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Washington, DC (LiveActionFilms) — One of the most shocking conversations I have experienced occurred on a train.
I was in the lounge car, watching the sun rise as we glided through the gritty precincts of Los Angeles. Sitting next to me was a young man, about my age, who was an atheist. We had become entangled in a debate on religion, and I was pressing him to concede the reality of objective moral values.
“Surely,” I argued, “You would admit that the Holocaust was truly evil.” “Well,” he responded, “You have to see it from the German point of view. They thought the Jews were a real threat. They told them to leave, and the Jews insisted on staying.”
Years ago, I might have written this young man off as a psychopath. I am afraid, however, that he is really quite normal.
A few months before the train ride, I had a similar experience at my church. I was teaching a class of junior high students, most of whom had grown up in the church. During the lesson, I showed a clip from a WWII era film depicting a German officer mistreating a Jewish man. After the clip was finished, I asked the class to help me compile a list of all of the truths which we could perceive about the event. We quickly assembled a list describing the actions that the officer had taken. After a stretch of silence, I added one more item to the list: “These actions were wrong.” Before I had finished writing this statement, one of the students corrected me. “That’s not a truth,” he confidently asserted. “It’s an opinion.”
I turned around to see the class nodding in agreement. “So you mean you don’t believe this statement is true?” I asked, pointing to what I had just written.
“No, it’s an opinion,” someone else answered.
“It’s true from the Christian perspective,” interjected another, “But obviously the soldier doesn’t believe it’s true, so it’s just an opinion.”
I pressed the question further, but not a single student in the junior high youth group believed that the statement I had written was objective truth. Later that day, I presented the same lesson to the high school youth group and received a similar response.
What is happening here? It is really quite simple. From a very early age, these students, along with the young man on the train, have been taught to believe that science is the only means to establish objective truth. Therefore, since moral claims cannot be empirically verified in a laboratory, they are viewed merely as subjective constructs of human societies.
The articulations of the young man on the train are therefore not as unreasonable as one might at first suppose. In fact, they are quite logical. Provided, of course, that naturalism is true. But what if naturalism is not true? What if reality consists of more than the particles described by physics? In the final analysis, therefore, moral questions cannot be separated from religious ones.
This is why I cringe when I hear pro-lifers say that their views against abortion are founded on science and not religion. What they should say instead is that their views against abortion are neither more nor less religious than their views against rape, child abuse, and infanticide. Science can demonstrate that all of these various actions damage another human being, but science itself cannot tell you whether it is right or wrong to damage another human being. Therefore, while science certainly undergirds one’s beliefs about the content of these actions, any question about the morality of these actions transcends science.
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In short, I do not believe abortion kills an innocent human being because of my religion. I believe abortion kills an innocent human being because of science. But I believe it is wrong to kill an innocent human being because of my religion.
LifeNews Note: Murray Vasser is a 27-year-old science teacher and theology student who contributes to Live Action News and blogs at http://murrayvasser.blogspot.com. This article is reprinted with permission.
‘Horror Is Religion Itself’: Atheist’s Creepy Flick Depicts Catholicism as Evil Force Instead of the Devil
Director Rodrigo Gudino—who grew up Catholic but is now an atheist—explained to NPR that he wanted to get away from using the Devil as the face of evil and instead “present a religious horror film where the religious horror is religion itself.”
It’s titled The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, and it’s apparently a hit at the Cannes film festival. Gudino reported that no one left his screening there and that that “afterwards we were approached by distributors and festival programmers eager to spread the word.”
The plot, NPR says, involves a man whose “mother just passed away and for the first time in decades, he returns to her house. It’s cluttered with memorabilia that remind him of his mother’s strict and terrifying religious teachings. Statues of angels and the Virgin Mary watch ominously over Leon and he starts to feel a supernatural presence in the house.”
Further, as the man “confronts his childhood fears, he never turns to religion or faith for guidance. He looks to reason and science. So the film becomes an atheist’s take on Catholic horror,” NPR says.
Gudino’s Catholic upbringing took place in Mexico, where he says “the representation of Jesus as a suffering figure is quite extreme in some cases.”
“He’s bleeding and bruised and cut open and things quite grotesque…when you’re in other parts of North America, he’s a resurrected Christ. He’s very clean and respectable. But here, they don’t shy away from showing his suffering side.”
Says Gudino, “To this day I sometimes walk into churches and I feel the terror of that, the terror of being confronted with a god…and like this thing that might be there, like in that space that’s not human…”
Here’s the film’s official trailer #1:
And trailer #2:
Read more stories from TheBlaze
NY Councilman Grabs Headlines Over ‘Pagan’ Religion That Allegedly Saw Him Tied to a Tree and Flogged
New York City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens) was one of the politicians arrested last week over an alleged plot to rig the upcoming New York City mayoral race.
But lately he’s been grabbing headlines for another reason — apparently he belongs to a pre-Christian “pagan” religion, and its leaders once punished him by tying him to a tree and flogging him.
The New York Post wrote:
The city councilman who bungled his way into federal bribery charges is also a total bonehead in his kooky heathen religion — whose members wear medieval garb, make sacrifices to multiple gods and compete in combat games.
Halloran converted in the 1980s from Catholicism to the pre-Christian Germanic religion, whose believers drink mead or whiskey from horns and dress like characters in a Renaissance fair.
He learned about their tough disciplinary code when he committed an undisclosed act against a female “thrall” — or probationary servant.
He was stripped to his waist, strapped to a tree and flogged with a belt 11 times.
It should be noted that the punishment was described as “voluntary,” though a detailed explanation wasn’t given.
A 2011 Village Voice article has been referenced in many of the stories, describing Halloran’s practices:
Halloran was no garden-variety pagan. He was the “First Atheling,” or prince, of his own Theodish tribe, called New Normandy. He had “thralls” who swore their allegiance to him. He didn’t just spend weekends reconstructing the religious activities of the pre-Christian Norse and Germanic gods—he led his flock, about 100 people at its height, in their polytheistic celebration of the gods (plural). They’d gather for “blot” (sacrifice and feast), “sumble” (“boast and toast of the gods”), and play games that, to the outside eye, looked like something from Dungeons & Dragons or a Renaissance fair.
Halloran’s religion has been a point of contention since he entered public affairs, according to the New York Times. He reportedly even wrote a piece called “I believe in God” in an effort to quiet some of the controversy, and was attacked for “pandering to monotheism.”
Among his other religious activities, Halloran reportedly once engaged in a duel where he and another man hurled 7-foot-long sapling tree spears at one another while 30 paces apart. He lost.
The New York politician could face decades in prison if convicted in the bribery scandal, but according to the New York Post, he could also face punishment from his tribe.
“If Mr. Halloran is convicted on these charges, then established Troth disciplinary procedures will be enacted, as Troth clergy are held to a very high standard,” the Connecticut-based Theodish group Halloran is affiliated with said in a statement.
“Our High Rede (Board of Directors) are aware of the issues and are carefully monitoring Mr. Halloran’s status, for the protection and integrity of our organization.”
Read more stories from TheBlaze