Potentially classic arguments for the non-existence of gods
Having been away from Blogland for several weeks, I’m surprised to come back for a browse and find Mel Wilde is still trawling through a series of posts trying desperately to prove the existence of gods by badly rehashing centuries’ old streams of pseudo-logic.
Interestingly enough, we don’t need 20,000 pages of verbal contortion to state the case for the non-existence of gods, but just a handful of very simple, verifiable observations.
arguments for the non-existence of gods
- Lots of ‘gods’ have been invented by lots of isolated groups of humans – no two isolated places have been inspired by the same ‘god’. Clearly evolved tales based on human imagination.
- No ‘god’ has gone public and contacted people openly, changed events beyond question, healed people based on human pleas – but many ‘gods’ are reported to have done such things in private, or conducted ‘miracles’ in line with coincidental occurences (talk to Christians about their god finding them parking spaces, honestly!)
- If you passionately believe your god is real, spend some time looking at devout believers of another religion – e.g. Christians immerse yourself in viewing the passionate sense of firm belief of Muslims or go to a Scientology meeting. Fervent belief in literally any old rubbish we’re consistently taught, or anything that gives us hope when we’re down, is sadly a basic human trait.
- Looking for answers doesn’t mean they exist, it just means we’re curious.
- Looking for unicorns doesn’t mean they exist, it’s just means it would be nice if they did.
- Looking for eternal afterlives and meaning in a short existence doesn’t mean there are any, it just means we’d feel more comfortable thinking there are.
- Stories from history aren’t always reliable – King Arthur probably didn’t exist but may have been formed from an exaggerated story of a real person. Religious assertions based on historical ‘facts’ don’t bear much scrutiny.
- All religions are sexist because they were all invented by humans before the advent of birth control.
I’m sure I’ve missed some obvious ones out, feel free to add to the really uncontorted and easily understood list.
No.1 sounds awfully familiar…
Yeah, you just don’t know how to state it quite so eloquently.
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I like to follow clues, and these clues do what clues do: lead. They might lead towards a god or away from one but the fact is that reality provides compelling clues that just so happen to lead away from gods. They don;t have to; they just do. And that itself is a rather potent clue.
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You might change your mind if your parking luck picks up! The clues could lead straight to divine intervention with a hint of Jesus.
You missed the Norse, Greek and Roman gods. What a panopoly that was.
What would they tell us in a general sense that isn’t covered above? I missed a lot of expired gods.
Can you elaborate on point 8 please. I fail to see the connection. Many concepts other than religion were invented before birth control. Are all these sexist too?
I suspect that any gods invented in modern times will be much less concerned with gender roles and the supremacy of the male – both in an stories they invent and in any rules they lay down. Many other concepts can be updated – religions struggle when they have holy texts that tell one gender to be quiet and submission, and present all the important roles in the other. In times when most woman had little other option but to be pregnant and breastfeeding most of their adult life, it’s understandable that the free-from-direct-childcare sex could be prone to misunderstanding that full human potential extended to females too.
My perception of religion is the don’t so much invent social rules but reflect the accepted attitudes that existed when the religion came into being. Those beliefs then get frozen into the religion and when society moves on, fundamentalism moves in.
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That’s nicely put – sums it up very well.
“All religions are sexist because they were all invented by humans before the advent of birth control.”
Apparently Violet has never studied ancient birth control methods, everything from contraceptive sponges to spermicidal crocodile dung, from abortion to small stones used as IUD’s. You should think critically, ask yourself why all that temple prostitution didn’t result in women having an average of 35 children, Violet.
Funny. I actually agree with Insanitybytes22 on this… Well, almost.
Arguments for the nonexistance of any gods are sort of futile, as there are no solid arguments for their existance. It is like listing arguments against lizard-folk running the world in secret. Exept, that the notion of lizard-folk is a much likelier possibility than supernatural entities – Simply because a lizard is an actual material object in the observable material universe we inhabit. The lizard-folk running politics in secrecy is not very likely, because there are no reliable, nor verifiable observations of lizard-folk, any more than there are of any gods. The burden of proof is on the person making the claim, that there are lizard-folk, or gods.
I am sorry if this is going to be a bit long, but here goes:
1. This argument depends totally on the definition of a god. Most gods have been described throughout human history to occupy some particular geographical place, or to have a single minded interrest in a particular ethnic group. For example this originally applied to the Judean notion of a god, from which both the Christian and Islamic ideas of a god have later developed from.
2. This argument depends on the definition of a miracle and supernatural. To some people finding their keys is what they are willing to believe represents supernatural intervention. But there are no methrics to measure a supernatural event. If something seemingly unlikely, or even unnatural happens, how could we even conclude it was somehow supernatural? If it actyally happened, it happened in the material reality, but the fact, that we may not know the causation of some extraordinary event, does not manifest as any sort of evidence for the supernatural, it can possibly only tell us, that we do not know what caused it.
There are many claims about gods making miracles in front of great crowds, but making a claim, that 500 people saw something supernatural does not mean there have ever actually been 500 people to wittness anything.
The problem of entire concept of the supernatural, is that it is virtually impossible to recognize it, or make any distinction between anything alledgedly supernatural from anything that we just do not know.
3. Gods appear in human folklore and imagination, but not elswhere. Of course this does not mean, that they do not exist beyond those. The problem is how to have any even remotely reliable information which of the gods, might be the real ones. What we can say, is that if any of the gods described by different people are infact real, the ones that expect and demand faith in them are morally corrupt – since faith in gods is mostly not a choise of “free will”, but merely a matter of cultural heritage.
4. One can make up all sorts of answers to any questions. Making up stuff, that seemingly could provide an answer does not provide any evidence for this particular answer to be the right one. As with the questions about origin of the universe or even the small matter of life (small in the scope of the universe as we know it). Honesty demands, we recognize, that we simply do not know, rather than make up some unnatural agent beyond the universe to have made it all, like we humans make things.
5. Again it depends on what sort of unicorns are we talking about. Much like the social morals of gods has changed, as we the humanity have aquired better information about all the potential results of our actions and inaction, so has the social morals of unicorns changed. _ For the better, I might add. The medieval notion of unicorn was not nearly as nice as the one most popular today. Similarly the medieval notion of a god, was ethically far worse, than the most popular version of a god today.
6. And again, that depends on the view on the eternal afterlife. The entire idea of a hell – rather popular for the most of the history of the biggest monotheistic religions – is simply terrible. It is shocking how there are people even today, who think that the idea of an eternal punishment for any transgression could be “comfortable” or somehow just.
But the argument, that a god – if such a thing exists – is morally corrupt, does not mean it does not exist. Wether it exists or not, people who sincerely believe in such a god, are in a grave danger to become moraly corrupt themselves too.
It is easy to see, how the religious idea of a pleasent afterlife was originally born by adults telling fairytales to kids about how their loved ones have not really died, but gone to a better place, and the kids for some reason, never grew up from it because they preferred it. Yet, it is also a rather obvious base for the biggest pyramid scheme in human history. Pay us, or our god does not allow you to live in the nice afterlife prepared for the true believers. Sadly, it is also the base for segragation, that does not morally differ much from racism.
7. I am inclined to believe, that there were some actual events behind many religious stories. Infact, such stories as the resurrection of Jesus are in my view rather plausible in many ways. Just think about it, that the most important miracle Jesus alledgedly performed – the resurrection, happened when nobody was there to see. This makes the story possible, in the sense, that some of the superstitious people whom he had impressed, by his speeches about more just way of life, really came to believe that he had risen from the dead. But who among them were even present at the execution? Jumping to conclusions of supernatural events from the Gospel stories chosen from a bunch of stories some 300 years later is just superstitous and silly. In our everyday lives when we do not know something we always assume the less extraordinary is the more likely option, but for some reason adult people make silly claims, that an empty tomb means the dude in the tomb was resurrected, rather that he did not even die in the first place. If a person thought to be dead by modern doctors woke up at a morgue today (and I am sorry to tell you, that this actually happens from time to time), we would not jump to the conclusion, that aliens, lizard-folk, or gods raised this person from the dead. Not even if the person and his closest friends thought so. Would we?
8. Just as Insanitybytes22 said, the ancient world has not been totally without birth controll, but curiously enough, it has often been controlled or at least tried to be controlled by religions, based on some divine knowledge they claim to have on what their gods think of the morality of birth controll.
Not all religions are so very sexist. There are many levels of sexism in different cultures and religions are always percieved through other cultural values. A US Roman Catholic Christian is far more likely to resemble a US Protestant Christian in values (concerning birth controll and abortion, for example), than a French Roman Catholic Christian. Religions are among human attempts to organize their conceptual world. Sadly, one of these attempts, included in religious dogma, is also prescribing people with expectations of social roles to ease the recognition of potential (most often imaginary) hazards other people might represent to people who have difficulties to conceptualize the reality. We are only now beginning to understand how much misery and suffering this actually causes through varying kinds of segragations between percieved groups of humans. It is not such a long time from when people in general percieved to have different value as humans by some assumed race. We have several different cultural baggages, one of wich is religion. Religion, by making claims of divine authority, provides the base for authoritarianism and might makes right moralism. Might makes right kind of authoritarian cultural ideals, often lead to the oppression of percieved weaker social roles, like minority ethnicities, women, the poor, or even children.
Anyway, why should anybody present any arguments for the non-existance of something, that has no solid arguments to support it exists? What sort of argument should we present to deny the existance of Russel’s teapot?
“Not all religions are so very sexist.” Seriously? Most ill-informed comment I’ve ever seen from you. I’ll try and do a post on this.
Yes, well referring to what I tried to express abowe, all of this depends much on the definition of a religion. Do we count the religions, that have died out, or that are in a minority position as religions at all? The hunter-gatherer cultures have far less sexist religions, than most agricultural cultures. But of course when we are talking about religions as big cultural movements, we most often refer to religions from agricultural cultures. The big monotheistic religions have their root in nomadic culture, but have been modified greatly by agricultural and urban cultures.
There is this silly and ignorant notion of stone age hunter-gatherer societies, that the men went out hunting and women had to stay and take care of the children, yet we have ample sources, that this was not the case at all.
Nomadism, is a natural source for monotheism, as the nomads do not like to bear too many statues of their gods around. It is easier for them to assume, there really is only one god worth bothering with and that this god is already everywhere. As with the ancient Mongols, who mainly worshipped the sky as their divinity.
Altough all gender roles are negative in the sense, that they provide segregation between percieved groups of humans, not all gender roles are directly oppressive as such, exept towards the individuals who do not fit into them. For example, an agricultural way of life most often requires sedentarism and such a culture often expects the assumed woman to take care of the work closer to home, than the assumed man. The excuse being, that little children are for a while dependend on the nurturing of women and as they are not as mobile as the adult men. This is of course bollocks, as we know, that both in many hunter-gatherer societies as well as in nomadic cultures women have been able to move the smallest of children with them and that a man can carry a child just as well as the woman.
In sedentarist, agricultural and especially in urban cultures property starts to stack up to certain groups and families through more and more specialization, and that leads to greater and greater appriciation of extra property at the same time as the rich need to come up with ideas as to how they are entiteled to all the wealth, when people around them often enough have less than enough. This seems to lead to ideas about the strong and rich having more rights according to their ability over others (it is called Fascism). Women in general are physically weaker, so they tend to become part of the patronymic family property, not much different from slaves wether they have contraception or not.
Religions do not really provide values to us, but the cultural values of religions are interpreted through what the culture in question values for completely other reasons. What religions do provide, is a set of traditional (and therefore seemingly safe) excuses for why what is valued within any culture is supposed to be valid, without question, investigation, or logic. Look at divine command theory. So, the level of sexism of a religion seems to be directly dependent on the level of sexism in the surrounding society. I have no doubt, that the access to birth controll has changed the view of religions on sexist values in short time. For example, in my home country since the wider access to birth controll, the state Lutheran church has adopted women even as priests. Religions that are in political power often represent conservative values of any society, as the best reason they can come up with why people should provide political power to a religion is conservatism. People think, that this is what has “always” (though not necessarily any longer, than a couple of generations, or even less) been done, so it is expected to be a safe bet. In effect, religions serve as perfect excuses for sexism, segragation, oppression and other harmfull behaviour models, that do not stand objective evaluation, just like religions themselves.
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Was temple prostitution the average female experience? Or is this an empowered historical female role you’re describing? Neither. So your point is …? Most women in most cultures were paired off by their parents to breed and spent their whole lives breeding. Spermicidal crocodile dung wasn’t the norm, and being pregnant was normal for women of child-bearing age.
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This idea that “most women in most cultures were paired off by their parents to breed,” is actually a modern feminist narrative attempting to define ancient cultures through your own personal lens, Violet.
You said, “being pregnant was normal for women of child-bearing age,” but the fact that it is only in recent history that we have seen such staggering population growth, should lead you to delve a bit deeper and ask some questions about what is really going on here. You’re kind of perceiving the whole tale of historical womanhood through the eyes of Dickens Victorian England. I’m just saying, you should challenge your own narratives, don’t believe everything you think, especially as it relates to ancient people.
but the fact that it is only in recent history that we have seen such staggering population growth
Errrum, sure… because of the medical revolution. We stopped half of all of babies dying in their first year, cured childhood diseases which killed off another quarter, and through sanitation, medication and diet we increased avergae lifespans from 40 to 80.
Half of all babies dying is a statistic that only applies to the modern West, since creation of modern medicine. A tiny span of time. Before that births were attended to by midwives rather than doctors who did not understand germ theory. Go back a bit farther, you’ll find that disease and epidemics were actually spread by the expansion of modern medicine.
American Indians for example, had never seen smallpox. Europeans had never encountered the plague. Expand your research just a bit Zande. This kind of dogmatic misunderstanding of the world makes conversation boring.
Yeah, John, expanding medical care causes most infant mortality, donchaknow, and thinking otherwise demonstrates a lack of research, bias, and dogmatic thinking.
Good grief. IB22 at her finest.
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Modern medicine kills half of all babies?
OK, let’s go back to dysentery, smallpox, cholera, malaria, malnutrition, etc, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
No John, now you are lying and misrepresenting what I said. Not sure if you noticed from up above on your high horse, but the health and well being of many indigenous people has been absolutely devastated by the introduction of many Western ideas, medicine being one of them.
Stop your navel gazing and go visit some of your own indigenous people. They ARE dying at 40 and suffering from numerous afflictions like alcoholism, domestic violence, heart disease. What you so arrogantly call “progress,” hasn’t always impacted people in the same way.
Smallpox, dysentery, malnutrition, did not affect native people until these things were introduced and people were driven onto reservations, onto dependence on the same government who gave them SMALLPOX in the first place.
Go read something, Zande. Open your brain. As it stands now, you aren’t even worth my time.
“Half of all babies dying is a statistic that only applies to the modern West, since creation of modern medicine.”
That’s ridiculous. You say that statistic doesn’t apply beyond the West, apply only since the the creation of modern medicine?
Umm… no. That’s flat out wrong. If the infant mortality rate were much lower prior to modern medicine as you suggest, the populations would be much, much, much higher to start. They’re not… in spite of very high fertility rates. High fertility rates and low population growth indicates exactly what you are trying to dismiss: very high infant mortality rates. That means, IB22, infant mortality had to be much higher… even though we don’t have good historical and enumerated statistics.
And there is absolutely no doubt that infant mortality rates have receded by many, many, many factors over the past 200 years wherever modern medicine is practiced. Selecting only indigenous populations to try to maintain your point is highly selected bias at work that you are arbitrarily assigning to modern and Western (aka evidence-based) medicine.
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Why are you now talking about “native” people? You *were* talking about the human population explosion, which is the direct result of radical improvements in healthy living, diet, and urbanisation.
But move the goal posts as much as you like…
Insanitybytes22, I agree with you, that the worst situation for the entire humanity was during the industrial revolution in places like the Victorian GB and her colonies. Capitalism had reached an ideological, “moral” and social peak as a result of feodalism being trampled by the rising tide of “bourgeoisie”. The feodal economy had been based on agriculture, but the new capitalist based wealth on industrial efforts and as a direct result the diet, hygiene and social situation of the poor was the worst in western history so far. The poor had no rights at all and were singlemindedly exploited by the rich (both feodal nobs and all sorts of capitalists). They were even worse off, than their ancestors in landslavery in comparrison. This led to the birth of new ideals, such as socialism, fascism and liberalism, that have had central roles ever since.
However, I do not agree with you on the idea, that modern medicine has caused more harm than it has won as you seem to suggest. Or did I read you wrong? European populations were affected by several plagues, long time before the rise of modern medicine and those were devastating to the European populations during the golden age of Christianity, when Christian Churches had the most extreme amount of political power in Europe.
Modern medicine did not cause the smallpox, dysentry, malnutrition, nor any epidemic. On the contrary, it has been used to thwart such threats. Though not always, because of political leaders, who often enough held, what they sincerely thought were Christian values, in high regard.
Modern medicine has not caused alcoholism, domestic violence, heart disease, has it? Nor has birth controll. Progress has not caused these problems, but the greed and corrupt values have. They may not have been the biggest problems of indigenous hunter-gatherer societies, as much as they are the problems of the victims of modern capitalism, commercialism and fascism, but they certainly were not unknown problems to the European (and other agricultural and urban) populations during the previous two millenia.
Most of the staggering population growth today happens in areas with poor access to birthcontroll and sexual education and have low economic equality and low social mobility and less cultural equality between the sexes. Countries that have had best economic equality and social mobility have the best access to both birth controll and sexual education and – surprice, surprice – highest social equality between the sexes, have also the lowest population growth. These are also the least religious populations in the world. A coincidence, perhaps?
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“However, I do not agree with you on the idea, that modern medicine has caused more harm than it has won as you seem to suggest.”
Well,if you go back more than a hundred years, what you will find is the maternal and infant mortality rate directly related to doctors replacing midwives. Doctors before understanding germ theory were bringing disease, illness, and infection to labor and delivery. If you dig a bit deeper, you will also find blood letting, lobotomies, and other long histories of atrocities being foisted on people.
Actually if you go back just a few hundred years, you will find that the poor actually had a much better survival rate then the upper classes. The upper classes could afford doctors who brought disease with them, and wet nurses who took over breast feeding, rather than mothers themselves. Breast feeding tends to not only pass along immunity to infants,but it reduces fertility. So poor moms who had no access to doctors and who breast fed, actually were much healthier, had a higher quality of life, and were more likely to survive then those influenced by Western medicine. These are well documented facts, easily researched.
Have you Insanitybytes22 ever seen Molières “The Imaginary Invalid”? I bet you would like it. It is a marvellous description of early modern doctors in the 17th century and what practioners of bogus many of them were.
As I said before, I almost agree with you. I do not disagree with your facts, so much as your conclusions. Without modern medicine there would not be germ theory, would there? No god what-so-ever has either been able to, or perhaps wanted to share that information whith humans through their holy books, or other revelations. It means, that if any gods exist, they are either quite impotent, downright evil, or sadly as ignorant as the people who supposedly had those revelations. Wich one of these is your god? Or is there some other excuse? One that you have accepted?
Do you prefer to give offerings, pray, or perhaps go to a modern doctor practicing modern medicine when you get ill? Why? Could the doctor be mightier than thy god? If your god does not heal you after a session of prayer, are you defining the will of said god, by going to the doctor? If you go to a doctor and pray that you would get better, who gets the credit for you getting better, or blame for not?
There is no doubt, that a lot of traditional healing skills have been overlooked by practioners of medicine. In case of medieval and early modern medicine – as in your facts – that is hardly even a surprice. Often the reason has been, especially concerning child bearing, that the doctors were men and that they dismissed the knowledge of, let us say midwives, because as men they thought they would know better. Why? Because they lived in a culture full of religious and other traditional heritage telling them, that men know better than women. Did they not?
Modern medicine has however moved on since the times of Molière. Has it not in the part of the world where you live? The lowest infant mortality rates are not in countries where midwives do more childbirths than doctors in hospitals today. Are they? Since you like facts, why do you not find out about in which countries the lowest childbirth rates are and how many children are born outside of the care of modern medicine there?
None of this makes any difference to the FACT, that most major religions are – as our gracious host put it in her topic post – in fact “sexist”. Does it? She also said that this is “because they were all invented by humans before the advent of birth control”. (Well, I disagree with her a bit. For example Scientology was clearly invented after birth controll became awailable to majority of women in the western world. Yet, there is a connection between controll and sexuality in many major religions…) There is little doubt as to wether or not many ancient and succesfull religions have tapped into providing justification for oppression and subjucation of women in general. Is there? It is a succesfull scheme, for a religion to tell men, that they have the divine right to tell women, that they “should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” It grants power to the bully types of men and men who would feel intellectually weak in front of a woman. Does it not? What benefits could it grant to any others?
Ultimately the issue is not so much wether religions are sexist, because many of them were invented before the advent of birth controll or not. They are sexist and harmfull, but even if they were not harmfull, that would not prove they are true. Any arguments against them based on wether the god behind them is impotent, evil, or ignorant are quite unnecessary as such, because “that wich can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” As a clever man once put it and it still fits the description of any gods. Does it not?
“Without modern medicine there would not be germ theory, would there? No god what-so-ever has either been able to, or perhaps wanted to share that information whith humans…”
Well actually quite a few of the Jewish holy laws were built directly around germ theory, hand washing, not contaminating blood products. This had a whole lot to do with the success of many Jewish doctors who were actually professing their faith. The survival rate of their patients was so much higher, Jewish doctors found themselves in high demand.
“… Jewish doctors found themselves in high demand.” Especially by their Christian neighbours holding pitchforks and torches and later holding machinepistols… To wich particular historical era are you referring to? I only ask, because it seems you have drifted quite far from modern medicine, to some pre-modern era.
Remind me, where exactly in the Torah (or Old Testament, if you please) does the god character give commands about doctors washing hands? The ancient Hebrew hygieny regulations are hardly any more of a reason to think, that their god informed them about germ-theory, than Allah informing Muslims about germ-theory because the Qur’an tells them to wash their hands, or because Islamic doctors were in high demand. Honestly?
The fact remains that, no god has informed people of germ-theory, but on the contrary, if there is a god as mighty as described in monotheistic religions, that entity is directly responsible for disease either as having created viruses and hostile bacteria (though without the creation of bacteria, we would not exist either, as that is the form of life from wich we have all evolved from), or allowing some other divine entity to create them. Or perhaps this god is too stupid, weak or evil to stop the misery it causes to humans, parents and little children. Why would a god allow polio to exist, if it could have prevented it?
I do agree with you, that the history is not a steady proggress from bad to better. There are always setbacks. Like for example the first modern secular nation founded by a bunch of atheists and deists becoming ever more religious. People have known about the importance of washing and hygieny all over the world, regardless of their god concepts. A nother example of setbacks regarding hygieny in the western world has been the Christian church, because it was the clergy, that caused the closing of public and private baths as they saw them as places of sin and immorality with nakedness, pleasure – and yes indeed – of venerable diseases. Some of the baths managed to avoid this persecution of hygiene at the northern edge of Europe and that is how many people today have come to know a single word from my native Finnish: The sauna. Do you know what it is?
Unlike conservatism, wich is based on the idea, that just about anything is good just because it is old and this is how we have always survived, progress in itself does not equal good. It is our responsibility to our selves, each other and future generations, to make sure, that the change, that is either progress or regresssion, wich is inevitable, is beneficial. This is the type of responsibility of adults, where you are responsible for your actions regardless wether you can be held accountable or not. Wether there is a reward or punishment awaiting us, in this life or the next one. Wether there is a next life. Do you understand me?
In the end, if I understood you right, I also agree with you, on some level, that it is much too simple conclusion, that all religions are sexist ONLY because they were all invented by humans before the advent of birth control. Most religions are sexist because of a bunch of reasons only one of wich may be, that so many of them were invented before the advent of birth control. I also think that Violetwisp is quite aware that the idea of birth control is far older as an invention, she only referred to it as in general as it has not been in such a wide use of the population at large. Abortion rates in cultures, that have a ban on it are far more higher, than in cultures that have made it legal. I expect Violetwisp was referring to the FACT, that sexism in many religions is driven by the concept of women being more or less the property of their male kin and that the sexuality of women should be protected (by men) from the potential violence by men, even at the expense of the rights and liberties of women. A sad reminder from a less civilized era, that is all too real for millions of women around the globe even today in countries with corrupt police and poor legal system and – indeed – regressive religious conservative values.
Actual facts are wasted in this conversation. Historical fact is the wishful imagination of Insanitybytes.
Pantomimes are more fun than trailor parks…
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Not one of which prove anything, at best they might nudge an individual to choose not to believe. They are like arguments that for the existence of God, inconclusive but taken with other factors they might motivate the decision to believe, or at least take down barriers to belief. I hope your time away from blogging was relaxing. The internet can be so unhealthy.