deciding what makes sense to me about morals and ethics on defense
otherwise--without the Bible.

  As explained above, I don't see the justification of harm for a possible, not
proven, God.  It would be arbitrary hurting or killing--sadism and murder.  I
don't want anyone harmed for anyone's definition of "apostate" or state atheism
persecution of believers.  So I'd want pacifism for that.

  More generally, though, I'm not a pacifist.  I don't see the moral superiority
of committing suicide by letting someone kill you as Gandhi said the Jews should
have done regarding the Holocaust saying it would have been heroic of them.  If
pacifism is defended on the grounds that you shouldn't stoop to the offender's
level, I don't think defense is on the same level as offense, and I'd rather be
on the living side of the debate than sacrifice my life to let people have a
murderer live in their midst and maybe murder others.  I don't see the moral
superiority of standing by selfishly saving your own skin while your neighbor
and their children are attacked--in fact, it seems selfish and less moral to me.

  So I can see the substantiation for supplying defense for that, police for
matters beyond that, and even armies to defend against larger attacks such as
the common example of Hitler's forces on the march to commit genocide on all
races but the Aryan race for the sake of pseudoscience and bigotry.  If Hitler
succeeded in wiping out all but the Aryan race, I don't think the Nazis would
have have spent much time praising the dead as having been heroic.

  Since it's a debated issue, I choose the side that makes sense to me ethically
otherwise: to see Jesus as teaching followers not want force or harm in choices
of faith.  (Likewise, I see "I come not to bring peace but to bring a sword,"
Matt.10:34, as Jesus meaning his groups new ideas will cause debate and division
over matters of faith, not a threat to use a literal sword.)

  I see the other verses as regarding a broader secular overview that allows for
defense against attack.

  Roman emperors made Christianity law of the land starting with Theodosius in
380 AD without a show of divine intervention to justify it.

  Muhammad made his religion the law of the land--the justification intended for
it is the Quran--in some places, it's still law of the land.  The other two main
Abrahamic religions have gone farther in accepting separation of church and
state.  In 1945, Israel was established as a democracy.


  The Abrahamic God and the cruelties of life

  If someone tells someone to hurt or kill someone for God (for apostasy or
breaking a purely religious rule), I would want to have a divine intervention
for it, for it to be compelling that God needed it to be done--explainable no
other reasonable way but divine intervention--or it shouldn't be done.  Other-
wise, it would be hurting or killing for an arbitrary reason--it would be sadism
or murder.  Unless God was appearing or otherwise making Himself known and that
He needed it to be done, it shouldn't be done.

  An ethical problem with making capital punishment for a religion the law of
the land is that it doesn't work ethically or theologically to have the death
penalty for breaking a religious rule as a law of a country unless God was ap-
pearing regularly to everyone who was supposed to accept it and telling them to
do it.

  Since birds didn't appear before land animals, the ancient near east cosmology
(the sky is a hard dome with stars affixed to it, etc.) was wrong (OT), and
sperm doesn't come from between the backbone and ribs (Qur'an), and homosexual-
ity isn't a crime (the OT is debated, Qur'an), you can know killing for someone
who says those things who tells you to kill for God is asking you to murder.

  Still, you might believe some accounts of divine intervention in the OT are
true.  In the case of Mosaic law, you might believe that God made His presence
known with the Ark of the Covenant.  But the Ark was gone and the Roman Empire
ruled Israel by the time of Jesus, and killing in faith for an unproven old ac-
count of divine intervention would be killing for an arbitrary reason--murder.

  This problem is solved by Jesus and the apostles in the NT: faith is under-
stood as such--"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
(John 20:29).  Accordingly, followers don't need the faith to be law of the land
with punishments of death for breaking religious rules.  There are no more trib-
al wars called for.  Christians are to go among Jews and Gentiles without giving
offense, sacrificing of themselves to gain others to God (1 Cor.10:32-11:1).

  An alternative to having faith there was divine intervention in such OT things
is to take a reform/progresssive/liberal stance for the Bible: taking Jesus'
statement regarding divorce (that previous followers were stubborn in their
habits so only taken along so far by God)

  and applying to to whatever in the OT is wrong (ANE cosmology, etc.)

  and possibly any OT cruelties if there may not have been divine intervention--
the need for the faith to be law of the land with a military to defend it, tri-
bal wars and many Mosaic capital punishments, food and clothes rules that set
the followers apart from others, branded unclean, in a 'centric way that limited
assimilation, etc.

  These things may have been matters of the customs of the believers, just as
the things they got wrong were, and not due to God.

  The conservative and (my choice) reform/progresssive stances on translation
for the issue of homosexuality in the NT is covered in a section below.


  Muhammad basically brought back some of those OT things mentioned above for
the Qur'an and Hadiths: his prophet claim as law of the land, it's generally in-
terpreted that he wanted death for people familiar with his religion who became
outspoken unrepentant critics of it (apostates), tribal war to expand territory
in the name of God, ethically arbitrary food and clothes rules that just put a
crimp in assimilation in a 'centric way, etc.  And I don't know of a reasonable
liberal translation dispute (as in reform/progresssive/liberal Judaism or re-
form/progresssive/liberal Christianity) for the Qur'an regarding how Muhammad
incorrectly defined homosexuality as a crime.

  Muhammad didn't provide a NT end to those OT-type things.  A liberal Islamic
stance may be to figure, similar to reasoning given above about not wanting any-
one hurt or killed over a faith matter without a show of divine intervention,
that Islamic law (Sharia) shouldn't be law of the land since Muhammad died and
no current Muslim is getting messages from Allah via angel Gabriel.  Some pun-
ishment by people in Islam is covered in the Hadiths, and a small percent have
a relatively liberal stance of "Qur'an-only."  A very liberal stance may inter-
pret that the description in the Qur'an of homosexuals as abominations to be
punished wasn't said by Muhammad but was added later, anyway, though that
wouldn't go over with most Muslims.

  The vast majority of Muslims (80-90%) are orthodox (Sunni--Qur'an and Ha-
diths), most of the rest (10-20%) are conservative (Shia--Qur'an and some dif-
ferent Hadith choices), then a small percent are relatively liberal, such as
Quranists, who still see homosexuality as an abomination but leave their punish-
ment for the afterlife (a conservative stance in Judaism and Christianity).

  For the lion's share of Muslims, a progressive stance of an infallible (re-
garding faith) but inerrant (totally free of error) source material, or that
homosexuality is normal and not a crime, is apostate and beyond consideration.

  Sufism may be considered the internal spiritual aspect of Islam or beyond the
sphere of Islam, depending on the type, by most Muslims.

  "Sufism has traditionally tended more towards interpreting love of fellow men
as an extension of love for Allah, and thus been historically seen as the most
peaceful.  Though Sufis put greater emphasis on spiritual struggle, or Jihad,
they do not reject military struggle in toto.  For instance, in the 19th century
the Naqshbandi Imam Shamil fought a Jihad against the Russians in Caucasus,
while the Qadiri Emir Abd al-Qadir led the Algerian resistance against the

  I cover these things about the Qur'an and Hadiths below in the longest section
of this article on p.4 (if I get around to finishing it.)


  The believer's stance has to accept the cruelties of life however they may in-
terpret the passages of old texts, so the perspective I recommend for that is
given below.

  6. Job--believing in God despite the cruelties of life

  One of the earliest Bible writings about God and the cruelties of life is the
book of Job.  Job questions God about the bad things in life, comes away still
unsure, but still believes in God.  A non-believer might wonder how someone could
do that, especially if critical of belief in an all-beneficent God since we don't
live in an all-beneficent world.

  The God concept has to be reconciled with the cosmos and all life in it He pre-
sides over.

  To be credible, your God concept has to be reconciled with the good (we get
to live, find love, etc.) and bad (we all die--all ages, innocent or guilty, some
die in more unfortunate ways--more in one year than in all the OT stories rolled
into one, etc.) of life.  It includes that as owner of it all He has the prero-
gative to do with it as He wants, including to give life, if any, to whatever
length or quality He wants.  He's entitled to His choice of how to regard people
who don't have the same prerogative--they don't have the prerogative of a God
that owns it all and they don't justify harm for a possible, not proven, God be-
cause arbitrary harm and killing is sadism and murder.

  You can believe in a God that presides over all life as you can be glad for
life without God--with God, you could throw in afterlife as sweetner.  The more
you vary from that to the bad or good, for the sake of complimenting or criticiz-
ing the God concept, the less credible the God concept.  Make Him too good--all-
beneficent, and we'd have to all live in heavenly circumstances forever and we
don't.  Make Him too bad and it becomes an argument against believing in life.

  An all-beneficent God would have us all live in heavenly circumstances for-
ever.  It sounds good--I'd sign up for that--but it isn't credible, and neither
is an unloving tyrant or there would be nothing to live for.  Belief in life
dependant on an all-beneficent world filled with all-beneficent people wouldn't
be possible, either.  If we can criticize human life, all the more a higher qual-
ity being that owns it all could.  The God concept, to be credible, has to be reconciled with
the good and bad of life and people.

  God's prerogative       Life not a person that's culpable
        It's fair game for God or life to handle things the way they do

  The same good and bad things of life exist with or without God.

  That's the issue of God's prerogative: as creator of everything, He owns
everything, including all life, and all life other than His would be a lower
form of life.  It's all His to do with however He wants.

  That's dealt with in Job, one of the earliest books of the Bible.  The Devil,
as an adversarial lawyer, contests Job's faith in God to God, claiming Job only
has faith in God because things are good for Job--he's healthy and wealthy with
a big family.  God lets the Devil change all that, but Job still has faith.

  One way to make that easier to understand in a secular way is to take God out
of it.  Despite the bad things that can happen, someone could be glad they got a
chance at life and found what good in life they found.

  The best you can do is be glad you get a chance at life and the good you found
in it despite the bad things in the world and the problems of the world caused
by some of the people in it.  Add God to the idea, and you have Job.

  An odd pair of complaints about God that commonly appear:

  How could you believe in a God that has everyone die?
  and How could you believe in God considering the bad of the world?

  The first implies people are so intrinsicaly good you'd want to nurture all of
them forever while the second implies life is so bad you'd want out of it.

  Some people may not believe in God because they's rather stick with the known
things and not a hope for a possible God beyond them, but I think that person
doesn't consider it a viable option because they stink at it.

  Great Flood: it didn't literally happen, so nobody was literally killed by it.
Still, you could interpret it allegorically and interpret what it means about a
God concept.  I think of it as showing that a need for all-beneficence cuts both
ways: God could look at the human race and imagine chucking the whole deal.
(There's enough food to go around yet people starve, people getting 'centric and
intolerant about their groups and fighting, people ruining the ecology and
creating climate change that could cause an Armageddon without God lifting an
anthropomorphical finger to cause one, etc.)

  OT battles: a bigger concern than deaths in OT battles is that the God of the
Bible has everyone die and didn't need to have it that way.

  The bad things aren't a make-or-break point about belief in God (except re-
garding an all-beneficent God concept) any more than they're a make or break
point for someone being glad for the good they found in life (unless they'd only
be that way for a life that's like heaven on Earth).

  7. God's prerogative vs. human ethics and a sign of God or of "not God"

  One area of theology is God's prerogative.  Basically, it means God created
everything, so he's the first owner of everything, even all life.  How he wants
to run things, even cause or allow the troubling things of the world, is fair
game--that's his prerogative.  To give people everlasting life, a little life,
no life, good life or bad life--it's all His prerogative.  To put it real sim-
ply, it's all His to do what He wants with it.

  That theology doesn't give people the same right in interpersonal concerns.
They have the freedom to do anything, but not all of it rightfully by God.

  A rough analogy would be to compare the prerogative of God over people like
the outlook of people who claim that prerogative over animals.

  God > people
  People > animals

  It's not a perfect analogy because, among other things, the belief in God has
it that He created therefore owns everything, including all life, which can't be
said for people regarding animals.

   A critic might imagine holding God to our interpersonal ethical concerns be-
yond His prerogative, but a comparison of a person and God isn't a comparison of
two people.  An analogy with a person who has the prerogative to take animal
life for food is a better comparison to start from although the person doesn't
have as much prerogative even there compared to God.

  If someone kills a cow and eats a hamburger you don't consider them a murderer.
You don't put them in jail unless the cow was guilty of something deservant of
the death penalty, trying to attack him, or over a certain age.  The animals are
typically innocent, but people can eat cows, calves, chicken eggs, etc., with

  Likewise, God can take the life of whatever person regardless of age, inno-
cence, or guilt--He has the prerogative.  The concept would have to incorporate
the idea since it would have Him preside over all life and everyone dies--all
ages, innocent or guilty, in a variety of ways, and more in the last year than
in all the OT stories rolled into one.

  A person could eat hamburgers and be considered nice by their neighbors, but
if the person did that with their neighbors they'd be regarded as being like
serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.  Likewise, it's fair game for God to give people
whatever degree and quality of life, but if God was only of the quality and
prerogative of people and had everyone die, He wouldn't be God--He'd be Godzil-
la.  Prerogative makes a difference in deciding if such a thing is unjustly
cruel or fair game.

  But for me to accept that God needs people to have other people harmed or
killed, I'd need proof of God, moreover that He specifically called for it, ex-
plainable no other reasonable way.  Otherwise, it would be arbitrary hurting and
killing for a possible God therefore sadism and murder.

  Someone may prefer to believe an old story of God intervening and calling for
someone to be killed, but that's an article of faith for us in the present.  It
wouldn't justify killing in the present--that would be based on an article of
faith therefore arbitrary.  If it's imagined that God told someone to kill some-
one in the present, He wouldn't want the rest of us to accept it unless He pro-
vided a divine intervention to tell the rest of us that He wanted that.

  While faith in God may respect God's prerogative, there is no old writing or
present day claim to justify to me that someone should hurt or kill someone for
God in the present short of me being shown a divine intervention explainable no
other reasonable way.  I'd need to see God appearing to all of us saying He
needs the harm done.  Forget faith, it would be a case of do you agree with Him
or not--we all see Him standing there.  I'd need that or no deal, and and I
haven't seen that.


  The church/temple/mosque/gymnasium where they're having a meeting of Glen

  Welcome to the church/temple/mosque/gymnasium where they're having a meeting
of Glen.  Think of interfaith except including non-believers.  Just don't hurt
or kill each other over this stuff.  Or else no, you can't stay.

  According to the church/temple/mosque/gymnasium where they're having a meeting
of Glen, some of the believers' old texts call for an update according to the
new texts.  Updates should be administered regularly by those of faith in a God
beyond the known as called for by increased knowledge.  No, I haven't been vis-
ited by an angel, but some who claimed they were got some things wrong I get
right, so that makes me better--it's harder to do without an angel.  And I get
the age of the Universe right, too, because I look it up in Wikipedia.

  A brief summary of some of my ground rules are:


  Understand faith as such--a hope in a possible God beyond the known proven
  Keep up to speed about the proven rational things God is possible beyond
(evolution, etc.).
  Nobody should be hurt or killed over belief/non-belief in a possible or you
have the ethical/theological dilemma of arbitrary hurting or killing, so have
separation of church and state (like freedom of subjective reaction beyond the
objective math of music).
  Don't be 'centric and intolerant about basic belief/non-belief (or things that
aren't character determinents--race, gender, sexual orientation, age, handicap,
etc.) or you're a pain in the ass either way.
  Don't lie, steal, murder, or own slaves.
  If you have faith, see old texts as allegorical, representing the culture of
the time and not God, or interpreted differently if needed for the above reasons
(progressive/reform).  If there is a God, it wouldn't honor Him to misinform or
harm unnecessarily in His name--in fact, it would probably piss Him off.


  God's prerogative--it's all His to do what He wants with, with the impunity of
life itself (or of people over animals if considered to be).  Life is a known
and God a possible, but either may be complained about or believed in.  Think
about belief in God on the matter as being like preferably being ultimately
grateful or hoping for it.  A really thorough disparagement of belief in God
based on complaint about life is to show no hope for life, so I woudn't recom-
mend it.  If this happens, please see a professional.

  (Another irony about some of the complaints that arise about belief in God:
the complaint may at once both criticize that he can't be all-beneficent because
we all don't live in heavenly circumstances forever, as if people must have per-
fection or the concept isn't credible.  But if anything is culpable in the known
things for making life bad, it's the over-indulged selfishness of people at
their worst.)

  (Another odd thing about complaints about belief in God: the complaint often
refers to an OT story in which God had X number of people die.  But the concept
has to have him preside over a life in which we all die--why single them out?
If He hadn't had them die as given in the story, He would have had them die
later, anyway.  And more people died last year than in all the stories in all
the old texts rolled into one.  you either have God's prerogative as part of
the concept to cover it or you don't and need to add it.)

  (P.S. on that last point: if there's anything dumber than a literalist funda-
mentalist worried about kids dying in a literal great flood it's an atheist wor-
ried about kids dying in a literal geat flood.  No fair trying to win the argu-
ment by puzzling me.  Some of you are trying to carve out your own category--no,
no, no--stop that.)

  There's only so much "prove is" or "prove isn't" you can milk a possibility
for.  It gets dumb when some of either big group of people try to pad their


  Could be inclusive (Universalism--God just ends human political/religious sys-
tems) or exclusive--there are pros and cons for each.

  "Imagine" is intended as recommending that people get along better, and I go
along with that.  But the idea that not having belief in God is a requirement
for that dumb.

  You don't have to Imagine there's no heaven.  If the point is imagining no
harm, you shouldn't be 'centric or intolerant about belief or non-belief, and
should use liberal not conservative specifics.

  And you can imagine heaven as inclusive or exclusive.  A eutopia on Earth in
this life couldn't work inclusively, it would have to be exclusive (prisons,
etc.) as long as common human selfishness is all too appropriately named.  Even
if we could somehow make everyone an atheist or have all the same belief specif-
ics, it wouldn't put an end to that.

  You don't have to imagine no religion.  Excluding harm, belief and non-belief
is like people having different reactions to songs.  So it's a song recommending
you not like songs.  It's about imagining an inclusive heaven on Earth, which
would have to be a hope for something beyond what could be expected in the real
world, and, in the middle of it, it asks you not to.

  When he tried Christianity, he went to Oral Roberts--a conservative faith
healer.  No wonder he didn't end up seeing faith as a viable option--he stunk at

  The hadith is wrong--you don't have to keep a puppa dog outside, but you can
lose a share of your reward in the afterlife if you have a puppa dog and don't
take good care of it.  You can tell a man by his dog--don't strap it to the roof
of a car.

  Get on those telephones.  OK, we don't have phones currently, but we could
someday, and when we do you don't want to be bereft of the holy funding.